Author: Carrie Cuinn

Carrie Cuinn is an author, editor, bibliophile, modernist, and geek. In her spare time she listens to music, watches indie films, cooks everything, reads voraciously, publishes a magazine, and sometimes gets enough sleep. You can find her online at @CarrieCuinn or at

Plotting the Short Story Workshop starts tomorrow! Only one this year, and only $50!

GUARANTEE: if you go through the class and ultimately don’t find it useful, I will give you a free enrollment in any one of my future workshops, on any topic – no questions asked.

I always include a little one-on-one work with each student to help tailor the experience to the it individual needs. The average student can spend a couple of hours a week and get through the reading and assignments, though the exercises will have a much larger impact on your work.

All workshops take place in my private online forum, so you can post questions, comments, and writing excerpts without worrying who will see it. Plus, since we have deadlines of a certain day, not a set class hour, you can be anywhere in the world and still participate!

Now enrolling:

April 15, 2015

“Plotting the Short Story” – By request! We’ll cover:

Recognizing plot vs other elements in someone else’s story? How about in your own?

Different plot structures and plotting techniques.

Fitting a whole story into different lengths: flash (1000 and under), mid-length short story (about 4000 words), and longer short stories (up to 6500 words). And, what do you put in and what do you leave off the page?

Plus! Fundamentals of storytelling, prepping (including outlining, character arcs, and plot twists) and basic editing (including how to recognize the different moments of your story so you can move them around) are also covered.

$50 for 4 weeks: Sign up here 

If you’d like to join us but need a little flexibility on the start date, or assignment schedule, please let me know. I can always make accommodations for students. My goal is to help you walk through the lessons, to learn as much as you can… And I know that sometimes what works best for one student isn’t what’s right for another.

This is the only time in 2015 that I will be offering this particular workshop… I hope you can join us!

I hate to say this, but I need a little help.

I’ve done well, since I moved and started my new job, of keeping my head just barely above water, financially. I’d even started paying off old debt. I hoped I was past ever having to say something like this again. But the surgery – insurance deductible, medical expenses, and extra unpaid time off I ended up having to take – have put me in a great big hole. I’d intended to use the last week to advertise my upcoming workshop and find freelance work, but recovery continues to eat up my time. Even today, when I feel better, was mostly spent sleeping (probably to make up for almost three weeks of steroid-induced insomnia).

So, if you’re in a place to throw a few dollars my way, I would be very grateful. I have some new fiction that I am going put online (free to read) this week, so if you’d prefer, you can think of it as funding that :) You can click the link to get to my PayPal, or use my email address —  carriecuinn at the gmail.

And, thank you.

Stapedectomy Post Surgery Update, Day 17 (Should be the last one of these for a while)

I saw my ENT surgeon again yesterday; I’m cleared to go back to work on Monday. The vertigo was caused by a microscopic piece of bone debris, left over from the surgery, which had probably been trapped higher in my ear canal, but as the swelling went down as I healed, it fell onto the footplate of my inner ear, and irritated the cochlear nerve. (He could tell because that kind of irritant causes a very peculiar kind of vertigo, which explains why mine felt different than I’d imagined from reading explanations online.) Eventually, the bone fragment, likely smaller than a grain of sand, is absorbed or settles or breaks down further, and is no longer a problem, which is just about where I am.

Yesterday was also the last day that I had to take steroids to reduce swelling, and coincidentally was also the day I found out that medication has been the cause of the massive insomnia I’ve had since my surgery. Last night, I slept almost six hours, all in a row, for the first time in weeks, and I already feel 100% better than I have since before this all began.

I don’t go back in for another month, since at this point I should be past all of the potential problems. When I do, I’ll have a hearing test to determine how successful this surgery was. I don’t know if I still qualify as deaf, but I do know my hearing has greatly improved, even if the almost-too-much-to-take super hearing has gone away. So unless something major happens, this will be my last post on the subject until next month.

Would I do it again? Definitely! This time around, there was a lot I didn’t know, and I’d have been better prepared if I had. Plus, I had been sick just before the surgery, I spent most of my recovery time off with my nearly-teen son home all day on spring break (with my usual sitters both away on vacation), AND I ended up with a couple of “uncommon but not unheard of” side effects. Now that I know what the process really entails and what my body will need to recover, I can plan for it. I’m always better when I have a plan :)

That’s what these blog posts have been about, really: putting this information out there for other folks who are getting ready to go through the same thing, since I did extensive Googling beforehand and still didn’t know what to expect. If one other person finds these notes and had an easier time after their stapedectomy than I did, it was worth the effort of writing it all down.

At the end of the day, I think the hardest part was feeling like I was wasting all of this “free time” — time off from my day job — and not accomplishing as I should have. I knew I was getting things done in five and ten minute increments, before passing out again, but it didn’t feel like enough. I was sure that I was a giant slacker.

Until I started to make a list of what I actually gotten done, outside of the whole recovery thing. That includes keeping my family fed, dishes and laundry washed, house clean… Completely rearranged my kitchen, built a book shelf, reorganized a cabinet to be a soundproofed mini podcasting studio that I can close up out of the way… Taught my son a couple of new recipes, including a pull-apart pizza bread that he’s willing to help make, costs about $4, and he’s willing to eat instead of ordering a pizza (his favorite food) which saves us money… Fixed my bedframe, cleared out some excess stuff and donated it so it’s not in my house anymore, knitted a scarf for the coworker who gave me a gorgeous coat in February… Using my tablet, and reactivating my Pinterest account, I spent hours researching for upcoming projects and stories… Cooked a bunch in advance so I’ll go back to work with a full freezer and won’t have to worry that I’m too tired to feed us, sorted and filed several months worth of paperwork… Prepped my upcoming plotting workshop, discovered a way to make paper journaling work for me, wrote two stories and a poem and started revising a couple of older pieces… Even painted my toenails. (They are very cute.)

Just in tiny little increments. Individually, no day seemed filled with usefulness. But I kept at it, every chance I got, and it all adds up. I’m hoping that this weekend I can tackle getting Lakeside Circus caught up, and do some freelance work. Then I might feel like I actually got things done…

Looking for the rest of my posts about this surgery? I’ve assembled them all on this page.

Post Surgery Update: Two Weeks and… Um. Yeah.

Two weeks ago, I took a week off of work to have surgery, recover, and spend a little time catching up on some projects for myself. Turns put, only part of that happened. Surgery? Check. Recovery? Eh… Still in progress. Getting stuff done? In bits and pieces… But nowhere near like what I expected.

I have been too tired to watch television. Too dizzy to read. Sleeping 20 hours a day, in little naps, or not sleeping at all. The first time, last week, I felt better and ready to get back on track — I had a huge setback, and it took days to get better. I did! In time to go back to work. But I wasn’t done recovering, I guess, because I woke up Sunday morning with vertigo. It’s one of those side effects you usually get right away or not at all, and since I felt great immediately after the surgery, I wasn’t expecting this.

I have to remember that I’m wired to be strong, in the moment: having surgery or a baby or dealing with emergencies… I’m present and capable and make it work. But sometimes there’s a price to pay for that, and for me that’s having the physical or emotional reaction after the fact, when it’s safe to do so. Not always convenient, but better than falling apart when I need to be focused instead. I don’t know if what’s kept me from healing has been that I was sick just a few days before the surgery, or the throat injury/infection I got from the breathing tube, or if I somehow got water inside of my ear canal (which was supposed to healed closed by now), or that last week was unbelievably stressful — or all of those things together. It doesn’t really matter, because the situation is what is.

I’m going to lose a week of work, without pay. I’m dizzy and nauseated and exhausted. I’m on a steroid to reduce the swelling in my ear (what’s causing the vertigo) so that it doesn’t permanently damage my hearing. I’m on another drug to reduce the dizziness, though I still can’t drive or turn 90 degrees around a corner without losing my balance. Even reading my tablet as I write this hurts my head, and I think I need to go back to bed again.

But the only way out is through. I will be better in a few days. I already know that my hearing in greatly improved, and the sounds I was frightened of losing, I get to keep listening to, for a long time. And now I have whole new experiences to write about, when the world stops spinning.

If you’re bitching about the Hugo Awards, you’re part of the problem.

The Hugo Award nominations are out, and as expected, the self-labeled “Sad Puppies/Rapid Puppies” swept the ballot. The immediate outcry from many of the people that I follow on social media is that the awards were “stolen”, that the nomination list is “bullshit”, that this “taints” the award and the nomination and many, many, people are off to get drunk in righteous outrage. The few “acceptable” nominees are even being told they shouldn’t be thrilled with their nominations, not now, not today, not while our dead are still on the field and the battle rages on…

As much as I would love to be indignant over the ridiculous Hugo Awards ballot over this year… It’s always been a pay-to-play award. Is it sad that so many feel there are few deserving choices on the ballet this year? Of course! Have we always been in danger of this? Yes! The last couple of years, some people with more money than sense have decided to take away the Hugos by proving they can be bought. We have two choices: bitch and scream, which just proves you didn’t understand the system, or change it. If we’re all up in arms about “those people” (whoever they are) “stealing” an award because they followed the rules and bought into it like they’re supposed to, then make it an award that can’t be bought. Juried, or membership — like SFWA — is the only way. Otherwise, the genre community is just complaining that the “wrong” people are “tainting our award” because we don’t like them.

Complain, or fix. It’s your choice. But before you rush out to correct the award, think about this:

We’re mad that the jocks and bullies get to run for student council even though we think we’re smarter and better and more suited for the position. Personally, I think that says more about the people bitching than the people who bought into the award.

ETA: As I said on Twitter, when accused of “placing blame on the people who are playing by the rules in the spirit of why the award was created” and that “the process was corrupted”… 

The process wasn’t corrupted; the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy slate played by the rules. I wouldn’t vote for any of the Sad Puppy nominations, but at the same time, it worries me there’s so much outcry over whether the “right” people were nominated, in a pay-for-play open voting process. Us vs them. We used to be “them”, too. At the end of the day, mainstream cis white patriarchal fiction really does sell more. If we sell votes, they’ll win.