The Clarion Blog-A-Thon: In Which I Try To Show You How Writers Think

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

The public side of me as a writer is that I’m a Nebula nominee, with nineteen short stories published in less than four years, seven of them in professional venues.  (And I just sold my eighth story this weekend.)  By most standards, for a writer still in his early-career stage, I’ve done pretty well.
The secret is that I spent the twenty years before that struggling, selling practically nothing.  My stories, though copiously written, never sold.  My novels never got so much as a nibble of interest.
What turned me around?  The Clarion Writers’ Workshop.  Six weeks of intensive writer boot-camp that shoved me, kicking and screaming, up to the next level.  Now that they need funds to keep operating, I’m blogging for six weeks to help raise money for them… And I’m making your donations worth your while by providing interesting writing, prizes, and genuine fun.
But this year’s blogging is going to be a little different.
Two years ago, in an attempt to show what the Clarion experience is like, I wrote three-and-a-half short stories during the blog-a-thon.  Last year, I live-wrote the first draft of my novel during the blog-a-thon.  Neither were particularly interactive, as I just wrote a lot and then discussed what worked (and didn’t work) about the story in progress, and maybe I got a few comments.  It was what I intended – a look into how a professional writer views stories – but there wasn’t much for anyone to do.
This year, I’m going to live-plot my novel.  If you’ll recall from a previous entry, the novel I was writing fell apart and needed to be started over from the beginning.  Well, what I’m going to do is to spend the next six weeks sketching characters and plotting the novel… Which means that you can ask questions, suggest ideas, and basically have your say!
Which, I think, will be a much more interesting look into the writing mind.  Because things will be suggested and I’ll have to explain why they don’t serve the central functions of the plot or character – which will be closer to how a writer approaches things, since the endless churn of my mind is pretty much “Why don’t I….? …nah, that doesn’t work.”  Which will, in turn, provide a deeper look into how I work a story, because it’ll be literally like you’re inside my head.
That said, just in case that doesn’t sell you, I’ll also have fabulous prizes!  Right now, I have twelve authors lined up with prizes you can win – including some fabulous stuff from Neil Gaiman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Cat Valente, and many more awesome names who I’m sandbagging until later in the hopes of generating more funds and excitement!  If you donate $5, you’ll get a shot at these awesome writing-related things.
And if you’re a writer, there are six slots available to have your short stories/opening chapters critiqued by me, who’s been nominated for a Nebula and has a decent idea of how a story ticks.  These usually go fast, as I can only do one a week, so sign up now if you’re interested!
So how is that going to work?

  • A $5 donation gets you an entry in the raffle prize!
  • A $10 donation will get you access to clarion_echo, the members-only community where I’m live-blogging the novel.
  • A $25 donation given in time will give you a slot at one of the six story critiques, assuming you want one. I’m kindly brutal. Or perhaps brutally kind.

So donate today!  And go nuts!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How do I join the Clarion_echo community?
A: Just click this link and donate at least $10. Then forward the receipt for your donation to, along with your LJ user name – and I’ll make you a member of this friends-only community.
Q:  Do I have to have a LiveJournal account?
A:  Sorry, but yes.  It’s the only way I can manage all these members easily.  I know this is one step up from creating a mySpace account, but I promise the plotting will be cool.
Q:  How will this plotting work?
A:  I’ve got some ideas, but am still finalizing.  It’ll be interactive, though, in that I’ll be looking for questions to see how you approach a given story problem.  The only thing I’ll say is that my own ideas only have about a 5% chance of getting through, so please, look at this as an interactive exercise and don’t take any rejection personally.  Which is a pretty good approach to the whole writing business in any case!
Q:  Last year, I signed up for the $100 level of donation, and you haven’t written my story yet!
A:  Sorry about that.  I write slow.  If you look at the four stories I wrote during the Clarion 2010 blog-a-thon, two are still unfinished.  I have trunkfuls of story ideas, and I’d be published in many more anthologies if I could write to spec.
Which is not to say that I won’t do it – it just may take a while.  By way of recompense, I’ll offer a Tuckerization into this latest novel of mine in addition to the eventual story.  Contact me for details.
Q:  What’s that link for donating again?
A:  Go do it now!

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