Tate Hallaway's Blog

February 13, 2015








I have some VERY AMAZING cover art design to share with you guys for the book that Rachel Calish/Gold and I have written. This is the story that we've been publishing in serial form over at http://entertheunseen (and re-issuing, as it were, on WattPad as well). The cover art was designed by Rachel's friend Kristin Smith, and I really love it!  What do you think??



This is, at the moment, a GIANT TEASE because we're still in the production phase. The book, however, will (baring acts of god[s]) be available for purchase at MarCON (March 6 -8). Kristin did an amazing job with the interior as well and there will be illustrations through out from our artists Alexis Cooke and Mandie Brasington. There will be an ebook version, as well, but I have no idea when that will be available. Of course, as soon as it is, I'll link it here. I'm assuming we'll sell the print version via the usual e-bookstores, too. (This is where, once again, I'm SUPER-GRATEFUL not to have to be the only one in charge of dealing with all this, because the dealing with Amazon.com, etc. is never fun.)



In other news, Happy Friday the 13th.
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Published on February 13, 2015 07:24 • 23 views

February 11, 2015

Last year, my friend and fellow writer, Sean M. Murphy decided he needed to stop calling himself a writer. This morning, I woke up and discovered that another dear friend and colleague is considering doing the same.

This is heartbreaking to me.

I want to blame something for this, but there are, frankly, too many options.

It seems to me that it's far harder to break-in to pro markets (magazine and novel) than it was when I first started writing. A lot of people are jumping straight to self-publishing these days, and, while that seems to work well for many, it's no more a guaranteed road to success than any other. Personally, I find trying to motivate myself to write for self-publication much, much harder because of all of the extra work you have to take on yourself in order to get a finalized product out there. This why the first of my self-published books is going to be the collaboration I'm doing with Rachel. (She just went over our proofs, because I have to head off to work in about fifteen minutes! Thank gods for a co-writer!!)

But most of us struggle alone. Even Sean, who was part of a writers' group, was ultimately alone with his own sense of 'being a writer' and all the myriad ways a person can fail at that.

That's the other thing I really want to blame. Because, I think everyone realizes how hard it is to break it (and how hard it to survive once you do,) but I think we all underestimate how easy it is to undermine ourselves. Ultimately, I think Sean hit the nail on the head when he said 'writers' write' and that that should be the defining quality, but that's still a trap. Because how OFTEN does a writer need to write in order to call themselves a writer? Every day? Every week? Once a month? Once a year?

My answer is that I think we ought to expand this definition a little, give ourselves a tiny break. A writer is a writer if they have written, if they want to write, and if they write, but not necessarily all those things all the time, every day. Some days, the best we can manage is that we wanted to write. Sometimes, especially after some hard writing-related news (the publisher doesn't want to renew your contract, say,) it's enough to say, "I have written" while you take time to recuperate.

Of course, it's maybe easy for me to say. I have books on the shelf with my name on them.

But, damn it, my friends, I don't want to lose any more of you. Cut yourselves a break. You are a writer because you WILL write. You're a writer because you HAVE written. You're a writer because you WANT to write. Courage is measured in that voice that says quietly, "I will try again tomorrow."
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Published on February 11, 2015 07:12 • 15 views

February 9, 2015

.. of all things, lightbulbs exploding into her face while she's changing them. She reminded of me of this fear of hers this weekend as we switched out the kitchen light. It burned out when I got up to feed the cats at o'dark thirty. At the time I thought, "Whelp, this is why they call them IRRATIONAL fears, because, really, how LIKELY is that?"

Well, I can now tell you that it's fairly likely when, say, you're idiotically fiddling around with recalcitrant lightbulb in the betta's fish tank where there is running water and electricity. Perhaps, one should have considered, say, unplugging the light, or maybe not twisting it in and out in such quick succession... but yeah, BLAMMO! It exploded in my hand. I am, not, however, writing this from the emergency room, probably only because fortune favors the foolish. In fact, I only have one Hello Kitty Band-Aid on my pointer finger.

I had to IM my Bleach fan friend, though, because, while my finger has the one obvious gash, I discovered when I started dripping blood on my keyboard, there are actually a thousand *tiny* cuts, too. Just just Senbonzakura, I'd imagine.

Because, yeah, I'm an otaku to my core.

At any rate, today is one of those days where I started out really strong but have petered out quickly. My family and I decided to blow off going to the big grocery store yesterday. All of us are really suffering from the collapse of Rainbow. None of us REALLY much liked grocery shopping at the big store much even then, but we all HATE Cub--partly because it's just not organized in a familiar way. I'm sure we'd learn it in time, but so far any excuse not to go is a good one. Though I said I didn't really want to shoulder the burden of the HUGE staple run, I'd be willing to do several really short trips to the big store over the week. Knowing myself like I do, I knew I had to pretty much drop everyone one off at their respective places and head to the store before I lost my resolve. So, that's what I did. I came home with about four bags of groceries, which seemed just about the right size for me, and, feeling super productive, also finally took care of some correspondence and a Loft teaching contract that had arrived in the mail that needed attention.

The correspondence had actually been hanging over me for several months (since last October actually.) The thing that's slowed me down is so silly too. The letter was basically fan mail, but the fan also really wanted to share their idea for a book--in that classic, I'll give you the idea, you write it sort of way. I know a lot of authors mock people like this, but I totally get the impulse and I really wanted to encourage this person to just go ahead and do it on their own. I believe, deep in my heart of hearts, that the only difference between a published and unpublished writer is drive and dream. I didn't know how to write when I started, but I was determined to learn. Similarly, when things got tough (and oh, they always do,) the dream kept me slugging away at things.

So, why did it take me almost six months to tell this poor fan that? They'd written snail mail.

I don't even have a printer at home any more, and while I kept MEANING to sit down and write and actual letter... it was so easy to forget when I started each day with the Internet to distract me...

But today I finally wrote back. Hopefully, this person won't be too angry that it too me so long.

The other thing I did today that felt very productive was that I looked through the list of Twin Cities meet-ups and I found a group that gets together to practice Japanese conversation. They say on their page that they're for Intermediate students, but I'm hoping that it will be okay for me to come and listen for a while as I keep learning. I can't go to their current meet-up, anyway, since it's on Saturday and I took the Saturday gig at the North St. Paul library all this month again. But, so I have that bookmarked and hopefully will be able to join them at some point. In the meantime I still have my class on Tuesday nights and the Japanese language podcasts that I've been listening to, which are teaching me basics like how to ask someone's name and where they're from and what they do for a living, which should be a good start to an actual conversation.

MarsCON is coming up fast (March 6 - 8). I'm going to be one of the guests there, as I'm sure I've said a few times. I'm waiting on my collaborator for a cover of School for Wayward Demons so I can get some promotional stuff ordered. But, otherwise, I'm signed up for paneling and all that. It should be a lot of fun. Hope to see you there!
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Published on February 09, 2015 12:00 • 7 views

February 6, 2015

I just spent about a half-hour queueing things up on the School for Wayward Demons Tumblr page. During the process I was chatting with a friend who encouraged me to link to my other Tumblr page (which if you go there RIGHT THIS INSTANT, you'll see I did.) It's a funny thing, my resistance to... invading this sacred fan space I've made for myself with self-promotional things. It's REALLY silly when you consider that I have no qualms about posting links on my fan tumblr space to my reviews of manga or my podcast or my fan fic. She asked me if I was afraid to tarnish my professional reputation with my fan one. My response? No, it's the other way 'round.

I'm really protective of my fan spaces. I don't mind people knowing about them. In fact, I will happily give out my fan name or my AO3 account handle to anyone who asks me at con. I'm very, very proud that at CONvergence last year, in the women's bathroom, I had someone shyly ask if it was true that I was "junko from AO3." It turned out, the woman asking was the person who podfic'd my Bleach/Free! x-over, and, once I confirmed and she told me who she was, we did the dance of squee with each other.

So, it's not like I care if people who are my fan friends find out I write professionally, or vice versa.

I guess it's strange, but I almost feel like self-promoting my original fiction on my fan sites sullies them somehow. I mean, I should get over that, because, as my friend said, "The data stream is so fast. No one will really notice." Which is VERY, very true. I used to worry that if people found out I was a professional writer on my AO3 account that the tenor of the conversation would change. The very last thing I want is for people to stop telling me when I suck because, you know, I guess you know better because you're some kind of pro. Which is, of course, bull.

I sometimes wonder if that's partly why Rachel and I don't get many comments over on entertheunseen.com or why they're not more critical on either of my Wattpad entries. (It could be, too, that both those venues require some kind of log-in.) But, I think, often people are reluctant to tell someone they perceive as a professional that they'd like to see the story go another direction... face-to-face/directly. Obviously, people are happy to say all sorts of things about professional writing on review sites once a book is done and dusted. I mean, I can understand this hesitance. People are afraid of being yelled at. But, I THRIVE on critique. I love it. And fan fiction has been a great place to be treated like a peer by a large number of people again.

At any rate, I suspect I've said all this somewhere before. It's one of my favorite topics to hold forth on. But, so if you want to tell me what-for (and check out some of the new content that's been added) on Wattpad, there is a new installment of School for Wayward Demons up: Gabe Runs (into Darkness.
Also, my review of the latest chapter of Ao no Exorcist (#64) is up on MangaKast.

In other news, I finished reading Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta. It was the first of the books I've read so far that are on the Philip K. Dick award nomination list that I would call straight-up science fiction. It's also a very... subtle, quiet book, despite having a LOT of tension woven in throughout. I found it very interesting. The story follows a woman who is the tea master's daughter in a future Scandinavia where we've depleted much of the Earth's viable drinking water. There's been a kind of post-oil apocalypse and the 'past world' is shrouded in mystery, mostly understood by the things recovered in the plastic graveyards on the outskirts of town. I would totally recommend the book without any reservations, so long as you weren't expecting a rip, roaring, page-turning thriller. The ending is also very much a downer, and the only sense of hope comes from the prologue and the implication that there might be a second book to continue some of the threads that don't really get answered. But, I didn't mind that, surprisingly.

Now I'm waiting for
Not much else is going on. I finished up the two seasons of Tiger & Bunny that Hulu had, and have, on recommendation, started watching Zenkyou no Terror/Terror in Resonance while I wash the dishes. It's quite a shift in tone, I must say. Zenkyou no Terror follows two very disturbed and unusual young men (who to refer to each other by numbers because they were raised in some kind of horrible orphanage) who are exacting their revenge on society by... well, by being terrorists. So you know, from heroes to villains. It's a bit of whiplash, but I'm enjoying Zenkyou no Terror the same way I enjoyed DeathNote. It's kind of fascinating to go deep into the criminal mind. Like in DeathNote, there's a smart, vaguely outsider to root for on the other side, on the good-guy side. So, I've got that to cling to. I'm very, very worried for the female character in Zenkyou no Terror, but you know... it's early days. I'm only on the fourth or fifth episode so far.

Like much of fandom, I'm anxiously waiting for the arrival of this month's Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan. The things I've seen on Tumblr from the raws make me kind of happy (*anxiously grabs abs*)... I'll have a review up as soon as we see in English
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Published on February 06, 2015 08:04 • 8 views

February 4, 2015

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, like you do, and I came across this: "Why 'Fandom is Family' is Problematic". It's a collection or round-up of tweets (probably involving a much larger discussion) about the phrase 'fandom is family' and why we should stop using it. First of all, I've actually never heard this phrase in my long association with SF fandom, and I tend to agree that family is not ALL THAT to everyone and it certainly should not be a phrase used to shelter abusers, etc.

What I'm reacting to is the idea that fandom (and it's not clear which 'fandom' is meant here, but maybe SF con fandom?) is unwelcoming because it has so many in-jokes... or...? I'm not sure, because I think, in point of fact, that the very term "not welcoming" is a dog-whistle for the Tumblr-generation/fans.

I'm not saying they're not right.

When I first entered con fandom, I felt very lost. I didn't know the routine. I didn't know the lingo. I didn't have many friends who went to cons. In point of fact, I dropped out of con fandom until I was a newly energized/hungry writer and saw the advantages of meeting people by being on panels. It should be noted, too, that I am, and have always been, a vey out-going and social person. It's not normally hard for me to make friends with strangers.

So it's absolutely true that a person's first con can feel very... exclusive, excluding even. Certainly, LONELY.

I experienced that whole feeling of exclusion all over again, despite years of being in sf con fandom, when I entered the anime fandom (and the anime con fandom, both of which have their own sets of rules and entire language books full of code and lingo and acronyms.) I even posted here that what i needed for the next Anime Detour was a translator to act as my guide.

But...

I never felt it was the duty of the con runners to make me feel "welcomed." I felt weird about my lack of knowledge--uncomfortable even, but I didn't let that stop me. If I felt any sense of privilege it was a self-empowered one, which was to say I NEVER DOUBTED THAT I HAD THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE, I just had to figure out HOW. I also never doubted that figuring out HOW was on me, and me alone. So, I thought, "Alright then, I need to ask what does mean?" I need to call up my friends and say, "Okay, who here is going with me?" I asked my more anime con savvy friends, "So... when someone is in costume, do I talk to them 'in character' or... What? How do I interact here? What are the rules?" In my early SF con days, I found someone I knew and asked, "Okay, so what DOES it take to get on panels? How do I volunteer for the stuff I like?"

I'm not saying this because I feel like "kids these days" (or people new to fandom) don't have the same where-with-all that I did/do.

But, because this term gets bandied about a lot, I do wonder if "not welcoming" actually is for them one of those words they use that means something that my generation doesn't quite understand the same way. I wonder if it means more than what I'm describing. I'm wondering if there are very specific ways in which the younger generation feels less empowered to just participate, despite the things I described above.

I'm not sure.

I want someone to tell me. I want to understand. I want to hear the stories that will open my eyes, so I can FIX the things for you (and, ultimately for all of us.)

In the meantime, I have to guess from context.




One of the back-and-forths in the twitter round-up made it seem like one person felt left out because Michael Thomas joked about "TRUfandom" (which is also a phrase I didn't know). She said, basically: "Whelp, see what I mean, I don't know this stuff." To me, that's not being shown the door, and having it slammed in your face, that's just BEING NEW. I've had the same experience as an old-timer, getting onto Tumblr and going to Anime cons. I never felt unwelcome. I just felt NEW.




We all need to learn each other's language.




I think that this is less 'insider-ism' than just the way sub-cultures operate. I sometimes have to use the urban dictionary to parse out what my neighbor is saying to me or what comments on my fan fic mean. I don't think my neighbor or the fans of my writing are trying to insult me or exclude me or intentionally make me feel unwelcome. In fact, each time I deciphered a bit of the code, I felt brought closer in. When someone left me ILU on my fan fic, I'd no idea for sure what that meant. I looked it up, and it means "I love you!" or "I like you" and is kind of just a term of excitement, bonding, or, as my subculture would call it, squee.




I really think that when Michael made his comment his intention was inclusion, as in, 'like that joke we have about TRU fandom, you and me." Yet it was seen as endemic to the problem.




I think we need to stop assuming hostility from each other.




Fandom needs all of us, young and old.




Srsly.
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Published on February 04, 2015 08:35 • 13 views

January 27, 2015

I'm back to posting on UnJust Cause finally, so if you want to check that out, it's up on Wattpad now: "To Err is Human (and Tomorrow is Another Day.)" There's not a lot there, not too much more than 500 words, but I needed to get back in the habit. Honestly, what I really, REALLY need to do with this is what Rachel and I just spent three weeks doing to School for Wayward Demons (SWD)... I need to take all the parts and get them into a huge document and start to really examine the whole shape of it.

Because if I'm going to make it into a book, it needs that. I am learning, somewhat the hard way, that writing one's way into a book (and not planning it out like I used to do) might be hella fun, but it means a lot of work on the far end, the finishing end, as it were.

It's good for me to experiment with different ways of writing, though. So no regrets. I have learned much.

Besides, despite my belly aching, it's a well-known fact that I'm a heavy reviser no matter which method I chose: pants-ing or outlining.

In other news, Mason and I had some fun yesterday. Shawn had to work late, so we went to our usual favorite hang-out place when we have time to kill but it seems foolish to go all the way home: the Roseville Library. Mason tore through the shelves and took out old favorites and a few new-to-him books. I'd settled down at a table and was starting to write when he did that kid thing, "Can we go to the coffee shop and get a scone??" I didn't think we should. You know, it's money and treats, but then I thought about my own treat: a mocha, and so I was convinced. As we were waiting for the staff to ring our stuff up and make my mocha, we overheard two guys behind us starting up a game of Munchkin. If you're unfamiliar, feel free to check out the Wikipedia article I linked to, but the short of it is that Muchkin is a card-game version of D&D. Instead of role-playing you pull various cards and move through a very random "dungeon" as part of gameplay. It doesn't matter. What you really need to know about the game is that 1) Mason LOVES it, 2) it is ridiculously geeky and often involves, like the best D&D games, arguing the rules, and 3) Mason constantly begs us to play and Shawn and I... well, we like it, but don't LOVE it, if you get my drift. So, when these two nerdy college-aged boys asked if we wanted to join them, Mason was over the moon with joy.

I decided to opt out and sat nearby with my computer. At one point one of the boys came over and said (in such an adorkable outgoing nerd way, honestly) "Your son is a delight." To which I replied, "Isn't he just." But when nerd-boy looked baffled at that I said, "Yes. Thank you." Nerd boy wanted to let me know, too, that Mason was not only keeping up with them but, "talking just enough smack." Which I honestly found deeply delightful to hear. I wanted to say, "That's because I raised him right," but merely nodded and thanked them again for inviting us to join. Because I mean, Mason is 11, I bet these two young men were twice his age: 22.

Mason was so happy afterward he not only nerdgasmed about the game play all the way home, he kept dreamily and happily muttering, "They argued the rules, Ima. They argued the rules."

"Yes, my son," I said. "You have found your people."
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Published on January 27, 2015 06:55 • 6 views

January 26, 2015

Wow, you guys, the book version of School for Wayward Demons is 90,000 words. It's currently off with Sean Murphy, sort-of-kind-of-former Wyrdsmith (retired? emeritus?), who is checking it for "book-y-ness." (Like, truthiness, except for books, I think.) But, here's the thing, 90,000 words? If you buy this book when it comes out, you're FOR SURE getting a third more story. All the stuff we have queued up for the web site only clocked in at 65,000. I can tell you that the big changes are to Kitty. She gets a much stronger back story. Erin, too, actually, gets to be more proactive in her own rescue. Gabe and Theo had started out awfully strong, so they really just got deepened and some of their issues got bought out and explored.

I will say, though, that I had some serious excitement about this on Saturday morning. Rachel, my co-author, sent back the version that she'd spent a whole week working on... and I discovered that I sent her an incomplete draft! So she'd done all this work on stuff that wasn't even complete!!

I was ready to lay on the floor and start sobbing, but Rachel whipped out the handy-dandy "merge documents" function and was actually able to quickly go through everything and give me a combo/nothing lost version in A DAY.

She is so awesome.

Seriously, I would still be in the gross sobbing stage, if it wasn't for her.

This is only especially traumatizing because I'd hoped to give it a final pass here and have it back and ready to go out to copy-editors and such by the 30th, which, if you check your calendars, is only a matter of days!!

So, now my big project is to do something similar with the UnJust Cause stuff I've posted on Wattpad as Tate. And THEN, then my friends, I hope to start writing some... science fiction.

Shhh!

I told Wyrdsmiths on Thursday that my plan was to finally start my samurai steampunk story, and our newest member, Theo, has already sent her minions after me to get working on it! Seriously, I was on gmail and an IM popped up, our mutual friend Teri, who was all, "Are you writing that thing?"

So I guess I have to write the thing!
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Published on January 26, 2015 08:41 • 11 views

January 20, 2015

Today, (more like this evening at this point) I hope to get a new Tate bit posted on Wattpad, but I had to work today from 9 to 1 at Maplewood library. It was really busy thanks to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Normally, Maplewood is my favorite library because the people are so awesome and they have the best ever graphic novel collection in Ramsey county, I swear.

In other writing related news, Rachel and I are also trying to see if we can build more of an audience for our School for Wayward Demons project by x-posting that at Wattpad too. So, if you find it easier to read an comment on things over there, you should feel free to check it out: http://www.wattpad.com/96121914-song-of-secrets-book-1-of-the-school-for-wayward (Also, if you want to, you can follow us on Tumblr, too: http://waywardschoolofdemons.tumblr.com).

If you're still following along at the entertheunseen.com website, the newest chapter is up "Bad Magic Puppies."
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Published on January 20, 2015 12:18 • 17 views

January 8, 2015

Today, I feel fairly accomplished (at least so far), despite not doing that much writing. I did work on a number of writing-related things, however.

First of all, I wrote the acknowledgements and a new bio for a short story in the AngeLINK universe that Cheryl Morgan at Wizard's Tower Press will be publishing. It's a story that was first published in, of all places, South Africa, in 2003, in a magazine called Simulacrum: The Magazine of Speculative Transformation. The short story is going to get cover art for the first time EVER, which I bought from the lovely and talented Theo Lorenz, who happens to be the author of the successful coloring book Unicorns Are Jerks (and others.)





What do you think? I know it doesn't match Bruce Jensen's amazing cover art for the AngeLINK universe or even the cover of Resurrection Code, but... I don't know, maybe short stories are friendlier? (Also, I didn't ask Bruce, because I'm sure I can't afford him.)

At any rate, I'm pretty excited to have this story come out and have a wider distribution. Wizard's Tower Press has been very awesome to me. I will let you know when this will be available for public consumption. I believe that it's first going to be part of a giveaway for the Accessing the Future Anthology's successful fundraiser. But, I suspect once they have the contributors have their copies, Wizard's Tower will make it available to the public. And, yes, of course, as soon as I have those details, I'll post them here (and probably everywhere. :-)

And, since we're talking writing, there are two new chapters up at the Enter The Unseen/School for Wayward Demons website, "The Cavalry Arrives with Donuts" and "Destroying the Dead." So, if you've continued along with the story, there's just so much extra goodness for you today.
Speaking of the School for Wayward Demons, I got a very, very rough draft of the novel version off Naomi for beta-reading and probably some triage/first aid. I feel like the novel has good bones but, because of the way Rachel and I wrote it, it's a kind of Franken-story, stitched together with very obvious stitches! :-) But, Naomi is a very smart reader and has always in the past found ways to make my books make sense, so I trust her to have good advice to smooth out the rough edges.

And, to be fair, this is all work I'm doing before I'm even giving it back to my co-author, so it will get many subsequent passes. I'm absolutely sure that by the time we're done, it will be one seriously amazing book.

Fingers crossed, 2015 will start with at least two publications! So yay! Go me!

My other resolution has to do with the blog post I made below in which I discussed some of my publishing "feels." As I told one of the commenters, one of my problems is that I actually had a really good career with Penguin and so when the rug got yanked out from me, I was so stunned that I just sat there on the floor, not getting up, shouting to all passers-by "HEY, THERE WAS RUG HERE! WHAT HAPPENED TO MY RUG? WHY DO YOU STILL HAVE A RUG? I WANT MY RUG BACK!"

It's time to get up off the floor. The rug is gone, my friends, and it's time to move on.

So, I'm going to finish up UnJust Cause, self-publish that, and then, with any luck at all, start on some new novel project.

I'm kind of excited to see what it will be.
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Published on January 08, 2015 10:56 • 17 views

January 7, 2015

A few things to tell you all about.  A new chapter of School for Wayward Demons is out.  "The Cavalry Arrives with Donuts."



For the two of you who wrote to me (one here and one on Twitter) worried that I would give up writing after yesterday's post, despair not.  Clearly, I'm still writing.  I've got both this School for Wayward Demons project and the Unjust Cause novel that I'm working on over at Wattpad.  




I do despair of ever traditionally publishing again, but, then again, a lot of writers end up doing what I'm trying to do--self-publish and work with smaller presses.




On the other hand, I'm still teaching writers how to write and if you happen to live close to me (in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area,) you should check out the classes I have available for you at the Loft.  The Fanfic class still has openings, but that's meant to start in a matter of weeks and as of right now there aren't nearly enough people signed-up for that one to be viable.  However, there's still hope of Mars Needs Writing: An Introduction to Science Fiction.  




Speaking of Mars, it was cold in my hometown of St. Paul, MN today than it is on some part of the surface of Mars.  Think about that.




Also Mars related, I'm going to be one of the guests of honor at MarsCON 2015 a local science fiction/fantasy themed convention.  
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Published on January 07, 2015 15:27 • 16 views