Aug 31

Some more pics from WOTF 2006

Here are a few more pics taken by others that have been sent to me:

Here’s a nice shot of me accepting my award. Dear God but I have a goofy grin.

Accepting the award

Here I am with Brian Herbert:

Brian Herbert gives me my award

Nina Kiriki Hoffman took this picture of me with Jack. I really like how this one turned out.

Diana and Jack

And here I am with one of Tim Power’s kittens. The background includes David Sakmyster, David John Baker, someone’s arm sticking out of my head, the top of K.D. Wentworth’s head, Judith Tabron, and Tim Powers.

Diana and the kitten

Aug 29

WOTF pics

Anna asleep in the hotel bed on Sunday morning before we went to the airport. She’s all arms and legs. :)

Anna asleep in the hotel bed on Sunday morning

My pics from earlier in the week didn’t turn out all that great, so the rest of these are pretty much from Friday on. I did, however, take lots of video, which I will post once I figure out how to get it off of my camera.

This is Brian Rappatta (my writing “twin”) crammed into a tiny plane at the San Diego Aerospace Museum.

Brian in the plane

This is me crammed into a tiny plane.

Me in the plane

This is me on the way to the lobby on the afternoon of the ceremony.

Evening gown

This is me attempting to straighten Brian’s tie.

Brian and his tie

Jack and me in all of our formal glory.

Jack and me

From left to right: Lee Beavington, Brian Rappatta, Mike Rimar, Sarah Totton, Diana Rowland

Getting ready to leave for the ceremony

Ten people stuffed into a ten-person limo, where the ten people are assumed to be anorexic high school girls, not middle-aged writers with middle-aged spread. From left to right: Tiffany Hutchins, Blake Hutchins, Brandon Sigrist, Sarah Totton.

Ten people in a limo

This is after the ceremony, where the photographers were valiantly attempting to get everyone together for a group picture.

Cat herding

More cat herding

The signing afterward:

Signing after the ceremony

More signing after the ceremony

And then the next day, signing at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego. I was at the cool table with David John Baker, David Sakmyster, Kevin J. Anderson, Brian Herbert, me, and Steven Saville. We had a blast!

The cool table

And finally, more of the signing at Mysterious Galaxy. I’m not even going to try to identify everyone in this picture.

More signing

Aug 28

Coming up for air

To say that I’ve been a bit busy since I returned from San Diego would be the understatement of the year! First off was the usual returning-from-vacation business, of retrieving my child, getting unpacked, doing scads of laundry etc. But then on Tuesday I started my new job with the coroner’s office, and I’ve definitely hit the ground running there.

Oh, and I’m totally in love with the new job. Great group of people, management that trusts you to be able to do your job, plenty of responsibility, interesting day-to-day work… oh yeah, and more money! (Though even if I was making the same amount that I’d been making at the Sheriff’s office I’d still be pleased. My job change was definitely NOT about money, though I certainly won’t complain about the increased compensation!)

Anna’s been very clingy-cuddly since we returned, which is totally understandable. I went over to my sister’s house yesterday, and Anna started crying when we walked in the door and it took me several minutes to convince her that I wasn’t leaving her there. Poor baby! But she survived her time away from us just fine, as did we. It’s just going to take her a couple of weeks to trust us again. [g]

And, I’m full bore into a new novel. I’m really excited about this project and I think it has a lot of potential. I’m trying to put down a minimum of three pages a day (which is about 700 words), but I’m shooting for at least a thousand words a day. So far I’m keeping to my goal fairly well, but I’m still fleshing out my outline as I go so I think I’ll probably be able to pick up the pace a bit later on.

And then, the capper to my week has been a lovely cough and cold. I can’t really be too upset about getting sick now since I fought it off tooth and nail before and during WOTF, and it was probably to be expected after a week of stress (good stress, but stress nonetheless!) and minimal sleep.

So, that’s been my week. Busy but good.

Hopefully I’ll get pics up sometime today.

Aug 21

Writers of the Future 2006: the end of the week

I apologize for having such a long gap between entries, but available time to post was extremely rare. The week was long and intense and incredible… and totally worth it! I apologize if any part of this is incoherent, but I’m just a tetch sleep-deprived!

This has been an absolutely amazing week. It wasn’t even a bummer that I didn’t win the Grand Prize, because, to be honest, after getting to know all of the other writers and the other first placers, none of us really cared who won the grand prize other than the fact that it came with $5000.00. And while I can always use an extra 5K, I don’t NEED 5K.

Friday night, and the day leading up to it were a total blast. It started with a breakfast in the morning with all of the other workshoppers and all of the judges, then all of the winners piled into vans and went down to the San Diego Aerospace Museum for our rehearsal. We had about an hour to wander the museum first, then we did a quick run through of where we had to sit and where we had to walk and stand and how to accept the awards and we had a chance to stand at the podium and get used to the sound system. Then we piled back into the vans and headed back to the hotel to relax a trifle and get ready for the evening.

My “appointment” to have my hair and makeup done was at 3, so I spent the 3 or so free hours that I had in getting the creases out of my dress, pressing Jack’s tux, and fixing my toenails (the polish, that is!) At 3 I trotted over to the room where the hair and makeup stations were and submitted my person to Beautification. The lady who did my hair did a really excellent job and managed to somehow gather my wild tresses into an updo that looked elegant and awesome! Another woman did my makeup, and at about 4 I made my way back to my room and slipped on my dress, stuck some earrings on my lobes, slipped on the shoes, and then waited for Jack to do the 2 minutes of prep that he needed to do.

Then it was time to head down to the lobby to wait for the limos. The limo ride was made a trifle uncomfortable simply because we got stuck in some horrendous traffic and it took over an hour to get to the restaurant, but it was still a blast. I went to the restroom as soon as I got there, and when I got back to my table, I discovered that Anne McCaffrey was sitting at our table, next to my husband. Squeeeee! Somehow I managed to NOT become squealing Fan Girl, and instead had an utterly delightful conversation with her and her son, Todd.

Then it was time for the ceremony itself. I think I had to go to the bathroom five times before the event started, just from nerves! I also had to find someone with some duct tape to stuff into the back of my shoes because it seemed that they were just a touch too big and I kept walking out of them. But the ceremony was just terrific and classy and real fun to be a part of. I managed to give my first place acceptance speech without falling on my face (and even got some laughs when I thanked my personal trainer for making it possible for me to fit into my dress.) Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven were given Lifetime Achievement awards and then it was time for the announcements of the grand prize winners for Illustrator and Writer. I had my little piece of paper with my second acceptance speech in my hand just in case, but when Brandon’s name was called, there was a feeling of, “Thank god that’s over!” I mean, he’s such a friggin nice guy that there’s no way to be jealous. And, really, everyone was so nice and they’re all so talented that there’s not an iota of, “I deserved that more than he did.” Although, I did think I had a better shot at it since I was the only one of the four who didn’t wear glasses, and so my reasoning was that obviously I could SEE the future better then they… but, hey, it all worked out! [g]

After the awards were over we had to have our pictures taken a zillion times, and at one point during the picture taking Jerry Pournelle came up to me and told me how much he’d liked my story, so that was a pretty big thrill!

Finally it was time to make our way to the big row of tables for the signing. I lost track of how many books I signed, but we were there until well after midnight. Jack took some terrific pictures which I’ll post once I get the chance to upload them. The signing was a ton of fun, everyone loved my dress, and it only took about a half hour to get back to the hotel which was a relief to all of us!

And then the next day was the big bookstore signing at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego. I ended up seated at a table with Steve Saville on one side, Brian Herbert on the other, and Kevin J. Anderson next to him, so, needless to say, we had the funnest table there. Most of the signing was a blur, but I remember thinking, “Okay, this is totally cool, and I want to do more of these, with my own books!”

There was a dinner on the patio for everyone Saturday evening, and then everyone stuck around for hours just talking and socializing. I still can’t get over what a great group of people we had, without a single jerk-ish person in the whole lot. I can tell that we’re going to be staying in touch with each other for a very long time.

Then it was Sunday, and time for everyone to part ways. Everyone agreed that the week flew by just way too quickly, and there was a lot of goodbye hugging and kissing going around. It’s amazing that I got to be such good friends with these people in just one week! The flight back for us was long… made much longer by the fact that the last leg of our flight, Atlanta to New Orleans, was delayed by more than two hours due to bad weather in Atlanta, and so we didn’t get home until 2am. Ugh! Jack and I were so tired and so wiped out (I don’t think I got more than 6 hours sleep any night I was out there) that we fell asleep on the plane to New Orleans before it even pushed back out of the gate. We fell into bed as soon as we got home, and then this morning I got up at 6:30 to shower and go meet my sister to retrieve my Child, who was appropriately delighted to see me.

So now, I’m exhausted, delighted, motivated, and I have a horking big piece of Lucite as well!

I’ll post more detailed entries as soon as I catch up on sleep and can go through my notes. There was so much incredible information given to us that it’s going to take me time to distill it all. :)

Aug 19

WOTF quickie

Hi! I did not win the Grand Prize, but I’m still having a blast and am running around like crazy. More later!!

Aug 18

Writers of the Future: Wednesday

Jack and I went running together yesterday morning, which was delightful for a number of reasons. Firstly, we almost never get the chance to run together–we usually take turns going out to run so that someone can stay home with the baby. Secondly, the weather here is GORGEOUS!!!! It is such a treat to walk outside and not instantly begin sweating, even at 6am. Thirdly, the scenery is beautiful here. We ran the same route that I ran Tuesday morning, which was just going north along the Pacific Coast Highway until we reached a public beach area, where we went down and ran along the beach for a while. The only problem I had was that I’m not used to running with someone at all, and so talking during running really screws up my breathing rhythm, and as a result I had a vicious stitch in my side for about the first three miles. (We ran about 3.5 miles.)

After we got back it was a rush to shower and have breakfast, then I went off to my workshop and Jack went off to do whatever he wanted to do.

First thing we did was critique the three stories that had been randomly selected. Not much to say about that except to say that I was impressed that pretty much everyone was able to turn in a reasonably well put together story that would probably only need a rewrite or two to be saleable.

The rest of the day was speakers. David Brin, Anne McCaffrey (Squeeeee!!! I grew up on the Pern novels!!), Jerry Pournelle, Kevin J. Anderson (Jesus H. Christ, but the man has written over 90 novels!!)who gave us some absolutely incredibly advice about how to be prolific and how to be professional, as well as numerous others including several past winners of the contest who have gone on to do some pretty amazing things.

After the speakers were finished we went out onto the patio and had the “meet and greet” barbecue dinner. The food was all right, but the chance to talk to all of these luminaries and rising luminaries was really incredible. Also at one point I was dragged into a room that had been set up like a studio, had some more makeup slapped on me and interviewed. (Second filmed interview of the day. It’s getting easier…lol)

Finally as the party wound down we began discussing our acceptance speeches and past acceptance speeches and Oscar acceptance speeches, and somewhere in there I ended up doing one-handed pushups Jack Palance style.

You had to be there.

So now, today is the day! I can’t believe how quickly this week has flown by. None of us can believe how quickly this week has flown by! I’m also really struck by how different this experience has been from when I went through Clarion, and I’m not referring just to the differing lengths of one week vs. six. Clarion is an incredible workshop and an invaluable learning experience, but this week the attitude has been different. In this workshop you are treated like a pro writer. Everyone here has made a pro sale. It’s understood that you already know the basics of how to write and how to structure a decent story. This workshop was about refining your skills and turning you into a Pro. yes, there were some sections on craft and story and suspense, etc. But I think that over half of the workshop focused on the professional side. As Kevin J. Anderson said, “A writer is someone who knows how to write. A Professional Writer is someone who knows how to write, and then also knows publishing and the industry.”

I’ll probably post another entry tonight after we get back with Any News I Might Have.

Aug 17

Writers of the Future 2006: Tuesday/Wednesday

Sorry there was such a gap in my entries. Things got very busy on Tuesday and did not let up until late last night!

So, as I mentioned in my last entry, Tuesday was the “go forth and talk to a stranger” exercise. Tuesday morning at about 10am they packed us into two minivans and drove us to the Carlsbad Library with the admonition to be back by 3pm and to find at least one stranger to chat up and find out some background on them. This was also our opportunity to do any research we needed to do for our stories. The library is in an area with lots of shops and restaurants, with a movie theater and a grocery store, so there were plenty of people wandering about doing their daily life stuff.

Some of our group scattered instantly and others stayed in little clumps of 3-4, but almost everyone gravitated to the coffee shop first. I got lucky when a women chatted me up first by making a comment about the jewelry I was wearing. Unfortunately there wasn’t much chance to have a long conversation with her since we both had coffee in hand and she was clearly on her way somewhere, but I still got some tidbits of information and it sort of “warmed me up” for doing more chatting up of perfect strangers.

The one wierd part of the day, though, was the fact that the camera crew was following us around and recording us talking to people–which tended to put a bit of a damper on some people’s desire to talk to us. We tried to tell them it was a student film project, but it was still kinda strange to have a “casual” conversation with someone while a big camera was pointed at us from about ten feet away.

(I don’t know if it’s like this every year, but the camera crews–both still and video–follow us everywhere! It takes getting used to, but after a couple of days they get almost invisible)

After we got back to the hotel we were given some parting advice from Kathy Wentworth and Tim Powers and then, at 4:45, the countdown started and we were off to writing.

I had a pretty decent idea of what my story was going to be, and by about 8pm I had about 2000 words of complete and utter crap. I went to my room and wrote a little bit more, and by 9:30pm I had 2500 words of complete crap. I went to bed early, set my alarm for 4am, and after I woke up I wrote a little more and by about 6am I had 3000 words of crap. I went down to the hotel restaurant, parked in a table in the corner, ate a huge breakfast, and stayed there while the server plied with me huge quantities of coffee, and by about 8am I had 4300 words of stuff than stank and I had been able to type “END”. For the next few hours I filled in all of the places where I’d typed “Something goes here” or “Describe this”, then I printed it out and put my computer and my printout in my room without looking at it. I didn’t think about the story for about two hours, grabbed a bite to eat, and then went back to it and did edits on the hard copy. Made some changes, went back to the computer, revised a few things, and then printed out my final finished version at about 1pm and turned it in. (Jack was coming in about 3, so I wanted to be totally finished by then.)

So that exercise alone has made this whole week worth the price of admission. (Oh, wait… they’re paying ME!) Time to write is the rare thing in my life, and my biggest failure as a writer is that I simply do not write enough. And often the reason I do not write enough is because I figure that if I only have a couple of hours here and there throughout the week, it’s not even worth bothering to start anything. But I now KNOW that I can really churn out a story that doesn’t suck too hard in a short period of time if I prepare for it properly.

After we all turned out stories in, the administrators took them away and made copies of them for everyone, then we were told which random three stories we had to read for critique. Mine was not one of the ones picked, which I was little disappointed about since I really get a lot out of critiques, and I wanted some feedback on whether the story was utterly totally sappy or not. However, the cool thing is that pretty much everyone is reading all of the stories anyway, and so everyone is still getting feedback on their stories even if it isn’t formal crits given in the class.

Now it is time for me to put my running clothes on and lace up my shoes, because I have been eating WAAAAY too much this week, and my dress does not have much room for error. :)

Aug 15

Writes of the Future: Monday/ Tuesday morning

I actually managed to sleep until 6:30am this morning, which was absolutely perfect since a) it gave me about 7.5 hours of sleep, and b) I was able to get up early enough to go for a run.

The hotel is right across the street from the beach, so running this morning was a really pleasant experience. I think I only went about 3.5 miles, but it was a little hillier than I’m used to, plus I did part of my run along the sand, so I still got a nice workout. Plus the weather is incredible! Every time I talked to someone from home on the phone yesterday I had to gloat and say, “Ha! I’m not sweating!!”

The workshop is a lot of fun so far, and everyone in the group is totally cool. We’re not doing any workshopping of existing stories (which makes sense I realized since it would be a bit pointless/painful to critique stories that are being published and thus can’t be changed), and we also haven’t had the chance to read any of the the entries/winners. I think we won’t get to do that until we see the finished product, and I don’t think that will happen until the ceremony on Friday. Bah! I guess I’ll have something to read on the plane!

So the workshop so far has been lecture and discussion with and by Kathy Wentworth and Tim Powers, which has been incredibly fascinating and informative. We’ve also been doing little story-development exercises which are all geared toward the thrust of this week’s workshop, i.e. the “write a story in 24 hours” goal. We’ve been cautioned to NOT try and start writing early and to not use an existing story, because the benefit of this exercise is in discovering just how productive (and good) you can be with limited time. We were all given objects yesterday and told that we had to incorporate the object into our story somehow. It didn’t have to be exactly the same as the object (if your object looked like something else, you could use that) but it definitely had to be an inspirational source. And, surprisingly enough, the object I was given gave me the idea for a pretty complete story.

I think that today we’re going to be doing the “go forth and talk to a stranger” exercise, where we strike up a conversation with someone and learn about their background, with the hope of then using that background in the story.

If anyone has questions, please post a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them. I know that there’ve been quite a few people finding their way here through the Writers of the Future newsgroup on, and I’m sure you’re burning with questions (because I know I was!)

Aug 14

Writers of the Future 2006: Sunday evening

When we last saw our dashing heroine, she was resting after a long and arduous journey across the continent…

After utterly failing to fall asleep for a nap and after discovering that we weren’t going to have our “official” meeting until 9:30, I got bored and hungry and rounded up the few other attendees with whom I’d already made contact for a food run. It ended up being six of us by the time various roommates were dragged along and introduced. Oh, and I was supposed to have a roommate–something I had no problem with–but the room they gave me just has one king-size bed. When I got into the room I thought that maybe they’d given me the single room since there are three women attendees–leaving one as an odd woman out–and I have my husband coming to join me on Wednesday. But then after the meeting Judy told me that my roomie was going to show up in a couple of hours. I replied something on the order of, “That’s totally cool… are you aware my room only has one bed? And I’m enlightened and all, but… ermm…I’ll change rooms if you want.”

Well, I guess they decided to let me be in my own room since no one came crawling into my bed last night.

So, back to finding food. The hotel has a shuttle that will take guests anywhere in a 5-mile radius, so the six of us, after a few false starts, made it a brew-pub type restaurant where I had some really disgusting fish and chips. Actually, I didn’t have them since I didn’t eat them, and the waitress was incredibly nice and took them off my bill even though I didn’t ask her to since she saw that I hadn’t eaten them at all. I thought that was very cool of her so I made sure to tip her for what the amount would have been. Not her fault the food sucked.

Finally, at 9:30, we made our way to the conference room that is to be our permanent meeting area. It was decorated with Writers Of the Future banners and signs, with piles of previous anthologies on the table. We each had some reading and writing material in front of us, and in the front there was a table for Tim Powers and Kathy Wentworth.

The meeting was not very long; mostly it was a “this is what you are in for and this is what is expected of you and this is what you will get out of it if you want to.” Tim talked about how the exercises that we’re going to be doing are designed to make us better at the entire process of finding ideas, working with them, and then translating them into actual stories–in a limited amount of time. He and Kathy both also talked about the fact that where you place in the contest really doesn’t mean anything as far as your future potential, since it all comes down to taking what you learn in this week and then actually using it. (I’m paraphrasing badly, but that was the general gist of it.)

Finally, after the meeting–by which time I was barely keeping my eyes open with the time change and being up since 3:30am–I stumbled back to my room and went straight to bed. And then woke up this morning at 5am.

Friggin’ time change. [grumble]

Aug 13

Writers of the Future 2006: Sunday

Well, I’m on my way to San Diego. Actually, the trip started yesterday since my flight leaves at 7am, and with the latest fiascos in air travel and increased security I decided that it would be a lot easier to just stay the night in Baton Rouge last night. We found a hotel about two minutes from the Baton Rouge airport, which meant that I was able to sleep a tetch later (though I still got up before 4 am. Ugh.)

This morning Jack dropped me off at the Baton Rouge airport, and I headed in to wrangle my way through security.

I’m sorry, but the “new restrictions” are such a friggin joke.


I got checked in, delivering over my two suitcases stuffed full of far more clothing than I will ever conceivably need for a week, and went in search of coffee. There was a café down by ticketing, but the woman informed me that she was just opening and could only sell me a cup of coffee if I had exact change. I asked her if there was some place to buy coffee past security and she said that there was not, but since I had nothing smaller than a five dollar bill, and did not need coffee quite THAT badly, I decided to take my chances on whether she knew what she was talking about.

I made it through the screening without any trouble. Again, I say that security in the US is a joke, however I will say that the big advantage to flying out of a smaller airport (as opposed to an international airport like New Orleans) is that all of the workers and security people are incredibly friendly. Maybe they don’t get burned out as quickly? Anyway, just past security I saw a little food place, where I was able to obtain a muffiny-thing, a bag of cookies (which I stuck in my bag for later, since airlines don’t feed you anymore), and a cup of coffee. However, the coffee was so execrable, that I’m thinking that the women in the first café knew exactly what she was talking about.

In about twenty more minutes I’ll be boarding my flight to Atlanta. Yep, I have to fly east first, before I get to fly west. [insert eye roll.] Time for one last bathroom break before I go.


Okay, I’m in San Diego now, but I’ll recap the last several hours. My flight from Baton Rouge to Atlanta landed about ten minutes early, which delighted me since I had only an hour for my layover and I knew I had to go to a different concourse for my next flight. Unfortunately, even though it landed early, it didn’t get to the gate early. In fact we sat on the taxiway for almost half an hour waiting for our gate to clear so we could deplane. We sat about fifty feet from our gate. I emphasize this, because when we finally were able to pull up to our gate, we ended up going down the steps to the concrete, where we then walked over to the stairs at the gate. In other words, for half an hour we waited fifty feet away from where we could be allowed to walk across the concrete. [insert eye roll]

I thought I was going to miss my connecting flight, or at least my luggage would, but it turned out that the flight to San Diego was delayed by nearly 45 minutes while they did a security sweep on the plane and the passengers. The flight itself was uneventful, and I got to see Mission Impossible3 (silly movie, but it killed two hours of flight time), and four hours later I landed in San Diego. I made my way down to baggage claim, and found the person (Tiffany) with the big sign saying, “Writers and Illustrators of the Future.” And that’s where it started to get really fun.

After claiming my bags (which amazingly made it!) we headed out to meet our ride… but then had to go back inside and redo the whole “meeting my ride” thing, because it all had to be recorded for posterity. [g] From that point on, it was lots of pictures and video, which got to be a real kick once I got used to the concept that I was probably having my picture taken at any given second. Lee Beavington was also being picked up at the same time, and we were going to wait for Michail Velichansky, but his flight was delayed, so we took off without him. After a quick stop to eat a late lunch (I was STARVING!! They don’t feed you on airplanes anymore except for some dinky snacks) we finally made it to the hotel, where we were once again photoed and videoed exiting the car, entering the hotel, checking in, walking down the hallway, entering the room… you get the idea. But once I made it to my room and dutifully posed for some more pictures, I was finally left to my own devices and told to rest.


So, I’m here! Yay!! I have every intention of keeping this blog updated during the workshop, so… watch this space!

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