The short story manuscript template for Microsoft Word that I recently added was apparently quite a success, at least to judge by the number of requests I've received to add a version for novel manuscripts. Accordingly, I've created that novel template, and you can now find both templates at this page:

http://www.shunn.net/format/templates.html

Even more exciting, at least to me, are the macro-enabled versions I've created of both those templates, which allow you to update your word count, insert a line space, and begin a new chapter with simple keystrokes. You can find the new macro-enabled templates here:

http://www.shunn.net/format/advanced.html

If you find these templates useful, or even if you don't, please drop me a line to let me know how they're working for you.


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
Some time ago, Halsted M. Bernard tagged me in the Next Big Thing meme that's been going around. The intent is to share details about one's current writing project by answering a canned set of questions, so here goes.

  1. What's the title of your latest story?
  2. I've actually been working on various non-fiction projects lately, big and small, including a new epilogue for my memoir The Accidental Terrorist (which, yes, is still being shopped around). I'll soon be diving into a new short story for the Glitter & Madness anthology project, but that one doesn't have a title yet. So instead I'll talk about the novel I finally finished in November, which is called Waking Vishnu.

  3. Where did the idea for the story come from?
  4. For more than a decade I've been envisioning a fictional universe where physical items can be "magically" manipulated via hand gestures, as if they were blobs in an object-oriented programming system. I'd tried again and again to work out the story of the person who stumbles onto this magic system, but when I finally pictured the protagonist as a teenage girl the whole thing started clicking into place.

  5. What genre does your story fall under?
  6. Young adult science fiction, though it's designed to look a whole lot like urban fantasy at first.

  7. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?
  8. This one is difficult for me to answer since most of the huge cast of characters are teenagers, and I'm not so familiar these days with what teen actors are out there. I guess my dream cast would include a bunch of young unknowns who all become stars as a result of Waking Vishnu. But I'd love to see the main villain of the novel, Ken "A.A." Sunshine, played by Christoph Waltz, who has the right combination of charm, smarm, and lunacy. I could see Danny DeVito and John Goodman as Lamm and Kray, two of the other important antagonists, and Emma Thompson as Principal Armisted.

  9. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?
  10. When an Indian-American girl named Hasta Veeramachaneni discovers she can control objects and people with hand gestures, she and her friends must race to discover the origin of the power while saving the world from destruction.

  11. Will your story be self-published or represented by an agency?
  12. The novel is represented by Joe Monti at Barry Goldblatt Literary.

  13. How long did it take you to write the first draft?
  14. The first draft took me about 18 months and tipped the scales at 175,000 words—way too long for what it was. I've done two more drafts since then and trimmed it down to 120,000 words.

  15. What other stories would you compare it to within your genre?
  16. It's hard to make the most apt comparisons without giving a lot away about the story. If you compared it to something like Fair Coin by E.C. Myers, though, you'd be in the general neighborhood though not quite the same ballpark.

  17. Who or what inspired you to write this story?
  18. Two main factors conspired to inspire me to get started on Waking Vishnu. First and foremost is my wife Laura Chavoen, who works tirelessly to support my writing career. Second is the city of Chicago, which we moved to in 2007. Most of the novel is set in the same Chicago neighborhood where we live. Exploring the streets and alleyways while walking our dog helped me picture and block out a whole lot of the action of the book.

  19. What else about your story might pique a reader's interest?
  20. Again, I don't want to give too much away, but the book dabbles in Hinduism, hacking, and theories of consciousness. There are some awesome fight scenes (if I do say so myself), a helpful dog, an interlude at White Castle, a road trip to Mount Rushmore, killer demons (or are they angels?), a rebuke to God, various possessions, enemies becoming friends (and vice versa), a red Barchetta, and an implicit critique of a certain blockbuster sci-fi flick that I should not mention here (though its makers have a small, secret production facility in my neighborhood). Is that enough?
I'm not going to tag anyone else here, since all the people I was going to tag were tagged by Holly McDowell as I was about to tag them. (Don't worry, Holly. I'll get you back.) But if you want to be tagged, drop me a comment and I'll be happy to oblige you.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jeff Lang sent me a link to Studio 360's listener cocktail challenge—create a cocktail inspired by and named after a classic work of literature.

I wanted to give it a try, but I wasn't able to work on it before the August 12th deadline. Last night I had some spare time, though, so I cobbled together a drink I'm calling the Quiet American. I combined 1.5 oz. of Laird's Applejack, 0.75 oz. of Créole Shrubb liqueur, and 1.5 oz. of blood orange martini mix (blood orange, key lime and cane sugar), stirred with ice, and strained.

The result was not bad—sweet and orange-y with a slightly bitter undertaste. It gets that name because of the distinctly American spirit (the applejack) getting all into the poor tropical country's business (in this case, Martinique). Of course, it was Vietnam in the novel, so my cocktail inhabits the entirely wrong part of the world, but hey, it was the best I could do.

Laura thought it needed more of something tart, like lime juice or a twist. I'll keep meddling with it, like a good American.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
A reader writes to ask:

My memoir is divided into sections rather than having chapter titles. Some sections have as little as one chapter while the longest has seven. In a book I can see each section, which has a title and date range, having its own page to introduce the following chapter(s), but in a manuscript what is the proper formatting for this? Do I put the section title on the first line followed on the second line by the date range then half way down the page start the first chapter in that section and when a new chapter starts have a page break and start the new chapter half way down the next page? Or do I give each section it's own page and if so do I start the title half way down the page?

I suspect you might suggest I title each chapter but I'd rather not do that especially the way the book flows. So, I'm open to any and all suggestions. I just want to get it right and get going on sending it out to agents.

Also, I have seen conflicting information about where to start a chapter on the page. Some say half way down others say 12 spaces down. Perhaps I'm a stickler for perfection but as this is my first manuscript I want to give myself every opportunity for success.


Your question, if I follow it correctly, is about how to indicate large divisions in your book manuscript, divisions higher up than the chapter level. You're calling these large divisions "sections," but if you flip through a few novels from your bookshelf you might also find examples where they're called "books" or "parts." The Fellowship of the Ring, for instance, is divided into two large sections called "Book I" and "Book II," and each of those sections contains ten or twelve chapters.

In print, the section heading and/or title will often appear alone on its own page, the better to indicate a major division in the book. You shouldn't do it that way in your manuscript, though. Your initial idea is the right one, and is similar to the way I do it.

On the first page of a new section, I put the section heading about a third of the way down the page. I then put the section's first chapter heading about halfway down, with the chapter text starting a couple of lines after that. For subsequent chapters in the section, I again put the chapter heading about halfway down the page. (You can see an example of this in my sample novel manuscript excerpt.)

You also seem to be worried about how and whether to name your sections and chapters. There is no rule to dictate how to do this. Tolkien, in The Fellowship, did not give titles to the two large sections, but he did title each chapter within them. You could do it that way, or you could do exactly the opposite. You could use a date or a place or a character's name or anything else as a title. You don't even need to number your sections if you don't want to. Mix and match. The possibilities are endless:

Section 1
January - March<$MTHRule width="8"$>Part Two<$MTHRule width="8"$>Teen Trauma
1980 - 1983<$MTHRule width="8"$>Fall 1942<$MTHRule width="8"$>Book III
Vienna<$MTHRule width="8"$>Maude<$MTHRule width="8"$>Day Five: Hunger<$MTHRule width="8"$>VII


And the same goes for your chapter headings. Title or no title, it's up to you. Whatever you think is best for the book is fine.

So take a deep breath. The important thing is not the precise mechanics of what you do but being consistent about doing it.


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
shunn: (Tattoo)
I don't know why I've spent so much of my life being afraid to write a novel. All these years I've figured I was afraid of failing at it, that the short story was my natural form as a writer.

That was all ridiculous, and easily disproved had I stopped to think about it. Back in 1994, I wrote a 170,000-word novel in about eight weeks while I was between jobs. I holed up in my apartment and wrote eight to twelve hours a day. On my most productive day of that period, I wrote 8,500 words. The Revivalist was a huge, sprawling, shambolic, undisciplined thug of a novel, but it wasn't entirely bad. I never sold that book, but I also never did the subsequent work that was necessary to turn it into something saleable.

Clearly I didn't have a problem writing. What I had a problem with in the years that followed was getting off my ass and committing to doing the work.

Don't get me wrong. I did a lot of work in those years. I wrote a 250,000-word memoir, which through subsequent drafts I revised down to nearly half that size. I wrote and sold a bunch of short stories and a couple of novellas, but my one or two longer projects ran out of gas. I kept psyching myself out with the idea that I didn't know how to write a novel, and for the most part I kept that fear to myself.

My wonderful wife Laura forced my hand, though, by moving us to Chicago where I could be an almost full-time writer. I'd had an idea in my head for some time for a science-fiction novel about a kid who develops apparently magical powers, and one day I forced myself to just start writing it, without having worked out all the details of the world or everything that would happen along the way—things I usually like to have done before starting something. Laura's inhumanly patient encouragement and forbearance kept me going, as did a wealth of encouragement from friends and fellow writers, many of whom were setting a great example for me simply by sitting down in their chairs and writing and selling novels and expecting me to do the same.

I'm a little stunned, but on Tuesday night I typed END OF BOOK ONE at the bottom of page 805 of my novel manuscript. Endgame, in its current 175,000-word state, is a huge, sprawling, shambolic, undisciplined thug of a novel, but I have enough confidence now to believe that I can whip it into shape.

Along the way, I've finally debunked that crazy idea or fear I've had that the short story is my natural length. I can see it a little more dispassionately now for the nonsense it is. Every short story I write comes out twice as long as I expected or intended it to be. Every book I've tried to write has emerged a behemoth. My natural length is the natural length of whatever story I set out to tell, times two. I don't have to worry about not being able to write enough. I have to worry about writing too much.

I think for my next novel, which I miraculously am already itching to get started on, I'm going to cook up only enough plot for a 40,000-word novel. Then I won't be so troubled when it weighs in at 80,000 words.

The biggest fear I have now is that I'm never going to want to write another short story.

The plan

Sep. 30th, 2009 01:22 pm
I keep wanting to write a long entry about Blue Heaven 2009, but I keep not having enough time to put together something of appropriate length, depth, and breadth. (And also something that works as a sufficiently laudatory travelogue of Kelleys Island so Marvin will stay my friend.) Suffice it for now to say that I could not be happier with the feedback and suggestions that [livejournal.com profile] hollailama, [livejournal.com profile] rambleflower, and [livejournal.com profile] secritcrush gave me on my novel-in-progress Technomancers. And I can't fail to mention [livejournal.com profile] bondgwendabond, who lent half an ear to the proceedings, offered more great suggestions, and may well have renamed my novel to Endgame. (And I can't fail to mention [livejournal.com profile] ccfinlay for putting everything together and making it so much more than just a week of critiques, and my great once and future[?] roommate [livejournal.com profile] gregvaneekhout, and...)

Anyway, I thought, since I outlined my writing goals at the beginning of the Endgame project, I'd post an update about where I am on it and what I have left to do. 70,000 words into the novel, I realized I was only about halfway through the plot, if that. For a young-adult novel, this was rather unacceptable. With insufficient ruthlessness I was able to hack and revise that down to 60,000 before Blue Heaven, but there's more cutting and rewriting that needs to be done. That will come after I complete the current draft, though, which I'm already moving forward on. I'm giving myself 50,000 words and to the 30th of November to reach the end. Then I'll spend December reworking the problematic opening of the novel and cutting that first half down from 60,000 to, I hope, 30,000 words or fewer. That will give me an 80,000-word novel to start shopping. That's the plan, and a mere thousand words a day will get me there.

One of the consistent comments I got from my critiquers is that the book is pleasant enough but really starts humming around page 200. The faster I can get to that point, and the more humming I can coax out of it before that point, the better.

And now, back to executing my Endgame.
A reader writes to ask:

My question is in regards to formatting a prologue. My story is a fantasy/sci-fi tale that has two separate events that occur to two separate groups that lay the foundation for the actual "chapter 1" of my tale.

In my manuscript, I want them to be the prologue/precursor to my story, but I am unsure as to what the correct formatting rule would be (if there is one) in connecting the two. Do I just add an extra space and start the new scene or do I need to add a new heading of some sort?


There is no rule about headers for new scenes in fiction. The standard thing to do in your scenario would be to just skip a line and start the new scene—we call this a "scene break" or a "line break"—but really you can do whatever you want. You could label the two scenes "1." and "2." within the prologue if you wanted, or you could treat each like a separate prologue and call them "Prologue A" and "Prologue B." You don't even need to call the prologue a prologue if you don't want to. You could simply label it "Earlier" or "1987" or "February" or "Bob Jones." Or you could give it no label at all.

If you go to the bookstore or your own bookshelf and start flipping through novels at random, I'm sure you'll see all those methods, and more. The point is, it's your book and you can call your chapters and scenes what you like, if you like. Whatever you think works best for your story.


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
A reader writes to ask:

Please-does anyone out there know how to end a manuscript for a short story or novel?

Do you skip a line and write -END- (margin left)
or THE END (Centered)
or...





I've seen both methods you mention, and in addition I know writers who always end their manuscripts with "###" or "-30-" centered. The simple fact, though, is that you don't have to do anything explicit to indicate the end of a manuscript. The fact that there are no more words or pages after a certain point should indicate the ending all on its own.

If you are truly afraid that someone reading your manuscript will reach the end and think there are pages missing, then either of the methods you cite would be fine. There's no standard method, so let your personal preference guide you.

But if someone reaching the end of your story doesn't realize they've reached the end, then you probably have a big problem with the story itself, not with the presentation of your manuscript.


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
A reader writes to ask:

I have a children's fiction novel. Once the second chapter starts, do I type the chapter at the top of the next page or 1/3 of the way down, like mid-way the page?


Start the second chapter (and every subsequent chapter) on a new page on the same line where you started the first chapter. I start about halfway down the page, but how much blank space you leave above the chapter heading isn't as important as being consistent about it throughout the manuscript.

For an example of novel formatting, see my sample partial novel manuscript.


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
A reader writes to ask:

At the recent meeting of our local writers group we got involved in a discussion about formatting. Several of us were having problems with the header/footer and page numbering aspect of our word processing program. My problem was setting the page for "different first page" and how to begin the numbering with page 2.

Our president showed us how she set it, but the way she did it, the page numbering started on the second page but numbered it page 1. Her point was that the very first page of a manuscript was simply a "cover page" and as such should not be considered part of the numbering process. She did not have anything on her "cover page" except for name and address, word count, title and by-line.

I, on the other hand, use your format—the first page includes name, address, word count, title etc., with the story starting a third of the way down the page. Our president said that was something that would get a manuscript kicked back from an agent/editor very quickly.

This is the first time I have heard of such a thing, and I'm wondering if there have been any changes in required format that I don't know about?







You raise a couple of different issues here. The first is the question of whether or not to give your manuscript a separate title page. I suspect the confusion between you and your group president stems from the fact that novels and short stories employ slightly different formats. You may be trying to format a novel like you would a short story.

A book-length manuscript, whether for a non-fiction work or a novel, should have a separate title page. The title page will have your name and address in the upper-left corner, the title and your byline centered in the middle of the page, and an approximate word count centered at the bottom of the page. The text then starts on the second page of the manuscript, and that page should be numbered 1. You can study a portion of a sample novel manuscript here.

A manuscript for a short story or article should not have a separate title page. It should be formatted similarly to what you find here.

I would always recommend using a separate title page when submitting a novel, but I have talked to successful writers who routinely submit their novels in short story format. I doubt a manuscript would be rejected for that reason, but you should play it safe and go with standard novel format.

Now, to the second issue you raise. How do you prevent a page number from appearing on the title page of your manuscript? And, in the case of a novel manuscript, how do you adjust the numbering so that the second page of the manuscript gets numbered 1?

Before we get started, if you need instruction in creating page headers in the first place, see my earlier entry "Automatic page numbers in Word." Up to speed? Let's continue.

If you're using MS Word 2007 or a more recent version—the version with the tool ribbons at the top instead of pull-down menus—then go to the Page Layout ribbon. In the group of tools labeled Page Setup, click the little diagonal arrow icon in the lower-right corner to pop up the Page Setup dialog box. Click the Layout tab, then check the box labeled Different first page. Click OK to close the dialog. This will cause your page header to not appear on the first page of the manuscript.

For a short story manuscript, you're done. The header will not appear on the first page, and the second page will be numbered 2. If it's a novel manuscript, though, you need to go through one more step to make the second page numbered 1.

Set your cursor on the title page of the manuscript. Select the Insert ribbon. In the group of tools labeled Header & Footer, click Page Number. Choose Format page numbers from the menu that appears. A Page Number Format dialog box will pop up. In the Page numbering section, click the radio button labeled Start at. Set the number in the adjacent box to 0. Click OK to close the dialog. This will set the title page's number to zero, causing the second page of your manuscript to show up as 1.

You should find similar options in other word processors.


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
A reader writes to ask:

What does the format look like for a novella? What's the first page look like? And, what do you do with chapters?


The novella is a curious case. Not quite short enough to be called a short story, not quite long enough to be called a novel, the novella exists in a definitional twilight zone. SFWA defines a novella as a work of fiction of between 17,500 and 40,000 words, but to most of the world it's just an awkward in-between sort of thing. It can be a very satisfying fictional length—just ask Henry James—but it can be a hard thing to sell. The market for novellas, sadly, is not a big one these days.

In my estimation, the format you use for a novella would depend on where you're submitting it, and for what purpose. If you're sending it to a magazine or anthology, format it the same as you would a short story. If you're sending it to a book publisher for consideration as a standalone volume, you should format it like you would a novel, with a separate title page.

In short story format for your novella, you would indicate new chapters simply by skipping a line, then centering the chapter header on its own line. In novel format, you could either do it that way or by starting each new chapter on its own page, with the chapter heading centered halfway down the page.

It's too bad the novella isn't more popular these days, though it's easy to see why publishing standalone novellas is probably not very cost-effective. To me, it's a great length for fiction because the author can explore a character or idea in depth but is still forced to focus his writing and make each word count. The reader gets the satisfaction of a complete, involving reading experience with some heft to it that she can still finish in one sitting. I think that's a great thing all around.

(I should point out here that my own standalone novella Cast a Cold Eye, co-written with and at the instigation of the estimable Derryl Murphy, will appear from PS Publishing later this year.)


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
A reader writes to ask:

I've been speaking with an agent who has expressed keen interest in my sci-fi/humor novel, and what she's telling me is that while she really digs it, the manuscript is simply coming in too long for most publishers to take a look at. Unbeknowst to me (rookie mistake), I need to reformat the mansucript using Courier 12 point, which is blowing my page count sky-high (I wrote in Times Roman).

The agent is also telling me that I need to get it down below 480 pages Courier for publishers to be willing to look at it. My mansucript is 120,000 words and change, but is coming in at 730 pages Courier 12 point. Any thoughts about anything I might be doing wrong, if anything?

Is she on point? Is the page count more significant than the word count?

I hate being so close and yet feeling like I might be so far.

I'd appreciate any feedback you can offer me.









A lot of points to address here in this message! As far as your mechanical problem goes, without looking at your manuscript I can't be sure what you're doing wrong in your word-processing program that's making your page count so high. Check your margins carefully to be sure they are 1 inch all the way around. Check to be sure you're double-spacing your text and not triple-spacing it, because that alone would explain why your page count is about 50% higher than it should be.

480 pages in Courier 12 is going to yield a manuscript of between 120,000 and 140,000 words, depending on your margins, so your novel should be fine as-is, without any cuts, if you can just get your formatting problems ironed out.

For the record, 120,000 words sounds about right as a cap for an average first novel, although longer ones certainly do sell and get published. Assuming for a moment that your word count is wrong and the book really is longer than your agent wants it to be, you have to weigh her advice in relation to your own instincts as a writer. Cutting a manuscript down to size is often a very effective exercise for improving a book, but it's not right for every book. Try to get your agent to offer more specific suggestions for why this book should be shorter, and for plot elements or other specifics that could be trimmed. Try to assess whether she is trying to make the book better or just trying to get you down to a target word count on general principle. She very well might be right to ask you to cut the book, but you have to make that decision yourself.

For the record, any editor worth his or her salt, especially at a major house, is going to understand that word count is what's important to the size of the published book, not the page count of your manuscript. Just a glance at the height of the stack and the size of the font will be enough for most editors to estimate a ballpark word count, which tells them how long a book they're really dealing with.

One last point. It's not necessarily a mistake to print your manuscript in Times Roman. Courier has traditionally been the accepted default, but times have changed and the editor who would reject a manuscript out of hand these days because it's printed in Times Roman is rare indeed. The best guide is still to use Courier unless an agent or editor explicitly requests a different font in his guidelines, but it's certainly not a dealbreaker to use something attractive and readable like Times Roman or Georgia. (You should definitely avoid sans-serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica, though.)


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
A reader writes to ask:

I've been writing a novel over the past year, and with the help on your site as well as a few other sites, I've been converting it into manuscript format. However, after having copied over the first two chapters, I've compared the word count from MS Word with the publisher method of word counting, I'm getting a difference of a thousand words (10.2k to 9.2k), which'll become a 10,000-word difference at Chapter 20. Is there usually that kind of overestimation, or is there a problem with my formatting? I've got a max of 60 characters per line and 25 lines per page, and I put chapter titles 2 inches into the page. Is there anything I should change to make the estimated word count more accurate, or is changing the line or page length going to set off any red flags with the publishers? I would appreciate your input.


That kind of overestimation is fine and expected. A publisher's word count is not at all identical to the one Word will give you, and is more useful to the publisher in determining how many pages that eventual published book (or story or article) will run.

Just offer your best estimate of a word count. No publisher is going to penalize you for that. In fact, since book publishers don't pay by the word, it's probably the last thing they're going to pay a lot of attention to. In addition, in the event that your novel is accepted for publication, you'll likely be submitting a Word document to your editor at some point. If an exact word count is ever needed, he or she can get that information directly from your document.


Crossposted from Proper Manuscript Format
Many of you may have heard already, but John Klima has started an online book club dedicated to reading and discussing all twelve volumes of Gene Wolfe's Solar Cycle over the course of this year. I'm one of the board admins, together with Christopher Rowe and Mark Teppo.

If you're up for an ambitious reading project this year, please join us! Each month's novel should be read by the 20th in order to leave plenty of time for discussion. For January, the selection is of course The Shadow of the Torturer, and there are only six days left to read it. Fortunately, it's one of the shortest books in the series, so you shouldn't have much trouble keeping up.

For more information, and to sign up, please visit GeneWolfeBookClub.com.
Longtime readers may recall me railing against James Frey and the phenomenon of the invented memoir a couple of years ago. Rather than chilling the memoir marketplace, though, Frey was merely in the vanguard of a veritable explosion of exposed frauds that now includes such "memoirists" as Margaret B. Jones and Misha Defonseca.

The topic of these overly embroidered tales is much on my mind as, again, my memoir makes its way back into the marketplace. I feared two years ago that Frey's escapade would make a memoir more difficult to sell. Now I fear that he didn't make it difficult enough.

Nearly two months ago, Scott Simon on NPR's Weekend Edition delivered an editorial that made me stand up and pump my fist in the air. He made the interesting argument that the phony memoirist cheats in two ways: first, by weaving of his life an epic that never was; and second, by scanting the literary rigor a novel would have demanded. Listen here:

Writing and Truth in Fact and Fiction
by Scott Simon
Speaking as someone who has labored for nearly ten years to produce a book that will hold up on both counts and provoke more than skepticism and cynicism, I can only add my fervent amen.
I finally made it back home yesterday to my lovely wife and fuzzy dog after eight days away at the Blue Heaven workshop. I'm delighted to be home but nostalgic for the workshop. It was an extraordinarily helpful, intense, and fun week, maybe even moreso than last year. I don't want to be a namedropper, so I'm not going list all the terrific skiffy writers who attended. Suffice it to say that the week was professionally and personally rewarding, filled with learning, insight, humor, collegiality, friendship, food, beer, free Stormclouds, animal heads, turkey vultures, TNT explosions, Totally Outrageous Behavior, quips that can never be repeated without someone choking almost to death, and Old Gregg. My novel Silvertide was critiqued by two sharp readers who restored my confidence in it, and I hope I served as useful a function to the three embarrassingly talented scribes whose novels I critiqued in full (or nearly so).

Too many good times to recount them all, or even to pick a handful. I leave you with my entry in the Blue Heaven 2007 Raunchy Limerick Challenge, posed by a fellow workshopper who shall remain nameless, for reasons that will remain unstated. The challenge was to compose a limerick employing the words pump, rump, and Cockney.

Down at the Village Pump )
Is it possible to be nostalgic for something that only happened a week ago? Laura and I were sitting out back in the dusk last night, me with a beer, she with a cigarette, the dog with a chew toy, and I was telling her about how if I felt this way after only a week at Blue Heaven, I must have been a complete mess at 17 coming home from six weeks at Clarion.

Fetch that rock! Fling that snake! )


Some other Blue Heaven 2006 roundups:

Though I've been involved with local writers' group on and off in the time since, I hadn't attended a formal away-from-home writing workshop for nearly 21 years—well over half a lifetime, and all of my professional writing career. So it was with excitement and some trepidation early this year that I accepted Charles Coleman Finlay's invitation to attend Blue Heaven 2006 on Kelleys Island, off the Ohio shore of Lake Erie.

Excitement because this would be a peer workshop focusing on SF and fantasy novels, and I was having definite trouble transitioning from short fiction to longer work. And also because I'd be hanging out with some first-rate writers and rising stars.

Trepidation because, for all that I sometimes get worked up online and probably don't come across as bashful, I'm fairly reserved in person and don't usually say much in a new group until I'm comfortable, if then. And also because I'd be hanging out with some first-rate writers and rising stars.

Into Himmelblau House )

Of course, there was more to Blue Heaven than just work. I doubt the group's yin would have functioned as well as it did without the yang of the camaraderie we found outside the workshop sessions. But I've gone on long enough for now, and for that I'll have to make another post later.


Brenda Cooper posts a group picture here. Left to right:
Back row: William Shunn, Paul Melko, Tobias S. Buckell, Greg van Eekhout, Tim Pratt
Second row: Sandra McDonald, Mary Turzillo, Brenda Cooper, Catherine M. Morrison, Sarah Prineas
Front: Charles Coleman Finlay
Far Right Background: Sela the Amazing Rock-Fetching Canine
Came home last night to a happy dog and an even happier wife. And I couldn't have been happier to see them.

Bill on the rocks But quite a comedown to return to work—and be plunged into a manufactured crisis—after a week-plus at the Blue Heaven workshop. No time to post about the week's experiences yet, except to say that it was an amazing week filled with great people, and that the help I received on my novel was and will be absolutely invaluable. You may or may not glean more tantalizing details from [livejournal.com profile] ccfinlay, [livejournal.com profile] secritcrush, [livejournal.com profile] sallytuppence, Paul, Greg, Tim, Brenda, and Toby.

And you may or may not be tantalized by Secritcrush's Blue Heaven photo album!

Oh, and here and here, if you read down the yellow columns on the left, you can see what happens when writers with too much beer and wi-fi edit one another's Wikipedia entries.

Thanks, everyone, for a great week!


P.S.  Does anyone speak Swedish?

Wing nuts

May. 17th, 2006 03:58 pm
It's WING NIGHT at the Village Pump, sort of a happy hour for chicken wings, 4 to 6. I could get used to this kind of living. Beer, wings, and internet.

Oh, yeah. And the critiquing of novels is very good, helpful, and educational.

But boy. Beer, wings, and internet. Yeah.

April 2014

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