Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Great Fun and a Nifty New Idea

Some Fun and Fantastic Stories At The Workshop

This last week fifty professional writers were here on the Oregon coast sitting in front of seven editors listening to us talk about short stories they had written. And maybe some of the editors even bought some of the stories, but that was not the point of the workshop. Just a nifty side affect.

I learned a ton, read some fantastic fiction, and had a lot of fun. Thank you, everyone!

Also, what was fun was all the networking. And on Friday evening I was talking with Loren Coleman (owner of Catalyst Games) and Chuck Heitzelman (owner of Bundlerabbit) and a few other writers. They were trying to help me brainstorm a solution for a problem we had with a group email list. Thank you, everyone! Good solutions.

While we were talking, we got onto the topic of Zoom, a webinar platform and how cool it would be to do workshops over live internet. We all decided it would be nifty for some workshops that were suited for that sort of structure.

And a ton cheaper than going to the coast for a week.

So over the next two days, Kris and I talked a lot about it and we agree.

You see, right now, we have a structure of workshops with one large, large gap in the structure we have never figured out a way of solving.

We have Lectures that are about 10 videos for $50.00

We have Classic Workshops that are about 50 lectures or so that you do on your own, including assignments, for $150.00

We have added Weekender Workshops of about 25 videos and three assignments you send in over a long weekend for $225.00

We have Regular Workshops that are six weeks long with five assignments you send in and about 50 videos for $300.00.

And we have the Coast Workshops that are invite only for professional writers that cost $650 and last a week and the writers have to pay for their own travel and hotel and food.

The coast workshops are the only ones that Kris and Allyson and I (and other pros and editors) talk with you directly. The other workshops are all video lectures. That’s the gap.

We are happy with the entire program and are stunned it has grown to this large and covering so many topics. But what we have missed is the face-to-face with the writers we are teaching.

So on Friday night along comes the idea of using Zoom for certain types of workshops. Kris and I (with help from a few others) figured the best form would be four weeks long.

Each week would have a webinar meeting on Zoom with me (or the other instructors) on early Saturday afternoon west coast time. There would be some lecture and a lot of question and answers for everyone in the class to hear. (And a time around 1 to 3 p.m west coast time would allow all those in Europe to take part as well.

Then there would be four or five video lectures for the week plus an assignment that would be due later in the week. The following week I would answer question on the webinar, talk about the assignment and the topics of the week.

This would last four weeks. Four Saturday meetings, four weeks of recorded lectures and assignments.

And finally I would get to actually talk with those taking the workshop and answer questions directly.

The cost would be $300 and yes, credits could be used and lifetime subscribers will be added in automatically. We are thinking we would limit these to 10 participants plus lifetime subscribers (they can get into anything at any time… a real value of being a lifetime subscriber).

We would call the first series of these new workshops THE SECRETS WORKSHOP SERIES. (Maybe do other series later.)

We are thinking, since we just came out of a major short story workshop, that the first one would be THE SECRETS OF SELLING SHORT FICTION.


Another would be THE SECRETS OF WRITING SERIAL FICTION (you know like what you would put on Radish.)


And so on. A bunch of stuff that does not fit the other formats really fits this one.

We still have seven new regular workshops planned for this year and about ten new lectures. But this new structure would fill in that gap of not getting to talk with me or Kris directly and ask questions you might not even know you had until you listened to a discussion live.

So that’s the thinking. Anyone interested?



Just sent out the information to those signed up on the March regular workshops. All workshops have openings.

Sign up directly through Teachable or if you have a credit, write me.

Class #25… Mar 6th … Depth #3: Research
Class #26… Mar 6th … Author Voice
Class #27… Mar 6th … (empty slot)
Class #28… Mar 6th … Writing into the Dark
Class #29… Mar 6th … Writing Fiction Sales Copy
Class #30… Mar 6th … Writing and Selling Short Stories
Class #31… Mar 7th … Depth in Writing
Class #32… Mar 7th …(empty slot)
Class #33… Mar 7th … Cliffhangers
Class #34… Mar 7th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #35… Mar 7th … Novel Structure
Class #36… Mar 7th … Writing Fantasy

April workshops will be available on Teachable in a day or so and I will do the schedule for the summer workshops shortly. It will include a few new ones.



March 15-18th

— Adding Tension to Your Writing
— Making a Living in 2018/19 With Your Fiction
— Controlling Fear of Failure

Sign up directly through Teachable. When a class reaches five writers, it will no longer show as available.




  • E. R. Paskey

    That sounds amazing! Where I am in life right now,
    there’s really no way I could go to the coast for a week. (And it’s another fantastic perk to the lifetime subscription–saving for that now.)

  • Dave Bailey

    Lovin’ your posts and blog, Dean! I’ve been planning a novel for 2 years because I wanted to plan everything out perfectly. After reading your suggestions on writing into the dark, I finally just sat down to start writing. I finished and published it. So, by writing into the dark, I finally got my first story out there.

    But now that I’m trying to write into the dark on my second story, I feel a bit lost. I think because the first story was pretty well defined in my head and I just had to work out the details. So, my question is…

    Can we just write into the dark without any sort of outline or idea where the story is going, or do you have a general idea of where the story is going when you start. Or is it really ‘writing into the dark’ even when I feel a bit lost?

    • dwsmith


      The key is to not worry about what is coming next in the story and pretend you are reading what you are writing like a book. Do you feel uncomfortable when you don’t where a book another writer wrote it going? Of course not, so don’t worry about with your own writing. Just write the next sentence, have fun, and don’t make the book “important” in any realm. If you do that, the creative voice will take care of it and you will discover fun stuff you didn’t know you would ever write. (And don’t write sloppy. Fix everything as you go along.)

      • Dave Bailey

        Thanks for the reply, Dean! So, yeah! Writing that way was making me really uncomfortable. I thought I might be doing something wrong, or maybe there was a secret tip that might make it easier. But okay. I’ll keep trying. It does sound fun. I guess that I’ll have to stop writing while standing and doing 40 rewrites of my outline.

    • Topaz

      Hi Dave,

      I am doing exactly that. Writing the next sentence without knowing where things will go.
      I am at 36k words so far and it is great fun to follow my characters.

      Try it out. 🙂
      Dean’s book “write into the dark” with the tip on cycling helped me a lot to keep going. Additionally, I stopped reading other “how to” articles and books since I started this story. Decluttered my mind and made it way easier to continue into the dark.

      Best wishes,

      • Céline Malgen

        The book is a great suggestion. And if you want to go for a full-on course on the subject, the Writing into the Dark workshop is fantastic.

        Enjoy the process, even if it feels scary at times!

      • Dave Bailey

        Thanks Topaz! And kudos on the 36K so far. I asked the question the other day. Afterwards I found the book you mentioned and picked up a copy. I’m in chapter 7 now. Cycling really does help. I’ve started a new story and written about 2K. Just chugging a way here one sentence at a time. Write. Read. Repeat…

        I’m still working on the decluttering thing. Got too much of that last year and wrote over 100,000 words of ‘outline’ and ‘brainstorming’ that never got used.

  • Harvey

    Great idea, Dean, and I’m very interested. Depending on the topic, of course. And I have a credit, so I might decide to be a guinea pig on this deal.

  • Erik Kort

    The new format sounds really cool, Dean! I’m looking forward to see what kind of subjects y’all dream up.

  • Lee Dennis

    Great idea, but…”Secrets” has come to sound cheap, trashy, phishy, due to overuse as clickbait. (Maybe “Weird tricks of successful self publishers”?)

    How about a “Insider’s Guide to…” or something similar. I’m sure you and Kris and Allyson can come up with a classy series brand.

  • Céline Malgen

    Sounds like a great idea, it would be fantastic to finally interact with you live! Even though your email feedback is always very helpful, it’s not quite the same as a live Q&A session, with other people’s questions allowing to go into directions one wouldn’t have thought of.

    And 1 to 3 pm West Coast time would indeed be a good timing for those of us living across the pond, thank you for planning it that way!

  • Terry Mixon

    I love the idea of these new workshops. It’s hard to get the financial side worked out for a Coast workshop more than once every few years. This new concept does fill the niche between the regular workshops and full immersion on the coast.

    I’ll definitely put my lifetime subscription to good use with these. I’ve realized how many gaps and weaknesses I have and want to grow.

    As I write space opera, I’m particularly interested in the one you asked about on writing a successful book/series in that genre.

    I’m doing far better than in that field than I’d ever hoped (full time for three years) but I know I can learn more and be better at it. That’s why I’ve made a serious investment in my continuing education in writing/publishing for 2018.

    Thanks Dean and Kris for making this all possible!

  • Dave Raines

    “Secrets of having fun (while writing).” Only I’ll need some time to figure out if I have any money – I recently retired, and income vs. expenses are definitely a thing. But I like your concepts!

  • Topaz

    Hello Dean,

    Your new workshop format sounds fun. I would like to join all of them. Visiting you at the coast is nearly to impossible for me, so a liveclass would be great fun.

    I am planning to join your weekender on “how to make a living with your writing” this month. Hopefully I can settle things here to finally sign up in time.

    Now looking forward to your restart on your writing reports. I will join in and give it a try with my own blog.


    • dwsmith

      Sunday US west coast time, Amy. It has been changed to Sunday 11-1 and 1-3. Hope that doesn’t mess up too much.