Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year-End Writin' Round-Up

Herewith, my 2011 writing retrospective!

I was unable to snag a spot at Science Online (registration filled up within 45 minutes of opening), so I drowned my sorrows in poems. That is, science poems -- one per day in January, each written in a different form and each taking its cue from a science-based article. They became Poetic Variables, a self-published chapbook that doubles as a primer on forms ranging from Abecedarian to Villanelle.

Among those poems, "The Ballad of Big Bug Ranch" was referenced in An Inordinate Fondness #12 and Girl Meets Bug, while "Scent and Sensibility" garnered mention in Neurodojo and a link in Carnival of the Blue.

On Jan. 5 I joined fellow panelists John Foster and David Roth to talk about "The Heart of Poetic Expression...Learning to Romance Words" at a meeting of the Tampa Writers Alliance. Thanks to Chris Coad Taylor and to the TWA for a spirited discussion on the different poetic forms, the relationship between poetry and fiction, and more.

I spoke to the Crystal River Women's Club on Jan. 19. I usually gear my presentations toward writers, but in this case I spoke mainly to readers. My talk focused on how I became a writer, why I write what I do, what inspires me, and how my life experience has shaped my creative output in its various forms. My bottom lines: (a) Follow your passion, and (b) Nothing is wasted. Thanks to the club and to Pat Rada for inviting me.

The month closed out with the Inverness Book Festival on Jan. 29. This inaugural event occurred in the Old Courthouse Historical Museum. Thanks to festival coordinators Sandra Koonce, the GFWC Woman's Club of Inverness, and the Citrus County Historical Society. Ten percent of sales were donated to the club.

In January I also began contacting judges for the Florida State Poets Association's 2011 Contests. My activities as this year's contest chair would take me through the FSPA awards ceremony in October and beyond.

I also began my first full calendar year on the Broad Universe Motherboard, working with some terrific women to further BU's mission of promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.

My guest post "What's Your Journey?" appeared on Lakisha Spletzer's Indie Author How-To. Thanks to Kisha for the invitation! The post takes much of its material from the talk I gave to the Crystal River Women's Club in January.

Two of my reviews went live at PsychCentral, Simon LeVay's, Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation and Kathryn Hansen's, Brain Over Binge.

On Feb. 15 my quatrain won the Darwin Day contest at Glendon Mellow's blog "The Flying Trilobite." You can read the quatrain and view my prize (a print of Glendon's extraordinary art) here.

On Feb. 18 I attended and donated a book package to the inaugural "Love Your Library" evening to benefit the Citrus County Library. Thanks to Flossie Benton Rogers and to the volunteers behind the event, which came complete with wine-tasting, food, live jazz from the Citrus Jazz Society, silent auction, and more.

On Feb. 23 I enjoyed a fabulous lunch and great company at the Kings Bay Rotary Club and gave my talk "A Gaggle of Muses: Creativity for Fun and Sometimes Profit."

On March 19 I joined fellow panelists Loretta C. Rogers and Joyce Elson Moore, with written contributions from Dylan Newton, for the Citrus County Library's Cold Read/Critique. This was the third and last session in the library's annual NaNoWriMo series (see October). Flossie Benton Rogers was emcee and reader. Thanks to our audience of writers for their submissions and for their openness to critique. Ten percent of sales at this and the library's other events are donated to the library.

My sonnets "In Development" and "Manipulations" appeared in in The Open Laboratory 2010: The Best of Science Writing on the Web. You can access all the science blog posts that make up the anthology. My poems had first appeared as part of my science-sonnet-a-day project for April 2010.

The WyoPoets newsletter reprinted my article "Social Networking and the Found Poem" in its April 2011 issue (.pdf).

I began emailing my Deviations newsletter (which you can receive by signing up at the Deviations website). The newsletter generally, though not always, follows a six-part format: (1) Deviations news (anything related to my series), (2) Other writing, (3) Writing-related activities (e.g., events, reviews, etc.), (4) Behind the scenes at Deviations (my process in writing the series), (5) A day in the life (some personal tidbits), and (6) Feedback (an invitation to respond!). Issues go out at or near the end of the month and back issues are available.

I also began guest-editing the "Interplay" section of Star*Line's 4th Qtr. 2011 issue.

Following preparations in May, I released Second Covenant, the sixth and concluding volume to my Deviations series. I also posted this alternate site for accessing free downloads, because the traffic to my site exceeded my bandwidth allowance. David Roth gave Second Covenant five out of five stars at the Examiner.

My poem "The Last Dragon Slayer" appeared in Mythic Delirium #24. Here's Alexandra Seidel's review of the issue at Fantastique Unfettered and Tori Truslow's review at Sabotage.

I joined Catherine Lundoff, Racheline Maltese, Cecilia Tan, JoSelle Vanderhooft, and host Trisha Wooldridge on the June GLBTQ podcast of Broadly Speaking, presented by Broad Universe. We discussed GLBTQ fiction, publishing, and activism.

I also got a nice nod from Jo Walton in her recap of the 1985 Hugo nominees for Tor. I had been a John W. Campbell Award finalist that year. (The Campbell Award, given to the best new SF writer of the year, is not a Hugo but is part of the Hugo Awards ceremony.)

My alternate downloads site came in handy after the Deviations site received 1,179 visits in a single day. A fraction of those visits (327 over the weekend of July 9-10) had come from Free Kindle Books and Tips, which had profiled the series.

I also assembled a Deviations Omnibus CD, which (along with the original paperback edition of Covenant) was accepted to several special collections around the world.

My poem "Far From the Pleasure Garden" appeared in A Sea of Alone: Poems For Alfred Hitchcock (Dark Scribe Press).

The WyoPoets newsletter reprinted my article "The Many Shades of Dark Poetry" in its Mid-Summer issue. The first part is contained here; the conclusion is here (.pdf).

On July 30 I joined Lakisha Spletzer for a publishing workshop at the Lakes Region Library in Inverness, FL. Kisha both coordinated and recorded the event: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Two more of my reviews went live at PsychCentral, Clark McCauley's and Sophia Moskalenko's Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us; and Loren A. Olson's Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight

My submission to William Gurstelle's "Practical Pyromaniac Clerihew Contest" received a Special Mention. It joins a collection of fire- and science-related poems.

My story "Visitations" appeared in Jack-o'-Spec: Tales of Halloween and Fantasy (Raven Electrick Ink).

My poem "Shrine to the Disconnected" appeared in Dreams & Nightmares #90.

Thanks to Amber at Niteblade for this contributor interview.

And to Ao Bibliophile for letting me do this guest post as "Mistress of Science Fiction & Dark Fantasy."

On Sept. 24 I joined global events Moving Planet and 100 Thousand Poets for Change simultaneously, by posting 24 climate change-related sonnets in 24 hours, midnight to midnight Eastern time. My index contains live links to each poem and corresponding news article(s).

My guest post "Science With Heart: Connecting with your crowdfunders through the language of emotion" appeared on the #SciFund blog. Back in August I had begun following #SciFund and collecting data in preparation for NaNoWriMo (see November).

I attended the Florida State Poets Association's annual convention in Orlando on Oct. 14-16, where I emceed the awards ceremony for FSPA's annual contests. Among other exercises, the convention also yielded this poem during a workshop given by Gianna Russo of YellowJacket Press. My poem "No Need for the Alarm" received second prize in the Convention Poem Contest (not to be confused with the regular FSPA contests) and appeared in Of Poets and Poetry.

On Oct. 19 I joined fellow panelists Loretta Rogers, Dylan Newton, and Flossie Benton Rogers at the Citrus County Library's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) Kickoff. My presentation dealt with decision points in writing. The Kickoff is the first of the library's three-part NaNoWriMo series.

On Oct. 21-23 I attended Necronomicon 30. My panels included "What Has Social Media Done for You Lately?", "Three or More (on writing book series)," "Intro to Writing Poetry" (which I moderated), "The Liquid State of Publishing" (ditto), and "Connecting Science Fiction with Poetry & Song." When not at panels, I could be found at my Author Alley table. Thanks again to K.L. Nappier and her husband Richard for hosting me over the weekend!

You can hear me read "All Creatures Great and Small" at this year's Science Fiction Poetry Association Halloween Poetry Reading. The poem had originally appeared in the March-April 1988 issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

I participated in my first NaNoWriMo as a nonfiction "rebel." About 250,000 "NaNo" participants set out to write a 50,000-word manuscript in 30 days (I crossed that threshold on Nov. 28). Rather than write a novel, I performed realtime coverage of the #SciFund Challenge, which ran parallel to NaNo and then some. Here's a quick tour of how I blogged my process.

On Nov. 16 I squeaked in as the Citrus County Library's NaNoWriMo Write-In began winding down. I had been scheduled to present at that event, but my dying car battery had other ideas. Was still able to participate in the closing Q&A session.

I also snagged first-runner-up status in Bug Girl's Ribald Tales of Entomology Limerick Contest.

My review of Ted Cascio's and Leonard Martin's House and Psychology: Humanity is Overrated went live on PsychCentral.

Deviations: Covenant was featured on the blog Cows of Doom (!)

I continued to draft A Grand Experiment: Tracking the #SciFund Challenge, finishing the "realtime narrative" portion on Dec. 29. It's still a preliminary draft and needs a lot of work, and I need to write up a section devoted to #SciFund's 49 projects. The section weighs in at 72,115 words and contains 1,486 footnotes. Most of the footnotes reference tweets, which provided the bulk of the story's dialogue. Here's a sample chapter.

You can view the complete table of contents for Star*Line 34(4), including my "Interplay" section. That includes live links to my two Editor's Choice poems. I've written about my editorial process for this section, including the relationship between my vision of the "Interplay" theme and poets' interpretations of it. Greg Beatty's "The Physics of Age and Baseball" completely matched my original idea of the theme in its elegant melding of disparate elements. So, too, Matthew Richards' "Ravel: An Etymology", both for its use of language and for an emotional kick that affected me on a deeply personal level.

Thanks again to Marge Simon for her steadfast editorship of Star*Line, and a hearty Welcome and Congratulations to F.J. Bergmann, who is taking over the editorial reins in addition to her duties as SFPA Webmaster.

Finally, inspired by Bug Girl's post of an Entomological Carol by Jim Richmond, coupled with some research on roaches by Dr. Coby Schal et al. -- and feeling holiday-season-post-NaNo-still-#SciFund punchy -- I concocted an entomological carol of my own. My "Parcoblatta lata Wonderland" got picked up by Scicurious/Friday Weird Science (guest-blogged by Bug Girl). My video performance is currently in the works. Stay tuned!

And 2011 isn't over yet! I might come up with something more before New Year's. Who knows?

Plans for 2012?

I don't make New Year's resolutions, writing-wise or otherwise. But I do create a dedication statement, as in, "I dedicate myself to the following for 2012."

The bulk of that statement remains unchanged from year to year. Write daily (doesn't matter what, just do it). Do healthy things (eat right, exercise, get enough sleep; at least, that's the plan). Keep connected to people (both in person and online). Work on specific projects if I've got 'em (I've got 'em). Researching and submitting to markets are also on the list.

This year has been notable for much that I haven't posted here. That changes my game plan a bit. My goals for 2012 include improving my presence online. I need to make more use of my accounts on Google+ and Twitter, along with my Facebook fan page. I need to bump up my involvement in the forums I'm on. I need to leave more comments hither and yon and aim for greater overall interaction, especially since my life has become somewhat insular.

Living each day to the fullest and giving thanks are also permanent residents on the list. And this quote from St. Juan de la Cruz (1542-1591): "If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark."

Thank you all for being there and for stopping by! May 2012 be a year of good health and happiness, creativity and compassion. Keep on keepin' on.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys
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Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.), Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite, Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny, Vol. 4, Deviations: Bloodlines, Vol. 5, Deviations: TelZodo, Vol. 6 and conclusion: Deviations: Second Covenant.
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