Writers Symposium at GenCon

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I thought I’d pass along some information on the content of this year’s Writers Symposium at the GenCon Game Fair, which is held in August in Indianapolis, IN. GenCon is largely a gaming convention, but for the past decade or so they’ve had a steadily growing contingent of writing panels. As it stands now, there are two simultaneous tracks running all four days of the convention, with roughly one seminar/panel every hour. There are also readings, signings, and for those of you who’d like a little feedback on your writing, a read-and-critique session where a panel of authors listens to the first three pages of your ms and provides feedback.

Click on the link below to see the panels and the speakers (one of whom is, ahem, me!). To find out more about how to attend GenCon and how to sign up for events, visit GenCon Indy’s website. If anyone’s going this year, be sure to let me know!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Write Approach: So you want to write. What’s the best way to go about it? How to you snag the time each day? What about deadlines, family, friends, free time, discipline, and the tools you’ll need? Our panelists explore these topics and more to help you figure out the right approach to writing for you.

Readers Room: We’ll discuss the books: fiction, non-fiction, and ones on the craft of writing, that every author should read.

Food in Fiction: Don’t starve your main character. Don’t force your villain to drink the wrong vintage of wine with his macaroni and cheese. Little details like food help make your fiction real and add depth to your characters. In fantasy and science fiction, it can also reveal important information about climate and culture.

Make ’em Bleed: And make them suffer and die, too. There is an art to portraying death and suffering that can add realism and emotion. Learn how to write about your character’s imminent demise without crossing the line in the realms of morbid, gross, boring, and toomuchinformation.

Penning Power Struggles: Political intrigue plays a role in many science fiction/fantasy tales. Our panelists suggest how to incorporate politics, how to foreshadow political events and conflicts, and how to make political intrigue as dynamic as any fight scene.

Urban Fantasy: This fast-growing subgenre has made stars out of folks like Jim Butcher with his Dresden Files. Is urban fantasy just a trend, or is it here to stay? Our panelists discuss the elements of urban fantasy and the markets for your city-fiction.

Characters Welcome: Creating dimensional, dynamic characters can be the difference between a manuscript that sells and one that gathers dust under the bed. So how do you create a vivid, living, breathing character? There are probably as many ways to build characters as there are writers. Join our panelists as they share their methods, with concrete examples, for penning amazing, interesting characters.

Writer’s Groups and Critiquing Techniques: The development of any writer depends on two things. One is that he writes. The second is that he gets accurate and valuable feedback on what he has written. New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole outlines the techniques and methods for forming groups and constructively analyzing and critiquing stories that allows for a lot of development in a very short time.

Fast Track Development for Writers: New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole offers up a grab-bag of tricks of the trade and insider information that can step you through the early, awkward phases of writing, and set you well on the path to being published.

Edit Yourself: Learn to look at your work critically. Examine everything from plot to language, and learn how to tackle rewrites and take and give criticism.

Mapping Your Fiction: So you’re building a world for your fantasy novel? Great! Do you need to set that world to paper? And, if so, how much detail should you provide? Can a map inspire your fiction? Learn the pros and cons of cartography as it applies to writing.

Magical Realism, Threat or Menace: There are great stories being written under the heading of Magical Realism. Is it a subgenre of fantasy? Or is it something else entirely? Is it just a way for academics to study a few select authors while still keeping the rest of the fantasy genre outside their ivory tower? And if you want to pen your next novel in this subgenre, what is the best approach?

Ars Loca, Humor in Fantasy: Being funny is serious business. When should you inject humor into your manuscript? And how can you do it effectively? Our panelists teach you how to tickle readers’ funny bones.

Painting with Words: Do you read or write for the love of language? Is your favorite author one who can transport you into the setting? Learn how observation and imagination can put life in your writing and make your readers see, smell, and feel what your characters do.

Pagan Topics in Writing: Our panelists examine history to help you craft strong, believable characters from a pagan point of view. This year we’ll concentrate on witchcraft and warlocks.

Ghosts and the Afterlife: Ghost stories are on the rise. The latest crop of paranormal writing is thick with clairvoyance, necromancy, and ghosts. Let’s take a look at what’s out there, what’s been done-to-death, and how to include fresh spirits in your fiction.

The Japanese Invasion: Hungry ghosts, hidden demons, and interactive nightmares come to us in books and movies from Japan. We’ll look at the history of the Japanese story vs. the American tale, including a discussion of Campbell, Kurosai, and how the genre can influence your writing.

Writers’ Symposium-Read and Critique: Have your prose critiqued by professionals.  Presenters will have three to five minutes to read their material. They will receive verbal critiques based on the "critique sandwich" method. Attendance is limited to those being critiqued, pre-registration is required. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Setting the Scene: Where you place your story can be as important as the story itself. What elements should you put in and leave out? Our panelists show you how to sprinkle in details to enhance your story and characters . . . and teach you how not to overdo it. We’ll include tidbits about how to pick a setting and research tools.

Points on Plotting: Coming up with a solid, interesting plot can be one of the most difficult aspects of writing. We’ll discuss just what makes a good plot and offer advice on how you can avoid plot-jams and plot-holes that can ruin your fiction.

Combat, Small-Scale Fights to Massive Battles: Much of fantasy fiction is filled with fights, from one-on-one duels to well equipped armies slaying thousands in years-long wars. Learn different approaches for writing combat scenes, how to make your struggles feel real, and when it’s time to end the bloodshed so your readers don’t get bored.

Fight Another Day: Learn how to write edge-of-your-seat action scenes without a character throwing a single punch. We’ll cover chase scenes, escapes, word choice, settings, and much more.

Write What You Don’t Know: Some say it’s best to "write what you know." We thumb our nose at that notion! Otherwise, how could you ever write fiction set in medieval times or on one of Saturn’s moons? We’ll teach you how to do just enough research to set your fiction pretty much anywhere. And we’ll cover what elements to include, what to leave out, and how to explore writing in genres outside your proverbial comfort zone.

Non-standard Ways to Build Your Craft: You can become a better writer without signing up for a college course or reading a stack of "how-to" books. Our panelists discuss what they do to improve their writing and show you how to hone your skills along some nontraditional routes.

Avoid Clichés Like the Plague: They are a dime a dozen! Ever worry whether your plot has been overused and that your characters are trite? Plots and character types tend to become overused because they work, and clichés become clichés because they convey something a lot of people want to say. So how do you make your writing stand out? To use a cliché, the devil is in the details! Out with young orphans who become great wizards, evil sorcerers who try to destroy the world, androgynous elves with longbows! We’ll show you some tricks for keeping your writing rich and innovative.

The Art of Terror and Fear: Let’s discover those things that go bump-in-the-night. Learn how to send shivers down the spines of your readers. You don’t have to write in the horror genre to deliver a good scare.

Approaches to Game Writing: What’s the best way to present game material? In the style of old-school D&D where rules and color text are mixed together? Should you write all the color text "in character," presenting the rules in a separate section? Our panelists offer suggestions on manuscript presentation. Topics discussed include how to capture the feel of a setting, how to write rules that are entertaining and easy to understand, and how to you keep your rules from reading like an algebra equation.

Creating Non-Linear Narratives in Game Writing: It’s a lot easier to write an adventure that goes from Point A to Point B to Point C, but it isn’t necessarily more interesting or enjoyable. Our panelists will show you how to approach "non-linear" adventures and how to avoid confusing and overly-complicated manuscripts.

Coloring in the Lines for Game Writing: Game designers must make sure that what they write is fun to read and that their writing reflects the realities of the game. Don’t mention gear unless it’s in the equipment list. Don’t write about magic that the system doesn’t support. Don’t describe places that aren’t shown on the map. Our panelists will teach you how to color inside the lines to make your material better suited for the players and the companies for whom you want to write.

Writing for Online Games: Computer games demand a certain style of writing different from fiction or pencil and paper RPGs.  Our panelists discuss the differences, the freelance markets, and offer suggestions on how to improve your online material.

Giving Purpose to your Game Writing: There should be a reason behind what you write. Don’t give your elves a love of woodworking if there are no rules or equipment to support their craft. Don’t put a mountain range on the map simply to hold back the dark hordes. In short, create wonderful, exciting, and interesting creatures and features while giving them a reason for being in the game. 

How to Break into Game Writing: If you want to write, edit, and design games in the hobby market, where do you begin? How can you get paid for your ideas and work? Our panelists offer tips on how to get the attention of game companies and land freelance contracts.

Different Systems, Different Stories: There are a lot of choices when it comes to picking a rule system for your tabletop roleplaying game. Some game systems are designed to be the classic dungeon crawl. Some are more suited for a swashbuckling adventure; others for humorous games or psychological horror. Unfortunately, a lot of people stick to their favorite game system even if it’s not appropriate for the style of game they want to write, and more often than not, frustration and misery occur. Join our panelists as they discuss the various game systems available for the freelance writer.

The Writing Career: What does it take to have a career as a writer? New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole walks you through the variety of skills sets you need to develop to successfully pursue a career as a writer. He provides insight into the pitfalls and exciting new developments in publishing and technology.

Characterization: People read for characters; and careers are made through creating memorable characters. New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole provides some sure-fire characterization techniques that will allow you to master the arcane art of character creation and growth.

Plotting: The plot is the spine of every story. Without it readers are lost. With an intriguing plot, full of twists and turns, readers will be enthralled. New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole shows you how to plot a novel and turn it into a page-turning book that readers won’t want to put down.

Eye of Argon: Back by popular demand (or maybe we just don’t know any better), join us for a round-robin reading of the most awesomely bad (yes, you read that correctly) story ever published in SF fandom. This year we will be reading according to the new "hardcore" rules. Just try to keep from laughing . . . we dare you!

Writers’ Symposium-Read and Critique: Have your prose critiqued by professionals.  Presenters will have three to five minutes to read their material. They will receive verbal critiques based on the "critique sandwich" method. Attendance is limited to those being critiqued, pre-registration is required. 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Worldbuilding, Recreating the Wheel: Some writers love to create a world from below the ground up. That can be exciting, but it’s not always necessary. Using Earth’s own rich culture and history, you can be just as creative and perhaps a bit quicker. Learn how our panelists take historical tidbits and tweak them to add authenticity to their own worlds.

Worldbuilding, Class Struggle: What makes society divide into caste and class? We’ll take a look at historical and present-day structures and how to use various elements to develop classes in your world.

Worldbuilding, Build from the Ground Up: Build from the physical world and not the culture. Learn how geography influences a society’s development. For example, deserts create a reverence for water, and migratory patterns for sustenance. Learn how to let the terrain shape your people.

Worldbuilding, Hired Goons, Mercenaries, and Assorted Thugs: So you need a few good men and women . . . and you’re going to get them where? We’ll cover topics such as the single assassin, gangs, bodyguards, professional mercenaries, accidental warriors, and the military, and how to fit them into your world.

Worldbuilding, Reality in Your Fantasy: Your setting has to make a certain amount of sense for your novel to be believable. So how do you make your fantasy "real" and how to you stop from making it so real it ceases to be fantasy?

Worldbuilding, Make it Your Own: Avoid creating a stereotypical, generic, fantasy world. We’ll show you how to make the planet your very own . . . and make it interesting.

Worldbuilding, The Impact of Magic: Magic should make more sense than science to hook your readers and enhance your fantasy world. We’ll talk about things that will enchant your writing.

Worldbuilding, Realistic Treatments of Sex and Racism: Smut or sexlessness, where is the middle ground? And how much is too much sexism? Unless we’re writing about a utopia, the societies in your fantasy worlds are going to have sexism. And if you include it, are you, as an author, guilty of perpetuating sexism in the real world?

Big on the Small Press: Small-press publishers offer new authors great opportunities. Smaller presses are enjoying a renaissance right now and are becoming stronger than ever. Come find out the advantages of working with a smaller press. Our panel includes a publisher, editor, and authors who have sold books to some of the smaller houses. They’ll discuss how to submit and who is buying what.

Brainstorming to Defeat Writer’s Block: There’s an old saying that "ideas are a dime a dozen." But sometimes you don’t have the 10 cents you need to get a plot. Learn how to brainstorm ideas for fiction writing so your fingers fly across the keyboard and so you don’t keep staring at a blank screen.

Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: There is no one formula that will help you write a bestselling or award-winning novel. But key ingredients for plots and characters, no matter the genre, are goal, motivation, and conflict. Join our panelists as they discuss how they incorporate these elements into their writing to make their fiction exciting and real.

Writing by Tarot: Tarot is said to be a window to the soul and the journey of The Fool. But have you ever thought that using Tarot cards or an oracle could aid your writing? You can use this method to help you get past a touch of writer’s block, to resolve problem points in your plot, to flesh out your characters, even to plot an entire book. Bring your Tarot or your oracle to the seminar to share, or just listen in as our panelists give ideas and tips for drawing on the unconscious while writing.

Slutty vs. Sultry and Everything in Between, A Look at the Female Character: Want to put a real woman in your fiction? As a main character? A villain’s henchman? We’ll teach you how to avoid clichéd female characters and how to create vibrant women worthy of your readers’ time.

Hey, I’ve Got a Day Job: You write on the weekends, during your lunch hour, or in the evenings. Maybe you even take a few days of vacation to jump start a book. How do you set aside the time? How can you make deadlines while sticking with your 9 to 5? Our panelists, novelists all, have regular "day jobs." They’ll share their tips and inspire you to not give up.

Making the Leap (From Talented Amateur to Publishing Professional): What does a writer who’s on the verge of writing professional level prose need to do to make that final leap? When do you know you’ve crossed the line to become a professional writer? When should you think about quitting the day job?

21 Days to a novel: New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole presents a series of exercises guaranteed to set you up for success in your first novel. Topics covered include character creation, voice development, dialogue, world creation and plotting. Following these exercises will provide you with the material that ensures that you story won’t shrivel and die five or ten chapters in.

Books are dead: Just as video killed the radio star, so technology is turning books into hunks of dead wood. New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole explains the new and exciting ways in which the rise of e-book readers and the connectivity of the Web are turning publishing on its head. It’s a brave new future, and your success will depend upon your ability to navigate it, and master it.

Writers’ Symposium-Read and Critique: Have your prose critiqued by professionals.  Presenters will have three to five minutes to read their material. They will receive verbal critiques based on the "critique sandwich" method. Attendance is limited to those being critiqued, pre-registration is required. 

Sunday, August 14, 2008


Short Fiction Markets: Maybe you don’t want to write a novel. Maybe you’ve a burning idea for a short piece of fiction that you’d like to see in print. Or maybe you want to try your hand at a new genre, and a short story is the way to test your wings. Our panelists discuss the differences in approaching a short story vs. writing a novel and share market news on where you can send your tales.

How to Buff, Polish, and Make Your Manuscript Shine: Get an editor’s attention. Find yourself moving up in the slush pile, not sitting forever on the bottom. There are things you can do to your manuscript to make it move a little quicker and to lessen the chances it will get rejected.

The Fine Art of Schmoozing Your Way into Print: Sometimes it’s who you know that will help get you into print. Sometimes it’s what you learn about the publishing industry, editors, and agents that will help you make a sale. Conventions are a great place to meet folks who can help your writing career and to get the low-down on fantasy and science-fiction markets. We’ll teach you how to schmooze.

Agents, Taxes, and Other Important Yucky Things: Do you need an agent? And, if so, how do you get one? What can you declare as writing-related tax write-offs? What should you look for in contracts? These topics and more will be tackled by our panelists.

Brainstorming for the Game Market: Where do ideas come from in sculpting game manuscripts? Our authors share their tricks for coming up with plots and how to brainstorm to flesh out ideas into lengthy manuscripts. They’ll also cover how to avoid over-used subjects and how to make your submissions innovative and fresh.

Ooops! The Worst Mistakes to Make with Game Writing: Our panelists speak from experience . . . on what not to do. This is a humorous and important look at things to avoid if you want to be a freelance or full-time game writer.

New Ways to tell Old Stories in Game Writing: There are timeless themes in adventures and source material, but there are ways to cover them without your work reading like a cliché or feeling like a TV rerun. Learn how to twist old topics and put new spins on age-old themes.

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead! Fun Ways to Kill Your Gaming Characters: Not all non-player characters, and maybe not all PCs, should live to see the end of your story. Our panelists discuss when it’s time to kill ’em off and gleefully share ideas for helping the characters into the hereafter. 



The Authors


Science Fiction/Fantasy author Linda P. Baker’s novels are The Irda and Tears of the Night Sky, with Nancy Varian Berberick. She has short fiction in more than a dozen anthologies, including First Contact, The New Amazons, Time Twisters and Pandora’s Closet. Linda, her husband, Larry, and their Airedale terrier, Grady, live in Mobile, Alabama. They enjoy anything Celtic, antique auctions, reading, and walking with Grady. Grady enjoys walking, riding in the car, napping, singing, and chewing up doors.

Bradley P. Beaulieu is a writer of speculative fiction who figured he’d better get serious about writing before he found himself on the wrong side of a lifelong career in software. His story, "In the Eyes of the Empress’s Cat," was voted a Notable Stories of 2006 by the Million Writers Award. Other stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Writers of the Future, the Intergalactic Medicine Show, and several DAW anthologies. He lives in Racine, Wisconsin, with his wife, daughter, and two cats, where he enjoys cooking spicy dishes and hiding out on the weekends with his family. For more, please visit www.quillings.com, or CLICK HERE.

Best known as the world’s top-ranked player of classic role-playing games for more than fifteen years, Donald J. Bingle is the author of role-playing adventures and gaming materials, as well as short and long fiction in the science fiction, fantasy, horror and comedy genres, including recent or upcoming stories in Fellowship Fantastic, Front Lines, The Dimension Next Door, and Imaginary Friends.  His novels include Forced Conversion and GREENSWORD. Don is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and the St. Charles Writers Group. See much, much more at www.orphyte.com/donaldjbingle, or CLICK HERE.

Jennifer Brozek, a QA engineer by day and a freelance author the rest of the time, is up to her ears in projects. Her writing work includes working for Margaret Weis Productions for whom she has contributed to a couple of Dragonlance projects, co-authored one book with Ed Greenwood (A Player’s Guide to Castlemourn) and a co-authored second book with Margaret Weis (Dragonvarld Adventures) as well as writing for OtherWorld Creations, co-authoring the updated 3rd edition of the Horror RPG-Chill. She is also the concept designer and editor for the semi-pro webzine, The Edge of Propinquity, now in its third year of publication. Jennifer lives in Bothell, WA.

Richard Lee Byers is the author of more than thirty fantasy and horror novels, as well as dozens of short stories. A resident of the Tampa Bay area, he spends much of his leisure time fencing, playing poker and RPGs, and shooting pool. His current projects include books set in the Forgotten Realms and Warhammer universes and a screenplay based on one of his novellas. CLICK HERE to visit his site.

At the age of four, Paul Genesse decided he wanted to be a writer. He loved his English classes in college, but pursued his other passion and became a registered nurse. Paul works the night shift on a cardiac unit keeping the forces of darkness away from his patients. He’s the author of several short stories featured in various anthologies from DAW Books and in the Blue Kingdoms series. His first novel, The Golden Cord, Book One of the Iron Dragon Series is available now. Please visit him online at www.paulgenesse.com, or CLICK HERE.

John Helfers attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for its underground tunnels and individual bathrooms in every single dorm room. But he stumbled on something else there as well-a career in writing and editing. Currently working at Tekno Books with Martin H. Greenberg, he has edited more than fifteen short story anthologies and has written seven and a half novels, with the latest being three books for Worldwide Publishing’s espionage/thriller series Room 59. He lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin with his very patient wife and four rambunctious cats.

Kerrie Hughes wants to save the world, but not if it means skipping coffee and giving up cartoons and fluffy robes. Her four cats love her dearly and supervise her writing and schoolwork very closely. She is studying to be a counselor but wonders if perhaps writing more wouldn’t do just as well. A good book is after all the best therapy.

Luke Johnson writes primarily for the hobby game industry, which he has been doing since 2002. He still thinks it’s amazing that people pay him for making up stuff. He’s also going to school to become a doctor. His specialty: Awesomeness. For more info, check out www.lukejohnson.com, or CLICK HERE.

Sabrina Klein has been worldbuilding since she was a teenager. She holds a B.A. in anthropology with a specialty in classic civilizations and megaliths. Worldbuilding is something she uses to study cultures and how they react to elements of environment and influence. She claims it is her favorite pasttime.

Daniel Myers is a database programmer, aspiring author, eccentric cook, and amateur food historian. So it is only natural that he has wasted much of his youth in search of that eldritch tome of culinary horror, the Gastronomicon. In his remaining spare time, he runs MedievalCookery.com, which is where he puts his research notes and recipes from medieval France and England.

Chris Pierson, an unrepentant Canadian, is the author of nine novels, eight of them published*, most recently the Taladas Trilogy in the Dragonlance world. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Time Twisters, Pandora’s Closet, and Fellowship Fantastic. During the day, he builds swaths of Middle-earth for The Lord of the Rings Online. He lives in Boston with his wife, Rebekah, who watches way too many movies with him. She also indulges his addiction to video games that involve pretending to be a rock star, as well as his … energetic behavior when the Sox make it to the post-season.

* To any editors at publishing houses who just did a little math in their heads – why, hello there.

Jean Rabe is the author of two dozen books and four dozen short stories. She edits anthologies from time to time, and she loves to tug fiercely on old socks with her dogs. She lives in southeastern Wisconsin, in a pleasant subdivision brimming with dogs, kids, and ducks. Her hobbies include playing board games, war games, and role-playing games, twirling her toes in her goldfish pond, finding places to hide her growing collection of books, and visiting all manner of museums. Visit her web-site at www.jeanrabe.com, or CLICK HERE.

Patrick Rothfuss currently lives in central Wisconsin where he teaches at the local university. In his free time, Patrick writes a satirical humor column, practices civil disobedience, and dabbles in alchemy. He loves words, laughs often, and refuses to dance. He recently won the 2007 Quill Award for his fantasy novel, The Name of the Wind. More books are sure to follow.

Jonathan Rudder is the owner and editor-in-chief of Athor Productions, a small Print-on-Demand publishing company operating in Tennessee. He graduated from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with a degree in English language and literature, with a minor in creative writing, and has published the first four novels of The Milhavior Chronicles. He has held an eclectic variety of occupations, from customer service to copyediting to information technology, and currently is contracted as the copyeditor, writer, and lore-expert for The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar MMORPG.

Since 1990, Steven Schend has worked as an editor, developer, designer, writer, or assistant manager for at least six publishers on dozens of fictional worlds. Steven has written scores of magazine articles and role-playing game products, and he’s also taught classes on storytelling and world building. He has published five short stories and two novels. Steven lives with his wife in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he teaches and works feverishly on novels and stories in worlds of his own.

Michael A. Stackpole is an award-winning author, editor, game designer, computer game designer, graphic novelist and screenwriter. He’s best know for his New York Times Bestselling Star Wars novels Rogue Squadron and I, Jedi. This year he celebrates two milestones: his 30th anniversary as a published game designer, and his 20th anniversary as a published novelist. When not writing or attending conventions, he enjoys playing indoor soccer and dancing (both of which can be tough on the toes).

Anton Strout was born in the Berkshire Hills-mere miles from writing heavyweights Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. He currently lives in historic Jackson Heights, New York (where nothing paranormal ever really happens, he assures you). His first urban fantasy novel Dead to Me came out in March from Ace Books. His short stories include "The Lady in Red" in the DAW Books anthology Pandora’s Closet, and a tie-in story to Dead to Me entitled "The Fourteenth Virtue" in DAW’s The Dimension Next Door (Fall 2008). He has worked for Penguin Group (USA) for the past ten years in their paperback sales department, and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds. In his scant spare time, he is an always writer, a sometimes actor, a sometimes musician, an occasional RPGer, and the world’s most casual and controller-smashing video gamer. He is currently hard at work on the next book featuring Simon Canderous and can often be found lurking the darkened hallways of www.antonstrout.com; CLICK HERE to go to his site. He is also proud to be one of the founding members of The League of Reluctant Adults (www.leagueofreluctantadults.com) where urban fantasists come to play.

Kelly Swails is a Clinical Microbiologist by day and a writer by night.  When she’s not manipulating bacteria or unruly characters, she spends time with her husband Ken and their three cats Kahlua, Morgan, and Moonshine.  Her work appears in Pandora’s Closet, Pirates of the Blue Kingdoms, and Blue Kingdoms: Shades and Specters. Her current projects include two contemporary YA novels. You can visit her at www.kellyswails.com, or CLICK HERE

Marc Tassin is a gamer at heart, but after stumbling into the world of writing he decided to stay. From the bloody decks of pirate ships to the secret lives of gerbils, his short stories, games, and articles have explored the far reaches of fantasy and science fiction. Marc lives in a little house in the woods just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife and two children. He still runs a weekly game, and relishes making his players earn every gold piece he gives them.

Elizabeth A. Vaughan is the author of The Chronicles of the Warlands and Dagger-Star. She still believes that the only good movies are the ones with gratuitous swords or lasers. Not to mention dragons. At the present, she is owned by two incredibly spoiled cats and lives in the Northwest Territory, on the outskirts of the Black Swamp, along Mad Anthony’s Trail on the banks of the Maumee River.

Tim Waggoner’s novels include Barrow Hill, the Blade of the Flame trilogy, the Godfire duology, and others. He’s published more than eighty short stories, some of them collected in All Too Surreal. His articles on writing have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Writers’ Journal, and other publications. He teaches creative writing at Sinclair Community College and is a faculty mentor in Seton Hill University’s Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. You can visit him on the web at www.timwaggoner.com, or CLICK HERE.