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Practical: Talk to Another

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Mark Wilkinson
Posts: 22
Advanced Member
Topic starter


In the online workshop, “Section 3: Research and Homework,” the first practical exercise is to speak with someone about a subject you are interested in researching.  The purpose of this forum topic is to match course students with volunteers who can provide guidance on a variety of subjects.  The course sets no limits set on the person to whom you talk: course instructor, a fellow student, or any member of the forum.  All are welcome to post.  All (student or not) are welcome to seek guidance from others using this thread.

Use this thread to post your interests (things you want to learn) and your knowledge (things you know and would be willing to share).  Do not chit chat in this thread!  It will become too unwieldy if everyone does.  Rather, reply directly to the author's post via a Message (Forum -> My Profile -> Messages) using their username (i.e. @markwilx).  If you'd like to have a public discussion on a topic, take it elsewhere (the "kitchen sink," perhaps).

Be considerate.  If you reach out to a volunteer for guidance, limit how much of their time you take.

Your post should have the following format (all fields are optional):


Bullet list of field(s) in which you would be willing to guide a fellow writer or illustrator.  Rate your expertise for each subject on the following scale:

  1. Neophyte
  2. Enthusiast
  3. Certified or Hobbyist
  4. Professional or Amateur
  5. Subject Matter Expert or Professor


Bullet list of field(s) in which you are seeking guidance from a fellow artist or illustrator.  Include specifics about the knowledge you are seeking.


Anything else pertinent to the practical exercise.

Posted : April 5, 2022 4:16 pm
AlexH, Pegeen, Annaliess and 6 people reacted
Mark Wilkinson
Posts: 22
Advanced Member
Topic starter

Greetings fellow aspiring writers.  Please reach out to me via @markwilx if I can help you with any of my knowledge or if you can help me with any of my interests.


  • Spacecraft systems (unmanned) - 5
  • Data communications systems - 5
  • Software systems - 5
  • Orbital mechanics - 4
  • Firearms - 3
  • Astrophysics (esp. stellar lifecycle) - 3
  • Auto mechanics - 2
  • Aviation - 2


  • Psychology - I’ve written a system that describes the traits of a person to describe my characters (from a tabletop RPG I authored).  It's lousy.  If you have a good way of cataloging the characteristics of your fictional characters, I’d appreciate your insights.
  • Genetic engineering - I’m very interested in learning more about CRISPR gene editing.  Neal Stephenson’s book Seveneves has some interesting ideas on this, and I’d like to learn more about the technology, so that I can create my own speculations on the future.
  • Hydroponics - I’d like a basic understanding of the inputs and outputs of hydroponic systems and what has been accomplished in normal and microgravity environments.  A story I am considering writing includes CELSS (closed ecological life-support system), and I expect hydroponics will be an important part of that.


I’ve worked in the aerospace industry as an engineer for more than 20 years on many satellites and one planetary lander.  I have no experience but some familiarity with manned spaceflight.  I would be glad to give an overview of the above topics, and would be glad to point you to books that will deepen your understanding.

I’m a certified firearms instructor and can provide an overview of how several different types of firearms operate (automatic, semi-automatic, pump, break, lever, pistols, revolvers, etc.) and how terminal ballistics are calculated (time-of-flight, bullet drop, energy, etc.).  I can’t help you with speculative weapons (laser guns) or with gunshot wounds.

My skill in auto mechanics is limited to older Jeeps (CJ, TJ, XJ).  If your story involves a vehicle breakdown as a plot point, I have a LOT of experience with that!

As far as aviation, I used to fly domestic search & rescue with the USAF Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol).  Relevant to light aircraft, I can teach you about flight principles, aircraft systems, and navigation.  I can also tell you want happens (in the USA) when a plane goes down and search & rescue gets fired up.

Posted : April 5, 2022 4:20 pm
Sade Reed, Pegeen, Joni Labaqui and 5 people reacted
Disgruntled Peony
Posts: 1283
Platinum Member


  • Drawing/Digital Artwork - 2.5
  • Parenting/Small Children - 3
  • Psychology - 3
  • Retail/Customer Service - 4
  • TTRPGs - 3.5
  • Writing - 4


  • I've been working on branching into sci-fi lately, and I've got a setting I've been expanding on that involves a partially-successful Martian colony. With that in mind, I'm interested in pretty much anything relating to:
    • Biotechnology
    • Nanotechnology
    • Terraforming
  • I also have a general interest in prosthetics--everything from how they're made to personal experiences of people who use them.


I love drawing and digital artwork, and can help with basic techniques. I do feel it's important to note that I haven't considered myself professional enough to enter Illustrators of the Future yet--I had to choose whether to prioritize art or writing when the twins were born, so I shifted toward writing because it's easier for me to manage at present. Once the twins start school and I have more in the way of free time, I may have a better chance of balancing my interests. Might start entering IotF at that point.

I'm raising twin dragons, presently three and a half years old. I'm learning as I go, but I've already learned a fair bit. Can't claim expert level, but my kids have turned out okay so far (and having twins means I have a pretty solid sense of how similar and different two kids in the same age group can be). I essentially volunteered the parenting thing as an option because I have some basic knowledge of child psychology, so I can help with people who are working to write child characters and/or parents dealing with small children--please do not hit me up for actual parenting advice unless we know each other, though. laughing  

I have an Associate of Arts in Psychology and do semi-regular research on the subject. Essentially, I have a fair bit of knowledge on the subject, but I'm not at a professional level--this is the kind of field where you need, at the very least, a Master's Degree to be considered a pro. Definitely an enthusiastic hobbyist with a basic level of certification, though. 

I have over a decade of experience with various retail-related jobs, and have even worked as an assistant manager and a store manager for different companies. Can't say I want to return to this line of work, but I have a fairly decent idea of how stores operate and what it's like to work for one, from the cashier level to the local management level.

I've been playing and/or GMing various TTRPGs for the last 15 years, and have done some writing for a game book at this point. The book I worked on hasn't come out yet, and I haven't sought future work in the field just yet because it took a lot of time and energy that I don't presently have in abundance, but I'd be willing to do it again. Eventually. In theory. When I have the time. 

I'm arguably a professional writer at this point, though I definitely still have a lot to learn. Much stronger on the short story front than the novel front--still working on figuring out how to hack my brain to get it to finish longer projects, but I've been making progress on that front. typing  


If I think of other useful things to add to the list at a future date, I'll edit my post!

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales
4th and Starlight: e-book | paperback

Posted : April 23, 2022 9:18 am
Darren Lipman
Posts: 9
Active Member


  • Mathematics 4
  • High school education 4
  • LGBTQ+ issues 4
  • Mindfulness 3
  • Political science 3
  • Judaism and Kabbalah 3



  • Fantasy-related topics (e.g. sword fighting, horse riding, etc.) that can enrich my ability to write realistic and compelling stories set in a wide-range of fantasy realms, especially epic fantasy
  • The business of writing - I feel I know a lot about writing already (I had a creative writing minor in college and I've written over 1.2 million words, that I've counted) but I don't know very much about the present business of writing, such as how to pair stories with markets, how to find markets in the first place, writing queries, finding an agent, and so on
  • Health and fitness, especially lower-back anatomy and how muscles work - I have chronic lower-back problems and understanding my body better to maintain mobility and live a healthy life is important



  • BS in Political Science, NC State University 2015
  • MS in Mathematics, NC State University 2016
  • M.Ed in Educational Policy and Leadership, Marquette University 2018

I've taught hight school mathematics since 2016. I previously worked as a college mathematics tutor and tutoring supervisor, as well as a copy editor for the NC State University newspaper, the Technician.

V39, Q4: HM
V40, Q1: SHM - Q2: SHM - Q3: SHM - Q4: HM
V41, Q1: WIP

Posted : July 10, 2022 7:42 pm
Pegeen and Joni Labaqui reacted
Posts: 157
Silver Member

Hello everyone! I'm always willing to work with others and help anyone if I can. Please reach out to me @annax if I can be of any help!


  • Christianity 4
  • Paganism/Occultic/New Age/Wiccan/Gnostic/Supernatural  4
  • Drawing/Digital Art (Photoshop, Procreate) 3
  • 3d Art (Blender/Daz3d/Nomad) 3
  • Sculpting/Clay 3
  • Writing 3
  • Reading 3
  • Retail/Customer Service 3
  • Science/Biology 3
  • Computer Science/Programming 3
  • Gaming/Mmos/Mmorpg 3
  • Cartoons/Anime 3



  • artificial intelligence - I've been playing around with this topic for a long time, but I'm interested in what makes a machine more alive. I've watched GPT-3 talk to each other, have interviews, etc. I'm currently trying to solve the issue of what makes a computer program more human and what human traits can I impart on it as the engineer to help it mimic human behavior. One day, we'll find that "spark" and that would be dangerous, but it would also be a most challenging thing.
  • bioengineering/biomedical - I love science. I don't think writing needs the technical details of specific things (like explaining how RNA can be mutated using a virus as a carrier with the genetically engineered strand as a delivery package), but I'm really interested in how we don't have cures for things like cancer and aids and why can't we find the solutions we need? Billions of dollars have gone into cancer research, and we still can't stop a bunch of out-of-control cells from multiplying. It doesn't make sense to me.
  • paleontology - I love dinosaurs. I'm curious as to why some are extinct, and some are still here.
  • microbiology - I'm interested in viruses, bacteria, diseases, and the cures or remedies for them. Also, ever thrown a water bear (aka tardigrade) into space? I hear they survive anything.
  • Spanish - I'm currently learning Spanish. I have no one to speak it with, but I can speak Hmong and English. I'm looking to learn Spanish, then move forward with other languages I've been really wanting to learn.


I've always been drawn to health science and biology, but I'm currently working on attaining my bachelor's in computer science, so I'm a student back in school. I know a lot about computers and internet researching, so I'm looking forward to being able to create, program, and engineer machines.

I've played games for much of my life, like 30 years or so. I've started with the Nintendo (remember Duck Hunt?), then went on to Sega Dreamcast, Playstation, XBox, and Wii. I've also been playing mmos and mmorpgs for about 15 years, recently ending an 8-year love affair with a super toxic player base korean mmo. 

I also watch a lot of cartoons and anime. I'm a huge Disney fan and probably know every song to a major motion picture by Disney. I read a lot of manga and comics. Cartoons, anime, manga, and comics really give a lot of insight into world building, characters, plots, story lines, actions, conflicts, and I think it's a good visual way to absorb this information.

I used to teach Creative Writing to adults, and I have taught Reading and Writing to adults. What I loved the most was seeing the smiles on their faces and seeing them accomplish their goals.

I studied religion on my own for a decade. I'm very well versed in recognizing things imitating other things. 

I've worked in retail and customer service for about 15 years. I've worked in restaurants, grocery stores, and companies. I've been a waitress, a cashier, a lead, and an assistant manager.

I love art. I'm seriously just a hobbyist in that subject. I've always been very good at art, but I've been more traditional with pen and paper. I've been learning digital art and have worked with photoshop for several years. I've been working with procreate for the last two years. I dabble in Blender, Daz3d, and Nomad on the iPad Pro. I have a 3d printer that I haven't yet used (Elegoo Saturn S). I've also done sculptures using clay (plasticine, air-dry, modeling). I've attempted at making dolls which was quite fun.

I love writing. I used to write on pen and paper, so my biggest issue is translating it all on to the computer. My goal is to start translating them on to the computer. I write a lot of fantasy and dark fantasy. I write horror. I write romance and paranormal romance. I actually do love science fiction. I also write children's fantasy and science fiction. I also write crime, thrillers, and mystery, but most have a dark fantasy, paranormal, or horror element. I've self-published 4 books in a 10-book vampire series. The remaining 6 books are written, I just need to put it into the computer, edit, and all that nice stuff. I have several finished books that need to be typed. I have over 50 half-written books that I need to finish writing. My goal is to one day, get all my writings out and just share it with the world. I write more novels than short stories, but I'm working on writing more short stories.

I love reading. I prefer plot and character arcs over gratuitous sex and violence. I think sex isn't needed unless it adds to the story or has a purpose. I also think excessive violence and gore for shock value doesn't make a story great. Writers that have really influenced me on creating amazing stories are Bram Stoker's Dracula, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, Guillermo Del Toro's The Strain, Brian Lumley's Necroscope series, Jean M. Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear series, and Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. None of these stories have sex or extreme violence, but much rather, they focus on the characters and plot which makes them amazing stories.

~ I honestly believe that good stories write themselves. You can always start writing a story, but the characters tell their own tales and if you're lucky enough, you get to merely be in the audience watching everything unfold. ~ 8/1/2022
WotF - 2022, V39 Q4: R
WotF - 2022/2023, V40 Q1: HM; Q2: HM; Q3: HM; Q4:HM

Posted : August 2, 2022 9:33 am
Joni Labaqui reacted
Posts: 6
Active Member

Hi all,

I am working through the workshop and figured I would offer up my experiences and knowledge, too. You can message me at @annaliess if the random knowledge in my head can be useful Smile


  • Technical Theatre (4) - Have worked in set design and scenic painting, costumes/wardrobe, stage management, flyman (pulling ropes to make curtains, drops, or set pieces go out or come in), and basic stagehand responsibilities.
  • Traditional art (4) - charcoal, urban sketching, watercolor, acrylic.
  • Research (3.5) - I have a knack for finding information - books, blogs, podcasts, academic papers, of things random and obscure. I was the kid whose best friend was the library card catalog. University libraries online are a dream come true.
  • Occult/alchemy/western mysteries/paganism/witchy stuff (3) - a lot of breadth, with pockets of deep. Bit of tarot, a bit of astrology, eclectic witchcraft, paganism, energy work, practical applications. Some 20 years of exploring and reading and practicing.
  • Textiles/fiberart (3) - knitting, crocheting, nalbinding, needle felting, hand and machine sewing, embroidery, in a costume shop and for personal use.
  • Typewriters (2) - I like to fix them and write with them.
  • Psychology and Trauma responses (2) - read some books, taken some classes, read articles, done some therapy. I find it fascinating.


Bullet list of field(s) in which you are seeking guidance from a fellow artist or illustrator.  Include specifics about the knowledge you are seeking.

  • musical traditions of indigenous cultures, overlapping techniques, modes, and instruments. (Not limited to any one continent or epoch)
  • medieval Japanese history - naming conventions, social structure, mythology and martial arts
  • Shinto - more introductory information geared towards the western mind. I was given some books, but they are rather dry, academic and not quite 'hands on' enough for a plot I am chewing on.
  • death and funerary customs around the world and through history. Poetry, art, literature, superstitions
  • best practices for traditional art illustration submission - specifically watercolor, colored pencil, or pen and ink.


I am not sure what to add here - my life has been an adventure through wildly different interests and obsessions. I cut my teeth on fantasy with witches and dragons, and now I like my books to be richly imagined with layers of archetypes, mythology, and weaving the real and the fantastical.

It's hard to quantify what I know: I am insatiably curious. I listen to podcasts ranging from medieval history to paranormal mysteries to infectious diseases, and when I can't sleep I start on Wikipedia and end up on JSTOR or some other academic publication. I will try and keep up with new replies here, on the chance that someone is seeking a nugget of information that I have swimming around the brain pan, or in a book on my shelf.

Posted : January 18, 2023 3:00 pm
Pegeen, Dustin Adams and Ease reacted
Posts: 37
Bronze Star Member


  • Domestic Violence and Child Abuse - 5
  • General Psychology and Mental Health- 4
  • Childhood development - 4
  • Christian Theology - 4
  • Church History - 3
  • Mathematics - 3
  • Firearms - 2
  • Computers - 2


  • Investigative procedures-  I keep finding myself writing stories around police or PI investigations, and then I realize I'm out of my depth
  • Computer security and hacking (black and white hat) - My novel that I got 25% through involves a character involved in hacking
  • Social Engineering - See above
  • Military tactics - Have a few ideas/stories that this keeps coming up.


  • BS in Mathematics Education
  • MA in Counseling
  • 12 years practicing as a licensed professional counselor, with primary emphasis in treating victims and offenders of intimate partner and child abuse/neglect.
  • Masters was a seminary, so a good 1/4 of my degree involved bible and theology.

Vol 37 Q4-SHM
Vol 38 Q1-HM Q2-DNP Q3-DNP Q4-HM
Vol 39 Q1-HM Q2-HM Q3- DNP Q4- HM
Vol 40 Q1- DNP Q2- HM Q3- Subbed

Posted : January 20, 2023 8:31 am
Sade Reed and Annaliess reacted
Posts: 286
Silver Member

Great idea! Let me know @AlexH if I can help out (if I'm slow to respond, I'm easy to find elsewhere).


  • Search Engine Optimisation/website auditing - 5 (Technical writing. Mentor and trainer. I started as a web developer. Lower on the knowledge scale, but interested/work in lots of related fields including usability, accessibility (WCAG), machine learning/A.I, sustainable web design)
  • Photography - 4
  • Music - 4 (I can't read music but play in a band, listen to music for most of my waking life (during lockdowns I started ranking every year for music since 1950!), live events, write about music, sexism in the industry (and outside of music too))
  • Climate Change/Environment - 2 (particular interest in greenwashing and the negatives of new technology/schemes that often aren't the answer)
  • 90s video games and local co-op games on Switch - 2
  • Mental health - 2


Anything is possible...I have a short pilot scene I might contact Mark about and another story I might contact AlexB and Annaliess about. I'll update if I need anything specific.


I love travel/hiking/outdoors. I'm not sure how much or if at all I'll be able to hike in future, but I've done things like hiked in wilderness without seeing another person for a week and backpacked a lot independently, especially around Europe. Also a few countries in Asia, and Morocco in Africa (coinciding with their recent football/soccer World Cup run). I've travelled for 6 months or more in Scotland including about 35 of the western isles (probably my favourite country - others include Georgia and Iceland). I visit places that don't seem real and a fair few abandoned places.

I bought a packraft so rafting might replace hiking. For my first trip last year, I spent a morning rafting from Grantchester Meadows to Cambridge, UK. My first visit, so a great way to see the city, and sitting in/on the slow-flowing river amongst the wildlife was bliss.

Like Annaliess, I'm very curious and listen to all sorts of podcasts, following up on those I find most interesting (how I began learning about greenwashing).

I'm self-taught at almost everything.

I've dabbled in digital and 3D art as well as the above mentioned.

I'm a big film fan, including cinema visits, and aim to watch a film from every country in the world (I have done for almost every country I've visited). If anyone's writing about or interested in a particular country, there are loads of films that provide great cultural insights.

I hate injustice and discrimination - it's something else I actively learn about - and I'm trying to get better at speaking out when I spot it.

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM HM HM HM | 39: HM HM HM SHM | 40: HM R SHM SHM |
4 SHM / 12 HM / 7 R

Posted : January 20, 2023 2:56 pm
Annaliess reacted