Dublin WorldCon 2019 is not only my first WorldCon but my first convention ever. I spent a couple summers as a banquet waiter for conventions but have never been able to partake in the fun. Now, I get to go wild.

My goal for WorldCon is to learn as much, see as much, and meet as many people as possible. Especially those who want to talk SFF writing and publishing.

If you want to meet up, chat, grab a drink, or just say hi, DM-ing me on Twitter or Instagram would be your best bet. I’ll try my best to respond.

This is going to be one intense, incredible weekend and I can’t wait.

I feel different. Not much, but enough to notice. Change in people tends to happen in one of two ways, fast and drastic or slow and gradual. My change was neither. It was a small yet vivid moment of self-awareness and it was all thanks to Museum Vrolik.

My wife and I recently met up with our friends the Alexanders (writer K.M. Alexander and artist Kari-Lise Alexander). We were in Amsterdam for a good dose of adventure and shenanigans. As avid Atlas Obscura users, the Alexanders came prepared with a list of lesser known must-see’s and one of those was Museum Vrolik, the University of Amsterdam’s anatomical and embryological collection. This museum focuses on teratology or the study of deformity.

Science and history, especially old teaching tools and aides have always fascinated me and I jumped at the chance to see, first hand, the specimens used by the doctors and researchers of old.

As we entered the main door and the collection came into view, a feeling settled over me. It was a deep feeling of reverence. This was not going to be a fun experience. Most the specimens at Museum Vrolik save for a small collection of animals, are real human beings or parts from a real human being, preserved for study, learning, and research. As I took in each deformed foetus, dissected hand, or deformed skull, it was clear just how much respect the situation and the people behind the glass deserved. These people were not there for amusement. They existed to help others discover new ways to treat or prevent the afflictions that ultimately killed them. It was evident that for many in the museum, life, if they ever lived at all, was suffering.

I often feel the importance of a place but rarely experience the power. Museum Vrolik made me understand both. My time among the Siamese twins, elephantiasis ravaged bones, and flayed appendages was fascinating, awe-inspiring, and thought-provoking but it could never be deemed as”fun.” Was it enjoyable? Yes, but it’s important to remember that enjoyment isn’t always linked to a sense of pleasure. I felt intellectually satisfied. That’s a feeling I always enjoy.

I say that I was changed that day and in one specific way, I was. I realized why I have an affinity for the macabre. I realized the underlying impetus that drives me toward places like Museum Vrolik. It is the opportunity to learn from things so unlike me and my everyday life. It is the opportunity to experience aspects of reality that I hadn’t or couldn’t before. I will always take a window over a door, even it shows me the dark rather than the daylight.

I’m not very good at tooting my own horn but I’ve realized that I should use this platform to announce some very good news. I recently received second place in thewoolf.org‘s recent short story competition. This counts as both my first publishing credit and my first paid gig (gotta love prize money) so I’ve been feeling pretty good for the past few weeks.

Rather than ramble on, I’ll let the official press release from The Woolf do the talking. Thanks for reading and make sure you check out the work from the other finalists.



The three winning stories in the inaugural Woolf Short Story Competition were announced simultaneously with the launch of the Spring 2018 issue, on March 1. In her Judge’s Report, Geneva-based writer Anne Korkeakivi commented that reading the shortlist of ten stories was “a privilege and pleasure” and that “with such a panoply of excellence to choose from … singling out a first-, second-, and third-place winner is a little heartbreaking.”

Writing to the theme of ‘Raw’, we celebrate the ten shortlisted writers: K.C. Allen, Jennifer Copley, Ben Francis, Delaney Green, Louise Mangos, Yves Oban, Kate Paine, Jihoon Park, J. Rushing and Gladys Yegon

while congratulating

Kate Paine on being awarded first place for ‘Melting Ice’

J. Rushing in second place for ‘Wounds’

K. C. Allen in third place for ‘Of Baking and Blackbirds’.

The three winning stories can be read in their entirety on The Woolf.org, via the links above.

Korkeakivi described Kate Paine’s winning story as “appearing at first simple, almost comic … ends up anything but”. It has “incisive descriptive language … so deftly fused to the story’s theme and voice. I couldn’t stop thinking about ‘Melting Ice’, which is one of the best things that can be said about a work of fiction and why I am awarding it first place.”

Reflecting the international nature of Switzerland’s population, our winners are Australian, American and Swiss.

Kate Paine is an Australian musician, teacher, and writer living with her husband and daughter in a little house near the lake in Meilen, Kanton Zurich. She finds music and writing go together beautifully. She is undertaking a Ph.D. in creative writing through Deakin University in Australia.

J. Rushing is an American writer and former teacher who traded the microbreweries and Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest for raclette, chocolate, and the Swiss Alps. He and his wife live in Baden.

K.C. Allen globe-trotted for years, living and working in multilingual and multicultural environments before returning to her birthplace – Switzerland – some twenty years ago. Fascinated by words in general, she works in and out of various foreign languages in marketing and communications.

The Short Story Competition moved through four stages. It was launched in The Woolf on September 1, 2017, with a submission deadline of December 1, 2017. A long list of 21 entries was announced on January 10, 2018, and the short list made public on February 1, 2018. Submitted entries were read and judged at all stages of the competition without author names or identifying information. The three winners were announced last week in The Woolf Spring 2018 Quarterly.

The Woolf co-editors Libby O’Loghlin and J.J. Marsh are delighted with the response to the first competition, which saw entries come from all over the world. They plan to run the short story competition annually and will also be announcing a poetry competition later this year.

For more information about The Woolf writing competitions, The Woolf Quarterly or our winning writers Kate Paine, J. Rushing or K.C. Allen please contact Catherine Szentkuti, Publicist, at catherine@thewoolf.org.