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The Origins Library

The Origins Library is a specific area inside the Exhibit Hall reserved for our author guests. This inviting space is designed to provide authors the opportunity to interact with their fans, sign autographs, sell books and socialize during the show. Attending authors also lead seminars in the Origins University seminar program on writing techniques, developing your story, publishing and many other topics.

Click here for 2017 Library Schedule

2017 Attending Authors:

Gamer turned writer Donald J. Bingle is the author of five books and fifty shorter stories in the thriller, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, steampunk, romance, comedy, and memoir genres, including tie-in fiction for the Dragonlance and BattleTech universes. More at

Dylan Birtolo is many things: writer, gamer, storyteller, and professional sword-swinger. He has a few novels and several short stories published. He believes wholeheartedly in following his passions and using those experiences to create better stories.

Tracy Chowdhury is a novelist with more than sixteen years of writing and editing experience. Her preferred genre is epic fantasy, but she also dabbles in urban fantasy and science fiction. For more information about her books, go to

Jaym Gates is an author, editor, and publicist. Her anthologies include War Stories, Genius Loci, Upside Down, Strange California, and more. You can find her on Twitter as @JaymGates, or at

Thomas Gondofi is a father of three, consummate gamer and loving husband, claims to be a Renaissance man and certified flirt. He has been writing fiction for more than thirty years and doing it professionally for at least fifteen. Discover more at:

John Helfers has worked on a wide variety of original and media tie-in book and game projects during his more than twenty years as an author, editor, and book packager. Currently he is a freelance editor and book packager, as well as the Fiction Director for Catalyst Game Labs, where he oversees publishing original fiction in the Shadowrun and BattleTech game universes. His website is

Addie J. King is an attorney by day, and an author by nights, evenings, weekends, and whenever she can find a spare moment. She is the author of The Grimm Legacy series, as well as Shades of Gray, the first book in The Hochenwalt Files series. Addie also has several short stories published. She lives in Urbana, Ohio, with her family, and can be found online at

R. L. King is the author of the Alastair Stone Chronicles urban fantasy series as well as the Shadowrun novel Borrowed Time. She lives in San Jose, CA with her spouse, several cats, and a gecko. Find her at

Daniel Myers is a database programmer, author, eccentric cook, and food historian. He practices a strange mix of these dark arts at his home in Ohio. His research notes and recipes can be found on his website,

Sheryl Nantus was born in Montreal, Canada. She loves to play board games and write haiku, although not at the same time. She has published with Entangled Publishing, St. Martin’s Press, Samhain Publishing and Carina Press. Her website is

Chantelle Aimée Osman is a freelance editor and founder of Author Connect, as well as an instructor at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Author of the non-fiction series The Quick and Dirty Guide to… she has also published numerous flash fiction and short stories. Find more at:

USA Today bestselling author Jean Rabe has written thirty-six novels. A former news bureau chief, she penned a true crime book with noted attorney F. Lee Bailey. Her genre writing includes military, science-fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, and horror. Visit:

Aaron Rosenberg is an award-winning, bestselling novelist, children’s book author, and game designer. He is a founding member of Crazy 8 Press. You can follow him online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

James Daniel Ross is a journeyman writer who has worked on numerous short stories and eight novels. He has published fantasy (The Last Dragoon, I Know Not) and science fiction (The Radiation Angels series). His books are available on Amazon. More at:

Lucy A. Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of ten published books. She lives in Columbus and is faculty in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. You can learn more at:

Michael A. Stackpole is the multiple New York Times bestselling author of more than forty fantasy and science fiction novels, his best known books written in the Star Wars universe, including I, Jedi and Rogue Squadron, as well as the X-Wing graphic novel series. He has also written in the Conan, Pathfinder, BattleTech and World of Warcraft universes, among others. Currently the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, Stackpole’s other honors include: Induction into the Academy Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame, a Parsec Award for “Best Podcast Short Story,” and a Topps’s selection as Best Star Wars Comic Book Writer. Stackpole is the first author to sell work in Apple’s App Store, and he’s been an advocate for authors taking advantage of the digital revolution. More at Michael A. Stackpole is a founding member of the Origins Library program.

Josh Vogt’s novels include Forge of Ashes, Enter the Janitor, and The Maids of Wrath. He’s an editor at Paizo, Scribe Award finalist, and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Find out more at:

Gregory A. Wilson is a published author of both speculative fiction and academic writing and is a Professor of English at St. John’s University in New York City. He lives in Riverdale, NY with his family. Find him at:

Bryan Young is an author and writer for StarWars.Com, HowStuffWorks, and Big Shiny Robot! His most recent novel is the Steampunk World War I thriller The Aeronaut. You can find him online at

Timothy Zahn was born in Chicago and grew up in the western suburb of Lombard. He attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, earning a B.S. degree in physics, and moved on to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana for graduate work. He earned a M.S. degree there, also in physics, in 1975, and continued work toward a doctorate. Also in 1975, he began a new hobby: writing science fiction. At first a strictly spare-time avocation, over the next three years he gradually gave more time to it until he sold his first story in December 1978 (“Ernie,” Analog, September 1979). In 1980 he left grad school and began writing full time. Since then he has published fifty-one novels, more than a hundred short stories and novelettes, and five collections of short fiction. Best known for his ten Star Wars novels, he is also the author of the Quadrail series, the Cobra series, the Conquerors Trilogy, and the young-adult Dragonback series. His latest books are Pawn’s Gambit, his fifth short-story collection; A Call to Arms, the second of the Manticore Ascendant series with David Weber; Soulminder; and StarCraft: Evolution. Upcoming books include A Call to Vengeance (with David Weber), Pawn: A Chronicle of the Sibyl’s War, and Star Wars: Thrawn, a prequel to Grand Admiral Thrawn’s appearance in Season Three of the Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels. You can contact him at


THURSDAY 11 a.m.

Realistic, But Better

Dialog is a great way to increase pace, divulge information, and provide key insights into character motivations. But when you’re pounding away on arguments, discussions, and sweet nothings muttered between characters, it needs to feel realistic, even when it edits out all of the pauses, false starts, and repetition of actual conversation. Effective and sparkling dialog can make the readers turn pages and reach for your next novel. But while your characters may be smarter, taller, faster, stronger, braver, and more skilled than you, the only way they can be better conversationalists is with a lot of work. How do you achieve it? Our pros talk about dialog techniques, attribution tags, what they do to keep the conversation real, and tips and resources that will help in your stories. Thomas Gondolfi, Daniel Myers, Sheryl Nantus, R.L. King


Character Building, Heroes and Villains

Learn to craft a protagonist who will catch and hold your readers’ attention, not just with heroics, but with flaws, quirks, and secondary motivations. Learn to craft antagonists who are heroes of their own story, with realistic motivations and the intellectual, organizational, and leadership skills necessary to be worthy adversaries. They can help drive your plot, aid and vex your heroes, and make your story more complex, more subtle, and more interesting. Our panelists will even discuss some of their favorite characters and what went into building them. Bryan Young, Addie J. King, Dylan Birtolo, Aaron Rosenberg



Old School Research for Modern Writers

The Internet is often described as a writer’s best research tool. We won’t argue that. In fact, we agree! But sometimes taking a step back and going “old school” breathes new life into your fiction. Traveling to story locations, interviewing locals and experts, trying and learning new skills, and poring over maps, art, pictures, and tomes can all give your writing a depth the internet isn’t really equipped to provide. We discuss timeless methods that get you away from the keyboard and that could make your writing better. Jean Rabe, Addie J. King, Donald J. Bingle, Josh Vogt


No Humans Allowed

Elves, animals, aliens, dragons, robots, and monsters…oh my! How can you put them in your fiction without them reading as humans dressed in different skin? How do you effectively write “the other?” This includes a discussion of building your non-human characters’ society. Bryan Young, Thomas Gondolfi, James Daniel Ross



One in a Million

Catching an agent, editor, or publisher’s eye isn’t easy in today’s market. One million books were published in 2016…traditional, small press, self-pub. It’s a crowded market, and you want to rise to the top of the slush pile. There are some basic things that authors can do to make their manuscripts climb higher in a stack of submissions. Our panelists discuss ways to make your novel shiny so someone will give it a look. Josh Vogt, John Helfers, Jean Rabe


Winning with Serial Fiction

E-readers and increased time demands have shifted how many readers consume stories. Shorter fiction (flash fiction through novellas) is more manageable for writers and readers, quicker to publication and often more profitable than longer works. New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole has written in many series, and produced works of all lengths. He’ll show you how to plot a series, provide some basic structures to use and point out ways that your shorter fiction can create a new audience for your longer-form fiction.



The Habitual Writer

Whether you want to be a full-time writer or a hobbyist, how professionally you approach the craft can determine your success. Margaret Weis, John Helfers, and Aaron Rosenberg discuss how they work…how they approach writing short stories and novels, how they wrap their daily lives around time at the keyboard, how they beat writer’s block, and what office tools make a writer’s life more efficient.


Worldbuilding 101

Readers come to fiction for escape, and they love diving into alien world which are far more fantastic and titanic than our own. New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole will walk you through the key elements of making sure your world has the depth readers crave. He cover the basics from geography and history—the stuff you missed skipping class in Middle School—and then show you how to work religion, culture, non-human races, magick and technology into a cohesive whole which will allow your readers to get lost in the worlds of your making.



Authors on Authors

Margaret Weis, Gregory Wilson, and Aaron Rosenberg talk about who they like to read and why. What’s in their to-be-read stacks? What’s coming out that they’re looking forward to? They’ll suggest authors you should be reading to help improve your craft. Expect a lively discussion with the audience.


Setting as Character

Where and when you place a story might be as important as the characters who populate your pages. Whether a massive city, an overgrown jungle, an altered timeline, or a desolate base on the moon, the setting can be a living thing with its own peculiarities and agenda. Whether the setting merely provides context and obstacles, or acts as a hero, villain, or crucial sidekick, it deserves care and crafting. Donald J. Bingle, Tracy Chowdhury, Daniel Myers, Jaym Gates



Burning the Envelope

You’ve heard the expression “pushing the envelope.” Is there a time a writer should go beyond that and burn the envelope into a little pile of ash? When does breaking writing taboos work? Can it have consequences? Can it affect your sales? When can a writer get away with it? And when should a writer pull back and leave the envelope intact? Our panelists talk about scenes where they burned the envelope…and where they chose not to. Lucy Snyder, Jaym Gates, Bryan Young


Edit Yourself

How to look at your work critically and improve your chance for a sale. This covers everything from plot to language, how to rewrite, and how to take and give criticism. Learn to look at your writing with a critical eye. Veteran writers discuss plot overhauls, character facelifts, punching up dialog, accepting and rejecting edits, and more. Chantelle Aimee Osman, Donald J. Bingle, R.L. King



Smearing the Lines

Fantasy, science fiction, military, horror, mystery, steampunk, romance, westerns, and more. There are defined genres in fiction, and writing in a specific genre can make it easier to sell your manuscript. But sometimes a story crosses the lines…and you just have to write it. A steampunk-western, a military-urban fantasy, a science fiction-fantasy, a darkly comedic eco-thriller, or a cozy-horror. Our authors talk about how best to smear the lines and how to market your end product. Aaron Rosenberg, James Daniel Ross, Dylan Birtolo, Bryan Young



How do you scare your readers? How do you build terror and suspense and keep someone turning the pages well into the early-morning hours? Learn how to add an element of fear to your writing from an expert at sending shivers down people’s backs. Lucy Snyder, Donald J. Bingle, Chantelle Aimee Osman



Reading: Donald J. Bingle


THURSDAY 6:30 p.m.

Reading: Lucy Snyder



Reading: Bryan Young


THURSDAY 7:30 p.m.

Reading: James Daniel Ross


FRIDAY 11 a.m.

Character Assassination

Shoot ‘em, stab ‘em, give ‘em a horrible disease. A panel authors discuss when it is time to kill a character, whether henchman, hero, comedic sidekick, or big bad and how to do it properly, so the death advances the story and affects the survivors without seeming overtly manipulative. They might even discuss some of their favorite death scenes. Josh Vogt, Donald J. Bingle, R.L. King, Lucy Snyder


The Basics of Worldbuilding

Craft a rich and believable backdrop for your fiction. Discover the necessary, basic ingredients for constructing your fantasy, science-fiction, or horror setting, and how to make that world an integral part of your story or adventure. Sprinkling fantastical elements across your continents is fun. But how do you do it without making your world look like a mirror-image of what’s already in print? Our panelists show you how to apply your own magical signature. Gregory Wilson, Tracy Chowdhury, Dylan Birtolo, Daniel Myers



Them’s Fighting Words

There’s an art to crafting combat scenes in fantasy and science fiction. The Library’s combat experts discuss how to make fight scenes feel authentic and logical. Dylan Birtolo, Lucy Snyder, James Daniel Ross


21 Days To A Novel

New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole presents his program for preparing yourself to write a novel. This set of 21 exercises is broken down to give you everything from character creation to world building, practical plotting devices, dialogue development and character voice creation tools. This program is a practical, kick-in-the-pants place to start your career.


FRIDAY 1 p.m.

Do It Yourself

Learn the joys and difficulties of self-publishing from finished manuscript to layout to copy edits and covers. Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Createspace, and more will be covered. Learn how crowdfunding works for publishing projects and what projects succeed while others fail. Donald J. Bingle, R. L. King, Bryan Young, Aaron Rosenberg, Jaym Gates



New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole unravels the mysteries of creating compelling plots. A novel is a huge undertaking, written over weeks or months, and the plot has to hold it all together. From creating an outline to maintaining flexibility, this seminar gives you the insider knowledge that will separate you from all of your peers.


FRIDAY 2 p.m.

An Hour in the Dragon’s Lair

Guest of Honor Margaret Weis is known for her incredible portrayal of dragons. Join her for a discussion of fantasy’s greatest beasts, her favorite dragons, and how she approaches breathing life into them.


Finding The Story

New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole takes you through a series of exercises that will let you build a story from the barest spark through twists and turns. He’ll give you several story recipes and show you how you can work from them to create delightfully complex and engrossing stories.


FRIDAY 3 p.m.

Novel Preplanning

Some folks simply plop into a chair and start pounding on the keyboard on their Great American Novel. Join Margaret Weis and Josh Vogt as they discuss the merits of plotting and planning and outlining. They’ll help you determine how much work you should do before you start Chapter One.


Self Promotion Sells Books

Once upon a time all an author had to do was write a good story and sell it to a publisher. The publisher did the rest, and the author moved on to the next book. That’s still true if you’re a big name, but if you fall below that mark you have to do more than write a good story. Our panelists cover Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogs, newsletters, advertisements, and the like. In the current writing market, an author who doesn’t promote doesn’t sell. How much time and money should you spend promoting, and where best should you direct your efforts? Chantelle Aimee Osman, Jaym Gates, Aaron Rosenberg, R.L. King


FRIDAY 4 p.m.

A Dime a Dozen

There is an old saying that ideas are a dime a dozen. But sometimes you don’t have the 10-cents you need to get a plot. Learn how to brainstorm ideas for fiction writing and how to craft those ideas into exciting storylines.Tracy Chowdhury, Daniel Myers, Thomas Gondolfi


Steal an Hour of Timothy Zahn’s Life

Hugo Award Winning author Timothy Zahn has written epic space opera, espionage, YA fantasy, and even penned a story about a troll collecting toll money in New York City. A versatile author who has danced on the New York Times bestseller list, he’s agreed to chat about his work, hobbies, travels, and current projects. He’s interviewed by Gregory Wilson


FRIDAY 5 p.m.

Writing for Games

Freelance opportunities abound for authors who can tackle the demands of game writing and detailing rules. Boardgames, computer games, role-playing games. Our panelists discuss markets, how to catch a company’s attention, and skills you should polish to pass Go and collect your $200…or more. R.L. King, Josh Vogt, Dylan Birtolo, John Helfers


101 Ideas in an Hour

Story ideas are everywhere, and easier to come up with than many people think. Join author Timothy Zahn as he works with the class to generate dozens of ideas that are perfect for the story you want to tell.


FRIDAY 6 p.m.

Reading: R.L. King


FRIDAY 6:30 p.m.

Reading: Gregory Wilson


FRIDAY 7 p.m.

Reading: Sheryl Nantus


FRIDAY 7:30 p.m.



SATURDAY 11 a.m.

Collaboration Vs. Going Solo*

Working with a co-author can be awesome. It can also be agonizing. There are definite pros and cons to sharing a byline on a novel or writing tie-in fiction for someone else’s world. Our authors who have experience sharing discuss the fine art of collaboration and what you can do to help make it work. Donald J. Bingle, Aaron Rosenberg, Chantelle Aimee Osman, Bryan Young


It’s In the Details

Sprinkling details in fiction—the style of clothes, the vintage of wine, the feel of a red dwarf sun on your villain’s skin, the taste and texture of the casserole your heroes are eating—breathes life into a tale. Our veteran novelists discuss when to add the sprinkles, how much, and how to tell if you’ve gone too far. In addition, they’ll cover helpful resources for getting the details right. Daniel Myers, Addie King, Sheryl Nantus, Gregory Wilson



The Author’s Website

If you write books and games, you need a website. That’s a given. We’ll cover the elements you need to include in that website, software, hosting, and how to make it stand out.Daniel Myers, Aaron Rosenberg, Jaym Gates


Diversity and Stereotypes

Diverse readers demand diversity in science fiction and fantasy. In the past several years authors have made a conscious effort to sculpt stories with characters of all races, religions, and sexual persuasions. Is there a point when diversity becomes a stereotype…the strong woman-warrior who can out-fight any man? Our panelists cover how to do it right and how diversity plays a role in their own fiction.Addie King, James Daniel Ross, Bryan Young



Pointed Views

First person, second person, third person . . . so many perspectives to choose from. How do you choose your point of view? And, once chosen, how do you stick to it? How do you keep from confusing the reader with too many points of view? When does an unreliable narrator add to the story? Panelists give their own perspectives on the freedoms and restrictions of using various points of view in fiction writing. What popular books are written in various points of view that are worth recommending? Lucy Snyder, James Daniel Ross, Tracy Chowdhury, Dylan Birtolo



Characters are king in literature and New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole brings you a toolbox full of techniques to create compelling and memorable characters. Readers read for and remember characters, and after this course, yours will be unforgettable, which will keep them coming back for more.



Beyond Krynn

Krynn needed Margaret Weis. She propelled game-related fiction onto bookstore shelves and bestseller lists. Raistlin and Tika and Goldmoon and their friends and foes are etched into readers’ hearts. But she’s known for much more than her Dragonlance works. Rose of the Prophet, Darksword, Death Gate, Star of the Guardians, Dragonships of Vindras and more! In this hour she’ll talk about her life beyond Krynn, the worlds of her own making, and reveal her future plans. If you ask her, she might even talk about Joey the Thug.


Advanced Characterization

If Characters are king, these techniques will teach you how to establish a dynasty. New York Times Bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole reveals the advanced techniques he uses for creating characters of depth, intrigue and humanity, who manage to grow in realistic but seldom predictable ways. You’ll learn how to create the sort of characters that can carry whole sagas and keep readers locked in and waiting for each new book’s release.



Writers at the Top

Margaret Weis, Timothy Zahn, and Michael Stackpole have five words in common: New York Times Bestselling Author. It is a staggering accomplishment. They’ll talk about their first novel, their current project, and what propelled them onto the Times list.


Writing Tools

What’s in your office? Beyond the ideas and outlines and time spent at a keyboard, there are things that can help improve your writing. Our panelists discuss desk space, offices, word processors, software, desktops, laptops, reference books, and more…accoutrements for the serious writer. R.L. King, Thomas Gondolfi, Gregory Wilson, Bryan Young



One, Three, or More

The approach to writing a single novel is different than a trilogy…and that’s different than a series. Our veteran authors discuss how to tackle the characters in these different contexts, how plotting and character growth is affected, how to refresh readers’ recollections without rehashing prior material, and how to keep the characters interesting and fresh in a long series of adventures. R.L. King, Sheryl Nantus, Tracy Chowdhury


Okay, I’ve Got My Idea — Now What?

Starting with an idea generated by the class, author Timothy Zahn will guide you through the procedure for constructing the characters and plot framework for your story. 



Getting All Romantic

It doesn’t have to be a romance novel to have romance in it. A romance can tug readers through your science fiction or fantasy epic. Whether it’s a mere hint of love or a detailed description of what goes on between the sheets, you need to write in convincingly and know when and how much smooch to put in your prose. Origins’ Sheryl Nantus is a veteran romance writer. She’ll lead a lively discussion of passion in writing with Addie J. King, Daniel Myers, James Daniel Ross


Finding Work as an Editor

How can you legitimately put the and after your name? Author and editor? How do you prove your editing chops? Where do you look for freelance work? The Library’s editors give you pointers on the craft and point you in the best direction. John Helfers, Jaym Gates, Chantelle Aimee Osman



Reading: Addie King


SATURDAY 6:30 p.m.

Reading: John Helfers



Reading: Josh Vogt


SATURDAY 7:30 p.m.



SUNDAY 11 a.m.

Tie-in Writing

There are some amazing sandboxes out there…Star Wars, Battletech, movie and television tie-ins and more. Margaret Weis and Timothy Zahn are veterans at playing in those sandboxes. They’ll cover the highs and lows of writing for shared worlds and give you tips for breaking into the business of tie-in writing.


Dodging the Scam

Writers are targets for scamming. They have big red bullseyes on their shirts. How can you avoid being snookered…either by supposed agents, unscrupulous editors, vanity presses, and contests? Our panelists discuss how to spot the scammers and how to tell if a service is the real deal. Josh Vogt, Donald J. Bingle



The Pros and Cons of Cons

Origins’ librarians have attended plenty of science fiction, fantasy, horror, writing, and gaming conventions. Well chosen, conventions can be an author’s great friend. Our panelist lead a discussion of how to use conventions to promote your writing, find work, and gain contacts. They’ll cover what cons to attend, how to use them to better your writing career, and how not to go overboard with expenses. Donald J. Bingle, Addie J. King, Daniel Myers, Aaron Rosenberg, Gregory Wilson


The Past, Present, & Future of Fantasy Fiction

The genre has changed considerably in the past several decades, from paperbacks filled with two-dimensional characters on quests, to political intrigue, racy bedroom scenes, and dark themes with complicated protagonists. Our panelists explore the path the fantasy genre has taken, look at where it stands now, and theorize what likely will happen in the future. Sheryl Nantus, Bryan Young, James Daniel Ross


SUNDAY 1 p.m.

The Short and Shorter of It

Novelettes, novellas, and short stories. It’s all fiction, sure, but what’s the difference? Is it just how many words you stuff into your tale? We’ll talk about the joys and difficulties of each form and how much plot to pack in. Markets for various length manuscripts will also be tackled. Gregory Wilson, Addie J. King, John Helfers, Tracy Chowdhury


Writing Potpourri

Join us for a question and answer session about writing, editing, and publishing. Our panel will discuss tidbits not covered in previous sessions and will recommend books for the audience. Brain-picking welcomed. Jaym Gates, Dylan Birtolo, Aaron Rosenberg, James Daniel Ross





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