The Past Few Weeks Have Been BUSY

The past two or three weeks have been busy.  I went to MidSouthCon as a guest.  I visited Knoxville.  I skipped the St. Patrick’s Day parade (just too tired).  I starting subbing again, after not being in a classroom for years.  Two of my stories were published, and a third one was accepted.  I received a royalty check for a story published in 2015.  I need to update my website.  This will just be a quick overview.  I’ll do separate blog posts on the more important parts, with more pictures.


I was on two panels at MidSouthCon, and spent an hour on Pro Row, attempting to sell books.  I enjoyed the art show and was severely tempted by the dealers room.  I attended as many panels as I could, especially the writing ones.

Melinda LaFevers Susan Macdonald

My book-mate Melinda LaFevers and I, at MidSouthCon.  We’re both in More Alternative Truths, and I’ve reblogged her blogs once or twice.


My son’s college and my daughter’s high school had spring break the same week.  This isn’t the normal course of action, so we took advantage of it by driving to Chattanooga to pick up my son from UTC, having a late lunch at Dairy Queen, then going north to Knoxville.  We visited two or three museums, splashed in the hotel pool, visited some friends. and went bowling.


The famous Sunsphere, at World’s Fair Park, gives a magnificent view of Knoxville, TN.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

We returned to Chattanooga Friday of spring break week.  We took the kids to lunch at Mr. T’s Pizza (can’t go to Chattanooga without stopping at Mr. T’s), then took my son grocery shopping so he could restock his cupboard.  We kissed him goodbye and drove home.  The next day, I was supposed to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as part of the Mid-South Renaissance Faire group, but I was too stiff and sore from spending most of the previous day in the car.  I didn’t think I could manage the parade route without collapsing on the curb and had to bow out.


After several years out of the classroom, I’ve gone back to substitute teaching.  So far my classes have ranged from Pre-K to 3rd grade to middle school special education to 12th grade drama.  I regret to say substitutitis has not changed since the last time I subbed, years ago.  I’ve lowered my standards.  When I first started my pedagogical career, I wanted to share my love of reading and teach the marvels of Western Civilization.  Then I wanted them to indent paragraphs.  Now, if the school doesn’t burn down on my watch, I’m satisfied, and if I manage to slip a snippet of information into their skulls, that’s icing on the cake.

I was beginning to get a bit worried.  It was supposed to take two weeks to get my fingerprints processed, but it was closer to three.  I was beginning to wonder if my FBI file was responsible for slowing things down.  Writers do have odd search histories, after all, and I have been less than polite to our current president on Twitter, Facebook, blogsInquistr articlesAlternative Truths, and More Alternative Truths.  Frankly, I’d be surprised if I didn’t have an FBI file by now.



I received my contributor’s copy of The Caterpillar, and have read some of the poems and stories in it to my students.  Cat Tails: War Zone is now available.   I had a story accepted by Fantasy for the Throne.  I am waiting to hear on about eight more stories, one of which has been short-listed (bumped up from the slush pile to someone with the authority to say yes or no).  I also received a small royalty check for a story I sold back in 2015, a pleasant if miniature surprise.


Writing Goals

I’ve joined (yet another) writing group on Facebook.  This one, the Iron Writer Challenge, encourages members to set eight specific, measurable goals, not only writing goals, but personal, physical, and emotional goals.  Here are my goals for the next quarter:

Goals for Q2:
1. (Writing) Work on novel. [Is one chapter a month too small a goal? I’ve just restarted subbing, which is adding to my budget but subtracting from my schedule.]
2. (Writing) Submit one story per month.
3. (Fitness) Get to Planet Fitness twice a week.
4. (Relationships) Date night with husband occasionally.
5. (Platform) Update website. Try to blog weekly.  {And here I am.}
6. (Personal) Attempt to sub 4-5 days a week. [This is an April/May goal. I’ll need a new goal for June; school ends Memorial Day weekend.]
7. (Wildcard) Clean house. Kitchen April, dining room May, living room June.
8. (Wildcard) Proofreading for B Cubed Press and other clients.

Toni Morrison quote

Until next week, au revoir.

2018 Darrell Awards Winners Announced

This year my King Arthur story was nominated, but was not a finalist. Next year, or maybe the year after, one of my stories will make it to the finals. And someday, I will win.

In the meantime, congratulations to this year’s winners!

Darrell Awards

The 2018 Darrell Awards Jury is very pleased to announce the following results of our deliberations.

Dal Coger Memorial Hall of Fame Award
Robin Burks for her extraordinary contributions to Midsouth literacy, more specifically her trilogy (Zeus, Inc; The Curse of Hekate; and The Return of the Titans)

Robin Burks plaque for Hall of Fame 2018 Coger Hall of Fame plaque

Best Midsouth Novel
Winner – Land of Wolves by T. J. Turner
First Runner-Up – Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan
Finalist – Seek and Destroy by William C. Dietz

Best Midsouth Novella
Winner – A Night at the Quay by William A. Webb (as seen in Sharp Steel and High Adventure: Volume 3)
First Runner-Up – Luminaria by John Horner Jacob (as seen in Apex Magazine # 94)

Best Midsouth Young Adult Work
Winner – Coney Island Book of the Dead by Sheila Martin

Best Midsouth Short Story
Winner – From Hair to Eternity by…

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MidSouthCon Is Only A Few Days Away

MidSouthCon is only a few days away, and I will be a panelist this year.

This had been my original schedule:



Schedule for – Susan Murrie MidSouthCon 36

(Why they dropped my married name, I don’t know.)

Day Time  *Location  *Event

March 9-11 2018

Friday 7:00 PM * Promenade 2 * Fantasy Fiction: Past, Present, and Future
The best authors in the field discuss modern Fantasy Fiction! Enter the worlds each of these authors creates and hear about what works influenced their creations. Listen as they discuss where Fantasy has been, where it is today, and where they and others will take it in the future.

Melinda LaFevers, Jamie Marchant, Susan Murrie Macdonald, John Hornor Jacobs

Saturday 3:00 PM  * Pro Row * Pro Row
Meet your favorite MidSouthCon professional, maybe get their autograph or buy their works. Pro Row is located in the hallway outside of the Tennessee Ballrooms.

Shauna Roberts, Dave Schroeder, Susan Murrie Macdonald, John Jackson Miller

Saturday 8:00 PM * Grand Ballroom C * Epic Women In Epic Literature

Epic Science Fiction and Fantasy have seen some dynamic powerhouses of women-kind, such as: Kahlan, in Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series; Cordelia, from the Vorkosigan sage; and Miri Robertson, from the Liaden Universe. Come discuss the epic women of SF&F with our panelists.

Herika R Raymer, Susan Murrie Macdonald, J L Mulvihill, Sharon Lee

However, Larry Hoy from my writing group posted on Facebook yesterday that the MidSouthCon official schedule was up.  I went to look to see what the other panels were, and to make sure I could see some of the people I wanted to hear.

“Getting Started in Self-Publishing” sounded very interesting, and I told my husband I wanted to be sure to attend that one, as I thought I could learn a lot from it.  I confess I was shocked to see I was on the panel, as my meager attempts at self-publishing have been dismal failures.  I suppose I’m there as an example of what not to do?
Our panelists discuss the ins and outs of self publishing your work.
Dave Schroeder, Frank Tuttle, Michael Hinton, Susan Murrie Macdonald
I was disappointed, but not shocked to see I’d been removed from “Epic Women in Epic Literature.”  These things are never carved in stone.  The author GOH is the moderator for that panel, so it makes sense they’d only want experienced authors on the panel.  However, I suppose I should be flattered that it took two people to replace me:  Steve Miller and Toni Weisskopf.  I’ll still be there, just in the audience instead of on the panel.
I was dismayed to learn my time on Pro Row was the same time as the Library Bards‘ concert, as they were one of the main reasons I wanted to come to this year’s convention.  I hope they perform more than once.  I’d really like to hear them in person.
Panels that look interesting:
From Pulp to Genre Fiction
Pulp Fiction- Learn the history of one of the most influential mediums in pop culture and how magazines of the 1930s and 40s have led to an exciting new style of writing that is all over the place today. From the origins of science fiction to brand new heroes today in all sorts of books, comics, anime, movies, television series, and more, find out how Pulp has gone from being magazines on a newsstand to what we see as Genre Fiction today.
Badges and Flatfeet – Law Enforcement and PIs in Fiction
From mysteries to science fiction, from horror to love stories, readers and writers are fascinated with cops in genre fiction! Join authors as they discuss how Law Enforcement of all types is represented in various Genres throughout Fiction.
“Keep On Keepin’ On” – How to Get to the Finish Line with Your Project
Having trouble finishing what you started? Tips on How to Stay Focused and Keep Creating. Join these creators as they discuss how they are able to fight to the finish on their projects and never give up.
The Art of Attraction: Social Media and Marketing for the Independent Artist
Find out what it takes to make a name for yourself and build a solid client base as our guests discuss strategy, tips, and tricks for promoting your work and yourself in the vast world of social media.
It’s Written … Now What?
Many writers feel driven to finish a short story or their first magnum opus. But, once done with their work, what do they do next? Listen and learn from authors about the steps to take to submit your work, the various options available to writers in today’s market, and what to do or not do!
WRITING – Tips, Tricks, and the Cold, Hard Truth
So you want to be a writer? Then hear from established authors, editors, and publishers about do’s and don’ts, cant’s and wont’s of writing. Listen as they discuss time management, how to start and finish a work, and watch as they pull back the curtain on the truth about writing. Ready to write your best seller and retire? In it for the act of writing or the money you think you’ll make off of it? Hear the good, the bad, and the downright weird about a career as a writer in this panel!
The Baen Traveling Road Show
Come join Toni Weisskopf and other Baen authors and editors as they tell us what’s new at Baen Book. There will be fun and prizes!
The Role of the Villain:  A Good Bad Guy
The villain of a story is the bad guy, right? Does that mean we are supposed to dislike him. Perhaps the characters are, but what about the players? This is particularly true of well-intended villains and the sympathetic ones. Remember, no one spends tons of energy on what they know is wrong. They truly believe in what they do. Sometimes dealing with the villain is what makes the story so much fun or at least memorable… It’s all about the villains.
Characterization and the Art of Social World Building
Our panelists discuss creating richly believable societies in fantasy and science fiction settings.
Why Do We Create Horror Stories?
What drives us to embrace the things that scare us?
What Does an Editor Do?  The Basics
Our panel of highly experienced editors detail the basic elements of an editors job.
Fact – Fiction Friction:  When Reality and Fiction Collide
Current events, both the typical and the tragic, have always been reflected in fiction. But what happens when the events are all too current and suddenly a story once told to entertain now has the impact of being horribly real for readers? Listen as today’s best authors discuss the best ways to deal with issues concerning Fact meeting Fiction as well as the question of just how much should fact ever influence Genre Fiction.
Born to be Bad – Creating a Good Villain
What makes a good villain? Why are the bad guys so much more interesting? Are they truly evil, or just misunderstood? A discussion of how to create a great villain for your stories.
How Hard Can Building a World Be Anyways?
There’s a lot of details that go into designing a world for characters to exist within. More elements than most realize. World builders have to consider all sorts of factors, history, and stuff to do it. Panels discuss the myriad of components, some more obvious than others, that are needed to build a believable, fictional world.
Building a Fantasy Novel from Start to Finish
One of the most popular genres in Fiction, Fantasy literally allows both readers and creators to travel to another world. Learn how to put together the fantasy novel you’ve always wanted from three perspectives- Writer, Artist, and Publisher. The Dos and Don’t’s of publishing Fantasy in Today’s market from Small Press Publisher Tommy Hancock, Artist Mitch Foust, and Writer Chris Jowers. Featuring the release of Jower’s LOSTBORN.
Geeks Who Brunch
Geek Girl Brunch is an international organization whose mission is to promote safe, comfortable environments where females can be as geeky as they want to be, and promote networking between female geeks-often with mimosas involved. Join two officers from the Memphis chapter for a discussion on who we are, what we do, and why having geek unity and communities are important.
Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy – It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore
Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy has reached new heights of popularity, and YA books are being devoured by readers of all ages. Our panelists discuss this trend and what is driving it.
Finding Your Muse – Story Inspirations
Where do writers find the inspiration for their stories? Panelists discuss how the muse struck them, and how they turned those ideas into stories.
Women in STEM
Why is there a need for a panel on Women in STEM? Are there still barriers and obstacles? How do we encourage the next generation? Come for a open discussion – audience participation and Q&A encouraged.
Short Story vs Novel
Genre Fiction is about delivering action, adventure, and familiar themes to readers But which type of story works better for delivering all the drama, chills, and thrills? The concise, to the point short story or the longer, more detailed novel? It’s the Battle of the Formats!
Going to the Opera …SPACE OPERA!
Authors of Science Fiction discuss the sub genre of Space Opera; what it is, where it started, and how it exists today. From Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers to Firefly and The Orville, find out everything you never knew about one of the most popular but little know categories of Science Fiction!
Plotting and Pantsing – Do’s and Don’t’s of Both for Writers
A panel focused on how to plot (outline, make a plan) or to Pants (just write whatever comes to you as you go) effectively and the advantages and pitfalls for each!
To Punk or Not to Punk
Steampunk. Dieselpunk. Cyberpunk. In the last 30-40 years, a great number of genres have popped up, calling themselves ‘punk’. But now every genre has some sort of ‘punk’ in it. Fancy marketing tactic? Real distinction from other stories? Or something in between Join authors as they discuss what Punk literature is or isn’t and its place, if it has one, in Genre Fiction.
Walk into the Darkness
Join our panelists as the discuss the ins and outs of dark fiction and Fantasy.
Comic Book Scripting:  From Plot to Page
Join veteran comics writer and novelist John Jackson Miller as he shares his way of writing for comics. The force will be strong with this panel!
And more, of course:  kaffeklatsches with the authors, panels on Star Wars, My Little Pony, Black Panther, and Harry Potter, as well as costuming, SCA, movies, paranormal investigation, etc.  And alas, some of these are at the same time, and some will be missed for meal breaks.  [Dr. Bob’s Rule of 2 and 5:  at an SF con, eat at least two meals a day and get at least five hours of sleep a night.]  But it’s the first time I’ve been a panelist in more than two decades, and it should be interesting.

MidSouthCon Schedule Is Up!

Larry Hoy and I will both be panelists at MidSouthCon.

Larry Hoy

Has been posted!!!   Yea!!!  (MidSouthCon Schedule – click here)

Some of the events you just DON’T want to miss.

Saturday March 10 11:am – There is a great panel that works to answer the tough question of:   It’s Written – Now What?

Saturday March 10 12:noon – I’m getting matched up with a collection of artistic types to discuss Discussing local groups and the benefits of working and socializing with other creators and creative types.

Sunday March 11 10:am – I ‘ll be trying to figure out —  Finding your Muse:  Story Inspirations.

I also have spots on Pro Row Saturday & Sunday at 1:pm

And if you can’t find me at any of those…  I’ll be helping out with the Memphis Writers Booth / Malice in Memphis Booth, and hitting as many panels as I can get into.

I”M STOKED – See you there!!

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