More Clarion disappointment.

March 23, 2013

Late last night, I got an email from the Clarion West writer’s workshop. They thanked me for applying, and then “We are sorry to let you know that you have not been selected for our 2013 workshop.” I’m sorry too.

But I’m not sorry that I took the time (and the money) to apply for Clarion UCSD and Clarion West. I knew that they were both long shots; there were probably hundreds, if not at least a thousand writers applying to both workshop, and I don’t think either take on twenty students every summer. But going to either would be such an amazing experience that it was worth the try. (Especially with Neil Gaiman at Clarion West this year!) After all, if I was ready to get picked, but didn’t apply, I’d never have even known that I was good enough.

I’m still hopeful for the two workshops that I haven’t heard back from yet, especially Odyssey, since I got wait-listed back in 2011, and I know that I’ve improved a lot since then. But there’s no way to be sure about that but waiting.

If those options don’t work out, I’ve been reconsidering trying to go back to Kansas for the two-week short fiction critique circle workshop that I’ve attended the past two summers. I was thinking that I didn’t want to do that again for the third year straight, but now I’m not sure why not. I can certainly learn more from that workshop, and I’ll get to meet some interesting new people.

Of course, if I wait until I hear back from Odyssey before getting in touch with Chris M at Kansas, I might find out that there’s no room for any more critiquers. 😉

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One application down, three to go

February 11, 2013

Yes! My application to Clarion West is in, as of yesterday afternoon at Williams. (Elizabeth Twist was there with me when I sent it in. 🙂 ) I think it’s good – maybe not perfect, but then, if my writing was perfect what use would I have for going to workshops? It’s about as good as I could make it given the circumstances.

I’m going to try to get the Odyssey app mailed off sometime this week, and I want to get the Clarion application sent off by Saturday. Then I’ll be able to breathe a bit and figure out where I stand with my missing gnomes before I send that application off to Kij Johnson.

I’m also trying to get the final read-through of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ done within the month, since I’ve already signed on a ‘Request for Dedicated Readers’ at critters.org, and the first chapter is going out to be critiqued on Wednesday. This is my first time doing an RFDR for a long work at critters.org, as opposed to short stories, excerpts, or synopses. It sounds like doing RFDRs is a bit looser and more casual at critters.org, so if anybody is really interested in the manuscript based on what they read next week, I hope they’ll be willing to wait for me to finish up a bit of last-minute proofreading.

So, that’s where I stand on some of my February targets. How’s the ‘month of Blah’ going for you?


Insecure Writers’ Support Group: Workshop Applications

January 2, 2013

Hey, everybody, it’s time for the January 2013 edition of Insecure Writers’ Support Group. At least this time I don’t need to feel insecure about missing the date – I actually got the moment of ‘Did I forget’ yesterday, just as I was posting yesterday’s blog about 2013 goals. Then I remembered that it was only Tuesday, and set an extra reminder to do IWSG today.

But I definitely have something to feel insecure about, because I’m facing the prospect of choosing samples of my work to compete with other sci-fi and fantasy writers from across the continent and around the world, to represent the best I can accomplish and my hopes for a rare opportunity to learn from extremely talented published writers and editors. Yeah. Once again, I’m applying to summer writing workshops.

This year, I’ve got four different programs on my list:

Each of them calls for something different in terms of a writing sample – Clarion asks for two stories, Odyssey for no more than 4000 words, Clarion West for 20 to 30 pages. CSSF Novels wants the first 5-10 pages and a synopsis. So I’ve been trying to come up with material for all of them.

I started the sample pages for ‘The Gnomes are Missing’ in the last week of Nanowrimo, and I’ve been sharing snippets of them on Sundays ever since. During December, I started a new short, “Time Bubble Trap”, that will hopefully be my sample for Odyssey and half of my sample for Clarion. I’ve also been working on a new draft of “The Storm Mirror” for Clarion and Clarion West – the problem is, at the moment it’s too long, still around 8000 words and Clarion doesn’t want any stories over 6500.

I don’t know if any of this writing is going to be good enough to get me into exclusive programs like these, but I do feel secure enough in my dreams to keep trying and see. This summer is one opportunity that I won’t be able to take if I hesitate and miss the applications deadlines – though if I don’t make it this time, there’s always 2014.


Submitting stories

May 4, 2011

I submitted a science fiction story, ‘Harry and Mars’, to a magazine yesterday. I feel somewhat good about having actually gone and sent something in somewhere, but I’m also waiting for the rejection shoe to drop.

The magazine that I sent to is called “Title goes here”, and it seems like an interesting market. I found it through the Duotrope engine.

I’m not really sure if the story is where I want it to be, but I included it in my applications for Clarion and Clarion West, so I figured that it was worth a shot. Then again, Clarion and Clarion West both rejected me already, while Odyssey, which didn’t get a look at this story, put me on wait-list. Hmm.

In a weeks time, the critters get a chance to look at ‘Harry and Mars’, so I guess I’ll see what they think then. And it’s probably a good habit to not let myself wait for a piece to be perfected before I start sending it out, at least when it comes to short fiction. Maybe one editor will like something about a story that I might change if I get a chance to do another draft. It’s more important, in the long run, to be actually getting my work out there, instead of chasing after a shining diamond standard that might be an illusory and unreachable goal…

Right? What do you think??


Clarions and Critters

March 1, 2011

Two updates from last Sunday, actually, that I was too busy to blog about at the time. I got my applications sent on for Clarion 2011 and Clarion West 2011 workshops, so I should hear back from them sometime in March. It’s weird, I’ve been focusing on the stories that I was using for samples ever since January or earlier, but some of the questions on the Clarion application, and the 700-800 word essay requirement for Clarion West, were challenging in their own ways. I may share my Clarion West essay on Friday.

I’m still planning to apply to Odyssey, but even considering the delays of having to send it in by mail, I’ve got a few more weeks before their deadline, and am considering trying a page 1 rewrite of “The Landing” – again, and running it by the crew at Chester’s next week.

I’ve also finally joined the critters.org online critiquing workshop, and started working on my first critique for them. It’s really exciting and scary all at the same time – like a Critiquing Month that never ends!

In other news, National Novel Editing Month has started, and I’m going to be keeping track of my hours spent this month, going for the goal of 50 hours, and also keeping track of what I’ve accomplished. I’m counting critiquing and rewrites as Editing for the purposes of my hours count this time.

And I’ve bought the audio copy of ‘A wizard of Mars’ from audible.com – I already listened to this week’s chapter on audio, and have gone back and started listening to the ones that I already read, which has been interesting. Mostly I think my reading comprehension with the hardcover was pretty good, but every so often I do hear something that I missed. I’ve gotten nearly up to the end of the Wellakh chapter, in just 3 days of listening.


Workshop Portfolios

December 8, 2010

I’ve only mentioned it here in passing, but I’m seriously planning to get to a six-week genre writing workshop for the summer of 2011. I’ve researched three of them: Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, and I’ve gotten approval to take some unpaid sabbatical time in addition to my paid vacation if I’m accepted to one of them.

That’s getting to be the crucial point. The window for applications to Clarion opened on December 1st, just as I was recovering from Nanowrimo and getting myself back onto Eastern Standard Time. Deadline for applications to Clarion and Clarion West are both on March 1st, 2011

However, what I’m confident in submitting for my portfolio is starting to become a little clearer.

For a while, I guess I was confused by the different requirements for portfolios to all 3 workshops. But taking a good hard look at them, some of the complications prove to be meaningless for me:

Clarion wants 2 different short stories, between 2500-6000 words each.

Clarion West doesn’t mention word counts at all, but wants from 20-30 pages of work sample in manuscript format, which looks like it would be around 4500-6800 words.

Odyssey wants a sample of no more than 4000 words. Clarion West and Odyssey both suggest that a complete story would be good if possible, but don’t insist on it.

And in reviewing my available stories, I sidelined three of them pretty quickly. “The artifact” is still very rough, which is understandable considering that I conceived it and wrote it in five days in an unfamiliar city. Which is what I’ll have to be doing over and over again for these workshops, apparently, but I don’t necessarily need to pick a story for my portfolio on that basis.

“Wolves of Wyoming” and “The case of the Wizard’s vice” are in better shape, but I’m not that confident about either of them considering that they’d have a strike anywhere I’d be submitting them. They’re fantasy, and though Clarion and Clarion West don’t rule out including other fiction genres in the portfolio, (Clarion West even makes a point of saying that in their FAQ,) they ARE specifically Science Fiction workshops. And both stories are around 5,000 words, so I’d need to trim them down for Odyssey.

That leaves me with ‘Harry and Mars’, ‘The Landing’, and ‘Exploration and Evaluation.’ I do like ‘Harry’, though it got a somewhat mixed response at Hamilton Writers last night… it’s short enough that I can expand the characterization somewhat (which it badly needs,) and still fit the Odyssey word count. The new draft of ‘The Landing’ was received very well by Hamilton Writers when I brought it back to them in September, and it should fit in the middle of the page count guidelines for Clarion West. Once I’m comfortable with them, I can submit them both for Clarion. ‘Exploration and Evaluation’ is less strong overall, but can stand as an alternate just in case I see some flaw in one of the other stories that I can’t fix at the last moment.

One thing that I’m considering trying with ‘Harry and Mars’ would be a significant change that might make the word count explode, but I think that it’s still worth a try. As written, the first draft concerns a suicide on the first successful mission to Mars, and that was probably part of the original idea that I had when I started writing it back in September.

Somebody at the meeting mentioned “One problem I have is that it’s not that sudden, when you decide that you’re going to kill yourself,” and it sounded like he knew at least a little of what he was talking about. That got me to thinking, what if the first suicide attempt wasn’t successful, if they get to Harry in time to save her life – then what? Can they really keep one member of a five-person crew on suicide watch? With that change, I was also considering changing my POV from Harry herself to Charlie, the engineer, who could be the one who saves her.

Okay, I think that that’s enough blog rambling for tonight. Wish me luck with all my portfolio stuff, everybody!

UPDATE: I’d also like to announce to anybody who cares, that I expect this blog will remain proudly snow-free for the holiday season. The Weather Network is telling me that I’ll be getting enough of the stuff outside over the next few weeks, so I don’t intend to let snow into my cyber-world!


New goals for December

December 3, 2010

Not too much to report right now. Made it back home safely on Tuesday, been back to work, took a while about adjusting back to Eastern Standard time because I didn’t actually get home on Tuesday evening until 11:30pm, which for me was like 8:30 pm.

But I’m back on my usual schedule, it’s the weekend finally, and I’m still trying to settle on my December goals. Probably nothing too strenuous or wordy, though it’d be nice to get a few crossover fanfics updated.

One interesting item is that I have signed up for National Novel Publishing Year, over at their new free digs. I’m not sure if I’m really determined to get published in a year, but it seems like a good place to get support for editing and critiques and query letters and a bunch of other stuff I want to be working on for this coming year – and this past year too, actually, but I really thought that NaNoPubYe was dead until I checked a link that somebody posted of Nanowrimo spinoffs and saw the ‘we’re moving’ announcement.

I also want to get moving on putting my applications together for the 6-week summer workshops – Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey. That’ll involve getting more critiques on some of the shorter original fiction I’ve been working on lately so that I can figure out what to revise and submit for portfolios. I was thinking about that today at work, and realized that I wasn’t even sure how many stories I had that fit the bill. Worked it out this evening, after going through all of my word count tracker sheets since February. (It’s pretty crazy that I can’t even sort out what I’ve been writing without a spreadsheet, huh?)

There’s six stories on the list, two fantasy and four science fiction, which seems like a reasonable number to manage. If you’d be interested in giving something of mine a read, let me know!

Also, I thought today would be a good day to play around with some Wordles from my November writing. This first one is just for the Nano 50k proper that I finished on NOWD night:
Wordle: Nanowrimo proper

And this one is for all of my November writing – still dominated by the same keywords, but not quite as strongly it seems to me. Can’t spot an obvious keyword from any of my shorts though:
Wordle: November words


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