WFC Saratoga Springs: Schedule and a Few Notes

I’m on one panel, Thursday afternoon at 3 PM:

“Postmodern Fantasy: Experiments in Fantasy Literature”

Room: City Center 2B

It is not all about quests, magic rings and dragons, the panel will discuss some of the less well known texts that stretch the limits of Fantasy as an experimental form of storytelling. John Barth’s The Sotweed Factor, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus and Beloved by Toni Morrison come to mind.

Delia Sherman (mod.), Siobhan Carroll, Carrie Cuinn, Jeffrey Ford, Howard Waldrop (Note: Charles E. Gannon is still listed as being on the panel, but due to his travel schedule, can’t make it.)

Unfortunately, this conflicts with Don’s panel, so I’ll understand if you go to that one instead… But they’ll both be great!

“Real World Nomenclature, Taboos, and Cultural Meaning”

Room: City Center 2A

The panel discusses the thorny issue of real world terms that often bear loaded meanings and concepts being transported wholesale into Fantasy worlds. Swearing, cursing, and racial epithets can cause controversy and out-cry. Commonly accepted terms change meaning over time and become taboo. As the politics of the real world change, is there a concurrent transposition into Fantasy worlds?

Alyx Dellamonica (mod.), Didi Chanoch, Steve Erikson, Don Pizarro, Mark van Name

I’ve also got a reading on Friday morning at 11 am! Room: Broadway 2

I’m not certain what I’m going to read yet, but I’ll have snacks for the audience that are probably inappropriately sugary for that early in the morning. I’ll also have a few copies of my 2013 short collection, Women and Other Constructs, if you don’t yet have a print copy but want one.

And if you’re looking for something to do Saturday night at 5 pm, I’ll be in the audience, watching this panel:


Unaccountably, there is no entry for Bibliofantasies in the Encyclopedia of Fantasy by John Clute and John Grant [Orbit 1997]. Your intrepid panel will attempt to remedy that lacuna by discussing bibliofantasies with a view to creating an entry.

Michael Dirda (mod.), John Clute, Robert Eldridge, Paul Di Filippo, Don Pizarro, Gary Wolfe

* At least two of these panels will be somewhat different than what appears on the label. Come and see!

New Publication: “For Nothing Would I Trade” at Star*Line (Poem)

Cover: Charon on the River Styx © 2009 M. Wayne Miller

Cover: Charon on the River Styx
© 2009 M. Wayne Miller

Star*Line magazine issue 38.4 (a publication of the Science Fiction Poetry Association) is now up. This includes my poem, “For Nothing Would I Trade”. I can share the opening stanzas here:

“For Nothing Would I Trade”

The midnight bus, brakes squeaking, shudders to a stop
Stepping up into its belly, I embark alone
Save for the driver (hat pulled low to hide the burning coals
in sunken sockets meant for fleshier orbs )
There is no one waiting at street corners for another 13 blocks.

At the crossroads, a gaggle of poets, newly bargained
Deals agreed and contracts signed
Eager with new talent, anxious to be noticed
All that’s precious traded, now, they climb aboard.

And … you can read the rest in Star*Line!

New workshop starts November 16, but Apex Publications is raffling off a spot!

My next workshop is Editing 101. This will be a 4* week online workshop, beginning November 16.

Apex Publications, run by Jason Sizemore, has purchased a spot in this workshop and is raffling it to raise money. Half of the proceeds will benefit Apex, which puts out a variety of books (including the Apex Book of World SF series) and the excellent Apex Magazine. The other half will go to me.

Sizemore isn’t just helping out a friend, though he’s doing that too; he has taken a workshop with me before, and says, “As someone who has taken one of Carrie’s workshops, I can vouch for the quality and expertise she brings to the table.”

The raffle is ending next Monday. (All online entries must be received by November 2nd, 2015, at 11:59PM EST.) You can get one entry for $3, two for $5, or five for $10. And, there’s more:

Raffle tickets also enter you in a chance to win print copies of Women and Other Constructs by Carrie Cuinn, Starve Better by Nick Mamatas, To Each Their Darkness by Gary A. Braunbeck, and For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher by Jason Sizemore. Perfect reading for every writer!

You can get your raffle tickets here.

About the workshop:

Course description:

“Editing 101” – AKA “Editing for Writers”. Identifying parts of a story, tenses and perspectives, narrative arcs, and other elements that are potentially affected by the editing process. Definitions, editing marks, using (and creating) style sheets, important style manuals, levels of editing, and fact-checking. The basics of copyediting: concepts and skills necessary for line editing (also called copyediting), relying mainly on the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed; editing vs. proofreading; tips for spotting tricky errors. The basics of developmental editing: what it is and isn’t, including the specifics of developmental editing in fiction. We’ll also cover rates, and working with clients, including querying about edits, maintaining an author’s voice, and related services. Usually this workshop is $100 for 4 weeks.

If you’d like to enroll now, you can sign up here.

* I always include a little one-on-one work with each student to help tailor the experience to the it individual needs (which, if necessary, includes expanding the work into a 5th week). 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!

The Poverty/Special Needs Conundrum

I originally shared this on Facebook, but I realized there are people I only know online, who’ve supported my work or contributed to my GoFundMe campaign, who might want to understand this too.

I want to work. I believe that having a stable, fiscally awesome dayjob will help me to write, by giving me security, rather than get in the way. It isn’t following my dreams that keeps me from wanting to be in an office full time. It’s actually how much money I can make right now that’s the problem.

I can’t work outside of school hours without specially-trained care for my son. The state will provide this, as long as I don’t make too much money. (I know how lucky this makes me; most states don’t offer as much support.) “Too much” is about what I make from an average admin position. “Too much” just barely pays the rent in this town.

So, I work, and then lose my childcare, so I can’t work. Thus I’ve only worked about 9 months at a time, my last couple of jobs, and I have to go through a ton of paperwork each time.

In order to work, I need to make more, enough to cover expenses plus childcare – but to get those positions, I need a degree in business. Okay, so, I’ll go back to college for that… But while I’m in college, I’m not working, not paying my bills.

In the long run, college will provide for me and my son. Right now, because I was barely holding on and now there’s a delay in my unemployment benefits*, my rent check just bounced. I have no way to get the money I need in the next few days. I could quit college and go back to work, but that only helps for a few months, and I’m right back here again. So… I have to stay in school. I don’t have another choice.

It’s not always obvious, the things that keep people in poverty and debt. It isn’t always easy to fix. But at least now you know a little more about me.

If you can and want to help me, here’s what would help the most:

You can donate to me via PayPal by sending it to

You can contribute to my GoFundMe campaign

You can hire me for editing work! I’ll also do ghostwriting, content creation, eBook creation, formatting, anything, just ask. Check out my editing site at

Thank you.

* I get a small unemployment payment on weeks I don’t do any freelance work, at least until the end of 2015. The last three weeks, my payments haven’t gone through. I spoke to unemployment; my worker didn’t properly remove the hold after a mandatory meeting – which I attended -even though I’ve contacted her twice since and she’s insisted it was done. Meanwhile, she swore I’d have the money already, which is why I sent the rent check. I emailed her again today. The main office also put in a request to take off the hold, but it will be end of the week before it’s done, so mid next week before I find out if I’ll even get the money I’ve been due for three weeks now.

On Failing, Fear, And Learning to Learn Better

I’m halfway through my first semester back in college. So far, I’ve:

  • borrowed, begged, and asked for help to pay my bills without a dayjob.
  • come down with a cold that turned into bronchitis, which meant I…
    • couldn’t go to a doctor because I no longer have health insurance.
    • spent 3+ weeks sleeping.
    • got behind in some of my online classes and had to drop my traditional (in-person) classes, because I couldn’t manage the 35 mile drive EACH WAY to campus while sick.
  • added new online classes to keep my status above full-time.
  • took quizzes, tests in all of my classes; did homework; participated in discussions – basically, all the parts of a class, with a mix of grades from As to Cs.
  • figured out how much I didn’t know about going to college with my life the way it is now.

Or to put it another way: I struggled. I set goals I didn’t meet. I was sick and exhausted, I fell behind, I left myself down (and probably some other people, too), and I felt like a failure.

Because, to be honest, in some ways I am failing. I am not doing as well as I had hoped, making this transition back to college. That’s just a fact.

Yesterday, I wanted to give up. It wasn’t the first time, but it hit me hard. I took a huge risk, going back to college now, doing without a dayjob. I’d hoped to do more freelancing, but being sick meant I haven’t pursued any new work for weeks, so I haven’t even had that income. I’ve gotten a surprising amount of support – thank you! – and with that comes the internal pressure of not wanting to let anyone down. If I don’t do well this semester, I’ve wasted this time, this opportunity. Put my son through this for nothing. Leaned on people who were there for me without anything to show for their faith in me.

It’s tempting to quit. Scrap this whole semester. Recover from being ill. Catch up on everything I’m behind on. Start fresh next semester.

Yesterday, I told my person how awful I was feeling. His response was perfect: that it sucked to feel that way, but I wasn’t a failure, I wasn’t alone, and we’d sit down and talk about where I’m at, and what I need. Just it’s okay to feel defeated and let’s sort out where you really are vs what you’re feeling and you’re not giving up, so make a plan based on your options now.

That’s what I’ve been trying to do all along, and what I needed to be reminded of. I’m not giving up. I’m not running away. Just because it’s harder than I expected or no fun or I’m not succeeding as easily as I want – those aren’t reasons to quit. That’s not who I am.

Instead, I reconsidered the goal posts. (It might be three semesters at community college before I can transfer, instead of two. Would that really be so bad? No, I guess not.) I thought about why I’m struggling. (I definitely need to study more, and research beyond the textbook, to find the information the class assumes I know but I actually don’t.) I thought about why I had certain expectations of myself, and why I judge myself as harshly as I do. (As my friend Mary told me, “You’re not failing. You’re tired. And that’s okay.” Until she said it, I wouldn’t have seen myself that way.)

As much as I hate to feel like a failure at this moment, I think I can learn from all of this. The lessons for me will be: don’t give up, and learn how to be a better student.

Going to school now is not like when I was in college before, and assuming I could easily pick up where I left off is part of what threw me off course. Another part of falling behind was that some of my classes are second or third classes in a series I started when I was in college six or so years ago… I’d thought that because I’d aced those courses before, I’d be okay now. It turns out, I’d forgotten things I didn’t know I was missing.

In some cases, like my International Business class, the work is mainly conceptual. I can read the textbooks and consider the ideas presented, and I’m able to access the information when I take the test. Easy. No problem. In other classes, Accounting and Econ, it’s more terms and formulas that I haven’t been using. Like taking Spanish 2 a decade after you got an A in Spanish one, without so much as having asked “donde es la Bibliotheca?” one time in between.

As of late last night, I’ve caught up on all of my schoolwork. There are things I can’t make up, which will affect my final grades, but going forward I can stay on top of my assignments. I’ve looked at how I study, how I plan my work, and figured out what I need to change. I’ve had to create a new system of tracking what’s due, and what I need to study for. I print out study guides and watch instructional videos. I stay up late to take online tests after my son’s asleep. I examine every wrong answer, every mistake, every failure.

We’re not always going to immediately succeed. Not at college, or writing a novel, or anything in life. Mostly, when we fail, we want to stop trying and do something else. Some people, that’s all they do: run from one thing to the next to the next, looking for that instant and easy success, followed by the admiration of others, and if they don’t get it, they move on again. I can’t do that, not if I ever really want to change my life.

I am tired of failing. I have so done much of it the last couple of years. But when I stop trying to sweep my mistakes under the rug, I start learning from them. Learning to accept that I’d screwed up. (Everyone does.) Learning how to fix my problems. Learning to be brave, to try new things, take bold chances. Learning how to learn better.

I may not get all As this semester, and I may feel dumb a lot of the time as I try to learn this stuff, but I’m not alone, and I’m not quitting.