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    Thursday, September 27, 2018

    My Capclave Schedule, 2018 Edition


    Oops! I meant to post this earlier this week, but my current writing project had other ideas. I’m just glad it released its grip before the con began.

    Capclave did me proud this year: six panels, an autograph session and two readings. It all takes place Friday-Sunday, September 28-30 at the Rockville Hilton and Executive Meeting Center, Rockville, Maryland. I hope to see you there—and remember, the autographing session always has cake…

    Friday
    4 PM: Writing at Different Lengths
    Panelists: Nancy Kress, Suzanne Palmer, Jean Marie Ward (M), Alyssa Wong
    Writing at a short length vs. writing a novella or novel. What are the differences, if any, in how to approach the writing of a short story vs. the writing of a novel. (Eisenhower)

    6 PM: Humorous SF
    Panelists: Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Shvartsman, Jean Marie Ward (M)
    It's easy to name the funny fantasy books, but what about the funny SF books and short stories? For instance, Unidentified Funny Objects is an entire anthology of funny SF. (Truman)

    10 PM: Writing on the Job
    Panelists: Marilyn "Mattie" Brahen, Barbara Krasnoff (M), Hildy Silverman, Jean Marie Ward
    Is it better for a writer to have a non-writing job to save his/her writing energies for fiction or to use writing skills to make a nonfiction living on the idea that any writing improves fiction writing? And when should you quit your day job? Hear writers discuss the relationship between their day job and their writing. (Washington Theater)

    Saturday
    1 PM: What Makes Alternate History So Compelling?
    Panelists: Tom Doyle (M), J. L. Gribble, Bjorn Hasseler, Alan Smale, Jean Marie Ward
    Alternate histories continue to proliferate, though in accordance with Sturgeon's Law, most fail the plausibility test, the storytelling test, or both. Why do the what-ifs continue to fascinate us, and what makes a powerful story in this subgenre? (Truman)

    3 PM: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
    Panelists: Jeanne Adams, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Carol Ann Douglas, Jennifer Povey, Jean Marie Ward (M), Joan Wendland
    Broad Universe is an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Members will be doing readings from their own works. (Jackson)

    4 PM: Middles
    Panelists: Wendy S. Delmater, Andrew Fox, Nancy Kress, Jack Skillingstead, David Walton, Jean Marie Ward (M)
    So now that you've started your story, how do you put meat on its bones? How do you develop plot and character at short fiction and novel lengths? How many Aristotelian unites can and should you violate in your story? (Washington Theater)

    6 PM: Use of Mythology in SFF
    Panelists: Tom Doyle, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward, Steven H. Wilson, A.C. Wise (M)
    There are a lot of different mythologies out there, with both similarities and differences. How do we incorporate and adapt them when writing our stories? Norse, Greek and Roman myths are the most common ones used in genre stories but are not the only mythologies out there. What's acceptable to adapt and change, especially when using a mythology from a culture not one's own. E.g. dragons in Europe and dragons in various Asian countries have quite different motives and personalities ascribed to them. (Washington Theater)

    7:30 PM: Mass Autographing and Awards Ceremony
    (Eisenhower) Ends at 8:55 PM

    Sunday
    1 PM: Reading
    (Lincoln) Ends at 1:25 PM

    3 PM: Superheroine to Wise Woman: Creating Powerful Female Characters
    Panelists: Cerece Rennie Murphy, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward, A.C. Wise (M)
    What goes into creating strong, compelling female characters in fantasy worlds? Speculative fiction authors discuss how to approach elements such as world-building, magic, special powers, and plot when crafting a multi-dimensional character, and how to avoid the pitfalls of the "Mary Sue." (Jackson)

    #

    Sunday, September 9, 2018

    #HoldOntoTheLight: The Bathroom Trick





    Mom was a Jungian—sort of.

    A World War II-era psychiatric nurse, she understood there are times when talking through a problem simply wasn’t enough. She knew the health of the mind was inextricably linked to the health of the body. She’d seen firsthand the devastating effect of shell shock, as well as the psychosis and personality changes suffered by her sister when a well-meaning fool burst a goiter on her sister’s neck. She also knew entire families could suffer with mental health issues, and it wasn’t a matter of fault. They were born that way.

    To her way of thinking, we’re all born that way. Even people wired to be happy can find themselves devastated by circumstances beyond their control—the death of a loved one, terminal illness, injury and global catastrophe. Sometimes sadness or a feeling of utter powerlessness is the only rational response to a situation. As someone who’d experienced her share of tragedy, she knew grief was a natural part of the human condition. The trick was to prevent the sorrow from becoming more calamitous than its cause.

    Safe, effective anti-depressants hadn’t been invented yet. So Mom and her colleagues explored other modes of treatment. Mom focused on the coping mechanisms developed independently by those who routinely struggled with depression. She was particularly struck by Winston Churchill’s way of dealing with his “Black Dog”. Whenever Churchill felt himself sliding into despair, he would go into the garden and lay bricks on a wall.

    To a Jungian, the symbolism was obvious. The wall represented a physical and symbolic barrier between him and his troubles. But Mom took it further. Analyzing newspaper and magazine articles she found in the base library, she concluded Churchill’s deepest depressions coincided with moments where he felt most powerless. View in that light, the wall was also his way of exerting control over his world.

    Few people in Mom’s orbit had the luxury of building a wall. Hell, if you were living in military housing, chances were you didn’t even have a yard. But control—Mom understood control. I used to describe her as a combination of the kinder, gentler qualities of Napoleon Bonaparte, Niccolo Machiavelli and Attila the Hun. Full disclosure: they didn’t have any. What they did have, however, was the ability to assess the available resources and apply them to the problem at hand.

    Ultimately Mom decided the best alternative for building a wall was cleaning a bathroom. The two tasks shared many attributes. Cleaning a bathroom seldom qualifies as a daily necessity. It’s usually something you could choose to do. Or not. It involves manageable levels of physical labor (subsequently shown to help the body self-regulate its chemistry). It can be done in a limited amount of time. It offers tangible results. It harms no one, yet invariably leads to a sense of accomplishment. When I was young, she insisted it was the only viable therapy for a growing girl; a big, strong man like my dad could clean the stove. (What? You didn’t think she practiced her trade on Dad and me? See the historical role models listed above.) But later, after she finally sprang for a regular cleaning lady, she admitted any self-contained, productive activity could suffice, from washing the car to baking cookies for a friend.

    Mom died twelve years ago, but I still use the “bathroom trick”. I don’t always clean a bathroom. Sometimes I don’t even bother with physical exertion. It doesn’t really matter what I do. The key is restoring a sense of control through a personal achievement, no matter how small.

    Mom would have been the first to say the strategy doesn’t always work. Plus, it’s only a therapy, not a cure. But she believed that any strategy that took the edge off pain without causing harm should be shared. I share it in that spirit. If it helps anyone who reads this, I’ll consider it worthwhile. So would she.

    ***

    About the campaign:

    #HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

    Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

    To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2018

    Goin' to Dragon Con, 2018 Edition

    Dragon Con is almost here! I’ll be heading out Wednesday, abandoning spouse and house panther to their own devices. (They’re afraid…very afraid. ;-) ) I can’t wait to see my friends—and learn what author and Falstaff Books publisher John Hartness is planning for the threatened Virgo birthday bash. (The Westin Bar may never recover.) In addition, this will be author Joshua B. Palmatier’s first time in the Merchandise Mart as the publisher of Zombies Need Brains. Drop by and say hello if you’re going in that direction.
    I hope you’ll drop by a few of my panels, too. This year I have twelve. From the subjects and the other guests, they’re sure to be grand!

    -------------------
    Title: Social Media as an Effective Tool for Authors
    Description: Social media can launch your career--or kill it. What's effective? What isn't? Learn how to navigate the tricky waters of social media.
    Time: Fri 01:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Tyra A Burton, Denise Baker Camacho, Michael Chatfield, Jean Marie Ward, Lee Martindale, Aleron Kong)

    -------------------
    Title: A Genre Is a Genre Is a Genre: The Proliferation of Genres
    Description: Every time you turn around, it seems there's a new genre on the bookshelves--or a sub-genre. Whatever happened to just science fiction or just fantasy or just...any genre you'd care to name? Our panelists discuss this. Is there any end in sight?
    Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: Embassy AB - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Claire M. Eddy, Bill Fawcett, Henry Vogel, Dr. Charles E. Gannon)

    -------------------
    Title: Readings in Honor of Kathryn Fernquist Hinds
    Description: Writers & friends celebrate the life of author, bard, poet, & teacher Kathryn Hinds with reminiscences & readings from her work.
    Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Techwood - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin, Jeanne P Adams, James Palmer, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Catherine M. Scully)

    -------------------
    Title: Ahoy, Mateys! Pirates in Popular Culture
    Description: The drama and adventure of pirate history have inspired imaginations for centuries. Join us for some of our favorite pirate stories, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Black Sails, Treasure Island, Treasure Planet, The Goonies - even Cutthroat Island! No, we don't know where the rum has gone.
    Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: Athens - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Tim Powers, Darin M. Bush, Michael J. Martinez, Jean Marie Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon)

    -------------------
    Title: Reading Session: Jean Marie Ward
    Time: Sat 01:00 pm Location: Marietta - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward)

    -------------------
    Title: Her-storically Speaking
    Description: Well-behaved women rarely make history, as they say. So we'll be talking about some of the women who made waves, with a focus on pirates, Vikings, and detectives. History professors, writers, and all-around smart ladies talk about the stories we may not have been taught in history books.
    Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Athens - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Octavia Randolph, Jean Marie Ward, Leanna Renee Hieber, Nancy Holzner)

    -------------------
    Title: The Oldest Profession: History's Most Famous Working Women
    Description: History has a lot of unsung heroes, specifically in this profession. Contrary to what you may have read, some of the most notorious and celebrated madams and working women have shaped and often guided our history. This survey panel showcases some you should know about.
    Time: Sat 11:30 pm Location: Athens - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Cecilia Dominic, Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin, Austin Sirkin, Valerie Hampton)

    -------------------
    Title: Oops, I Sold My Novel. Now What?
    Description: Selling your novel is Step One. Presenters will discuss what happens next. How do you make your first novel the success you dreamed about?
    Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: John L. Flynn, Lucienne Diver, Leanna Renee Hieber, Michael J. Martinez, Scott Sigler, Jean Marie Ward)

    -------------------
    Title: Ursula K. Le Guin: Honoring a Grand Master
    Description: The field lost a great voice last year when Ursula K. Le Guin passed. We will be honoring the author of The Left Hand of Darkness and Wizard of Earthsea (among others) by discussing her work and life.
    Time: Sun 05:30 pm Location: International South - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists:) Erika A. Domeika, Jean Marie Ward, Trisha Wooldridge

    -------------------
    Title: Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Readings
    Description: Tasty bite-sized readings from some of your favorite & soon-to-be-favorite authors.
    Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: Techwood - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Gail Z. Martin, John G. Hartness, K.M. Herkes, Linda Robertson, Trisha J. Wooldridge, Jeanne P Adams, Nancy Northcott)

    -------------------
    Title: Win, Lose, or Draw
    Description: Our annual try at getting our fellow fans to figure out what you're drawing. There will be prizes for the winning team.
    Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: Embassy AB - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward)

    -------------------
    Title: The Devil in the Details: A Lucifer Fan Panel
    Description: A moderated fan-panel discussion of the hit show's third season
    Time: Mon 02:30 pm Location: Chastain 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Kevin Bachelder, Eric R. Asher, Jean Marie Ward, Kristin Jackson, John G. Hartness)

    Tuesday, May 22, 2018

    My Balticon 52 Schedule

    Memorial Day Weekend is just around the corner, and we all know what that means—Balticon! Celebrate the real start of summer with a couple thousand of your favorite friends at Baltimore’s Renaissance Harborplace Hotel. Oh yeah, I’ll be there, too, with a wonderful selection of panels. Check them out.

    Saturday
    1 PM, Kent Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
    Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeanne Adams, J.L. Gribble, Lisa Hawkridge, A.L. Kaplan, Gail Z. Martin, Cara McKinnon, Karen Wester Newton (w/a Carmen Webster Buxton), Jennifer Povey, Ken Schrader, D.H. Timpko, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Joan Wendland.

    9 PM, St. George Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Reading with Ruthanna Emrys, Michael M. Jones, Jean Marie Ward

    Sunday
    1 PM, Guilford Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Writing the Spectrum of Feminine Strength
    Jamaila Brinkley, Valerie J. Mikles (Moderator), Michelle Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward

    5 PM, Gibson Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    20 Years Later: Cowboy Bebop
    Bugsy Bryant (Moderator), Christiana Ellis, Jean Marie Ward

    6 PM, Homeland Meeting Room (Fifth Floor)
    Useful Rabbit Holes for Writers—and How to Climb out of Them
    Jim Beall, Marilyn “Mattie” Brahen, Mildred Cady (Moderator), Andy Love, Jean Marie Ward

    8 PM, Room 8006
    Making Fantasy Feel Real
    Brenda Clough, Leah Cypess, Lisa Hawkridge, Jean Marie Ward

    Monday
    Noon, Room 7029
    Writing for Themed Anthologies.
    T. Eric Bakutis, Neil Clarke, Alex Shvartsman (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward

    2 PM, Mount Washington Meeting Room (Fifth Floor)
    Writing Intriguing Characters
    Martin Berman-Gorvine (Moderator), Michelle Sonnier, D.L. Wainright, Jean Marie Ward, Joy Ward

    If you want to learn more, check out the Balticon website and their online schedule. You know it’s going to be fun!

    Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    My Schedule for RavenCon 2018


    It’s con season—and not a moment too soon. This year, it may be the only way to tell spring has sprung.
    First up is one of my favorites, RavenCon. I hope you’ll join me and guests like Chuck Wendig, Mark Cline and Eric Wile in Williamsburg, Virginia, April 20-22. The programming, as you can see from my schedule, can’t be beat:

    Friday
    5 PM, Room 4
    Reading
    Panelists: Val Griswold-Ford and Jean Marie Ward

    6 PM, Room 8
    Worldbuilding: Crafting New Worlds--How to create worlds and universes that are unique and original.
    Panelists: Michael Thompson (M), Jennifer R. Povey, Mark H. Wandry, Jean Marie Ward

    8 PM, Room 8
    How Women Challenge and Change Science Fiction and Fantasy--We'll go over the influence of both female characters and female authors on science fiction and fantasy.
    Panelists: Jean Marie Ward (M), Andrea Judy, Kettle Macaulay, Misty Massey

    Saturday
    3-5 PM, Room 5
    Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading—Two hours of bite-sized readings from some of your favorite authors—with chocolate and door prizes.
    Panelists: Jean Marie Ward (M), Samantha Bryant, Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Paula S. Jordan, A.L. Kaplan, Emily Lavin Leverett, Gail Z. Martin, Jennifer R. Povey, Ken Schrader, Leona R. Wissoker

    5 PM, Room 8
    Making the Impossible Plausible--How can you make the impossible seem at least somewhat plausible in your writing?
    Panelists: John G. Walker (M), Jim Beall, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Jean Marie Ward

    6 PM, Room 8
    Effective Writing of Historical Fiction--How to keep the historical part of your writing from flying into the fantastical.
    Panelists: Sandra J. Baldari (M), L. Jagi Lamplighter, Cecilee Linke, Jean Marie Ward

    7 PM, Room L
    Falstaff Books Spotlight—The latest from the Misfit Toys of your favorite small press.
    Panelists: John G. Hartness (M), Darin Kennedy, Misty Massey, Jean Marie Ward

    9 PM, Room L
    It’s a Con. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Our panelists know, and they’ve promised to tell all.
    Panelists: MrShirt (M), Stacey Helton, Greg Smith, Jean Marie Ward

    If you want to learn more, check out the RavenCon website and their onlineschedule. Or better yet, join us there. You won’t regret it.

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017

    Capclave, my hometown con specializing in short fiction, is coming up this weekend. Don’t miss your chance to see our award-winning guests of honor, Ken Liu and Neil Clarke, as well as hang with the some of the friendliest writers around. (Yeah, I’ll be there, too. But the rest of them are really nice. Honest.)
    My schedule this year is particularly choice, encompassing a number of topics dear to my heart. I hope I’ll see you at the panels and readings. And as always, I come equipped with chocolate.

    Friday
    3 PM, Rockville/Potomac
    Worldbuilding in Science Fiction vs. Fantasy
    Are there distinctions in how worldbuilding is approached for a fantasy setting rather than a science fiction setting? Are there different approaches in how the result is presented to the reader? Are there challenges on one side of the fantasy/SF split that are less of an issue on the other? Panelists: Charles Gannon, Jean Marie Ward (m), Lawrence Watt-Evans, Allen Wold

    7 PM, Rockville/Potomac
    Write What You Don't Know
    Fantasy authors rarely get irate email from dragons saying they got it wrong. How to write characters from places and times that you don’t know but members of your audience do, and why it’s important to get outside your comfort zone. Panelists: Scott H. Andrews, Joshua Palmatier, Michael Ventrella (m), Jean Marie Ward

    Saturday
    11 AM, Bethesda
    Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
    Broad Universe is an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Members will be doing readings from their own works. Readers: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeanne Adams, Vickie Hartman DiSanto, Karen Wester Newton (aka Carmen Webster Buxton), Jennifer Povey, Janine K. Spendlove, Denise Timpko, Jean Marie Ward (m)

    1 PM, Bethesda
    Reading (30 minutes)

    4 PM, Salon A
    Use of Mythology in Science Fiction and Fantasy
    There are a lot of different mythologies out there, with both similarities and differences.  How do we incorporate and adapt them when writing our stories.  What's acceptable to adapt and change, especially when using a mythology from a culture not one's own. E.g. dragons in Europe and dragons in various Asian countries often have quite different motives and personalities ascribed to them. Panelists: Jack Campbell, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Scott Roberts, Michelle Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward (m)

    Sunday
    3 PM, Frederick
    The Economics of Magic

    How do you use magic in your fantasy work so that it doesn't become a get out of jail free option?  When your characters use magic what are the costs to the magic user or the fantasy world?  Should conservation of energy apply? Panelists: Scott H. Andrews, Jean Marie Ward (m), Lawrence Watt-Evans

    Sunday, September 10, 2017

    "Cat Pictures Please" with a side of Aeslin Mice



    Don’t expect me to rip the bandage off any dark secrets in this year’s #HoldOntoTheLight essay. No, I’m not blowing off the campaign. Yes, there’s a blog ahead. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m snuffling through the infamous Post Dragon-Con Crud (tm), and I lack the functional brain cells necessary for any kind of depth.

    Which is the whole point. There are times even those of us blessed with a psychiatric nurse/expert Jungian for a mother and a personality default of Mean Girl can’t work up the energy for self-examination, much less meaningful social, political or emotional action.

    And that’s okay.

    Repeat those words. Say them to yourself and own them, because it’s not only okay, it’s important to your body and your soul to accept there are times when you need to be nice to yourself.

    I won’t argue that disasters big and small crater the landscape—devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, political chaos, bigotry, war, famine, plagues, the fall of cultural icons and personal heartache. I also believe we need to throw our shoulders to wheel and do everything we can to address the problems we face. But not 24/7. The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak, and trust me, the flesh will do everything in its power to drag the spirit down to its level. When that happens, you do whatever you need to keep yourself going, no matter how silly or frivolous it might appear.

    2006 and 2007 were two of the worst years of my life. My dear friend and cowriter Teri Smith suffered a fatal embolism in 2006, and my mother died the following year. To. The. Day. I got through it thanks to three things: my husband, my dearest and oldest friend Cath, and Duzie, the cat Teri and I rescued from the halls of her apartment building a few weeks before she died.

    Duzie was my first cat. A better teacher in the ways of cat could not be found. He was gentle and tolerant, allowing me to cry into his soft fur as long as I wanted. But he had very definite views on his place in the food chain (at the top) and in the house (wherever he damn well pleased).

    But he was also an old cat. He died in the spring of 2012 after a three-month decline. For those of you who don’t have pets, it may seem strange, but those three months were a nightmare flashback to the worst days of Teri’s and my mom’s death, with an added load of guilt, because I didn’t know what was happening, much less how to make it better. I should’ve been able to make it better. I was an educated human being, with all the advantages of 21st century veterinary medicine. Why couldn’t I help one small cat? And worse, the fear that whispered in the dark of night: Were my efforts to save him adding to his pain?

    I quickly lost the ability to write. I expected that. It had happened before when my mom went on hospice care. So I knew the desire and ability would return once the worst of the grief had passed.

    What I didn’t expect was losing the will to read. Oh, I could still make sense of words on a page. My comprehension was fine. But I lost all pleasure in the act. The lifeboat that had carried me through the worst of bad times was gone. Why? Because my emotional skin was too thin to suffer the conflict inherent in all good stories.

    It took me a full two weeks after Duzie’s death to find something I could bear to read—Discount Armageddon, the first book in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series and the happiest, fluffiest novel she had published to date. I knew going in that everything would turn out okay. Along the way there was ballroom dancing, a found family of delightful oddballs, redemptive romance and, best of all, a colony of Aeslin Mice interrupting the action at the funniest moments to sing the oddest praises of the Price family.

    Reading got easier after Discount Armageddon, but only because I didn’t push. I read for pleasure, not to impress anybody. If I felt like reading cozy mysteries or category romances, I did. Their formulaic structure was more than part of their charm; it was actively healing.

    By the time Naomi Kritzer’s joyous short story, “Cat Pictures Please”, began collecting award nominations I was more than ready to vote for it. I had internalized the over-sized truth contained in its small word count: it’s the little kindnesses that make us whole. Share cat pictures or dog pictures or gifs of hamsters in hats, and you could ease someone’s (or something’s) pain just enough to save the world.

    The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Life is a lot like airplane turbulence. You need to be sure you can breathe before you can take care of anyone else.

    So cut yourself some slack. Pamper yourself with ice cream, cat pictures, Aeslin Mice or whatever soothes your soul. A little break won’t turn a mountain of problems into a molehill, but a little kindness just might make that mountain easier to scale.

    You’re welcome. No need to thank me. As the lady and the AI said, payment is in cat pictures.

    #

    About the campaign:

    #HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment. 

    Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK),SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

    To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to http://www.HoldOnToTheLight.com and join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeHoldOnToTheLight


    Sunday, August 13, 2017

    All the cool kids posted their Dragon Con schedules last week. But I held out until I could be sure I had a reading. Thanks to John Hartness of Falstaff Books, now I do! On Saturday afternoon at one o’clock you can hear me read a teaser from “Blood and Strawberries”, the urban fantasy novella Falstaff will be publishing in 2018!

    But I’m getting ahead of myself. Although the con’s programming folks hope their schedules are firm and good, things can change up to the minute we start the panel. Heck, I’ve sat on panels where things continued to change even after we took our places at the table. Wild as they seem, many of the details of my story “Protective Coloring” in Gilded Dragonfly Books’ new anthology The Rise of the Phoenix were drawn straight from con life.

    But enough with the shameless self-promotion. You’re here for the schedule–and a fine one it is!

    The Oldest Profession: History’s Most Famous Harlots
    Description: History has a lot of unsung heroes, none more surprising as its harlots. Contrary to what you may have read in the history books, our present has been shaped and often guided by some of the most notorious and celebrated madams and working women. This survey panel showcases some of the best!
    Time: Fri 10:00 PM Location: Athens – Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Faith Hunter, Cherie Priest, Jean Marie Ward, Misty Massey)

    Falstaff Books Reading
    Description: John Hartness and the writers of Falstaff Books read from their new and forthcoming titles.
    Time: Sat 1 PM Location: Piedmont – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: John Hartness, Darin Kennedy, Jay Requard, Joelle Reizes, R.R. Virdi, Jean Marie Ward)

    No Ordinary Town: A Midnight, Texas Fan Panel
    Description: A moderated fan-panel discussion of the show based on the best-selling book series by Charlaine Harris
    Time: Sat 05:30 PM Location: Chastain 1-2 – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Jeri Westerson, Jean Marie Ward)

    Lost Worlds: The Science Fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle
    Description: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for Sherlock Holmes, but he also wrote sf. Our panelists help to shed light on these works.
    Time: Sat 07:00 PM Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Bethany Kesler, Jaym Gates, Jean Marie Ward)

    The Deviance and Depravity of Victorian England
    Description: The repression of the Victorian era meant depravity of the most devious kinds behind closed doors. This panel goes over the pornography, taboos, sexuality, and gender identity of those naughty Victorians. We’ll also be including visual examples from the era for the oh so mature of audiences.
    Time: Sun 01:00 AM Location: Athens – Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
    (Tentative Panelists: Sara E Neathery, Jean Marie Ward, Karianne Gottschalk)

    1632: The Ring of Fire Series Author Roundtable
    Description: 1632 and the subsequent novels, anthologies, and sprawling speculative fiction work of Eric Flint, Charles E. Gannon, and other authors who have contributed to anthologies have expanded this 17th Century Alternate History work into a grand shared world to be enjoyed, explored, and discussed.
    Time: Sun 04:00 PM Location: Augusta – Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Eric Flint, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Griffin Barber, Toni Weisskopf)

    Playing in Someone Else’s Universe
    Description: The rise of indie publishing and crowdfunding has led to an increase in shared world anthologies and other projects, many in well-established fictional universes. Panelists discuss the challenges they’ve faced adapting to worlds not of their own making.
    Time: Sun 05:30 PM Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Kacey Ezell, Todd McCaffrey, Griffin Barber)

    Collaborations, Critique Groups and Beta Readers
    Description: Today’s writers find creative help in ways writers of the past didn’t have access to. What’s right for a writer depends on many things. This panel discusses whether a collaboration, critique group or beta reader is the perfect choice–and how to find them.
    Time: Sun 07:00 PM Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Jane Yolen, Jake Bible, David B. Coe, Mercedes Lackey, Richard Lee Byers)

    Beyond Victorian: Alt. History in Other Cultures and Eras
    Description: if you can’t bear the sight of one more crumpet, how about nativepunk, retrofuture, or “Amish sci fi”? There’s a multitude of cultures and eras and subgenres that are begging to be explored. Our panelists explore new lands and times into the various aspects of alternate history.
    Time: Sun 08:30 PM Location: Athens – Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Margaret S. McGraw, A. J. Hartley, Michael Bunker)

    Win, Lose Or Draw
    Description: Our host, Jean Marie Ward, puts contestants through their paces testing out their artistic abilities in getting teammates to guess names, places, things from science fiction and Dragon Con itself. There will be prizes!
    Time: Mon 01:00 PM Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
    Moderator / MC for panel
    (Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward)

    Looking forward to seeing you there!

    ###

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    My Balticon 2017 Schedule

    Spring has sprung, and Memorial Day is less than a week away. You know what that means: Balticon! This year’s con will again be held at the Marriott Renaissance overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, May 26-29. I’ll be appearing on six program items, including two readings:

    Saturday, May 27
    Noon, Kent Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Writing Interesting and Effective Short Stories
    Hildy Silverman (Moderator), Scott Edelman, Malka Older, Jean Marie Ward and Fran Wilde

    3 PM, St. George Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Author Readings
    Bjorn Hasseler, Jean Marie Ward, Ted Weber

    6 PM, Kent Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Broad Universe Rapid Fire Readings
    Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Roxanne Bland, Lauren Harris, A.L. Kaplan, Gail Z. Martin, Cara McKinnon, Christie Meierz, Jennifer R. Povey, Roberta Rogow, D.H. Timpko

    7 PM, Pride of Baltimore Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Mythology as a Basis for Speculative Fiction
    Kim Hargan (Moderator), Tom Doyle, Ada Palmer, David Silverman, Jean Marie Ward

    Sunday, May 28
    Noon, Pride of Baltimore Meeting Room (Sixth Floor)
    Social Media Promotion Without Being Obnoxious
    Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Melissa L. Hayden, Nathan Lowell, Hildy Silverman, Michael Ventrella

    4 PM, Guilford Meeting Room (Fifth Floor)
    Judging an Editor’s Work
    Kay Baiman (Moderator), Jamaila Brinkley, Jennifer Levine, Jean Marie Ward, Joy Ward


    Hope to see you there!

    Sunday, January 29, 2017

    Because some have forgotten

    In 1883 a Jewish writer named Emma Lazarus was asked to write a poem to help raise money for the pedestal needed before the Statue of Liberty could be erected on what became Liberty Island in New York Harbor. She refused until southern writer (really southern--she helped sew the original Confederate battle flag) Constance Cary Harrison convinced her how important that statue could be to immigrants sailing into the harbor.

    Ultimately she wrote a sonnet titled "The New Colossus", after the statue which stood astride the harbor of Rhodes, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Since 1903 the words have hung within Lady Liberty's pedestal. They read:

    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
     With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
     Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
     A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
     Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
     Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
     Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
     The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

     "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
     With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
     Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
     The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
     Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
     I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    As someone who was in the Pentagon on 9/11, two corridors away from the point of impact, I reject the hypocrisy of those hiding their craven bigotry under the flag of national security. I stand with the Mother of Exiles. I welcome the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I live for the day when we once again open that golden door.