Free Fiction Friday: Poem: “I Just Confessed I Love You”

Craig first insulted my taste in books on the internet on Black Friday, 2003. It’s weird to know that I’ve known him for ten years now, and to think about how much we changed from those 15 and 16 year olds we were when we met.

So here’s a sort of love poem. I don’t normally go for mushy ones, so this is about how petrified I felt after I told Craig I loved him. A bit personal, but then again, isn’t most writing?

supernova

I Just Confessed “I Love You”
Laura Lam

The words were there.
I had sent them,
pixels forever in cyberspace.
I stared at them and began
to supernova.

My hair was a red-gold corona,
my skin sloughed and shed,

floating away in delicate, translucent nebulae
of red, green, and purple.
My veins unfurled into the arms
of the Milky Way,
blood trickled
into stars.

I’ve stripped myself farther
than to the bone. You can see
the black hole at the center.
A single, infinite point.
Waiting.

If you enjoyed this poem, please consider purchasing my full-length work, Pantomime & forthcoming Shadowplay.

Free Fiction Friday: “Pseudonym”

This is the first short story I wrote for university. It’s the first short story I’d written for a very long time, and the first bit of writing I showed to people I didn’t know – the other people in my class. I feel I’ve come a long way since writing it, but I still like it and think it has my voice. So here it is.

whats-in-a-name

“Pseudonym”

by

Laura Lam

“Integrity: A name is the blueprint of the thing we call character. You ask, What’s in a name? I answer, Just about everything you do.” -Morris Mandel

When he walked into the diner every head glanced up with bleary eyes, then, uninterested, returned to staring into their cups of coffee. My eyes stayed upon him.

There wasn’t any particular reason why they should do so—he wasn’t extraordinary in looks—but there was a way he moved. He moved like he came from the city; his legs swished stiffly, like scissors. Here in Imogene, Iowa, our strides are looser, wider, more relaxed. He paused in the doorway, silhouetted by the morning sunlight behind him, taking in the tired jukebox, the faded, faux-leather red seats, the tarnished chrome. It no longer bothered me, but I knew the stale miasma of old grease and cheap coffee wafted towards him. For a moment, he hesitated, but after a resigned squaring of the shoulders, the man met my stare and sat in my section.

I came over with the coffeepot. He gave a quick nod of his head and I poured it. He wore a ratty cap pulled low on his forehead, casting a shadow over his face. His dark clothes were almost caked with smog. New York, I decided. As I leaned over to pour the coffee, he noticed my nametag.

“Sage,” he said. “It means wisdom. A good, strong name.”

“What, no hippie joke?” I said with the smile I always reserved for customers who commented on my name.

“It was around long before the hippies.”

“I suppose.” I paused. “What’s your name?”

He looked up and the light fell across him. He seemed to be somewhere in his mid-twenties. Half of his face was covered in a 5 o’clock shadow, but the other half was almost shockingly pale, and with one mole marring a cheek he looked like a ying-yang sign.

He grimaced. “Puck.”

“Like the fairy in A Midsummer’s Night Dream?” I asked, intrigued to discover someone else with an unusual name. Here, everyone was named Jessica, Britney, John, or Todd.

“That’s one meaning, but I don’t think I’m much like him.” He smiled, showing white teeth. As another waitress passed behind me in a pastel pink blur, his eyes flicked towards her.

“See, her name? Sarah. It sounds boring, it’s ubiquitous, and all it means is princess in Hebrew.”  I suppressed an un-waitress-like snigger. Sarah wasn’t exactly a princess.

“What’s in a name?” I said with a more genuine smile. He gave a lopsided grin in return, but I had the feeling he’d probably heard that line before.

I took his order of eggs and bacon to the kitchen, watching him from behind the counter. He drew lazy organic designs on the tabletop with a fingertip. His eyes occasionally followed Sarah as she weaved her way among the customers, taking in the bleached hair, the tan, the raccoon’s mask of mascara and eyeliner. She was the opposite of me in looks. I looked down at the cracked linoleum countertop for a moment, biting my lip.

As Sarah sashayed back towards the kitchen, she flicked back her mock-blond hair and lifted her stenciled eyebrows at me. I just smiled back. That eyebrow lift signaled “he’s cute.” I agreed with her, for once; usually her tastes ran to the big, blonde and blockheaded, and so generally her eyebrow lift was met with my nose scrunching up with distaste. We usually passed judgment on the attractiveness of customers to help make the shifts a bit livelier, but this time it felt hollow.

When I returned with Puck’s order, he had torn and folded his Rainier’s napkin into a little crown. He pushed it to the side so I could set the plate down.

“Fantastic!” He exclaimed. He picked up his knife and fork and immediately began eating.

“Do you want another napkin?” I asked. He wolfed down his food, but not messily or noisily. I can’t stand messy eaters, and unfortunately our diner was usually full of them. The sound of the almost violent way people masticated their food always turned my stomach. Usually people tend to attack their food like a hunter descending on their prey. Puck ate his food like a surgeon. Since entering the service industry, I judged people on their manners.

“Uh,” he did not appear to have heard me, but had noticed I was still standing by the table.

“Do you want another napkin?” I repeated. “They’re free.” I added, stupidly.

“Yes, that’d be great,” he had chewed and swallowed his food before answering, which I found rather endearing. So many customers yelled at me for more ketchup or syrup, the half-chewed pancakes and sausage looking like maggots in their mouths, bits of egg caught on their chin. Puck had eaten half his meal by the time I returned with a few napkins. He had little crinkles around his eyes; either he laughed a lot or he was older than he seemed.

“So, how and when are you getting out of this place?” Puck asked as soon as I put the napkins down next to his plate.

“How do you know I wanna leave?” I asked, placing a fist on my hip and emphasizing my mid-western twang. “Maybe I’m gonna stay here till I’m wrinkled as a raisin.”

“I know you want to get away from here. I was just like you: too smart for a town or job like this,” he took a napkin and wiped his mouth. I made sure none of my colleagues were within earshot.

“I’m going to college. I’ll leave when I’m finished.”

“Des Moines?”

“No, I want to get out of this whole state. Maybe I’ll go to New York.” I was fishing to see if my assumption from where he was from was correct.

“I’m traveling from there. I guess you can tell. People seem to have a look about them if they’re from the city. Sort of beat down?” He shrugged and smiled.

“But it seems so alive compared to this place.” I glanced around my area and saw that the place was nearly empty and no bosses were around to yell at me, so I slid into the seat across from him.

“Being in a vibrant, busy city wears you down. Sometimes I have to get away, so I start wandering and stop at places like this.”

“Sounds romantic,” I said sarcastically, glancing around at the faded glory of the diner.  Compared to him, I felt like a little girl. He had obviously done and seen so much more than I probably ever would. We sat in mostly comfortable silence as he finished the last few bites of his meal. I kept trying to think of another conversation starter, but found myself shy. I opened my mouth once or twice and then abruptly snapped it shut. Puck, staring down at his plate, didn’t notice. When the plate had been scraped clean, he gave me a generous tip and the napkin crown.

“Thanks for the company. Don’t let this place wear you down,” he said with a wink as he left.

I stayed seated in the booth after he left. The end of the conversation had been anti-climatic. If only I could have impressed him, I berated myself, my fingernails scraping along the tacky leather of my seat as they balled up into a fist. In Puck I had glimpsed something of the outside world, a world that seemed so removed from my tiny, isolated sphere. Foolish girlish daydreams of running away with him warred with the pragmatic thought that one day I might be just like him: a mysterious stranger from a big city, experience writ large on my face.

“Only one more year and I’ll get out of here,” I confided to the little napkin crown in my hand.

 *

The next day, Sarah didn’t show up for work, so I did twice the amount of table cleaning. I cursed her as I used two wet rags to draw wet figure-eights on the sticky tables. Sarah had the dubious honor of being the diner manager’s niece, so she could skip out whenever she wanted. Virginia, the other co-worker who usually shared my shifts, was also late, probably due to entertaining half the football squad the night before. That was unkind.

I scowled at the table, annoyed with my bitter morning thoughts. I had half-hoped that Puck would have breakfast here again. Time wore on. He was probably already driving his car—in my head it was a cherry-red Corvette—at exhilarating speeds down a distant freeway. He was long gone, making an enviable getaway from the fair town of Imogene. I, meanwhile, would have to work an extra shift just to get gas money to get to the next town. I sighed, ignoring the ringing phone at the other side of the dining area. Mr. Roberts, the manager, picked it up and held up the receiver to his mouth with his shoulder.

“Yeah, that’s me…what?”

He listened for a moment, glaring at a stain on the wall. Abruptly, the glass he had been polishing fell to the floor with a smash, the shards skittering across the floor.

*

Her body had been found early that morning in an abandoned warehouse, a dark cavern of broken glass, food wrappers, crushed aluminum cans, and condoms. Her body had been placed on an old recliner. So said the wagging tongues of the diners over the lunch rush. A detective came around the diner later that day and interviewed everyone. He had taken me aside and asked me the standard questions: When did you last see Sarah Roberts? Did you notice when she went missing? Had I noticed anything or anyone unusual? My answers were all vague. As the detective turned away from me and weaved through the tables to speak yet again to Sarah’s uncle, a photo slipped from his Manila folder and landed as lightly as a feather upon the floor.

Mesmerized, I stepped forward and peered down at it. Sarah looked back at me with unseeing eyes surrounded by smeared mascara and glitter. A bruise bloomed on one cheekbone. She was wearing a cheap, plastic crown, set slightly askew. Her hair framed her face in a corona. Her naked body lounged gracefully on the recliner, her throne. In death, despite her dollar-store crown and filthy surroundings, she looked regal. But empty. She wasn’t Sarah any longer. It was like looking at a painting of a long-dead monarch. She came, she saw, she conquered. But she was conquered.

I picked up the photograph, but mid-crouch the importance of the crown suddenly stopped me cold. I stayed there, poised like a bird about to take flight. The cogs of my mind began to spin and my stomach churned. It was a coincidence. My mind suddenly saw the silver sheen of Sarah’s crown imposed over a little folded Rainier napkin nestled in my palm. No. I rifled through my memories of those few hours, frantically searching for any hint. How could I think so low of someone? Especially someone who had been so . . . friendly? So nice? It didn’t fit. But someone did this. This is a small town. He was just passing through. For what reason? No. He didn’t know her.

But he knew what her name meant. He had told me. Crown. Princess.

I turned away from the photograph and stumbled out the back door to the alleyway separating the diner from the only Chinese restaurant in Imogene. Numb, I leaned against the stone wall and slid down it until I was sitting, the hot asphalt burning into my palms.

My mind raced. If it was him, then it could have very well been me they found today. I couldn’t get my head around it. He had spoken to me, connected with me. Was that why he didn’t choose me? Had he been planning to get me, at first? Perhaps it had been like when a child goes to the zoo and pets a piglet and finally makes the connection between it and bacon. He couldn’t think of me as livestock. Or, perhaps he just wanted to kill the princess instead of wisdom. A gruesome image of a dead me dressed in a toga and laurel leaves, holding an aegis and a spear swam before my vision. I barked out a bitter semblance of a laugh.

The mechanisms of my mind whirred and finally clanked to a halt. Eventually I calmed down slightly, though my hands still shook and my heart continued to beat out irregular, staccato beats against my ribcage. For a long time I just sat, my mind completely blank.

When I could think again, I told myself I was just being morbid and ridiculous, but the pit of dread stayed in my stomach. Shaking my head, I shoved myself up, the imprint of the stones dug into my hands and my eyes burned hot and bright.

 *

After a few days, I convinced myself I was spinning webs that had too many holes in them to hold any flies. Sarah had always acted like a princess; some jilted lover had a dark, twisted sense of humor. Deep down, in a tiny dark corner of my mind where I refused to look, I think I knew I was fooling myself.

I never told the police about Puck. I didn’t tell the slick FBI agent that came a few months later either. I pushed it all from my mind as much as possible and I went back to the endless drudgery of bacon and eggs, hamburgers and fries, still counting the days until I received my diploma and could fly out of this tired town.

New York no longer held the same magic. I decided to go to sunny Los Angeles instead. Sometimes, I still took out the little napkin crown and looked at it.

Life went on. I waited on rude customers. I brought innumerable plates and took them away again. Eventually, Puck faded in my mind, becoming instead a vague feeling of unease and danger. But if anyone who looked like him came into the diner, I fled to the kitchen or the bathroom and made someone else take his table.

Graduation passed in a swirl of black robes and red balloons. I had saved enough of the crumpled one dollar notes of my tips to move. At last, the day came where I could quit, and I did. I said my goodbyes, loaded up my battered station wagon with my paltry possessions and waited for morning.

That night, I had a note pushed under my door, a tiny sprig of sage attached to it with a lavender ribbon:

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

Before I left, I checked, and Virginia hadn’t shown up for work.

 

If you enjoyed this free short, please consider purchasing my full-length novels, Pantomime & forthcoming Shadowplay.

WFC Update

The last progress report for the World Fantasy Convention went up, and it was really dismissive and terrible. Especially when it downplayed the harassment incident I blogged about earlier, reporting actual lies and using charged victim-blaming language:

“Regrettably, we learned of one small harassment incident that occurred on the Saturday night when an extremely drunken fan made a nuisance of himself in the hotel Lobby. Unfortunately, he was not reported to either of the professional Security guards who were on duty at the time or any member of the con committee. As a result, by the time we had found out about the incident and ascertained the details, the individual concerned (who was not attending the Awards Banquet) had apparently already left the convention.”

seriously

I’m going to break down the inaccuracies. Alex Dally MacFarlane already did a great breakdown of the victim-blaming language here, and Emma Maree, one of my friends who was harassed, spoke up about her experience here.

1. we learned of one small harassment incident

I know that there was one man who harassed at least three women, and I heard rumours of two other people who were also crossing the line.

2.  an extremely drunken fan made a nuisance of himself in the hotel Lobby

The person wasn’t a fan, but in industry professional. This also is distancing, as WFC kept banging on about how this was an industry convention, not a fan convention (while still happily taking fan’s memberships). And it was nowhere near “making a nuisance of himself.” He made my friends deeply uncomfortable. I’m not even sure if it was in the Lobby, either.

3. he was not reported to either of the professional Security guards who were on duty at the time or any member of the con committee

I was the one who helped Emma and my other friend find someone to speak to, so this very much raised my hackles. I didn’t see any professional security guards, and even if I had seen them, I would have thought they were hired by the hotel and not the con, so I probably wouldn’t have gone to them. And it was indeed reported to a member of the con committee, another friend of mine (and this person reacted really well). The paragraph makes it sound like there was a huge delay before the incident was reported. It was maybe an hour, tops.

This is why, in my previous blog post, I stressed the importance of having a clear harassment policy in place. You can’t get mad at people for not following a policy that doesn’t exist. That makes no sense.

4. As a result, by the time we had found out about the incident and ascertained the details, the individual concerned (who was not attending the Awards Banquet) had apparently already left the convention.”

I was informed that the Board was told at 8 am the next morning about it. Had the person really left that early?

The whole thing leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. And it’s such a shame, too, because despite this huge disappointment, I had fun at WFC, and many people involved did a great job running and volunteering at the con, and this casts a shadow over that. If you care about the safety of your attendees, you don’t blame them in an email sent to every convention attendee. You don’t shame them for being brave enough to come forward. You don’t brush it away under a rug and lie on multiple points to try and make yourself look better. I didn’t really expect the board to do much, but I didn’t expect them to insult my friends, either. It’s like a parody of how I expected them to react.

Free Fiction Friday: “Caesura”

I have some fiction and poetry I wrote in university that I like and would like people to read. However, at the moment I don’t have the time to devote to going on the query merry-go-round with them, nor do I wish to self-pub them. So…I’ll put them on my blog every Friday.

The first one is the shortest poem I ever wrote, and one of my favourites. This was previously published in my university’s literary magazine, Occam’s Razor, in 2009 (volume 27).

caesura

“Caesura”

She had her last period
only to find that it was a comma,
a pause before a new idea,
new life,
comma spliced.

Pantomime Longlisted for the Catalyst Book Award & California Shadowplay Events

Catalyst-Longlist-plain-w7yfze-1024x747

This morning I noticed on Twitter that I’d been added to a Catalyst Book Award list by @LibrariesNL. A few clicks later, I found out Pantomime has been longlisted for the award! Yay! A huge congrats to everyone else on the list 🙂 From the website: “Catalyst is all about discovering and promoting the most exciting and thought provoking reading for teenagers in North Lanarkshire. This year we have a larger number of books in the longlist which hopefully means we are able to cater for all tastes.

Young people from all 24 North Lanarkshire High schools are encouraged to get involved in the Catalyst experience in a number of ways; from book groups within school or public libraries, to author visits and book reviews on the blog. Young people will then vote on which books in the longlist should make it onto the Catalyst shortlist and go forward to win the Catalyst Book Award 2014.”

So it’s like the NE Teen Book Award in that it’s decided by teens, which is really exciting. I’m really excited to be nominated!

In other news, I haven’t linked to the California Shadowplay events I have booked. Firstly, there will be a launch at Borderland Books in San Francisco. I’ve made a public Facebook event page here – anyone in the Bay Area, please do feel free to come along. I’d love to say hi!

On January 8th, there will be another event at my alma mater, California State University East Bay, as part of their Distinguished Writers series (does this mean I’m distinguished?!) They’ve made a flyer which has all the relevant information here. Would love if you could come to one or both of them!

Previously, on Pantomime…

I’ve written a short summary of the main events in Pantomime to refresh people’s memory before Shadowplay. I know I have a rotten memory when it comes to books, even if I really enjoy them.

However, the summary is fine, but doesn’t really come alive as much as I’d like. So I was thinking it’d be cool if people would comment with scenes they liked and go into more detail about them. What scene in Pantomime stuck in your head? Please post. I’ll feel so sad if there are no comments! 😉

So, without further ago, the Pantomime summary…it, quite obviously, has lots of spoilers!

Remember, Shadowplay is on Netgalley for a limited time for reviewers, and available for pre-order (links here).

Continue reading Previously, on Pantomime…

Books Read in October

1. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell. Can definitely understand the hype. I read it in a day and it made me smile. Reminded a lot of my teenage awkward romance and falling in love. Very sweet.

saga22. Saga, Volume 2 – Brian K. Vaughan. This is an amazing series. I’m so impatient for volume 3!

3. Locke & Key Volume 5 – Joe Hill. Another amazing series. That ends of a cliffhanger. Noooo!

4-6. Rachel Rising, Volumes 1-3 – Terry Moore. I read this on Steve Aryan’s recommendation, and it didn’t disappoint. A creepy, small town atmosphere with witches, magic, and people who just won’t stay dead. A little Twin Peak-y.

7. The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood. I listened to this one on audiobook. As ever, an excellent read of a near-future gone horribly wrong. Split between three narratives, all engaging. I have a signed copy of this from when I saw Atwood speak in Aberdeen a few years ago, and I remember someone asking why she set it partly in a spa. “Well,” she said. “If I had to spend the post-apocalypse somewhere, a spa seems a good enough place. It has fluffy pink towels.”

8. Fables, Volume 1 – Bill Willigham. I decided to start the series over again and catch up, as I’m about 6 volumes behind.

Lots of graphic novels this month, as I got a new tablet so I can read them properly! My old one broke and was an awkward size. I find them extra freeing to read when I’m in the midst of drafting novels as it’s a different medium.

World Fantasy Con 2013

So I’m back from World Fantasy Con in Brighton. I’m exhausted and distinctly under the weather, though I’m feeling a bit better now. It was my first and only convention of the year, I believe, and overall I had a wonderful, amazing time, though I do have one complaint, which I’ll get to after the excited squeeing.

This was my first con since Pantomime came out. It was so cool/bizarre/amazing to have a few people come up to me and say how much they enjoyed Pantomime, both some people I knew and even a few strangers! Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to tell me that. I even met Ellie (@patchworkbunny) who had just started Shadowplay. Thank you to Mieneke (@Pallekenl) for bringing me stroopwaffels 😀

withrobinhobbThe main highlight for me was being able to meet two of my favourite authors, and find out they’re both really nice people. I met Robin Hobb for the first time, and she gave me a big hug (I managed not to cry, but I came close). She’s been my favourite author since I was 15 and is a big influence, plus I also met my husband through her books. I even brought my husband’s battered childhood copy of Assassin’s Apprentice down to show her (much to his acute embarrassment). I also met Scott Lynch, another of my favourite authors, and got a hug from him too, as well as meeting the amazing Elizabeth Bear, whose books I must go hunt down now. In the photo below, Scott Lynch is wearing my glasses and making a sad face.scottlynch

It’s strange, meeting authors whose work you admire for the first time. You don’t know them, not really, but you’ve spent so much time in their imaginations. It’s a funny little disconnect.

I wasn’t on any panels, but I managed to sneak on and do a ninja reading with Amy McCulloch, which was fun. Amy’s reading was fantastic, so I felt a bit nervous following on after her. I loved the giant Alice in Wonderland thrones they had in the readings. It was funny going back and reading from Pantomime, since I hadn’t read the start of chapter two in a while. I had to resist the urge to go back and edit ;-).

laurareading
Photo credit @Girl___Friday

I went to a few of the programming events: the conversation with Terry Pratchett, which was sweet and a little melancholy. The “how far is too far” in YA panel, and the “are all the best books in genre now YA?” The first I found amusing as many of the authors were basically like “we have to discuss this so many times. When will we give the magical answer so that they stop making this panel at every convention?” Which, you know, is a fair point. I particularly enjoyed Francis Hardinge’s responses, and remember her saying something along lines of: “Books are comforting. Books are kind. Books are there when no one else is,” which stuck with me (though not enough for me to quote it verbatim with any certainty). The other YA panel was a veritable panel of YA royalty with Susan Cooper, Garth Nix, Neil Gaiman, Will Hill, and Holly Black. It was a good panel, though it seemed to sidetrack more into “what is YA?” rather than exploring what about YA makes them some of the most exciting works in genre, such as the blending of subgenres, et cetera.

terrypratchett
Sir Terry Pratchett
yaghosts
YA Ghosts

langoustineOn Saturday evening, I went out for dinner with my agent and the 11 or so of her authors that were in attendance! It was really great to meet some of them I only knew online and joke around with several more. There were a LOT of in-jokes spawned. To the left is a photo of Andrew Reid, Stephen Aryan, Tad Williams in the background, and a langoustine. That about sums up the tone of the night.

Mostly, what I came away from this con with was that so many people in genre are kind and welcoming, and it’s nice to geek out and see old faces and meet new ones. It’s fun to blend the lines between author, professional, and fan.

There was a bit of a dark spot on the con, unfortunately, and I did want to discuss it, as the con wasn’t as smooth for others as it was for me. There were complaints before the con about the lack of panel parity and the almost belligerent tone of official correspondence. Additionally, several people mentioned that there was no harassment policy, and this was an answer to the harassment policy FAQ:

“World Fantasy Convention 2013, as with any other predominantly adult gathering, will have a number of rules and regulations for the safety of attendees. These will be clearly stated in our Programme Guide, which will be given to each attendee when they register. In the meantime, we refer you to the UK’s Protection from Harassment Act 1997” (Source).

However, it was later changed to: “World Fantasy Convention 2013 will not tolerate any form of verbal or racial abuse, sexual harassment, aggression, violence or lewd behaviour towards any attendees or members of staff. If reported to our professional Security and Stewards or to a staff member—and substantiated by the event organisers—then any person deemed to have committed such an act will be immediately ejected from the convention without refund and may even be reported to the police under the UK’s Protection from Harassment Act (1997)” (Source).

Even though that’s much better, that’s not a specific, separate harassment policy, which many other conventions have. For example, here’s one for Nine Worlds, which covers what harassment is, what someone should do, also includes an anti-racism statement, and clearly states what will happen if they violate these conditions.

Two of my friends were harassed by a drunk man on Saturday night, making them feel incredibly uncomfortable. They compared notes and realized they should report it, and I helped them find someone to speak to. The organisers responded very well and quickly by taking down the information, but then the person in question was not, as far as they know, removed (though that FAQ answer up above says they would be), nor have they as of now been contacted for a follow up. There was one tweet that they were investigating a sexual harassment claim; however, they weren’t even sure if it was related to their experience, as there was evidently an author who was harassing women as well (though I’m not sure if anyone officially reported about the other person). I’m not mentioning names as I was not directly involved. I do know that these two names have been noted down for Bristolcon, and that they won’t be allowed to attend.

While obviously sexual harassment is protected by law, it would be nice if all cons, no matter how big or small, how professional of fan-oriented, put a harassment policy in place. Sometimes, people are lecherous and deeply unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean that the men or women harassed want to go through legal means and get them arrested. But if there is a policy in place, people who have been made to feel uncomfortable can know who they should contact (my friends couldn’t find any redcoats, as it was pretty late), and it would also make it clear what would happen should someone harass someone else. Ideally, this policy would never have to be enforced, but sadly, harassment is still all-too-common in conventions. By putting a harassment policy on the convention’s website, it’s at the very least a gesture that says to all attendees that the con itself cares about the safety and comfort of their attendees.

EDITED TO ADD: I’ve been informed that the incident was passed to the chairs of the convention at 8 am on Sunday and that the person who reported the incident has been followed up with today 🙂 I also want to clarify that I’m not attacking WFC, but mainly wished to stress the importance of clear anti-harassment policies for future conventions.

So, aside from that unpleasantness, it was a good con and I enjoyed myself. I’d do a huge name drop of all the wonderful people I saw again and met for the first time, but then we’d be here all day and I’d invariably forget someone. Often I come back after a con drained, but this time as Kim Curran and I took the train back from Brighton, we smiled happily, still buzzing from who we met and what we learned. Until the next con!

November Writing Goals

nanowrimoToday is All Souls Day, aka the first day of NaNoWriMo, where people endeavour to write 50,000 words in a month.

I’ve tried to do it a few times.

I always fail.

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this month, but I do have some writing goals:

1. Finish the first draft of my WIP (I hit 50,000 words on it yesterday, so now I have a NaNo-length thing! I drafted it in about 2-3 months, though). It does have a working title, but on social media I’ve been referring to it as Bonkers Book. I reckon I have about 20-25k left before the first draft is finished.

2. Try not to freak out as Shadowplay reviews begin to trickle in, and also start ramping up marketing for its release in January. I’ll be working with the publicity people at Strange Chemistry to organise a blog tour. Perhaps write a couple of guest posts in advance, so I’m not absolutely overwhelmed closer to launch.

3. Send off an application to the Scottish Book Trust to be on their author database for Live Literature, to hopefully book more school visits. Nearly done!

So it’s not NaNoWriMo, but it’ll still be a productive month. Overall, I think NaNoWriMo is a great project for people who want to dip into writing. For me, however, the pace is not sustainable (I like to edit as I go, think and figure out a plot snarl rather than racing through it and then having to re-write it), and the stress on word count over anything else ends up kicking my anxiety into gear. I wrote 30k for NaNo last year, and I had to throw it out and start again. Twice. So I know enough about my working style by now to know that NaNoWriMo is not for me.

The community and support is great fun, and I plan to tap into that to help motivate me to finish my draft. I’ll go to some of the Aberdeen meets and maybe do word wars with people online.

What are your November writing goals?