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 August 15  7pm-9pm

Christina Squire

Christina will talk about how important it is for a writer to have constructive response to the work. Constructive response encourages the creative process. In her talk, she’ll explain how she started to write a mystery in the early 90s. Life interfered, so she put five chapters in a drawer. There it sat until she took two memoir classes. She was then invited to join a small critique group where she shared the old wrinkled five chapters. The critique process was so encouraging, she finished that mystery, wrote another, and is now writing her third. 

Christina has published two mysteries:  Murder at the Observatory and Murder at the Art Museum.  Christina is retired from the University of New Mexico where she worked as an Administrative Assistant, Museum Shop Manager, Graduate Coordinator and taught Theatre Appreciation.  She also taught English and Drama at Eldorado High School.  She has a Master’s degree in Theatre and Dance.  She has acted in community theatre and musical theatre venues.  Christina and her husband Bruce raised three sons and are now are enjoying their three grandchildren!  She is working on a third mystery featuring her heroine Caroline Steele and the enigmatic Inspector James Hutchinson.  

Books:  Caroline Steele was a hag without a future, tired of her housewife routine, bored with marriage, and confused by her growing sons.  But when she becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a University of New Mexico professor of Astronomy, she is shocked out of her mind-numbing routine.  She resolves to clear herself and find the real murderer.  This search throws her into close contact with the charismatic Inspector James Hutchinson.  They work closely together to solve this crime and another murder in the second book at the University Art Museum.  In both mysteries Caroline juggles domestic life with her quirky family, office work, academic intrigue, and her growing attraction to the Inspector

Saturday , 10am September 2 10am-Noon

Kimberly Little

The Deep Point of View

Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico with her husband and three sons on the banks of the Rio Grande. She’s the award-winning author of 10 books for Middle-Grade and Young Adult readers.  She once stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; held baby gators in the swamps of Louisiana, sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.  Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell and makes way too many cookies while writing.

Kimberley’s Awards include: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011, 2014, & 2015, a Crystal Kite Finalist, and Arizona/New Mexico Book Award Winner. ALA BOOKLIST named the first book in her FORBIDDEN trilogy a “Top 10 Historical Novel of 2015, Top 10 Romance of 2015, and Top 10 Religion/Spiritual novel of 2015.
Read longer bio here.


Tuesday, September 17th – 7pm

How to Knock ‘Em Dead: Public Speaking for Writers

Susan Cooper and Gail Ruben

   Your writing speaks volumes to your readers. But how do readers know where to look for your work? You need to tell them – yes, you actually need to speak face-to-face with people. Book signings, conferences, networking events, even SouthWest Writers meetings are all opportunities for you to speak eloquently and compellingly about your writing and your expertise.

When called upon to speak, do you freeze? Are “um,” “so” and “ah” filler words scattered through your discourse? Do you think you aren’t funny and can’t make people laugh? Disabuse yourself of these notions at the SWW meeting on Tuesday, September 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Public speaking is a valuable skill every writer needs to hone. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, articles or books, you are an expert, an AUTHORity. Published authors and experienced speakers Susan Cooper (a.k.a. The Queen of Mold) and Gail Rubin, CT (The Doyenne of Death), both members of the Albuquerque Challenge Toastmasters club, will present “How to Knock ‘Em Dead: Speaking for Writers.”

Most of you know Susan Cooper as “the Mold Queen” because of the book she wrote for the real-estate industry, The Truth about Mold (now in its third, expanded edition). She has also published Football Facts for Females, or If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em ( and has written numerous technical papers and articles for magazines. Along the way, she has collected several degrees in science and engineering. That was the easy part. The hard part was learning to speak, a requirement of a number of positions she held. Like many of you, Susan is basically a very shy person. In this presentation, she will share some of the tools that she has used to overcome this shyness. She now embraces the platform, the stage, and even the microphone.

   Gail Rubin is the author of three upbeat books about planning for end-of-life: the award-winning A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips, and her newest, KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die (Rio Grande Books). She’s also a funeral trade press journalist, a Certified Funeral Celebrant and a professional speaker on end-of-life issues, using humor and funny film clips to teach about serious subjects. Download a free planning form from her website,


Saturday Oct 7, 10am to Noon

Betsy James

Thought Experiments:  

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Secret Life of Your Brain


Science fiction and fantasy—SFF, the “speculative” fictions—always rest on a thought experiment:

“What if…?”

The speculative fiction writer’s task is to allow that experiment to propagate like a new species until it builds a world—big or small, the unexplored planet of a novel or the undiscovered kingdom of a story. The bold, strange tales that follow each new paradigm can touch us deeply, unexpectedly, and reveal aspects of ourselves inaccessible to our rational minds.

How does speculative fiction work? New neurolinguistic studies offer startling insights into the mechanics of metaphor. They help us understand why it can be hard to distinguish fantasy from reality, and hint at why SFF can affect us so profoundly.

For a quick, layman’s journey into your brain—it’s painless!—join speculative fiction writer Betsy James in a conversation about the physicality of the imagination, the thought experiments of SFF’s “world-building,” and suggestions for how to set up your own thought lab.

Betsy James is the author and illustrator of 17 books for adults and children. Among other honors, her books have been named: Locus Magazine Recommended Reading 2016, New York Public Library Best Book for Teens, Voices of Youth Advocates Best Book, Junior Library Guild Selection, Canadian Children’s Book Center Best Book, International Reading Association Children’s Choice, and Tiptree Award Honor Book. She teaches speculative fiction in UNM’s Honors College and leads workshops nationally and internationally. She lives in the North Valley.  Visit her at

Saturday Nov. 4, 10am to Noon

Chris Eboch

Cliffhangers: Keep the Pages Turning!

A cliffhanger chapter ending can add impact to a dramatic scene and leave the reader desperate to find out what happens next. Learn how to identify your best cliffhanger moments and make them even more dramatic through pacing and paragraphing. Even when you have to end at a quieter moment, you can drive the story forward by leaving your character—and the reader—with a sense of anticipation or worry. And guess what? You can use cliffhangers in nonfiction and short works as well.

Chris Eboch is the author of over 40 books for children, including fiction and nonfiction, early reader through teen. Her writing craft books are Advanced Plotting and You Can Write for Children. Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. These novels are action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes.  Chris Eboch:

Books by Chris Eboch


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


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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