Student Experiences

Here’s what former students have to say about the workshop:

“Alpha was simply fantastic in every sense. The staff was wonderful, instructive, hilarious, easygoing and incredibly qualified. The lectures and level of learning were simply phenomenal and I have grown so much as a writer because of this experience. I cannot recommend it highly enough!”
– Nell Highleyman, 2013

“At Alpha, we go beyond simply writing stories. Even after guest authors discuss their first publications, the workshop’s hidden gem is a core-group of staffers who have experienced the inner workings of market research, submission, and the fine art of handling rejection. Alpha eased me into fandom, a world I’d never experienced, and introduced me to both writers and editors I’d never hoped to meet before the workshop. The experiences and contacts have been invaluable.”
– Rebecca McNulty, 2007 & 2008

“Alpha was the best two weeks of my life. I could say the highlight of camp came when I spent lunch alone with Tamora Pierce, but I’d be lying. The highlight came when I read one of my stories aloud to the other kids at camp and they applauded me. I feared rejection from the writing community, but these young writers kept asking to read more of my work because they enjoyed it. I’m writing stories I hope to be published one day. I am a horror writer.”
– Julia Petre, 2006 & 2007

“Alpha gives you everything a writer could ask for. It gives you valuable lessons, motivation, confidence, and an entire community’s support. Alpha gives you these things because its people believe in you, and after a while, you start to believe in yourself, too.”
– Alyssa Monera, 2014

“On a personal level, I have never been very much of a social person. However, I felt 100% comfortable at Alpha. Everyone shared values and interests similar to my own. In short, Alpha was probably the most fun and engaging experience I have ever had. While Alpha is writing intensive, I believe its primary strength is providing an opportunity for like-minded creative individuals to bond. I processed a vast amount of information during the workshop, and the interaction with the guests, staff and fellow students only helped to increase my understanding and appreciation. Alphans inspire each other in such a unique way—the air is virtually filled to the brim with ideas. The bonding at Alpha is simply extraordinary. You have to feel it to believe it. I consider every single person involved with the workshop an equal, a colleague, and a personal friend.”
– Ian Corse, 2011

“Two weeks at Alpha taught me more than two semesters of fiction-writing college classes. It’s intensive, has practical and concrete feedback, and introduces young writers to the publishing world. And of course, the support system post-Alpha is amazing.”
– Lauren Edmonds, 2012 & 2013

“For me, as an awkward teenager [Alpha] was meeting people who were delightful and geeky, like me. Alpha really paved the way for my comfort with myself today that means I’m not afraid to do things other people think are crazy or embarrassing (like reading in public, complete with funny voices for different characters). Most importantly for folks not directly related to the young people attending Alpha: this workshop changes lives, and produces young writers who are invested in the growth of speculative genres.”
– Eileen Kern, 2003 & 2004

“Without any of the incredible support, guidance, and critique I received from all of the wonderful teachers, authors, and fellow Alphans those years ago, my first professional SF publication in Analog (or anywhere, really) would never have come to fruition.”
– Haris Durrani, 2009

“Perhaps the most important thing about Alpha is the fact that the staff and guest writers all treat you like a serious artist, not a stupid kid messing around with matters too big for them to understand. Of course, a lot of us – myself firmly included – really are stupid kids, but that trust is what motivates us to grow beyond that fact and do something with ourselves. That’s important.”
– Rachel Sobel, 2008 & 2009

“Alpha taught me how to write better, taught me how to critique at all. It convinced me to keep writing at a time when I was convinced my writing was worthless. It’s hard to tell people what Alphans mean to me. They’re always asking ‘How long have you known each other? Where did you meet?’ And we have to say, ‘We hung out for a week… three months ago (or three years ago),’ as if that defines how close we are.”
– Rachel Halpern, 2007 & 2008

“Writing, generally, is a solitary activity, and finding kindred spirits can sometimes feel impossible. Alpha gives not only incredible advice, but makes you part of an invaluable network. It’s put me in touch with peers who live anywhere from California to Australia, with alumni older and more experienced than myself, and with bestselling authors. My experience here has been more than I could have expected, and one I will never forget.”
– Sam Franks, 2012 & 2013

“Alpha is a magical place you can go and share your brain with people who will appreciate it, and give you some of their brain in return. When you leave, you will have a patchwork brain filled with such diverse influences and incredible inspiration that you can hardly contain it inside your skull.”
– Lara Donnelly, 2007 & 2008

“One of the strongest aspects of Alpha is the networking that occurs there: Many Alphans build up a network of friends who’ll support them in their writing for years to come. That’s vital. Having a group of peers to critique your work and motivate you to write is how you become a better writer.”
– Isaac White, 2007 & 2008

“Alpha was a great introduction to the speculative fiction community, as well as a new group of weird and delightful friends. I still go back to my notes from Alpha frequently.”
– Shivaun Hoad, 2006

“Alpha was an amazing experience that taught me more about writing in ten days than I’ve learned in years! The community is very supportive, the guest writers are full of invaluable knowledge, and the immersive experience is unlike any class or camp I’ve done before. If you want to learn how to improve your writing and launch a career in sci-fi/fantasy, then Alpha will be a great crash course.”
– Kayla Chronister, 2013

“Ten sleepless nights made certain events sort of foggy, but I loved the games we played while surrounded by ghosts, and I felt that the best bonding moments were at midnight.”
– Arin Greenwood, 2006 & 2007

“For some reason I have a hard time talking about Alpha, like it’s a magical creature that might stop existing if I speak of it. Alpha is a place of complete acceptance, where you can talk about your opinions, methods, and story ideas, and not ever feel stupid for it. I got to watch my fellow students pace, talk to themselves, dance, seek solitude, pursue companionship, share ideas, put stuffed animals on their heads, and stare off into the distance, all while going through the process of writing. All different methods, but for the same goal. A goal which unites complete strangers and left me with nearly 30 new friends. Then there’s the knowledge and experience of your guest authors and staff members (apparently editing never gets easier. I was sorry too) who are literally there to answer your every question. And after the first day, you’re confident enough to ask them.”
– Anneliese Belmond, 2014

“I went to the first and second Alpha workshops. I was the first overseas student, coming over from the UK, and learnt a huge amount both about writing, science fiction and America… the writing experience I have now means I’m planning on going into full-blown writing/editing when I finish, hopefully freelance.”
– Tomas L. Martin, 2002 & 2003

“Going to Alpha is a form of pre-career networking, even though we aren’t aware of it while we’re there, because our peers at Alpha represent the next generation of SF&F authors. We are forming our own voices and perspectives on the genre, and we are eager to share them with the world.”
– Jackie Kay, 2009 & 2010

“Alpha was easily one of the best experiences of my life. My writing improved immeasurably, of course, but that’s not the whole story. Being around so many amazing writers, so many amazing people, changed the way I saw the world to such an extent that I count Alpha as an integral part of my coming of age. Since my acceptance to that first Alpha in 2006, it’s been a fairly chaotic four years, but my friends from Alpha have been there for me, online and off, through it all. I wouldn’t give that up for the world.”
– Sarah Brand, 2006 & 2007