The Write Life: June 2019

Summer is convention season, which means that just a couple weeks after the OCLS Book Festival, I was driving over to Maitland for a weekend at OASIS, the Orlando Area Science Fiction Society’s annual convention. They were celebrating OASIS 30, but this was my first time in attendance. It’s kind of amazing what can be growing under your nose if you just haven’t looked around to find it.

While OASIS isn’t strictly a writer convention, its focus is on sci-fi and fantasy books, so there were a lot of authors to talk to and plenty of panel discussions geared toward writing. (And some that were geared more toward science, which were fantastic for inspiration and research.)

One of my favorite panels of the weekend was Brainstorming the Science in Your Science Fiction. A panel of experts in several scientific fields—everything from biologists to rocket scientists—were available to answer writers’ questions about their fictional science. I’ve been struggling with some details about what a character is doing outside of her spaceship when disaster strikes, and they had some fantastic suggestions for various things she could be fixing (and what would put the ship in the most peril).

I also had several great one-on-one conversations with authors about how they run their Patreon campaigns, experiences they’ve had in both traditional and self-publishing, and I received an actionable suggestion for how I might condense my ideas for short fiction and actually write a short story! Overall, it was a very useful convention and I’m so glad that I finally stumbled across their group.

(And thanks to the gentleman who asked before putting bunny ears on KL. Classic joke performed with class.)


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Research Reads: May

The internet is a vast and wonderful place that provides a lot of information, which means it’s a great place to find ideas for stories or story elements.

Here’s a list of topics that have caught my attention in the last month. (Initial links are provided along with any additional research I may have done.)

The Forgotten Story of the Radium Girls, Whose Deaths Saved Thousands of Workers’ Lives

Warning: the article contains some grainy, yet still gruesome pictures of some of the cancers the women developed.

The abstract on the article sums this up better than I can: “During World War I, hundreds of young women went to work in clock factories, painting watch dials with luminous radium paint. But after the girls—who literally glowed in the dark after their shifts—began to experience gruesome side effects, they began a race-against-time fight for justice that would forever change US labor laws.”

Wonderfully, this is a general summary of a book on the same topic—The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. I know what I’m adding to my Want to Read list.

Aside from the nonfiction account being a fascinating story to tell, there are reminders here about untested new technologies, the hierarchy of labor, and the greed of corporations. (Seriously, can you imagine being told that the “best practice” of your job painting with radium is to lick your paintbrush to a fine point?)

If you don’t want to commit to the book, but are interested in the topic, here are options for further reading:

Mickey Mouse WWII Gas Masks

Technically this picture was posted at the end of April, but I haven’t been able to get this creepy image out of my head. It also led to me researching what the heck these Disney World War II antiquities actually are.

Designed following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 1,000 of these masks were produced for toddlers in 1942. They weren’t needed in the States, and only a few of these terrifying relics remain.

For further reading:

Time Travel: A Conversation Between a Scientist and a Literature Professor

An interesting conversation about the “realities” of time travel and how time travel works in narrative fiction (not just in speculative fiction about traveling through time, but the way time is manipulated in narrative forms). It’s a pretty good primer for discussing time travel, and thinking about how to use time travel in different narratives. (They also discuss my preferred time travel theory—parallel timelines—which just makes more sense and is much less headachy than closed time loops (I’m looking at you Harry Potter.))

No further reading links for this one—it’s just a nugget to mull over for another time. Ha, ha.