The Word Count Podcast-Episode 63

The Picture above and the month of February. That’s the prompt for this month’s show.

The feedback I’ve been receiving on the “enhanced” podcast format and the new prompts for 2017 has been pretty good. And I think this month’s show will be very enjoyable.

Except for the host. He has a bit of a cold and is recovering from a weekend hanging out with other writers and fans at #Boskone54.

Feel free to download and listen to the latest show via iTunes or Libsyn. Here is an embedded player, if you prefer:



Show Notes:

Bill Kirton – “George”

Before taking early retirement to become a full-time writer, Bill Kirton was a lecturer in French at the University of Aberdeen. He’s written stage and radio plays, short stories, novels, skits and songs for revues, and five non-fiction books aimed at helping students with their writing and study skills. His five modern crime novels,  Justice, The Darkness, Shadow Selves and Unsafe Acts are set in north east Scotland and his historical crime/romance novel, The Figurehead, is set in Aberdeen in 1840. The Darkness won the silver award in the mystery category of the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards and his spoof mystery, The Sparrow Conundrum, was the winner in the humor category.

He’s published a novel for children called The Loch Ewe Mystery, and his latest publication is a satirical novella about online gaming and the real and virtual worlds.

He’s had radio plays broadcast by the BBC and the Australian BC.  His short stories have appeared in many anthologies, including three of the CWA’s annual collections, and one was chosen by Maxim Jakubowski for his 2010 anthology of Best British Crime Stories. It’s also been optioned by a film company in Los Angeles.

He’s been a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at universities in Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews.


Twitter: @carver22

Eden Baylee – “Love and Death”

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres.

She has written three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction ~ SPRING INTO SUMMER, FALL INTO WINTER, and HOT FLASH.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her trilogy with Dr. Kate Hampton—a psychological mystery/suspense called STRANGER AT SUNSET. In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created Lainey Lee for the Lei Crime Series, a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii. Her novellas are available on Kindle Worlds.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! To stay apprised of Eden’s book-related news, please add your name to her mailing list.




Twitter: @edenbaylee

C. Thomas Smith – “Fecking Direction”

C. Thomas Smith is the author of hundreds of short stories (99% have never left his hard drive) and over half a dozen unpublished novels (50% cowardice / 50% self-doubt). He is a fan of common sense, free speech, noticing the truth in the absurd and caffeine. He sort of likes cats. He lives in Ireland with his partner, two and a half children, a mortgage and a cat he doesn’t trust.

At present, Chris is writing a series of novels (adult dark comedy set in medieval Ireland that may include a token Leprechaun) and editing a second series (Dark Fantasy). Along the way, he hopes not to starve to death or be mauled in his sleep by a shifty-eyed cat.


Twitter: @KRSTVR

Maria Haskins – “Wolves and Girls”

Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and certified translator. She writes speculative fiction and poetry, and debuted as a writer in Sweden. Since 1992 she lives in Canada, just outside Vancouver, with a husband, two kids, and a very large black dog.

Twitter: @mariahaskins



Note that older posts under this thread are further down. Look for the time/date stamps for section breaks.

Also note that there are all sorts of Typos. Sorry about that. Typing on an iPad with large fingers is rather difficult.

19FEB 4:00 PM

I always find myself running out of time on the last day of a con to speak with everyone I want to. Struggled as i did to find folks, I wanted to take a second before the final posting of this year’s Experience to thank people who took time themselves from their schedules to chat with me. In no particular order:

John Chu, Jeanne Cavelos, C. S. E. Cooney (Claire), Carlos Hernandez, Phil Merkel, Walter & Margo Williams, Milton Davis,
Paul Di Filippo, Allen Steele, Max Gladstone, Theodora Goss, Jim Kelly, J. M. McDermott, Brandon Sanderson, and Paul Tremblay.

Also an incredible shout-out to Melanie Meadors and Cerece Rennie Murphy for the laughter and the kindness.

And Erin Underwood who is a rock star.

This conference feels like the extremely well organized hippy cousin to ReaderCON–which is strange, since Boskone is older and actually spawned ReaderCON back in the day. I liked the variety of activities and the diversity of the programming. I liked the venue–way more than the Quincy Marriott ReaderCON has moved to. It felt as though the authors really wanted to connect to their fans, to meet upstart writers like myself and to make genuine new friends. In many ways, this was way better than I’d expected.

I think I’ll go back next year.

But let us away to Sunday’s program (my bit of it, anyway) before I reduce us all to uncontrollable sobbing.

(Return of) The Ten Worst Ideas in SF and Fantasy
Vincent Docherty (M), Daniel P. Dern, Paul Di Filippo, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Julie C. Day

We barely scratched the surface from the list of bad/overused ideas in Fantasy and Science Fiction before the panel ended. From the “Christ figure”–especially the white Christ figure through to invading aliens and the damsel in distress (and scantily-clad metal bikini-wearing princesses), each topic spun off more bad ideas. I’d like to point out here that when the metal-bikini-wearing shot was taken at Princess Leia, I pointed out that she (so far) is the ONLY Skywalker not to be tempted to the dark side and who ISN’T an asshole…also:she’s a freakin’ GENERAL. But I digress.

Horror and the Happy Ending
Jack M. Haringa (M), Paul Tremblay, Hillary Monahan, James Moore, Grady Hendrix

  Are you giggling at the title? We all were. However, the discussion was around use of the “Hollywood ending” in horror and had nothing to do with illicit massage parlors nor cash-only services. Putting aside the seemingly endless number of inappropriate questions I had, the discussion around all media (not just books) was fascinating–real inside into how to either give the reader/listener/viewer hope, or to destroy what would have been a good horror story. King’s preference for the “happy ending” was discussed, as were Jessica Jones, The Alien movies, Mist, Cujo and a dozen others. I was able to bring up Josh Malerman’s Bird Box which fit the discussion nicely and I’d just written an analysis for in my Contemporary Dark Fiction class with Richard Thomas.

I scheduled a reading next, as I’ve found that I can cognitively deal with only two panels before I need something different. Fortunately at this time,  Cerece Rennie Murphy (who is one of the funniest, sweetest folks I met for the first time at Boskone) was scheduled.

Although she didn’t read from herOrder of the Seers trilogy, she did read from To Find You, which I went out and bought from Amazon right after.

I was done with panels and scheduled programming after that–I though the marvelous scenes Cerece read were a perfect way to end  my first Boskone. I spent the next hour saying goodbye the the friends I could find, then Ubered home. My wife and I will be making brownies today and I will type up my notes, as they are and leave typos and all for you to enjoy. Thanks for reading!

18FEB 11:40 PM

Yes. It’s that late. Tina and I had dinner with friends last night–I think it was her way to distract me from the “overwhelming” which I have now decided to call any crowd experience from now on.

Bare with me. I had three martinis. I feel all 1950’s “Mad Men” now.

So .  The last part of my day two adventure began with a reading by one of my favorites: Allen Steele.

Allen read, not from his upcoming Avengers of the Moon throw-back Sci-Fi Captain Future story available from Tor, but from a soon to be published short from his Arkwright  tome.

I have no idea why, but Allen’s work always makes me feel like I did when I first discovered H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. He’s a great guy and a wonderful storyteller.

Massachusetts Men with Beards…

I continued a day of attending readings by joining Theodora Goss and was incredibly excited when she (as I had hoped) read from her upcoming The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.  She has written a wonderful tale from the point of view of the daughters of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Moreau…and others. Trust. You will want this one when it comes out in June!

So. Loved Allen’s reading, ‘Dora is ALWAYS a delight. How could I top that?

Ladies and Gentlemen–I give you Carlos Hernandez.

I thought he might read from The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria. Which made me happy and sad, as my copy won’t arrive until after #Boskone is over and I wanted to get it signed.I mentioned the delay after the reading and Carlos reached into his backpack, signed a copy, and gave it to me right then and there.
Then he even offered to help me out with a story I’m writing that takes place at CUNY in the 80’s (he is a professor there).

I can’t even tell you how grateful and overwhelmed I am right now.

But the reading. Yes, he read from a hysterical YA work in progress. I’ll admit it now…I pee’d a little. That’s how funny the two chapters he read were.

Next was a jaunt through the art exhibit…then to a discussion of the Odyssey Workshop by Jeanne Cavelos.





From Jeanne: Since its inception in 1996, the Odyssey Writing Workshop has become one of the most highly respected workshops for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror in the world. Top authors, editors and agents have served as guests at Odyssey. Fifty-nine percent of graduates go on to professional publication, and among Odyssey’s graduates are New York Times bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, and award winners. The workshop, held annually on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, runs for six weeks, and combines an intensive, advanced curriculum with in-depth feedback on students’ manuscripts.

I dunno. I’m not, after all the research and excitement, sure I can do this…interesting crisis of faith in my abilities. This is new for me.

18FEB 1:30 PM

Started the day with a brunch with Melanie Meadors. What a marvelous conversation about the industry and the state of publicist and writing in general. Energized for the morning.

And by energized, I mean lit on Espresso Martinis…

I’m thinking seriously of sending in my application for the Odyssey Workshop this year More on this later–but my first session today is a general discussion on Getting Ready for a Workshop
given by Victoria Sandbrook

After a good sessions that left me, I feel, ready for the discussion with Jeanne Cavelos of Odyssey–I headed for my first panel.

The Magic of Magical Realism in Literature
Carlos Hernandez (M), Cerece Rennie Murphy, Richard R. Horton, J. M. McDermott, Gillian Daniels

Carlos, as a CUNY professor, was perfect to moderate this panel of varying opinions on the definition of Magical Realism, realizing that the original has become more of a watered down and debased “marketing term.” When it first came into use to describe the work of certain Latin American writers, and then a small number of writers from many places in the world, it had a specific meaning that made it useful for critics. If someone made a list of recent magical realist works, there were certain characteristics that works on the list would share. The term also pointed to a particular array of techniques that writers could put to specialized use. Now the words have been applied so haphazardly that to call a work “magical realism” doesn’t convey a very clear sense of what the work will be like.

If a magazine editor these days asks for contributions that are magical realism, what she’s really saying is that she wants contemporary fantasy written to a high literary standard—fantasy that readers who “don’t read escapist literature” will happily read. It’s a marketing label and an attempt to carve out a part of the prestige readership for speculative works.

Unfortunately, I asked my question about horror and magical realism rather late in the discussion–at which point the panelists agreed “it” should be discussed at greater lengths than time allowed.


17FEB 8:15 PM

Long day–and I left before half of it was done (There was a late night screening of Deadpool. I was SO tempted…but I never would have made day two)

So. Where was I?

Yes. Panels, Readings and such.

First, let me say that the logistics around Boskone were handled superbly. There are way more things going on here then at ReaderCON. The Dealer room is massive. There is a game room where hundreds of board games, card games and video games can be played. There are video screening rooms. There are art exhibitions. This felt more like one of the bigger conventions–not quite a ComicCON, but still quite large.

Yet, somehow, it felt less crowded. Maybe today it will be different, but Friday was pretty tame, professional and fun!

Wizards, Warlocks, and Witches
E.J. Stevens, Jane Yolen, Cerece Rennie Murphy, Adam Stemple, Bruce Coville (M)
So, the strike-thoughs are not typos. Only Jane (who I adore), Adam (Jane’s son and who is a bit of a kindred spirit) and the lovely Cerece Rennie Murphy were at the panel.

And it was awesome.

There was some talk about witches and how women who have power were thought to have been way more evil then warlocks, Yoda, writing, politics and general stream of consciousness. I laughed for an hour–then more when I chatted with Jane and Adam in the lobby later. And even more when I caught up with Cerece in the dealer room.

Using History in SF and Fantasy
Bradford Verter, Jo Walton, Mark L. Olson (M), Dana Cameron, Ada Palmer

From alternate history to vaguely familiar settings in a unique story world, history is a great resource for inspiration. What are some of the most creative uses of history in fiction? How much research is needed before writing and fleshing out the story? Panelists discuss examples of how history has enriched some of our favorite novels. But can sticking to history hobble your creative instincts? When should we deviate from historical truths and strike out into the creative unknown?

More of a traditional panel–and was rightfully crowded. I must admit I left part-way through as the crowd was a bit much.

Some of the artwork on display
Ok. Here is a picture of Brandon. Quiet down, you heathens. Milton was WAY more accessible!

At 5-ish or so, I wandered down to the dealer room where Brandon Sanderson and Milton Davis were signing autographs. As you can imagine, the line for Brandon, as guest of honor for Boskone, was huge…I was never going to get to meet him in time to make CSE Cooney’s reading–and there was no way I was going to miss Claire (although Carlos wasn’t there—hopefully I’ll see him on Saturday)

But I digress.

Milton was at a table near Brandon, but there was no line for him–so I took the opportunity to speak with him What a charming, intelligent and funny author! I’m going to make time on Saturday to pick up a book or two of his and chat some more–fascinating man who writes fantasy series NOT based on white European cultures. Great stuff.

Reading by C.S.E. Cooney

There are a lot of writers I have met through the years whether via writing groups, conferences of classes. Claire Suzanne Elizabeth (CSE) Cooney and her partner in crime Carlos Hernandez are two of my favorites that I was introduced to as a part of the whole Mike/Anita Allen Clockwork Phoenix/Mythic Delirium team of AWESOME.

Claire’s Bone Swans collection of stories have won lovely awards and is worth a read. Or two. Just amazing stuff and she was good enough to sign my copy!

She read a short story last night–the name of which I can’t remember 9DESPITE asking for the title specifically–then I refused to write it down, apparently) that was so funny my sides hurt from laughing. I love the way Claire paints such surreal worlds in her writing.

AND she left us hanging! Somebody better pick up the story soon because I need to find out how it ends!



I know it’s early…but I head back to the train and home. Day two awaits and I must prepare to deal with the crowds…

17FEB 1:45 PM

Boskone Day One.

A Train ride. A mile walk in freezing temperatures.

An Irish pub (And those of you who know me KNEW I’d find an Irish pub).

Panels. Laughter. Lines. New People. Old friends.

I photoshopped out the frostbite

That’s the summary for day one at Boskone. This conference is wicked awesome, to use a Boston colloquialism.

I got to the Westin Waterfront in Boston and picked up my badge with 3 minutes to spare before the first panel. No chances to explore until later—I dove right in.

Steam’s Rising: A Proliferation of Punks

James Moore, KT Bryski (M), Victoria Sandbrook, Melanie Meadors

I arrived, breathless, and sans coffee (despite the fact that it was mid-afternoon, my body was craving caffeine). As it was the first scheduled panel of the free portion of the day, there weren’t, as of yet, a lot of people milling about. I knew that would change.

My friend, writer, and former Ragnarok associate editor Melanie Meadors was on this panel and I wanted to be there to support her. Moderator KT Bryski kicked it all off with introductions and the discussion began.

Steampunk, of course is the most well known of the “punks” (transgressive stories about rebellion with technological aesthetics of Victorian-era London). The integration, technology and cosplay typical of fans in this space were discussed. “Gaslamp” Punk, Deco (or “Flapper”) Punk, Diesel Punk, Solar Punk, Cyber Punk, and Dread punk were all touched upon with one question hanging over the panel—when do all these “punks” merge to be labeled just so?

Extra points for Melanie for wearing a 1920’s hat and costume to the panel!

Boskone 54 -The Pregame


Tomorrow I will be attending the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) Boskone convention for the first time. Normally, I just do ReaderCON each year…but I’ve been told by many a folk that this convention is a good one.

I shall dutifully document my experience at the con right here over the next few days. Will it be worth it? Has my stroke-induced crowd anxiety subsided enough to enjoy the experience? Will they have cake?

We’ll find out, dear sinners.

Check out the program here: Boskone 54



Well.  The new prompt and podcast format was rather fun last month, wasn’t it?

I know the “Irregulars” liked it!

First, I must beg you all to get your friends to like the #WordCountPodcast Facebook page. I’ll be posting some new content there shortly, exclusively for fans of the show who liked the page.

Telling you what I’ll be posting would be playing fair. Stay tuned!

But here’s the link to the page. Spread the word won’t you? We have a goal of 1000 likes this season!


The Word Count Podcast


So, then. Episode 63.

Since it seemed to work well, we shall once again split the prompt thusly:

  • A Picture (below)
  • Use the month of February in your setting.

So the visual prompt:

Oooooh!  What happens next! That, dear sinners, is up to you!

Thinking of writing something for the show? Please do! All submissions are welcome!

If you want to listen to past (free) shows, the links below will take you to them:




There are Sixty-two shows available right now!




DEADLINE: I must receive your submission by Friday 17 February 2017 by MIDNIGHT Eastern time.

THE DETAILS: The work must be an original story based on the picture above and the month of “February.”

Do NOT exceed SEVEN minutes.

As this is a podcast, I need to receive a file of YOU, a friend or multiple friends reading (singing or otherwise performing) your work. MP3 FORMAT ONLY, and please attach your MP3 file to an e-mail or contact me for a Dropbox link.

Your submission MUST also contain the following:

  • Your pen name
  • Your latest bio (DO NOT ASSUME I HAVE YOUR LATEST)
  • Links to your website(s) – Include your personal site, Facebook Fanpage etc.
  • Your Twitter handle (if you have one)
  • A photo of you I can use for the show notes
  • At the end of your recording, please add “This is <state your name> author of <state your work(s)> and you’re listening to The Word Count Podcast”
  • Permission to use your recording in the podcast.
  • PLEASE Make sure you have included ALL ARTIFACTS I have asked for. Do not assume I can “Get your picture from the internet” or can “Pull your bio from your web page.”

Send your file to (or via the dropbox link I can provide) by 20 January 2017. You can also e-mail me with questions beforehand. I do reserve the right NOT to post your submission, but will communicate that to you should it be the case. I add the ‘Explicit’ tag to the ‘cast, so if your story uses adult themes or language that’s ok—but it should be necessary for the story.

***NOTE: I will NOT accept stories that are discriminatory in ANY WAY (whether it be by race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc.) or that include rape. ***