Saturday, March 17, 2018

Workshop Spotlight: Shweta Adhyam

Once again our occasional series on writers' journeys focuses on someone who's about to rack up time on both sides of our critique table. This year Shweta Adhyam--a 2017 Clarion West student whose work is starting to show up in respected genre venues--is switching roles from receiving feedback on her writing to providing it to other writers.

Shweta submitted short stories to our Norwescon workshops for five years running. "Every year, I came away with a little bit more command over the craft," she says. 
When the pros critiquing her stories brought up a specific technique or aspect of craft, such as foreshadowing, she'd go on to study it and practice incorporating it into story revisions and new work. Over time her writing became more sophisticated.

And sometimes the feedback had more immediate benefits on top of a long-term lesson. 
"Once, a critiquer pointed out how I could get a really amazing ending from what I had already planted throughout the story. It was a proverbial lightbulbs-going-off-in-head moment on so many levels," Shweta says.

Along with leading the way to a perfect story ending, it was also "an invaluable lesson to go back and mine your stories for things that might have been left on the table while you were looking elsewhere," she says.

Critique workshops are tremendous opportunities to learn and grow as a writer, she says. The pros who read your work and offer feedback are sitting at the table with you, so submit the manuscript you're struggling with, listen to the critiquers' comments and ask them questions. 
"The conversations (that follow) can open up possibilities not just on the piece under discussion, but also mastering the art in general," Shweta says. 
Shweta's most recent stories include "The Warrior and the Sage" (written as Shweta Sundararajan) at Intergalactic Medicine Show and "A Conch Shell's Notes" in an upcoming issue of Lightspeed.

Although it's too late to take part in our 2018 Norwescon workshop, please contact us at to be added to our mailing list for information about future workshops and events. And if you're attending Norwescon, we'd love to meet you at the social we're hosting, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 31, in Presidential Suite 1360.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Last Call For Our 2018 Workshop

Get your manuscripts ready for the writers' workshop at Norwescon 41 next spring!  We're in the final week and counting down to our submissions deadline at midnight on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to have your fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories and novel excerpts critiqued by professional writers and editors.  You'll find our guidelines here.

The clock is ticking!  We hope to see you and your work at Norwescon!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why Workshop? One Writer's Story

Sandra M. Odell will be critiquing for our 2018 writers' workshop at Norwescon for the first time, but she's no stranger to what we do. Her experiences being critiqued in some of our past workshops were an important step in her journey to turning pro and racking up an impressive list of short story sales.

Sandra first submitted a manuscript to one of our Norwescon workshops after an extended hiatus from writing. "That first workshop opened my eyes to the possibilities inherent in my own work, a sort of affirmation that this whole writing schtick was more than just in my head," she says.

As that first workshop session wrapped up, Jay Lake, one of the pros assigned to critique her work, told her, "Don't [screw] this up." That admonishment stuck with her and remains her favorite takeaway from the experience.

"Until my first Fairwood workshop, all I'd ever heard was 'You're a great writer!' " That's flattering, but not helpful, Sandra says. "None of these people were writers. The Fairwood workshops gave me my first taste of writer to writer critique, a much more valuable experience than hearing 'You're great!' all the time."

To grow as a writer, you need to hear the hard truths about what's not working in your story as well as the praise for what you're doing right, she says.

"There is a difference between someone reading your work and someone critiquing your work. If you want a reader who says 'Love it!' and then forgets the story 15 seconds later, then don't bother with Fairwood," Sandra says. But "If you want someone who can take your story apart, show you how, why, and where, and then cheer you on for the rewrite, sign up and take that next step with your writing."

If you'd like to take that next step yourself, you'll find the guidelines for our upcoming workshop at Norwescon 41 here.

Sandra's most recent stories include "For," which opened the CAST OF WONDERS podcast's Banned Book Week event for 2017, and "Resistance on a Park Bench, With Stale Bread and Ducks," in the August 2017 issue of MYTHIC DELERIUM.  You can find out more about her through her occasional blog ramblings.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Register Now For Our Youth Writing Workshop At MoPOP

As part of the MoPOP's 2018 Write Out of This World contest for young writers, the Fairwood Writers will teach a story development workshop at MoPOP on Nov. 11, 2017, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Our professional science fiction and fantasy writer-coaches will help 3rd- through 12th-grade students develop settings, characters and storylines for their contest entries. We'll tour one of the museum's current exhibits, lead participants in a brainstorming session, and help them get a start on turning their ideas into stories.

Workshop registration is $6, but space is limited, so sign up now!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

2018 Norwescon Workshop Guidelines Now Available

We are pleased to announce that the guidelines for the Writers' Workshop at Norwescon 41 on March 29-April 1, 2018, are now available!  If you've participated in the workshop since 2015, or inquired about the workshop within the last two years, you should have received an email about our updated guidelines.  If not, please visit the Norwescon website.

We've made some changes this year, so be sure to read our guidelines thoroughly.  The biggest one to keep in mind: All participants will be limited to a single workshop session.  We'll allow two short-short stories that together total no more than 4,000 words and will be critiqued together, but otherwise you may submit one short story of up to 8,000 words or a novel excerpt and synopsis totaling no more than 10,000 words.

Submissions are now open, with this year's deadline December 3, 2017. Now's a great time to finish that story you've been working on or draft a synopsis for your novel.

We're looking forward to seeing you and your best work this spring at Norwescon!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

New micro-tale from Harold Gross

Harold's latest sold story is up on Story Seed Vault today. They can better explain their mission and raison d’ĂȘtre.
The challenge for this market was to tell a whole story in 140 characters or less; essentially no more than one Tweet’s worth. And the story has to be based on some new bit of science. Challenge accepted…

Thursday, June 1, 2017

New Story from Renee Stern

"All Hell to Wake" by Fairwood member Renee Stern is the May story at Speculate!, where you'll find a baker's dozen of dark speculative tales edited by Jennifer Brozek.  Check it out!