Man, I am lucky.

That’s the only way I can figure out how I got to spend last week the way I did. If I hadn’t gone to last year’s World Fantasy Convention, if I hadn’t wound up sharing a room with Daryl Gregory, if I hadn’t gone room-hopping with everyone, I would have been at home, watching the kid practice her back-to-front rolls and not get enough sleep.

Instead, all those things happened, so I got to kick around Flagstaff, Arizona with ten talented, funny people, watching Charlie The Unicorn and not getting enough sleep.

I met Sarah K. Castle at WFC, and we got to talking about writing and what we were working on (me, Windswept; her, a science fiction thriller about a world-spanning EPA with teeth, which I said she should market as SCIENCE NINJAS. She demurred). I made a friend, which is always a nice thing to do at conventions, and I also wound up getting invited to Starry Heaven, a novel-writing workshop based on the Blue Heaven workshop that Charles Coleman Finlay created.

The format works like this: every participant submits the first fifty pages of the novel they want to workshop. Everyone reads every first fifty, then chooses two full novels to read. Then everyone goes to Flagstaff (Sarah’s stomping grounds), where you eat, drink, and critique. The first three days are group sessions where we deliver critiques of the first fifties, four a day. The rest of the workshop, we split into groups of three to deliver the full critiques. It was a lot of work, but when you’ve got good material and good people, it doesn’t feel like it.

Sarah’s invite came at a real low point in my writing career (though that doesn’t feel like the right word. Writing apprenticeship? Writing gestation? Writing sitting-on-my-can-trying-to-fill-the-page-with-text time?), and the workshop was just the kick in the ass I needed. I got to read YA, horror (both urban and smaller urban), fantasy, SF, all of it great. There will be some excellent books coming out of this workshop, and I hope that mine will be one of them (or, at least, it’ll be better than it has been before). Fortunately, I got a lot of excellent input from everyone, especially my two full readers, Brad Beaulieu and William Shunn. This next draft won’t be a breeze, but the path to completion looks a lot brighter, thanks to Brad and Bill’s signposts.

So, time to get back to work. But first, I have to go change a diaper. Ah, the glorious writer’s life…