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I grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy. The first adult novel my parents gave me was Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong. I devoured the other Pern novels, then discovered Terry Pratchet, and Neil Gaiman, and Lois McMaster Bujold, and Mercedes Lackey, and Robert Heinlein, and Margaret Atwood and… You get the idea. The sci-fi/fantasy shelves are the first place I go in a bookstore. It’s the only genre where I find both comfort and challenge as a reader.

Which is why it’s always astounded me that I don’t write more in the genre. My stories and novels tend toward the contemporary rather than the imagined. I’ve been trying to rectify this, one short story at a time, on the theory that the best way be part of the community is to write in it.

Enter Lightspeed Magazine and the Women Destroy Science Fiction edition. I’ve followed some of the kerfluffel about women being harassed at cons, or being told they’re not geek enough, or their writing ruins entire genres. And while I haven’t experienced any of it, I think it’s high time this kind of nonsense stopped. As you can probably guess from the title, Lightspeed does too. They’re putting together a special edition of sci-fi written entirely by women, and they’re taking submissions from the slush pile to do it.

Awesome, I thought. I should submit something. Except that none of my stories are sci-fi.

Then, as sometimes happens, the first line of a story came to me:*

Sure, Rhyden was a backwater, but it was also home to Lady Evangelina Rhyssa, Ambassador-at-Large to the Galactic Council, three-time winner of the Andromeda Pageant, and certified sharp-shooter extraordinaire.

Suddenly, I had my protagonist, Cass O’Reilly. She’s scrappy, sarcastic, and the worst P.I. this side of Vega. For the first time, I understood what other authors meant when they talked about throwing their characters into bad situations for the sheet enjoyment of watching them battle their way out.

For $5 you can get yourself a copy of Women Destroy Science Fiction, as well as the companion destruction of horror and fantasy. And you never know, Cass just might end up in there.

*For the record, I’m a firm believer that the only way to write, and write well, is to apply ass to chair. But there’s undeniably a certain magic to the process, and my personal muse seems to have a habit of dropping first lines into my head and letting me work out the rest of the story from there. Who says I can’t have it both ways?