- Dragon*Con 2004 through 2010 – Guest lecture for Ann Crispin’s Beginner Writers workshop: “The Secret to Having your Short Fiction Published.”
- "Worldbuilding for Writers: Transporting Readers Beyond the Ordinary" – Oct. 2007. (Sponsored by the Carolina Romance Writers Association.)
Whether your story enthralls readers in the sumptuous decadence of a bygone era, sweeps them to a fantastical otherworld, captivates with an electrifying future, or happens right now, the vibrancy of your setting will determine whether readers live and breathe and feel what your characters live and breathe and feel. But the world your characters inhabit is more than scenery; it’s climate and sociology, magic and technology, history and politics—dynamics that shape the fundamentals of behavior, motivation, and thought as well as psychology, culture, and religion. How do you make it factually accurate? How do you present your world so it doesn’t read like a textbook? And how do you make it seem real? Worldbuilding for Writers will delve into everything from the logic and practicalities of magic to constructing an alien landscape to immersing in the here and now.
I’ve discovered that the best motivation and improvement resource a burgeoning writer can have is an audience—unless you’re only writing for yourself and stuff your manuscripts into a desk drawer, never to see the light of day.
Currently, I’m a member of two writers groups, both online. Not being able to gauge my audience’s reaction face-to-face is a loss, but I think the convenience of an online group makes up for it. You don’t need to set aside a time to meet, and you can submit and receive critiques at your leisure over email.
Online workshops also have the added bonus of drawing members from all over the globe, providing a cosmopolitan readership.
My writers groups:
- DC2K Writers – The members of this group are comprised of those individuals who attended the Dragon*Con 2000 writers workshop and the2002 advanced writers workshop taught by A.C. Crispin. Dragon*Con runs a3-day writers workshop every year. If you haven’t done it, it’s worth doing.
- Codex - The Codex writers’ group brings together pro-level speculative fiction writers in the early stages of their careers who are actively writing.
- Critter Litter – This group spun-off from Critters. Members have been widely published in professional magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Black Gate as well as a slew of semi-pro publications, nominated for the Bram Stoker award, placed in the Writers of the Future contest, and edit several of the genre magazines.
Some other excellent SF/F/H critique groups/workshops both in person and online:
- Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop – Founded in 1968 and sometimes referred to as "writers boot camp," Clarion is an annual, six-week intensive workshop held on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. It is the best known and most highly regarded science fiction and fantasy writing workshop in the country, spinning off sibling workshops Clarion West (in Seattle, WA) and Clarion South (in Australia).
- Critters – I used to be an active member of this writers workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror and recommend it to any writer looking for input and feedback to improve their craft. It’s extremely well run and large, and Critters is a password protected site, which ensures that posting manuscripts for critique won’t result in loss of first publication rights. I advise that writers do not post their unpublished writing to their own websites or other public, online venues for critique, as editors often consider that as constituting publication and are thereby uninterested in considering such works.
- Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for writers – A NASA-funded workshop for established writers, devoted to "improving science literacy through words and media." Launch Pad aims to provide a "crash course" in modern astronomy science through workshops, guest lectures, and observation through the University of Wyoming’s two large telescopes. I attended Launch Pad in 2007, and I highly recommend it.
- Odyssey the Fantasy Writing Workshop – Founded in 1996 and held on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, another highly respected, intensive six-week program.
- Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (OWW) – An online critique group like Critters, but this one has a fee of $49/year or ¢94/week. With a distinguished and well-published membership.
- Viable Paradise – A one-week writers workshop in Martha’s Vineyard, MA.