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Update

Hi all!

It’s been a busy month. After returning from ICON, I’ve been hitting revisions to Project Awesome with renewed zeal and have finally finished! I sent the novel off to Beta readers last week and spent the weekend relaxing. Now, though, it’s back to work.

Today I’ll brainstorm ideas for my next novel project and tackle short story revisions I had on hold while I finished Project Awesome. I’m also currently Beta reading a friend’s novel. so must get through a few more chapters of that today. The final piece of the puzzle is my day job, which is heating up as we head into the last few weeks of the semester. Lots of exams and grading coming up, which is no fun. BUT one of my favorite times of year – Christmas season – is also about to kick off.

Thursday, of course, is Turkey Day, and I’ll be cooking an epic feast for friends and family. And then…THEN WE CAN GET OUR CHRISTMAS TREE. Once we’ve got the tree, I can drink eggnog and decorate it. Once it’s decorated, I can spend many evenings sitting and enjoying the pretty lights and delicious smell of pine needles (also while drinking eggnog). So, I’m excited for that.

So, yay for finishing novels and dreaming up new ones and drinking eggnog and putting up Christmas trees!

ICON recap

I just got back from ICON and chilly Iowa late last evening. Though the fridge is empty and my cat spent most of the night meowing in my face, it’s good to be home–especially since I’m returning refreshed and inspired.

I went to ICON so I could attend Paradise Icon, a writing workshop organized annually by my friend and fellow Viable Paradise graduate Catherine Schaff-Stump. It’s a lovely workshop. There were ten of us this year, which did mean a lot of reading beforehand, but we’ve all gotten to the point now that our writing is good, so the critiques were fun rather than painful. A lot of the attendees were friends from VP or folks I’ve met at other workshops, like Paradise Lost, but there were some new friends as well.

Cath organized a great workshop. The whole first day was critiques, which were incisive and on-point, while the second day was a balance of talks with some of the pros in attendance at the Con (Jim C. Hines, Elizabeth Bear, and Scott Lynch) and professional activities, like an author meet-and-greet and a reading. In between, of course, was lots of food and socializing and all of us generally nerding out about writing and fandom and all that good stuff.

Friday night we sat in the bar and helped each other work on pitches for our novel projects and Sunday morning some of us made time for a group writing session. ICON is a small, very chilled-out Con filled with very nice people, so the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. Every single participant in the workshop was exactly the kind of person you want in a workshop — smart, creative, supportive, and talented.

In all, it would be hard to ask for a better weekend. I even got to meet a writing hero of mine, Joe Haldeman (author of the brilliant Forever War). He couldn’t have been nicer as he gave us some advice and regaled us with stories of hanging out with Arthur C. Clarke back in the day. It was awesome.

Now, I think it’s time to sit down and write!

ICON-bound

Tomorrow I head to the cornfields of Iowa to participate in ICON and to take part in Paradise ICON, the con-associated workshop run by my friend Catherine Schaff-Stump.

Though there are still quite a few workshop submissions to critique between now and Friday, I’m excited! This will be my first Con or workshop since the writing retreat I attended in Philadelphia in June and I’m looking forward to being in the company of fellow writers again.

The schedule is jam-packed, with signings, author meet-and-greets, and a reading (my first!) snuggled in alongside workshop activities.

If you’ll be at ICON, my schedule of writer appearances is as follows:

  • Saturday, Nov. 1st 10:00am – noon — Writer Meet and Greet in Rosewood.
  • Saturday, Nov. 1st 7:00pm – 9pm — Paradise ICON Rapid Fire Reading in Chestnut

I haven’t decided yet what I’ll read from yet, but be sure to drop by to find out and to hear all the other wonderful readings from the workshop participants!

Today is Day 3 of my impromptu urban writing retreat. So far, it has been a pretty awesome experiment.

On Monday, I met my friend George at the New York Public library on 5th Ave. We’d intended to work in one of my favorite spaces, the Rose Reading Room, but (naturally) that part of the library was closed for renovations. Fortunately, it was a beautiful fall day, so we relocated to Bryant Park, grabbed a table under a sun umbrella and chilled out for a couple hours. I worked on revising my novel and tried not to get stung by a crazy bee. Later we headed down to Housing Works Bookstore Cafe to hear a reading and panel discussion by Lev Grossman, Lauren Buekes, and Jeff Vandermeer.

Yesterday I decided to stay in-borough and risk the perils of invading a hipster paradise. I put on my best rolled up jeans and my most ironic army jacket and headed to Brooklyn Roasting Company in DUMBO. I can see why all the hipsters want to keep this place for themselves. It’s awesome. The space is huge and there’s a lot of seating (still, I had to really hunt for a free table). I scored a fab spot on the bar along the front window looking out over the East River. There was good tea, lots of light, plenty of background buzz, and super-tasty donuts. I wrote 2500 words on a new short story.

Today I’m meeting George again. Our plan is try the fabled Lobby Bar at the Ace Hotel. We figure if we get there early we can beat the start-up kids who supposedly camp out there. If it sucks…well, stay tuned!

So far, the best thing about the urban writing retreat isn’t that I’m getting lots of writing done (though, I am being quite productive). It’s that I’m being reminded what an amazing city I live and how many wonderful things I have available to me for the swipe of a Metrocard and cost of a donut :)

Don’t get me wrong, I have a proper home office (which basically is the elusive unicorn of NYC housing), but a change of scenery can be invigorating. This week has been a great reminder of that.

Urban Writing Retreat

The college where I teach is closed next week for the Jewish holidays, so I have an entire five days to devote solely to my writing! Yay!

To make the most of this, I’m planning an Urban Writing Retreat for myself. The idea is to have all the perks of a writing retreat without spending a bunch of money or leaving my home city (NYC).

In doing research over the last few days, I’ve discovered (perhaps unsurprisingly) that there are some fantastic places to write for free (or for the price of a latte) in the city.

From indie cafes in DUMBO, Greenwich village, and SoHo to some of New York’s many wonderful libraries (the Rose Reading Room at the NYC Public Library and Poet’s House) to less conventional locations like the lobby of the Ace Hotel, I’ve got a really fun schedule lined up. And, naturally, I’ll have to take breaks for lunch and will need delicious fare to sustain me. Good thing NYC has so many awesome restaurants!

My writing goals for the retreat are to finish a short story to submit to the Paradise ICON writing workshop I’m attending in October and to get as close as possible to finishing the version of Project Awesome I’ll send to Beta readers.

I’m so excited!

Ugh, where to begin? It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but also a great couple of weeks (isn’t life just like that sometimes?).

Between finishing up my last hectic trip of the summer (to a wonderful, wonderful wedding in Charleston), getting sick with some sort of sad hybrid cold/stomach bug thing, starting the semester, and having my costochondritis flare up in the worst way (think clavicle literally pulling away from sternum…ouch!), I am feeling a little worn around the edges (or delirious, depending on whether or not I’m taking my yummy painkillers).

After a summer of lovely but disruptive travel, I finally have time to devote to my writing again and I’m feeling inspired and eager to work. My goals for the fall are to work on writing faster and with less hesitation. There will be new words every day, even revision and editing days. I will not allow myself to agonize over first drafts (as is my wont) and I will take a deeper dive into emotion and creativity. I will experiment more with short stories and drive forward more aggressively with my novel projects.

So, that’s the plan. Time to get to work.

Today is the first day of the fall semester, and so the wild rumpus begins again.

I’ve only just returned from our two week trip to Norway and am crazy jet-lagged. Setting the time difference aside, it’s pretty disorienting to go from wearing winter clothes in August while hiking through a spectacular fantasy landscape in 22 hours of daylight to sweating on the concrete streets of Brooklyn. Suffice it to say, I’m still adjusting to being back.

The trip was, in a word, breathtaking. I honestly felt as though I were exploring the wild and untamed wilderness of Lord of the Rings. The fjords were so serene, so still, and so immense that you felt almost invisible. A tiny speck of a thing passing nearly unnoticed through a landscape untouched by modern blight. We spent about five days all told exploring places (almost entirely by boat and canoe) with magical names like Songefjord, Esefjord, Faerlandsfjord, Naeroyfjord, and Hardangerfjord. And I really thought it could not get any better.

Then we rented a car and drove the hairpins turns up into the Jotenheim mountains. There were far fewer tourists here — I think the peaks outnumbered the people. And those peaks were insane. Jagged and soaring with hooks and glaciers (so many glaciers!) and spires. I had thought the fjords immense but the mountains truly dwarfed all. We passed through eerie moonscapes covered only with moss and lichen in some places, and richly forested slopes adorned with roaring waterfalls in others. One day we drove up to the the highest car accessible point (Jurvasshytta). It was snowing at the top and all the mountains spread out below us. I felt as if our car might simply slip off the narrow little road and tumble down and down forever. It was terrifying. Also, exhilarating. We hiked until our legs gave out and stuffed ourselves full of wine and salmon and venison and potatoes in the evenings, curling up in front of a crackling fire while the Norwegian night grew colder and colder.

It was hard, honestly, to think about leaving all the silence and beauty and returning home.

But, home we had to go.

So now I’m back and thrust into the chaotic world of New York and work and the subway and students and noise and people, people, people. This is all wonderful in its own lively way, but (honestly) I miss Norway.

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