Aly Parsons (née Susan Weidler), Writer
Aly Parsons, 67, writer, and a former federal employee of 22 years as Program Assistant at National Endowment for the Humanities, died February 9, 2020 at Shady Grove Hospital. In 1996 at 43, she retired from federal service on medical disability to devote full time to her health and writing. She died from a heart attack and complications of kidney failure.
Ms. Parsons suffered medical problems throughout her life. As a result of the brittle diabetes she’d had since age 11, she became legally blind in 1977 (total blindness in right eye, legally blind in left from diabetic retinopathy), had kidney–pancreas transplants (3) and became totally blind in 2009. In March 2017, her transplanted 18 year old kidney failed and she started dialysis. She had loss of sensation in feet and hands due to peripheral neuropathy and wore orthopedic foot appliances since 2002 for foot drop. In 2016 she received a Medtronic pacemaker and in 2017 a cardiac stent. Along with the above problems she also had low blood pressure, hydrostatic problems (losing balance when standing), gastroparesis (1991, food moved six times slower than normal), and difficulty dealing with external heat and cold (body doesn’t acclimate to temperature changes).
Ms. Parsons, born in New York City in 1952, lived in Pennsylvania from 1957 to 1964 and then moved with her family to Silver Spring, Maryland. While growing up, her hobbies included reading the dictionary, the classics, and piles of library books; artwork, especially figure drawing; and studying nature. Her illustrations, poetry, and stories appeared in high school, college, and independent literary magazines. In 1975, she joined the Potomac River Science Fiction Society (PSFS) and began attending conventions. After co-directing programming for the 1981-89 Unicons, she hosted Green Rooms for various cons, critiqued for the Millennial Philcon writers’ workshop, and co-directed programming for the 2003 World Fantasy Convention in D.C. She spoke on panels about self-editing, writer’groups, etc.
In 1980, Ms. Parsons founded and led a fantasy/sf writers’ group that is comprised of professional and unpublished writers which continues today. Meeting once a month, they read out loud, constructively critiquing each other’s work and sharing information on writing techniques and markets. Since 2002, she has been a first reader, serving as book editor on draft manuscripts for a Nebula Award-winning author.
Ms. Parsons’ works appear online and in anthologies. She has fiction, memoirs, and poetry in publications including her story, “Cold Hall” in the DAW anthology, Sword of Chaos, edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She wrote the Afterword for Catherine Asaro’s collection, Aurora in Four Voices, which appeared in 2011 from ISFIC Press. She was a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association and won first place in the 2019 MWA 30th Anniversary Anthology, 30 Ways to Love Maryland with her short story “Lawbreakers.” Another version of “Lawbreakers” is in Behind Our Eyes 3: A Literary Sunburst. Her fantasy story “Wellspring,” published online in NewMyths.com, won the 2019 Readers’ Choice Award for their second edition, called Twilight Worlds, which featured stories and poems that explore the theme of end times and new beginnings. Other writings are in Magnets and Ladders and Pen in Hand. She was a proud graduate of the first Odyssey Workshop for Writers of Fantasy, SF, and Horror, a six-week intensive critiquing workshop. She worked on a series of fantasy novels, writing and editing full time.
Her husband of 34 years, Paul Parsons, died in 2008. Together they lived with a cat and several thousand books.
She was a member of the American Council of the Blind.
She is survived by her sister, Wendy Weidler of Spencerville.
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