Viable Paradise 2009

Last year I taught at Viable Paradise, the one-week speculative fiction writing workshop in scenic Martha’s Vineyard, and I had such a good time that I thought a second helping would be groovy. And even better, the folks running the joint invited me back. So, I’ll be teaching at Viable Paradise again this year, from October 4th through the 10th. Indeed, the entire teaching line-up from last year is repeating: Me, Elizabeth Bear, Jim Macdonald and Debra Doyle, Laura Mixon and Steven Gould, and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. That’s quite a lot of quality speculative fiction knowledge for you, all under one New England roof.

I mention this to you now because, as it happens, the application season for Viable Paradise 2009 has newly opened, and if you want to vie for one of the maximum of 28 slots open this year, it’s time to get cracking.  The links above have all the information you need to get your application together. Selection is always competitive, and for good reason (see: teacher line-up above; also see VP alumni sales track record), so send along your best stuff. Good luck!

22 Comments on “Viable Paradise 2009”

  1. VP was the single best week of 2008 for me. It was concentrated, deep-fried awesome topped with awesomesauce, and the feedback and instruction I received there would have made VP a bargain at twice the tuition.

    Anyone out there even considering sending off an application: do it. It will be one of the most fun, intense, rewarding, and enlightening weeks of your life. The instructors are all top-notch, the island is beautiful in the fall, you’ll get to hang out with some of the most talented and intelligent people in the SF/F field, and you’ll make twenty-odd new friends.

  2. Woot! Now I get to tell everybody I slept with John Sclazi TWICE.

    (Want the upstairs bedroom this year?)

  3. (And maybe by october I will have learned to type your name without transposing letters.)

  4. I thought we had enough to deal with just with John Scalvi…

    For the record, Marko’s IMs and emails appeared to glitter with an eldritch light for months after he went to VP. I think that’s a good thing.

  5. Lemme join the alumnus bus and tell all you writers sitting on the fence… DO IT! It’s been, what, 4 months? and I’m *still*processing all I learned at VP. Oh, and the tribe of fellow writers/friends you make is almost as valuable as the memories of Scalzi and eBear doing a ballet lift. (and did we mention sparky jellyfish?)

  6. It’s been over two years, and I’m still unpacking what I’ve learned from VP. Part of my problem is that the unpacking tends to happen at odd moments, and never when I expect it. Also, I didn’t go into VP with any sense of what I wanted to get out of VP. That was probably a mistake. OTOH, so far, it’s been the workshop that keeps on giving.

    In any case, VP is absolutely worth it.

  7. The temptation, oh, the temptation. I’ll have to see if my current WiP is polished enough to submit.

  8. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang in Chang in Chang in Chang

    VPXII Was the bomb. Learned so much there form everyone. I went because Scalzicce and BEar were going to be there but I got so much from EVERY one of the instructors and the other participants.

    Apply. Love it. You will not regret it.

  9. I fear I’ve once again failed to get my anatomy in gear to do this. Sniff. Maybe next time.

    (I have to replace some half-written stories with completed ones, my desktop computer with a lap top, and my hip with a titanium one. That last is actually the first thing I need to do this year, and then I’ll worry about the rest.)

  10. Working hard on my ap right now, trying to get it out by the end of the month.

    It’s cool that all the teachers are coming back. I always teach better the second time around. And it was a good line up the first time.


  11. Another VP XII alumnus, just chiming in to say “Just do it!” along with Katrina, Marko and Chang. (Hi, Katrina, Marko & Chang!)


  12. Matt – you’ll never know unless you submit. So submit!

    Xopher – plenty of time, man. Do it!

    Catherine – go for it! Best of luck!

    Though I missed out on ScLazi (Bear knows all), I know the other five are awesome and Scalzi is surely awesome by association. VPXI is a writerly-life-changing experience. It’s that simple.

    – yeff (VPXI)

  13. sparCKL – PDX – Once a Silicon Valley software engineer, CURTIS C. CHEN now writes speculative fiction and runs puzzle games near Portland, Oregon. His debut novel WAYPOINT KANGAROO (Thomas Dunne Books, 2016) is a science fiction thriller about a superpowered secret agent facing his toughest mission yet: vacation.

    Yet another VPXII alum reporting in…

    I’ll second Marko’s sentiment that if you have any inkling of interest in the workshop, you should get off your butt and APPLY. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    For the record, I submitted my application on the last possible day in 2008 and got accepted. Which is not a great example for you to follow, but don’t be discouraged if it’s Flag Day and you’re still working on your story. Just, um, pick up the pace a little.

    Please note, however, that VP is a B.Y.O.B.* affair.

    Go Lucky Thirteen!

    * Bring Your Own Bacon

  14. Just want to add to all the other comments:

    For a writer, it’s a life-changing experience. The sheer amount of info, drive and writer chutzpa you’ll walk away with is staggering. Instruction is *excellent* and will laser-focus your skills in a major way on pieces you don’t even know you’re missing yet.

    It’s also a blast. Just discovering that there are that many other people who share your goals is empowering all on it’s own. The island is very pretty, but don’t plan to see too much of it, you’ll be busy.

    As fellow VPer Lisa said, they could have had it at a hotel in Ohio near a taco bell, and it’d still be an awesome vacation.

    Christian VP XII

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