Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park

I generally had a good year writing. But I was hospitalized for 12 days in early 2023, which caused me to miss being a participant at Boskone and required much of the spring to convalesce before I was really back to normal. In spite of that, I had many significant writing accomplishments.

I only made 17 fiction submissions, most of which are the previous stories that still haven’t sold. I’ve given up on several manuscripts that I will either need to abandon or rework significantly.

During the first half of 2023, the final two novelettes of Revin’s Heart were released: In March, Then They Fight You and in June, Rewriting the Rules.

I wrote two pieces of flash fiction for Valentines Day on the Truck Stop: The Better Angels and the Super Sticky Situation and The Better Angels and Lambda and Tau. I think Super Sticky Situation may be the best piece of flash fiction I’ve written so far. (Both of these are included in the Better Angels: Tour de Force, described below.)

I gave several readings. I was selected for the Straw Dog Writers Guild January Author Showcase for 2022 and gave a reading from Crossing the Streams. I did a reading at Arisia with James Cambias and A.J. Murphy. And, in April, an hour long reading at an online convention.

While at Arisia, I also served on a panel about Gender and Sexual Identity in Media. I also was the primary organizer of the Water Dragon Publishing dealer table. After that positive experience, I was well prepped to sell books at Baycon.

I had been hospitalized and was convalescing during the time participants were being selected for Baycon so I didn’t make it onto the program there. But ultimately I decided to attend attend anyway and drove to California with my younger son. We had an epic road trip and I was available to help support the dealer table at Baycon, where I sold out of copies of Revin’s Heart.

These bookselling successes, prepped me to get a tent and table to set up a dealer table at the Amherst Farmer’s Market Artisan’s Alley. They were pleased to have another draw and I was welcomed with open arms. I sold books there a couple of times at the end of the summer and also ran a booth at the Mill District Holiday Arts Market.

As a guest interviewer, I interviewed Kathy Sullivan for Small Publishing in a Big Universe. I had met her at Arisia and thought she had a lot of insight about the relation between fandom and authors that I wanted to learn more about. Our conversation did not disappoint.

I had hoped to get back to writing The Ground Never Lies but ended up spending most of my time writing Better Angels stories which will appear on December in Better Angels: Tour de Force, which includes 17 stories (including the original Better Angels story plus 16 more, including the flash fiction stories from Valentines day.)

While I was working on Better Angels stories, I hit on the idea of a group of cooking girls on Volpex who sometimes get mixed up with the Better Angels called the Butter Angels. I’ve got this story mostly finished, along with a piece of flash fiction. I also wrote a flash fiction story for Christmas on the Truck Stop called Just One Question.

I’ve also been working on two new Revin’s Heart novellas, Devishire! and Campshire! plus a new Revin’s Heart series, that begins with Lady Cecelia’s Flowers. These have not been accepted for publication. Yet.

In the fall, I established Straw Dog Writes for the Straw Dog Writers’ Guild. It’s a program modeled on the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers Association Writing Date. I’ve gotten about 20 participants (about half of whom might show up on any particular week). And about half are pre-existing members, half new members (who’ve signed up to participate), and a handful of people who are not yet members but who are considering it. This has been about as good as I could possibly have hope.

I’m looking forward to 2024 with plans to attend Arisia, Boskone, Norwescon, and Worldcon in Glasgow. And writing, of course: lots and lots of writing.

This fall, I’ve launched a new program at the Straw Dog Writers Guild: Straw Dog Writes. Modeled on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association Writing Date, I offer a Zoom session where Straw Dog members can come for some light socializing and two 45-minute writing sessions. I’ve found this as a really useful way to enforce a little productivity and networking. I’ll be offering these at least through mid-December and then we’ll decide whether to continue the program into the new year.

Recently on Mastodon there have been several interesting daily prompts for writers: #WritersCoffeeClub, #WordWeavers, and #PennedPossibilities. During the academic year, when my professional responsibilities give me limited time for writing, these are a fun way to reflect on my writing and let me feel like I’m still engaged.

I also write a lot short fragments on Mastodon, some of which find their ways into finished works. I credit writing the fragments with helping me improve my sense of story structure: writing a complete story in 500 characters really forces you to cut the story down to its essential elements. It reminds me of when I was a graduate student and writing haiku was a way to keep doing Esperanto in a small way. I have a lot of fun with the fragments and they often give me ideas for larger stories. I often post mine using the hashtag #vss365.

In mid-September, I delivered the final manuscripts for the Better Angels anthology: Tour de Force. It’s like a TRIPLE entendre. We spent a long time workshopping titles. I had been inclined toward “The Better Angels and Sixteen Seriously Sweet and Significantly Sanguinary Stories Set on the Truck Stop at the Center of the Galaxy.” My publisher said, “Oh, great. Well, at least with that title we won’t need to worry about cover art.” The anthology should be out by mid-December.

I’m also working on the fix-up edition of Revin’s Heart. This will include the seven novelettes, but also three side-stories that tell stories where Revin isn’t present: Where There’s a Will (about how Will and Grip meet and fall in love), Curtain’s Rise (how Will and the Baron originally met), and Riva’s Escape (Revin’s transition). I’m currently writing pieces that will bridge between the novelettes. It’s giving me a chance to expand on things that readers have asked about, or expressed interest in.

I’ll be appearing in a local holiday market on November 18 at the Mill District in Amherst. I’ll have not only my own books, but also a selection of other books suitable as gifts. There are discussions about a winter market I may also attend. Stay tuned.

I’m hoping to appear at several upcoming conventions. But the current surge in COVID cases requires that I be cautious.

I had planned to attend LOSCon, but it’s looking less and less likely that I’ll be able to attend. The aren’t committed to masking and I had applied to be a participant, but they haven’t gotten back to me. time is getting short to buy plane tickets and secure housing.

I’ve applied to be a participant at Arisia (which is close by) and they’ve already committed to requiring masks. So, with any luck at all, I’ll be able to attend.

I’m hoping to attend Boskone this year. Last year, I was hospitalized and wasn’t able to make it. But, hopefully, this year will be different. I still haven’t heard that they’re requiring masks, however.

I will plan to apply to be a participant at Baycon. It’s fun to attend a conference that so many of my fellow Water Dragon authors can attend.

I’ve signed up to volunteer for Readercon. I will also apply to be a participant. I applied last year, but wasn’t accepted. Maybe by volunteering, I’ll get greater consideration.

I’ve already signed up to attend WorldCon in Glasgow in 2024. I’ve just filled out the survey to agree to be considered for participation. I had a great time at the WorldCon in Chicago and I’m super excited about going to Scotland.

Steven D. Brewer at BayCon2023.

I had an exciting summer! I drove cross-country to attend BayCon in July and then visited the tropical island of St. Croix where I did a lot of writing. But soon the fall classes begin and I will be swamped with academic work.

In December, the Better Angels anthology will come out. We’re still nailing down the title, but you can expect sixteen alternately sweet and sanguinary stories featuring everyone’s favorite non-human biological-android magical-girl singing-and-dancing idols.

In January, the compiled Revin’s Heart anthology will come out. It will include revised and extended versions of the novelettes plus three special side-stories, that provide histories for some of the key events leading up to Revin’s Heart. You won’t want to miss it!

I have a whole series of conventions coming up. I have registered to attend WorldCon2024 in Glasgow! I am super excited! I have been hoping to attend LOSCon in November, but with the appearance of new COVID variants, I may not be able to make it. My pulmonologist has given me orders not to attend public events that are not double masked and it is not currently listed as a “masks required” event. I’m hoping to attend both Arisia and Boskone this year. I didn’t make Boskone last year due to my hospitalization. I have my fingers crossed for this year.

I’m starting a new program for Straw Dog Writers’ Guild members: Straw Dog Writes. Members will be able to join a Zoom meeting Wednesday evenings at 7pm to write together. In a survey last year, a number of members were interested in ways to meet other members and write together. And were looking for events that didn’t require driving in the dark. I’m hopeful this will find an audience.

On November 18, I will attending the Mill District Holiday Market to sell books. I will have my own books plus a selection of other books people might want to purchase as gifts. In February, I’m hoping to arrange readings at local bookstores.

As I was writing Revin’s Heart, I had created a map (in Inkscape) to show the relative positions of the islands where the stories are set — mainly for my own use, to keep track of directions and orientations. But I rather liked the map and wondered how I might share it with readers. On the advice of my publisher, as part of the run-up to the release of Rewriting the Rules, I did a series of social media posts with the map and brief descriptions of the islands. Then I had an even better idea…

I made a little ‘zine to hand out at BayCon2023! I created it using Scribus, which is the Right Tool for such things. It turned out really well and was a nice giveaway. My publisher printed 50 copies for me and, whenever I had a few minutes, I would fold them up to hand out. I kept some in a little brochure holder on the dealer table and also tucked one in each bundle of Revin’s Heart that I sold. When it became clear I’d have a few left, I took a few out and tucked them in Filthy Pierre’s rack of freebies. And I came home with 3 or 4.

If you would like one, you can download the PDF, print it out, and fold it up (here’s a guide).

Note that you don’t have to print out the ‘zine to read the content as I posted it as a blog post as well.

BayCon was a thing! My younger son Daniel and I drove about 5000 miles through 14 states over 14 days to get there. It was an amazing road trip. And, at the end, we spent four glorious days at the Santa Clara Marriot enjoying BayCon.

As I’ve written, I’m rather introverted and I find attending conventions exhausting, so I prefer just sitting off in the corner and watching. And that’s what I did here: I spent most of my time in the Dealer Room selling Revin’s Heart. It was great! I got to meet hundreds of people, tell them about my books, and sell a goodly number — I sold all the ones I had anyway. I also sold books by other Water Dragon authors too.

And I finally got to meet a bunch of Water Dragon folks I had only interacted with online! What a nice bunch of people! Everyone was friendly and gracious. And lots of fun. I’m so grateful to have found this little community of charming, delightful, and eccentric people where I feel like I fit in and am accepted.

Daniel appeared to have a great time. He hooked up with Magic the Gathering folks, bid on several items in the art show (one of which he gifted to me!), and attended a bunch of panels. He would stop in to visit me in the dealer room periodically, but seemed to having a lot of fun. He did take one day off to drive down to Monterey to see the aquarium and, on my recommendation, to visit Point Lobos.

After I sold out of Revin’s Heart, I steeled myself and spent a day attending panels and presentations. They were all pretty good. I got to get to know some people I had previously only known by reputation, so it was all positive. And I just did some fun stuff too, like visiting the Art Show and watching the Lux Saber Corp put on a light saber demonstration.

When the convention finally came to an end, and we’d packed everything up, Daniel and I got a good night’s sleep and then headed home. Rather than driving, we abandoned the rental car at the airport and flew home in two legs. (Not very aerodynamic, legs. hur hur hur) We finally got home around 1am. But far better than another 5000 miles of driving.

As the conference wrapped up, someone told our publisher than his authors were conspiring to attend LOSCon. That sounds like a conspiracy I would interested in joining.

BayCon, here I come!

In October, 2022, I registered for BayCon and was super excited to look forward to attending since my publisher, Water Dragon Publishing, and many of the authors I interact with, are from the Bay area. Unfortunately, when the time to put yourself forward as a participant happened, I was hospitalized and it was not at all clear I would actually be able to attend.

Since then, I have made great strides in terms of my recovery and recently made the decision to attend after all. I will not on the program, but will attend and be available to spent as much time as I want at the Dealer Table selling and signing my books.

This is especially exciting because the Revin’s Heart series is finally complete! The seventh and final chapter, Rewriting the Rules, has gone to the printer and is now available for pre-order. At BayCon, we’ll be able to sell complete bundles of all seven parts together for the first time!

So I invite you to come find me at BayCon so I can sell you my books and sign them for you. It should be a lot of fun!

BayCon is July 1-4 at the Santa Clara Marriot.