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Oct. 1st, 2008


Trade Your Air Miles for workshop with Connie Willis

Hey Everyone;

The Connie Willis workshop on November 16th is full, but we saved one space for the first person to contact us through LiveJournal and offer their air miles in lieu of tuition for a place at the workshop. Connie is one of the best teachers of plot we've ever seen, so if you'd like to attend and have air miles to spare, let us know. If a space opens up in the fabulous October 26th Charles deLint workshop, we might be able to do the same thing. The air miles will be used for author transportation.

Here is the workshop description for Connie's workshop -
On November 16th, Award-winning author Connie Willis will lay bare the structure underlying works of literature from pulp stories to Shakespeare and everything in between. She’ll teach students how to structure their plots using writing exercises and multiple examples from literature, speculative fiction, and movies.

Connie Willis has won more awards(19)than any other SF author for her insightful, witty novels and numerous works of short fiction. Celebrated as a humorist with spot-on comic timing, she also uses her fiction to examine larger questions: the nature of God, the persistence of suffering and loss, and the role of love and redemption. Her much-anticipated new novel, All Clear, will be released in 2009.

Connie will also read at the Fantastic Fiction Salon reading on Monday, November 17th, 2008.

Sep. 11th, 2008


Fall 08 Fantastic Fiction Workshops and Readings at NW MediaArts

 Hi All;

 There has been so much going on this year that there’s been no time to report on it all, but Fall is here and we want to make sure that everyone knows about the great line-up of authors heading to Seattle beginning this month to teach and read at the NW Media Arts Fantastic Fiction Workshops and Readings/Salons held at Richard Hugo House in Seattle.

The Connie Willis November workshop is full and the Charles deLint October workshop is nearly full, though a few of you can still get in if you move quickly.  We still have some spots open for September’s workshop with Mary Rosenblum, and you can register for her September 21st workshop up until Friday, September 19th.

NW MediaArts is a non-profit that runs on a shoestring budget.  That shoestring gets frayed to nothing by the fall of each year as the small amount of grant money we have for airfares is used up in transportation costs for our first five authors winter and spring quarters.  The tuition income goes mostly to the authors and to Hugo House to cover their space use and administrative costs.  The $4 admission donations we receive at the readings/salons go directly to airfare, but don’t even begin make a dent in the actual costs we incur with providing transportation for each author.

One of our authors suggested that I post and offer to trade someone a spot in one of the workshops (we could even add you as one extra to that full Connie Willis workshop!) for their frequent flyer air miles.  If you are interested and have any frequent flyer air miles that will work to bring an author to Seattle and back from Ottawa or Denver, we’d be happy to trade your miles for a spot in the workshop.  If anyone who can't attend a workshop in Seattle simply wants to make a donation towards the cost of air fares for Fantastic Fiction instructors in order to support these workshops, they could simply write check to NW MediaArts earmarked for instructor transportation. We would be very appreciative in either case, whether you contribute frequent flyer miles or donations!  In any case, we hope to see some of you who live in the Seattle area at the Monday night readings/salons with our authors.

 We’re cooking up some great plans for 2009 at NW MediaArts and appreciate the input and ideas some of you have emailed as well. Here are the details on this fall’s workshops!  Thanks, Leslie

Invite the Reader to the Party: What Show, Don’t Tell really means

Instructor: Mary Rosenblum


Everybody has heard “show, don’t tell” from sixth grade English class on. What does it really mean? No matter how well structured your story, no matter how vividly you describe your characters, if the readers are standing back, observing the action, they might as well be watching TV. Prose fiction allows us to magically invite the readers to step into that scene, so that they live the adventure with your characters. We’ll discuss techniques for how to reduce narrative distance to zero and do writing exercises that will help you bring your stories to life for your readers.

Mary Rosenblum has published 8 novels and more than 60 short stories with major magazines since graduating from the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 1988. Her work has been short-listed for a number of awards and won her the Compton Crook Award. Mary has taught fiction writing for over fifteen years. She lives and writes on country acreage where she also teaches workshops on sustainable living. Her novel Horizons from Tor Books is available at bookstores, and the “Drylands” collection, Water Rites, is available from Fairwood Press. You can find out more about Mary at her website.

Mary will also read at the Fantastic Fiction Salon reading on Monday, September 22, 2008.

Sunday, September 21, 2008
10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Please bring lunch.
Registration information

Heroes and Villains: Write Them so Real They Step Off the Page

Instructor: Charles de Lint


We will explore and define the line between well-drawn, fully realized sympathetic heroes and the many shades that make up a similarly well-drawn villain. Conflict between these two archetypes is what drives the plot, and the success of your story depends on your reader believing in both the characters and their conflict. Most villains don’t think they’re villains, and many heroes only see their short-comings. We’ll look at examples of Heroes and Villains in myth and literature, and through a combination of exercises and discussion, each student will develop a Hero, a Villain, and a conflict that can improve a current work or serve as the core of a new one.

Charles de Lint is a Canadian fantasy author and Americana/folk musician. He established the genre of “mythic fiction,” which falls somewhere between fantasy and mainstream fiction with a magical realist bent. It is sometimes also considered “urban myth” and is known for being “fantasy for people who normally don’t read fantasy.” He is a winner of the multiple awards, including the World Fantasy Award, and the author of over 40 books, including both novels and short story collections.

Charles will also read and play music at the Fantastic Fiction Salon reading on Monday, October 27, 2008.

Sunday, October 26, 2008
10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Please bring lunch.
Registration information

The Plot Thickens: The Art and Science of Plotting

Instructor: Connie Willis


Award-winning author Connie Willis will lay bare the structure underlying works of literature from pulp stories to Shakespeare and everything in between. She’ll teach students how to structure their plots using writing exercises and multiple examples from literature, speculative fiction, and movies.

Connie Willis has won more awards (20) than any other SF author for her insightful, witty novels and numerous works of short fiction. Celebrated as a humorist with spot-on comic timing, she also uses her fiction to examine larger questions: the nature of God, the persistence of suffering and loss, and the role of love and redemption. Her much-anticipated new novel, All Clear, will be released in 2009.

Connie will also read at the Fantastic Fiction Salon reading on Monday, November 17th, 2008.

Sunday, November 16th, 2008
10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Please bring lunch.
Registration information



 To sign up for classes, call Hugo House at (206) 322-7030 with your credit card information from 10 a.m.–9 p.m. weekdays, and 12–5 p.m. Saturdays (except holidays). If you already are or become a Hugo House member at the time of registration, take the member tuition rate. Clarion West Alumni get the member rate for these classes.  nwmediaarts.com

Jul. 18th, 2007


Peter Beagle

Fantastic Fiction Salon

The last weekend of April Peter Beagle flew in from San Francisco for a Fantastic Fiction weekend in Seattle. Until last summer’s WorldCon, I hadn’t seen Peter since he taught Clarion West in 1988, the year that The Last Unicorn was produced as a play at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre. Twenty years have passed, but Peter’s first two novels, A Fine and Private Place and The Last Unicorn, have remained in print since publication. They are enduring classics that have lasted because there is something archetypal in these stories that lives in people’s hearts. 
Peter worked in television and movies for many years and consequently there have been huge gaps of time between his novels. He only wrote two books in the first twenty-five years of his career, but that has changed in recent years as the number of novels and short stories has steadily grown. "The Line Between" Peter's all-new short fiction collection, which includes "Two Hearts," the Hugo-award-winning sequel to "The Last Unicorn," has had all of the eligible stories picked up for "Best Fantasy of the Year" anthologies. It’s well worth picking up a copy.
Peter read the mythopoetical story “Salt Wine” at the Fantastic Fiction Salon. It was an hour that went by in a blink. Peter has a wonderful, resonant voice for reading and singing, and he has the ability to make a story come alive and entrance his listeners. I brought my guitar to the salon and Peter sang a few of his original, folk songs for us, ending with a lively, humorous, talking blues.
People are always amazed to discover that Peter was a young man of nineteen when he wrote the urban fantasy A Fine and Private Place. His use of language is clean and though simple, conveys layers of meaning. His masterful facility with language is one of the things that continues to make his work so remarkable. 
At Sunday’s one-day writing workshop, Peter gave us some writing exercises geared towards helping writers create voices so distinct that you can tell who is speaking even without tags. The exercises helped writers think about writing dialogue from a different point of view that’s unique to each character as well.  The workshop day was peppered with a rich assortment of anecdotal stories as Peter told us about his life as a writer. At the end of the day I felt like I was taking a tiny bit of magic away with me. Peter is a unique and special writer and human being and I feel fortunate that we had time with him to discuss writing, music, and life.

May. 27th, 2007


Fantastic Fiction March Workshop and Salon featured Terry Bisson

 I can't believe how far I've fallen behind in reporting on NW MediaArts events.  I've taken on so much contract work that I can't  seem to keep up!  In any event, it's past time to briefly report on our last three author events.  

NW MediaArts (that’s me!) and Richard Hugo House has been collaborating on this great "Fantastic Fiction"  workshop and reading series since January.  I recieved a grant for the use of their space for our workshops and salons and they take charge of the workshop registrations.  It's worked out to be a great partnership and I’m very impressed with the Richard Hugo House folks.  The house itself is a fun, funky space that is supported by some very good funding efforts and a great, upbeat staff, all of whom write.  They’ve given a lot of support to this series even though it’s the first time they’ve featured speculative fiction writers.  I think it’s becoming more obvious to people outside of the science fiction and fantasy genre that the literature of speculative fiction showcases some of the hottest talent writing today.  But that’s a whole topic by itself. 


On March 23rd, Terry Bisson flew up from Oakland, California to teach his workshop on writing Very Short Fiction and it was a lot of fun.  Terry is very smart, wry, funny, and a master of the short form. He is both a great writer and a perceptive and caring instructor.  The workshop was engaging and provocative.   Terry was impressed with the writers who signed up for the workshop and some interesting work came out of the exercises.

Terry read some of his Very Short “Billy” stories at his Monday night reading salon.  They were hilarious.  I will never be able to hear anyone say the word "stomp!" again without hearing the way it sounds when read in Terry's Kentucky accent when he reads from Billy and the Dinosaurs.  It's hard to describe these stories.  Rudy Rucker desribes them in Flurb as " deceptively simple fables, cast as children’s stories about a boy named Billy." They're sort of like a classic children’s story book with a slightly twisted adult sensibility.  Sort of.  

If you are interested in reading more about what Terry covered at the workshop, you can check out Caroline Yoachim's summery of her notes on her website.  

Mar. 15th, 2007


Speculative Fiction Contest: Quattro

April 26th: The winner of the Quattro Speculative Fiction Contest was Conor Anderson's story "Buddha Net."  

Congratulations Conor!  We look forward to seeing the story published.

Conor Anderson was a riveting reader and everyone enjoyed hearing his story read at the Quattro Awards evening at Richard Hugo House.  Award-winning author Greg Bear was the evening's headliner; and he read from his terrific new novel in progress.  The room was alight with glow-in-the-dark decorations and the party after the readings made the whole event a lot of fun.  If you live in the northwest, think about submitting a story to the speculative fiction contest co-sponsored by Richard Hugo House and NW MediaArts this coming spring of 2008.



Speculative Fiction: Quattro

The next installment of the Richard Hugo House Genre Competition Series will focus on speculative fiction. Just what is speculative fiction? In this context, a speculative fiction story calls into question the status quo of reality. It can be science fiction, it can be futuristic, apocalyptic, cyber punk, utopian. It can have elements of magical realism. Anything from Borges and Kafka to Elizabeth Hand, Octavia Butler, Neil Gaiman, or Neal Stephenson.

Submissions must be received by April 16. And with this contest, we'll be increasing the prize amount to $500, all for a $5 entry fee.

The competition will be judged by Leslie Howle, (executive director of Clarion West Writers Workshop & NW Media Arts) and Richard Paul Russo (winner of the Philip K. Dick Award & author of "Ship of Fools" and "The Rosetta Codex").

The winner of the competition will read with Greg Bear at Richard Hugo House during the Speculative Fiction Competition reading on May 3. The winning story will also be published on the Hugo House Web site.

Greg Bear is the author of more than 30 books of science fiction and fantasy, including "Blood Music," "The Forge of God," "Darwin's Radio" and "Quantico." He has received many accolades, including five Nebula awards and two Hugo awards for science fiction.

Here's the challenge: You must use all four of the following elements in some way in your story. How you use them is up to you-anything from a cameo character appearance to the basic theme of the story. It's OK to be subtle; the challenge is to spark the imagination.

Evo(lution): Change, progress, mutation, transformation. Is our society equipped to handle the shifting and unseen horizon? One can only speculate. In "Darwin's Radio," Greg Bear imagined the societal impact of a new stage in human evolution. Harry Harrison "economized" in "Soylent Green." Think how evolution itself was turned on its ear in "Planet of the Apes" (Pierre Boulle). Or shine your floodlight inward as Marge Piercy did when she imagined the future through the fragile psychic state of her heroine, Constance, in "Woman on The Edge of Time." Tell us: what's that crack in your crystal ball?

Emo(tional): Emo is pop culture shorthand for 'depressed emotional,' and between war and global warming, there are a lot of emo dudes out there today. One of the things speculative fiction does best is explore the impact of what's happening in the world of our inner landscapes. Philip K. Dick examined one man's moral crisis in the multilayered, award-winning "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"- the story that the film "Blade Runner" was based on. But really, tell us what "emo" means to you.

Eco(logical): What will nature do? What could nature do? How will we transform it? Restrain it? Weather, disease, mutation, earthquake or pollution-induced mayhem-oh my!. . . How about nuclear winter? Or supernova? In "Forty Signs of Rain," writer Kim Stanley Robinson begins a trio of well researched books that drop us into a world that gives us an intimate look at our lives a few years from now as global warming becomes a runaway train.

Ego: Character development is essential in any story. What kind of development and what kind of character is up to you.

Winner will be announced on April 24.

Manuscript requirements:

Please send a $5 entry fee-we can accept cash or a check/money order-to Richard Hugo House. You can enter as many times as you like as long as you pay an entry fee for each story.

Manuscripts must be under 5,000 words and should be double spaced, with one-inch margins and 12 pt. type. The author's name should not appear on the manuscript. Include one cover sheet with story title, author's name, address, phone and e-mail address. The story title should appear on the first page of the manuscript. Please number your pages.

Send a total of three (3) copies of your manuscript and one copy of your cover sheet.   We cannot return manuscripts, so please keep a copy!

You must live in Washington, Oregon, Montana or Idaho.

Questions? Contact Chris Leasure: development@hugohouse.org

Quattro is sponsored by Maelstrom Productions LLC

Leslie Howle

Greg Bear pictured here with Ray Harryhausen

Connnie Willis Fantastic Fction Workshop and Reading

Connie Willis headlined February's Fantastic Fiction Workshop Series with grace, wit, and skill.  I've heard Connie discuss writing in relationship to student manuscripts being critiqued many times during the Clarion West workshops she's taught, but I've never had the good fortune to hear her compress her thoughts about any one aspect of the craft of writing into one long session.  It sunk in and I got it, I really got it.

Connie is the Queen of In Between. In between beginnings and endings that is. She chose to focus on the middle of stories or novels and provided a number of tools to help move the plot forward in surprising ways.  She used hilarious examples from films and reminded us that the basic techniques for writing good science fiction are no different from those of other kinds of literature.  She talked about character and plot as being inseparable, and illustrated this point with many clear examples.   Connie closed the day with a great handout on science fiction tropes that we discussed before calling it a wrap.  Several people who were in the workshop have posted their notes online, so I won't go into anymore detail here other than to say that the day provided us all with new tools for our writer's toolbox and plenty of rich inspiration.  Did I remember to say how much fun it was to spend a day writing and talking about writing with Connie Willis and the great group of writers in attendance?  It was fun, folks, really fun.  We laughed as we learned and it was indeed a fun day!

On Monday, Connie was interviewed by Nancy Pearl of Book Lust and More Book Lust  fame.  You know Nancy;  she's the former Seattle Librarian who was the head of the Washington Center for the Book and the only Librarian with her very own Deluxe Librarian Action Figure. http://www.mcphee.com/items/11548.html  Some of you may have heard Nancy's radio show on NPR  http://www.kuow.org/programs/thebeat_books.asp, but this interview was for her TV show.  It turns out that Nancy is a fan of Connie's work and the two had a great time during the interview.  See photo below.

Connie's Monday night reading at the Fantastic Fiction Salon at Richard Hugo House was highly entertainig.  She read from the novel she's been hard at work on the last few years, "All Clear,"  and I can't wait to read the whole thing!

More later...

Mar. 11th, 2007


China Mieville reading in Seattle

China Mieville read from his new YA book, Un Lun Dun, at University Book Store on March 2nd.  I hadn't seen China since 2004 when he taught at Clarion West.  It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to get to know him during his week at the workshop.  Working with China at CW I was pleased to discover that despite his prodigious talent and rock star good looks he is a warm, polite, down-to-earth gentleman who is not the least bit pretentious.  It was really good to see him again last week.  Un Lum Dun adds to my initial impression that China is a major literary talent whose work will continue to evolve and surprise with each new book.

Un Lun Dun is his first YA novel, but he ventures into this new territory with ease and confidence.  Once again China has turned typical fantasy tropes on their head to give us a tight, fast-paced story full of marvelous monsters and unexpected twists and turns.  I love the self-reliant heroes of this story and the overall message that if you think for yourself, question the status quo, and work hard you can bring about the changes needed to make the world better.  I enjoyed the dark humor and heartily recommend the book to everyone.  This is a great book for kids and adults who like fantastic literature a bit more challenging than Harry Potter.

I was astonished to discover that China illustrated this book himself.  Isn't it enough that he's a brilliant and original writer, does he have to be a good artist too?  He had generously made copies of the delightful pen and ink sketches for the books and handed a few out at the reading.  China, I salute you!



China holding up a sketch of a giraffe from his book.

Here are links to an interview with China on YouTube. 


the second part:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4QH4QHSuV0

Feb. 18th, 2007


Paul Park launches Fantastic Fiction Salons in Seattle, WA


Thanks for dropping by to check out what's new on the Seattle arts scene!  On January 29th, NW MediaArts launched its first reading in the Fantastic Fiction Salon series with critically acclaimed writer Paul Park.  Paul flew in from  Massachussetts to read from the third book in the Tourmaline Quartet, The White Tyger, for the very first time anywhere.  This event marked the culmination of efforts begun last fall when I wrote a grant sponsored by Richard Hugo House, a non-profit organization that serves as a center for the literary arts in Seattle, to provide space for this new speculative fiction reading and workshop series.  The monthly series is co-sponsored by University Book Store, and our hard-working bookseller friend Duane Wilkins will be there with us sell books for Connie Willis in February, Terry Bisson in March, Peter Beagle in April, and Karen Joy Fowler in May.

Hugo House is a nice place for readings.  The reading room is an intimate space set up cafe-style, with tables and chairs and a small raised stage at the front.  You can buy coffee, tea, beer, wine, or baked goods to enjoy during the readings, all of which helps contributes to the relaxed, cozy atmosphere. 

 Paul Park is not just a uniquely talented writer, he's also a really good reader; he could have been an actor.  When I hear him read from his work I think how lucky his kids are to have him there to read to them every night.  Close your eyes and listen - he takes you there.  On this January night in Seattle "there" was Roumania, and the adventures of Andromeda, a girl who was once a man and now sometimes a dog, were transporting.   

Like all of the writers who come to Seattle as part of this series, Paul taught a writing workshop all day Sunday at Richard Hugo House and read at the Fantastic Fiction Salon on Monday night.  He taught "
Fantastic Places: Making the Unreal Real" during the Writing Fantastic Fiction workshop series.   His workshop was very well received.  Attendees were mostly experienced, published writers and we spent the day writing and then discussing what we wrote.  Louise Marley, an accomplished author of nine novels herself, participated in the class and had this to say: 
Cat Rambo posted notes from the workshop in her journal as well.

I don't know why Paul Park isn't better known.  He is one of the finest authors on the "humanist" wing of American Science Fiction and Fantasy. "His powerful, densely written narratives of religious and existential crisis on worlds at once exotic and familiar" (Nick Gevers) have won him critical acclaim
He is one of the most innovative and literary writers in the field.   

Paul's prose is elegant, poetic, subtle, and layered with meaning. His imagination seems limitless. Symbolic and mythic metaphysical connections are woven throughout his work.  These connections then build into broad psychological and political meanings. His characters are powerfully drawn--at times ambiguous and full of contradictions, just like people in real life. He tackles really difficult, interesting subject matter in books like Celestis, where he came closer than anybody I've ever read to describing what it means to be an alien "other."    

I highly recommend his work, especially his short story collection, "If Lions Could Speak,” his novel Celestis, and the four books beginning with A Princess of Roumania.  Paul's work transcends genre - it's an authentic exploration of what it means to be human.   

You can read more about Paul Park at his website;
Paul Park.  

Connie Willis is the next author to come to Seattle as part of the Fantastic Fiction Series and will teach a workshop on February 25th and read on February 26th.  I'll be back to report on Connie's workshop and reading!

Thanks for checking in;

Paul Park reading from the White Tyger January 2007