Tag Archives: ClarionWest

Clarion West Writeathon metrics

Posted on July 21, 2011 by

My write-a-thon count as of Tuesday was 17,139… I forgot to do any kind of count on Monday, and there was a day of switching projects and rereading and making tweaks to a long file, the better to crank out the next set of pages. The plan is to start drafting again asap.

Here’s some of the reread-and-tweak content:

Keeping her camera fixed on the ring, Sophie followed his gaze. The boy watching the mock duel from across the piazza was maybe eighteen, with curling auburn hair and a face right out of a Dante Gabriel Rosetti painting–big eyes, expressive mouth, skin like sun-burnished brass. He was surrounded by a bevy of expensively-dressed teens who were chattering and exchanging ribbons–more bets, Sophie guessed–but he was raptly watching the blow-by-blow between Acacia and the flaming man.

All the little storytales, everywhere I go…

Posted on July 14, 2011 by

Broken house on 2nd

A drafty snippet from the current story in progress:

It was splinters, driven into the burns. They were lined up like little dominos, bristles that ran along the lines of my hand, life line, heart line, brain line… all the things palm readers find so much meaning in. Tiny little fenceposts of bristling birch, embedded in both hands, and each filament barely aglow with the blue that had come to mean magic.

“Go to jail,” I whispered. “Go directly to jail. Do not pass go.”

And behind me, someone answered, in a deep bass voice: “Ma’am? May I have some clothes, please?”

Between writing words for the Clarion Write-a-thon (up to 16,411 words out of 20,000 as of Thursday!) and teaching “Creating Universes, Building Worlds”–which is focused on short speculative fiction–I have been trying to read a few new short stories.

So far there have been four:

1) “Crazy Me,” James Patrick Kelly – http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/05/crazy-me It’s creepy, it has great build-up, and it ends abruptly. Like many of the people who commented on it at Tor.com, I’m not sure I got the whole point; I may need to reread it. But it has been a fair while since I read anything by Kelly, and I like his style. I enjoyed this a lot.

“The Guy With The Eyes,” Spider Robinson. From BEFORE THEY WERE GIANTS, which is an anthology edited by James Sutcliffe, of first-ever stories by some well-known SF writers. I was surprised that Spider’s first published story was a Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon piece, though I’m not sure why that surprised me.

I want to pick a piece from BEFORE THEY WERE GIANTS to add to the reading list for CUBW… not this time, so much, but in the future. I love the idea of the anthology, and the right newbie story by someone who’s indisputably regarded as Genre Awesome just seems like a terrific thing to include my course reader.

(Anyone read the whole thing yet? Got any faves?)

“Down where the Best Lilies Grow,” Camille Alexa. Jessica Reisman recommended this a few days ago, and it’s a lovely little short-short–moody, self-contained, with memorable images.
(http://10flash.wordpress.com/genres/10flash-fantasy-stories/down-where-the-best-lilies-grow/)

And, yesterday, Michael Swanwick’s “The Dala Horse”, (http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/07/the-dala-horse) which has a “Little Red Riding Hood” feel but is so much more. I currently have Tanith Lee’s “Snow Drop” assigned as a fairy tale variation in CUBW; I might add this in as an optional reading, or swap them. Michael was one of my Clarion West instructors, a last-minute addition to the teaching roster after someone (I can’t remember who) had to bow out. He was, I might add, awesome.

Also on the topic of short fiction, Kris Rusch says that the prospects for writing them are better than ever, thanks to the growth of online magazines and e-books. (http://kriswrites.com/2011/06/22/the-business-rusch-short-stories/) What’s your take?

Counting up the words

Posted on July 6, 2011 by

I’m up to about 10,000 words on my Clarion West Write-A-Thon commitment. Here are a few of them:

The babble in her head continued on, but the words got increasingly hard to make out, as if her own voice was moving away from her, something about froglets with tails, and then she was dreaming about one, about chasing it, extending her hand to catch the froglets and finding ducklings under a leaf, ordinary ducklings from home, reaching out, trying to catch it as it scrabbled and fled, and somebody sliced her wrist, cut off her hand and no, that was her, she was holding a severed hand… Gale’s severed hand? There was so much blood and all the choking noises.

Looking for miracles in the app store

Posted on July 1, 2011 by

Happy Canada Day, fellow northerners!

I am a firm believer in stepping away from the Internet when trying to write. I think better when I don’t face temptation in the form of a quick check of the Twitter feeds, status pages, Google reader, etcetera blah blah. One part of Cafe Calabria’s allure, for me, is that it hasn’t really got wireless.

Calabria is not an entirely distraction-free environment, but its diversions feel more human and, somehow, worthwhile. I don’t begrudge the occasional moment spent trying to comprehend the italian lyrics of Frank Senior’s eclectic musical choices, for example, or eavesdropping on the other early-morning regulars. As I write this, the fellows I think of as “Chatty Guy,” “Brother of Chatty Guy” and “Their Friend” are chewing over the ethics of hunting. They’re good with it in cases of self-defense, I’ll have you know and mostly all right with the idea of hunting for food. (“There’s something so right about killing something and eating it,” one of them opines.)

The conversation has bogged down, though, over the issue of sport fishing and catch-and-release. It is a typical morning jaw over java, and the longer the conversation goes on, the less sense it makes. Friend Of seems to be saying that you might as well eat fish because you don’t know they wouldn’t attack you if they could.

(Obviously that isn’t what he is actually saying, but it sounds funny as hell. Usually they talk about Celine Dion or Arnold’s Divorce or the Canucks. I find this topic preferable.)

Calabria is across the street from a Starbucks with fairly robust Wi-Fi, which has been tricky as I adapt to writing on my newest toy, an iPad. I can just barely pick up a feed if there are no big trucks parked on the corner. And the pad will sync if I’m online, which is a nice little hedge against data loss. So every now and then I get sucked into checking: is there Wifi after all? From there, it’s a short hop to The Forbidden: checking my Inbox.

In other words, I have not perfected my new regime.

I did write 187 words on Thursday–revising again, and adding as little as possible–which brings me to 35% of my Write-A-Thon goal of 20K words. And not having the 5 pound laptop on my back wherever I go is a very nice lifestyle change. Having got the weight of the laptop off my shoulders, the next goal is to give my hands a break as much as possible, so I’m working to make more effort to dictate things like e-mails and blog posts. I like the iPad version of Dragon, especially the part whereby I don’t need a tangly-corded external microphone to use it.

Of course, though I am trying to make the gadget serve my writing and health needs, I really spent the three months saving for the thing because I wanted a damn TOY. I spend a lot of time in the App Store, looking for the two dollar piece of software that will change my life forever. Have you found it? I am a fan of Simplenote and Dropbox, but I was already using them on the iPod. And though I love Flipboard, and am having fun with Sketchclub, I have yet to find anything, you know, miraculous.

Cafe Calabria

Words for birds

Posted on June 29, 2011 by

My Clarion West Write-a-Thon Word Counts so far…

Total= 6813 words
July 29 – 616 (revision on novel)
July 28 – 712 (novel)
June 27 – 987 (novel)

The 616 Wednesday were a bit of a surprise… it’s what got added to a rough draft of a chapter after I’d refined it a bit. I know my work tends to get longer as I go through it, but it had felt like I was cutting.

Snip:

Her private chamber was as luxuriously appointed as a five star hotel. A fresh plate of the bland food–mourning fare, the Conto had called it–sat on a low table in a little… sitting room? Or parlor? She tried to muddle through the difference, if there was one. Then she caught a whiff of humidity, and followed her nose to a steaming bath. The same servant who’d wrapped her in the long gray cloak before the burial was waiting to remove it.
*It’s as if she’s been here the whole time, just waiting*, Sophie thought.

I also shot a Northern Flicker last week–they’re a lot less camera-shy when they’ve dug into an ant hill–and got a pretty decent close-up, complete with bugs on the beak. There’s video of it peck-peck-pecking away, if you prefer action:

Northern Flicker