28 June 2012

Back from Residency!

So...this residency is what we call the penultimate, which means, the second-to-last residency. As in, the next residency I attend will be the final one: in which I defend my thesis, The Name and the Key; bid farewell to friends and mentors; and graduate with my Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction.

I'm not confident that this will actually happen by January.

I need another term. I knew I needed another term as soon as I registered for classes a couple months ago. And when I took my awesome modules this residency, it only reiterated that I'm already doing too much...I managed to get pretty sick during the residency on different occasions, and it was all directly related to stress, fear, and exhaustion.
Friends reunited!

That was the negative part of the residency--me freaking out all the time. My poor mentor and friends and Troublemakers had to keep giving me pep talks, which was much appreciated, but I'm sure it was kind of a hassle, too, because we all have our own stuff to deal with.

After all of that stuff, I came to the conclusion that the only way I can finish my book this term is if I drop everything else. The book is the priority, so I'll focus on that and worry about retaking the others courses later.

Now without further ado, let's get onto the positive parts of the residency!

I got to take some very awesome modules this time around. Tim Waggoner focused on cliches and tropes in dark fantasy and horror; Barbara Miller helped us work through characters arcs and focus on cross-genres and crossovers in romance; we got to practice reading excerpts of our thesis novels aloud with Lee McClain; and I think my favorite was a three-hour intensive on writing graphic novels with Wayne Wise. It was completely awesome.

I also submitted my excerpt of The Step and the Walk to be critiqued; I received helpful criticism as well as positive feedback of it overall. Author Anne Harris led the session, and I managed to say some really silly things during the workshop, like this gem she tweeted (under one of her pen names) regarding something I said about my character Andresh:

I guess I was on a roll this residency in terms of stupid silliness. Like this bizarre exchange Sami and Symantha and I had regarding synaesthesia (Sami makes color associations and I have a weird thing with sound and taste). Try to imagine the dialogue with heavy Southern accents as you read it:

ME: Oh My God, this tire tastes like Bill Compton!
SAMI: Holy shit, it goes both ways!

Another weird moment--Sami trying to explain to me the varying tones and inflections in Asian languages:

SAMI: Bok BOk bok bOK BOK boK BOK
ME & SAMI: Baaaaaaawk Baaaaaaaaaaaaawk

And another example, my attempt at remembering limericks at 3am:

There once was a man from Nantucket. Who was drunk so he puked in a bucket. He did something else... a word rhymes with else...and I hate limericks, so fuck it.

Sheer brilliance. *cough, cough*

Anyway, I also tried to get out of my shell even more at this residency. I finally roomed with someone (Jo, you are awesome and I love our ill-timed, emotional late-night chats); I stayed an extra day and socialized with a bunch of people I've never really spoken all too deeply with before; I made new friends and met up with people from the blogosphere; and I managed to stay at both the book signing and Alumni Genre Costume Ball for more than ten minutes. I bought a lot of books, got some very sweet autographs and inscriptions from the authors inside of them...so whenever I'm down and think I can't write anymore, I'll just open the covers and read what they've put there. That should perk me right up!

Albert Wendland & Donald Maass...
industry pros, or indiscreet ninjas?
Also got to see the one and only Donald Maass for two extra-special, lengthy, thought-provoking sessions about creating the Fire in Fiction. He gave me a lot to think about. Not just about asking my characters deep questions, but great ways to open up the first few pages of the novel.

And yeah...back to that costume ball...the theme was Great Gatsby/1920s/Flappers with a genre twist. Which means, it wasn't just flapper costumes, but we also had to try and emulate our genre in some way.
The Lady Troublemakers
flank Chris on all sides. Not that
he's complaining.

My genre is fantasy and horror, but I thought it would be easier to play it vague and goes as a speculative fiction flapper. I had a really neat idea--green hair, purple eyes, purple skin, blue lips, and blue squigglies--inspired by some of the images in Suza Scalora's fantasty photography. But...the idea couldn't be realized. I got some higher-end professional stage makeup for the costume, but it didn't work on my skin...so only my face ended up purple. It just was one of those things where the image looked better in my mind than as executed.

This was taken at the end of
the night, when everything
melted off, including the
blue lipstick.
One of the neatest things about the 20s Genre Ball was the fact that almost everybody who attended went in costume...and people went all out.

Of course, this was another instance where I sucked at taking pictures of other people. As soon as other students post images, I'll link them. We also had a special photo booth set up at the Ball and a group of us took pictures in it, so when those are posted, I'll link to those, too.

Me and Stephanie!
In the meantime, you'll just have to be happy with this cute little cell phone picture of me (Fantasy) and Stephanie Wytovich (Horror) in our flapper costumes. It's hard to tell from the angle, but she's been attacked by vampires. A better picture of her costume is here. Yay!

I also found someone at the Ball who bore some startling similarities to the male lead in my novel, Andresh. Not exactly, of course...but it was still close enough with certain characteristics that I asked if I could take his picture. It's hard to see in this shot, but he has long, dark hair (tied back); the coat's the wrong color but it's embroidered and has sort of a mandarin collar at the top; and he has height and coloring close to how I picture Andresh in my brain. Pretty cool, huh? But unfortunately I was a dingo and forgot to ask this person's name. So, thank you, stranger! You're kind of the lead in my book! Update: Turns out this is the one and only John Edward Lawson!

Andresh in the flesh?
aka John Lawson
of Raw Dog Screaming Press
A nifty residency overall, aside from the panic-stricken moments.

Oh yeah...most importantly...

 I NAILED MY TEACHING MODULE. Nailed. It. It was 900% better than my Colossal Con panel (which is bittersweet in its own way) but more importantly, everyone loved it. Including Lee McClain, who graded the teaching module. She says I'm a natural...and I hope that bodes well for the future, as it's been a dream of mine to teach for a looooong time.

In the meantime, I had a TON OF FUN THINGS HAPPEN while I was away at residency...(expect info soon).


  1. A write-up! That's what I've been missing! I'll go do that, in fact, while I'm whiling away the hottest hours of the day before I go walking up to the store this afternoon.

    It was a pretty great Rez after all, wasn't it? I was so glad to spend more time with you! And that comics panel was out of this world!


  2. Pep talks are never a hassle! You know I love your book, and the more you write, the more I get to read. :D

    Also, that limerick is pure magic.

  3. SAMI: I love that we acted so super goofy that last night there. Cosign on the comics panel! Don't forget, it's the Fourth of July Nebula...

    It's going to suck though, not being able to go to residency in January :`( I'll have to find another way for us to hang out again!

  4. JENN: Thanks, m'dear! That means a lot.

    Glad you like that limerick. I've got plenty more bad ones up my sleeves...


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