A Conspiracy of Authors

Margaret McGaffey Fisk

ACOA Publications
Curve of her Claw
Curve of her Claw
Beneath the Mask

I am a storyteller.

I've held many jobs, done many things, seen many places, but through it all, I have always been a storyteller.

I was born as the daughter of a Foreign Service officer in the Philippines where I lived for my first six months. I spent just enough time in the US to have vague memories of a tire swing and a tricycle before going overseas again to the Middle East. I lived in Kabul, the capitol of Afghanistan, then both Tabriz and Isfahan in Iran before being evacuated to Athens, Greece, during the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

I remember these years fondly because we would traipse out into the wild desert and climb mountains, find minarets, explore old archaeological sites, and enjoy wondrous vistas. I have scrambled about the tomb of Alexander the Great's father and waved to the pelican there (in the middle of the desert?). I have been to half a dozen other archaeological sites of Greek and Persian origin, including Corinth. I even saw the King Tut exhibit when it first toured Greece. I have wandered through crowded bazaars and marketplaces, and I have absorbed the scent of curry and sand.

When I returned to the US as a young girl, I discovered Friendly's and peppermint ice cream, that as much as I loved to dance to the Nutcracker on my parents' Persian carpets I was not destined for the stage, and that people are quick to lash out at what they don't understand.

Culture shock is a strange thing...especially when you're returning to your supposed "native" culture.

My life took an almost normal turn after that, and I developed a love for trees as well as the deserts I couldn't reach anymore. Virginia has the most marvelous expanses of forests if you drive out of the DC area.

I dropped out of high school to go to an early admit college, Simon's Rock of Bard College, which allowed me to confound the State Department and provide one glimmer of good when the Gramm-Rudman bill failed to pass and so nixed the funding for the internship program. It freed the organizers from the conundrum of how to establish a pay grade for an intern without a high school diploma but with one year of college.

After two illuminating years in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, a place full of trees to wander among, I worked for a year temping at a pension fund company and in an animal hospital, then entered University of California at Santa Cruz where I met my husband. I branched out into the working world as an indexer/abstractor/editor, got married, and had two boys who continue to both annoy and amaze, though more of the second than the first. After seven or so years, a friend forced me to apply for a job in systems when editorial destroyed my arms. There, I learned that everyone's mother hadn't taught them to write batch files. That started me on a chaotic voyage in programming where I am 95% self-taught, and the one programming language I studied is the one I hardly ever use, but its structure carries on.

Then the Internet boom busted and I turned back to my first love, storytelling.

I am the tech admin (see, programming's still good for something ;)) for Forward Motion, a writing site that welcomes writers of almost all genres with the goal of steering people toward publication through discussion, support, classes, and critiquing.

I am a member of Online Writing Workshop where we discuss writing topics on the listserv, and critique and receive critiques on our stories.

I do freelance programming for Holly Lisle in her endless endeavor to find new and different ways to help writers.

I provide technical support and advice for Lea Schizas in her many publishing endeavors, including Muse It Up Publishing and The Muse Online Writers Conference.

But through it all, I write, edit, submit, and sometimes sell short stories, non-fiction articles, and novels.


List of Published Works

Material currently available outside the ACOA Site

ACOA Publications to come


When the Shoe Won't Fit

A fantasy short story that appeared in the online magazine Aurora Wolf and is now available in their first anthology collection, Aurora in the Dawn. For more information, including an excerpt, go here.

Curve of Her Claw

A dark fantasy short story that appears in Cloaked in Shadow: Dark Tales of Elves 

From the Ashes

A science fiction short story that appears in Triangulation 2004: A Confluence of Speculative Fiction.

 Non-Fiction Publications


A chapter in The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy Volume 3: The Author's Grimoire. Available from Dragon Moon Press

Articles in Vision

Website Review: Twitter

Choosing Your Measuring Stick

Book Review: Fairy Tales for Writers by Lawrence Schimel

Altered Perception and the Reader's 50 Percent

Reviewing a Magazine Before Submission

To Write or Not to Write,

an article about using voice recognition.

Dare to Be Blunt,

an article about direct, non-coddling critiques that are helpful.

From First to Final,

an article about editing short stories.

Footsteps to a Novel

Sociological Science Fiction Defined.

Taking the Plunge,

an article about submitting your stories.

The Tarnished Crown,

an article about polishing your novels.

Visit from the Muse,

an article about connecting with your muse.

Welcome to the conspiracy!

About ACOA

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