Dec 10, 2016

My Blog has Moved to

Thanks to developer Adam Thompson of First Earth Game, my website was converted from a hacked-together HTML framework to a professional-grade Wordpress site, hosted on Digital Ocean. Artwork is by the ridiculously talented Byzwa Dher. I did the visual design. I'm so excited about this change!

If you head over to, you'll find the continuing adventures of my blog.

Sep 11, 2016

My Personal Memory of 9/11

9/11 happened after college for me, and since I still consider myself young, it doesn’t seem that long ago. In September 2001, I was living with my boyfriend-at-the-time [...] 
Read my full memory of this event on Medium.

Jul 28, 2016

Man Humiliates Himself Over Rejections

I think there's a conversation to be had about problems with gatekeepers in traditional publishing. It can be a hardship to meet literary agents or acquisitions editors. It requires expensive travel, expensive conferences, and networking that doesn't come naturally to introverts. Although you might hear that it's possible to get "discovered" in the "slush pile," actual examples of this are rare.

However, this guy who blogs about his rejections just comes across as a pretentious douchebag.

Jun 27, 2016

GAME OF THRONES: Season 6 Recap, Season 7 Predictions [SPOILERS]

Winter has come.

This season went off the rails a bit, and I'm seeing some unraveling in terms of character consistency and plot cleverness and dialogue. But it's still a great show, and the season finale episode had me on the edge of my seat. A 10-year-old girl lay the smack down on a bunch of grizzled Northern lords. Another girl killed some men and baked their toes into a pie, and fed it to her next victim before slitting his throat. A boy King tossed himself out of a window, and a Pope-like religious leader got barbecued in a fiery green blast. That was the episode getting warmed up.

I love how the show (and the books) is setting up for a Clash of Queens. Most of the powerful males in the show are either dead, can't rule due to some legality, or don't have enough supporters to rule. Meanwhile, their female family members are mopping up the remains of kings and princes who got themselves killed, and seizing control of armies.

Daenerys had her jerk of a brother killed in season 1, and now she is the sole member of House Targaryen. She rules the entire Eastern continent, except for the Free Cities. Yara inherited House Greyjoy with support from her beaten brother, and all she needs to do is kill her machismo uncle in order to inherit the Iron Isles and an armada of ships.

Back in Westeros, Sansa Stark is sort of ruling in the shadow of Jon Snow, now declared the new King in the North. She supports Jon Snow, but anyone loyal to House Bolton or to House Stark will be loyal to her. She has the North. And down South in Dorne, the Sand Snakes murdered the Prince of Dorne, and now the women are in charge there. They're joined by the Queen of Thorns, who must have inherited the whole army and lands of House Martell. Even the center of Westeros, castle Riverrun, is arguably ruled by the widow of Lord Walder Frey (assassinated by Arya) and/or the wife of Lord Edmure Tully (imprisoned by House Frey).

Now that House Martell has been destroyed except for the Queen of Thorns, Cersei Lannister can probably take control of the weakened South (Martell territory) along with the West (Lannister territory), and the Iron Throne. She is the most powerful person in Westeros. That won't last, given the fact that she's killed most of her supporters and multiplied her enemies. She's all about ruthless short-term thinking.

On top of that, we've got wildcard powerful women wandering about. Who is the sorceress Melissandre going to serve next? Is Arya Stark going to visit her siblings, or is she going to assassinate the last victims on her hit list? What will Brienne of Tarth do for Sansa next? And I'm hoping we'll see some character development with Missande the translator.

There aren't many powerful male characters left alive on the show. Littlefinger has the East (Arryn territory), but he's ruling through a child, and it's tenuous. He might manipulate his way into controlling the North via Sansa Stark. Then again, Sansa will never trust him. What other male characters are still kicking around with some power? Tyrion, who doesn't seem interested in ruling anything other than his wine cup. Varys, who clearly doesn't want to rule. Ser Jorah Mormont, who doesn't want to rule. The Hound, who doesn't want to rule. Lord Robin Arryn, a not-too-bright boy surrounded by enemies. Lord Edmure Tully, who betrayed his own army and is back in chains. Ser Jaime Lannister, who doesn't want to rule. Ser Davos Seaworth, who doesn't want to rule. Samwell Tarley, who will be spending the rest of his life reading books in the Citadel Library. And Jon Snow, who doesn't want to rule. He might abdicate to Sansa at the first chance he gets. Either that, or head back north as soon as the Wall breaks down and Castle Black falls.

There you have it. The female characters are in charge from here on out.

What will happen in the next season?

First, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. Queen Daenerys will show up with her armies, her fleet of ships, and her dragons. Maybe she'll have an ocean battle with Victarion Greyoy on the way, but she can easily defeat him and take his fleet. With the Ironborn at her command, she'll have the best naval power in the world.

In the books, a witch told Cersei that she will be replaced by a "younger, prettier queen." Now that Cersei burned Margaery to death, I think it's safe to assume that this replacement queen will be Daenerys. The same witch predicted that Cersei will be killed by "the little brother." In the books, Cersei assumes that this will be Tyrion, so she goes on a dwarf-killing spree. But Jaime is also, technically, her little brother. And The Hound is a little brother as well, to the Mountain. Cersei is surrounded by little brothers who are likely to kill her.

My vote is for Jaime. He's haunted by the memory of the Mad King saying "Burn them all." That was why he stabbed the Mad King in the back. When Cersei realizes that her enemies are closing in, she is likely to ignite the whole city with green fire, the way the Mad King wanted to do. Jaime prevented the Mad King from burning King's Landing to the ground, and he might do the exact same thing when he learns what Cersei is planning.

But before it gets to that point, the Queen of Thorns and the Sandsnakes of Dorne are going to march their armies towards King's Landing in an attempt to take the Iron Throne. They apparently made a pact with Daenerys, via Varys, so they'll be backed up by dragons and ships and whatnot.

I think the northerners will head towards King's Landing, also. Maybe Bran will show up and tell everyone that Jon Snow is a true-born Targaryen-Stark, and therefore deserves the Iron Throne. Maybe Bran will use his warg powers to take control of Ghost, and they'll all realize that he can control a dragon and they need to get him to King's Landing ASAP, so he can bring the dragons north to burn zombies. Maybe Brienne of Tarth will receive a letter from Jaime, and persuade Sansa that they must go to King's Landing to prevent a catastrophe. Maybe Littlefinger will find a way to guilt-trip Jon Snow into abdicating in favor of Sansa Stark. If the Wall begins to fail and zombies start coming through, Jon Snow might feel compelled to march north and fight them, while sending Sansa south with the idea of rallying more armies to fight zombies.

Everything is going to converge on King's Landing. Maybe all these forces will make a pact in order to defeat the Lannisters. Tyrion will counsel mercy for his siblings, so Daenerys will try to give Cersei and Jaime a chance to surrender and go home to Lannisport, if only they will swear fealty to the new queen. Cersei will refuse. She'll command Jaime to stay by her side and fortify the city with the Lannister army.

I think Arya will go to King's Landing, intent on finishing off her hit list: The Mountain and Cersei. The Hound might stop her and remind her of her humanity. He'll be like, "No one gets to kill the Mountain except for me." Chastised, Arya might offer her services to Daenerys instead, or maybe she'll head North and seek her siblings. But if the Iron Bank of Braavos shows up, intent on hiring a Faceless Assassin in order to kill Lannisters for not repaying their debt, I think that will tempt Arya into doing some work-for-hire.

Wandering sorceress Melissandre might also be part of Arya's journey back to humanity. She did tell Arya that their paths would cross again. I think that Melissandre will believe that Daenerys is the One That Was Promised, but she'll see danger in all the other Red Priestesses. Melissandre might actually become the Voice of Reason, or the one Red Priestess who stands up to the others, and says "No" to burning unbelievers. Maybe she'll hook up with the Hound. They can eat chicken together, and not have sex, and talk about nothing.

Meanwhile, what is Sam studying in the fantastic Citadel Library? In GRRM's books, the implication is that magic is returning to the world (due to the comet, or due to the dragons), and Sam is going to learn sorcery. In the show, I think he might learn some obscure lore about how the Wall was made, and if the Wall fails to hold back zombies, Sam will know how to fix it. He may be key to sealing the Night King back on the other side. He might also learn about wargs, and figure out how certain people can take control of dragons or walk through fire.

Looking forward to season 7! This show is the best TV-book-adaptation I have ever seen.

Apr 27, 2016

A Taste of Time & The Skinniest Mermaid

What if time travel is like alcoholism?

Shouldn't mermaids have blubber to stay warm in the ocean?

Short stories by my, freely available to the public!

Apr 17, 2016

Book Review: Fortune's Children

Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of VanderbiltFortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you expect this book to be about the loss of a family's wealth, then you should readjust your expectations before reading. This is mostly about several generations of (very intense and fascinating) family drama. There are a lot of descriptions about Gilded Age balls and Newport mansions. Only the last 30% really details their loss of wealth, and although that was partly due to family dysfunction, it sounds like changes in law and social standards also played a major part. I suspect that a lot of Gilded Age families are no longer among the super-rich of the 21st century.

Although I was disappointed that this book wasn't quite as-advertised, I'll still recommend it as a fascinating and starkly honest glimpse into a bygone era.

 It also really drove home, for me, the idea that inherited wealth can be a curse as much as a blessing. Have you ever wished you'd inherited a billion dollars? Okay, great, so has everyone. Now, imagine how your family--your parents, your siblings, your children, your relatives--would treat you if you inherited 99% of the family fortune. Or if you only inherited 1% while your brother or sister got 99%. Or if your parents inherited it, but withheld it from you. Or if your child inherited it, but you did not. Now add a layer of family dysfunction--domineering mothers, megalomaniac fathers, unexpected deaths, raging alcoholism, etc.--on top of that.

 It's ironic how the Vanderbilts and their contemporaries were trying *so* hard to live like the French aristocracy before the Revolution--imitating their lavish balls, their style of architecture, and struggling to get their children married to European aristocracy so they could inherit castles and titles--and yet they didn't seem to understand why aristocracy lasted for centuries. They were just imitating the superficial trappings of it. They didn't have armies or social codes of honor to back them up. They tried to fool themselves into thinking that their power was in their family name, but it was really just the wealth.

Feb 22, 2016

LIBRARY OF SOULS, by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
My rating: 4.5 stars.

A page-turner, and a fitting end to the trilogy. Same tone and pacing as Book 2, but with a more substantial plot.

This series is all-around fun. It almost falls into the same vein as "Harry Potter" and similar MG series, but it has a macabre flavor, sort of like "Beetlejuice" or "The Addams Family." I like the twisted things Jacob faces, and his matter-of-fact way of dealing with them.

When Jacob is with his parents, his tone (the narrator's voice) becomes a little more entertaining and realistic, for me. It's fun to see him interact with normal people.


My only criticism is that I feel as if too many of the characters remain sketchy sketches, or cloaked in mystery. At the end of this book, I'm still not sure if I would trust Miss Peregrine. She acts like an Aes Sedai. Friend characters such as Addison and Bronwyn seem like one-note personalities, so it's hard to care about them the way Jacob does, and the way I expect the author intended. One is boastful, one is nurturing, one is fashionable, one is bubbly, one is dour, etc. Like the seven dwarves, each has one defining trait (plus a peculiar power). Only Jacob and Emma seem more fully fleshed out, with inner conflicts and personalities that contrast with and compliment each other.

I wanted to know more about Miss Peregrine and her family, and Ymbrynes in general. I want to know how Emma feels about being 100+ years old and in the body of a teenager. I want to know if Enoch will ever have a redeeming quality. I want to know if Jacob's peculiar power can manifest in any other way. So in short, I wish there was more! But all the same, this was a satisfying ending for Jacob's tale.

P.S. -- Can you believe the author made this trailer? This book is probably the best material that Tim Burton has chosen to work with in years. I can't wait!

Feb 18, 2016

Compton Crook Award Finalists

Congratulations to Marshall Ryan Maresca, Ferrett Steinmetz, and Josh Vogt!  I'm so proud to know these three novelists, and I've had the pleasure of reading their first published novels--all contending for this SF/F book award.  I won't tell you which of these three novels I'd choose to reread first if I was on a desert island, but I'll tell you that they're all page-turners.

Thorn of Dentonhill Flex ('Mancer, #1) Enter the Janitor (The Cleaners, #1)

Feb 16, 2016

TWIG Conference

This Saturday, at the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin, TX!

The website says it all.
TWIG Conference

Tickets are $30, or $15 for students.  We have some awesome panelists lined up.  I'm looking forward to the virtual reality talk.

Jan 22, 2016

PENNSYLVANIA, by Michael Bunker

Pennsylvania OmnibusPennsylvania Omnibus by Michael Bunker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Other people have had trouble describing this book without spoilers. Here's my own attempt: "Total Recall" meets "The Matrix" with an Amish protagonist. That should give you the gist of it.

I've met the author, and he told me that he reads a lot of Russian dystopian literature. He also told me that he doesn't do happy and neatly tied up endings. Based on that + his lifestyle in a Plain community, I assumed that his take on sci-fi would be dark and possibly dreary, with maundering insights about a pastoral lifestyle. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a fast-paced, action-packed, intense science fiction novel. His writing style is much more Daniel Suarez than Dostoevsky. This was a thoroughly enjoyable story that kept me hooked and turning pages. The mystery pulled me along. A few ideas and characters really stood out. (If you've read it, I'm sure you remember Go Eagles! Super awesome in the audiobook edition.)

My quibbles are all spoilers. You'll need to head over to my review on Goodreads in order to view them. Feel free to friend me, while you're there!

Overall, I really thought this was a fun book, with more than enough intelligent mystery to keep me up late.

Jan 16, 2016


Laughing at My NightmareLaughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will stay in my mind for a long time. I want to thank Shane Burcaw for his unflinching honesty about painful and intimate parts of his life. I've read a number of memoirs/autobiographies, and I don't think I've seen this level of honesty before. He's willing to discuss his insecurities, his deepest fears, his shortcomings—and also his hopes, and the people he loves—all made fascinating through the lens of a debilitating disease that affects not only him, but also his family and friends.

I'm researching SMA for a series of science fiction books I'm writing. This memoir fulfilled my research needs and then some. I feel as if I have a much better understanding of what this disease is about and how it affects those who have it.

For another perspective on this neuromuscular disease, check out the awesome blog of Alyssa Silva.

Jan 11, 2016

Game Conference, Feb 20 - early bird tickets on sale

Early bird tickets for an awesome conference on Feb 20!

Posted by Abby Goldsmith on Monday, January 11, 2016
I'm on the Steering Committee for this conference, and super excited to see it coming together!

Jan 6, 2016

FLEX, by Ferrett Steinmetz

Flex ('Mancer, #1)Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read FLEX a month ago, dictated notes for my review, and now I can't access those notes because Dragon Dictation keeps crashing upon open. So I'll try to rely on my memory here.

There's a lot to love about this book. I'm a fan of Breaking Bad and "Firestarter," and this has some of the best elements of both. Paul is a law-abiding citizen who makes a drug in order to save his daughter—but once he gets sucked into that underworld, it's hard to get out. And his drugs are particularly pure, which makes them perfect aids for the worst criminals in society.

To me, the character relationships and emotions were very well-written. There's a swiftly moving plot, and some really fun dialogue and such. I'll definitely read the sequel!

Because I'm the world's most critical audience member, I do have gripes. I gripe about almost every story. In this case, my major gripe has to do with world-building and theme, which means I can't talk about it without giving spoilers. If you don't care about the cogency of a magic system or consistency in a story's premise, then skip this next part! It's an awesome book.

Major gripe:
At first, I loved the idea of obsessive behavior translated to sorcery. An art lover has power to make paintings come to life. A video-game collector has power to weave video-game-based spells. A bureaucrat insurance agent has power to override or examine anything related to paperwork. It's a fun idea ... except (view spoilers on Goodreads).

There was enough pure awesome joy and fun in this novel for me to enjoy it, despite what I saw as a flawed premise. I can't wait to see what this author does in future novels!

Jan 1, 2016

Book Review: FLUENCY, by Jennifer Foehner Wells

FluencyFluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading many of the negative reviews on Goodreads, it looks like people picked this up expecting cerebral Hard Sci-Fi, a la "Contact" or "Blindsight," and what they got was Hollywood action, a la "Sphere." Expectations were blown to smithereens. The science is glossed over and half-baked, while the focus is on sex and action--and psychology, although the exploration of that psychology may be on the shallow Hollywood side of things.

Personally, I liked "Sphere," and I liked "Fluency" for the same reasons. A group of humans are the first people to enter an unknown spaceship and make contact with something that affects them in strange ways. It may give them powers. It may kill them. It affects each person differently, and they need to figure out why. The people swiftly get tested to their psychological limits.

Maybe this ought to be classified as Sociological Sci-Fi. Whatever the classification, I read it within a day, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

To me, the worst quality of this story was an abrupt ending that left too much unaddressed. I love a great series, but I'm unsure where these characters are going, or what their goals are, and that's not good. This series doesn't seem to have a clear path. I'd feel more confident about it if The Swarm was more believable and well-defined ... but (view spoiler on Goodreads)

Due to those grievances, I never got fully immersed in the story. However, this was a very fun, light, and easy read, with a style reminiscent of Michael Crichton. I had a good time! The plot had several surprise twists which kept me smiling and turning pages. I may pick up the sequel, depending on reviews.