What to Bring to a Writer’s Conference

I’ve attended a few writers’ conferences over the years, and recently just got back from the first in-person one I’ve attended in over three years. It was great to be surrounded by so many writers! If you’ve never been to a writers’ conference, I encourage you to find one near you and attend. So what can you expect from a day or a weekend with other writers? Here are some quick tips that can help make your experience comfortable and fun.

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What Happens When You’re Tired of Social Media

I haven’t blogged in several months because, to be perfectly honest, I got tired of it. I did not stop writing, reading, editing, and researching. But I did stop blogging. I also let my social media lag a bit, until recently.

I was just plain tired of it all. And at this point in history, who isn’t? The past couple of years have been crazy—and social media has made it all both better and worse. Better, because it’s allowed us to communicate with each other, and to realize that despite everything, we’re not alone in our struggles. And worse, because, well…just scroll through Facebook for ten minutes and I’m sure you’ll find at least two videos that lower your IQ, and at least three posts/articles/memes that make you mad.

Anyway, so what should you do when you’re just tired of it all and want to delete all social apps from your phone? Here’s my take:

Take a social media break. 

If you’re exhausted and fed up by social media, then by all means take a break. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the drama and bad news, or frustrated by your lack of reach or other results, then it might be time to take a step back for a bit.

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Strong Women of Fantasy: Glinda and Ozma of Oz

I’ve written several posts about strong women characters in sci-fi and fantasy. My goal is to highlight some well-written female characters who are strong leaders, every bit equal to men, and yet still feminine. In this post, I’ll cover two female lead characters from the “Oz” books.

Let me begin by repeating that a strong female character is not a male character in a woman’s body. Women are inherently different in more than just biology, and those differences are important to portray well in fiction if a strong female character is to be believable. Yes, women can be warriors, leaders, and protectors (traditionally male attributes), just as men can be gentle, calming, and nurturing. But in a story, a strong female character needs to be so much more than just a gender-swapped man.

Many fantasy and sci-fi stories have an overwhelmingly male cast. All too often, the “token female” is just that—serving either as romance/sexual tension, and/or to simply say “this story is all about equality because look a woman.”

There’s no romance in the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum, primarily because they were written for young children. Even with some of the reimaginings of the Oz stories featuring romance to different degrees, most of the best Oz retellings stay fairly true to the strength of the female characters in the original tales.

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Four Questions for the New Year

The dawn of a new year always has me thinking about goals and dreams and purpose. And that brings to mind four questions that I use to help guide me in thinking about my life for the next year: 

Who are you? 

What do you want? 

Why are you here? 

Where are you going? 

These four questions are from the classic science-fiction TV show Babylon 5. These questions, and the characters’ answers to them, are a strong thematic element throughout the series. And like any good piece of fiction, this sci-fi story can point to real life in a very impactful way.

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Strong Women of Fantasy: Elisa Maza

This is the next installment in my series about strong women characters in sci-fi and fantasy. My goal is to highlight some well-written female characters who are strong leaders, every bit equal to men, and yet still feminine.

Elisa Maza

I will begin by repeating that a strong female character is not a male character in a woman’s body. Women are inherently different in more than just biology, and those differences are important to portray well in fiction if a strong female character is to be believable. Yes, women can be warriors, leaders, and protectors (traditionally male attributes), just as men can be gentle, calming, and nurturing. But in a story, a strong female character needs to be so much more than just a gender-swapped man.

Many fantasy and sci-fi stories have an overwhelmingly male cast. All too often, the “token female” is just that—serving either as romance/sexual tension, and/or to simply say “this story is all about equality because look a woman.” In this post, I’ll be discussing the character of Elisa Maza from the 90s Disney TV cartoon Gargoyles. In this fantasy adventure story, the cast was, predictably, overwhelmingly male. Elisa may have initially stood out as the “token female,” but it was quickly apparent that she was to be a main character every bit as important as all the male humans and Gargoyles.

Elisa Maza, Police Detective 

Elisa starts out as a strong woman from the get-go, because she’s a New York City police officer. One can’t be a wimp if you’re a plain-clothes cop in the Big Apple. She’s determined, smart, and doesn’t back down when she knows she’s in the right—all traits of a strong woman. She refuses to be bullied (by human criminals or fantastical monsters), and though she uses her authority as a cop to get things done, she uses violence or her gun as a last resort. She also chooses to act rationally rather than react emotionally when faced with the shock of meeting living Gargoyles for the first time.

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Strong Women of Fantasy: Wonder Woman

I wrote a series of posts a few years ago about strong women characters in sci-fi and fantasy. My goal was to highlight some well-written female characters who are strong leaders, every bit equal to men, and yet still feminine. I’d like to continue that series with another few posts discussing some other strong female characters. 

First off, a strong female character is not a male character in a woman’s body. Women are inherently different in more than just biology, and those differences are important to portray well in fiction if a strong female character is to be believable. Yes, women can be warriors, leaders, and protectors (traditionally male attributes), just as men can be gentle, calming, and nurturing. We’re all human, after all. But in a story, a strong female character needs to be so much more than just a gender-swapped man. 

Many fantasy and sci-fi stories have an overwhelmingly male cast. All too often, the “token female” is just that—serving either as romance/sexual tension, and/or to simply say “this story is all about equality because look a woman.” I want to cover three female characters (from film, TV, and books) who I believe are excellent examples of well-written strong women. In this post, I’ll discuss Wonder Woman—specifically, as she’s portrayed in the 2017 film. 

Wonder Woman 

Wonder Woman is an iconic character who’s been written, drawn, and performed admirably by so many different people over the years. And of course she’s strong—she’s a superhero, after all. She’s got to flip a few tanks and deflect a few bullets regardless of her gender, because that’s the way comic books work.

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