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Viable Paradise

Anyone following me on Twitter will have noticed a lot of agony about Big Scary Deadline during the past couple of months. BSD, as it became less-than-fondly known, was an application to Viable Paradise, a SFF writing workshop with an exceptional list of instructors. The entry packet: three chapters and a novel synopsis, much like any other professional novel submission.

The whole process was very useful: I learned how to write a synopsis, and this was a strong incentive to pull the beginning of my somewhat-disorganized almost-done novel into a coherent, readable form. I also solved an annoying plot problem while writing the synopsis, though who knows if clever solution will survive the actual writing of that section.

The final edits were done on my mother’s cute little balcony, bees buzzing in the flowering tree overhead, and beer close to hand. She read the ms, marking bits as needed, then passed me the pages so I could scribble on them at greater length. Mom finished the last page and handed it over. She paused, looked at me.

“You can’t stop there!” Moms are notoriously biased, but what an excellent compliment.

I got the packet in only two weeks before the deadline. I’d been told that earlier applications have a higher probability of success, but having a good application was the main requirement, and my 8000 words weren’t ready before that.

I heard back today: waitlist, with the key addendum: “In fact, the instructors made it a point that you be strongly encouraged to apply to VP 14 next year.” I have no idea how long the waitlist is; I will just wait and see what happens.

I’m actually very happy about this outcome. I imagine there were hundreds of applicants for the 24 positions, so waitlist is doing very well, especially as late as I applied. And best of all, the instructors, who as you recall are all authors I admire greatly, read my packet and thought it didn’t suck.


  1. Marjorie says:

    Congratulations! That’s great, especially the ‘strongly encouraged’ to reapply part – that is obviously directly related to the quality of your work and not a ‘form’ letter!

  2. DataGoddess says:

    I said it before, but to repeat, that just rocks royally!!

  3. Laura says:


    FYI, I’d also read anything starting with the first lines you posted. 🙂

  4. Sarah says:

    Thanks all!

    Laura, I will make sure you get to read the subsequent lines. Just as soon as I write them, that is. And I remembered I’d forgotten one:

    “Everyone has a knack.” Short story “Knack”, written but not edited.