Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Worldcon 2022 Schedule

This weekend – 9/1/2022 – 9/5/2022 – I’ll be at Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention.



I havent been to many Worldcons, only three, I think, and I'm looking forward to this one. My schedule’s below. If you’re going to be there, track me down and say hi!


Thursday, September 1, 2022


Your Corner of the Crypt: Finding Your Niche in Horror: Workshop


Duration: 120 mins

8:30 PM CDT

9:30 PM EDT


Friday, September 2, 2022


Autographing - Tim Waggoner

Duration: 60 mins

2:30 PM CDT

3:30 PM EDT


Saturday, September 3, 2022


Midwestern Gothic: Panel

Grand Hall K

Duration: 60 mins

10:00 AM CDT

11:00 AM EDT

Panelists: Jason Aukerman, Maria Schrater, Neal Litherland (moderator), Tim Waggoner


The Glories of the Tie-In Novel: Panel

Michigan 3

Duration: 60 mins

1:00 PM CDT

2:00 PM EDT

Panelists: Edgar Governo, Sarah Rees Brennan, Seanan McGuire, Tim Waggoner. Will "scifantasy" Frank (moderator)


Finding Optimism and Comfort in Horror: Panel

Crystal Ballroom C

Duration: 60 mins

5:30 PM CDT

6:30 PM EDT

Panelists: Nino Cipri, Ruthanna Emrys. Scott Edelman. Tananarive Due, Tim Waggoner (moderator)


Sunday, September 4, 2022


Book Publicity Crash Course: Panel

Randolph 3

Duration: 60 mins

10:00 AM CDT

11:00 AM EDT

Panelists: Holly Lyn Walrath, J. L. Doty, Joshua Bilmes (moderator), Tim Waggoner


Teen Table Talk - Tim Waggoner

Crystal Foyer

Duration: 60 mins

5:30 PM CDT

6:30 PM EDT


Monday, September 5, 2022


Inverted Tropes: Panel

Grand Hall J

Duration: 60 mins

11:30 AM CDT

12:30 PM EDT

Panelists: Foz Meadows, Micaiah Johnson, Paul Price (moderator), Tim Waggoner

Sunday, August 14, 2022

How to be Class Conscious 2022


In a couple weeks, fall semester begins at my college. It’ll be the start of my twenty-fourth year teaching there, and I taught ten years before that as an adjunct professor at various other schools. All told, I’ve been teaching composition and creative writing for thirty-three years.


Long time, huh?


Periodically on social media, I see someone post a variation on this question: “Do I need a degree to be a writer?” I also see people regularly assert that “As long as you put words to the page, you’re a writer, regardless of whether you’ve been published or not.” (This is akin to saying if you’ve ever turned on a water faucet, you’re a plumber.) The truth of course is that there is no one definition of “writer,” just as there is no one path to becoming one. What matters is what you think a writer is, and what you do in order to get to where you want to be as a writer.


You don’t need a degree. You don’t need to take any kind of creative writing classes at all. You don’t need to be in a writers’ group, and you don’t need to read any how-to-write books or articles. (But I’d appreciate it if you kept reading my blog posts!) All you need to do is write, and keep writing until you become the writer you wish to be. If you want to become the greatest writer of all time, both artistically and commercially, you’ll most likely never get there, but you will get to the farthest point of growth you could possibly reach during your attempt, and what more can any of us realistically hope for?


But just writing and doing nothing else to help you grow as an artist is the absolute bare minimum. Most artists can’t reach their full potential in a vacuum, or even a fraction of their full potential. But over the years I’ve met a lot of writers who have no interest in artistic growth. They just want to bang out words and imagine themselves as writers, like weekend guitarists who’ll never be skilled enough to perform professionally but have a hell of a good time imagining they’re in a rock band as they play (however well or badly) their instrument. The biggest difference between when I began teaching and now is that these writers can self-publish their work on Amazon, websites, or message boards, or they can post videos of themselves reading it on YouTube, etc. There’s nothing wrong with this, except perhaps if a new writer only reads work from enthusiastic hobbyists, it could limit their perception of what makes good writing, and thus potentially limit their artistic growth (if they’re interested in that sort of thing).


We all create our own paths to becoming the writer we want to be, and while we don’t necessarily need anyone else’s guidance along the way, as a teacher, I want to help writers who are seeking guidance. In 1998, I wrote an article to give advice to writers trying to decide if a creative writing class might be right for them and, if so, how to choose a good one. It was called “How to be Class Conscious,” and it was published in Writers’ Journal. It’s available to read on my website here: https://timwaggoner.com/class.htm


I wrote that article twenty-five years ago, and recently I began wondering how differently I’d approach the subject now. I’ve taught so many more classes and workshops, was a faculty mentor in Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program for nine years, I’ve written many more articles about writing and teaching, and I’ve produced a Bram Stoker Award-winning book on horror writing called Writing in the Dark (with a follow-up, Writing in the Dark: The Workbook). Would fifty-eight-year-old Tim have anything different to say about writing classes and programs – and being self-taught – than thirty-four-year-old Tim did? Let’s find out.

·         Can writing be taught? It depends on your definition of taught. Anyone can improve as a writer, and they can do so with or without guidance. But can they be taught to become a Writer with a capitol W? No. Imagine someone who wants to become an Olympic-level pole vaulter. That person can be taught pole-vaulting techniques by coaches, but no one can teach them to have the passion and drive necessary to practice, practice, practice over many years, and to sacrifice anything that could get in the way of their grown as a pole vaulter. The two qualities I’ve come to believe over the years that a successful writer needs to have are 1) Basic capability with language and 2) Passion and drive to become the best writer they can be. I can help people become better with their use of language and structure when writing. I cannot give someone passion and drive. Those are completely self-generated. I have been able to tell people they’re really good at writing and they might want to explore it more, and by doing so, a flame is kindled and passion and drive are born, but that’s just me giving someone a nudge and hoping for the best. Writers teach themselves, but fellow writers, feedback partners, teachers, mentors, editors, agents, reviewers/critics can serve as resources for writers to help them in their journey. They can also hurt writers if they give crappy or mean-spirited advice, or if their guidance, while well-meaning, doesn’t serve a writer’s individual needs. So writers need to pick and choose when it comes to advice and instruction, meaning that, once again, writers ultimately teach themselves.

·         Should writing be taught? Some people believe art of any kind shouldn’t be formally taught. They believe that artists should just attempt to create art, and if it’s any good, people will notice it, and if it isn’t, that artist will never emerge from obscurity, and that’s just the way it goes. This is a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest point of view, and while I understand it intellectually, as a teacher, I don’t endorse it. Sure, the vast majority of students I’ve taught haven’t gone on to write professionally, but a lot have, and when I teach a class, I have no idea which of the students might continue on. I always remember that I was once one of those students in a classroom full of people who thought they were going to become professional writers.

·         Do writers need to read to become better writers? Twenty-five years ago, anyone suggesting they don’t need to read to grow as a writer wouldn’t have been taken seriously (to put it kindly). This question is a relatively common one now, and I suspect it’s because of the ubiquity of technology. When PC’s first appeared, it was a lot easier to write and revise than it was on a typewriter. You no longer needed to have the same kind of passion and drive to just screw around with a word-processing program. Then came message boards, and websites, and email, and texting, and blogs, and social media, and now everyone was writing – and most of these people didn’t read. So since they were non-readers who wrote, they figured they could write just as well as anyone else because they were producing words and that’s all writers did, right? So they were concerned, they were Writers with a capital W. It never occurred to them (and still doesn’t) that if they don’t read anything except texts, emails, blogs, and social media posts, how they hell could they have any idea how their fiction, poetry, articles, or essays compare to those written by professionals. It’s not enough for writing to be good. It has to be competitive. Writers compete for readers’ time, attention, and – if we’re lucky – money. Non-reading writers also often say they don’t want their originality and genius to be damaged by exposure to other writing. That’s fine, if you really are an original genius, and the odds are massively against you being one. (But if you are, more power to you.) This is the Darwinian view I mentioned above. You’re on your own, baby, so sink or swim.

·         BUT . . . When it comes to reading, you can go too far in the opposite direction, reading book after book, article after article, never feeling as if you’ve learned enough to earn the title Writer. Read some, write some, and repeat until you’re dead.

·         BUT PART 2. You can make an argument that nonreaders writing is a punk aethestic, a do-it-yourself, fuck-you-establishment, I’ll-do-whatever-the-hell-I-please artistic approach. Such artists can learn and grow on their own, without any kind of input from other writers or teachers. How much they can learn or grow is another matter. But if you want to take the punk approach (and you’re not just being lazy) then go for it. If it doesn’t take you where you want to go as a writer, you can always try a different approach later. But a creative writing class – or worse yet, a writing program – is a terrible place for punk-rock writers. Classes are designed to provide community and guidance, and they’re completely opposite the punk ethos. If you take a class because you want to cause chaos, to shake up the establishment, you’ll likely just frustrate everyone as well as yourself, and waste your money. But if you really feel a need to take a class, maybe you do want some guidance, at least a little, and that’s okay too.  

·         Compare to learn, but don’t feel you’re not good enough to even try. One of the biggest problems writers have – whether they’re self-taught or take classes – is comparing themselves unfavorably to other writers, whether fellow beginners or established professionals. Comparison is a great way to learn. I really like the way that author uses dialogue, so I’m going to try that technique. And that author can really say a lot in a few words. Maybe I’ll try that too. These are healthy comparisons. Reading something and thinking I’ll never be that good of a writer, so why should I try? is an unhealthy comparison. I saw this all the time in grad school. We read work by some of the greatest writers who’ve ever lived, and some students wouldn’t even attempt to write on their own because they feared they could never life up to those examples. Whether you’re self-taught or taking classes, try use comparison in healthy, productive ways.

·         How do you know if in general writing classes or workshops are suitable for you? (Or you for them?) 1) Do you learn better in group settings? 2) Do you learn better when you have deadlines and regular feedback on your writing? 3) Do you feel capable of sifting through a lot of information to find the bits of advice and feedback that work best for you? 4) Do you like the idea of taking a creative writing class simply because it will make you feel more like a writer, and you’re not all that interested in actually learning? 5) Do you think creative writing class is playtime and you don’t like the idea of having to produce work to set standards? 6) Do you not give a damn what anyone thinks of your writing? 7) Do you feel you could learn all this shit on your own?

·         Writing programs vs taking individual classes or workshops. MFA stands for Master of Fine Arts, and it’s the highest practitioner’s degree in an artistic field. A PhD is the highest scholar’s degree in any field. MFA is usually considered THE creative writing degree to get, but there’s a huge time commitment (two years or more), as well as a huge commitment in terms of focus and dedication. You’re expected to give your all when you’re in an MFA program. If for whatever reason you can’t make these commitments, individual classes and workshops are probably better choices for you. Plus, they give you a chance to discover whether creative writing classes are useful for you before committing time and money to a graduate program. An MFA does allow you to deeply immerse yourself in writing for a couple years, and some people find such an intense learning experience transformative in the best way. (Others not so much, as I’ll discuss in a moment.) Different MFA programs have different focuses. Some might focus more on nonfiction than fiction, some might focus on experimental fiction rather than traditional fiction, some might offer a concentration on YA literature or publishing or screenwriting or playwrighting, while others may not. Some may be friendly to genre writing, some may insist you focus on literary writing. The program needs to be a good fit for you and your needs. There’s no such thing as a generic MFA program. They all have their particular niches and quirks, so vet them thoroughly before choosing one. Hit Google and search for what graduates of the program have to say about it, reach out to them on social media and see if they’re open to answering any questions you might have. Many programs these days are low-residency, meaning you only have to be physically on campus a couple times a year, and the rest of the time you do your coursework online. This model is great for colleges who want to make money. People with homes and jobs don’t have to pick up and leave their lives for two years, so more people enroll. Is this the best way to teach and learn? For some people yes, for others no. As always, ask yourself what you need to learn more effectively. For ratings of individual professors (whether for a single class or program) you can check out Rate My Professors at https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/. To check out creative writing programs, you hit up The Association of Writers and Creative Writing Programs at https://www.awpwriter.org/guide/guide_writing_programs.

·         Other types of classes/workshops. Writers present classes and workshops at libraries and community centers all the time. And many writers present their own online classes or do one-on-one mentoring via the Internet. Some record free class sessions on YouTube. And of course, plenty write how-to books. Any of these options might work better for you (and be cheaper). Just make sure to check out the teacher’s/presenter’s/how-to author’s credentials to see if they have whatever you consider an appropriate depth and breadth of experience and accomplishment. (More on this later.)

·         What can you do with an MFA in Creative Writing? The degree is designed to help artists become better artists. It’s not like an engineering degree that, after you obtain, you go get a job in engineering somewhere. Decades ago, the MFA was considered a terminal degree, so if you wanted to get a job teaching college writing classes as a full-time tenured professor, you could, assuming you have a significant list of publications. Since the 80’s, when I was in college, colleges and universities realized they could make a lot of money off people who wanted a degree in writing, the number of MFA programs exploded. Now there are so many that the degree in and of itself doesn’t mean much. Where you get your MFA matters more than just getting the degree if you want a full-time tenure-track job teaching creative writing at the college or university level. You’re better off getting a PhD in English if you want such a position, and even then, the market is so flood with English PhD’s that the competition for full-time gigs is beyond fierce. With an MFA, you can teach part-time English classes (usually composition) for low wages, no benefits, and no guarantees you’ll get any classes the next semester. This can make a nice supplement to your income (especially if you have a spouse with a decent-paying steady job), but it’s almost impossible to live off of as an individual. You can use the degree as a credential for other types of writing jobs, such as technical writing, public relations, editing, etc. I’ve known people with MFA’s in writing poetry who had full-time gigs as tech writers. An MFA might make you more attractive to potential students and clients if you run your own classes or editorial services online, but it’s an expensive credential to get for that purpose. Speaking of which . . .

·         Cost. Individual classes and workshops are cheap compared to MFA programs. MFA programs can be expensive as hell. Sometimes there are graduate assistantships, fellowships or financial aid, but often there aren’t, and you’ll have to take out student loans. If you think your return on investment (whether personally, financially, or a combination) while be high enough to justify the cost, go for it. Otherwise, you might want to take a class at a school like mine, a community college with the lowest tuition in the state of Ohio.

·         Burn-out. This is very real problem that happens to some people who finish an MFA (or other intense graduate degree). Once you’re done, you’re sick of writing and want to take a break from it. And unfortunately, that break may be for the rest of your life. I’ve met a number of people over the years who finished their MFA in creative writing and have never written a single word since. For some, going through an MFA (or PhD) program can suck all the joy you had for your art right out of you, and it may never return. Buyer beware.

·         Instructor qualifications? Whether you’re reading a how-to book, watching a how-to video, taking a one-day workshop, a single class at a rec center or college, or entering into a graduate program, it’s important to know what the instructor’s qualifications are and whether they write and publish the same kind of work that you want to write and publish (or at least don’t openly disdain it). And having publishing credits, great reviews, and awards aren’t enough. A while back, I read an article in The Teaching Professor that effective teachers need three qualities: 1) The ability to do the thing they’re teaching at a professional level, 2) an understanding of how to do the thing they’re teaching at a professional level, and 3) the ability to explain to others how they can do the thing they’re teaching. Colleges and universities tend to hire faculty with at least the #1 qualification, but they may lack #2 and #3. It’s not uncommon for teachers in any other learning situation – workshops, rec-center classes, independent online classes, how-to books and videos – not to have any of the three qualifications. A lot of inexperienced writers want to teach others because it makes them feel like an expert (when they aren’t). Other writers want to teach others as a way of promoting their own writing. A lot of inexperienced writers put out how-to-write books and videos for this reason. Students often believe that if someone is teaching a class, they must be qualified, and that isn’t always the case by any means. Besides, qualified is an imprecise term. It’s important that an instructor be qualified enough for you. If you’re an absolute beginner, and you watch a video on characterization on YouTube, even if the presenter is only passing along something they only recently learned themselves, the info is still new to you and effective. But when you’re ready to learn more deeply about the subject, you want someone more experienced. As always, Google Is Your Friend. Check out the background of instructors and authors of how-to books and videos online, ask around on social media what reputations these people have, and decide for yourself if they are qualified for your current educational needs. Read some of their work to see if they’re someone you’d like to learn from, and if you can’t find any of their work to read, that probably tells you more about their qualifications (or lack thereof) than anything else. Pro Tip: If you’re taking a class, ask the instructor beforehand if they can show you a copy of their syllabus or course plan. That’ll give you a better idea what you might experience in their class. Most of all, you want to find someone who will be supportive, who’ll read your work without preconceived notions, and who’ll be honest with their feedback, who’ll tell you what you need to know instead of what you think you need to know.

·         Are you really ready for feedback? If you’re attending a workshop, reading a how-to book or watching a how-to video that’s primarily presentational (just providing information) then it doesn’t matter if you’re ready for feedback on your writing because you’re not going to get any. But if you want feedback on your writing, you’re more likely to get it from a class or from a writers’ group. Here are some things to ask yourself to check if you’re ready for feedback: 1) Do you just want people to tell you that you’re the BEST writer? If so, you’re not ready for feedback. 2) Are you sure people are going to tell you that you’re the WORST writer ever? You may need to work on your confidence level a bit before getting feedback. Even the mildest of criticisms may crush you. 3) Can you listen to criticism of your work without getting overly emotional? (Getting angry at the instructor or classmates, getting down on yourself, hating the world, deciding to never write again, etc.) 4) Can you keep your damn mouth shut when you receive criticism of your work (unless you’re asking for clarification of a reader’s comment)? You and your work aren’t under attack during a feedback session, so there’s no need to be defensive or explain what you really meant to say. 5) Can you consider all comments and then pick and choose which ones you feel will improve your piece? 6) Are you willing to revise using that feedback to discover if it does improve your piece? If you can’t do these things, a class probably isn’t a good idea for you. However, if you’re willing to work on learning how to do these things during the course of a class, you might have some uncomfortable moments, but you’ll likely find the class effective in the end.

·         An important point about feedback. As I said in the intro to this post, I was a faculty mentor in SHU’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program for nine years. I mentored students one-on-one, provided feedback and answered questions, etc. I recommend SHU’s program unreservedly, but there are reasons I left, ones which I’ve never discussed with anyone but my wife. But during the nine years I was involved with the program, self-publishing rose in popularity and became much easier for individuals to do. This led to students whose attitude was, “It doesn’t matter if anyone else likes my work. I’ll just self-publish it when I graduate.” (I’ve gotten comments like from students at my college, too.) These students were dismissive, if not downright resistant and even hostile to, any feedback on their work which wasn’t 100 percent positive. The last few years, I’m seeing this same sort of dynamic play out on social media as thin-skinned authors attack reviewers who dare to give their precious work less than five stars. A lot of the students at SHU didn’t come from an English background. Their bachelor’s degrees were often in other fields, so they’d never had any creative writing classes before and had no experience with receiving feedback on their work. They didn’t know how to take it (or how to give it, for that matter). For me, it wasn’t worth the time and effort to provide feedback on novel chapters that a student had no intention of revising, and as the years went by, I began to get more and more students with this attitude. So if you’re REALLY not prepared to at least consider feedback on your work and consider revising, a class situation where feedback is a prime component really isn’t for you. And if you go into an MFA program solely seeking a teaching credential and aren’t interested in improving your art and craft, think twice. You’re most likely going to waste your time and money.

·         When it comes to feedback, how do you know who to listen to? You don’t have to listen to anyone’s feedback. You’re free to ignore any or all suggestions. But if you ignore them out of hand, it begs the question why you took a class in which feedback was an essential component in the first place. I tell students that. practically speaking, my feedback will tend to carry more weight in their minds because I’m the teacher, I give them their final grade, and I mostly likely have more experience as a professional writer than anyone else in the class. But if one of my suggestions doesn’t resonate with them, they’re free to ignore it (unless it’s something super fundamental, such as “Make sure to use some verbs next time”). You don’t listen to people during feedback. You listen to comments. You take whichever suggestions you feel will improve your work, try them out, and then see how successful they are. You want feedback partners who will tell you what they really think, who don’t believe they know everything, who respond as a reader more than as a writer (writers will want to rewrite your work to suit themselves; readers tell you what their experience reading your work was like), and who are committed to helping you make your work the best it can be. Toward the end of my time at SHU, students began asking each other “Whose story is this really?” If it was their story, they argued, then it needed to please them only, not their critique partners, and not their mentors (who had to sign off on their thesis in order for them to graduate). I’d try to explain that if that was their attitude, why did they choose to enroll in an expensive graduate program where revising your work according to feedback you receive was required? Usually the answer was that they didn’t really want to improve their writing; they just wanted the degree. Yes, your work is always yours in the end, but it should be the best work you’re capable of producing at that point. But if you seek feedback, then you should be open to considering it, and open to the possibility of revision. Otherwise, stick to how-to books and videos, as well as presentational workshops where no feedback is required.

·         Pros and cons of the workshop method. One of the most common teaching techniques in creative writing classes is the workshop method. This is where the student (or sometimes the instructor) reads a story aloud for the entire class to experience at the same time, and then the story is discussed, strengths are identified and suggestions for revision offered. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is a shitty teaching technique. It can work for poetry, which tends to be short, but it’s difficult for students to listen to a long story that’s read aloud – especially if it’s read in a monotone – and their attention wanders (so does the instructor’s!). Plus, they don’t have the luxury of stopping, pondering, then rereading what they just read for greater understanding or to solidify a reaction they have. Worst of all, if you’re not writing scripts in class, you’re not producing something meant to be heard. You’re producing something meant to be read, so people should actually read the damn thing. One of the arguments for the workshop method is that it allows for emergent curriculum, meaning if an issue with description comes up in one of the stories, that becomes the content of the day’s class, and if one person has that issue, likely others in the class do too. It’s also a damn lazy teaching technique because instructors don’t have to take any work home to read. Everything is dealt with during the class itself. On the other hand, the technique can work for a one-day workshop where participants may not have had time to turn in drafts earlier for people to read. But in general, a class where people, including the instructor, has to read the actual words of a piece before giving feedback is best. Same for writing groups.

·         Get different perspectives. Sometimes I’ll have students who will take one class after another with me, and often they’ll repeat a class (taking short story writing with me for a second time, for example). They tell me, “I like the way you teach, and you get the way I write.” I’m always glad to see students in class again, but I make sure to tell them that it’s important to get as many different perspectives on their writing as possible. If you find a teacher you really vibe with, that’s awesome. But it’s important for you to have as many tools in your writer’s toolkit as possible, and that means learning from as many people as you can. You can learn from not-so-good teachers, too. You watch a video on YouTube and say, “Christ, that asshole doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. I’m going to do the exact opposite of what he says.” Shitty teacher = still learning. (But I’d still recommend finding the best teachers you can.)

·         Don’t become a shadow artist. I first ran across the concept of a shadow artist during a conversation with the director of the James Thurber House. (She was actually talking to someone else, but I was present, so it technically wasn’t eavesdropping.) The director was concerned that instead of writing herself, she’d become a shadow artist – an idea she’d learned from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Instead of writing herself, she worked near writers, in their shadow, so to speak. Shadow artists are people drawn to an art but for one reason or another, they don’t practice the art. Why? I’m not sure. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of rejection? All of the above? Now if you’re the director of a literary center, or an administrative assistant in an English department, or a composition teacher, or any number of writing-related professions, you’re not necessarily a shadow artist. If you feel content and fulfilled by your job, good on ya. But if you’re miserable because you really want to be writing, then you might be a shadow artist. Yes, you can have a day job and still write – it’s what I do – but shadow artists only do their day jobs. The reason why I bring this up here is because I’ve known many people who take writing classes, attend writing workshops, or participate in writers’ groups year after year, and by doing so, they stay close to a writing career – it’s a potential, somewhere out there in the future – without making any forward progress toward that career. They can tell themselves they’re working on their writing, that they’re serious about it (after all, look how much effort they put into it), and that while they might not yet be a professional, they have a professional attitude. Some of these people find creative fulfillment at this level and are quite happy to stay there. They love the classes, the feedback, being around other writers, and while they enjoy writing, they don’t really care if they publish anything or not. Not a damn thing wrong with that. But being an eternal student is an excellent way to be a shadow artist, as is being a writing teacher who never writes (or worse, becomes the administrator of a writing program who never writes because they are “just too busy to find the time.”). Take classes and attend workshops all you want. Go into an MFA program. Read as many how-to books as you wish. But if your true goal is to write, do that and keep doing it, regardless of whatever else you do. You should write as you learn because the writing itself is the most important part of your learning. Don’t stay in the shadows. Step into the light where you belong.


Writing in the Dark: The Workbook


This workbook is my follow-up to Writing in the Dark, and I’ve gotten some really good feedback on it so far. While you can use it in conjunction with Writing in the Dark, I wrote it so it could be used on its own as well.


Want to know if the workbook is right for you? Check out Cynthia Pelayo’s review at Lit Reactor:




Writing in the Dark: The Workbook is available at all the usual places online, but here’s a link to the publisher’s website if you’d like to learn more about it (and order it from them). Plus, you can download some sample exercises for free!




I hope you’ll help spread the word about the workbook. Like Writing in the Dark, I wrote it to help people improve their horror fiction – or if they’re new to horror, to help them get started in the genre – and I want to help as many people as I can. You can help me do that. And for those of you who’ve already spread the word, thank you so much!


We Will Rise


We Will Rise, my ghost apocalypse novel, is finally out from Flame Tree Press! Reviews have been great so far. But you don’t have to take my word for it – here’s a sampling:


“This was visceral stuff and a highly entertaining fast-paced read which was a bleak exploration of the human psyche.” – Tony Jones, Ink Heist


We Will Rise is a tense, emotional, scary ride and one of Waggoner’s best.” – Zach Rosenberg, Horror DNA


“From the first page on Waggoner had me hooked. His imagination is truly off the charts, and never could I have predicted what would happen next.” – Julia C. Lewis on GoodReads


If you read We Will Rise, I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d leave a review/rating somewhere. Reader reviews are the lifeblood of a book, and they help publishers decide whether to bring out more work from an author.


You can also listen to me read the first scene from the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqQWpRmZRAc&t=52s



In Echo Hill, Ohio, the dead begin to reappear, manifesting in various forms, from classic ghosts and poltergeists, to physical undead and bizarre apparitions for which there is no name. These malign spirits attack the living, tormenting and ultimately killing them in order to add more recruits to their spectral ranks.

A group of survivors come together after the initial attack, all plagued by different ghostly apparitions of their own. Can they make it out of Echo Hill alive? And if so, will they still be sane? Or will they die and join the ranks of the vengeful dead?

Purchase Links

Flame Tree Press


Amazon Paperback




Amazon Hardcover


Barnes & Noble Paperback




Barnes & Noble Hardcover



Planet Havoc: A Zombiecide Invader Novel


Want to read some sci-fi/horror/action-adventure? I got you covered! My Zombicide Invader novel is still available from all the usual online stores. Imagine Alien meets Resident Evil. Here’s a synopsis:


A deserted R&D facility tempts the hungry new Guild, Leviathan, into sending a team to plunder its valuable research. The base was abandoned after a neighboring planet was devastated by an outbreak of Xenos – alien zombies – but that was a whole planet away... When the Guild ship is attacked by a quarantine patrol, both ships crash onto the deserted world. Only it isn’t as deserted as they hope: a murderous new Xeno threat awakens, desperate to escape the planet. Can the crews cooperate to destroy this new foe? Or will they be forced to sacrifice their ships and lives to protect the galaxy?


Worldcon Schedule


I’ll be attending Chicon 8: The 80th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, Sept. 1-5. Here’s my schedule. If you’re going to be there, make sure to track me down and say hi!


Writing Workshop: Your Corner of the Crypt: Finding Your Niche in Horror

Addams Thursday, September 1, 2022, 8:30 PM CDT

Autographing Friday, September 2, 2022, 2:30 PM CDT

Midwestern Gothic

Grand Hall K Saturday, September 3, 2022, 10:00 AM CDT

The Glories of the Tie-In Novel

Michigan 3 Saturday, September 3, 2022, 1:00 PM CDT

Finding Optimism and Comfort in Horror

Crystal Ballroom C Saturday, September 3, 2022, 5:30 PM CDT

Book Publicity Crash Course

Randolph 3 Sunday, September 4, 2022, 10:00 AM CDT

Teen Table Talk - Tim Waggoner

Crystal Foyer Sunday, September 4, 2022, 5:30 PM CDT

Inverted Tropes

Grand Hall J Monday, September 5, 2022, 11:30 AM CDT



Here are all the convention appearances I have lined up for the next year. If you attend any of them, make sure to say hi! I’ll be doing panels and workshops, I’m sure, but aside from Chicon, I don’t have any specific schedules yet.

·         Website: www.timwaggoner.com

·         Twitter: @timwaggoner

·         Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tim.waggoner.9

·         Instagram: tim.waggoner.scribe

·         Blog: http://writinginthedarktw.blogspot.com/

·         YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZEz6_ALPrV3tdC0V3peKNw

·         TikTok: @timwaggonerscribe