Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Writing in Public

More Stuff and Learning



Monday errands, lots of workshop stuff, getting ready to do a lot of writing later in the week.



Made it to the WMG publishing offices just before 3:30 p.m. and then headed out to do errands like banks, mail, and all that. Including fixing a tire that had a slow leak.

Got back to WMG offices to work on workshops from 5:30 until 7 p.m.

Home to cook dinner, then in here to do workshop stuff. Second day of the two months of workshops crossing over. Always a lot for me to do, especially when I am also running the ramp-up to the anthology workshop this year and announcing the new coast workshops.

A crazy few days. No writing, heading to bed early.


Yes, we have announced the following four coast workshops. And in 24 hours a lot of writers have signed up. The Historical/Time Travel/Alternate History workshop in September is limited to 16 writers and it is now half full.

Same with the Science Fiction workshop in April.

Master Class and Anthology workshop have numbers signed up and the rooms reserved in the Anchor are about a quarter taken.

So still lots of room, but pretty startling sign-ups in the first day. These workshops all will fill as they did last year.

— Historical/Time Travel/Alternate History workshop in September, 2016.

— Master Class. An intense business of publishing workshop. October 2016. (and yes, different from last year’s workshop of the same title.)

— Anthology Workshop.  Seven professional editors buying your stories. Late February 2017.

— Science Fiction Workshop. Taught by Hugo Award winning writer and editor Kristine Kathryn Rusch. April 2017.

Information under the Coast Workshops tab above. Write me if you have questions. These are invite only workshops so write me if you are interested and have not been invited to one before.


Topic of the Night: Workshop Limits

This will be short so I will write it here instead of on a separate post as I do with longer ones.

Around the country there are all sorts of workshops for writers with different focuses. The four we just announced are more advanced workshops. And we do online workshops every month that are for all levels.

But there are lots and lots of writing workshops and conferences around the world.

Last year Kris and I and Allyson were guests at Superstars Writing Workshop, an intense three day workshop and seminar on business of publishing put on by Kevin J. Anderson and numbers of other special guests including Brandon Sanderson and David Farland. I think if you are interested in business, that would be a good one and there should be room. But don’t delay. It’s coming up soon.

And Dave Farland does in person and online workshops on craft on his own as well. He and I have a different approach to some things, but you can’t argue with his credentials and ability to teach.

Inside of science fiction there are numbers of workshops, and also inside of mystery genre. Some for beginners, some workshops for the more advanced. They are being announced all the time. (As I run across ones I think are good, I’ll announce them here.)

And going to conferences also helps with learning. I will be speaking and teaching at one romance conference this next fall. (I will announce it here this summer.) Many, many long-term professional writers do go out to try to help younger writers coming in.

The problem is that not only are many of the workshops limited, but we are all limited in what we can and can’t do for learning.

Limited by funds, by time, by travel abilities, by admission requirements, and so on.

So each of us, to find the places and the people can help us, must make all sorts of decisions working within our limitations.

What is nice is that in this new world, you can find major long-term professionals either teaching at a conference, at a workshop, or online. And that helps.

When I really got focused on writing in 1982, I had just finished a stint in law school. My attitude was that I would work as hard at my writing as I did in law school and spend the money just as I did in law school to learn where I could, even if I had to borrow it, just like in school.

It worked, but I didn’t have a family and could travel with almost no money and little food. I was young (in my thirties).

So we all do what we can with learning our craft and business. The key even with limitations is the focus.

The desire to learn. If you have that, the places to learn will present themselves even with both the workshop limitations and your own limitations.

Keep aware and keep having fun with your writing.

Story #1… A Long Way Down… 2,100 words
Story #2… The Case of the Man Who Saw… 3,200 words


Totals For Year 3, Month 6, Day 11

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 843

— Daily Fiction: 00 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 9,300 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 1,200 words 

— Blog Posts: 600 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 7,900 words

— E-mail: 31 e-mails.  Approx. 1,900 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 248 e-mails. Approx. 12,400 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 3 Covers


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  • Dane Tyler

    Great stuff in this topic, Dean. And you spoke a lot of truth about doing what we’re able to get the learning we need to grow.

    One question for you as a long-term career writer: I know roughly where I am in the Stages of a Fiction Writer scale – I think I’m in Stage 2, but not Stage 3 (no sales to speak of, not writing a lot right now, etc.). But when you say some workshops are for beginners and some, like the ones you and Kris offer here, are for more advanced writers, how can one assess their level of accomplishment? That is, how does a writer know if they should sign up for the advanced level workshops or the beginner level workshops? I sure writers of all levels will benefit from either one, but how can I self-assess to determine how to position myself to maximize my learning?

    Reason I ask is because of limitations on funds. I have to pick and choose what I can do, so I want to learn (ha!) how to determine where I should be on the skill level.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Thanks for all you do.

    • dwsmith

      Since the coast workshops are invite, I have gotten very good at checking out writers and seeing if they fit. One thing we look for here is ambition and drive. Those two ingredients are far more important than sales. I’ve turned down writers with sales because they were wanting to come for a pat on the head. Sales come from drive.

      Also, a lot of people are taking the online workshops and after a few of those I have a pretty good sense if the person would fit here at the coast. Basically every workshop tends to have four or five new people in it combined with some professional writers who have been coming to coast workshops for over ten years. It all works amazingly well.