Clarion sends their regrets

March 21, 2013

Well, I got another Watermelon in the face moment today… and I’ve decided not to worry about whether the little setbacks I need to rise above are watermelons or some smaller fruit. It makes me smile to call them watermelons, so that’s what they are.

So around noon, I got an email from Clarion UCSD. They thanked me for applying, assured me that my application was reviewed carefully, and then lowered the boom. “We regret to inform you that you have not been selected for admission.”

I’m not sure if every rejected applicant gets the same form letter or if there’s truth to the idea that they tailor it slightly to indicate how close you got. Mine included the apparently reassuring (but slightly weaselly) statement: “Many excellent candidates could not be offered admission.”

So, as they suggested, I will continue to write and apply my talents. For the time being, that means more Edmo and continuing to prep the revision of “The Angel’s Charlie.” I’m almost finished the despair reading, and have actually reached the point where I ran out of plot, and desperate to reach 50k for the Night of Writing Dangerously, started writing a teaser for a sequel.

And – wow, now I’m suddenly blown away by the notion that I had already been doing this blog for four months before I started writing ‘Charlie.’ 😮

I’m looking forward to Camp Nanowrimo. Six of the regulars over at Stringing Words have finally managed to nab a cabin together, on our third try. I think I may not have much time to prepare, so I’ll just pants it more than usual!

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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?


A little detour on the road towards Clarion

February 2, 2013

I was organizing some more details on the requirements for the summer workshops I’m applying to yesterday, when I noticed a little problem.

Somehow I’d gotten the idea that the two sample stories I needed to submit for Clarion at San Diego could be anywhere from 2000 to 6500 words. But the limits are actually 2500 and 6000 words, only a little narrower, but enough to be inconvenient.

I was planning to submit “The Time Bubble Blues” and “The Storm Mirror” for Clarion UCSD. The Time Bubble Blues is a good length, but I was counting on a little wiggle room to even say that the Storm Mirror was 6500 words. It can’t pass for 6000.

And a lot of the shorter genre stories that I’ve written recently are around the 1900-2400 word length – that’s a good length for getting plenty of feedback at critters.org for one thing, and the SDMB short fiction contest entries have to be under 2000 words.

There’s one prospect that I like that’s solidly within the given range, which is ‘Northward Ho’, a speculative global-warming story set in Canada that I wrote last May. I’ve got some positive comments and some quick wins from the critters.org queue – but I’m getting a little tired of doing last-minute editing at this point. Sigh. Still, nothing to do but continue on!


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.


The waiting list

May 10, 2011

At this point, I have officially been on the waiting list for the Odyssey workshop for nearly a month.

I’d love to get a chance to attend, but it’s been oddly stressful waiting for news. At this point, I think I’d appreciate finding out for sure that I’m not getting in nearly as much as an acceptance, just so that the waiting is over, and I can go ahead and make other plans for my vacation time. Dragoncon 2011 is looking like it would be a lot of fun, and Atlanta area hotels are already booking up for labor day weekend.

And then, in looking for ‘writer’s conferences’, I found some interesting events that look like Odyssey-lite or Clarion-lite; again fairly small events so I wouldn’t necessarily get a spot, but only 1 week or 2 weeks long. Viable Paradise is one that looks really good, and the CSSF Writer’s workshop

There are lots of people who I’d love a chance to get to see at a sci-fi convention or something similar, (Nathan Filion?) but haven’t seen an opportunity so far.


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??


Wizard World Toronto Comic Con flashback

March 17, 2011

I’ve mostly finished packing for Wizard World, starting tomorrow, and so I’d like to spend a little time down on memory lane with my memories of Wizard World last year, since I wasn’t blogging then to tell you all about it.

Wizard World Toronto Comic Con 2010 was the first fandom convention I ever went to, really. I won the weekend pass at one of the Toronto fan clubs – I can’t even remember if it was Buffy or Firefly, and I loved the whole trip.

Possibly the highlight of the entire weekend was meeting Magda Apanowicz, who I’d never really heard of before I got there. I attended the Galactica/Caprica panel on Friday night because it sounded like fun, though at that point I had only:

  1. Seen the miniseries and a few episodes of S1 of Battlestar Galactica (still true, though it’s a few more by now.)
  2. Not even started watching Caprica
  3. Forgotten to set my DVR to record Caprica half the time, because I wasn’t used to actually going up to the Space channel when looking to see “Hey, it’s Friday night, is anything good on?”
  4. Particularly forgotten to set the DVR to record Caprica before I left for work Friday morning the day that Wizard World started.

Read the rest of this entry »


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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