Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop
Likely dates: June 23 - July 5, 2019

Multiple award-winning author Kij Johnson
helps you transform your book idea into a successful project.
Since 2004.

Information Map

   Kij Johnson
   Barbara Webb
Enrollment and Registration
"Repeat Offenders" Workshop
Diversity and Disability
Lawrence in the Summer

the monkey or the wasp?

The novel workshop fills up fast! If you're interested in applying, read this page and respond by the dates listed.

This summer, in conjunction with the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, the SF Writing Workshop, and the Young-Adult Novel Writing Workshop, Kij Johnson teaches a two-week intensive workshop on writing novels. The goal of this workshop is to help writers in the early stages of a novel create compelling, coherent plots and openings for their books. Due to a scheduling conflict for Kij, we've swapped the traditional Novel Workshop and "Repeat Offenders" Novel Workshop for writers who have already taken the traditional workshop, which runs from June 9-21, and last year was hosted by the ever-awesome Kevin McNeil. 

The Novel Writers Workshop meets from June 23 to July 5. If you are coming from out of town, plan to arrive on Sunday, June 23, by 6:00pm in our residence hall. We begin Sunday evening with an informal meetup with the short-fiction "Repeat Offenders" workshoppers to get acquainted. 

The Workshop begins Sunday afternoon, immediately following the annual Campbell Conference, which plans to host the winners of the Campbell Award and Sturgeon Award. As in other years, the Gunn Center summer programs bring in other special author guests. Several of our writer and editor guests to come and talk to us on Friday afternoon about "The Secrets of Successful Science Fiction" - always a great experience! Workshop participants may register for the Conference for free.

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

Plan to be out of your room by noon on Friday, July 5.


Kij winning her 2012 Hugo Award.

Kij Johnson first offered this workshop in 2004 as a counterpart to the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop, which focuses on shorter works. Her stories have won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, but her first prize was the Theodore A. Sturgeon Memorial Award. In 2009, her story, "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" won the World Fantasy Award; in 2010, her story, "Spar" (note: not for young readers) won the Nebula Award; in 2011 her story, "Ponies" won the Nebula Award; and in 2012, her novella, "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" won the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award.

She is the author of three novels (The Fox Woman, winner of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts Crawford Award for best new fantasy novelist of the year; World Fantasy Award finalist Fudoki; and The River Bank, plus a print novella, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, which won the 2017 World Fantasy Award.

She also co-wrote with Greg Cox a Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Dragon's Honor. Her short-fiction collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees, is available from Small Beer Press.

Read more about Kij and see her full bibliography here.

Barbara preparing to give feedback at the Rio Hondo writers' workshop.

Barbara has been assisting Kij with the workshop since 2009.

Novel length fiction is Barbara's passion and her area of expertise. She currently has two published novels under her belt, Midnight in St. Petersburg and City of Burning Shadows.

Barbara has studied writing under such genre masters as Nancy Kress, Walter Jon Williams, James Gunn, and Kij Johnson. In addition to the Gunn Center workshops, she is a graduate of Taos Toolbox.

Read more about Barbara at her website.

Kij, Barbara, and two workshoppers at the whiteboard during the 2008 Novel Writer's Workshop.

Sock Monkey Action Theatre™ actors at rest.

The workshop is designed for newer writers who have begun but not completed a novel, though experienced novelists in the early stages of a book are also welcome It's most productive for writers who have a working outline or synopsis (5-10 pages or more), but no more than the first 25 percent written in draft.

The Workshop typically runs from 1:00pm - 4:00pm each day, and the rest of your time is free for writing, study, consultation, and recreation.

The Workshop is in two segments. We do discuss the opening, with an emphasis on writing, characterization, and the expectations set up, but the lion's share of our time is spent in an iterative program called "fishbowling" - which has nothing to do with fish or bowling. Starting with an outline, synopsis, or scene breakdown, we deconstruct and reconstruct the plot, looking for holes or flaws and for ways to deepen the novel's structure and storyline. Taking these notes, workshoppers revise either the outline or the chapters and resubmit the material to the workshop for further discussion.

To apply to the Novel Workshop, see Enrollment and Registration, below. 

Enrollment and Registration

Workshop enrollment is 8-9 attendees. The novel workshop always has more applicants than available spots, so not everyone gets in. Kij is interested in putting together a group of writers who are talented and will mesh productively and positively. It's imperative that people work well together.

Applicants for admission must contact Kij Johnson ( between February 1 and March 22 to be considered for the first wave of acceptances. Be sure you:

  • Include "2019 Novel Workshop" in your subject line.
  • Describe your experience with workshops, if any.
  • Talk about your goals as a writer generally and for this workshop in specific.
  • Describe the project you wish to work on, either in the synopsis/outline you submit to the workshop, or a shorter document.
  • Include 5-10 sample pages of your novel at the end of your email. (Don't attach documents if you can help it.) If you do not have pages of the novel, you can apply using other fiction writing, but ask first!

You may be asked for additional information. The first wave of acceptances will be notified by March 29. Your payment for housing and tuition will be due within 30 days of acceptance.

If you are accepted, we'll contact you with registration instructions. Your registration is not complete until you send your payment.

Your packet of materials for the workshop is due May 6. This packet can be electronic and will include:

  • A 5-20 page synopsis, outline, or scene breakdown. This should be your best effort at describing the novel. This is not a pitch; it is the functional tool you are using to write the book.
  • The first three chapters or 15-30 pages of the novel.
  • Whatever additional materials are essential to the reader's understanding of your goal.

Participants often exchange full manuscripts during or after the Workshop, so be prepared to share more if you find interested readers!

"Repeat Offenders" Novel Writer's Workshop
  June 9 - 21, 2019

Return to the scene of the crime to reinforce the lessons from your last workshop, and reconnect with other alums. Since 2010.

Kij again offers an informal two-week workshop for people who have attended one of her novel workshops before this. Repeat Offenders is basically a chance to work with similarly trained writers on whatever project is underway, fishbowling and discussing as needed. This year, Kij will be gone for part of RO, so Kevin McNeil will be hosting in her absence, with an occasional Barbara Webb boost.

To apply to Repeat Offenders, contact Kij at by April 1. Be sure you:

  • Include "2019 Repeat Offenders" in your subject line.
  • Describe the project you're working on and what's blocking you.
  • Note: This date is for the Repeat Offenders workshop only; the deadline for the regular novel workshop is much earlier.


Our official dorm housing will likely again be the first-floor lounge in Rieger Scholarship Hall at 1323 Ohio Street, located near the Kansas Student Union, Oread Hotel, and downtown Lawrence. We have the full building to ourselves, including study nooks, a grand piano, tons of SF and writing-related books, a dining area (with an ice machine, a refrigerator, kettles, coffee machines, and so forth), and a movie-watching lounge stocked with hundreds of films.

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 nearby 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 10 or beyond July 6.

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

2005 SF Novel Workshoppers in our dorm lounge

The SF Novel Writing Workshop of 2005
Standing: Chuck Marsters, Larry Taylor, Erick King, Leonid Korogodski.
Sitting: Maria Zannini, Robert Hamm, Kij Johnson, Lane Robins.

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, with a single flat rate that includes tuition, administrative costs, and housing, payable within a short time after acceptance (details in your acceptance letter). Please inform us as soon as possible if you have a roommate; we cannot find room-shares for you.

Novel Workshop with Kij Johnson (June 23-July 5, 2018)

  • tuition, administrative fees, and single room with shared bathroom (13 nights): $1600
  • tuition, administrative fees, and shared room (13 nights), per person: $1425
  • tuition and administrative fees without housing (for locals, or if you make arrangements to stay elsewhere): $1200

Novel Repeat Offenders with Kij Johnson, Kevin McNeil, and Barbara Webb (June 9-21, 2019)

  • tuition and single room with shared bathroom: $1300
  • tuition and shared room, per person: $1125
  • tuition and administrative fees without housing (for locals, or if you make arrangements to stay elsewhere): $900

Novel Workshop plus Novel Repeat Offenders with Kij Johnson (June 9-July 5, 2018)

  • tuition, administrative fees, and single room with shared bathroom: $2700
  • tuition, administrative fees, and shared room, per person: $2350
  • tuition and administrative fees without housing (for locals, or if you make arrangements to stay elsewhere): $1900

Make payments payable to University of Kansas.

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

Thanks to a generous friend of the Center, a limited number of scholarships are available for outstanding writers and KU graduate students in financial need. To be considered, you must request it and explain your need in your application.

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 workshop.

Transportation from Airport to Lawrence

By car, Lawrence is at the intersection of U.S. 59 and I-70 (Kansas Turnpike). The west interchange is closer to campus. Lawrence can also be reached along the lovely Kansas Highway 10.

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.

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.
  • 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; 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 door-to-door 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 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.
  • Uber and Lyft also operate in the area.


  • Reserve well in advance of your trip to confirm pricing and availability.
  • The Kansas City International Airport's official airport code is MCI - "Mid-Continent International Airport."
  • This list is for your information only. KU and the Gunn Center are not affiliated with these services, and some attendees had problems with others, so do your research.


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 1/7/2019

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