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.

 Tuesday, February 20   7pm-9pm

Lorena Hughes


My Ten Worst Mistakes in Writing and What I’ve Learned from Them

As Thomas Alva Edison once said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I may not have erred 10,000 times in the process of writing and publishing my debut novel, but I have made my fair share of mistakes. From them, I have learned valuable lessons on how to become a better writer. I will share with you my worst pitfalls, from writing misleading opening lines to using cliché endings, and everything in between. We will discuss why these things didn’t work for me and what you can do to avoid them.

Bio: Lorena Hughes was born and raised in Ecuador until moving to the U.S. at 18. She has a degree in fine arts and mass communication & journalism from The University of New Mexico. Her previous work won first place at the 2011 Southwest Writers International Contest in the historical fiction category, earned an honorable mention at the 2012 Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and was a quarter-finalist for the 2014 Amazon Breakout Novel Award. The Sisters of Alameda Street is her first novel.

Saturday, March 3    10am-Noon

Melody Groves

Don’t Be Afraid to Cry:

Ways to Put Emotions into your Writing

Emotions lie at the core of every character’s actions, choices, and words—all of which drive the story. What would a story be without emotions? Writers like to think communication is mainly through dialogue. But what’s NOT said is most important. I’ll discuss various emotions and highlight the physical signs, internal sensations, mental reactions and how to incorporate them into your writing.

I’ll talk about adding emotion to every character and every scene. I’ll discuss various emotions and highlight the physical signs, internal sensations, mental reactions, etc. Along the way I’ll provide a few writers’ tips: “Don’t be afraid to challenge your character’s morals. Putting them in situations that are outside their comfort zone will make them squirm, and the reader will too.”

Six-time award-winning author, Melody Groves, writes magazine articles, novels, non-fiction books, and screenplays. A member of Western Writers of America and a SWW Parris winner, she spends her “spare” time, playing rhythm guitar with the Jammy Time Band.

Tuesday, March 20th   7pm-9pm

Judy Avila

CAN YOU RELATE? The importance of diverse and tension-filled relationships in your writing

When we write, our protagonist is surrounded by other characters. And each character plays a different role in her life. There are five primary types of relationships, with infinite varieties and permutations that can add tension and conflict to your work.

The five primary relationship categories are work relationships, friendships, family (and pets), love relationships, and rival or enemy relationships.

Of course, any of these relationships can be amicable or hostile, or a combination of both, depending on circumstances. They can overlap and underlap. But one thing is always true: You as the writer, need to show the multifaceted relationships of your protagonist in a way that draws the reader in and keeps him there. The dialog and body language of your characters should leave no doubt we are dealing with sisters, or rivals, or both. Flat relationships will kill a novel.

Judith Avila has lived in New Mexico most of her life. The diverse mix of cultures here has always inspired her. The bestselling memoir she wrote with Chester Nez, Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII, was one result. A new novel, Refuge, brings us cross-country on Route 66, and deposits us on the Navajo Nation, where the heroine joins her Navajo compatriots in facing off against an invasion of vigilantes. Judith, a graduate of Duke University and a former computer consultant and air traffic controller, is shopping for an agent for Refuge.


Tuesday, June 19  7pm-9pm

Michael Backus

Topic:  TBD


Michael Backus’ writing, fiction and non-fiction, has appeared in Okey Panky, One Story, Exquisite Corpse, Digging Through the Fat, Prime Number magazine, Hanging Loose, The Writer, The High Hat, The Portland Review, and The Sycamore Review, among others. His short story “Coney on the Moon” was published in early September 2017 in an illustrated Redbird chapbook and Xynobooks published his novel Double in ebook-only form in 2012.  His novel The Vanishing Point will be published in regular book form in 2018 by Cactus Moon Publications.  He taught film studies and creative writing at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City and currently teaches beginning and advanced fiction writing for Gotham Writer’s Workshop and Zoetrope Magazine. He can be followed @MikeJBackus and more information is available at his website here.

Saturday, October 6th  10am-Noon

Gerald Hausman

Zen and the Art of Writing

The talk will concentrate on one’s natural voice, rather than one imposed by subject matter or one’s inclination to develop a personal style.

In Zen practice it is said that “one must seek the face one had before birth.” In writing, the same question may be raised. What is the way you spoke and wrote before you became proficient at doing these things. That is to say, before you were taught in school. I use Miyazawa Kenji’s collected thoughts from the book Floating Stone to help with the process of finding the natural voice of each participant. I also draw inspiration from the writers I have worked with, the ones mentioned in my attached biography. As a former high school writing teacher as well as a writer in residence at colleges and conferences, I have always been surprised and pleased at how quickly writers find and use their natural voice, one that is often overlooked in the attempt to develop style. Examples will include writing by very young published writers as well as masters such as Camus, Lindsay, Zelazny, Krauss and Sendak.

This presentation will be followed up by a Workshop after the meeting on Spontaneous Writing.  See Workshop Page for more information

Gerald Hausman spent more than twenty years in New Mexico where many of his American Indian stories were collected and published. Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1945, Hausman is a professional storyteller. He was poet in residence at Connecticut State College as well as the City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He taught writing at The Windsor Mountain School and Santa Fe Preparatory. Two of his children’s books were made into animated films, one of them sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates and Pixar, the other by History Channel. A number of his books for adults and children have been translated into 10 foreign languages. In addition to his own writing Gerald is the editor of award-winning nonfiction and fiction titles published by Overlook-Viking, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Dutton, Persea, Houghton Mifflin and others. He, his wife Loretta and author Alice Carney teach at the Green River Writers program in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Hausmans edit for Irie Books which is dedicated to discovering new talent in literature. They have moved back to Santa Fe after many years of touring and doing workshops.


Previous Speakers and Topics for 2018:

♦Jack Woodville London,  Stick to the Story


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
Bob KideraOvercoming a Late Start to Your Writing Career
♦Jeffe Kennedy, Friends and Enemies: How to Talk to and Deal with Agents and Editors
♦Jodi Thomas, Secrets of a Successful Writer
♦Christina Squire, “And then the Murders Began”
♦Kimberly Little, The Deep Point of View
Susan Cooper and Gail Ruben, How to Knock ’em Dead, Public Speaking for Writers
♦Betsy James, Thought Experiments
♦Chris Ebock, Cliffhangers, Keep the Pages Turning

Previous Speakers and Topics in 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 PeckAsk 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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