Selecting Workshops

Writing workshops can be the best part of a nascent writing career. You get to know other new writers who understand your starry-eyed ramblings and your labored explanations of your book. You meet working writers, glean their wisdom, and sometimes hang out with publishing professionals! You can work on a pitch, or a piece that is workshopped in a critique group, and receive invaluable feedback.

Yet all those perks can also make the workshop awful. A vicious, badly moderated critique group can leave you in tears. If a publishing professional doesn’t articulate themselves well, you could get your heart broken and see your work as unsaleable. (Note: nothing is truly unsaleable in publishing.)

So how do you pick one?

Because there are quite a lot!

(That list isn’t even comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start.)

I have been involved with three local workshops near my home in Bellingham, Washington: the Clarion West Summer Workshop, the Chuckanut Writers Conference, and the Cascade Writers Three-Day Workshop.

They’re very different. Chuckanut is huge, with a lot of A-list writers who have penned bestsellers. It takes up most of a community college and a couple of meeting rooms at a bookstore. Chuckanut is also likely to be aimed at a beginning writer or a writer mostly focused on craft. Programming shows that the majority of classes are about particular elements of craft and sometimes resemble literary discussions like what one would see in a lit class.

Cascade is smaller, cheaper, more intimate, and packed with writers who have sold books recently. Cascade is also, as you can tell by looking at the guests, entirely science fiction-focused, while Chuckanut reaches across genres. Cascade has fewer than fifty people and thus greater access to working agents and editors, so it is a great bet for people trying to break in with a finished science fiction manuscript.

Clarion West is one of the most famous workshops in science fiction. Unlike the others, which last three days, it lasts *gasp* six weeks. Each week is dedicated to writing one short story, and is taught by major writers. And it’s big news. It has local parties, ancillary one-day workshops, special guests, and it’s actually pretty cheap for six weeks of room and board and teaching. But it’s clearly the most expensive in associated costs, because you’ll be taking six weeks off work.

Which one?

There are three factors to take into account: 1) your goals as a writer, 2) the time you have available, and 3) the cost.

In the case of 1, a semi-pro writer with a published manuscript might benefit from something like Cascade: small, with face-to-face groups. It’s small enough to get face time with working publishing professionals and will only require three days off work, depending on travel.

If you’re just struggling to finish a project, something the size of Chuckanut might be a better bet for the wide array of craft topics.

And if you’re determined to hone your craft, to be the best writer you can be, and to level up, Clarion West, or its cousins Clarion San Diego and Odyssey, could be great. This is especially true if you are unemployed, or have the summer off—and more so if you can score one of their scholarships. (If not, Viable Paradise, at one week, and Taos Toolbox, at two, are pretty good by-audition-only options.)

You’ll notice that none of those workshops are particularly focused on self-publishing. There are good conferences for that—the 20 Books to 50k symposium springs to mind—but as I haven’t delved into that realm, I can’t speak to it. You do have to be careful with the number of services being sold to self-publishers. Always remember, in self-pub, the advice of Smashwords founder Mark Coker: “In the self-pub gold rush, more money will be made in author services than book sales.”

Self-published books succeed for the same reasons traditionally published books do. They’re good, and they have a solid marketing push. Anyone selling you a no-fail money method and promising you the moon… *insert sound of oily snake.*

It may be that your money could be better spent on a professional editor. In that case, establish their bona fides just like you would with a conference. Your editor should be working in the field, ideally a working publishing writer who has some experience with publications or an editor who has worked with a major house. Absolute Write has a good section of listed editors.

But there are major pointers for conferences. A good conference doesn’t just mean good craft. It means you’ll make good friends. As I said, you’ll sit down with people and share in their stories and their loves and talk books and shared writer frustrations.

Whatever conference you end up at, bright-eyed, coffee-loaded, with a fresh notebook in hand…have fun! Grab a drink, coffee, or lunch with other writers. Go to the game nights, the write-ins, and the restaurant next door. Participate in the open mic (but don’t go over your time). The conference will bless your craft, but the friends will bless your whole life.

Further reading: 30 Fantastic Writers Conferences For Authors, Bloggers & Freelancers


Finding Family in Dragon Age: Inquisition

Editors Note: Emma Osborne introduces the September topic for Dream Foundrys Official Media Exploration Club. Please stop by and say hello on the forum, and let us know what your thoughts are regarding our September discussion topic, Dragon Age: Inquisition. We look forward to seeing you there!

Video games provide a unique way of both telling stories and of exploring families and character dynamics. Games embed players in worlds filled with cities to explore, people to meet, quests to pursue. BioWare’s Dragon Age: Inquisition is a game rich with history, with culture, with politics, and of course, with many forms of families.

One of the beautiful things about games is that the player can make active choices in order to discover aspects of the world and the narrative. Story, within the game, can be short and impactful (for example, the Twine game queers in love at the end of the world by anna anthropy), or as is the case with many AAA games, it can span 70+ hours of play time. This provides a staggering amount of room for richness and detail. Dragon Age: Inquisition provides enormous scope for exploring the characters and mythology of Thedas in an active way. The player often learns by doing—by exploring, talking, completing side quests, or working through the main narrative quest. There are also personal quests for the major characters, with satisfying B plots and miniquests tying back into the main narrative.

Dragon Age: Inquisition was selected for discussion in large part because of the complexity of the relationship dynamics within the game. There are many races and classes, e.g. humans, the Qunari, elves, and dwarves, but even within the elvish and dwarven cultures there are nuanced and defined groups. For example, the elves are represented both by the nomadic Dalish elves, but also by servants seen in the Empress’s Winter Palace. We see elvish gods, elvish magic, and even elves who don’t adhere to any particular aspect of elvish culture. When it comes to dwarves, we see the somewhat outcast surface-dwellers versus dwarven traders, miners, and guilds.

Mages are also marginalized within the game, but we see various examples of their status—Dorian is noble and foreign. He hails from Tevinter, where mages are the ruling class. Solas is an elf and a non-Circle mage (a “rebel” mage) but also does not fit within what we know to be the standard elf experiences (not a city elf or a Dalish elf). Vivienne, the most powerful mage in the game, is rich, aristocratic, and part of the “accepted” Mage class (i.e. a Circle Mage) and carries strong political influence in both Thedas and Orlais.

The characters have many different experiences and histories but all work together to close the fade rifts and stop demons from attacking people. The characters learn from each other, argue and disagree in ways that families often do. Many of them have established relationships from earlier in the games’ history, e.g. Cassandra Pentaghast and Leliana are the former Left and Right Hands of the Divine—the lead warrior and chief spy of the game’s Pope character.

Aside from the main group, which is definitely a family, there are many smaller “families” within the game, such as Bull’s Chargers, a mercenary group who look out for each other and fight together. The Iron Bull, their leader (and a Qunari spy) saved Krem (a landmark transman character) in a tavern brawl and lost an eye for it. The Chargers are a diverse group made up of elves, dwarves, and humans.

The Seekers of Truth—an elite order of Templars—are another family within the game. Seeker Cassandra retains immense loyalty to the Seeker Knight Commander, when in her personal quest, she must root out corruption in the ranks. Dorian and Tevinter mage Alexius are a family of sorts, with Alexius mentoring Dorian in his mage studies. Sarcastic elf Sera has her crew of Red Jennies, who combine intelligence from the unnoticed workers of the world. They’re an informal group but are nevertheless united as many small cogs in a vast machine. Varric and Hawke have a family relationship that carries over from DA:2.

There is also an undeniable queer element to the families in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Many of the main characters are queer—Dorian is a gay man, Sera a lesbian. The Iron Bull is pansexual, and Leliana was able to be romanced by any gender in Dragon Age: Origins. In the real world, queer and trans folks have a way of finding each other, of seeking out people who become their family throughout their lives. The Dragon Age games reflect this beautifully, with the characters forming bonds out of a common goal, but also with genuine affection for each other, which can often be seen in the banter the characters engage in when out in the field.

I look forward to exploring the nuances of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and discussing the elements that resonate with folks on the forum!

Editors Note: Interested in commenting? Tell us your thoughts are regarding our September discussion topic, Dragon Age: Inquisition, on the forum. We look forward to seeing you there!


I’ve Got A Question For You: Considering Portrayals Of LGBTQ People In Fiction

It’s common for queer authors like myself (really any authors who aren’t straight, white and male) to address the need for positive representations of characters who share their identities. I write science fiction and fantasy so it’s par for the course that I should address those genres. Ideally, I’d point out that science-fiction and fantasy are realms of possibility and imagination, that no other sector of fiction is more suited to representing the beauty and diversity of human identities and lives. And of course I would remind you that representation is incredibly important for all marginalized people.

And it is incredibly important.

Because when there are so few representations of queer identities, every single depiction of a queer character makes up a huge percentage of the way in which we are seen and how we see ourselves. Every portrayal of an LGBTQ+ person holds the potential to humanize or demonize us. A single trans dragon-rider, a gay magician, a bisexual starship commander, a lesbian demon-hunter or a gender-fluid druid can become the catalyst for the letters LGBTQ+ to come alive as real people with strengths and weaknesses.

The impact of that humanizing effect—or its absence—reaches far beyond the realms of fantasy and science-fiction, because in the real here-and–now LGBTQ+ people are still struggling against discrimination. We face hatred from entire political parties and religious groups; our rights, our relationships and our very identities are regularly attacked and misrepresented in the most distorted forms imaginable. Over a thousand LGBTQ+ people will be victims of hate-crimes in the US every year.

There are still nations in which homosexuality is punishable by death. (Just having to write that sentence is heartbreaking and I wish so much that I was talking about works of fiction.)

Dehumanizing LGBTQ+ people plays a huge roll in making abuse and oppression seem acceptable. It’s easy to condemn us when you only think of us as monsters and abominations. But seeing our humanity can change that; it may be easy to kill a ‘monster’ but it’s monstrous to murder another human being.

Yes, it is incredibly important that we be allowed to tell our stories and share our strength, love and humanity. Positive representation is crucial, not just in genre fiction but everywhere. And, honestly I think that we all know as much.

So, I’d like to take a moment and ponder the matter from the other side. Because the current framing of this question places all burden upon marginalized readers, writers, and our allies to justify our work, our voices and even our right to exist. But what if we considered this question instead: What is the need for hateful representation? (Because that’s what we’re actually fighting against when we talk about positive representation. We’re battling hate and erasure by holding up the truths of our lives and our love.)

So let’s instead ask: How does demonizing and degrading marginalized people enrich our literature? Does it improve our lives? Why should LGBTQ+ people—or any group of human beings, for that matter—have to see themselves maligned, stereotyped, abused and murdered in fiction as well as in the real world? What does it say about us all, as a people, if we embrace ignorance and hatred as defining values?

What harm is there in one human being sharing their humanity with another in the form of a story?

When I tell you that my wife and I have been together for thirty years, and that every day I fall in love with her all over again, does that deprive you of anything? Perhaps it takes a little bit of ignorance from you. Maybe it makes me just a little less of a faceless, capitol L at the beginning of that string of letters, LGBTQ+.

And if you were to tell me some of your story then you too would cease to be an invisible reader out there somewhere and become a human being for me. You might tell me about your upbringing, or perhaps your aspirations. I would encourage you. Perhaps you’ll confide that you’re worried about the future. I am too but I believe that we can make things better for each other. We human beings are resourceful and capable of great compassion. I would want to tell you a joke but I might mess it up on the first try. I’m not great at telling jokes; I do it automatically—clumsily—when faced with fear.

I’m telling you all this now, because I hope you’ll recognize that reading about someone else’s strengths and struggles deprives you of nothing. It simply offers you the chance to know and share in their battles and triumphs.

In the end it stops being a matter of my narrative or yours. We can share in one another’s experiences. Your joy can lift my spirit; my positive representation can fill you with pride. That’s what’s so powerful about stories and that’s why the ones we tell each other and ourselves should matter to us all.

Editor's Note: This is a reprint of an original essay that appeared on HuffPost.com.


Not Quite Superman

When I was young, whenever I would get frustrated with something, my parents would say, “It’s hard, but you can do it.”

Throughout life, I’ve taken this to heart; I powered through and did the things, even when there was a crushing amount of work to be done. Friends called it “superpowers,” and I found myself using it more and more often. Superpowers always have their cost--get the power of the Dark Side at the expense of your morality, get magic powers when you sacrifice the thing you love most, and so on. For me, I’d be exhausted the next day, a gibbering baboon who looked like they’d stayed awake for three days straight, but the feeling was always that it was worth it because that’s what you gotta do to get it done. It’s hard, but you can do it. 

Today I both write SFF and work in a high-powered slice of tech. In tech, superpowers are the norm. Superpowers are expected. Superpowers are your basic prerequisite, because of course you’re going to work-hard-play-hard, you’re going to go-go-go and get-shit-done. (You probably have a t-shirt or mug with at least one of these phrases, possibly handed out by your employer.) There is no place for weakness in this environment. 

There is no place for disability in this environment.  

In the past 5+ years, working with a wide variety of client companies, I haven’t seen a single person with a visible disability. Any invisible ones have been carefully hidden away.

Even without my disability, I’ve never been healthy. In the past five years alone, I’ve dealt with a bizarre constellation of medical issues: car accidents, emergency appendectomy, shingles… nothing connected, but many things. Some I can hide. Some I can’t, but there’s still an expectation to push through. A regular sick day usually means working from home, smiling and cogent on the video conference, trying to ignore the fever heating my cheeks. The last time I had a real sick day, I was two weeks after major surgery and on serious painkillers. The following week, still high as a kite on vicodin and barely able to shu ffle to the fridge and back, my then-client insisted that I get some work done and I’d been out long enough. But at least all of these issues were temporary and none actually disabling.

Which brings me to my actual, invisible disability. I’ve struggled with sometimes-crippling depression since high school. I’ve checked myself into two different hospital programs, one of which included a week of inpatient care. It’s hard enough to smile and pretend I’m stronger than I really am when recovering from a physical illness. It’s excruciating while depressed. In my field, depression is an unheard-of weakness. People acknowledge that I can’t help it if I was hit by a car, but depression is still seen as a personal failing. 

I am not “out” in tech because I would stop getting business. This piece is the first and only work I’ve ever written under a pseudonym: I can’t afford the risk. Who wants to work with someone who might one day just be too sad to come in? What’s the point? Just get over your bullshit and get this shit done. Superpower your way through and you’ll be fine. So I grit my teeth and smile, smile even when my cheeks feel like they each have a one-ton weight smuggled within them, smile when it’s all I can do to keep the tears from squeezing out and rolling down my unprofessional face and dripping onto my unprofessional laptop that would fizzle and sizz in the very reaction that I’m now suppressing in myself. 

(Superpower through it. It’s hard, but you can do it.) 

Depression feels like the opposite of superpowers. Instead of being able to burst through expectations and accomplish superhuman amounts of work, I’m saddled with some sort of superkryptonite. Not only can I not do things that are super, but I find it hard to do incredibly basic things. Showering is difficult. Dishes nigh impossible. Dragging myself to work is an ordeal I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy because the weight of the burden wants to crush me to the ground. And I want to let it, because it would be so much easier to let myself be pulverized into mush than fight for just one minute longer. 

(It’s hard, and you might not actually be able to do it. That’s a scary thought.)

In a scenario where I have to hide my disability for fear of losing my job, I feel like a backwards Clark Kent. Masquerading amongst the superheroes, ever afraid that someone would notice that I squint a bit and sometimes bump into things and really if I put on glasses I’d look just like that non-super reporter guy. Nobody needs to bring in that non-super reporter guy to get things done.

Which brings me to the SFF part of my life. There are many issues with disability in science fiction and fantasy. Evil people are disabled or disfigured almost by their nature: see Star Wars’ Snoke, Wonder Woman’s Dr. Poison, Doctor Who’s Davros, and so on. Cons still don’t do enough for people with disabilities. I can’t count the number of times a panelist has decided they’re naturally loud enough to “not need a mic” so I can’t hear them (much less be heard by those with hearing limitations) or seen a panelist in a wheelchair struggle to get onto a ramp-free stage. There’s a lot that needs to be improved. 

But despite all this, the SFF world has been my disability salvation. This was the very first world where I was allowed to be “out” with no consequences, and met a number of folks with the same struggle. I could have depression and still be OK, a person worth working with. Hell, I could have depression because I’d been cooped up for too long dealing with yet another illness (my current situation) and still be OK. I was able to open up about my difficulties, my clashing needs to be productive and also practice self-care, in part because so many others were openly fighting the same battles. In the past few years, the SFF community taught me about the concept of spoons and saving your energy for the things that matter most. This is the community that lovingly yelled at me to stop being ridiculous while I was berating myself for taking too long to finish a novel draft. They told me to start taking better care of my mental health, which included taking breaks. 

Not only did I not need superpowers to be accepted in this community, it seemed like nobody did. The outpouring of empathy and love became one of my strongest sources of support, with the echo of “it’s hard, and sometimes you don’t need to do it. It’s OK if you don’t.” 

This contrast is startling. 

When I had a week-long crippling migraine, an editor sent me copy edits to review. I knew it would be OK to request a few more days, because I wasn’t able to concentrate very well with the pain, and they were fine with it. That same week, my tech job showed no such courtesy, and I had multiple skull-shattering, painfully loud video conferences. 

When I was depressed and struggling to make it through the day, I had another editor ask for a revise-and-resubmit for a story. I’d seen others do it, so I knew it would be OK to ask for another few weeks because I was too depressed to make progress. He told me to take care of myself. At the same time, not being “out” in my day job, I was juggling three very demanding clients with no way to get a reprieve. I dragged myself forward on each new project, each new request, whispering “it’s hard, but you can do it” as I trudged through. 

When I was extremely depressed and was in a hospital program, getting intense therapy for four hours every weekday, my corner of the SFF community sent me love and support. It was clear that all writing had to come to an indefinite halt. In fact it should’ve been clear that all work had to come to an indefinite halt. But instead I found myself dragging my wrung-out carcass directly from the hospital to a client planning session. Depression, which gives your frontal lobe a wallop and makes it hard to concentrate or think, had me scraping together my remaining neurons (already frazzled from the hospital session) to focus not on rest and my own health but on a soon-to-be-dead company’s plans for their next product launch. 

The SFF community still has a way to go towards eliminating ableism, both in its media and within its community. But for me, this has been the one place in my life where it’s completely OK that I’m not quite Superman. I can drop the fake smile and the veneer of hypercompetence, and have one less burden to lift. I can take care of myself and my health. Things are hard, and I’m OK whether I can do them or not. 

It’s good to be home.

 


The Cone of Silence

On breaking into a creative community

When I first started writing
science fiction and fantasy stories, I was completely unaware of the breadth
and scope of the SFF community. I'd just started sending out my work, learning
what I wanted to write, and making friends who also liked to write. I started
going to conventions because I wanted to meet others like me. It was the year
that the "Sad Puppies" swept
the Hugo Awards
, the longest-running prize for science fiction and fantasy
works. When the Sad Puppies controversy hit, I remember reading Twitter as a
total outsider and rethinking my choice. I found myself asking, "Is this
really a community I want to be a part of?"

Most people who've been involved in
the SFF community for a long time don't realize how hard it is to break in. Or
maybe they do, and they're just not very sympathetic about it. 

I made a lot of normal newbie
mistakes in my first year of writing. I struggled with the convention culture
of "Bar Con" (when people gather at the bar of a convention, even if
they aren’t actually attending the convention itself). Not because I don't
drink, but because I'm an introvert, and I don't have a face that says
"Talk to me!" like some folks. I wasn't sure which events were safe.
I'd look up a con only to realize there was some controversy years ago. I
picked random events to attend and slowly realized which ones worked for me. I
made friends with anyone who wanted to talk to me about my writing. It was
exciting: Here is another person who likes the same thing as me! I fell into
friendships hard and fast, only to be burned.

Close-up image of a woman with her finger on her lips in the traditional "shhh" pose.

As we get more comfortable and become
more established as community members, we talk in code. We establish whisper
networks—useful,
secret messages between members warning others of one person who is harmful.
But communities rarely say those names out loud. Because the opportunity for
harm, harassment, and the tarnishing of reputation is very real for those who
speak up. A member of the Houston writing community I'm a part of was long
known as an abuser. But he was very well-established in the community, worked
for a reputable local literary business, and still to this day has not been
"outed." I knew of his reputation, and yet I was complacent. I warned
new writers about him when asked, but I wasn't going to be the one to tell the
world about him. Because I felt vulnerable. I didn't have enough clout to speak
out and bear the brunt of the backlash sure to follow.

I've been a warnee, too. When I became
casual acquaintances with someone who seemed like a Big Deal in the SFF writing
community, I was warned to stay away from him. Everyone seemed to
"know" this person was bad behind closed doors. But in public, they
interacted with him as if nothing was wrong. They retweeted him, celebrated his
successes, and in general acted outwardly as if they endorsed him. It was only
later when one person spoke out against him that hundreds more added to the
conversation. There was a palpable sense of relief—"Oh finally, someone else
admitted it." I was dismayed to learn of the actions of this one person,
and how many people I considered friends were mistreated by him but didn’t tell
me. I'd been warned to avoid him, but no one told me why. Many members of the
SFF community felt the same way—forgotten.

Every community has ways it deals
with dissenters, even those who are arguing for a more inclusive, transparent,
and accepting community. I've had editors block me on Twitter for disagreeing
with something they said. People have told me to my face they think my writing
isn't valuable because it's not mainstream. I've lost friends in this community
by advocating for marginalized voices, for transparency, for basic
professionalism. And I've done things I regret, too, out of ignorance. Like any
social network, the SFF community is a complex web of connections. It's hard to
navigate. It’s full of imperfect humans, all with their own goals.

There are unspoken rules in every
community. I'm a member of the neo-pro SFF group called Codex, a writing group for new writers
who need to have at least one pro publication to join. In Codex, threads are dedicated
to anonymous call-outs of problematic publishers, editors, and agents. It's an
exceedingly valuable resource for new members of the SFF community. Members
converse daily about protecting yourself at conventions, avoiding folks who are
abusers, and the general rules for navigating the SFF community. These
conversations are considered protected by the rules of the group—threads
marked with a "Cone of Silence" mean they shouldn't be shared outside
of Codex. I find myself wondering: What message are we sending by enacting
a cone of silence? Who are we leaving out of the conversation?

Image of a carving of many faces close together, all of them partly worn away.

There are no easy answers to these
questions. People create whisper networks to protect themselves. New writers
can't control who they first meet when they become a part of a community or
what people don't tell them. There are no truly useful public resources (beyond
perhaps File 770, a website which lists
ongoing controversies and news in the SFF world). Silence can harm the
most vulnerable among the community. New writers, writers of color,
marginalized writers who are often at the fringe. People often overlooked or
dismissed. At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves: What kind of
community do we want to be a part of? How do we keep ourselves safe while
welcoming new members?

The truth is the solutions to many
of the problems we encounter as a community have to come from within—not from
without. Since my days as a newbie writer, I've come to be a part of a local
writing community in Houston and a bigger national community as an SFF writer.
I'm trying to pass on the lessons I've learned as a new writer to the more
established voices in the field I'm in conversation with.

The SFF community should be a place
where we look to the future and envision a better community where everyone feels
safe and welcome. New members can and will bring change. But whether that
change is embraced is what matters. 

If you’re struggling with breaking
into a new creative community, know you are not alone. Here are some lessons
I’ve learned that I hope will help: 

  • Put your safety first. As a newbie, it can be hard to tell who is trustworthy. Until you've established whether the person you're interacting with is someone worth trusting, put your personal safety ahead of your creative work. This may mean skipping that "private party" at a con because it's in the hotel room of someone you don't know. Or it could be as simple as being aware of your own capabilities and mental energy. If someone is taking a lot of your energy, it's okay to take a step back and reevaluate. A professional is not going to be offended by you saying, "I don't have time right now, but thank you," or "I'd love to talk further about this, but I'm taking a break right now." If you feel uncomfortable at an event or around a person, your brain is trying to tell you something. Trust yourself. Consider taking a friend or family member to events, meet and introduce yourself to organizers, and be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Do your research. Before you go to an event, Google it. Look up who has attended in the past. Read about the guests of honor. See what other people are saying about the event. Sadly, a lot of the onus for this falls on the shoulders of new community members. But there are plenty of kind community members willing to share with you their experiences. Don't be afraid to simply ask.
  • Be careful not to fall hard and fast. Take new relationships in the community with a grain of salt, as you do in life. This is hard because we're often trained by society that relationships don't start slowly. But the truth is that many relationships and networks deepen over time. Professional networks grow with you. Everything doesn't have to happen at once—including making new friends. 
  • Be professional. One day, you will be the person people are asking for advice. Really. So learn how to ask in a way that's kind, respectful, and patient. As you reach out to people for advice, you'll find many that say "no." There are a lot of reasons for this—people are busy, they may not feel qualified, they might not have an answer. All of this is fine. No one owes you their friendship.
  • Be the community you want to see. It sounds hokey but consider the golden rule. When I'm at an event, I try to reach out to new people. I ask them what they write and what makes them geek out. Even as a newbie, you can make people feel welcome. If you go into an event with the intent of helping someone else, it makes the process less scary.

What do you think? Do you have advice for newcomers to the genre and industry? Let us know on our forum!