My Writing Playground

a personal and inspirational blog, full of my creations and others' creations

Sirens Conference for Women of Fantasy Literature


I just got back from the best writing conference I have ever been to, Sirens. I highly recommend it for all readers and writers of fantasy and sci-fi. There were so many meaningful, fantastic conversations around women and nonbinary characters and writers. I learned so much about the biases we hold as writers about gender roles, relationships between women, how women and nonbinary people fit into fantasy worlds, and so much more.

Description from their website:

Sirens is a conference dedicated to the diverse, remarkable women of fantasy literature: readers and authors, certainly, but just as importantly, scholars, librarians, educators, publishing professionals, and even characters. Sirens is a place where a woman can, without shame or irony, declare herself a queen, a dragonmaster, a general. A place where women aren’t constrained by what our real-world society demands. A light in a world that frequently expects too much and offers too little.

I encourage everyone who loves fantasy stories to check them out. Their website is

Personal update: I am still working hard on my novel Her Sister’s Dragon, which is looking so much better. Unfortunately as a result my blog posts will continue to be somewhat sparse. Thank you for your patience and your continued interest. Hope you are having a happy fall!


The Mystery of the Missing Carbon

aka The Carbon Cycle

My name is Bennett. Sami Bennett.

I was in my office one night later than usual, working on a difficult case. Suddenly, in came a suspicious-looking molecule. He reminded me of my friend’s dog, who had mysteriously acquired a lame leg. I had served him, looking for clues, and finally accused the neighbor of doing the mischief. I was right, as I usually am, and the dog has been on my case ever since.

This molecule asked me if I was busy. I told him I was, but if he wanted a detective, he was looking in the right place. He took a seat and wouldn’t speak for minutes. I was about to ask him out right when he began.

I’m looking for Carbon.”

I blinked. Had I heard correctly? “Say that again, please,” I said slowly.

Carbon. I need to find Carbon.” He shifted in his seat nervously.

I gulped. I thought to myself, “Bennett, you’ve had tough cases before and you’ll have tough cases again.” Once I had gathered my courage I told the molecule, “I’ll find your Carbon. I’ve seen him before. There’s only one small difficulty.”

What’s that?” he cut in hastily.

I looked sharply at him. “Carbon… is everywhere.”

The molecule jumped, looked startled, and grabbed the armrests of his chair. I could barely make out his works. “Where?”

To help my client calm his nerves and break our scene’s tension, I casually looked around the room. I had some wood near the fireplace ready for burning. I took a break and thought hard.

I’m afraid,” I said, “you won’t like to hear this, sir, but if you look behind you, I can show you where your Carbon may have gone.”

My client (with an edgy personality, I decided) spared a glace first at me, then followed my gaze. “The firewood?” he asked softly.

I nodded my head. “Cellulose, actually. The basic chemical formula, you must know, is C6H10O5.”

C six?”

Again, I nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

My client shivered. I rose and, with my matchbox, descended to the fireplace, where I expertly set the wood on fire. “Now, sir, I’ll have you know, this Carbon of yours is being released out through my chimney.”

He was still shivering as he looked up towards the ceiling.

Try to stay calm. This won’t be easy.” I came back and sat down next to the molecule, who looked rather taken aback. “I added the amount of energy from my matches needed to start the combustion reaction, properly stated as C6H10O5 + 6O2 coverted into 6CO2 + 5H2O. The water vapor, that’s the H2O, and the carbon dioxide, that’s the CO2, the one we’re interested in, are not making their escape into… the atmosphere.”

Th-this all came from the wood?” asked my client.

I nodded. “And the oxygen in the air.”

And where will it go now?”

I took a moment, got up, and walked to the window, unsure how to break the news. The moon, full and shining, lit up the countryside outside my window, and I could see the vineyard that was stationed just outside our curious city. The molecule got up and followed me.

What is it?” he asked quietly.

I pointed to the grapevines outside. “You see those plants. They are made of glucose, a carbohydrate—a sugar, rather. You know the formula, I suppose?”

My client nodded to me knowingly. “Yes. C6H12O6.”

That’s right. The plants get the carbon, and the oxygen, from the carbon dioxide… in the air now around us.”

I knew he couldn’t take this lightly. As he looked faint, I helped him to his seat. “It’s called photoshynthesis,” I said, trying to calm him. “Without it, we would have no fuel, no food to eat. The exact process is 6CO2 + 6H2O converted into C6H12O6 + 6O2. Plants release the oxygen, somehting humans and other animals take in.” The talking seemed to do my client good. I was comfortable enough to leave him and get some wine. I poured him a glass and me one as well. He looked grateful for the treat. As I sipped mine I side, “Carbon is in this too, I’ll have you know. Wine comes from the fermentation of grapes, which makes ethanol, the ‘drinking alcohol’.”

Ah, yes, I’ve heard of that,” he told me. “Isn’t the chemical formula for ethanol C2H5OH?”

Yes.” I concurred. “The precise reaction is C6H12O6 converted to 2CO2 + C2H5OH. But I haven’t told you everything yet.”

My client was anxiously watching me. “What is it?”

I got up from my seat, bracing myself should he feel faint again. “There’s also cellular respiration.” The room was as silent as the night outdoors. I took a deep breath. “Animals are made of glucose, among other things. We get it by consuming grapes and other foods. It’s the reverse of photosynthesis, and it keeps us connected to our green, leafy friends. The process is C6H12O6 + 6O2 converted to 6CO2 + 6H2O.

So now you see, Carbon is everywhere, sir. I hope I have helped you. Now sir, if you please, I have some work to which I must attend.”

The molecule gradually got up from his seat and started to leave. At the door he stopped and said quietly over his shoulder, “I should thank you, Bennett.”

Thank Carbon, sir. Thank Carbon.”

My Fantasy Novel

Hi everyone,

I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted on this writing blog. The main reason is that I am working really hard on my first novel, Her Sister’s Dragon. It is a young adult fantasy novel about a cursed girl named Malaka trying to rescue her sister from a dragon with the help of her best friend Anaïs, a deaf foreign girl on the run. I just made a new website, so you can learn about it here:


I hope to post more on this blog, but it might not be until after I have finished this novel (which I hope to finish in the next year).

Thank you for your interest in my writing blog, and happy new year!

– Sami Bennett

Feathers Inn

a short story

My clock has no hands and my body no heart.
I sleep in the day and come out in the dark.
I breathe no warmth, no kindness I pay,
for I never come out in the heat of the day.

Doubt nothing that’s said. Be silent in wonder.
Hope for the rain and listen for thunder.
Remember not me when the sun shines through.
Remember not me. I shall not think of you.

Come inside.

I’ll make you a cup of tea.

Yes, I lost the hands to that clock years ago. Looked everywhere and finally gave it up for lost or stolen. The clock still tells me the time, though. Perhaps it is magic. Things tend to be magic in this house. Or were once. But secrets and spells have come to bore me now that I am old and have no one to share things with.

Those trees out there, do you see them? They were once the glory of the forest. If you came within a hundred yards of their branches and lay down to sleep, you would be sucked into a world unknown and utterly lost. You would stay there till the end of your days, drinking from lemonade streams and sucking sugar grass. You forget who you are and what you’ve always dreamed to be. You become one with the people there, the Nobodies. But no one goes there nowadays. The trees are too old for that sort of thing, and all the young heroes they might intimidate are far gone, off in distant lands far more interesting than here.

Do not look for skeleton bones or dead snakes in the cabinets. They were all taken by my sister when she eloped with a young doctor fresh from medical school. She said she wanted to live the life of the ordinary for a while, but she needed a few souvenirs of home, in case a demon or wizard tried to take her memory away. I don’t think she knows what it’s like to be ordinary.

Not that I am one to talk. Nor should you. We neither of us are used to ordinary.

You hear something from above? Yes, don’t worry. That’s just my aunt sleeping. She’s a bear at this time of year, but perfectly harmless, I assure you. Back in the day, she would come out and drag off children from innocent villages and eat then for supper. And if anyone in the family told her to stop, she would eat them up, too, quick as a wink, for she was cursed by a sorcerer who had saved her life.

She had been in great peril, locked in a deep dungeon whilst above a villainous king plotted her murder, for she had attempted to steal the blessed water of the gods to use on the poor and helpless people of a nearby island. There had been a plague on the island for many years, and she was destined to stop it. In the dungeon, at her last thread of hope, there came the young sorcerer, Macedion. He had fallen in love with my aunt at first sight, and after hearing the harm intended towards her, he determined to free her. She vowed him eternal love, and the sorcerer broke her free and told her how to get the blessed water from the gargoyle who guarded it. He told her to set all the king’s ships on fire while he lured the sailors away. Then they made off for the island. There on the island they were to marry, but my aunt fell deeply in love with one of the island villagers named Gesstol. When the sorcerer heard this, he cursed my aunt, making her bear and beast for the rest of her days.

She lives with us now, and has grown quite calm and tame. After she knew she did not love the sorcerer, there was no way for her to be completely happy, but at least she talks to me a bit now. She tells me that she’s happy she didn’t marry the sorcerer. She’s glad to live in my attic like a bear. She only eats honey and fruit off of trees now. She never asks for more.

Do not be afraid of the mice that run around. They have always roamed free after my cat was kidnapped by a wicked fairy who sought for gold and riches, and got a pet instead.

Have you never heard the tale? She always had a wicked heart, that fairy. She clung to the idea that she was great, majestic, that she should be queen of the world. And the way to do that, in her eyes, was to become the richest fairy in all the world. You must not blame her. Fairies will think silly thoughts like that sometimes. Humans, too, if you’re not careful.

My brother lived in this house at that time. He had a whole treasure box full of gold in the cellar. He always kept it hidden, but word got around. It always does in fairy tales, because fairies are the best at knowing secrets. She demanded every coin. My brother, who always tried to follow in my wise uncle’s footsteps, said that the fairy could have all the gold and riches that she pleased, it was nothing to him, but he begged her not to take the cat. That cat, I will just mention, was always mine. I had asked him to care for it as a favor until I returned from a quest. I was to kill a raging dragon—but that is another tale. My brother was very bad at keeping promises. He convinced the fairy that the cat was the most valuable thing in the whole world.

I wonder what become of Feathers, my cat. I like to think he was a magic cat that made a kind spot in that fairy’s dark heart that grew and grew until she was no longer wicked but the most benevolent fairy ever heard of. I like to think that. Don’t you? At least I’ve never heard of her wicked doings again.

You needn’t worry where you place your feet or in which chair you sit. All the trap doors were sealed up after my father took a fall in one of them and broke his head. He died that day. My mother insisted that it would never happen to anyone again.

It was quite hard to get any builder to come to the house. We had quite a few more bats back then, and spider webs as well. Whenever we finally got someone to show up on our doorstep, they often ran away before they ever stepped inside. In the end my brother patched the doors himself. But he did a fine job. They won’t open again.

I think it was after my mother died that the magic really started the fade. She was so vibrant, so full of magic herself that it was hard to do anything without her. She was killed by some accident over a mess of a spell. Something of cockroaches and porcupine needles. Not sure exactly. I wasn’t there.

A sign hangs on my door, if you look closely. My mother wanted it thrown out, but I carefully took it down and saved it until after she was gone. It’s worn in places, but you can still read it if you truly wish to. It was my father’s.

My clock has no hands and my body no heart.
I sleep in the day and come out in the dark.
I breathe no warmth, no kindness I pay,
for I never come out in the heat of the day.

Doubt nothing that’s said. Be silent in wonder.
Hope for the rain and listen for thunder.
Remember not me when the sun shines through.
Remember not me. I shall not think of you.


Reduced to Stardust

My English professor blew my mind today. He was talking the play King Lear by Shakespeare, and about the difference between the morality of the traditional Christian Europe of the past in which there is considered to be a “natural order” ordained by God and modern scientific philosophy that says there is no natural order, and then he said this:

“What is it like to live as moral beings in a cosmology that reduces us to stardust?”


I personally think it sounds wonderful to be made of stardust.

An Open Heart

beauty of madness

We dream of hope, we dream of change, of fire, of love, of death, and then it happens, the dream becomes real. And the answer to the quest, this need to solve life’s mysteries finally shows itself, like the glowing light of the new dawn. So much struggle, for meaning, for purpose, but in the end we find it only in each other. Our shared experiences of the fantastic, and the mundane. The simple, human need to find the kindred, to connect, and to know in our hearts that we are not alone.

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Composite Photography and Fantasy Art

#Art of Fantasy 59: Yongsub Noh (Yong)

Wow, this artist

Woelf Dietrich

yongsub-noh-yong-30Yongsub Noh (Yong) is a concept artist and illustrator from Seoul, Korea, and his paintings are fantastic. From what I could find about this artist, he’s been painting for over 13 years and his creations range from magical worlds and planets and warriors and trolls and aliens and weird one-eyed giant teddy bears to robots and massive cosmic eggs. *Phew!*

Below is a small collection of the artist’s work. Each image links back to the gallery of origin. Enjoy!















I really enjoy it when an artist moves beyond the norm, moves beyond the traditional tropes of fantasy and science fiction. Yong’s art is highly conceptual and imaginative. He creates worlds that are unfamiliar and surreal and fantastic, and he uses a classical approach to his paintings, which, I think, adds a mythical element to them.

Please let me know in the comments what you thought of today’s artist. Also, remember…

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Nino Gabashvili's ART


“Crows are Fascinating spirit animals, they carry the energy of life mysteries and the power for deep inner transformation.

Crows are messengers, telling us about the creation and magic all around us, also they are surrounded by unseen forces and spiritual strength.

symbolically crows are associated with intelligence. Some cultures also associated this bird with light.”

I personally love seeing crows, they always have mysterious energy about them, feels as they trying to tell you something. In times of life transition I enjoy painting them. Emotionally they make me feel Little darkness, mixed with strength and hope for better…

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How to Create a Scene List for Novel/Short Story


I need to try this. Scene lists sound super useful. Even JK Rowling does it!

Check it out here: “How a Scene List Can Change Your Novel-Writing Life” by Monica M. Clark