2018-08-14 08.36.13

Some of the land surrounding one of my favorite walking/jogging trails in my city.

It’s past mid-September, and I’m just now getting around to writing a new blog post. Which means this will be an update on life more than anything else.

What’s been happening to me and my family since I last blogged? Well, let’s see.

We’re still building that new house. Our original completion date was supposed to be some time at the end of September, but with cabinets, built-ins, and counter tops yet to be installed along with trim, doors, tile, grout, and lighting, that’s not gonna happen. We’re down to a lot of the smaller details, though, and are hoping we’ll be moved in by Thanksgiving.

2018-08-15 13.36.38

The front of the new house. It’s getting there, but still needs more work. Contractors were putting stone around the arched window above the porch just today!

This summer has been the Season of Conventions (TM). First was Mo*Con back in May, a small, very low-key convention organized and run by the Indianapolis writer (and all-around fabulous man) Maurice Broaddus. One of the members of my writing group suggested we attend this year, and I’m so glad we did. Not only did I learn a lot about the business of writing, I met some other fantastic writers, editors, and publishers . . . and ate some amazing food. (Pics of Fountain Square, where much of Mo*Con took place, below. And, yes, my friend and I went to a cat cafe on one of our breaks!)

Next, I took off five days BY MYSELF in June to attend a wonderful convention in Minneapolis called Fourth Street Fantasy. I knew it was going to be my kind of con when one of the people who rode with me to the hotel from the airport was also attending and immediately put me at ease. In fact, I went a day early for the all-day writing seminar before the con officially started and was instantly embraced by the veteran attendees who were already there, too. The convention itself consists of single-track programming; all the panels happened in the same room over the course of two and a half days. They ranged in topic, from how to write narratives without (or with) violence to how humans communicate across vast distances (space, time, etc) and how that can look in story-form. Not everyone at the con was a writer, but everyone was super inclusive. Again, I met some fabulous people, many of whom I consider friends today. And my “writers circle” expanded even more. (Pics of all the cool scenery around the hotel in Minneapolis below.)

My little family took our summer vacation in Florida at the end of July and a week later, we attended Gen Con. It was another great time at our favorite gaming convention, but I felt like the days sped by way too fast. Part of that was because I had an obligation at home on the Sunday of the con, so I had to leave early. Another reason: Gen Con was very spread out this year and my friends spread out with it. We all had different events to attend or were staying in different hotels. I felt like I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to see or spend as much time with them as I wanted to. Still, we attended some excellent events and parties. I was given the honor of being Maurice’s (again, such a fabulous man) plus one at the Gen Con Writer’s Symposium party and, again, met some fantastic writers and editors there, further expanding my circle. And I managed to pull off one cosplay this year: an amalgam of Qi’ra’s costumes from “Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

School started for the kids right after Gen Con, and my older son was cast in a community kids’ theater production of The Hobbit. He’s playing the dwarf Bombur and is super excited to be “the fat, funny dwarf” in the play. At the end of August, I attended one more convention with my bestie: Wizard World Chicago. This convention had invited a few of the actors from the Outlander TV series as well as the author of the books on which the series is based. The celebrity panels and photo ops were fun, but I enjoyed meeting Diana Gabaldon and listening to her panels the most. It was amazing to see an author being treated like a rock star, especially at a pop culture convention catering mostly to screen media and comics fans.

During all this fun, I still managed to get some writing done. I’ve started working on more short form pieces and have been submitting them to various pro markets (on-line and print magazines). I have two speculative fiction stories out to different markets right now, waiting on responses from the editors. So far, I’ve garnered a couple of rejections, and I’m sure there will be more to come. Perhaps all I’ll receive are rejections, but that’s okay. Throughout this process, I continue to hone my craft and become a better writer. I do plan on participating in NaNoWriMo in November, but I haven’t decided whether I’ll finish transcribing a story I’ve already written in long hand or write something entirely new. I think, after a busy summer and start to the school year on top of other, more personal and stressful life events, it’s time to work on something fresh and original. Well, maybe not entirely original, since the NaNo story might be set somewhere in the Fae Realms. (Hint, hint.)

Oh, and my Bronze Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror E-book arrived in June. I’m still super proud of that one! And the medal is a nice, hefty little award to receive.

That’s it, for now. I hope the next post will be less update and more fascinating content. We’ll see if my brain will let that happen after life decides to get out of the way.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a writer and stay at home mom who lives in a southern Indiana woods with her spouse, kids, and one clingy dog. In the Before Times (and sometimes even now), she could/can be found helping out with her kids' school, catching up on her toppling TBR pile, playing games with her friends, hanging out at virtual conventions, crying over period dramas, or sewing yet another cosplay. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," was the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards. She writes short speculative fiction and poetry that can be found at various markets and here on her blog.

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