Last weekend, I spent four wonderful days at one of my favorite places on Earth. In Your Write Mind is a writing workshop hosted by alumni of the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction graduate program, of which I am part. It’s the time of year when I recharge my writing batteries by surrounding myself with my creative tribe.


I woke up bright and early Thursday morning. Literally, the spouse’s alarm went off at the crack of dawn and I couldn’t get back to sleep because I was little kid levels of excited. So I headed out and made it to campus by 10 AM! I made the usual rounds of checking in at registration, dropping off my raffle basket donations, and settling into my dorm room. Then, it was a very chill afternoon and evening of sharing meals and catching up with good friends who I don’t see often enough.


After a lovely lie-in, with no cats howling to be fed, it was time to get to work. I participated in two panels that day. The first was an awesome Q&A style session where audience members had the opportunity to ask myself and other what life is like in and attached to the military. I chatted specifically about growing up as a military kid, current life as a military spouse, and differences in my spouse’s life as a member of the National Guard versus Active Duty military.

Later, I discussed how blogging can be a way to expand your market as a writer, specifically using my experience with this personal blog and my work over at Speculative Chic. Others on that panel talked about creating podcasts, attending conventions, and even organizing school visits. As with most things in life, it all boiled down to: Be respectful, be professional, and don’t be an asshole.

That evening was the annual costume ball, where workshop attendees could mingle with mentors and current students of the graduate program. This year’s theme was “Lost in Space,” so obviously there was only one possible thing for me to dress up as. I accosted a new student dressed up as the 13th Doctor for an adorable photo op.

With Crystal Henderson


I had another chill day, with no scheduled activities until the evening. The mass author book signing is a highlight of my year, because my publisher always makes sure to have copies of my newest novel available, even if the official release date is later in the summer. So, I got to see the hardcopy version of Steel Shadows in person for the first time. Aren’t all of my books gorgeous lined up like that? I also got plenty of new books for myself from authors I enjoy, and while I didn’t win any raffle baskets this year, I did manage to acquire a cool item from a basket won by a friend (because I have the best friends).

I stayed up way to late that night drinking wine and playing epic games of Werewolf with friends.


Final day at my home away from home, alas. And they expected me to work!

Just kidding. I gave my interactive presentation on the alternate history genre, and it was a blast. This small group had no problem participating, and they came up with some fantastic world-building ideas. For the nexus story, we developed a world where the United States develop the atomic bomb about a year earlier, and bomb Berlin along with Japan. I always learn new things in these discussions, and this time it was about Russia! For our true alternate history, we played around with world-building ideas if humans had evolved along with sentient plants. You can find my presentation below.

Contrary to what the shirt says, I did in fact know what I was doing. (I think.)

Afterward, I attended the luncheon where we welcome new graduates of the MFA program into the alumni fold (“One of us!”) and then the workshop’s business meeting where we brainstorm ideas for how to make the event even better for next year.

Finally, after a major SNAFU in which I almost lost my cell phone forever, I had a quiet late meal at Steak n’ Shake and then drove home. Spouse and I closed out the evening with a few episodes of Dark on Netflix.

As usual, I already miss everyone like crazy and I’m already counting down the days until next year.

The final haul:

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