ICONography

WP_20141101_10_49_41_ProI’m back from the wilds of Eastern Iowa following a smashing time at ICON and its associated writing workshop, Paradise Icon 3.  This was my second year at the workshop, which is run by the inimitable Cath Schaff-Stump. (Incidentally, Cath posted a 5-year “where are they now” restrospective for our Viable Paradise class on her website. Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait.)

Last year was a tough act to follow, but I can now declare– from the safety of my 70-degree homeland– this year was even better. Great writers, awesome stories, insightful critiques, annd I’m out of adjectives. The guest lectures/Q&A by Jim Hines, Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch  proved entertaining and energizing. (Best advice of the weekend, courtesy of Mr. Hines: Trying to make it perfect will keep you from making it good. “It” referring to a work in progress, of course, but doesn’t that apply in so many other cases?)

Hats off (mostly knit sockhats, I’m thinking) to Cath for another stellar job on Paradise Icon 3.  Now to buckle down and bang out that next rough draft, which I am disappointed to report hasn’t written itself in my absence. I guess winter’s good for something after all.

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ICON Wrap-up

Finally home after almost a week of traveling, reading, writing, critiquing and palling around with fellow writers at ICON and Paradise Icon. Met new people, reunited with old ones, ate too much, drove all over the corn belt, dodged some tornadoes. Now I have time to sit back and reflect on the experience.

SPOILER ALERT: It was damned groovy.

Hats off to the inimitable Cath Schaff-Stump, who organized one heck of a workshop. She managed to attract a posse of neo-pro writers from coast to coast and the submissions and feedback were top notch. Critique sessions were a highlight of the trip, as was the group Rapid Fire Reading on Saturday evening. Our work and styles were diverse but complementary.   A speaker snub dented our progress not one bit, as we sat around and discussed our upcoming projects instead. I look forward to seeing more of every one of my ‘shopmates, and that’s no lie.

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ICON is a small but quite spirited convention. Cedar Rapids has an impressive SF/F community, moreso than some more populous regions. The book signing event was well attended, and we survived the late night filking next door. Even the weather proved cooperative. Normally I bring the snow with me,  but not this time! I’m definitely looking at a return trip next year.

On the return flight I read Michel Faber’s Under the Skin, as recommended by guest speaker Greg Frost. A quick and entertaining, albeit freaky, read and not for the squeamish. A thinly veiled– but clever– vegan manifesto, but I dug it. No hamburgers for me for a day or two.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming. Reading a friend’s draft. Finishing my own second draft. Mush.

Paradise Lost III: The post-mortem

I’m home from the fun and sun in San Antonio, full of brisket and whiskey and feedback on my current work in progress. Manuscripts were exchanged, friends were made and minds were blown. So was it worth it?

Probably the highest compliment I can pay PL3 is that I returned home full of ideas and a burning need to press on and finish a draft of this novel. This was a well-run affair from beginning to end and just what the doctor ordered.  The critique sessions, led by Lynne Thomas and Stina Leicht, provided a wealth of useful feedback. A quick dinner chat with Mary Robinette Kowal yielded more useful research material than a month of Googling on my own. And Jay Lake provided the wit and insight that only he can.  Reuniting with so many great people from Viable Paradise was the BBQ sauce on top.

I’ll share more specifics as I decompress and review my notes in greater detail. Suffice it to say that I received plenty of bang for the buck. Onward!

Paradise Lost III

As I posted the other day, Viable Paradise is now accepting applications for the fall. In addition, Paradise Lost III still has a few openings left for graduates of Viable Paradise and Taos Toolbox. I’ll be there!  And I’m looking forward to meeting and learning from Mary Robinette Kowal, Lynne M. Thomas and Stina Leicht. Anyone else heading to San Antonio this April?