Clarion Week 1: Grandmapunk, Roof Brews and Porky Pig

This is a Clarion blog.

I slept maybe four hours, and dragged my ass out of bed before the sun was even thinking of rising for the day. Showered the sleep away, woke up with a razor to my throat as I shaved, threw myself together as best as I could, and just as the sun was over the horizon, we were off to JFK. There, I was lucky enough to meet up with my classmate, Ellie, and together we navigated TSA and within the hour, were in the sky. Wedged between two oddball passengers, I dozed and read while the plane whisked us across the US. We traveled back three hours, and were in San Diego proper around 11:30. Classmate Zach picked us up and before we knew it, Clarion had begun.

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Forms to fill out, keys to receive, hands to shake, folks to meet, we came together all of us, various waves crashing in on the same shore, the same new and alien landscape of cloudless blue skies, and a consistent low seventies temperature. Director Laura Martin walked us through the campus, introduced us to the dining hall, and by the time the sun was setting over the Pacific, we were all gathered around Gregory Frost, Man of the Written Word Extraordinaire, and we sat in rapt attention.

“This isn’t Viable Paradise,” he said, bedecked in his hawaiian shirt, grinning. “This isn’t Taos or Odyssey or like any other workshop out there. This paved the way for a lot of those, but this is it, this is Clarion.” He spoke to us for a little while, his biggest lesson being: now is the time to fuck up, fuck around, experiment, “drive your story into the wall at 90mph and see what happens.” We all left that room, and I swear I could hear our minds and gears spinning and whirring and coming to life in a way they hadn’t before.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were a storm of prompts, exercises, and lectures, as we weren’t going to be discussing our submission stories. (We were too far away from them, Greg said, and I agreed). Those first few days were learning the campus, learning the format, the google drive, and preparing ourselves. Folks were already writing their stories by Tuesday. Things move awfully quick at Clarion.

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But it wasn’t all work. Monday nights have become Roof Brews, where we sit around on the roof on sunset and drink, play ukelele, get to know each other in a way only imbibing and music can allow. Tuesday night, we reversed it, as we hit up Karaoke Night at the local pub, and sang our heart out, the beers lowering our Social Shields. Highlights include Meatloaf, TLC, Kiss From A Rose, Rihanna, and Johnny Cash in the style of Porky Pig.

Wednesday was our first time at Mysterious Galaxy Bookshop for Greg’s reading and signing, and it was fantastic. Such a beautiful home of science fiction and fantasy and mystery books, and a great cadre of people working and shopping there. Got to meet a few Clarion grads, (HI SARAH MACK), and got to talk with Greg Van Eekhout, whose novel, CALIFORNIA BONES I just read and loved. Afterwards we grabbed some In’N’Out Burger, and got ready for our first day of critiques the next morning. I also finished the first draft of my first story, “The Sleeping Stone,” (being critiqued Monday!).

Clarion 1And if the way things went yesterday and today is any indication of the weeks to come, I’m looking forward to it even more. Everyone had very intelligent things to say, being supportive without being appeasing, and being direct without being cruel. I’m nervous for Monday, but I’m ready for it.

Kat Howard, my mentor and friend, told me that Clarion is basically a Time Warp, and it really is: Sunday feels a year ago, and August feels as though it is breathing down my neck. I’ve already begun work on my second story, “The Composer’s Betrayal,” should have some movement on that in the next day or two.

I’ll most likely do a massive blog at the end of it all, with lines and quotes and lessons, so you can look forward to this weekly missives as a detailing of our adventures out here. And from the feel of this group, the beauty of the campus and the area, the excitement we all have whenever we walk in the room, there are adventures more to come.

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WESTWARD, HO.
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Roofbrews!

 

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WONDERBOOK WINNER

Hey gang,

I’ve been away dealing with Book Expos and Beerfests and final days at Barnes and Noble, (which I will be writing all about soon).

But first, I need to announce the winner of the Wonderbook Reverse B-Day giveaway! 

Letting the d20 of Fate roll forth freely, two out of three times as is the rule with all games of chance, the die has spoken, and Nino, you are the winner!

Thanks again to everyone for entering, and expect a catch up blog soon!

Reverse B-Day Giveaway: Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer and Jeremy Zerfoss

It’s here at last! The final giveaway before my birthday arrives!

And for the last giveaway, it’s a doozy, a real whopper, a quarter-pounder-with-fries-hold-the-rat-tail-and-cockroach-shells kind of giveaway!

Wonderbook

Meet Wonderbook, by Jeff Vandermeer and Jeremy Zerfoss, the Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction! A dense, beautiful book packed to the very tippity-toppity brim with writing advice, essays, anecdotes, cartoons, maps, illustrations, thoughts, concerns, odd political statements, (ahem maybe not), and more. It’s a gorgeous book, a ton of fun, and holds wisdom from every corner of speculative and genre fiction and more!

And a signed copy, desecrated by Mr. Vandermeer’s own blessed, chaotic scrawl could be yours! All you need to do is comment below, and answer this question for a chance to win: If you could have someone read one book, what would it be and why?

That’s it! Though my birthday is on Saturday, the contest will run until next Wednesday to give folks plenty of time.

Kickass Writer Winner!

Hey Gang,

Thank ye for thy patience. Supremely overloaded with Life and BEA and work stuff. So, here it is! Thank you to everyone who entered and provided me with entertainment and laughter and wishful thinking for future sitcoms with your storyifying Chuck.

Normally I let the d20 of Fate roll, but upon glimpsing this insanity, I had no choice but to reward the soul who wrote this. Without further ado, the winning entry from Matt Jackson:

“I would separate Chuck into four broad generalities of Chuck-ness and with each one replace a member of the bridge crew of Star Trek:TOS. Captain Cherk would be played by the Chuck some of us have been fortunate to meet, Real Life Chuck. Advising Captain R.L. Cherk is SpockChuck, the plotter, the portion of Chuck that writes outlines and would love it if love weren’t an emotion. SpockChuck is the analytical writing mind. The creative side, the part that lets him turn a colorful phrase involving the manner in which dogs procreate and how like or unlike one’s mother that may be is BonesChuck. Dammit, he’s a Penmonkey, not a glitter-strewn dildo-corn!

And of course down in engineering we have a certain other kind of Chuck we all know and love…the rest of the crew has nicknamed him Scotchy.

Uhura will be played by one Miriam Black herself. If Capt. Cherk tries any of that kissing bullshit she’ll cut off his balls with her switchblade and put him one those goddamned skirts.

(All apologies to Chuck Wendig and anyone else who reads this).”

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No apologies necessary, Matt! Congrats and thanks again to everyone who entered.

Keep an eye on this space for the final giveaway!

(And check out some of those comments, they are golden.)

Reverse B-Day Giveaway: The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig

Welcome to week three, friends!

This week’s giveaway is a book near and dear to my cold, miserly writing heart. And it comes with a story, lucky you!

Last year on my birthday I was at the Book Expo of America or BEA, a huge gathering of bookish types showing off their new products for the summer and fall and beyond. Books as far as the eye could see! And one of my favorite writers, Chuck Wendig, was having a signing off at a little place in Brooklyn.

Beard Buddies 4 Eva
Beard Buddies 4 Eva

He and I had corresponded a little, so it was great to go and meet him at his signing, (along with other awesome authors and folks: John Hornor Jacobs, Joelle Charbonneau, their agent Stacia Decker, Mike Underwood and more!).

And upon meeting, Chuck actually took the time to listen to me prattle and ramble about my life and my writing, and was very supportive. And upon learning it was my birthday, he gave me a chocolate bar from his bag. Whaddaguy! Sure, it turned out to be a block of Bolivian tar, and I still catch glimpses of Things from the corner of my eye, but still, very generous of him.

kickass writer

So this week, in testament to his awesomeness, I am giving away a copy of his writing book, The Kick-Ass Writer to one lucky soul. Filled with over a thousand tips and tricks, Chuck will help steer you in the right direction and become the Kick-Ass writer you always knew you could be!

To enter, simply comment below, and answer me this:

Chuck’s online persona is one of immense adventure, cursing, vitriol, glee and caffeinated wisdom. If you could replace any character in fiction with Chuck Wendig, what character would it be? Would he be Luke Skywalker’s whiskey-drinking Jedi mentor? Or perhaps, a super caffeinated Indiana Jones hoping to find lost Penmonkey Treasure?

Tell me what story you would want to see Chuck in, and what would happen to enter!

Bone Season Winner!

Thank you to everyone who commented and entered for The Bone Season giveaway here at the ol’ blog! I enjoyed all your answers, and wish you a future with the power you wanted, (though I do hope you get to avoid any and all, radioactive spiders, destruction of planets, chemical spills and other mishaps that grant abilities).

So, using my own form of clairvoyance, known to some as Chanceomancy or Randomancy, I rolled the d20 of Fate and lo, our winner is Kaja!

Thanks again for entering everyone, and keep an eye on this space for the next giveaway!

Reverse Birthday Giveaway: The Bone Season

Hello gang, and welcome to the second week of the Reverse Birthday Giveaway, a giveaway a week as we count down to my birthday at the end of the month!

Thank you to those who entered for the previous contest, and whose winner you can find in the previous post.

Bone Season

For this week, I am giving away a signed ARC of Samantha Shannon’s, The Bone Season from Bloomsbury! The first in an intriguing epic fantasy series, The Bone Season follows young, powerful Clairvoyant, Paige Mahoney as she navigates an alternate London, ruled by a shadowy organization, Scion. But when she is arrested by them and sent to a Voyant prison, she soon learns of a worse enemy hiding in Scion-London . . .

Samantha is very kind, a brilliant writer, and an absolute blast to hear talk, (just saw her speak the other night at the 92nd Y in NYC). She was gracious enough to sign this extra copy, and I would love to give it to someone who has yet to encounter The Bone Season!

To enter, comment below and answer this: If you could have any magical ability, what would it be and why?

And that’s it! Contest will run until midnight on Saturday, the 17th!