Tag Archives: clarion west

Writing Outside One’s Comfort Zone

We’ve all got a comfort zone, the place where we can function easily, where we know what to expect. It’s a nice place. It’s…well, it’s COMFORTABLE. Hence the name. It would be easy to stay there all the time.

But for writers, I think it’s very important to go outside on a regular basis. For one thing, your characters are going to be outside their comfort zones, being challenged, tested, thwarted, more often than not, because one thing about comfort zones is that they can be pretty darn boring to read about. Who wants a character for which everything goes right? (This is, I will argue, why the Richie Rich comic books were pretty darn bland.) How can you write a character outside their comfort zone if you don’t know what it’s like?
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Posted in 2014, travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

You Should Read This: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is a fabulous space opera with an unusual protagonist whose struggle will pull the reader in. It is, alas, not a particularly long book, and I could have read at least twice more the length happily.
I must admit to an extra hint of pride in this book’s appearance here, because Ann was a member of my Clarion West class back in 2005, when she was first wowing all of us with her Radchi universe. Ann and I also know each other through SFWA and our shared agent, Seth Fishman.
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Posted in 2014, Books, you should read this | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Last Week of the Clarion West Writeathon: Reward for Donors

It’s the last week of the Clarion West Write-a-thon! Donate now and you’ll get the donors reward, a file in the format of your choice containing all the writing I’ve done over the course of the Write-a-thon plus a couple of bonuses.
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Posted in 2013, write-a-thon | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Self Promotion and Career Building: What I Told the Clarion West 2013 Class

Yesterday I spent a pleasant chunk of time talking to the Clarion West 2013 students, along with Django Wexler. Django and I were the “mystery muses,” a Friday feature for the CW students where people come in to chat about a specific aspect of the writerly life. Django spoke well to the experience of having one’s first major book come out, since his book (which I have read and heartily recommend) The Thousand Names just came out. He let us all know (to mass disappointment) that it doesn’t lead to being booked on the Leno or Daily Show or lavish book tours, though he did get to go to ComicCon.
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Posted in 2013, career, clarion west, classes & workshops | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

From the current WIP

(This is from the yet untitled steampunk-new weird-horror piece which I’m thinking will be the first week’s Writeathon story and which I also think may end up at novelette length.) Doctor Larch has a pet crow named Jonah. He says … Continue reading

Posted in 2013, clarion west, free fiction, teasers, write-a-thon, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Clarion West Writeathon: 2013 Edition

This year, I’m again participating in the Clarion West Writeathon. A lot of people are driving pledges with backer incentives. Here’s mine: I plan to complete one story each week. At the end of the six weeks, all backers will … Continue reading

Posted in 2013, clarion west, write-a-thon | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Folly Blaine reads “Zeppelin Follies” from Near + Far

The excellent Folly Blaine reads one of the stories from Near + Far, “Zeppelin Follies.”
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Posted in 2012, Books, near+far, podcasts | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Writing and the Human Condition

I wanted to talk about something that I often say in class. It’s something Connie Willis told my Clarion West class, and which I repeat, but don’t explain as thoroughly as I should, because it’s so clear in my head.

But words are imprecise things, and so I’m a-gonna do what we used to call “unpacking” back in grad school and even provide some useful examples. What did Connie say? She said, “Good fiction teaches us what it means to be human.” As good f&sf writers, I would argue that we might change “human” to “self-aware being,” but that is picking nits.

What does that mean? It means we’re all faced with this common problem: life. And we want to know what we’re supposed to do, and what we can get away with, and what to do about all that hardcoded primate behavior that keeps popping up from time to time, and stuff like that. Sometimes the message features a universal human, sometimes it is a human shaped by particular circumstances, such as race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, etc. It’s why we like to read fiction. It’s why we like gossip. We want to know what other human beings do.

And here’s why this is important: Sometimes thinking about what a story is trying to say is a good way to complete, rewrite, or sharpen it.
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Posted in 2012, free fiction, online fiction, superhero fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Scarcity

Why Cat’s been scarce of late.
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Posted in 2012, clarion west, daily life, Seattle, write-a-thon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clarion West Write-a-thon Goals

It’s the start of another Clarion West season. As always, it was marked by the Locus Awards, which were a ton of fun and extra cool because they were my first chance to see the ARC (advance reading copy) of … Continue reading

Posted in 2012, clarion west, write-a-thon | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment