Firey Orange AudienceJoin us for our free monthly programs.

Regular Meetings are on the first Saturday from 10:00 am to noon and the third Tuesday from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the New Life Presbyterian Church Conference Room located at 5540 Eubank NE, Albuquerque, NM.  We also offer 2-hour workshops on select Saturdays after our morning meetings. Go to our Workshops page for details.

For a list of previous speakers and topics , scroll to the bottom of the page.

Saturday April 1, 10am to Noon

Kirk Hickman

Create Multi-Dimensional Characters Your Reader Can Relate To

Your characters must be multi-dimensional. They must have flaws as well as virtues, face internal struggles and external conflict, and have past lives and prior relationships. Your reader must be able to relate to them, and be willing to cheer your hero on toward victory. Finally, your characters must be unique. Virtually any story idea that you could conceive has already been told, in some form, by somebody else. Yet if you tell your story through the eyes of a unique set of characters, your reader will experience it differently than she’s experienced any other story. Developing these kinds of characters is easier than you might think. Come learn how.


Kirt Hickman, author of the award-winning science-fiction thrillers Worlds Asunder and Venus Rain was a technical writer for fourteen years before branching into fiction. His methodical approach to self-editing has helped many make sense of the mass of advice available to the novice writer. He teaches self-editing classes through SouthWest Writers. He has been a mentor in the SWW mentoring program, has spoken at numerous conferences, and has contributed a monthly column titled “Revising Fiction” to the SouthWest Sage. He has also written Mercury Sun, the fantasy novel Fabler’s Legend and two children’s books. His writer’s guide, Revising Fiction—Making Sense of the Madness won a New Mexico Book award for Best How-To and was a finalist in the international Ben Franklin Awards.



 Tuesday April 18th 7-9pm


Exquisite Corpse?

Find out about this unique poetic tradition, along with other
writing techniques that allow you a glimpse into the world of the poet

 Joanne Bodin and Jeanne Shannon

  •  Tuesday: April 18, 2017 7 pm to 9 pm
  • Location: New Life Presbyterian Church

Call the SWW Office (505-830-6034) or sign up at a monthly meeting to register offline.

April is poetry month. And what better way to honor the bards and word-weavers, the poets —the mainstay of cultural preservation—than to come to SouthWest Writers for an interactive experience in the poetic tradition of exquisite corpse, and other playful poetic writing techniques. Bring pens, pencils, a notebook, and your curiosity as you embark on a fun-filled journey into the world of the poet. You do not need to be a poet to participate.

Jeanne Shannon and Joanne Bodin, both award-winning poets, will facilitate this meeting.

Jeanne Shannon’s poetry has appeared in numerous small-press and university journals and anthologies, including Midway Journal, Malpais Review, Cloudbank, Glint Literary Journal and Imagine Peace, an anthology from Bottom Dog Press. She has published four full-length collections of her work and several chapbooks. Her In a Rose Wood Wandering and At the Horizon Line were finalists for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award in poetry, and her 2016 book, Summoning, was a winner in that category. She has also published short fiction and memoir essays.

Joanne Bodin Ph.D., is an award-winning author, poet, and retired educator. Her book of poetry, Piggybacked, was a finalist in the New Mexico Book Awards. Her novel, Walking Fish, won the New Mexico Book Award and the International Book Award in gay/lesbian fiction. She is past vice president of the New Mexico State Poetry Society, and is on the boards of Southwest Writers and the New Mexico Orchid Guild. Her poetry has appeared in numerous poetry anthologies and literary journals. Her new novel, Orchid of the Night, is a dark psychological thriller about a man running from his troubled past, who finds solace in the gay sanctuary of Ixtlan. All books available on Amazon. Her new website is

Saturday May 6th, 10am to Noon

Writing Your Way In

With Lynn Miller

We’ll explore the challenges of beginnings: how the opening paragraph and first page sets up a contract with the reader—expectations to fulfill; ways to make the “occasion of the telling” a compelling one, and one that also has consequence. We want our beginning to “knit” the reader into the story so that they feel urged forward to read more.  The opening sets up the voice, tone, and pulls the reader into plot and structure. The beginning is a hook, an invitation, and an opportunity.

Lynn C. Miller is the author of the recent novel The Day After Death (UNM Press). Prior novels include The Fool’s Journey and Death of a Department Chair. Co-editor of Voices Made Flesh: Performing Women’s Autobiography, Lynn has performed the work of many women writers, including Katherine Anne Porter, Victoria Woodhull, Edith Wharton, and Gertrude Stein. Co-author of Find Your Story, Write Your Memoir, she’s taught at the University of Southern California and Penn State, and was Professor of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin until 2007. Short pieces have appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Phoebe, Text and Performance Quarterly, Writer’s Forum, Articulated 2016, and Chautauqua Journal, where her short story “Words Shimmer” was named runner-up to the Editor’s Prize and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. She lives in Albuquerque and edits the literary journal bosque.

Thursday May 16th 7pm-9pm

Bob Kidera

Overcoming a Late Start to Your Writing Career

In an ideal world, we would identify our writing goals early on and spend our lives pursuing them. But often, life itself intervenes and our dreams and ‘druthers get deferred, a can kicked down the road. If you’ve come to your writing career only recently and need to make the most of your time, my experiences may benefit you.

I always dreamed of being a writer, but didn’t get started until after my early retirement. Over the past six years, I’ve learned what is and what isn’t worth the time of an aspiring writer, how best to make use of your internal and external resources, and turn your writing dreams and plans into reality.

There are no shortcuts to writing success. There are cul-de-sacs you need to avoid, resources you need to utilize, and best practices that can turn dreams deferred into dreams realized.

After an early fling in the motion picture industry and a long, successful career in Academia, Robert Kidera retired in 2010. With his desire to play major league baseball no longer a realistic dream, he chose to fulfill his other lifelong ambition and became a writer.

His debut novel “Red Gold” earned the Tony Hillerman Award as Best Fiction of 2015 at the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. It was also named as Best Mystery of 2015 and the best eBook. Its sequel, “Get Lost” also was selected as Best Mystery of 2016 and Best eBook of 2016 at the NM/AZ Book Awards.
“Cut.Print.Kill.”, the third Gabe McKenna mystery, is targeted for release in 2017.

He is a member of Southwest Writers, Sisters in Crime, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and the International Thriller Writers organizations.

Thursday July 18th  7pm-9pm

Julie Dunlop

Healing Writing with Ayurveda

What is the relationship between health and writing? What supports the well-being of your body, mind, and spirit? How could revisions in your daily life renew your writing? From the perspective of Āyurveda, an ancient medical science from India, the main characters in this story are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha (the three doshas), which are comprised of the five elements—ether, air, fire, water, earth. Together, we will explore the writing process in terms of both suffering and rejuvenation in this introductory experiential fusion of health and creativity.

Author of Breath, Bone, Earth, Sky and Bending Back the Night, Julie Dunlop is the 2016 recipient of the Editors’ Prize for Poetry from Bosque Press. She brings to this workshop her perspective as a writer, writing teacher, yoga teacher, and Ayurvedic Health Practitioner. She is a graduate of The Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque and has taught English at Central New Mexico Community College since 2003.


Saturday August 5, 10am to Noon

Jodi Thomas

Topic:   Secrets of a Successful Writer

 As a New York Times bestseller who has written for three of the major publishing houses, Jodi will present strategies for beginning writers  as well as accomplished writers who want to step up their game. Techniques for writing faster and stronger will also be included.  

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 40 novels and 13 short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas enjoys interacting with students at  West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home, and “checking up” on their grown sons and four grandchildren.





Previous Speakers and Topics for 2017:

Chloe Rachel Gallaway , The Hero’s Journey

♦ Melody Groves, 5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting my Career 
♦Dede Feldman,   Writing: An Activist’s Guide

♦ Paula Paul, Taking the Scenic Route
♦ Heloise JonesThe Writer’s Block Myth, Get Past Stuck & Experience Lasting Creative Freedom

♦ Kirk Hickman, Create Multi-Dimensional Characters Your Reader Can Relate To
♦ Jeanne Shannon and Joanne BodinPoetry Month:  Exquisite Corpse



Previous Speakers and Topics for 2016:

♦ Slim Randles, How to Release the “Great” in Good Writing
♦ Joycelyn Campbell, Create True-to-Life Characters Using the Enneagram
♦ David Morrell, The Current Climate in the Publishing World
♦ Anya Achtenberg, Finding the Real Story—by expanding our view of story’s essential elements
♦ Sharon Niederman, When Editors and Publishers Work for Free, Then I’ll Think About It
♦ Kristen Clark, 12 Reasons Why Self-publishing May Be the Answer for YOU!
♦ Paula Paul, The Ten Commandments for a Successful Writer
♦ Judy Avila, Full Immersion: Pulling the Reader Into Your Story
♦ Elizabeth Sloan, Unlocking an Untold Story: Research, Images, Dialogue, Persistence, and a Publisher
♦ Loretta Hall, Make a Name for Yourself (And I Don’t Mean Pick a Pseudonym!)
♦Joe Badal, Marketing Tips for Writers
♦John Byram, 10 Common Author Pitfalls in Today’s Publishing Environment
♦Michael McGarrity, The Backstory in Fiction
♦Jonathan Miller , Can Donald Trump Sue Me? Libel Law for Authors
♦Gerald Hausman, How Ideas Shape Literature
♦Sherry Robinson, Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Moving from writing stories to writing books
♦Kristen Fogle , The Importance of Morning Pages and Forming a Daily Writing Practice
♦Ross Van Dusen , Pictures with words vs word pictures
♦JJ Amaworo WilsonA Day with the Damned  
♦Susan Cooper and Gail RubinThe Art of Branding
♦Richard E Peck
Ask a Playwrite to Revise Your Novel…or Become One!
♦Shannon BakerStaying the Course
♦Steven GouldWhat Hollywood Taught Me about Prose Fiction


Previous Speakers and Topics for 2015:


♦ Steve Brewer, Creating Credible Characters
♦ Kathy Wagoner, Point of View (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Pam Lewis, Building Characters and Settings that Ground Your Fiction


♦ Melody Groves, Putting Emotion into Your Writing—Without Adding “ly”
♦ Rob Spiegel, Writing on the Web (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Katrina K. Guarascio, Finding your Voice: The Help and Hindrance of Peer Review


♦ James McGrath Morris, Using Storytelling Techniques to Breathe Life into Your Writing
♦ Bob Gassaway, Sharpen Your Words to Sharpen Your Stories (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Jim Tritten, Building a Writing Career


♦ Jack Woodville London, Why We Write: Storytellers of Hope for an Uncertain World
♦ Joanne Bodin, Poetry as Inspiration: A Panel Discussion


♦ Mark Stevens, How to Plot Without Plotting
♦ Teresa Ewers, Getting Into a Monthly Magazine (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog Theatre)
♦ Melody Groves, Dialogue Tricks: Making Characters Talk Good


♦ Kirk Ellis, Storytelling: It’s Harder Than You Think
♦ Jeanne Shannon, Tackling the Elusive Art of Poetry (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Steve Brewer, How to Screw up Your Writing Career (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog Theatre)
♦ Irene Blea, Landscape: How Setting Creates Identity & Story


♦ Rob Spiegel, Online Writing Opportunities—An Expanding Universe
♦ Joycelyn Campbell, Networking Isn’t a Four-Letter Word (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Melody Groves, Choosing a Topic for Your Magazine Article (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog)
♦ Jane Lindskold, Making it Real


♦ Jonathan Miller, How to Turn Your Life into a (Successful) Book…And Not Get Sued
♦ Grace LaBatt, Improve Your Language Tools (Brown Bag Session)
♦ William Bolt, How to Turn Personal Stories into Stand-up (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog)
♦ Jeffe Kennedy, Defying Gravity—Writing Cross-Genre and Succeeding Anyway


♦ Robert E. Vardeman, That’s A Great Idea…So What’s the Story?
♦ Zack Wheeler, Developing a Strong Online Presence (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Elise McHugh, What an Editor Looks for in a Manuscript (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog)
♦ Sarah Baker & Loretta Hall, Question and Answer Session


♦ Robin Perini, I Stayed Up Until 4:00 AM: Creating and Maintaining Suspense
♦ Juan Aranda, Technical Can Be Creative (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog)
♦ Shari Tarbet, Myth in Writing


♦ Sharon Oard Warner, The Grand Scheme of Things: On Plot and Point of View in the Novel
♦ Jeanne Shannon, What Makes a Memoir Work (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Stanley Ray, Screenwriting Demystified (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog)
♦ Grace Labatt, On Editing


♦ Lois Ruby, The Devil’s Due—Must We Sell Out to Sell?
♦ Gayle Lauradunn, Poetry: Slam, Spoken Word, Rap (Brown Bag Session)
♦ Lille Norstad, Significant Detail: The Art of Showing (Rogue Writers at Aux Dog)


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