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May 25, 2013

Three Weeks To Go
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:40 PM * 18 comments

Applications for the Viable Paradise Writers’ Workshop (taught by, among others, Miss Teresa and Mr. Patrick) close three weeks from tonight at midnight, EDT.

Now in its seventeenth year, held every autumn on Martha’s Vineyard, this is a one-week intensive workshop on writing commercial fantasy and science fiction. We deal with both novel-length and short fiction.

This year’s instructors:

  • Debra Doyle
  • Elizabeth Bear
  • James D. Macdonald
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden
  • Sherwood Smith
  • Steven Brust
  • Steven Gould
  • Special Guest: Scott Lynch

    We have food, music, pancakes, jellyfish, lighthouses, stars, and a pretty good track record. Three out of three of this year’s RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Awards in SF/Fantasy, for example (Scalzi, former instructor; Jemisin, graduate; Bear, current instructor). The writers’ successes are their own; still, we’re proud of ‘em.

    Class size is limited to 24.

    Application information is here. (Short version: 8K word writing sample plus a $25 application fee.)

    Learn the VP Oath and discover for yourself the Horror that is Thursday!

Comments on Three Weeks To Go:
#1 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2013, 12:36 AM:

You almost make me wish I wrote fiction.

#2 ::: Tam ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2013, 01:22 AM:

If you're chewing a nail and wondering if you should apply this year, the answer is yes. And not just for Jim's Gibsons (but Jim's Gibsons are pretty all right).

#3 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2013, 07:57 AM:

Next year in Martha's Vineyard. Next year in the holy land. (Actually probably not; next year, though the kid will have graduated, we'll only be beginning to dig out of the hole of college debt.)

#4 ::: Disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2013, 01:58 PM:

Does anyone know of a similar workshop for mystery writers? I have a family member who is working on their third mystery; I'd like to suggest a workshop to them, and possibly help pay, but I don't know enough about the genre to find a workshop with a proven track record and published instructors that is aimed at writers past the level of Writing 101.

#5 ::: Rachel McGonagill ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2013, 11:20 AM:

I'm so glad VP is still going strong!

Y'all probably don't remember me, but I was (as pre-married Rachel Horn) at Viable Paradise III, the class with Greg van Eekhout and David Moles in. Though I'm not (yet!) as successful with my writing as they, I can attest that that week in Martha's Vineyard was one of the best of my writing life. First of all, it gave me the impetus to finally finish my first novel, which I had been futzing around with for almost 10 years. But equally as cool, the critiques I received from the instructors and my fellow VPers were both very helpful in the short run, with ideas and skills for rewrites, and in the long run, they spurred me to join The Wordos, a professional writers group that helped me learn and practice even more. The VP instructors also gave me insights into the business side of writing I would not otherwise have had.

And of course, there was lots of fun: the potluck dinner, beer night, all the fine storytelling, the wonderful island backdrop, not to mention the "Henry IV" reading night, with Macdonald as Falstaff, iirc. Good times.

So, thank you, to all the staff, for making Viable Paradise so special. I hope this year's class is equally blown away.

#6 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2013, 01:37 PM:

Of course I remember you, Rachel. VP III was an -- interesting -- year. That was our first year at the Island Inn. It was also the year Rae died. We didn't have staff at that time. That was intense.


#4 : Disguised

I don't know much about the mystery scene, so I asked around. The following were recommended:

Killer Nashville

Crime Fiction Academy

See also, the "Events" section at

#7 ::: Disguised ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Thanks very much for the suggestions. I will investigate.

#8 ::: Fran Wilde ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2013, 12:45 PM:

Extra encouragement for anyone still deciding whether or not to apply - Go for it. Best decision.

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2013, 06:18 PM:

And now it's down to two weeks!

#10 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 05:18 PM:

What I don't know about fiction writing could sink an island. I'm going to apply for this one day. Maybe next year. I've been in a writing program (not fiction) and they can do wonders for somebody with ambition but little experience or understanding of a form. Swear to gawd I wish I understood fiction as a writer the way I understand it as a reader.

#11 ::: Iku-Nuku 117G ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2013, 11:48 PM:

"Fresh ribbon"? Okay.

Also: "Microsoft", not "MicroSoft".

Unless this is some sort of Holy Text, Not One Word of Which May Be Altered, someone might want to do an update.

#12 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 12:08 AM:

Iku-Nuku 117G :


Are you sure you're responding to the right thread?

Are you sure you're responding to the right blog?

#13 ::: Iku-Nuku 117G ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 12:32 AM:

Well, my comment got "held for review" (probably because of the link), but if you go to the application information page you'll see what I meant.

So: Yes. Right thread, right blog.

#14 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 08:56 AM:

We include the basic instructions for hardcopy MSS submission because we don't want to penalize applicants who haven't yet joined the computer age.

We'd hate to lose a good applicant just because they happen to be working with a second-hand Smith-Corona they picked up at an estate sale.

#15 ::: Iku-Nuku 117G ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 11:06 AM:

Ah. Inclusiveness.

Can those Smith-Corona folks view the website with Chrome or are they stuck with Internet Explorer?

#16 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 12:43 PM:

Iku-Nuku 117G: Can those Smith-Corona folks view the website with Chrome or are they stuck with Internet Explorer?

Depends on what the branch of the public library down the street from them is using, I suppose.

#17 ::: Kellan Sparver ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2013, 09:52 PM:

I've semi-seriously considered writing stories on a typewriter. Fewer distractions.

#18 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2013, 07:32 PM:

I haven't gone so far as to find a typewriter, but I've done some writing on an ancient laptop with no internet connection and no games.

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