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liz williams
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 02:38 am:   

OK, it's nearly that time of year again, when I stand on the genre street corner touting for offers, and Sue Thomason and I get Milford Tongue from licking thousands of invite envelopes.

Due to a conversation with (ex-Milfordite) Colin Greenland last night, I realise that some people don't know that Milford is still running.

So, for those folk: Milford UK will be held again this year, in York, in late Sept-early Oct. It's the usual deal: a week in a hotel, being critiqued by other writers. Usually comes out at about £250- £300 tops: cost is purely accommodation, your drinks bill, and a small admin fee so that we can pay for the stamps.

All you need to be eligible is: one published story in a paying mag/emag.

It's usually a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. As the workshop's current secretary, I am constantly trying to attract new folk: everyone who has been to Milford in recent years is aware of the problems of turning the workshop into a clique. I would also like it if more American (or other overseas) writers were to join us: this has added some interesting perspectives in the past (Nancy Moore: over to you! :-) )

If you're interested, email me and I'll put you on the invite list.

Liz

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Jay C
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 04:09 pm:   

Liz, okay, question. What's the usual cutoff date for a decision. I might even be tempted, depending on circumstance. I nearly went a couple of years ago, but other things came up. At this stage I have no idea where I will be or what I'll be doing at that time of year or whether I'll be able to sustain that sort of cost.
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liz williams
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 04:34 pm:   

Jay - there's no official cutoff date, because people tend to book at all kinds of stages, usually later rather than sooner, given the kinds of lives we all have.

If you're interested, let me know (as you sort of have already) and I'll put you down as a provisional: we can always take you off the list later.

Same goes for anyone else; Milford does not tend to book up very quickly and there's usually a degree of flexibility. Last year, the hotel were very good about me changing the numbers right up until the last minute, basically because they don't get booked up to the limit at that time of year anyway.

Hope this makes sense (just got back from band at Sussex Arts Club, so it may not. Talk to me when you see me).

Liz
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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 08:16 am:   

Public Service Announcement:
Hey, all you US writers: Take advantage of Liz's kind encouragement to American participants. Milford is wonderful. It's small enough to be civilized and friendly, and large enough to give you a diverse community of writers. And York is a lovely place to visit, full of history and fun touristy things. Not to mention good pubs.
The thing that impressed me the most about Milford, though, were the critiques. Over the course of a week we critiqued about 25 stories and novel excerpts, and I never heard one bit of unconstructive critism. No one used their critique as a reason to show off their knowledge or play ego games; everyone focused on trying to help the writer make the particular work as good as possible. So while people found significant flaws in some works, or just didn't like others, they gave the writer valuable information instead of trashing the work. It was adult, professional, and damn civilized.
And even though it was civilized, it wasn't boring! I'm planning to go again one of these years.


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liz williams
Posted on Friday, March 28, 2003 - 08:56 am:   

Thanks, Nancy! (The cheque is in the post).

Seriously, for once, one of the reasons I initially agreed to become secretary of Milford was that my first workshop there was as Nancy describes. I think I've now been going for 5 years, having never previously been a workshop person, and it's always been civilised and with a marked emphasis on constructive criticism and lack of acrimony. I gather this hasn't always been the case, but it seems to be these days.

Now that I've said this in public, of course, we'll all be at one another's throats on the next one...
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Mike Lewis
Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 08:49 am:   

Hi Liz,

I'm looking forward to Milford again this year - I missed going last year. But then Clarion was enough writing workshops for one year (according to my wfire ! :-) )

Did you get my Milford cheque?

thanks

Mike
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Mike Lewis
Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 08:50 am:   

that should be wife, not wfire! who said writers had to be able to type...?

Mike
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 10:32 am:   

It's this sort of thread that makes me wish I lived somewhere where I wasn't seemingly the only one in the damn country writing spec-fic.
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Liz Williams
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 12:15 pm:   

Mike: yes, many thanks.

Nicholas: whereabouts are you?
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2003 - 10:10 pm:   

Singapore.
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Liz Williams
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 01:02 am:   

Ah, right. Well, if you ever make it to Milford, you'd be most welcome. We have at least one person coming from Australia for the next workshop (he's combining it with a more extensive European trip).
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Colin Brush
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 01:50 am:   

Are there any concrete dates yet, Liz? Were there already? I've forgotten. I'd like to put the dates in my diary. I'd like to put my diary someplace I could find it. I'd like to be awake Monday mornings etc.

Colin
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Liz Williams
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 03:08 am:   

Yes, there were and they are: 28th Sept - Oct 4th.

(Having spent some moments looking in my address book and wondering where all the dates had disappeared to...)
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Colin Brush
Posted on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 02:05 am:   

If go down to Neil Gaiman's blog today, you're in for a pleasant surprise:

http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/journal.asp

Only a hundred thousand or so people read this on a daily basis . . .
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Liz Williams
Posted on Wednesday, June 18, 2003 - 04:57 am:   

Oh, cool! Go, Mr Gaiman...

The Milford archives, at which I am looking right now, have a huge amount of correspondance from the now-great and good. One day I suppose I should try and get this properly archived.
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Liz
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 12:18 am:   

Workshop kicks off today in sunny Yorkshire. 140,000 words to read and crit between now and Thursday (which is one novel-length, I guess. Funny how it always seems like more...)

Lots of new folk, lots of old Milford hands, and we always like to have someone from overseas. This year it will be the intrepid Ian Nichols, editor of ASIM, all the way from Oz.

Wish us luck!
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Liz
Posted on Thursday, October 02, 2003 - 01:21 am:   

Thursday.

The thousand yard stare, the quivering hands, the tottering steps...it could almost be a convention. But no, Milford lurches into its last full critiquing day, with me in the hotseat this afternoon, and we are old before our time.

Thus far, workshop is going very well. No arguments (except about adjectives), no tears (except those evoked by sad stories), and some exceptional fiction.

The strain is obviously showing. In the pub on Tuesday, as we walked in, some uncouth youth of York was overheard to say "I see the OAP bus has arrived." So we beat him to death and buried him under the Minster.

I'm sitting in a cybercafe opposite York's oldest Pub, Ye Starre Inn, or somesuch. York is great, apart from its teenagers. Some excellent restaurants, pubs, and shopping opportunities. Milford has collectively been much taken with the shop that says in the window "Buy 5 swords and Get One Free!" Our kinda town...

Ah well. Onward and upward...
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Liz W
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 02:11 am:   

Not that we shamelessly nick ideas or anything, but since Clarion started doing T shirts with context-free quotes, *we* started doing T shirts with quotes. And here are this year's results:

A fairy on a motorbike does it for me.

Getting into a mad alien robot's viewpoint is a bit of a challenge.

The severed arm really grabbed me.

I'd buy it and I haven't even got a magazine.

So, you do entrails.

I promise to take it off and bring it to dinner.

Die, Noodle Scum!

There is a lot to be said for the quick-release corset.

How many lesbian adulterous werewolves do you know?

If you are coming back as a cat, I'm definitely not coming back as a gerbil.

I don't know much about kids except that they are necessary for the propagation of the human race.

I was expecting Arthurian mysticism but then, bugger me, it was aliens.

So far as I know, you don't hyphenate 'arsehole'.

It tastes terrific spread over a close friend.

I recently ate my first Yorkshire Fat Bastard.

I can't take ichor seriously.

This would be a worthwhile read if I could get over the pain threshold.

Is there such a thing as Too Klingon?

Secretly, I'm a bit of a sucker for The Cosmic All.

40k at 10c a word - that's a foreign holiday!


You don't want people swimming in your god, do you?

They are going to have to pass a law or everyone in Ireland is going to be
eaten by pumas.

It's Quatermass meets The Famous Five.

Luxury bathmats with feelings of their own...

If Margaret Atwood actually came here, I'd write a story about talking squids before I set her on fire.

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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 08:58 am:   

That was extremely funny. Thanks for sharing. The Atwood quote will stay with me for a while.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 12:24 pm:   

You people are sick, I say. Sick!
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unohoo
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 02:08 pm:   

Puh-lease, Mr Pot. Leave poor Ms Kettle & cohorts alone.
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Laura Anne
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 02:52 pm:   

Gee, all we did with the one-liners at the Oregon Coastal thing was make Dean Wesley Smith use them as a title for a story...

(which he then had to write before dawn the next morning. I am in fear of these stories...)
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Liz
Posted on Sunday, October 19, 2003 - 03:21 pm:   

Well, "The Chilli of Eternity" missed the T-shirt list but it may be appearing in a magazine near you in due course. If the relevant person gets on with it.

And I am now writing a story also inadvertently entitled by Jaine Wedell's description of Whitby: "All Fish and Dracula."

Ms Kettle
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Liz
Posted on Monday, October 27, 2003 - 11:47 am:   

Milford Report 2003

By Gaie Sebold

I was nervous about going to Milford. It amazed me to get in, on the strength of my one and only professional story sale: I was all too aware of being a very new fish about to enter a pretty rarefied pond. However, the water turned out to be fine; in fact I had the time of my life.

York was bizarrely sun-drenched and crammed with antiquities I wasnít going to have time to examine. I had made a pathetic attempt to get started on the reading before I arrived, but with between roughly 11,000 and 22,000 words a day to read and critique, I rapidly realised that I should have started some time before. Last year would have been good.

We gathered in the dining room of the Hedley House Hotel for the first night meal, where I swallowed, along with the chicken, my inevitable awe at finding myself on the same table as Liz Williams. There were sixteen attendees, not to mention Mrs Nichols who, though not attending the workshop, was accompanying her husband, (Ian Nichols of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine). She behaved with remarkable patience, considering.

The days began with a fried breakfast of, by my standards, ridiculously large proportions. I donít even do breakfast. "Itís brain food, you need it," people kept telling me in reassuring tones, as I watched absurd amounts of food disappear from my plate.

Mornings were spent reading and writing critiques; in your room, the hotelís lounge, or even on occasion in the Abbey Gardens, surrounded by tourists and ancient stone disintegrating gently in the sunlight. One of the attendees, who shall remain nameless, also managed to do an hourís writing a day, apparently without the aid of interesting chemicals. I could only whimper in awe as I attempted to prise my eyelids open with cocktail sticks.

At some point it was usual to stagger into York in search of lunch, gaping at a few beams and so forth and making vague plans to see it properly at some point when oneís brain wasnít full of story structure, characterisation, and stray speculations on the sexual habits of wolves.

In the afternoons, the critiquing sessions took place in a strange little semi-basement room. This had an assortment of chairs and institutional green dťcor (with colour-co-ordinated abstract paintings of almost perfect blandness). There was a definite temptation to stand up and say; "my nameís Gaie Sebold, and Iím a writer," in approved 12-step fashion; but the impulse soon died under the sheer sweated terror of awaiting the verdict on your work. The standard of writing was frighteningly high. The piece of haematite I clutched for support attained roughly the temperature of active plutonium; but in the end both of my stories received extremely useful critique and neither was entirely despised, to my great relief.

I ended up feeling less worried about my fiction than about the standard of my critiques; the level of detail and clarity with which the other attendees analysed the work put me to shame. I hope that my technique improved towards the end of the week, and I can think of few better ways to improve your writing, and particularly your rewriting; but damn, it was hard work.

There is a benevolent Milford tradition of offering a drink to any writer whose work you are particularly harsh about, but this was seldom necessary. On the rare occasions when it was put into effect, the response was generally genial. No-one was excessively precious about their own work, or unnecessarily brutal about anyone elseís. The sessions were truly professional and helpful - even fun.

In the evening we invaded one of the local restaurants: the conversation covered death, drugs and live role play, not to mention publication, aliens, corsets, the psychology of serial killers and the proper method of deploying combat noodles. Sue Thomason (Empress of the Known Universe, a.k.a Chair of the Milford Committee) and I were nearly banned from sitting together, as our combined howls of merriment tended to cause food to leap from plates. Not just our plates, either.

There was no real bar in the hotel. This was felt to be a disadvantage: there was a room, which had a table and a sort of sideboard arrangement with drinks in it, but it lacked a certain ambience as a gathering place. Apart from anything else we couldnít all have fitted in. Thus the post-prandial strange games, disturbing competitions and readings from The Eye of Argon of which I had heard rumours did not, sadly, take place. Although how anyone would have had the energy I can barely imagine.

On the last day we critiqued one final story. We then spilled into York. After lunch in a chocaholicís dream restaurant, we finally got our fill of history at the wonderful Merchant Adventurersí Hall. The beams, flagged floors and strange green-painted chapel (thereís a definite local thing about pale green paint) I strongly suspect will turn up in one or two fantasy stories. Charity shops were duly raided, the last nightís scrumptious meal was eaten, and we were officially christened Milford Minions to the Empress of the Known Universe. (Although one of us, refusing to be a Minion, became the Token Lackey).

I reached home broke and utterly exhausted, with an aching brain and about 17 pages of critique which I still havenít had time to apply to the stories in question.

Am I going to put myself through it again?

Are you kidding? Of course I am. And I have to go back to the hotel, if only to check whether theyíve noticed yet that we turned the paintings in the critique room upside-downÖ

**********************

Many thanks, Gaie, though not for the 'awe' bit. Jesus! I do not yet merit awe, except from my serfs.

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Liz
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 10:57 am:   

MILFORD 2004

It took about 4 hours to get up to Snowdonia from Pembrokeshire, where I've been staying with my family, on the main north-south road, which follows the coast. That this is sometimes not wide enough for 2 cars at the same time should give you some idea. I stopped off in Machynlleth and stocked up on drink, since the new Milford center has no bar, and reached Trigonos through roaring wild weather at around 3. And thus Milford began.

I won't give a blow-by-blow account of the workshop, except to say that it went very well, everyone loves the new venue and wants to come back, the material for critiquing was very good and we drank a lot, since everyone
had panicked on the 'no bar' announcement and overstocked. The food was excellent, thanks to the chef - who gave me a narrow look and said, "Yeah, I remember *you*". Hardly surprising, since when I was last there with the Druids, we persuaded him to jump in the lake. In February. In the snow. Naked.

So, in the morning we read, or walked. In the afternoon, we critted, and in the evening we ate a lot and then retired to the library and the log fire and the booze. The weather was extremely wild - a knock-on from Ivan, I suppose. We finished the critting on Wednesday.

Wednesday evening, half the team went for a walk up to Tal-y-Sarn (known universally as 'the creepy place') - this is at the back of Nantlle village and is a wasted landscape of deserted slate mines and ruined cottages, around a great sheer pit of green water. There are plaques in memory of people who died there - the dates were too recent for mining disasters, so we are presuming either suicides or diving accidents. And we had to be careful where we trod, partly because of the sharp slates, and partly because of discarded syringes. This is the dark side to the lovely mountains and castles and tea shops - economic depression and rising, prohibitive property prices.


We found the ruins of Tal-y-Sarn hall, half buried in the woods, and now marked with crimson hand prints and graffiti in Welsh which translated as 'SONS OF FIRE.' Milford's collective hair stood on end at this point, especially as there was a sinister mutter from above and a pair of ravens appeared, circling us in the manner of vultures.

We hastily reviewed our command of the Welsh language in case the Sons of
Fire appeared, and decided that "Thanks," "Merry Christmas," and "Cheers" wasn't going to cut much ice with crazed nationalists. Milford thus beat a tactical retreat, but the only Welsh-speaking person we encountered on
the way back was a small girl in charge of a kitten in a pink diamante collar. OK, so we're easily scared. Your point?

On Thursday, we gadded about - went up to Blaenau Ffestiniog on a steam train, which was entertaining and extremely pretty. BF itself, however, is enclosed in the Snowdonia National Park, rather like Berlin in East Germany, but it's still a bit of a disaster area - huge piles of slate, again, but graffiti in English, this time. Admittedly, it read ENGLISH OUT, but at least we could understand it.

Then we had lunch at Porthmadoc railway station, braved the Welsh-speaking post office (charming, helpful, no sign of the Sons of Fire, whew) and went to Portmeirion for the afternoon. This is where they filmed THE PRISONER - but no one got chased by any huge balloons, and everyone found their way
out again. This is the first time I've been to Portmeirion and it is enchanting - strange Italianate buildings along a stunning estuary.

Returned to find we had run out of firewood - Jaine consulted the chef, who told her where more was to be found but then gave her another narrow look and said "Don't burn anything you shouldn't." Clearly, the Trigonos
staff have got our measure.

And that was it for another year.
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Liz
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 11:00 am:   

ANNOUNCEMENT - MILFORD 2005

Over the last few years, Milford has been held mainly in the fall, but this year we have decided during the AGM to try to book the workshop for August 2005, the week after the Glasgow WorldCon. This is in order to give those of you across the Pond a chance to combine a trip to Scotland with a trip to Wales. Costs are about £280 for the week, full board, with great food, your own personal Snowdonian country house with log fires*, a lake and a view of the mountains. Oh, and lots of those writer-types making the place look untidy.

Liz

* Yes, I know it's the middle of summer. Draw your own conclusions.

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Liz
Posted on Monday, September 20, 2004 - 01:34 pm:   

MILFORD QUOTES

Someday, they'll be on a t-shirt.

We only started doing this because Clarion does it, and we got jealous.

"The parsnip is the carrot's evil twin." (Ian Creasey)

"You can't just make shit up!" (Liz W, ever the hypocrite)

"I want to *see* the naked nuns." (Paul Laville)

"I want two children before I get small feet." (Sue Thomason)

"All this just goes to show what a crappy god Odin is." (Ian Creasey, living dangerously)

"Let's all get tanked, look at the stars and fall in the lake. "(Jaine Fenn)

"I'd be worried if my girlfriend started barking like a fox," (Jaine)

"When she went for his knob I thought, Blimey, that's a bit sudden." (Paul L)

"There's not much wrong with cannibalism, child-murder and shit-eating." (Vaughan Stanger, displaying an admirably liberal approach to other cultural norms)

"Day Four. Unable to find mouth." (Jaine, pretty much summing up Milford).

"Action heroes do not wear nightdresses." (Jaine)

"Quasi sentient death bicycle" (an organic combination of people)

"It's like having a bucket of weirdness thrown over you." (Liz)

Liz
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, September 21, 2004 - 01:28 pm:   

LOL! Those are great!

JeffV

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