Q & A Roundtable: The Ins and Outs of Publishing Commerical Fiction

One Friday, 7 to 10 p.m. (this class is not currently scheduled)
$35 members/$45 non-members      Berkeley & SF

“‘But what do editors  want!’ is something I hear all the time, and the answer is always ‘It depends,’ says Nick Mamatas. “I’ve edited an award-winning science fiction magazine, published a ghost anthology with a major publisher, and now  work full-time running a science fiction imprint. I’ve also sold several books of my own, in various genres, to publishers of all shapes and sizes.

“What people think they already know about publishing commercial fiction – such as creating platforms and following trends – often hurts them as much as what they really don’t know. Writing last year’s movie isn’t going to cut it .”

Bring plenty of questions about agents, editors, submissions (or self-publishing), and commercial-versus-literary fiction to this free-form, wine & cheese get-together — and get answers from a working pro.

Note: The focus of this roundtable will be on commercial fiction (ie. science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries, and romance). Nick also teaches our 5-week Commercial Fiction class.

Nick Mamatas is the author of three novels: Under My Roof (Counterpoint), Move Under Ground (Prime Books), and the forthcoming Sensation (PM Press). He’s also published over sixty short stories in genre magazines, literary journals, and anthologies, some of which were recently collected in You Might Sleep (Prime Books). His fiction has been nominated for both the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards, and as editor of the online magazine Clarkesworld Nick has been nominated for the World Fantasy award and science fiction’s Hugo award. He currently teaches online at Western Connecticut State University, edits science fiction and fantasy for VIZ Media, and is awaiting the release of his next anthology, Haunted Legends (Tor Books), co-edited with Ellen Datlow.

Read Testimonials for Nick here

Blogging for Writers with Britt Bravo

“Britt’s class exceeded my expectations. Britt was very vibrant and warm and made what could have been godawful boring exciting and interesting. She was extremely helpful and approachable. I give her an “excellent” rating on all counts.” – Dorothy Calimeris

Britt’s” Blogging For Writers” was refreshing and fun. I loved her ease and creativity with which she guided us through the material and kept it interesting throughout the day. I am inspired and ready to get started! A big Thank You Britt!


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Jess Wells: Writing While Working a Full-Time Job – Making Room for Creativity!

Saturday  Oct. 5th, 10 am to 4 pm
$95 members/$110 others   San Francisco

Testimonials for Jess

Whether you’re a beginning writer or a veteran, there’s a way to carve out time for your writing and get it done. In this class, instructor Jess Wells will lead you through a series of worksheets that will help you scrutinize the activities that are most likely to kidnap your creative life. You’ll look closely at where and how you waste time, and also at how you misallocate your writing time.

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Creating Credible Worlds: Settings that Work Hard for Your Story

Saturday, Jan. 26th, 10 am to 4 pm
$95 members/$110 others   

Setting in fiction plays a huge role. Whether your write sci-fi, romance, historicals, erotica, thrillers, mysteries, or literary fiction, the setting can make or break your story. “Setting is not a simple backdrop, like a green screen on which a film is shot,” says instructor Jess Wells. “It’s no accident that your intrepid hero has to ride through a narrow mountain pass: it’s the way you force friend and foe into a meeting.  It’s helpful that your main character is the village doctor, hosting family after family during their crisis in a little room in the front of the house. Even the relentless dark and biting wind of a distant planet illustrates both the physical challenges facing the colony of scientists, as well as their brooding cruelty to one another.”

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Exploring Your Writer’s Voice: How to Generate New Work & Actually Have Fun in the Process!

9 Weeks, 7-9:30 p.m. (this class is not on the current schedule of classes)
$335 members/$365 others
San Francisco

If you’re generating new ideas for a project that’s been in your head for awhile, this class is the perfect place for you. “Getting feedback on a printed manuscript is a helpful process,” says instructor Chris DeLorenzo, “but writers also need a place to explore ideas and generate first draft writing. This class is the perfect place to do that.”

Based on the Amherst Writers and Artists method, this class provides a safe, fun environment, utilizing spontaneous writing exercises that help unlock ideas for poems, stories, and dialogue. You’ll have a chance to focus on the building blocks of effective writing: description, sensory details, and narration, and you’ll find yourself actually enjoying the process!

Each class offers students several writing sessions. After writing, students volunteer to read their work out loud and receive feedback. “What’s unique about this method,” says DeLorenzo, “is that students only offer positive feedback on what’s read out loud: no criticism. This really helps writers to grow their new projects.”

The writing exercises in this class with help you to stretch as a writer, to expand on your ideas, or return to past ideas and help you to develop them. Feedback from the instructor, as well as the other students, allows each writer to really hear what’s working in these first drafts for the first time. “That’s something writers can’t do on their own,” DeLorenzo reminds us. “We need other ears; we need other writers.”

Chris DeLorenzo has an MA in creative writing and is a certified Amherst Writers and Artists method (AWA) facilitator. He teaches writing at the University of San Francisco and has published poetry, prose and personal essays in numerous publications. He has also written two novels,  Certain Sacred Places and All That Remains.



“. . . what a gift Chris DeLorenzo has been. . .”


Hanky Panky – Writing the Erotic

Saturday, 10 am-4 p.m. San Francisco
$95 members/$110 non-members
(this class is not currently scheduled)

Does writing about sex make you blush? Or are you unabashedly hot to trot but don’t know quite where to start or when to stop? Whatever the reasons, if you’re having a hard time writing believable sex scenes, then this is the class for you.

We’ll show you how to seduce your readers by undressing your characters, exposing their vulnerabilities, and telling all about the wild nights that they’ll never forget.

“For any kind of story to be compelling, you need to get naked in your writing,” says instructor Marilyn Friedman. “Don’t hold back!  It’s the steamy details that will create intrigue and make your story irresistible. Readers want to know all about your characters’ fantasies, secrets, and sexual conquests.  Full disclosure is a turn on.”

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Writing from the Fingertips – A day of sensory exploration (Berkeley)

Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (this class is not currently scheduled)
$95 members/$110 others
Testimonials for Chris

“…our meaning together/is hardy as an onion/and layered. Goes into the blood like garlic./Sour as rose hips./Gritty as whole grain./Fragrant as thyme honey. — Marge Piercy

Here’s the good news (and no bad news!): You already have the tools you need to improve your writing: your five senses. “Sensory imagery is what brings writing alive. It’s what helps your readers to connect to your story on an emotional level,” says instructor Chris DeLorenzo. “This is a hands-on workshop in the most literal sense. We’ll do lots of fun writing exercises that will help you utilize the five senses — looking  at the world with new eyes, and exploring new ways to include your sensory perceptions in your writing.

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Every Word Matters: Making Sentences That Scream

One Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (this class is not currently scheduled)
$95 members/$110 others San Francisco

Avoiding boring writing isn’t enough. “My sentences almost always come out perfectly adequate,” Matt Stewart admits, “but that’s not enough to stand out from the flood of middling writing out there. Also, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get into writing to write ‘okay’ sentences. Life is too short to write—or read—average work.”

Matt’s workshop will give you a jolt of language-centric adrenaline to help you craft electrifying prose and cut below-par copy, while avoiding the perils of overwriting. You’ll deconstruct work from prose masters and identify literary wordplay techniques to capture reader attention, all in service of driving your story and character development.

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Lies, Lies, Lies! Help Your Characters Engage in Deceit

One Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Berkeley and SF
$95 members/$110 others

Characters use all sorts of tactics to get what they want: seduction, insult, flattery, cleverness and more. But the tactic that takes the cake is deception. Sometimes they fool lovers, sometimes friends. More often than not, they also fool themselves. In this class, you’ll explore the ways characters lie and deceive.

“When people lie,” says instructor Aaron Henne,”we get a profound glimpse into who they really are. Their fears, concerns and, most of all, their desires are revealed by what they choose to obscure. By excavating their descents into treachery and fraud, we get closer to their truths. By revealing their foibles, we also reveal their needs.”

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