Young-Adult SF/F Writing Workshop
June 5-10

Learn what makes great young-adult SF and fantasy.
Using a portion of an in-progress novel, we help you master the elements that create fiction for young people.
New for 2015.

Popular YA fantasy authors Tessa Gratton and Natalie C. Parker lead this new, one-week, residential YA-writing workshop. The Young Adult genre has been growing for decades. It has received wide recognition as a genre all its own since the turn of the 21st century when bookstores began creating specific YA sections, while at the same time, major awards began to split YA awards off from the rest of children's literature, and the community saw the rise of culture-shifting YA books and major movies. Writing in this genre comes with its own specific challenges, rewards, and controversies. During this workshop, you'll learn what makes YA unique and how to do it well.

In this workshop we'll look at the YA genre as a whole: what makes a story YA, the place of YA in US culture and media, YA subgenres (focus on SF/F), and common tropes in YA as well as issues in YA.

In addition, the instructor will provide attendees with in-depth critiques of submitted work and the opportunity for one-one discussions.

Workshop leader Tessa Gratton.

Tessa Gratton has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. Alas, she turned out too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for a someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in Gender Studies, then settled down in Kansas to tell stories about monsters, magic, and teenagers. She's the author of the Blood Journals series and The Gods of New Asgard Series as well as dozens of short stories available in anthologies and on Merry Sisters of Fate. With her critique partners, she authored The Curiosities and The Anatomy of Curiosity, both about writing YA.

Visit her at, @tessagratton, or

Workshop leader Natalie C. Parker.

Natalie C. Parker is the author of the Southern Gothic duology Beware the Wild and Behold the Bones (HarperTeen), as well as the editor of the forthcoming young adult anthology, Triangles: The Points of Love (HarperTeen). She is the founder of Madcap Retreats, an organization offering a yearly calendar of writing retreats and workshops. In her not-so-spare time, she works as a grant coordinator for the University of Kansas, where she runs writing workshops for tribal college students in STEM disciplines.

Learn more about her at

Simultaneous scheduling and adjacent meeting spaces with the Gunn Center's other spec-fic workshops and the SF Institute provide valuable opportunities to intermingle with the other groups and discuss SF/F and writing from different perspectives outside regular meeting times.

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


You'll bring:

  • Up to 25k of an in-progress YA novel + synopsis.
  • Participants will be provided with a recommended reading/viewing list of 2-3 movies and YA novels to help facilitate this discussion.
  • Love of the YA genre/category

Workshop Outline

During this workshop we'll address lots of great stuff! Course outline coming soon... write Tessa and Natalie with questions.

In addition, the instructors provide attendees with in-depth critiques of submitted work and the opportunity for one-on-one discussions.

How to Apply

Enrollment is now open and limited to 8 enrollees, so if you wish to attend, apply early! To reserve a spot for this year's YA SF/F Writing Workshop, submit the following directly to Tessa:

  • The required manuscripts and synopses.
  • A brief description of the work.
  • A letter of introduction describing your writing history, favorite books, favorite YA books, and why you want to write YA.

If you are accepted, we'll contact you with registration instructions. Your registration is not complete until you have sent your check by the deadline.

Contact us for any help you might need in getting settled for your stay. Logistical information collected over the years is available on the Center's LiveJournal.


Our official dorm housing is likely to be one of the lounges in Rieger (or Krehbiel) Scholarship Hall at 1323 Ohio Street, located near the Kansas Student Union, Oread Hotel, and downtown Lawrence.

Rooms share a bathroom, either with an adjacent room or down the hall (3 stalls and showers/bath per 6 rooms), and have a sink and counter space for a microwave or other small kitchen equipment. Other building amenities include a lovely wraparound porch with seating (including a chair-swing or two), basketball court, refrigerator, coffee and tea equipment, and many private study areas. We are conveniently located just down the hill from the KU Student Union and a few blocks' walk from lovely downtown Lawrence. Be sure to let us know if you have special needs.

Housing does not include meals, but these are available in the nearby Kansas Union and a variety of wonderful restaurants, and Lawrence offers at least one fine micro-brewery. Check out or Yelp's Lawrence page for a list of many of the local eating establishments. We head downtown most evenings for group dinners with all those interested!

The default housing arrangement is now a single room with a shared bath for each attendee. Some double rooms may be available for people who request them, but we will not be able to find roommates for you.

Housing cannot accommodate check-ins earlier than June 5 or beyond July 1.

Logistical information collected over the years is available on the Center's LiveJournal.

Housing costs have gone up dramatically, but we do not wish to pass on the increase. If you'd like to help future attendees, please consider making a tax-deductible donation! Click the button below to give using a credit card, or write a check made out to CSSF and mail it or bring it with you. Thanks!


Because of new procedures change how the University makes housing available to summer programs, we have changed our rate structure for the workshops, with a single flat rate that includes tuition, administrative costs, and housing, payable within a short time after acceptance (TBA in your acceptance letter). Please inform us as soon as possible if you have a roommate; we cannot find room-shares for you.

Young-Adult Writing Workshop with Tessa Gratton (dates TBA)

  • tuition, administrative fees, and single room with shared bathroom (6 nights): $650
  • tuition, administrative fees, and shared room (6 nights), per person: $540
  • tuition and administrative fees without housing (for locals, or if you make arrangements to stay elsewhere): $400

Speculative Fiction Writers Workshop with Chris McKitterick or Novel Workshop with Kij Johnson (June 5-18, 2016)

  • tuition, administrative fees, and single room with shared bathroom (13 nights): $1120
  • tuition, administrative fees, and shared room (13 nights), per person: $920
  • tuition and administrative fees without housing (for locals, or if you make arrangements to stay elsewhere): $700

Please send a check for your tuition and housing to Tessa Gratton as soon as you are accepted, payable to University of Kansas.

Meals and incidental costs rise the longer you stay, of course, so plan appropriately.

Diversity and Disability

Everyone enjoys equal access to the Gunn Center's offerings, and we actively encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us. All courses offered by Gunn Center faculty are also available to be taken not-for-credit for professionalization purposes by community members (if space is available). Click here to see the Center's Diversity Statement.

The Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) coordinates accommodations and services for eligible KU students. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodation and have not contacted the AAAC, please do so as soon as possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number is (785)864-4064 (V/TTY). Also please contact us privately about your needs in this course.

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
  • 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.


  • 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.


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.

updated 1/31/2016

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