BSFS-Sponsored Awards & Events



The BSFS Writers Seminar Series, designed by Charles E. Gannon!

You DO NOT need a Balticon membership to attend a seminar.

You DO need a Balticon membership to attend Balticon.


BSFS is sponsoring this fantastic series of 3-hour writers seminars.

This is a seminar-based workgroup where the emphasis is not upon line edits and mechanics, but the guts of story itself. The total duration is 3-3.5 hours, where the first hour is a general discussion (see below), the next hour is a catered working lunch that is open to general conversation with the pro, and the last hour-plus is a one-at-a-time Q&A session. In that session, each attendee gets to ask questions specific to their project/concerns; those who wish privacy will so signify and wait for the end slots.

Select a seminar that is addressing what you want to work on. Bring two primary “problems with your fiction” to the seminar. You’ll share those, round-robin style. The pro will guide the group through a discussion of those challenges, and you’ll be surprised how many of your fellow group-members come with identical or overlapping challenges. This means there’s no “waiting your turn.” The seminar engages you immediately, both personally and as part of a group discussion. Troubleshooting the challenges is the focus of the conversation which is both led and moderated by the pro. Everyone is helping everyone else succeed, and there’s no direct comparison of writing, so writers at a variety of skill levels will find it useful.

Each Seminar brings attendees together with a renowned SFF professional who is highly regarded for their skills and mentoring.


Seminar:  $185.00, including food and beverages

Seminars:  $350.00, including food and beverages

Seminars:  $495, including food and beverages

Seminars:  $640, including food and beverages

When you click the button and go to Paypal, you will see that there is an “Enter Seminar Leaders” box when you click to review your order. If you register for two or more seminars, please list the last names of the Seminar Leaders whose seminars you wish to register for in the “Enter Seminar Leaders” box on Paypal. When you complete your paypal transaction, paypal will send you to the seminar registration page.


We are borrowing space from Balticon 50 (mostly before Balticon begins) on Memorial Day Weeked at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel.


6 pm to ~ 9:15 pm, Thursday, May 26, 216, Parlor 9059

And on That Note… with Catherine Asaro

Two-time Nebula Award winning author Catherine Asaro has mastered the arts of blending romance and hard science fiction, and getting music right in science fiction. If you are struggling with either of these, this is the writers seminar you don’t want to let get away![/five_sixth]

Catherine Asaro is a has won two and been nominated for 3 more Nebula awards. She has also won 3 HOMer awards, 4 Prism awards, 3 Anlab awards, 2 Sapphire Best Novel awards and nominations too numerous to list here for other awards. Oh yes, AND a nomination for Best R&B Music Video. She also is amazingly talented at getting youth to feel enthusiastic about math, which is a very cool thing.


9 am to ~ 12:15 pm, Friday, May 27, 2016, Parlor 9059

Crafting and writing in a hard SF world… even if the world looks like fantasy with Charles E. Gannon

Chuck Gannon, well-known for his intense hard sf works as well as skilled universe building, is a former game designer and former Fulbright Scholar, and a member of SIGMA think tank. His first solo Novel, Fire With Fire, won Compton Crook Award 32. Three of his novels have been finalists for the Nebula Best Novel Award and he won an ALA Choice Award.


10 am to ~1:15 pm, Friday, Mary 27, 2016, Parlor 6036

On the Art, Techniques, and Missteps of Story Telling with Bud Sparhawk

Be prepared to talk about your current project!

Bud Sparhawk is a 3-time Nebula finalist; winner of the Analab award, and frequent contributor to Analog, Asimov’s and Mike McPhail’s Defending the Future anthologies. His book Distant Seas was highly acclaimed in a starred Publisher’s Weekly review and by Don Sakers in his Analog review. Bud is a master of hard and mainstream SF short fiction and humor and highly regarded by fellow professionals.

2:00 to ~ 5:15 pm, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Parlor 6036

Writing Fantasy and SF in the Techno-thriller Mode with Tom Doyle

Tom will discuss and work with you on the challenges of writing fantasy and science fiction thrillers and action  stories set in our contemporary and near-future world. Discussion will include historical backstory, action  choreography, related genres, research, plotting, suspense, and mixing of literary and action styles. What are the  particular problems and benefits of writing speculative fiction in an area where, even more so than usual, you can’t just “make it all up”? To assist discussion, Tom will read a manuscript of yours before the seminar.

Tom Doyle is the author of American Craftsmen (2014), The Left-Hand Way (2015), and War and Craft (due out in 2017). He won 2008 WSFA Small Press award for “The Wizard of Macatawa,” which is also the title of his short story collection. Tom is renowned for his military fantasy and for his innovation in narrative style.


8 am to ~ 11:15 am, Saturday, May 28, 2016, in Parlor 9059

Set Phasers to Stun: Writing Short Literary SF/F with Sarah Pinsker

Many current short fiction markets emphasize character and prose. Discuss everything that goes into bringing short literary SF/F from idea to submission-ready manuscript.

Sarah Pinsker is a three time Nebula nominee and winner of the Sturgeon award. Her mastery of short sf and fantasy is well recognized by her peers and received as “belle lettres.”


9 am to ~ 12:15 pm, Saturday, May 28, 2016, in Parlor 11029

The Business of Short Fiction with Alex Shvartsman

We’ll discuss researching short fiction markets, preparing manuscript for submission, cover letters, communication with editors, contract review and negotiation, reprint rights and markets, foreign rights, and other aspects of monetizing your short stories. Alex Shvartsman has experience on both sides of the editorial desk, having sold nearly 100 original short stories and countless reprints, and having edited nine anthologies, with several more in progress.

Alex Shvarstman is a WSFA Small Press award winner. With dues paid in game design as fiction background, Alex is well a known humorist, short fiction author, anthologist, and has experise in self and small press editing and publishing.


10 am to ~ 1:15 pm, Saturday, May 28, 2016, in Parlor 8029

Why Doesn’t My Story Work with Michael Swanwick

You’ve got a good idea, decent characters… and the story just doesn’t work. The problem is almost certainly structural, and structural problems are surprisingly easy to fix.

Michael Swanwick has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards, and has the pleasant distinction of having been nominated for and lost more of these same awards than any other writer. Swanwick will be guest of honor at MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City in 2016.


8 am to ~ 11:15 am, Sunday, May 29, 2016, in Parlor 9059

Fantasy: Worlds, Characters and Pacing with Jo Walton

A troubleshooting seminar with Hugo and Nebula award winning author Jo Walton. Let’s work together on how to integrate the fantastic and make it just as real as everything else without losing the sense of the numinous, how to make our worlds solid and interesting, how to have varied characters who aren’t cliches, and most of all, that most troublesome and endlessly fascinating issue, pacing.

Jo Walton is a Nebula, Hugo, Campbell, BFS, Tiptree and Prometheus award winner. She writes strong, memorable fantasy and is highly regarded by her peers.


9 am to ~ 12:15 pm, Sunday, May 29, 2016, in Parlor 11029

The Business of Writing with Keith R. A. DeCandido

Best-selling award-winning author Keith R.A. DeCandido discusses all the (many many many) parts of a writing career that don’t involve writing: time management, money management, career management, and so on. You know, all the things they never even mention in creative writing class…..

Keith DeCandido has written a plethora of media tie in novels and is well respected in the literary profession for his skill at working in shared universes and in writing short comedy fiction and urban fantasy.


9 am to ~ 12:15, Monday, May 30, 2016 in Parlor 11029

Keeping it Short: with Hildy Silverman Writing Short Stories for Magazines and Anthologies

Participants will learn what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to writing and selling short fiction to magazine and anthology markets. Each participant should bring what they consider the two main problems with their short stories to share and discuss with the workgroup.

Hildy Silverman is publisher and a long-time SF/F magazine editor. She is lauded for her efforts, and success in keeping paper periodicals alive in the electronic age. Her editing experience gives her a keen eye for what makes a good story.

Baltimore Science Fiction Society also sponsors and administers the following events, contests and awards:

Compton Crook Award

honors the best first novel of the year written by an individual author (collaborations are not eligible) in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre. Compton Crook, who used the nom de plume Stephen Tall, died in 1981. He was a long time Baltimore resident, Towson University professor, and, of course, a science fiction author. Since its inception, this award conferred by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society has been presented at Balticon. Balticon hosts the author of the winning novel as a Compton Crook Guest at Balticon for two years — the first year to receive the award (and the nice check that accompanies it), and the second year to give that year’s award to the incoming winning author. For more information, visit the Compton Crook Award website.

Baltimore Science Fiction Society Amateur Writing Contest

promotes the creation of quality genre literature in the state of Maryland. Winners are announced at Capclave in the fall and invited to be introduced and read from their work at Balticon the following spring and the winning stories are included in the BSFan. We encourage entry by any amateur writer 18 or over, who is currently a Maryland residents or a student at a MD two or four year college. Entrants cannot be a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America nor can they have been published in a professional science fiction/fantasy magazine.For complete information, see the Amateur Writing Contest web page.

Balticon Poetry Contest

awards three prizes for poems up to 50 lines in length which address the themes of science fiction/fantasy/horror/science. For more information, see the BSFS Poetry web page.

BSFS Robert A. Heinlein Award

is conferred “…for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings to inspire the human exploration of space”.  BSFS has been involved with the Robert A. Heinlein Award since its creation in 2003. The Award is presented at Balticon. For more information, visit the BSFS Heinlein Award web page.

Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest

honors young writers between the ages of 14 and 18. Contest submissions must be in the field of science fiction or fantasy. Contestants must reside in or attend school in Maryland, and be no older than 18 years of age as of the date of Balticon. Submissions must be no more than 2500 words in length. The first, second and third place winners are invited to and announced at Balticon. Please see the BSFS Young Writer’s contest rules web page for the full rules or contact BSFS for a hard copy. back to home page