May 2024 Update: News, Events, and More

Note: If you’d prefer to receive this monthly update in your email inbox (along with additional content, like my cat’s latest conversations), you can sign up for my newsletter here.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Japan, where I was the guest of honor at HAL-con.

It was delightful in so many ways.

While I was there, my old tour puppet tour partner, Fred C. Riley also happened to be in the country. It was a weird coincidence, made weirder by the fact that we met touring a show called Tales of Japan. It made me think about the difference between the ersatz and the real.

We talked a lot about what we were creating—me, my writing, him, a new show—and as I listened, I realized he was making something new.

It’s not a riff on something other folks have done. It’s not a narrative. It’s a tone poem, shaped by puppets. This show is so purely Fred that no one else could create it. The Ground is shaped by the way he sees and experiences the world. At the same time, he’s making space for the audience in such deliberate, thoughtful ways.

I want to see it. I want it to exist.

I promise I won’t do this often, but I’m going to ask you to swing by his fundraiser and help make this show happen. When was the last time you saw something new?

Mundane Moments with MRK

A quick snapshot of what I’m…

  • Crafting: I’m making a rafia bag from a kit I got in Tokyo
  • Reading: Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
  • Writing: “Rain pattered outside the hotel window and made the night seem almost romantic. The city seemed impossibly quiet, save for the voices echoing through the halls from a party going on too long somewhere on Blossom’s floor. Behind her, on the bed, Petal sat with her wings drawn tight around her body and her head hiding under them.”
  • Watching: The Moon directed by Kim Yong-hwa

Enjoying: Japan!

(Public Classes, Awards, and More)

Close Reading Series with Writing Excuses

This season, the Writing Excuses podcast is doing something really cool. All of the hosts, myself included, are delving into a close reading series, where we all read a single book (including our listeners), then focus on one single element of craft over a series of episodes. 

We just wrapped up our first series on voice, using This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mahtar and Max Gladstone as our base. Now, we’re switching gears to worldbuilding, with Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire.


Each month, I’ll post a new link to a book, short story, or other work I think deserves a read. Sometimes it will be my own writing, other times it will be someone else’s.

This month, I’d love to share Starling House by Alix E. Harrow with you. Being from the South, I know these places and these people. This book takes you deep under the skin to Underland. Parts of it feel so real that I wanted to reach for the internet to see if this was history I’d just forgotten. 

I’m a sucker for books that make me cry and this one did, more than once. Once from sadness, once from rage, and once from hope. 

I loved everything about it.

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

Eden, Kentucky, is just another dying, bad-luck town, known only for the legend of E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth-century author and illustrator who wrote The Underland–and disappeared. Before she vanished, Starling House appeared. But everyone agrees that it’s best to let the uncanny house―and its last lonely heir, Arthur Starling―go to rot.

Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses or brooding men, but an unexpected job offer might be a chance to get her brother out of Eden. Too quickly, though, Starling House starts to feel dangerously like something she’s never had: a home.

As sinister forces converge on Starling House, Opal and Arthur are going to have to make a dire choice to dig up the buried secrets of the past and confront their own fears, or let Eden be taken over by literal nightmares.


Class: Manipulating Tone & Mood

May 27th at 8 PM ET / 5PM PT

Most writing workshops tend to focus on structure or pacing, but tone and mood play as big a part in the experience of the reader. In this class, we’ll look at how to manipulate tone and mood through our imagery, word choices and sentence structures.

If you want to join me, you can do so at the class level of Patreon.


As I mentioned earlier, I spent a large portion of April in Japan. During my travels, Elsie wound up being cared for without an active camera monitoring her button board. This is the first time in years I haven’t had the help of a camera to interpret her words.

Since I use the FluentPet Connect system, I did still receive alerts to my phone every time Elsie pressed a button. It was like receiving texts directly from my cat.

And oh, my heart. Her messages made me want to take the next flight home.

From the bottom, up, it reads: “Elsie. Talk swatting swatting. Mary Robinette.”

I thought I’d be okay–and I know Elsie was well taken care of.

But I was a mess.

Thankfully, my husband is home with her—to which she responded with the gut-wrenching “Scared. Love you. Yes. I don’t understand.”

I’m hopeful (but not optimistic) that she’ll see fit to forgive me once I show her the cat-sized kimono I picked up while traveling.

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