Fiery Orange Hands IconSouthWest Writers offers workshops to advance the skills and marketability of writers. Experienced instructors guide participants through lecture, example and, often, critique to increase the quality of their writing.

What is the difference between a workshop and a class? A workshop is one session, and any work required of the students is done during the workshop session. A class is more than one session and usually includes assignments to be completed outside of class.

See individual workshops for their location.

Book Cover Design

A 2-Hour Workshop with Michael Silva

Saturday: December 3rd
12:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Location: New Life Presbyterian Church
(after the regular Saturday meeting)
$29 Members, $34 Osher, $39 Non-members

Call the SWW Office (505-830-6034) or sign up at a monthly meeting to register offline. For directions to the workshop, go here.

michael-silvaYou’ve labored faithfully to finish your book. But your book isn’t complete until you have a cover for it. Learn how to design your own book cover using the Inkscape freeware graphics program. Tasks will include importing images, creating and manipulating polygons and text, and applying special effects.

Michael Silva was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He served in the US Navy in the 1980s, and graduated from the Russian program with honors at the Defense Language Institute/Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. He has more than thirty years’ experience using computers and software. He currently is writing his own science-fiction novel, and likes writing about alien encounters, time travel, religion, technology, and romance. Michael earned his bachelor’s degree in information technology and his master’s degree in business at the University of Phoenix. His work experience includes teaching at TVI (CNM) Workforce Training Center, IT support at Isleta Casino, and public service at the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine and City of Albuquerque, Animal Welfare Department.

It Ain’t Just Alien Sex:    What Realists Can Learn by Writing Speculative Fiction

With Betsy James

Saturday: January 7th
12:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Location: New Life Presbyterian Church
(after the regular Saturday meeting)
$29 Members, $34 Osher, $39 Non-members

Call the SWW Office (505-830-6034) or sign up at a monthly meeting to register offline. For directions to the workshop, go here.

“Speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, and slipstream) gives voice to those who explore societal and technological change along with deeper considerations of underlying archetypes of human experience.”
—Clarion West

Get real, folks!    How?   By getting unreal.   Conceive the inconceivable.jamesb-foto-3

Speculative fiction is the world’s oldest literature, and currently it’s evolving at a phenomenal rate. The “what if” genres are taught at the likes of MIT, recognized for their role in fresh thinking and, on a shrinking planet, an understanding of culture and worldview. Spec fic’s strange aim—the evocation of worlds that don’t exist—hones critical 21st-century survival skills like whole-brain problem-solving. Alien sex is good for you!

Not to mention a helluva lot of fun. For the writer, spec fic’s delicious raking light illuminates a brand new landscape. How do you write from the POV of a nonexistent being? How do you build backstory for a totally invented world? How does the brain process metaphor? Who is the Other?

Join spec fic writer and teacher Betsy James for a workshop on this ancient brave new genre.

Betsy James is the author-illustrator of seventeen books for adults, young adults, and children. She teaches a writers’ workshop in speculative fiction for UNM’s Honors College and, twice a year, a speculative fiction class for SouthWest Writers. She is known for her work with both beginning and advanced writers, for her inventive prompts, and for her interest in the uses of speculative fiction, especially in the understanding of culture.


Workshops you might have missed:


♦ The Artist’s Way Mini Intensive
with Kristen Fogle and Lydia Lea Real
♦ Outline for Success
with Gerald Hausman
♦ Blogging Your Way to Success
with Rob Speigel
♦ Books 101
with Barbe Awalt
♦ Adding Humor to Your Writing
with Steve Brewer
♦ Writing Great Dialogue: Listening to the Voices in Your Head
with Melody Groves
♦ How to Find Your Path and Follow it to Your Creative Destiny
with Sharon Niederman
♦ Making Your Fiction Shine with Cinematic Technique
with Joanne Bodin
♦ Writing from Photo to Finish
with Elizabeth Sloan
♦ Book Cover Design
with Michael Silva


♦ Turning Fact into Fiction: Bending the Truth to Make it Fit
with Melody Groves
♦ What Has to Happen Before That Can Happen: Planning the Novel, Character- vs. Plot-driving, and Bringing it into the World
with Jack W. London
♦ How to Plot: Every Good Story Needs One
with Melody Groves
♦ Write What You Don’t Know
with Mark Stevens
♦ Giving Voice to the People in Your Head
with Sarah H. Baker
♦ Websites for Writers
with Loretta Hall


♦ Getting Around Beginner’s Bumps
with Sarah Baker
♦ Write a Marketable Children’s Book in 7 Weeks
with Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley
♦ What a Writing Group Can Accomplish (Synergy)
with Patricia Walkow and Jim Tritten
♦ A Gathering for Picture Book Critique
with Betsy James
♦ Websites for Writers
with Loretta Hall
♦ An Introduction to Crime Scene Investigation for Writers
with Debra Falcon

Workshop and Class Refund Policy

To ensure that SouthWest Writers can cover the cost of space rental and instructor fees, we have implemented a workshop and class refund policy. If you cancel one week before the workshop or class beginning date you will receive a full refund. Cancellations after one week prior up to 24 hours prior to the beginning of the workshop or class will receive a credit only toward a future workshop or class of your choice. If you do not cancel or don’t show up for the workshop or class you will receive no refund and no credit. For multi-session classes, if you miss a class, you receive no refund. We pay our instructors based on how many students enroll, so you are part of that roll count if you don’t cancel as detailed above.

If you have any questions or want to let us know what classes or workshops you’d like to have offered, please e-mail the workshop coordinator at

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