The mean people with whom our heroine is staying have been a fun challenge for me. I've been lucky enough in life to not know a lot of really mean people (let alone bad people - I've rarely written actual villains, though I have plans for more in the future), and even fewer with whom I've had to spend long periods of time. Envisioning even their behavior, let alone their motivations, can be tough; I keep wondering whether they are mean enough. Some authors I like - for example, my favorite author, Diana Wynne Jones - have had extended experience with thoughtless, irresponsible, even downright villainous people in their lives, and I certainly do not envy them. Part of the reason I became a psychology major was to write better characters; I'm currently in a class called "Motivation and Emotion," and am keenly interested in its uses in writing fiction. So we'll see. I feel pretty good about it so far.
I've had to pause on that, because my spring break ended; on the other hand, being back at school means I will soon be writing short stories for Advanced Fiction again! It also means meetings of Wordshop, the writers' group of William & Mary. We met tonight, though I didn't submit anything for this meeting; most of my short stories (and chapters of longer works) are too long. It's a good group. We have hour-long meetings every other week (with informal meetings the other weeks to talk about books and so on), for which people send in writing. Two to five people read their work aloud, and we talk about it, attempt constructive criticism, etc. We've had everything from poetry to fanfiction, and I had the group look at the first eight or so (short) chapters of Dragons Over London, my novella.
"Reynard's Menagerie" has not yet sent me the contract for the story they're publishing, but Michelle has finished her paperwork with them (sent the contract back in), so I know that such does actually happen. How exciting!