0

On World Building

Occasionally, while reading or listening to a story, I’m struck by a sentence or a paragraph that is just . . . so perfect, it makes me want to throw out everything I have ever written. Or, alternatively, to fix everything I’ve ever written so that it comes closer to what I have just read/heard.

Today, on my way to work, I was listening to the Glittership podcast, episode 6: “And Out of the Strong Came Forth Sweetness” by Lisa Nohealani Morton (@lnmorton).

The first two paragraphs of the story are as follows.

After the Collapse and the Great Reboot, Lila moved into the city and opened a barbershop.

Great things were happening in the city: spaceports and condominiums and public works projects outlined their soon-to-be-erected monuments to great men and women and superior city living in holographic glows. Angels patrolled the sky, resplendent with metal wings that sparkled in the sun when they banked for a turn. Everyone seemed to be full of exciting plans for the future, but Lila came from a long line of barbers and her humble shop only seemed fitting. She called the shop The Lion’s Mane, because there were lions, once.

It was at this point that I completely lost the story. Not because it was boring or because something had kicked me out, but because of the stunning simplicity and beauty of the world building behind the phrase “because there were lions, once.” My mind wandered, imagining this story’s world. Something called the Collapse and something else called the Great Reboot are hinted at, but the single phrase “because there were lions, once” conveys important things about the character and the world and her relation to it.

It’s wistful and sad (to me, at least), and stated so matter-of-factly that there is no question in the reader/listener’s mind that the character feels this loss deeply. So deeply, in fact, that she has named her barber shop The Lion’s Mane in honor of the once-proud beasts. It tells us that lions are going to matter in this story.

The lion has long been a symbol of strength and wildness. If lions — the apex predator of an entire continent — no longer exist, what kind of world do these characters live in? I personally experienced a sense of loss upon hearing that phrase, as though lions really had been announced to be extinct. (I love big cats probably above all other animals.)

I missed the next half-minute of the story and had to rewind to that point, and nearly zoned out again, but pushed through, and listened to almost all of the rest on my remaining commute. I’m almost done with the story, and the promise of that phrase “because there were lions, once” is being fulfilled. I knew that from the get-go, of course, but this is how a skilled writer does it.

If you’re not already listening to Glittership, consider subscribing. Keffy R. M. Kehrli is the host of and editor behind the podcast. I’ve been enjoying it as I catch up.

Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about how I’d recorded an episode of the Roundtable Podcast. (Follow the link to learn more!) Today, the first of the two resulting episodes is live and ready for you to listen!

This is Dave Robison’s and Heather Welliver’s interview with Kat Richardson about her background, writing, and processes. Good stuff!

Next Tuesday, the brainstorming part, with me, will go live. I’ll post then, as well. :)

3

NaNoWriMo? Again? Already?

NaNoWriMo 2015 Participant Banner

NaNoWriMo 2015 Participant Banner

Last year (2014), I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo because . . . frankly, I 1) had no new ideas, 2) wasn’t particularly enthused with the thought of doing it again, and 3) wasn’t sure NaNoWriMo had anything left to teach me.

And this year, I was in pretty much the same mindset. Until.

Three things occurred roughly simultaneously, then a fourth one happened that pushed me to the point where I am right now; i.e., considering doing NaNoWriMo again for 2015. I’m not 100% sure, mind you, but . . . there are processes that are . . . um, processing. In my brain.

Thing the First. I went to WorldCon, thoroughly enjoyed myself (other than the trips to and from the con, that is), and decided pretty much on the spur of some moment or other to go ahead and register not only for the 74th WorldCon in Kansas City, MO in 2016, but the 75th WorldCon, as well. That one’s in Helsinki, Finland, in 2017. I’m quite excited about both of those, actually. I’ve already registered for 74 and paid my dues and all that. I’m applying for a passport in about a month for the trip to Helsinki. I already have flight alerts for both trips set up so I can get good prices. Alternatively, I check the price of driving to Kansas City, MO each Monday to see if it’s more than the price of the flight. If not, I may just drive.

Thing the Second. A friend (Karl) happened to mention on Facebook that registration was open for Paradise Lost 6 Writers Workshop. Paradise Lost is only open to people who have participated in certain other workshops (Viable Paradise, Taos Toolbox), or who are a member of Codex Writers. I am both a graduate of Viable Paradise (in 2012) and a member of Codex Writers. So yay.

Once again, on the spur of some moment I wasn’t aware of until it had passed, I registered for it. It’s in San Antonio, TX in April of 2016. I already have a flight alert for the trip set up so I can get a good price. Alternatively, I check the price of driving to San Antonio, TX each Monday to see if it’s more than the price of the flight. If not, I may just drive.

Thing the Second-and-a-Halfth. When I registered, there was the option of registering for the workshop only or the critique track. For critique, you have to read some other people’s submissions and critique them, and submit something for critique yourself. The workshop is in April. On the spur of yet another moment, I threw caution to the wind and clicked on “critique track.”

Which means one thing: I better get my butt in a chair and my hands on a keyboard.

Thing the Third. I started reading — and very much enjoying — Debra Jess‘s wonderful book Blood Surfer: A Thunder City Novel. It’s an urban science fiction . . . fantasy . . . kind of a thing. Basically, super heroes plus romance. It’s very good, so far. I’m going slowly because I’m also reading another friend’s novel at the same time, this one for critique.

Thing the Fourth. A lot of my blog posts contain this phrase, but it is, nonetheless, true: so, I was in the shower . . .

So, I was in the shower and this . . . idea just popped into my head. Not quite fully formed, but my brain decided to dwell on it during my commute to work. And while I was at work. And on my drive home from work. And as I lay in bed that night waiting for sleep. And the next morning. And . . . well, you get the point. And then, this morning, after the spectre of NaNoWriMo had been broached by the Forum Writers (my standing Tuesday night critique group), my brain went into overdrive and I dictated many ideas into my little digital voice recorder on the way to work.

I won’t go into great and glorious detail on what the idea was, but I will give you the first sentence that was what popped into my head in the shower that morning: “Hero Man often wished the press had given him a more . . . well, magnificent name.”

That’s all you get. :)

I will, however, add that all this comes just two short weeks until November 1st, which leaves me very little time to actually plan out anything, which is where my reluctance to commit comes in. Also, my Apple MacBook died. With Scrivener on it. I write everything in Scrivener. So I need to get a new laptop, regardless.


  1. I keep meaning to post a write-up of what happened at the con. And I have started the posts. But I keep having interruptions. (Stupid work. Stupid real life.) But I’ll get to them. Eventually. Probably.
  2. Debra was in Viable Paradise with me in 2012.
  3. I listen to podcasts on the way to and from work. The one I listened to this morning happened to be a back episode of The Round Table Podcast during which the guys brainstormed and workshopped a superhero novel. If I believed in such things, I’d think this was the Universe sending me a strong message. Good thing I don’t believe in that sort of thing. :)
8

Missing in Action?

So. Where have I been? I made all those posts about improving stuff and then, basically, disappeared.

I have made quite a few changes. The first one was ordering the FitBit Flex. I received it in the mail before the last couple of posts went live (I pre-wrote them and had them scheduled to publish). I wore it for a couple of weeks to get a “base level” of sleep and activity, just to see what it would say. More on that below.

I also implemented the sleep schedule thing, where I quit using my alarm clock altogether. The startling innovation was to simply go to sleep early enough that I would wake up naturally in plenty of time to get to work at a decent time. That was the biggest, most wonderful change. I haven’t awakened tired a single time since I did that. The alarm always made me feel kind of logy all day, because it would wake me up in the middle of deep sleep. More on that shortly.

I’ve cut back severely (as in more than 50%) on my YouTube subscriptions. I went through and ruthlessly deleted any channels for which I didn’t automatically think, “I must watch their latest video.” I’ve also added some new ones, but for the most part, they’re shorter videos. And every time one of my remaining subscriptions puts up a new video and I think, “Meh,” I unsubscribe.

I rearranged all of my podcasts into eight categories, and prioritized those so that I have playlists for various activities. The Fiction and Serialized Fiction categories are mostly for driving, since that’s when I can pay deeper attention and I’m not distracted (mentally) by other things. The other categories (General, Writing, Education, Skeptical, Entertainment, and Video) are for when I’m doing other things, such as working or browsing Facebook or whatever. To handle all of the back-issues of podcasts I have sitting on my hard drive, I add one old, unheard episode of each podcast to the proper category so that I pretty much have to listen to all the archived stuff before I get to the new ones. So I’m making good headway on getting through all those back episodes. Plus hearing some great stories and interviews and such along the way.

I did join 750 Words. The site’s owner was willing to work with me on the whole PayPal thing, and I was able to mail her a check for a year’s worth of membership. There’s a slight problem with that right now, and I’m unable to get to the site since May 1, but I’m hoping that will get cleared up post haste.


What I have discovered in all this is that I do not, as I previously thought, sleep seven hours. I sleep until the sun wakes me up. It didn’t seem to matter what time I went to bed, if it was after midnight. I’d wake up when the sun came into my bedroom and thwacked me right in the face. So I put a dark curtain on that window, and that has helped me sleep past sunrise. The earlier I go to bed, the more contiguous, good sleep I get. (Kind of a duh, I know.)

The FitBit has several options, such as wearing it on your dominant or non-dominant hand. Well, thanks to Things (see below), I’ve been wearing it on my non-dominant hand but claiming that it is my dominant hand. I find that it’s not very accurate, but it’s not accurate in a consistent way. So having the base level helps me more accurately define whatever step-based (or distance-based) goal I might want in the future.


But since shortly after I did all of that, everything has been on pause. Back in July of 2013, I fell at work and caught my entire body weight on my outstretched right arm. This . . . did things to my shoulder and elbow joints. Bad things. (Compression fracture in the elbow and torn rotator cuff and tendon in the shoulder.) Exacerbating the healing process is the fact that I am exceptionally right-handed. As I’ve said in other places, if my right hand is Albert Einstein, my left hand is that one weird kid who eats bugs and has conversations with hammers. It has not been a fun nine months.

Because the accident happened at work, I’ve been having to wade through the constant red-tape-laden swamp of dealing with Workers Comp. It took me until after I made my last post to get approved for surgery to fix my shoulder (the elbow healed on its own).

On April 18th, I finally had shoulder surgery. Outpatient, arthroscopic surgery.

After about 3 days — and several doses of the good pain meds — I could type for short periods of time, and over the intervening two weeks, I’ve gotten slowly more able to use my arm for longer periods of time and for things which require more flexibility and strength. It’s not by any means back to normal, yet.

But what this does mean is that my sleep schedule is screwed up majorly because I don’t sleep well on my left side or with a shoulder that hurts if I put it in the wrong position. I can’t write much because my shoulder aches if I overuse it. It’s hard to put on shoes or a belt because of the shoulder muscles I apparently use to tie shoe laces and tighten a belt. I’m getting better, and fairly quickly, all things considered. But it is a process, and so certain things have had to take a back seat.

As soon as I’m able to drive, wear shoes and belts, and work again, I should be able to put some of these other planned things into play.

But for now, I’m mostly working my way slowly through the podcast backlog and napping a lot in my armchair.


If you’re at all interested in the amazingly “fun” process I’ve gone through in dealing with Workers Comp, I’ve blogged a lot of it over on my LiveJournal blog. It’s for ranting, which is what I tend to do when I talk about this whole process for very long.

Warning: For the first few parts, I don’t think I use too much NSFW language, and I try to make each rant as amusing/entertaining as possible, because I know people don’t like to read long rants. Part 8, however, is mostly a profanity-ridden tirade. I just wanted you to be forewarned.

Workers Comp Swamp: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

After the Crash, by Stuart Jaffe

After the Crash, by Stuart Jaffe

If I were ten years old and in the fifth grade, I would no doubt stand in front of the class, stiff and nervous, as I recited my paper. “What I did on my summer vacation, by Gary Henderson, age 10.” And then I would launch into an over-vivid description (lot of juicy adverbs and adjectives) of my family’s epic road trip from rural Alabama to the bustling metropolis of Cucamonga, California, where my uncle and aunt lived. How our dog vomited every time we went under an overpass or she saw a headlight. How we stopped at every possible roadside attraction along the entire 4300-mile-long round trip.

But I’m not ten, I’m 38-teen. And although that would no doubt make a very good story (minus all the adverbs and adjectives and dog vomit), this post is about what I did on my recent summer vacation. I drove myself. I did not stop at every cheesy roadside attraction on the way. And there was no dog vomit.

For which, I can assure you, I am eternally grateful. I mean, have you ever ridden in the back of a car with a dog who threw up every time she saw an overhead pass or a headlight for 4300 miles? Have you? Have you? It. Is. Not. Pretty. I’m pretty sure I still have PTSD. If I had a therapist, his or her bill would be —

But I digress.

Some time back in the spring, some writer friends and I decided we would go to LibertyCon in beautiful, downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. At, in fact, the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. Last year was the con’s 25th anniversary, and they had quite a line-up of big names in the science fiction community there to commemorate the occasion. This year, it was much more modest. A couple of known names and a bunch of people I didn’t know from Adam’s housecat (as the saying goes)1.

Check-in was uneventful, but I was somewhat surprised by the . . . lack of . . . size. I guess what I mean to say is this: I’m used to Dragon*Con in Atlanta, where there are 50,000 or so people crammed into five hotels for four days of fannish geekdom on 31+ programming tracks. Or TAM in Las Vegas, where there are typically 1200 to 1500 skeptics crammed into a large convention center for four days of fannish geekdom (just of very different things, and with gambling, James Randi, and Penn & Teller).

LibertyCon is about 500 people. Five programming tracks (five rooms). And my own, personal observation is that most of the con-goers were . . . of a certain age. Now, don’t get me wrong: we older geeks like our all-night, wild parties, too. We just need Maalox, more sleep, and a little help getting out of bed the next afternoon.

To digress for a moment more, check-in may have been uneventful, but I had to go into the hotel and ask because I had no clue where I was supposed to be. So I asked the nice lady at the desk, “I’m here for LibertyCon, and I have no idea where I’m supposed to go. Can you point me in the right direction?”

She says, “Which specific panel are you here for, sir?”

Nonplussed, I said, “Huh?” (I’m a master of repartee.)

“There are a lot of events at the same time. If you’ll tell me which specific one you’re looking for . . .”

She handed me a schedule for the con, where each of the scheduled panels was listed by day, time, and location. I pointed randomly at one of them that started at 3:00pm, which was about four minutes hence. She then pointed me toward a low building nestled between the parking deck where I had parked, and something else.

I walked over . . . and discovered that the entire con was that tiny annex. All the rooms on the schedule? Yeah, they were adjacent. All five of them. Registration was in the hallway that all the rooms opened off of.

I’m going to pause, here, for a moment, just to let that fully sink in. And contemplate the question asked by the lady at the desk.

[Jeopardy theme plays]

[The Syncopated Clock by Percy Faith plays]

So, long story short, I met up with my friends who were already there, we went to a couple of panels, and then we were hungry, so we went for food. And then we went back for a few more panels, and then we were tired, so we drove to the place we were staying. Which was an apartment in a town about 30 miles west of Chattanooga called South Pittsburg, which is in the Central Time Zone. Chattanooga is in the Eastern Time Zone. It’s a very scenic drive, and one I recommend to anyone who wants to enjoy the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. We had dinner and then talked until way too late, then slept.

Next day, we did it all over again, attending panels and at one point taking some time out to critique one of my friends’ novel, which we had all read a draft of.

We all decided that after this one panel that evening, we would leave for dinner. The panel was on YA writing, and one of the authors on that panel, Stuart Jaffe. was having a lively conversation with one of my friends, and we found out it was Stuart’s birthday. We asked him to join us for dinner and continue the conversation. We walked down to the same restaurant we’d had lunch at the day before, and discovered that the woman who had just entered before us — and for whom we held the door! — had a party of 20, and that killed that plan. We tried one other place . . . and then realized it was Saturday night in downtown Chattanooga. So . . . we decided to have dinner and play Cards Against Humanity back in South Pittsburg.

As I said, about a half-hour away.

Stuart was game and got in the car with seven strangers. (Well, technically two strangers; we had three cars. But the point stands.)

We had a nice Italian dinner at Stevarino’s Italian Eatery, then played Cards Against Humanity until 2 AM, at which point we were out of cards, so Stuart was taken back to Chattanooga Choo-Choo, and we got a good night’s sleep. And if, by some weird chance, one of Stuart’s upcoming novels features an author being kidnapped by seven strangers at a con . . . well, we won’t be overly surprised. :)

The next day, we only went to the con to get some of Stuart’s books, signed — with bawdy Cards Against Humanity references! — and then all separately made our way back south to Atlanta.

It was an enjoyable trip, even if the con was a lot smaller than I expected. We made a new friend, got some books to read, and had a lot of fun. All pluses.

I’m also now listening to Stuart’s podcast The Eclectic Review, which is fun, and will be reading his books as soon as I’m done reading some of the ones I’m currently reading.

. . . and that’s how I spent my summer vacation. [Bows theatrically, accompanied by light, sporadic applause; sits back at desk to listen to the next classmate.]

GBE2

Group Blogging Exchange 2

Today’s post is inspired by GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience)’s Week 112 prompt: Vacation.


  1. On the Internet, no one knows you’re Adam’s housecat. Unless you don’t have a navel. Or something.

0

My Interview is Live

The Quillians

The Quillians

On the Quillian Chronicles, each time we present a story, we follow it up with an interview with the author. My interview is now live, if you have any desire to hear it. :)

I loathe the sound of my own voice. But I think everyone does. So . . . there you have it. Go. Listen. Download. Share. But only after you share the story as well. :)

0

In the Weirdest Places

Sometimes I run across what I consider to be ‘writing lessons’ in the weirdest places.

Today, I was listening to podcasts whilst working. In one (Scopes Monkey Choir), the hosts mentioned a music instrument I had never heard of: the Northumbrian Smallpipes.

On YouTube, I discovered that it’s kind of a northern-England version of a bagpipe or uilleann pipes, driven by a bellows that requires the player to pump with his or her arm while playing. It sounds . . . a bit like the bagpipes or uilleann pipes. But with a greater range. And less drone-y.

So anyway, as I’m wandering from video to video to get an idea how these things sound, I ran across this video. As she described her friend for whom the song is written, I thought to myself, “I want to use this amazing description for a character in a story.”

And then at 3:15 in, she says, “It’s not the tune I intended to write . . . but tunes sometimes have a habit of having their own mind about where they want to go and what they want to be.”

Sound familiar? Anyone? :)

Here’s the video. (I apologize for the gigantic size. I don’t know why it’s doing that. My YouTube-embedding fu is weak.)

[youtube_embed width=480 height=360]Zig7QP0LkmU[/youtube_embed]

0

“D Is for Dragon” Is Live

Dragon by Zoe52, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Zoe52 

Back in March, I did a live reading of my story “D Is for Dragon” on Second Life. It was recorded for later release on our writing group’s podcast, The Quillian Chronicles.

Well, there were a few problems and episode 12 with my story was delayed a while, but it’s up, today. I would really appreciate it if you’d follow this link right HERE and download and listen to my story. :)

It’s just under 43 minutes long, including the intro and outro. John Lambert did a great job making my raw audio file sound good, and I couldn’t be more delighted with the music he chose (Skye Cuillin by Kevin MacLeod) for the episode.

I misread a pronoun at one point and referred to my dragon as “she,” but hopefully you can overlook that. :)

Squee! Go download! And listen! And share! :)

0

Why Aren’t We Past This?

I am taking a needed break from Facebook, right now. I was spending time on there I should have been using for writing. I think I might go back after the election season is over. I’m . . . so very, very done with it.

And I have been writing. I re-visited my “B Is for Bard” story from last NaNoWriMo and came up with an Actual Ending™, toward which I am now writing. I’m trying to end my Fairy Tale Private Eye story. I’m idea-wrangling several other stories, as well as my newly redesignated first novel in the PCIU Case Files series. (It was formerly known as the second novel, but the previous first one needed to be third, so two is now one and three is two.1)

I’ve also been reading and making progress in a couple of books I’d been neglecting.

And I’ve been listening to podcasts. I have a crap-ton of them on my iPod, including a new-to-me writing-oriented one called The Creative Penn, hosted by Joanna Penn. I mentioned it before (here). Since then, I’ve heard a few more, and it’s definitely a keeper.

This morning, on the way to work, I was listening to Joanna interview James Chartrand, creator of Men With Pens, which made Michael Stelzner’s list of “Top 10 Blogs for Writers” for 2009/2010.

Now, “James Chartrand” is a pseudonym. “James” is actually a woman. He “came out of the closet,” as it were, in December of 2009. After about three years of being successful and presenting a male persona to the Internet.

Go read that blog post that explains why Chartrand chose that pseudonym, then come back here. It’s a very enlightening read.

<hold muzak>

Done? Good.

There are a few things that I just don’t get. Why does it matter whether someone is male or female when it comes to writing? Chartrand said that she would often submit the same ideas as her real name and as James, and they’d be accepted and even praised as James, but not as her real name.2

How is this still happening? Seriously, how is this still allowed to happen? Maybe I’m just naïve, but I thought things were better than this. I thought the writing was what mattered, not whether the author has breasts or a penis. No wonder so many female authors use just their initials! (J. F. Penn (Joanna Penn, herself), J. K. Rowling, C. J. Cherryh, V. C. Andrews, P. D. James, A. C. Crispin, A. J. Orde, E. E. Horlak, B. J. Oliphant (the last three are all Sherri S. Tepper), D. C. Fontana, J. D. Robb, K. A. Applegate, C. S. Friedman, S. E. Hinton . . . the list goes ever on.)

But aside from that, one other thing surprises me a lot about this particular “outing.” After Chartrand was revealed to be female, her male fans/clients/readers took it pretty much in stride. But the women . . .

She said in the interview that by far the worst reactions came from women. For instance, this blog post by Amanda Hess. Not to say she’s/they’re not somewhat justified, if what Hess says in her blog is accurate. She does make it sound like Chartrand went too far in her pursuit of coming across as masculine, going as far as to do to other women what had been done to her, and that is inexcusable.

My point is that it shouldn’t matter. Honestly, I find myself looking for male characters in science fiction and fantasy because I can identify with them more, but I don’t let that stop me from enjoying female main characters. In the urban fantasy subgenre, it’s mostly female main characters, and I’m fine with that.

Men writing female main characters or women writing male main characters . . . it’s all part of what we learn to do as writers: Writing the Other.3 If we didn’t learn to do that, all our characters would be just like ourselves. I would only have middle-aged, upper-middle-class white male characters with no hair, a cat, and a southern accent. Jim Butcher would never be able to carry off Murphy, Molly, Mab, the Leanansidhe, or Susan, all of whom are wonderful characters. J. K. Rowling’s main character was not only male, he was substantially younger than she. But Harry rang true to me, as did Hermione, Ron, Draco, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Molly, Tonks, and the other 300 characters she brought to life.

Just because she has ovaries doesn’t make her unable to write about a male character. And just because Butcher has testicles doesn’t make his female characters any less believable.

It’s what writers do.

The funny part of all this is . . . I have considered using G. D. Henderson as a “pen name” just for that ambiguity. Precisely because the lion’s share of urban fantasy authors are female, and to fit into the genre, it might actually be best (Jim Butcher, Stefan Petrucha, D. B. Jackson (a pseudonym for David B. Coe), James R. Tuck, and Simon R. Greene (among others) notwithstanding) for me to be ambiguously gendered.

And that’s just . . . weird.

I guess there’s a lot more work left to go before people stop injecting prejudice into everything. If you don’t read a book or blog because of the gender — or race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else — of the author, you’re missing out on some great writing.


  1. Third base!
  2. I had a boss back when I worked at a steel mill in Alabama. This particular boss started out having morning meetings where he would talk to all four of his department of computer programmers equally: me, another man, and two women. Then slowly, over a few weeks/months, he scooted his chair more and more into the room until he was sitting in front of the two women, talking only to me and the other man. Rather than calling him on it, we decided to ram it down his throat. “Sue” (not her real name) made a suggestion, one morning (from behind him), and he hated it. Shot it down as no good and unworkable. Later, “Joe” (not his real name, either) suggested exactly the same thing . . . and our boss loved the suggestion. Couldn’t praise it enough. Then Sue called him on it. He turned red, left the room, and didn’t say a word to any of us about it.
  3. Google that phrase. Seriously.

0

Progress: To Move Forward

Progress by dingatx, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  dingatx 

It’s been about a month since I last updated my blog. I’ve had a busy social life and a sick cat and frankly haven’t written much. I also helped out a fellow writer by critiquing her entire finished novel over the last couple of weeks.

But another thing I did work on was submissions.

I finally bit the bullet and submitted a manuscript to Viable Paradise. In their own words,

Viable Paradise is a unique one-week residential workshop in writing and selling commercial science fiction and fantasy. The workshop is intimate, intense, and features extensive time spent with best-selling and award-winning authors and professional editors currently working in the field. VP concentrates on the art of writing fiction people want to read, and this concentration is reflected in post-workshop professional sales by our alumni.

Viable Paradise encourages an informal and supportive workshop atmosphere. During the week, instructors and students interact in one-on-one conferences, group critiques, and lectures. The emphasis at first is on critiquing the students’ submitted manuscripts; later, the emphasis shifts to new material produced during the week. Even when not actively engaged in teaching or critiquing, instructors often share meals and general conversation with the students.

The Viable Paradise experience is more than the workshop itself; it also includes the autumnal beauty of coastal New England and the unique island setting of Martha’s Vineyard. Taken all together, they create a learning environment that’s perfect for helping you reach your writing and publishing goals.

I’ve wanted to go to VP pretty much since the first day I heard about it—Egad! Six years ago!—when podcaster and writer extraordinaire Mur Lafferty went in 2006 (VPX) and talked about the experience.

Of course, I’d also like to go to Clarion/Clarion West. But I have a full-time job and only 23 PTO days per year, and Clarion takes six weeks, or 30 PTO days. (Which actually isn’t all that bad, considering. They’d only have to let me do a leave of absence for seven work days . . .)

The shortage of time off still didn’t stop me from attempting to apply. I mean, once I got in, I could worry about getting time off, right? But I misread the submission guidelines. I worked for hours editing a story to get it as perfect as I could get it. And then with just about twenty minutes to spare, I was getting ready to email everything in and . . . realized they had asked for two short stories, each between 2500 and 6000 words. I had just the one, and it was 6900 words.

Here’s a tip: Read the submission guidelines thoroughly, boys and girls. <grumbleblather>

Not that Viable Paradise was a distant second choice, mind you. It could even be argued that my subconscious sabotaged Clarion on purpose. Dastardly subconscious.

I sent in my submission on April 16th. The deadline is June 15th. They will make a decision as soon as possible after that date and let everyone know one way or the other. Only 24 students will be accepted. They will, of course, have to read and evaluate all the submissions they get at the last minute, so I wouldn’t expect to hear one way or the other before the 20th of June, certainly.

So now, I wait. Patiently? Well . . . :)

In other news, I have recently started listening to a newish podcast called Toasted Cake by Tina Connolly. Tina is an accomplished author (and Clarion West 2006 graduate) and voice artist who frequently voices stories for the three Escape Artists podcasts, EscapePod, PseudoPod, and PodCastle, as well as Drabblecast and Three-Lobed Burning Eye.

She decided to podcast a flash story per week for 2012. She hit up her writer friends for the first dozen or so, then opened up for submission from interested listeners during April. I sent her three of my extremely short flash pieces to see if they strike her fancy. She likes ’em dark and kind of twisted, which these three are. I sent the anti-Valentine’s Day poem, “Pot O’ Gold,” and “Nothing Lasts Forever,” all of which I have put on this blog in the last year. I should get a “Pass” or “Hold” email before too long. Submission deadline is April 30, and I sent it in a couple of days ago.

So that’s basically what I’ve been up to. Which doesn’t amount to much on the page, but I’m hoping one or the other or both of those pan out.

What I have done, writing-wise, is come up with a veritable mother-load of ideas for the second novel in the Urban Fantasy series I’ve come up with (which I’m tentatively calling The PCIU Case Files). You know, the second novel. I haven’t finished the first one, but my brain is supplying me all kinds of good stuff for the second one.

Stupid brain.

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