Writing Thoughts

Destroy all Cling-Ons with me at Con-Volution 2017!

This coming weekend, I’m attending Con-Volution 2017, a sci-fi and fantasy convention with a strong focus on all things crafty in the genre.


While I will not pretend I can crochet a light saber coozy or program a light board for that perfect ET finger glow, I will share insight into my own craft: writing! Sunday, 10/8, at 12 Noon, I am teaching Destroy All Cling-Ons! This writing workshop is designed to help writers polish their work for publication. Attendees will learn the common phrases, words, and sentence constructions that may be the undoing of an otherwise solid story. Bring in a printed excerpt of your own work or work from my sample, and together, we’ll mercilessly cut out stage directions, prepositions, passive writing, and filler words in accordance with current speculative fiction preferred styles.

What makes me qualified to teach Destroy All Cling-Ons? In addition to the publication of nearly a dozen speculative fiction short stories, a contemporary romance novel, and a YA fantasy novel through traditional routes, I have also copyedited academic and fiction writing for eight years. I co-lead the East Bay Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Meetup group, a Women Who Submit Writing – San Francisco chapter, and a few Facebook groups dedicated to helping the careers of female writers grow.

If you’d like to join me for this workshop, you’ll need to purchase a membership to Con-Volution at the registration tables at the San Ramon Marriott when you arrive. You can opt for just a Sunday membership (I believe it’ll be $30), but if you want to join in the fun all weekend, the way to go is the full weekend pass for $70. Con-Volution begins with an opening ceremony at 3 pm on 8/6, and closing ceremonies are at 3 pm on 8/8.

I assure you, there will be lots to see and do at this con! But if you want more time with me, I’ll also be leading a discussion group on 8/6 at 4 pm: The Companion as Hero – From Samwise Gamgee to Bill Potts. Join me in discussing the heroic roles that companions have played in genre fiction. Doctor Who, Samwise Gamgee, Chewbacca, and the Buffy Scooby Gang are just a few possible angles. Who is your most memorably heroic sidekick?

I hope you’ll tell me there!

con-volution, convolution, writer's workshop, san ramon

The One Word Story Project

In November, I stumbled across Rob Kristoffersen’s (@kristoffrable) One Word Story Project while browsing my Twitter feed. A group of authors writing stories each inspired by one word? Sounded like a lot of fun!


I’d been looking for ways to share my fiction more often, as I had limited myself to publishing stories only with professionally rated Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America outlets, and I wasn’t feeling satisfied by the awesome, yet limited, opportunities they provide. So Rob’s project seemed perfect! As he’s a contributor at Team Hellions, a geek website covering a wide range of fandoms (even wrestling!), the stories will be hosted there.

And the first one is up today! Fittingly, the series begins with Rob’s story, “The Home is Where the Haunting Is,” which is inspired by the word epicedium: a funeral dirge. Click on over to read this tale, which, like my own, is a haunting story with marriage at its forefront. Rob’s tale is an affecting look into the aftermath of divorce, and it ends especially strong.

There will be a new One Word Story up at Team Hellions every weekday for a month, through 2/11/2016. My own is inspired by misogamy: a hatred of marriage, and I’ll tell you when it’s up, of course!  But I’ll also point you over to the site whenever I especially enjoy the other writers’ stories.

Still Seeking Validity, or, Self-Worth Struggles for Bread-Eaters

“I’m a writer,” I say proudly, adding on the descriptor of fiction, entertainment, or food and drink depending on the company. “But I don’t support myself or anything.”

Ah, there it is. My caveat. Why am I compelled to add it in? Something within me thinks it’s important for people to know, although it isn’t. It’s none of their business how much money I make in my career, but somehow, after six years at this gig, I still view my financial contributions to the household as an essential part of my identity. Other bread-eaters I know have had to deal with judgments as to how they spend their days from other people, and I wouldn’t hesitate to rise to their defense, raise my voice and yell, “How dare you try to devalue this person’s work?!” whether that work be a career, raising children, keeping up a household, or a combination of all of the above. Yet I do it to myself all the time.

I’m ridiculous. You’d think I’d know better by now. Way back when I left my last day job to pursue fiction writing fulltime, I wrote a post on how I was struggling with financial dependency—nay, not just being financially dependent on someone else, but choosing it. That was before I could call myself a professional writer or a published author. I now have a nice long list of accomplishments, and I know I spend the same amount of time on my career as most people do in their workplaces. But my primary emotional battle remains the same: accepting, again and again, that my self-worth does not need to be connected to my financial contribution. You’d think I’d have an easier time with that seeing as our income has risen every year since. But I still get hung up on it.

I’m proud, you see. Proud that I put myself through college. Proud that I could fully support myself until the age of 29. Taking pride in my financial acumen, in the independence that it provided, was a key aspect of my identity until I took that jump into writing fulltime. It provided me with validation that I now have to find elsewhere. And inevitably, that elsewhere starts as a side writing project that eventually overpowers my passion project—writing fiction—because fiction brings in nominal income even when I do sell a story or get royalties. So I devalue it and slowly but surely reprioritize the projects that bring in significant funds. My first few years, that was copy editing dissertations and manuscripts until I realized I was no longer working on my fiction. In the last two years, that’s been writing for an entertainment website until I had the wake-up call that maybe, maybe, the reason I couldn’t get the motivation to work on my second novel was because of the 5K of polished words I’d churned out on articles over 2 days.

How do I realize I’ve done it again? A growing sense of dissatisfaction with my work develops, and I eventually have that aha! moment of realizing it’s because I’m not engaging my creative side. Which isn’t to say nonfiction isn’t creative, of course, but it doesn’t feed my soul in the same way. After I make that realization? The downward spiral commences: I must convince myself, yet again, that it’s okay if I don’t contribute funds to our income, and that I, Becca Gomez Farrell, somehow deserve this amazing opportunity to pursue my dreams when so many other people can’t. What right do I have to live this privileged life? And yes, I mean “privileged” with all its social justice connotations. Why is it okay for me to take advantage of this opportunity; what did I do to deserve it other than picking a great husband?  It feels selfish of me to even consider spending my days spinning yarns in light of what other people face.

Thesis Fiction

First off, I’m short on reviews right now. I haven’t made it to a lot of new places or tried a lot of wines or cocktails in the past couple of weeks. I’ve got a couple in mind for this week, but it’ll be a few days before I go, review, and write things up anyhow. Apologies for the shift in content, but I’d rather keep posting than not!

Secondly, I don’t read about writing a lot. There are lots of writers out there who’ve read every book on the subject.  It’s also extremely popular blogging material. From what I can tell, writing about writing seems to generate a huge amount of interest. I think it’s bizarre, and just something I can’t get into.  I can’t watch musicals or movies that are about a musical or movie (yes, nearly all of the musicals-movies of the 30s through 50s, you fit this bill), either. Call it one of my quirks, if you will. But today, I’m blogging about writing.

Don’t get worried that I’m going to start doing this regularly (unless you’d rather I did; then you should probably just scurry along to another blog, one of the gazillion out there on the subject).  This post is an exception. It’s not even about writing, really; it’s about a style of writing that I hate but is increasingly showing up everywhere I look.

The Hunt for the Mantress

Lately, I’ve been on a kick to find good words to use as slurs against men, such as bitch, cunt, whore, slut, etc.  Specifically, I wanted terms that don’t stem from female roots, such as son of a bitch or douche bag, but carry the same weight, mainly to satisfy my curiosity about how many words exist that don’t also demean women in the same breath that they are used to insult men.

Name calling generates a lot of interest on Facebook and Twitter, apparently, because I was supplied with a number of good options, most notably jerk and asshole. I’m still not sure that these are quite as cutting of a name as the female options I listed above, but they do serve the purpose.

Friday, on NPR, I listened to an interview with a woman who chronically has affairs. It struck me, as she referred to herself as a mistress, that she hadn’t actually called the men with whom she cheated anything equivalent to that word (both parties were often married). The fourth definition of mistress, which is how I am exploring the word, as found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate 11, is a woman other than his wife with whom a married man has a continuing sexual relationship. So I asked my friends and tweeps if they knew of a word for a man other than her husband with whom a married woman has a continuing sexual relationship.  And you gave me plenty of suggestions but I’m still not sure if any of them capture quite the same thing as mistress:

  • mister
  • manwhore
  • mimbo
  • lover/luvah
  • boytoy
  • kept man
  • sancho (Spanish, so it’s cheating)

There were also some great joke options:

  • mattress
  • pool boy
  • not for you (from my husband)

My sister also pointed me to this article on Daily Writing Tips that discusses the same subject and offers gigolo as a possibility but like kept man, that word doesn’t imply adultery in the same way that mistress does, in my opinion. I’m not sure myself, but I’m thinking kept man is probably the closest option of these.  What do you think, dear reader? Are any of these good male approximations of mistress? Do you have something else to add to the list?

Strength of Character

Caution, for those not up-to-date with Battlestar Galactica, you may not want to read this.

I’ve been browsing through my copy of Writer’s Market, marking the listings for magazines that might be a good fit for my work so I can research them to find out.  A good number of the magazines that publish fiction stress the importance of well-formed characters.  Of course, any creative writing instructor will tell you that and I have been instructed in a number of techniques for creating characters in the past, mostly doing free writes on their background or conducting an interview with the character in your head.  I’ve even forced groups of junior and upper high schoolers to complete character free writes and questionnaires while prepping for drama group practices back in the day.