Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between

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My Capclave Schedule, 2018 Edition

Thursday, September 27th, 2018 | Author: jmward14 | cons, conventions, jean marie ward | Comments Off

Capclave Dodo 2018

Oops! I meant to post this earlier this week, but my current writing project had other ideas. I’m just glad it released its grip before the con began.

Capclave did me proud this year: six panels, an autograph session and two readings. It all takes place Friday-Sunday, September 28-30 at the Rockville Hilton and Executive Meeting Center, Rockville, Maryland. I hope to see you there—and remember, the autographing session always has cake…

Friday
4 PM: Writing at Different Lengths
Panelists: Nancy Kress, Suzanne Palmer, Jean Marie Ward (M), Alyssa Wong
Writing at a short length vs. writing a novella or novel. What are the differences, if any, in how to approach the writing of a short story vs. the writing of a novel. (Eisenhower)

6 PM: Humorous SF
Panelists: Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Shvartsman, Jean Marie Ward (M)
It’s easy to name the funny fantasy books, but what about the funny SF books and short stories? For instance, Unidentified Funny Objects is an entire anthology of funny SF. (Truman)

10 PM: Writing on the Job
Panelists: Marilyn “Mattie” Brahen, Barbara Krasnoff (M), Hildy Silverman, Jean Marie Ward
Is it better for a writer to have a non-writing job to save his/her writing energies for fiction or to use writing skills to make a nonfiction living on the idea that any writing improves fiction writing? And when should you quit your day job? Hear writers discuss the relationship between their day job and their writing. (Washington Theater)

Saturday
1 PM: What Makes Alternate History So Compelling?
Panelists: Tom Doyle (M), J. L. Gribble, Bjorn Hasseler, Alan Smale, Jean Marie Ward
Alternate histories continue to proliferate, though in accordance with Sturgeon’s Law, most fail the plausibility test, the storytelling test, or both. Why do the what-ifs continue to fascinate us, and what makes a powerful story in this subgenre? (Truman)

3 PM: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Panelists: Jeanne Adams, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Carol Ann Douglas, Jennifer Povey, Jean Marie Ward (M), Joan Wendland
Broad Universe is an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Members will be doing readings from their own works. (Jackson)

4 PM: Middles
Panelists: Wendy S. Delmater, Andrew Fox, Nancy Kress, Jack Skillingstead, David Walton, Jean Marie Ward (M)
So now that you’ve started your story, how do you put meat on its bones? How do you develop plot and character at short fiction and novel lengths? How many Aristotelian unites can and should you violate in your story? (Washington Theater)

6 PM: Use of Mythology in SFF
Panelists: Tom Doyle, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward, Steven H. Wilson, A.C. Wise (M)
There are a lot of different mythologies out there, with both similarities and differences. How do we incorporate and adapt them when writing our stories? Norse, Greek and Roman myths are the most common ones used in genre stories but are not the only mythologies out there. What’s acceptable to adapt and change, especially when using a mythology from a culture not one’s own. E.g. dragons in Europe and dragons in various Asian countries have quite different motives and personalities ascribed to them. (Washington Theater)

7:30 PM: Mass Autographing and Awards Ceremony
(Eisenhower) Ends at 8:55 PM

Sunday
1 PM: Reading
(Lincoln) Ends at 1:25 PM

3 PM: Superheroine to Wise Woman: Creating Powerful Female Characters
Panelists: Cerece Rennie Murphy, Michelle D. Sonnier, Jean Marie Ward, A.C. Wise (M)
What goes into creating strong, compelling female characters in fantasy worlds? Speculative fiction authors discuss how to approach elements such as world-building, magic, special powers, and plot when crafting a multi-dimensional character, and how to avoid the pitfalls of the “Mary Sue.” (Jackson)

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 9:28 am.

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#HoldOntoTheLight: The Bathroom Trick

Sunday, September 9th, 2018 | Author: jmward14 | jean marie ward | Comments Off

Hold Onto The Light

Mom was a Jungian—sort of.

A World War II-era psychiatric nurse, she understood there are times when talking through a problem simply wasn’t enough. She knew the health of the mind was inextricably linked to the health of the body. She’d seen firsthand the devastating effect of shell shock, as well as the psychosis and personality changes suffered by her sister when a well-meaning fool burst a goiter on her sister’s neck. She also knew entire families could suffer with mental health issues, and it wasn’t a matter of fault. They were born that way.

To her way of thinking, we’re all born that way. Even people wired to be happy can find themselves devastated by circumstances beyond their control—the death of a loved one, terminal illness, injury and global catastrophe. Sometimes sadness or a feeling of utter powerlessness is the only rational response to a situation. As someone who’d experienced her share of tragedy, she knew grief was a natural part of the human condition. The trick was to prevent the sorrow from becoming more calamitous than its cause.

Safe, effective anti-depressants hadn’t been invented yet. So Mom and her colleagues explored other modes of treatment. Mom focused on the coping mechanisms developed independently by those who routinely struggled with depression. She was particularly struck by Winston Churchill’s way of dealing with his “Black Dog”. Whenever Churchill felt himself sliding into despair, he would go into the garden and lay bricks on a wall.

To a Jungian, the symbolism was obvious. The wall represented a physical and symbolic barrier between him and his troubles. But Mom took it further. Analyzing newspaper and magazine articles she found in the base library, she concluded Churchill’s deepest depressions coincided with moments where he felt most powerless. View in that light, the wall was also his way of exerting control over his world.

Few people in Mom’s orbit had the luxury of building a wall. Hell, if you were living in military housing, chances were you didn’t even have a yard. But control—Mom understood control. I used to describe her as a combination of the kinder, gentler qualities of Napoleon Bonaparte, Niccolo Machiavelli and Attila the Hun. Full disclosure: they didn’t have any. What they did have, however, was the ability to assess the available resources and apply them to the problem at hand.

Ultimately Mom decided the best alternative for building a wall was cleaning a bathroom. The two tasks shared many attributes. Cleaning a bathroom seldom qualifies as a daily necessity. It’s usually something you could choose to do. Or not. It involves manageable levels of physical labor (subsequently shown to help the body self-regulate its chemistry). It can be done in a limited amount of time. It offers tangible results. It harms no one, yet invariably leads to a sense of accomplishment. When I was young, she insisted it was the only viable therapy for a growing girl; a big, strong man like my dad could clean the stove. (What? You didn’t think she practiced her trade on Dad and me? See the historical role models listed above.) But later, after she finally sprang for a regular cleaning lady, she admitted any self-contained, productive activity could suffice, from washing the car to baking cookies for a friend.

Mom died twelve years ago, but I still use the “bathroom trick”. I don’t always clean a bathroom. Sometimes I don’t even bother with physical exertion. It doesn’t really matter what I do. The key is restoring a sense of control through a personal achievement, no matter how small.

Mom would have been the first to say the strategy doesn’t always work. Plus, it’s only a therapy, not a cure. But she believed that any strategy that took the edge off pain without causing harm should be shared. I share it in that spirit. If it helps anyone who reads this, I’ll consider it worthwhile. So would she.

***

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

Posted 3 months, 1 week ago at 4:38 pm.

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