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Todd McCaffrey
(@toddric)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33

New York Times bestselling author Todd J. McCaffrey is the author of over thirty books, including eight in the classic science fiction series, The Dragonriders of Pern®, and twenty in the steampunk fantasy Twin Soul series co-authored with the Winner Twins.

In May 2021, he released The Magpie’s War, co-authored with the Winner Twins, an epic fantasy set just after WWI.

You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  He has a website somewhere (more than one).

He has been a judge of the Writers of the Future for 10 years. His mother, famed Nebula Grandmaster Anne McCaffrey, was a judge for over 25 years.

Here's your chance to ask him anything, particularly with regards to writing for the Writers of the Future.

This link will take you to the Writers & Illustrators of the Future forum. If you haven't already, sign up. You can check out past AMA's including Tim Powers and Echo Chernik or lots of other advice and thoughts on the whole writing (and illustrating) process!

We're having it on Saturday, June 26th from 1-3 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time)
For those of you on the East Coast, that'll be 4-6 p.m.
And in the U.K., it'll be 8-10 p.m.

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Topic starter Posted : June 14, 2021 3:51 pm
John Goodwin, Coravh, Cray Dimensional and 2 people liked
NVHaskell
(@nvhaskell)
Bronze Member
Posts: 50

I have too many questions, so I will try and narrow it down.

Are there tropes or trends that you tire of reading? And, if so, what are they?

Also, are there particular tropes that you are drawn to? 

What makes you put down a story? 

Sorry, that is several questions but since I am the first to respond I feel like I can take liberties. I'll be happy at any response. 

‘If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.’ ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs
'The War Within' Deep Magic Volume 73 https://deepmagic.co
'A Straw in the Wind' in A Hero's Journey Anthology coming in 2022
V37- R, HM, SHM, HM
V38- HM, SHM, P

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Posted : June 14, 2021 5:44 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333
Posted by: @nvhaskell

I have too many questions, so I will try and narrow it down.

Are there tropes or trends that you tire of reading? And, if so, what are they?

Also, are there particular tropes that you are drawn to? 

What makes you put down a story? 

Sorry, that is several questions but since I am the first to respond I feel like I can take liberties. I'll be happy at any response. 

Good questions, NV. Please save them up for Saturday, June 26th, when they create the event that you can post them to. Todd will be here then to answer them. See you then!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Posted : June 14, 2021 8:46 pm
NVHaskell liked
Scott_M_Sands
(@scott_m_sands)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 201

I'm really excited for this, Todd!

Can't wait to hear what you have to say on your experiences and the contest.

fistinair fistinair  

"Many people will tell you that you can't write. Let no one say that you don't." -Ken Rand
V36-37: R x6
V38: R, HM, P

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Posted : June 14, 2021 9:30 pm
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 374

Of course, I'm booked to an immovable appointment that overlaps with this! I'll look forward to checking out the board afterwards.

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 4 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q3.V38 and Q4.V38 / Q1.V39 -nix-/-nix-/15% done
Last result: SHM for Q2.V38
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

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Posted : June 14, 2021 10:54 pm
pdblake
(@pdblake)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 132
Posted by: @wulfmoon
Posted by: @nvhaskell

I have too many questions, so I will try and narrow it down.

Are there tropes or trends that you tire of reading? And, if so, what are they?

Also, are there particular tropes that you are drawn to? 

What makes you put down a story? 

Sorry, that is several questions but since I am the first to respond I feel like I can take liberties. I'll be happy at any response. 

Good questions, NV. Please save them up for June 25th, when they create the event that you can post them to. Todd will be here then to answer them. See you then!

You might want to edit that original post. It says June 2th. Thought I'd missed it. 

www.pdblake.co.uk

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Posted : June 15, 2021 5:50 am
NVHaskell liked
storysinger
(@storysinger)
Gold Member
Posts: 914

So awesome that one of the authors of Pern will be joining our forum. Supercool.

Today's science fiction is tomorrow's reality-D.R.Sweeney
HM-V32/Q3
HM-V36/Q4
HM-V38/Q1

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Posted : June 15, 2021 10:37 am
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333
Posted by: @storysinger

So awesome that one of the authors of Pern will be joining our forum. Supercool.

Todd is a nice guy as well, always friendly. He spent a lot of time with us at the Writers of the Future Workshop. Smile  

And yes, the date is Saturday, June 26th. I've told them about the typo in the copy. 

See you there! Please don't fly in on your dragons, take the elevator. This clubhouse is not fire retardant and it could be a real problem if one of them belched.

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Posted : June 15, 2021 11:43 am
crlisle liked
monjoh
(@monjoh)
Active Member
Posts: 7

Am I missing where to sign up or is it full?

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Posted : June 15, 2021 6:09 pm
John Goodwin
(@johngoodwin)
Active Member Moderator
Posts: 24

@doctorjest As you are not able to attend, I will suggest that you go ahead and ask any particular question of Todd that he can answer for you.

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Posted : June 15, 2021 6:44 pm
John Goodwin
(@johngoodwin)
Active Member Moderator
Posts: 24
Posted by: @monjoh

Am I missing where to sign up or is it full?

You are fine to attend. You needed to be a member, and you are. That was what you needed to do to sign up.

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Posted : June 16, 2021 11:28 am
Wulf Moon liked
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Gold Member
Posts: 750

Is it 2 or 3 hours? (The time zone translation is a little confusing on that point!)

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : June 20, 2021 12:39 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333
Posted by: @rschibler

Is it 2 or 3 hours? (The time zone translation is a little confusing on that point!)

1 PM to 3PM PDT, Becky. So that should be two hours total. Tim stayed around until 3:15.

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

ReplyQuote
Posted : June 20, 2021 6:05 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333
Posted by: @toddric

New York Times bestselling author Todd J. McCaffrey is the author of over thirty books, including eight in the classic science fiction series, The Dragonriders of Pern®, and twenty in the steampunk fantasy Twin Soul series co-authored with the Winner Twins.

In May 2021, he released The Magpie’s War, co-authored with the Winner Twins, an epic fantasy set just after WWI.

You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  He has a website somewhere (more than one).

He has been a judge of the Writers of the Future for 10 years. His mother, famed Nebula Grandmaster Anne McCaffrey, was a judge for over 25 years.

Here's your chance to ask him anything, particularly with regards to writing for the Writers of the Future.

This link will take you to the Writers & Illustrators of the Future forum. If you haven't already, sign up. You can check out past AMA's including Tim Powers and Echo Chernik or lots of other advice and thoughts on the whole writing (and illustrating) process!

We're having it on Saturday, June 26th from 1-3 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time)
For those of you on the East Coast, that'll be 4-6 p.m.
And in the U.K., it'll be 8-10 p.m.

Bumping this because it's THIS SATURDAY! MARK YOUR CALENDARS. DO THE TIME ZONE MATH! TODD MCCAFFREY WILL BE IN THE HOUSE!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Posted : June 22, 2021 1:34 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

One day to go and Todd McCaffrey will be here for his Ask Me Anything! Don't miss it! Make plans now! Cheers!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

ReplyQuote
Posted : June 25, 2021 2:20 pm
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 374

And I'm going to be booked again, blast it all! Unavoidable, but oh well...I don't know what I would add to this anyway.

As an aside, my Mum ranked Anne McCaffrey as her single favourite author for many years (I inherited a lot of my taste in fiction from my parents, and raided their bookshelves often). I'll be looking forward to coming back to read this AMA after the fact!

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 4 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q3.V38 and Q4.V38 / Q1.V39 -nix-/-nix-/15% done
Last result: SHM for Q2.V38
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

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Posted : June 25, 2021 7:09 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333
image

 Bumping this again. Bring your questions today for SFF writer & Pern expert TODD MCCAFFREY! Starts at 1 PM PST!!!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

ReplyQuote
Posted : June 26, 2021 11:43 am
Todd McCaffrey
(@toddric)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33
Posted by: @nvhaskell

I have too many questions, so I will try and narrow it down.

Are there tropes or trends that you tire of reading? And, if so, what are they?

Not so much tropes but bad writing in general turns me off. You really want to know your field (science fiction or fantasy). While I was researching your question, I came across https://www.writerswrite.co.za/101-sci-fi-tropes-for-writers/ which has lists a lot of tropes.  In fact, I found this whole website to be quite engrossing.

I will say that, if you're writing fantasy, anything doing with a wizarding school is going to raise my eyebrow... and not in a good way. On the other hand, take the idea and blow it out of the park... and you've got my attention.

Also, are there particular tropes that you are drawn to? 

I'm still looking for a good story. I've read a lot and continue to read a lot. I've had fun with space opera.  I will say that any "evil AI" makes me yawn.

What makes you put down a story? 

Stories that get too tied up in trying to be different.  I like a story that moves forward and goes someplace.

I find that interesting stories for me either involve great characters or amazing ideas.  Both is the best, naturally.

Sorry, that is several questions but since I am the first to respond I feel like I can take liberties. I'll be happy at any response. 

No worries! Just write!

 

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Topic starter Posted : June 26, 2021 12:46 pm
Physa/ Guthington/ Amy
(@physa)
Bronze Member
Posts: 50

How do you approach world building for a short story?

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Posted : June 26, 2021 12:58 pm
Wulf Moon liked
John Goodwin
(@johngoodwin)
Active Member Moderator
Posts: 24

Hi Todd, I'll get my question in early. You've been a Writers of the Future Contest judge for 9 years. What has been the best part of this experience for you? I know your mom really enjoyed the Contest and continually said great things about Mr. Hubbard for having created the Contest. I am interested in your thoughts.

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Posted : June 26, 2021 1:00 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Todd McCaffrey
(@toddric)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33
Posted by: @physa

How do you approach world building for a short story?

Hi Physa,

It depends on the story.  If I start a story with a character (or characters), then I build the world just enough to let their story unfold.

World building in short stories can sometimes be overwhelming. Some people get so caught up in their world building they never get to their story [not looking at you, J.R.R. Tolkien 😉 ].

Of course, I have read a whole lot so the worlds I've already read about help inform my own world building (tropes and all that).

If I think the story is going to be part of a longer arc (turn into a series of stories or become a novel), then I might spend more time on building the world.

I think, though, that it's best to remember Stephen King's advice on writing: "Write the first draft for yourself, then write the second draft for your audience."

So... just enough world to be believable and not so much that you don't write the story!

 

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Topic starter Posted : June 26, 2021 1:05 pm
Cray Dimensional
(@craydimensional)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 170

Hey Todd,

Thank you for your time today.  I am relatively new to writing. What is the best advice you can give to novice writers?

Also, What inspired you to start writing?

Small steps add up to miles.
V38: R, R, P

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Posted : June 26, 2021 1:07 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Todd McCaffrey
(@toddric)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33
Posted by: @johngoodwin

Hi Todd, I'll get my question in early. You've been a Writers of the Future Contest judge for 9 years. What has been the best part of this experience for you? I know your mom really enjoyed the Contest and continually said great things about Mr. Hubbard for having created the Contest. I am interested in your thoughts.

John, for me the best thing about being a Writers of the Future Contest Judge is all the amazing people I get to meet both at the workshops and informally at the hotels and other gatherings.

It was at the Writers of the Future that I met the marvelous Winner Twins with whom I've been co-writing these last 4+ years!

Mum (Anne McCaffrey, naturally) and I have both been thrilled about the Contest.  It is really cool that L. Ron Hubbard was dedicated enough to the future that he established the Writers & Illustrators of the  Contests. We've seen how the contests have created several new generations of great writers and illustrators.  As both Mum and I are fond of reminding people, "Writers are readers, too!" And having more stuff to read is just great!

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Topic starter Posted : June 26, 2021 1:09 pm
Wulf Moon
(@wulfmoon)
Platinum Plus Member Moderator
Posts: 2333

Welcome, Todd! I enjoyed meeting you at the WotF Vol. 35 workshop! I have DRAGONSBLOOD in hardcover, and others by you and your mother as well. But my first question is about the forward in that book. Your mother wrote it, and while she was very happy with your writing, she mentioned she wrangled with you over a few items. I'm wondering what it was like when you started writing in her established world. There's the obvious expectations from a powerful fanbase, and then there's the publisher's expectations, and then there's your mother looking over your shoulder. What was that moment like? And did you have room to share your own ideas while still showing respect for her world? Thanks!

Click here to JOIN THE WULF PACK!
"Muzik Man" wins Best SFF Story of 2020! Read it in Best of Deep Magic Anthology Two! Includes stories by Super Secrets' alumni KD Julicher and Brittany Rainsdon!
You know WotF Workshop's 24-hour story exercise? Want to see what I wrote? It's about to be released in the pro-pay anthology THINGS WITH FEATHERS. Order HERE!
I've been invited back to Fyrecon Online to teach my Zoom master workshops Nov. 18th—21st. Four to chose from! Which one will help you level up? Explore HERE ... but you better hurry. They always sell out and are already half full!

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Posted : June 26, 2021 1:10 pm
monjoh
(@monjoh)
Active Member
Posts: 7

Do writing contests help on the road to being a published novelist?

Is short-story writing necessary to becoming a good novelist?

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Posted : June 26, 2021 1:11 pm
Wulf Moon liked
monjoh
(@monjoh)
Active Member
Posts: 7

@toddric Thank you for the link. I look forward to reading this and other articles on the site.

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Posted : June 26, 2021 1:14 pm
Wulf Moon liked
John Goodwin
(@johngoodwin)
Active Member Moderator
Posts: 24
Posted by: @toddric
Posted by: @johngoodwin

Hi Todd, I'll get my question in early. You've been a Writers of the Future Contest judge for 9 years. What has been the best part of this experience for you? I know your mom really enjoyed the Contest and continually said great things about Mr. Hubbard for having created the Contest. I am interested in your thoughts.

John, for me the best thing about being a Writers of the Future Contest Judge is all the amazing people I get to meet both at the workshops and informally at the hotels and other gatherings.

It was at the Writers of the Future that I met the marvelous Winner Twins with whom I've been co-writing these last 4+ years!

Mum (Anne McCaffrey, naturally) and I have both been thrilled about the Contest.  It is really cool that L. Ron Hubbard was dedicated enough to the future that he established the Writers & Illustrators of the  Contests. We've seen how the contests have created several new generations of great writers and illustrators.  As both Mum and I are fond of reminding people, "Writers are readers, too!" And having more stuff to read is just great!

Thanks, Todd. Smile

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Posted : June 26, 2021 1:16 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Todd McCaffrey
(@toddric)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33
Posted by: @craydimensional

Hey Todd,

Thank you for your time today.  I am relatively new to writing. What is the best advice you can give to novice writers?

Also, What inspired you to start writing?

Hi Craydimensional,

My pleasure!

The best advice I can give you is simply: Don't stop!

Keep writing. You are *going* to make mistakes.  That's natural and expected.

*Read* a whole bunch, particularly in your chosen field. Part of writing well is understanding the basics of structure, plot, characters, and dialog. You learn that mostly by reading.

I would also say: Allow yourself to be bad!

More stories are NOT finished because the authors were too engaged in creating the "perfect" sentence, finding the "perfect" word, telling the "perfect" story.  Ain't no such thing. So allow yourself to be bad (a lot of times a "bad" way of doing something turns out to be the *only* way to do it).

What inspired me to start writing?  Hmm... I think I fell into writing the same way as so many people: I thought to myself, "I can write better than *that*!"  Along with, "How come no one has written about...<fill in the blank>?"

Mum wrote about dragons because she decided that they'd had bad press, for example.

But there's a bit more to the answer than all that.

Any story is a tale of transition.  Your Hero changes in same fundamental way through your story. But the *writer* also changes. Writing requires accepting that it will change you while you're writing.

Also, when I write, I find characters whose stories I want to tell, who will never have a voice or be heard by others unless *I* give them that voice, and share their tale.

 

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Topic starter Posted : June 26, 2021 1:16 pm
PenMark, Scott_M_Sands, EmilyGoodwin and 3 people liked
Todd McCaffrey
(@toddric)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33
Posted by: @monjoh

Do writing contests help on the road to being a published novelist?

Is short-story writing necessary to becoming a good novelist?

I think writing contests do help. If nothing else, they give you a goal, help you meet a deadline, and that's one of the hardest things for writers to learn.

I think writing short stories is a great way to learn the fundamentals of writing, and they let you learn them faster.  You can write a good short story in 5,000 words (or less).  A novel is *at least* 40,000 words (usually 80,000-120,000). The math says that you can write five stories in the same number of words as one novel.  That gives you four more chances of getting it right.

You can also take a leaf from Mum's play book: if you can write a set of short stories that can be linked into a collection or anthology that tells a whole tale.  Mum wrote Weyr Search, and Dragonrider and sold them to Analog: Science Fiction, Science Fact before she combined them (and more) to create Dragonflight.  She also expanded many of her earlier short stories into novels (like The Rowan).

So... yeah, writing short stories can be a great help!

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Topic starter Posted : June 26, 2021 1:21 pm
Todd McCaffrey
(@toddric)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33
Posted by: @doctorjest

And I'm going to be booked again, blast it all! Unavoidable, but oh well...I don't know what I would add to this anyway.

As an aside, my Mum ranked Anne McCaffrey as her single favourite author for many years (I inherited a lot of my taste in fiction from my parents, and raided their bookshelves often). I'll be looking forward to coming back to read this AMA after the fact!

I'm sorry you can't be here!

I'm thrilled to hear that your Mum ranked *my* Mum as her favourtie author!

 

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Topic starter Posted : June 26, 2021 1:24 pm
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