I’m back

After a lengthy lull caused by my poor choice of (former) web hosts and registrars, combined with the widespread forgetting of passwords, I’m pleased to be back at the helm of the site. Woo! Feel the magic.

While I’ve been away, I’ve missed highlighting some quality fiction by good friends and Clarionites.

Dustin Monk’s El Camino in the Therefore I Am anthology.

Leah Thomas’ Shards in Daily Science Fiction.

You can read charming and hyper-multi-talented Leah’s piece right now, just by clicking that link up there. Plus, while you’re doing that, you can download Therefore I am – which has more than just Dustin, although he’s obviously the highlight because he’s an excellent writer and all around great guy – to your e-reader so it’s ready when you’re done with Shards and want something else to read. Such efficiency.

The Class of 2011

Clarion announced the lucky 2011 students today. Congrats go out to: Rebecca Adams, Brooke Bolander, Jim Brady, AnneMarie Buhl, Todd Castillo, Jacob Cholak, Gillian Daniels, Peta Freestone, Dennis Ginoza, Joshua Lewis, Mark Philps, Christopher Stabback, Jasmine Stairs, Andrew Stewart, Erin Stocks, Timothy Susman, Brooke Wonders, and James Worrad.

Getting invited to the 2010 class was a bright, wonderful moment; attending qualifies as one of the best experiences of my life. Also: difficult, painful, exhausting.

Congratulations again and good luck. I hope it works out as well for all of you as it did for me.

(Note: I’m _sure_ my class was the best, but yours could be great. Make the most of it. Embrace that Clarion experience.)

But wait, there’s more!

Clarion 2010 bonus stories are go. I left out a few forthcoming Clarion 2010 classmate stories yesterday. We can look forward to:

John Chu at The Boston Review (!) in a forthcoming issue. I read an early draft of this story at Clarion. I wish I could read it again right now. I have poor impulse control when it comes to good stories.

Dustin Monk in the inaugural issue of Prime Mincer. Can’t wait to read Dustin’s story? (And I don’t blame you.) He has another piece at Aphelion that I quite enjoyed. You will too.

Clarion 2010 powers, activate

One of the best things about Clarion was meeting – in addition to a powerhouse set of terrific instructors – 17 other writers of grace and talent. The wider world is getting a chance to see some of that talent on display in a number of recent publications. To wit:

Karen Tidbek in Weird Tales.
Tamsyn Muir in Fantasy Magazine.
Kali Wallace in Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Adam Israel in Crossed Genres.

Go forth and read their words, arranged artfully.

Clarion 2011

The application period for the new Clarion is at hand. I can say without hesitation that it’s a flat-out wonder of a time, a rough and joyous journey through your writing mind, and not to be missed for those interested. I rank it as one of the best, most rewarding experiences of my life. So I say to you, anonymous web-surfer, that you should go forth and apply. The 2012 lineup of instructors looks fantastic. Go, on, apply: what have you got to lose?

The official Clarion blurb sayeth:

Clarion is widely recognized as a premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories. The 2011 writers in residence are Nina Kiriki Hoffman, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham, John Kessel and Kij Johnson. Each year 18 students, ranging in age from late teens to those in mid-career, are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in UCSD campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.

Application period: December 1 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application.
Workshop: June 26 – August 6, 2011. http://clarion.ucsd.edu

Clarion

What is there to say about Clarion 2010? It was one of the best experiences of my life, an amazing, grueling, demanding and wonderful journey with 17 exceptionally talented writers and a series of dedicated and generous instructors. I would do it all again in a flat minute.

Into the Archives

Spent an hour or so today sorting through the archives of not-yet-converted to mp3 CDs. Always a treat, going through old music like that. Reminds me of the pure joy of finding a nice piece of vinyl with a 50 cent sticker back when I had time to prowl. Nowadays a lot of the old music looks a bit dated. Lots of acid jazz, for example, which I don’t listen to much at the moment. For kicks, I kept a rough count of the bands with the highest CD representation without any recent listening behavior on my part.

The winners, in no particular order:
The Swans (and their sister band/offshoot, Skin); the Rolling Stones; Cypress Hill; Kruder & Dorfmeister; Elvis Costello (ick. that’s on the wife); Thievery Corporation; Nick Cave; Rapoon.

And look! What’s this over here to my right? It’s a juicy pile of new-old CDs to discover again and then digitize. It’s like shopping at the old Wax Trax or Quaker Goes Deaf, but without spending money.

Origins of the next super-virus

People often speculate on the origin point for the next super-virus. Marburg and Ebola come out of Central and East Africa; SARS and novel H1N1 originated in mainland China, so those two locations get a lot of attention. There’s lot of animal-human interaction there, which allows for nasty viruses to make the jump from monkeys, birds, bats and pigs to humans. I’m sure the CDC and WHO spend a lot of time monitoring developments in those locations. And that’s fine, if we use facts and history as our guide.

For myself, I’m fairly confident that the next super-virus will emerge from the slurry that is the floor of our minivan. The interaction of battered gray Toyota floor mats, granola bars, popcorn, lollipop sticks, empty Capri Sun pouches, fallen french fries and discarded chewing gum make for a biologic soup unrivaled anywhere. I’m sure our family has developed contact immunity simply by breathing the air while driving to and from play dates, dance classes, and various baseball and soccer practices. For the rest of you, I’d approach the Sienna with caution.

Writer’s block

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort wrestling with a inability to write productively when I had the time. Now, as I’ve finally created a routine and mindset that makes writing possible, I’m finding it hard to preserve the blocks of time required. Given the ebb and flow of everyone’s schedules, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are my writing days. I drop the kids at school, walk to my caffeine emporium, and then head to my favorite table in the Evanston Public Library’s quiet room. I sit at my table, laptop at the ready, and relax in the knowledge that I have two, three, even four hours of uninterrupted time. Freedom to write, edit, create.

And then there are weeks like this one, where each one of those free days is consumed by more immediate needs. Contractors. Architects. Doctor’s appointments. Empty refrigerators.

I’ve traded one writer’s block for another.

Countdown

Wolfram Alpha tells me there are just 73 days until Clarion starts, and I’m starting to feel the weight of all the pages I need to read before I arrive in San Diego. I need to finish City of Saints and Madmen. I need to read Dreamsongs. I need to read Aye, and Gommorah. I’ve got some back issues of Weird Tales on order, plus Delia Baker and Dale Bailey’s works. That’s a lot of reading, and it’s required reading. Urgh.

On the writing front, I managed about 1,500 words today, and they were quality words, not “meet my benchmark” words. That’s 3,000 words in two days for a story that has gradually acquired the flesh and weight indicating it will, sometime this month, emerge naked and squealing into the world.