Weekly Update – December 28, 2021

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve Eve Eve, everyone! Hope your Christmas was good — or at least better than mine.

Unfortunately, my wife and I learned the hard way that our geriatric bulldog Beatrix (seen here evoking Winston Churchill) does not travel well anymore. She was miserable the whole time we were in NYC visiting my wife’s family, so for her sake we cut the visit short and brought her home so she could be comfortable and in a familiar environment.

On a happier note, the time we did get in was lovely, and I came home with a stack of new board games and enough Home Depot gift cards that I was able to buy enough materials to begin the next phase of my office renovation project: built-in shelves for all my books and knickknacks! Which, admittedly, might not be exciting to you, but it makes me happy.

Finally, two brief Arisia updates. One, as per the most recent official bulletin, Arisia 2022 is still a go as a live event and there are no plans to take it the virtual route again. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then, but any cancellation announcements, if they come, aren’t going to be made until closer to show time, so keep an eye on the Arisia website for any updates.

Two, in addition to moderating the panels on writing fight scenes and knowing when to quit a writing project, I’ve been added as moderator to the panel on writing villains. Woo!


Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Production is about to begin on the audiobook edition. Tentatively set for an early 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & LightfootTwins and Losses: Final draft is process. Tentatively scheduled for early 2022 release.


  • Arisia 2022: January 14 – 17, Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel. The event has a robust attendance policy due to Covid, which you can read here. Panel schedule is as follows:
  • Writing Helpline for Action Scenes: Friday, 7 PM, Marina 2. When writing an action scene, there are times authors find themselves stuck. The writer has one idea and the scene has another. Or perhaps a writer realizes they’ve written themselves into a corner. Maybe the scene is simply boring. Join this panel of writers as they discuss their own experiences writing effective action scenes and offering advice for common problems in writing action.
  • Crafting Memorable Villains: Saturday, 4 PM, Marina 1. It’s been said that every villain is the hero of their own story. Speculative Fiction is populated with compelling assassins, thieves, witches, con artists and mean girls, who are as complex and compelling as the heroes they come up against. What makes villains and anti-heroes irresistible? Our panelists will share how to craft the perfect villain and explain why anti-heroes and villains are so important in their stories. Find out how much fun it can be to give in to the dark side!
  • Shop Talk: Quitting Time: Saturday, 5:30 PM, Faneuil. Calling quits on a story doesn’t have to be a sad situation. Panelists will bring to the table times when a project petered out, a novel got shelved, or the pursuit of writing had to be paused for a time. The question to explore: why did you stop writing and how did you move on from that decision?
  • The Mushy Middle: Conquering the Midpoint Swamp: Sunday, 4 PM, Faneuil. What happens when you come up with an intriguing premise, but around page 50, your story falls apart? Our panelists will discuss the pitfalls of navigating the second act swamp; how they plot; ways to clarify your hero’s journey; coping strategies including beat sheets, the mini movie method, and mirroring; various ways to brainstorm past a block; and other ways to cut the flab from that mushy middle.


The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.


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