The Write Life: August 2019

Yep, you guessed it: it’s the annual post about DragonCon.

As always, DragonCon is a magical place in which time doesn’t flow correctly. It is both so long and way too short, wherein on Friday you’re thinking about how much time you have to do everything and on Monday you’re begging for one more day of con. (Even when I’m ready to go home on Monday, I’m still half-slumped in my chair, ready to go to the next panel.) On the way home I was basically two hours out of synch and was very confused when the sun set at what felt like 6pm.

This confusion of time fits perfectly with the fact that my theme this year was clearly time travel since I was on three different panels dealing with time travel.

Let’s move on to some highlights:

  • I was on two separate panels in which time travel was the main topic. With the Alternate & Historical Fiction Track we discussed time travel in general, hitting favorite time travel stories in TV, movies, and books (and not-so favorite stories as well). Since this was an open-ended discussion, it meant I still got to talk about Stargate: SG-1 which is always a plus.
  • Over on the Military Sci-Fi Media track, in the panel “How Do YOU Time Travel?” we focused more on the mechanics and science of time travel since I was on a panel with two PhD astrophysicists!

    Let’s pause on that for a moment. Here was the panelist line up for that panel:

    PhD astrophysicist
    PhD astrophysicist
    me, MFA Fiction

    Both astrophysicists were fantastic about explaining complicated real and theoretical physics in succinct and understandable ways, which kept the conversation from getting bogged down. I was able to interject on story-related motivations for time travel and got to explain why I prefer the Many Worlds theory of the multiverse as it relates to story consequences and angst.

  • American Sci-Fi & Fantasy Media invited me to a fan panel about The Umbrella Academy, in which, yeah, I also got to talk about time travel. I wound up being the only panelist who was introduced to the comic before the series and provided a lot of insight about the source material. (Many thanks to those in the audience who assisted with remembering single panels that contained relevant details!) The discussion was one of the best fan panels I attended all weekend, and I appreciate how much enthusiasm everyone brought to talk about this family of misfits.

  • I spent Saturday night camped out in the Alternate & Historical Fiction Track learning about the history of séances and phony psychics, pirates, and women in history. I have a long list of books to add to the TBR pile and a renewed itch to work on Gay Airship Pirates. Nothing is more inspirational than listening to how other authors worked through the same problems that are plaguing me.
  • On a personal note, I had completely forgotten that David Blue (Eli Wallace from Stargate Universe) was from FL and attended the University of Central Florida. This resulted in both of us dredging our memories to try to figure out how he recognized my face. No definitive conclusions, but our selfie game is A+.

Many thanks to Lisa for being a photographer while I was on panels.


For full access to The Write Life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.

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.