Emily C. Skaftun

(skŏf • tŭn) n. A writer of speculative fiction.

Tag: clarion west

Obligatory write-a-thon post

photo: AHLN / Flickr
This might make a good illustration for the story that has hijacked my brain again. Can you believe I tried to write about people’s physical size being dependent on their esteem WITHOUT a monster rampage? Silly.


Hello, friends! I am once again doing Clarion West’s write-a-thon, because peer pressure.

Just kidding. It’s an amazing organization, and now more than ever we need to band together to fund such things. You can sponsor me here, and if you donate more than $15 I’ll send you one of my famous story postcards. What is that, you say? Well, one of the first housekeeping things I took care of this write-a-thon was to make a page for all of them. You can see them at eskaftun.com/postcards-from. There were more than I remembered!

But because writing is HARD when you work full-time for a newspaper and are in the middle of some (minor) renovations on your new house and also need to spend at least some time with your husband and cat and you have to get to roller derby practice because slamming into people while wearing roller skates is cheaper than therapy and it’s finally summer in Seattle so you also need to be outside as much as possible… the write-a-thon is almost half over already!

So this is also a progress report. How am I doing? Here’s the annotated list of things I said I was going to do:

• Add a year’s worth of old travel writing, book reviews, and other junk to the blog. (at least 2 posts per week) I’m on track for this one, so far. I’ve added 5 re-posts of articles I wrote for the newspaper to the blog. Now for bonus points I must remember how easy this was and do it at the time from here on out. Next up, travel writing!

• Um, actually submit some fiction for once? (at least 1 per week) Nope, haven’t even thought about doing this.

• Write and post new postcard stories. (at least 3 per week) I’ve drafted four of these, but haven’t inked them or posted them. So I’m a little behind. 

• Organize postcard stories on website. These are probably the most distinctive fiction I write, sadly, and they’re hard to find. DONE!

• Work on current WIP, a murder mystery set in a school full of invisible teenagers. This had been last year’s goal too, upsettingly. At that time I thought it was a short story, but it wasn’t. It’s a damn YA novel. On the bright side, I did “finish” it last year. Too bad I have to “finish” it again. I haven’t started on this yet, because a short story that I thought was finished told me it needed ANOTHER new ending. This makes four. Hopefully I can finish this up soon and submit it and get back on track with the novel! 

• If that doesn’t work, I have two other unfinished/abandoned novels I half-heartedly want to finish/update.

Midway through, this isn’t looking as bad as it feels. AND, I’ve been lax because I have no sponsors to answer to as of yet. If you sponsor me, I bet I’ll work harder on this stuff. 🙂

Write-a-thon wrap-up: Success, then failure

I write this to you from a very quiet place. An upstairs room in an off-the-grid cabin a few miles outside of a very small town, with solar electricity, no internet, no cell signal, and thankfully fully modern plumbing. A young woman is still asleep on the mattress next to the bed, a woman I met yesterday, who drove me the 150 miles to get here.

No, I am not hiding from my writing commitments. It’s not the Witness Protection Program. And unfortunately for the write-a-thon, I’m not here to write either.

As for my write-a-thon goals, there’s good news and bad news. Good news: I did finish that “story” by the end of week three. Bad news: in week four, my writing group informed me that it wanted to be a novel when it grew up (although I guess not fully grown up, because it’s YA). So instead of working on a new story like I promised, I’ve been working on outlining that expansion, and will be starting on the writing of the new and improved novel version when I can figure out how to squeeze writing into my life again.

Good news: I will have fulfilled my goal of adding content to my blog… just as soon as I get some internet time to actually upload these things.

Bad news: I totally failed at figuring out reprint submissions. Worse news: I haven’t even finished a new story to submit. Argh.

Good news: I’ve written seven postcards this summer! Here they are. I hope you sponsored me in the Clarion West write-a-thon, so that one of them can be yours!



First time ever running out of room on a postcard. I’m getting sloppy!









Write-a-thon week three update

Only two days late. Don’t judge me.

So far, I’ve been doing … okay … on my Clarion West write-a-thon goals:

• Move website? Check.

• Add old posts to site? Check, 7 so far.

• Submit reprints? Negatory. I could use a lot of help with that. But I did update a bunch of submissions that needed it.

• New postcard stories? Check. Here they are.

• Finish current WIP? Check.

• Twitter? Kinda. I set up some IFTTT formulas that should help.

It’s not too late to sponsor me! I only have one sponsor so far. All sponsors will get a postcard! Maybe one of these:









I didn’t realize until after I’d written the last one that it had a name, “He waits through the winter.” Which just makes it so much better.

Write-a-thon week one update

I am writing into the void.

I am writing about the void.

I am avoiding writing?


Playing imaginary piano into the void?

It’s summer again, and that means Clarion West, and because I never learn I am signed up for it again. You can read all about it at www.clarionwest.org/members/eskaftun. So far I have zero sponsors, so I could use a few more! This year I have pledged to:

• Move my Blogspot blog to WordPress. I mean really. Blogspot? What was I thinking? (by end of week 1)

• Add a crapload of old travel writing, book reviews, and other junk to the blog. (at least 2 posts per week)

• Research and submit previously published stories to reprint markets. (at least 1 per week)

• Write and post new postcard stories. (at least 1 per week)

• Finish current WIP, a murder mystery set in a school full of invisible teenagers. (by end of week 3)

• Start some new fiction. (30 min. of fictioning per day). If no new fiction ideas occur on schedule, revisit old WIP YA novel about teens navigating a world where murder is legal, up to a point.

• Figure out how to have a twitter presence when I hate twitter. 🙂

So far I have mostly done the first thing, moving this site to WordPress. However as of this exact moment it only shows up if you DON’T type in the “www” part. I’m working on it. But in the meantime you probably can’t see me. So hello, void.

I’m a little behind on submissions and adding in old blog posts, but I have added one old post to the site. There will be more of these, and they will be backdated. Exercise in futility? Probably.

I have also written one of my famous postcards. It could be yours if you sponsor me.

To the word mines!

The word mines might look like this.

It’s week five of Clarion West, which means it’s week five of the Write-a-thon too. There’s still time to sponsor me!

I might actually meet my writing goals for the write-a-thon this year, for the first time. Mostly this is due to setting more realistic goals, but I’ve also been productive in the word department. The first of the two stories I promised myself (and the world) I would write clocked in at almost 11,000 words. Which of course means it will be impossible to sell–but that comes later.

Today I start on the second one, and honestly I suspect it will be on the long side too. Hopefully not AS long. Want to cheer me on and also receive a 100-word story on a postcard? Support Clarion West by sponsoring me!

Write-a-thon again?

So apparently an update every three months is all I can manage this year. Oh well. I’ll console myself by pretending that while I’m not blogging I’m doing More Important Things.

Here is one thing that’s actually important: it’s Clarion West season again! A new crop of 18 up-and-coming SF writers have taken residence in their “secret” location in Seattle, and are now one week closer to earning their SF decoder rings.

My corroded decoder ring.

It’s an emotional time for me. It’s been five years since I went to CW, and my decoder ring has lost its shine. Literally. It was made of some cheap metal and it’s rusted now. It used to light up, but I guess its battery has died. Which is 100% NOT to say that CW is a cheap experience or that it doesn’t hold up. One has only to look at the successes of some of my classmates (most notably J. M. Sidorova and Randy Henderson–seriously, look out for these two writers) to know that the workshop knows what it’s doing.

So maybe some of us (me) haven’t succeeded as much as we’d hoped to by now. And maybe some of us like to get inappropriately morose about it at public events. I won’t name any names. That’s really not my point. (Do I have a point? Where did that thing go?)

My point is that I am once again supporting the workshop by participating in the Write-a-thon! You should sponsor me. You’ll be helping a terrific organization, and I’ll send you a postcard too.

Enough of that. Let’s focus on the positive:

• I have a four-week break coming up from the dayjob that has been my major excuse for not writing like I should. Hoo f-ing rah!

• In the first week of the Write-a-thon I’ve written about 1000 words of a new story. More importantly, I’ve written before work every day this week (though clearly not too productively).

• After Death WON the Bram Stoker Award it was nominated for! Congratulations, editor Eric J. Guignard, and thank you for including my story in your award-winning book. That feels nice.

• I’ve signed the contract and been paid and reviewed galleys, so this feels secure enough to announce: My story, “Diary of a Pod Person,” will appear in the October issue of Asimov’s! This is pretty huge for me. Asimov’s is the sort of market that I figured I would never be “SF” enough for. And my story that’s in it isn’t exactly the hardest SF in the world. But it’s in, and that feels like some kind of acceptance.

• A couple more stories are loose in the world; more on those later.

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