Sunday, April 26, 2009

OSFest 2's Writer's Workshop

A guest blog by Trudy Myers.

Living in Omaha, Nebraska, involves a number of challenges to those of us who want to write. The one we'll consider today is the difficulty of finding other writers who can help improve one's writing.

I've tried finding local writer's work groups since the one I had fell apart in the 90s. Sometimes, a bookstore will host one, but those are seldom very satisfying. When you write fantasy and science fiction, it's not often that a poet or a romance writer can help you hone your skills. They don't understand the 'rules' of science fiction and fantasy. Maybe they can't get past the fact that they don't understand your science, or maybe they just don't accept the existence of magic.

Been there. Done that.

Even living in the huge Midwest, you can find workshops; either on-line, or by traveling to another city. I've done that, too. Three-hour commute, four-hour workshop, three-hour commute makes for a long day.

You could make arrangements to attend an intensive 6-week course. Okay, I've only done that one on-line.

Or you can attend critique groups and workshops at (some) science fiction conventions. That's the one I do the most of these days.

OSFest is one of those science fiction conventions, and it is held in Omaha in July. It has a writer's workshop associated with it, of the 'critiquing session' variety. It is organized and 'administered' by Matt Rotundo, a local Omaha author. In 2008, it had four participants. To be a participant requires some forethought and preparation, in addition to the desire to write, so this is not for everybody.

If you want to try this, check out the workshop guidlines at: and be sure you sign up for the workshop. You can do that by emailing Matt Rotundo at, with "OSFest Writing Workshop" in the subject line. There will be a deadline for sending in a copy of your story to be critiqued, properly formatted. Pretend you are sending this story in to an editor and format appropriately. If you aren't sure what that is, formatting guidelines can be found at

Shortly after that, but before the convention, Matt will send copies of all the stories to each participant. At that point, your job is to read the stories and make notes about them. What didn't work for you, what did? Were there holes in the plot or the characterizations? Was some part unclear, or did a phrase seem particularly well turned? Bring those notes with you to the workshop at the convention.

During the workshop, you'll get a chance to make your observations about everybody else's story. They will comment on yours. Written notes will also be exchanged. Therefore, you'll get a chance to learn in two ways; by studying the work of others, and by having them critique yours.

I'll be there. Hope you will be, too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Gaming Activities at OSFest 2

This year gaming at OSFest will be a little different. Yes, we will still have the video gaming room on the same floor as the con suite with close to the same number of systems but without the Mature section.

The main difference will be downstairs in the tabletop gaming area. Nuke-con has agreed to come in and sponsor an Aftershock game day for the three days of the convention and along with the Omaha Cavaliers (an official RPGA group) will handle a lot of the general gaming available at the convention.

But Friday night is going to be something special. Moose Mendolia, aka DarthMoose74, the man behind the joystick of R2-CM a.k.a "Patches", is setting up a HUGE Star Wars miniatures adventure for that night along with fellow minis player Jayson Towne. Yes, I understand that the words huge and mini usually don’t go together but you should see what he has planned.

As a member of the Rebel Alliance it will be your duty to defend Hoth. You will be able to build an army of up to 150 player points to help you defend against the attacking Imperial forces. Plus you will be given a unique Rebel random piece before play with special rules attached to it. Of course there are limits to the pieces you can choose from, (go to and find the link to the rules PDF).

Moose will have all the pieces available if you don’t have everything you need. If you are unfamiliar with the game but would like a free demo, Moose runs Friday night Star Wars minis gaming at Ground Zero in Bellevue from 5pm to 9pm for free – just go to; and scroll down to the gaming section for details.

There is also a basic online demo of the game system at

Moose really needs to know if you are going to play, so drop him an email at if you would like to participate in this unique event.