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Clarion West: It’s Getting Very Near the End

July 29th, 2010 No comments

After six weeks at the Clarion West writer’s workshop, it’s finally time for the eighteen of us to wrap things up and head home. While I’m ready to get back to that which we call “real life,” it’s sad, too. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with a really wonderful group of people this summer. There’s no life like the life of the mind, and being fully engaged in writing for six weeks has really cracked my head open. I’m leaving here with a new perspective on what I write and how I write it, and I’ve met great people along the way.

I’ve also got a batch of stories I’m proud of, along with some intelligent advice on how to make them better. I’d be revising them for submission right now if I weren’t so damned exhausted.

Here’s some of what I learned:

  • During Michael Bishop’s week, I got back on the path of beautiful writing. The workshop format for this week was to submit a bunch of short assignments, which would then be read allowed by Mike and given blind critiques. This stirred a bit of competitive spirit in me (which is a confession; they tell you not to do this). It got me ready to run hard and fast, and it gave the people who weren’t used to being critiqued a gentle entry into something that can be pretty rough for some to handle — having one’s work ripped apart.
  • During Maureen McHugh’s week, I had a blinding flash of insight about how to structure novel projects, how to think about designing them. It wasn’t anything she taught directly, but Maureen is one of those people who’s so damned smart that stuff she says offhandedly can accidentally rewire your thinking. On my own initiative, I chose this week as a time to get serious about one of my main goals for Clarion — getting better with plot, dramatic tension, and narrative structure. Looking back on the stuff I’ve produced, I think I achieved this goal. No longer will the Spacecrafts workshop have to complain about my plotless narrative experiments! Ha!
  • During Nnedi Okoraor’s week, I attained the realization that I am never going back to academia. Yay!
  • During Graham Joyce’s week, I worked even more on matters pertaining to plot. Graham is seriously awesome at teaching this stuff. He has a series of great little 30 minute lectures he does on narrative structure that would benefit just about any writer.
  • During Ellen Datlow’s week, I learned how to channel Ellen Datlow. So did some of my classmates (and it showed in the following week’s critiquing!). By “channeling Ellen,” I mean developing the ability to question and poke at my own writing during the revision process as if I were an editor trying to make it comprehensible to a reader.
  • During Ian McDonald’s week, I stepped back, recovered, and tried to make sense of all I’d learned — and I found that it was good! We were also treated to some of Ian’s thoughts on screen writing and how the rigorous formats of screen- and teleplays can inform narrative structure in fiction.

I’ll probably write more about my Clarion experiences down the road, but the quick summary is:

  1. I’m really glad I went.
  2. If you’re someone who’s thinking about going, maybe you should. But you need to do it with an open mind. You need to go full of questions. You need to go with confidence in your own work but with a willingness to experiment and change.

I’m glad that I went at the time that I did, when I was mature enough (finally, ha!) to take some of the knocks and roll with  the unexpected, but not yet so set in my ways that I couldn’t use the experience to change and grow. I found the experience really encouraging and absolutely worth taking the time out of my life for.

Now: off to Gen Con!

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2010 ENnies: Support Eclipse Phase!

July 21st, 2010 No comments

Eclipse Phase is up for an ENnie Award in four categories this year (Best Cover Art, Best Writing, Best Production Values & Product of the Year). The ENnies are one of the two big awards in the RPG field each year, and unlike the Origins Award, they’re based on fan voting. Unfortunately, this puts a product like Eclipse Phase at something of a disadvantage. We don’t have nearly the number of copies in circulation as, oh, say, Pathfinder. That said, I think we put out a superior game that deserves some recognition. If you have a few seconds (and it only takes that long, because there’s no registration), please cast a ballot for Eclipse phase at the ENnies web site. Voting runs until midnight on July 25 (i.e., you have until 11:59 pm on the 24th).

My colleagues Rob Boyle and Adam Jury have also posted some thoughts on voting for the ENnies this year.

Thanks to everyone who supported Eclipse Phase over its first year out on the market. Whether we bring home an ENnie or not, it’s been an excellent ride.

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Everything is Clickable: Guest post on Shareable.net

July 9th, 2010 No comments

Augspace: making life larger

Today, Shareable.net ran Everything Is Clickable, part two of two guest posts I wrote on augmented reality. Part two (running today) speculates on applications we could see over the next two decades and includes a short (and very optimistic, for me) speculative piece on what kind of AR apps we might see in the next two decades. Part one focuses on present day AR applications.

These posts are part of a series called Shareable Futures. The other guest posters and interviewees include Corey Doctorow, Bruce Sterling, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Paolo Bacigalupi. I highly recommend checking out their posts, too.

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Eclipse Phase: Origins & ENnie awards!

July 9th, 2010 No comments

Working on RPGs is not something you do for fame, and it definitely isn’t something you do for money, but… every so often, some recognition is nice.

So it was really cool to learn this morning that, hot on the heels of bringing home the 2010 Origins Award for Best RPG, Eclipse Phase earned four ENnie nods, including nominations for Best Writing and Product of the Year.

How cool. Ten year old me (who wanted nothing in the world more than to be a game designer at TSR — or an astronaut) would be pretty darn psyched. Heck, thirty-six year old me is happy about it, too.

Congratulations to my teammates. It’s sweet indeed when hard work gets a little recognition.

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