Good times at Arisia 2017

This was my first year attending Arisia, Boston's sci-fi/fantasy con, and I highly recommend it. When I first registered, I figured I’d drop by for a panel or two, meet my husband after one of his martial art workshops, and otherwise get work done, run errands, etc. By Monday, I found myself wishing I had set aside the weekend so I could have more fully immersed myself in the con experience.

General Thoughts

The con’s commitment to inclusiveness (race, gender, age, interest) is admirable. I found the age diversity to be the most encouraging. It was fun to be around everyone from brand new fans with lots of enthusiasm to 50-plus folks who could bring wisdom, life experience, and passion to the sessions and performances. At Arisia, you can also count on folks, including panel audiences, to stick up for underrepresented groups or perspectives, which made for enlightening conversation.


I’m not a cosplayer, performer, or dealer, and was mostly on my own, so I spent a lot of my time at panels or workshops. Most were in the Writing track, and I was impressed with the quality of the programming. Panelists had diverse experiences and came well prepared. I learned more at Arisia than I have in day-long writing workshops, and for half the price. It’s also refreshing to talk about writing without having to downplay or disguise my work because it's not literary fiction.

Write Gripping, Fast-Paced Stories: There’s more criteria to this genre than I would have thought, and helped me distinguish “thriller” from “suspense.” Also, I got useful advice about eliminating “filter words” from my limited-third-person POV stories.

What Lies Beneath: Adding Subtext to Your Story: Biggest lesson for me: subtext is there whether I’m cognizant of it or not, so I should make an effort to look for it and use it to advantage. Always great to watch a panel moderated by Alexander Danner; this guy brings his A-game every time.

Visual Storytelling for Prose: and Comic Book and Graphic Novel Scripting: These sessions led by Alisa Kwitney were great fun, and really informative! I learned to set up my settings “like a filmmaker with an unlimited budget,” and (to the degree I can) I plan to act out the scenes I’m writing to better describe movement through a space.

Writing and Tarot: It was intriguing to see an experienced tarot reader demonstrate complex card spreads for character development, and it never hurts to be reminded to trust your intuition. I also love to take peeks at other folks’ tarot decks.

Writing a Worthy Adversary: I read a fair amount about this topic, so the content was familiar, but it's intriguing to see who people identify as examples Hans Gruber came up a lot as a worthy villain, both for his charisma and because he suffers setbacks just like John McClane).

“Hi, I’m Jane Doe and I Write Fanfiction”: While I didn’t learn anything surprising at this session, it was reassuring to hear how to build readership from other writers, and to be reminded that a) it’s worth writing fic for one's readers and oneself, and b) I should stop panicking about aging out of it. At a con like Arisia, though, I was surprised that this panel had a closeted feel about it (“Jane Doe” in the title, held at 10:00 at night), and I think they missed out on a more robust audience by promoting it that way.

Also checked out:

Triforce of Decades: Zelda at 30:I’ve got a lot of unfinished Legend of Zelda fic, so I’m always reassured by people’s continued love for the games, including the ones that came out *gulp* two decades ago. One panelist was a software developer and shared some great background about how game designers create levels and her fears about the shift to an open world format for Breath of the Wild. There was also some great “olds” versus “youngs” chatter, including from people who knew the horrors of dropping a cartridge and losing a saved game.

Introduction to Puppetry: A goofy, warmhearted panel, with lots of insights about how puppeteers learn their craft and create their shows. Things went off the rails pretty quick after they took out puppets for the audience (and themselves) to play with, though.

Baby's first (online) fic!

My Yuletide story, now that we are free to post them with names attached:

Crimson Peak(2015); Thomas Sharpe/Lucille Sharpe

Young Thomas Sharpe meets Lucille at the Swiss sanitarium on the eve of her release. After seven years apart, the siblings must rediscover one another. (4,866 words)

Achievement Unlocked!

I did it! I didn't default on Yuletide, after defaulting on just about every other creative endeavor I started in 2016 (sorry, Renaissance calligraphy class). I even did some of those writer-ly things I typically only include on my aspirational Pinterest boards, like reading the thing aloud to catch mistakes. I hope my Yuletide recipient likes the story, but either way, it feels good to finally be on the AO3/fandom map.

Hello World, and Hello Yuletide Writer!

Hello! This is my first year participating in Yuletide, and my story will be the first I’ve ever posted online. I’ve written fanfic on and off for decades, but it's all on my laptop, in notebooks or (dating myself) on floppy drives. After submitting my requests, it occurred to me that that given my currently non-existent fandom/AO3 presence, I should offer some info about myself and my requests:

<3: Gothic tales, May/September relationships, noir, silver foxes, mentor/student relationships, vampires, sexual extortion, power dynamics

Squicky about: Cannibalism, gratuitous graphic violence, scat/watersports, underage

Not interested in: AUs

Horror of Dracula: I am crazy about Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but Peter Cushing especially. (I’m particularly wild about his cheekbones, and welcome descriptions that play them up). Of the films I have seen Cushing in, he almost never is or has a love interest, so I’d love to see Van Helsing in a romantic pairing (het or slash) with some physicality to it. Also, while Hammer horror films may seem campy today, I value the sincerity that both Cushing and Lee brought to their Hammer roles, so I’d really like to see a fic that treats the world with the same kind of sincerity.

Crimson Peak: See notes re: Horror of Dracula. Guillermo del Toro is supposedly a huge Peter Cushing fan, and Tom Hiddleston seems to be Cushing's heir apparent, so anything that emphasizes Thomas Sharpe’s “Cushing-ness” would be great. I’m neutral on the incestuous relationship between Thomas and Lucille; I don't mind it, but would be equally glad to see other pairings.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Smiley is my kind of hero--quiet, clever, elegant, sensitive, perceptive, and under the radar. I also am intrigued by the ways those same qualities make him vulnerable to things like politics and the vagaries of his libidinous wife. I’d love a story that digs into Smiley’s complexities. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a Smiley/Control pairing, or at least more backstory on their personal and professional relationship.

L.A. Confidential: If the story focused on a specific individual, I’d love to see one that focused on Lynn Bracken or Jack Vincennes. For instance, how did Lynn find her way to Pierce Patchett and Fleur de Lys? (More specifically, how did Pierce teach Lynn “how to fuck”?) I’d also be thrilled to see any of the characters cross paths with the deadly Dudley Smith--I get chills just thinking about that guy.

Clouds of Sils Maria: Honestly? I was just thrilled to see this one on the list. I love the mysterious mood and tension that flows throughout this movie. Maria’s relationship with her sexuality and personal power as she ages is fascinating, if uncomfortable to contemplate. I’m also intrigued by Valentine’s attraction to a woman many years her senior. I’d struggle to pull off a fanfic in this setting, so I’d be thrilled to see whatever you come up with.

Happy writing! I can’t wait to read your story.