Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop
June 1 - 15, 2014


Learn how to write SF that sells.
Using the short-story form, we help you master the elements that create great stories.
Since 1985.


James Gunn is as sage as they come.
-Trent Walters, from a Writer's Workshop review for SF Site

Information Map
Instructors
   Andy Duncan
   James Gunn
   Christopher McKitterick
Details
Housing for the Writers Workshop
Costs
How to Apply
Transportation from Airport to Lawrence
Maps
Lawrence in the Summer

The Workshop is especially intended for writers who have just begun to publish or who need that final bit of insight or skill to become a published writer, though we often see more-published authors who want to grown their writing as well. We work with all brands of speculative fiction, including horror, fantasy, magical realism, slipstream, speculative philosophy, hard SF, and so on.

SFWA Science Fiction Grand Master James Gunn established the Workshop in 1985 and led it on his own (with appearances from Sturgeon and Campbell Award-winning authors) until 1996, when author and CSSF Director Christopher McKitterick began co-teaching; Kij Johnson also co-taught from 1996-2002, before branching off her own SF&F Novel Writing Workshop, offered during the same two-week period. Gunn stepped back his participation in 2010, but plans to drop in from time to time to meet the workshoppers and offer words of writing wisdom, and he usually joins us for lunch in the (very good) adjoining dorm cafeteria. We'll likely enjoy other special-guest authors and editors, as well. Simultaneous scheduling and adjacent meeting spaces provide valuable opportunities to intermingle with the other group and discuss writing from different perspectives outside regular meeting times.

For 2014, we continue the tradition of inviting outside authors and editors to join us so you get diverse perspectives on what makes great spec-fic. This year, we are honored to host two guest authors:

  • For week one, Grand Master James Gunn - who founded the Center and first taught the workshop in 1985 - critiques one story from each participant. Welcome back, Jim!
  • For week two, the inimitable Andy Duncan returns for his third guest-author appearance.
  • Author, SF scholar, and CSSF Director Christopher McKitterick (who served as guest author from 1996-2010) leads the workshop and participates both weeks.

During the last day or two of the second week, we also expect to host both our Campbell Award and Sturgeon Award-winning authors, plus Kij Johnson and other authors and editors who are attending the Campbell Conference, to talk about the business of writing.

Instructors


Andy displaying his writing notebook during the 2013 Workshop.

Andy Duncan won the Sturgeon Award for his 2001 Asimov's novella "The Chief Designer." His first collection, Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, won a World Fantasy Award, as did his SciFi.com story, "The Pottawatomie Giant." His 2012 publications included a second collection, The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories (currently available from PS Publishing), and a Tor.com story, "On 20468 Petercook," while his novelette "Close Encounters" was a cover story of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Duncan has been nominated multiple times for the Nebula, Stoker, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, and Hugo awards. Duncan has been a juror for the Philip K. Dick, Shirley Jackson, Sturgeon, and Bram Stoker awards, and has taught at Clarion, Clarion West, and the Center's own SF Writing Workshop. Recent books include Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic, an anthology co-edited with F. Brett Cox; The Night Cache, a stand-alone novella; and Alabama Curiosities, an offbeat travel guide.

Duncan attended Clarion West in 1994 and studied creative writing at North Carolina State University under John Kessel (another Gunn student). He taught Clarion in 2004 and Clarion West in 2005, was a full-time journalist for 12 years, and taught college for 17 years. A professor in the English department at Frostburg State University in Maryland, he also teaches a seminar on 21st-century SF and fantasy at the University of Alabama. He regularly blogs at Beluthahatchie.

What's Andy's writing like? My favorite description, by Craig Jacobsen in the SFRA Review:

If Harper Lee and Gene Wolfe had a love child, Andy Duncan is it.

Click here to visit Duncan's complete bibliography, and here to see his Wikipedia page.


Jim dispensing wisdom during the 2008 Workshop.

James Gunn's most-recent novel, Transcendental, came out in 2013, along with two other books. He started writing SF in 1948, was a full-time freelance writer for four years, and has had nearly 100 stories published in magazines and books; most of them have been reprinted, some as many as a dozen times. He is the author of 26 books and the editor of 18; his master's thesis was serialized in a pulp magazine. Four of his stories were dramatized over NBC radio's "X Minus One"; "The Cave of Night" was dramatized on television's Desilu Playhouse in 1959 as "Man in Orbit"; and The Immortals was dramatized as an ABC-TV "Movie of the Week" in 1969 as "The Immortal" and became an hour-long series in 1970-71. His stories and books have been reprinted in many languages.

Gunn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1923. He received his BS degree in journalism in 1947 after three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and his MA in English in 1951, both from the University of Kansas. He also did graduate work in theater at KU and Northwestern. In 1969 at the University of Kansas, he taught one of the first courses in science fiction. An emeritus professor of fiction writing at KU, Gunn still teaches and regularly visits workshops and conferences.

In 2007, he was named Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master.

Read more about Gunn and see his full bibliography here.


Chris revealing 30-year-old manuscript pages in 2012.

Chris McKitterick's short work has appeared in markets including Aftermaths, Analog, Argentus, Artemis, Captain Proton, Discovery Channel Magazine, E-Scape, Extrapolation, Global Warming Aftermaths, James Gunn's Ad Astra, Libraries Unlimited, Locus, Mythic Circle, NOTA, Ruins: Extraterrestrial, Sentinels, Sense of Wonder, SFRA Review, Synergy, Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, Top Deck magazine, various TSR publications, Visual Journeys, Westward Weird, World Literature Today, a bowling poem anthology, and elsewhere. A poem of his was also set to music.

His debut novel, Transcendence, is now in its second edition. He recently finished a far-future novel, Empire Ship, and has several other projects on the burner, including the YASF trilogy, The Galactic Adventures of Jack and Stella.

After earning his BA in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, McKitterick studied science fiction writing and literature with James Gunn, Frederik Pohl, and other guests of the Center at the University of Kansas, where he earned his MA in creative writing and continued post-graduate studies with Gunn afterward. After working for gaming and tech companies in the Northwest for nearly a decade - and assisting each summer with the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop and SF Institute - he returned to KU full-time to teach SF and writing, and to direct the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. Among other things, he studied astronomy and psychology on his route to SF scholar, writer, and teacher.

Read more about McKitterick here, or check out his personal website here.


The Campbell Conference following the workshop plans to bring the winners of the Campbell and Sturgeon Awards to the campus as special guests, and several more SF-writers and editors are also scheduled to attend, talk, and sign books during the special Campbell Conference this year. We invite our special guests to come and talk to us on Friday afternoon about "The Secrets of Successful Science Fiction" - always a great experience! Our notable visiting authors, editors, and other guests of the Conference usually stay in the dorm with the attendees, so you will have special access to these luminaries. Starting in 2013, we are proud to announce that Workshop participants may register for the Conference at no cost: Just note that you are a Workshop attendee on your registration form. You must still register in advance, of course!

James Gunn and Jeremy Tolbert critiquing in our dorm lounge
Workshop moment, 2013
James Gunn (left) and Jeremy Tolbert.

Participants have time for writing, recreation, socializing, and individual conferences.

2014 Writing Workshop

This year's Writing Workshop meets from June 1–13, and the Campbell Conference, June 13–15. We have an informal get-together with the Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop attendees on Sunday evening, at 6:00pm in our residential hall where we'll be meeting, to get acquainted and plan for the coming weeks.

Young Gunns 2013 in our scholarship-hall lounge
The "Young Gunns" of 2012
Front row left: Joan Slonczewski (2012 Campbell Award winner), Sheila Williams (editor of
Asimov's), Sheila Finch (Campbell Award juror and author).
Back row: Abigail Godsell, Laurie Walker, Marcy Arlin, Andrew Genova, Evan Mielke, Chris McKitterick.
Not pictured: Andy Duncan, Sarah Fischer, James Gunn, Chris Kelworth, Kathy Kitts, Chuck von Nordheim.

Attendees arrive at the dorm the day before critiquing begins and stay through the entire Campbell Conference, so plan to arrive on Sunday and leave the Sunday afternoon or evening after the Campbell Conference. If you wish to arrive early to settle in, please let us know so we can see if we arrange that with the Housing department.

Young Gunns 2012 critiquing in our dorm lounge
The "Young Gunns" of 2011
Clockwise from left: Bradley Denton, Jack Ryan, Isaac Bell, Tepring Crocker, Kara Tan Bhala, Chris Kenworthy, Kathy Kitts,
Mark Silcox, Chris McKitterick, Chuck Von Nordheim, and James Gunn (back to camera on left).

Preferred length is the short story (2,500 - 10,000 words), though writers frequently turn in short-shorts (around 1,000 words) or longer works. If you write novelettes or novellas (longer than 10,000 words), please limit your submissions to less than 30,000 words total. Due to time constraints and the structure of the Workshop, we usually cannot take up more than three works total, even if they are short-shorts or flash fiction, so keep that in mind. If you are writing a novel, consider instead the novel-writing workshop held in conjunction with this short-form workshop, because it's challenging to give useful feedback on just a few chapters. Everyone comments on every story, each story is analyzed for publishability, and writers are encouraged to submit their work for publication. We might also work on exercises, analyze successful fiction, and more.

Young Gunns 2008 in action
The "Young Gunns" of 2008

Applicants will be notified about acceptance starting in March, so contact us as soon as you can! Enrollment for KU graduate credit begins in April, but contact us early if you plan to enroll for credit so we can reserve you a spot. We continue accepting applications until the Workshop fills or until May 20, whichever comes first. Note: The 2014 Workshop still has a few available slots, so apply now!

Young Gunns 2005 in our dorm lounge
The "Young Gunns" of 2005
Standing: Ann Tonsor Zeddies, Mark Grover, Larry Taylor, Fran Van Cleave, James Gunn, Harold Agnew, Nolen Harsh.
Kneeling: Chris McKitterick, Mary Rose-Shaffer, Eric Warren, Karen Schwabach, Mandy Earles, Pat Buehler.

The Workshop offers a three-hour session of manuscript critiquing, discussion, and other exercises each afternoon, starting at 1:00pm and running until 4:00pm (or a little later if needed). The rest of the day is free for writing, study, consultation, and recreation. We often have lunch together in the student union at noon, and most nights we go out together for dinner on the town and then many gather back at the scholarship hall for late-night movies and conversations about story. Attendees write or revise one manuscript over the weekend and often work on an exercise or two. Many participants exchange more manuscripts during and after the Workshop, so be prepared to share more if you find interested readers!


Bradley Denton and Nathaniel Williams playing the blues, 2011 Workshop.

Does the Workshop help students get published? Most former attendees have not only gone on to publish in both the short and long forms, but to win the fields most prestigious awards. Among these are multiple award-winning authors Pat Cadigan, Bradley Denton (who has also served as guest author), John Kessel, and many more. Two Workshop graduates have won the grand prize in the Writers of the Future contest, and the majority of grads have gone on to publish their work.

Young Gunns 2004 at Vermont Street Barbeque
The "Young Gunns" of 2004

How to Apply

Enrollment is limited to approximately 8-12 enrollees, so if you wish to attend, be sure to enroll early! Positions go quickly. To reserve a spot for this year's Writers Workshop:

  1. Between February 1 and April 20, submit via email to Chris McKitterick (cmckit@ku.edu) a sample story in proper manuscript formatting you wish to use in the Workshop. Use the subject line "CSSF 2014 Workshop Application" for clarity. We accept applications from January 1 through April 20 (first-come, first-served). Our goal is to pick a good diversity of writers whose approaches and writing styles work well together. We usually fill our ranks, so submit early! If you apply late and are accepted, be prepared to have two more stories ready to submit to the group before May 20.

  2. Are you a KU student or hoping to take the Workshop for KU English credit? Great! KU enrollment is late in the application period (April), so to ensure your spot submit your application package - before KU enrollment - to Chris McKitterick as soon as you know you would like to take the Workshop. For details on registering for graduate English credit (ENGL 757) at KU, contact Lydia Ash (lash@ku.edu). If you wish to take the Workshop for KU undergraduate credit and have worked with him in the past or won the James E. Gunn Award for Science Fiction Writing, contact Chris McKitterick (cmckit@ku.edu) about enrolling (ENGL 495).

  3. If you are accepted, congratulations! You'll receive detailed information about the Workshop and an invitation to our private Google Group. If you are not accepted, you'll hear details about how to improve your chances of getting in next year.

  4. Once you are accepted, fill out the new online-registration and payment form. If you wish to apply for reduced tuition, contact Chris McKitterick right away and submit a note explaining your financial need. To attend the Campbell Conference, be sure to register for that, as well - just because it's free for Workshop attendees doesn't mean you don't have to register! Your registration is not complete until you have submitted both the form and your check by the deadline.

  5. Between acceptance into the Workshop and May 20, submit a total of three stories (or a maximum of 30,000 words for all three works) via our Google Group for distribution to other Workshop attendees. Please identify your preferred order, as that affect which our Guest Authors critique (McKitterick critiques all three). You may submit these one at a time or all at once. Final deadline for submitting stories to be workshopped is May 20. Electronic submissions (only in .rtf or .doc format) are required for ease of distribution.

The the new online-registration and payment form is now available. If you are accepted, everyone - including those taking the course for credit or not-for-credit - must fill out and submit this form ASAP.

If you are not a current KU student but wish to take the Workshop for graduate credit, you also need to apply as a non-degree-seeking graduate student. Fill out this KU application form and supply a copy of an official transcript showing proof of an undergraduate degree. On the application form is an area for comments/notes. Indicate that you wish to enroll only for the summer SF Writing Workshop (ENGL 757). You must enroll using the KU online enrollment system, and you need a permission code from Chris McKitterick (cmckit@ku.edu) sometime during April. You can officially enroll for graduate credit after you have the code, but be sure to enroll by June 1 or KU will charge a late-enrollment fee. If you have any questions about the application or enrollment process, please let Lydia Ash (lash@ku.edu) know.

Contact Lydia Ash (lash@ku.edu) for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your stay. More logistical information is available on the CSSF LiveJournal page.

Costs

Tuition for the Workshop is $600, exclusive of meals and housing, upon acceptance.

If you wish to take the Workshop for KU credit (English 757 or 495), enroll as usual through KU (we also request $100 to help cover costs associated with our guest authors, payable to CSSF). Dorm and meal costs rise the longer you stay, of course, so plan appropriately. Meals vary in cost depending on where you eat.

A limited number of reduced-cost scholarships are available for those in financial need. To be considered for the reduced rate, please request it and explain your need when contacting us. Typical reductions are $100 for promising candidates in need (KU students may apply to have the guest-instructor fee waived).

To register after you have been accepted, please complete this electronic form right away.

Housing for the Writing Workshop

Our official dorm housing for out-of-town attendees is one of the lounges in Rieger Scholarship Hall at 1323 Ohio Street, a new residence located near the Kansas Student Union, Oread Hotel, and downtown. Rooms share a bathroom (about one with 3 stalls and showers/bath per 6 rooms), and have a sink and counter space for a microwave or other small kitchen equipment. Building amenities include a lovely wraparound porch with seating (including a chair-swing or two), basketball court, pool table, refrigerator, coffee and tea equipment, and many private study areas. Be sure to let Lydia Ash know if you have special needs.

Dormitory rooms are available at the following rates:

  • Twelve-night stay (Sunday evening, June 1 - Friday morning, June 13) in a shared double room: $305; if you want the double rate, you need to work out a roommate in advance, because the Center is charged per room, not per occupant, and we cannot choose roommates for you. To settle in and meet your fellow workshoppers, we recommend arriving early in the day on Sunday. 
  • Twelve-night stay in a single room (unshared): $496.
  • To stay for the Campbell Conference, add $48 (shared) or $78 (unshared) for Friday and Saturday night. This is a great opportunity to meet our Campbell and Sturgeon Award winning authors, plus other authors and editors, so we strongly recommend staying through the Conference weekend.
  • Note: Housing cannot accommodate check-ins earlier than June 1. You must request to check in early and pay for an extra day if you wish to stay longer. Housing also cannot accommodate stays beyond June 27.

If you wish to stay in a dorm, you must make dorm reservations by May 20. Please pay for your room in advance once you hear from Lydia Ash about this year's final rate. Check-out is at noon.

Also use the new online-registration form to reserve a dorm room.

Contact Lydia Ash lash@ku.edu for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your stay. More logistical information is available on the CSSF LiveJournal.

Check out VisitLawrence.com for local hotel information.

Meals are available in a variety of places, including the Kansas Union and a myriad of local restaurants. Check out Lawrence.com for a list of just a few of the local eating establishments.

Young Gunns of 2003 outside the dorm
The "Young Gunns" of 2003
Front row:
Kij Johnson, Jeannette Cheney, Betsy Boyce, Nolen Harsh, Terry Mackey, Adrian Simmons.
Middle row: Harold Agnew, Thomas Seay, Pat Buehler, Jennifer Schwabach, Cliff Johns, Kelly Green, Betty Hull.
Back row: Wolfgang Baur, David Kirtley, Rod Rogers, Frederik Pohl, Chuck Marsters, Larry Taylor, James Gunn.

Transportation from Airport to Lawrence

Many transport services offer rides between the Kansas City International (MCI - the "M" is for "Mid-Continent") airport and Lawrence, including:

  • Better Alternative Transportation Services (BATS): 24/7 door-to-door service; individual rates.
  • Roadrunner (also known as "KCI Airport Shuttle"): individual rates; departs from the Holidome (Lawrence Holiday Inn) at specific times. Toll-free phone contact number: (800)747-2524 or call your travel agent.
  • SDM Transportation: 24/7 door-to-door service; offers airport shuttles or luxury cars with individual rates.
  • Jayhawk Taxi: 24/7 door-to-door service; fixed rate to the airport for 1-2 passengers.
  • Super Shuttles: 24/7 door-to-door service; group rates; discount if you use the group discount code: S6Q2W.
  • Five Guys Shuttle: 24/7 door-to-door service; rates per van, not per person.
  • Here 2 There Shuttle: 24/7 DD service, airport shuttle, and reservations for special events. Can hold up to 10 passengers at once. Call or text 785-380-8879 or email 785shuttle@gmail.com
  • KCI Express Shuttle offers pickup and delivery right to our dorm or your hotel for only $5 more than the normal rate. Phone Reservations: (816)645-1815. After 8:00 PM CST (816)372-1556.
  • Ground Transportation Services, Inc, is a local Lawrence business that provides 24/7 taxi service within Lawrence, and the surrounding areas. They also operate daily door-to-door shuttle service from Lawrence to the Kansas City Airport. (888)467-3729 or (785)838-4500. See a schedule here.

Notes:

  • Reserve well in advance of your trip to confirm pricing and availability.
  • KCI stands for "Kansas City International Airport," though the official airport code changed to MCI - "Mid-Continent International Airport" - a few years ago.
  • This list is for your information only. KU and the Gunn Center are not affiliated with these services.

Maps

Here's a cropped map of the University of Kansas (click the image to see it in full-screen size):
 click for larger map

Here's a map showing where KU is located in Eastern Kansas:
 

University of Kansas map.

Kansas Union map (in .pdf format).

Lawrence bus routes and maps.

Google Maps centered on the KU Kansas Union.

Unfortunately, this summer KU is enduring lots of road construction. See this map for details (click the image to see image in full-screen):

Lawrence in the Summer

For anyone who hasn't visited, Lawrence is wonderful, a lively small city in the Kaw River valley, filled with art, events, and activities. The location of the University of Kansas, Lawrence is situated about 40 miles from Kansas City and 20 miles from Topeka. Summers can be hot, but classrooms and housing are air-conditioned.

Among its many amenities, the University of Kansas contains a large science-fiction collection (including a number of single-author paper and manuscript collections, such as Theodore Sturgeon's) and other great reference collections; museums of natural history and art; and sports, theater, and lots more. Lawrence offers many excellent restaurants and shopping and recreational opportunities. Kansas City is less than an hour away. Nighttime opportunities include movies, dinner, live concerts, star-gazing sessions, and of course talk about writing and more.

The nearest major airport is Kansas City International (MCI), about 55 miles from Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International can be arranged through one of several airport shuttle services. By car, Lawrence is at the intersection of U.S. 59 and I-70 (Kansas Turnpike) or K-10. The I-70 West Lawrence interchange is closer to campus. Lawrence can also be reached along the lovely Kansas Highway 10.

Find out all about Lawrence - its history, stores, museums, observatories, and SFnal activities - here.

Contact us for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your stay:

Lydia Ash ( lash@ku.edu )

updated 5/29/2014

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