Storycrafting Sessions: Worldbuilding Deep Dive

Storycrafter sessions are free virtual events for writers. Did you miss the event when it happened? Want to revisit a panel? No worries! Below you’ll find information each panel as well as a video recording with captions available.

Building Fictional Religions

Explore three different takes on building realistic religions for your fictional world, inspired by real-life religions and mythologies built from scratch. Moderated by our own Dianna Gunn.


Mary Kit Caelsto Patreon: Twitter:
Dan Fitzgerald Twitter:
Leigh M Lorien – Twitch: Twitter:

Accessibility in Worldbuilding

Does accessibility matter? Why and how should it be included in sci-fi and fantasy? Answer these questions and more in this panel moderated by Cait Gordon.


Stephen Graham King
Mary Kit Caelsto
Dianna Gunn

Hard vs Soft vs Hybrid: Creating Interesting and Effective Magic Systems

Learn about different types of magical systems and how to incorporate them seamlessly into your work. Moderated by Jade Benjamin.


Diana Pinguicha Twitter:
Jasmine Gower Twitter:
SM England
Mato J. Steger Twitter:

Elections vs Thrones: Writing Class, Government and Power in Speculative Fiction

Why are most fantasy novels set in monarchies? How can authors interweave class politics and divides into their work? Moderated by Mato J. Steger.


Whitney Hill
Dustin R Cummings
Steve Savage

We Don’t Take Imperial Credits: Developing Economics, Currency and Trade in Speculative Fiction

Money is complex enough in the real world. Listen to four expert authors discuss creating monetary systems–or avoid them–in fantasy. Moderated by Steve Savage.


Dianna Gunn
Whitney Hill
Dustin R Cummings
Stephen Graham King

Conlang Development: Enriching Your Worldbuilding with New Words

Learn how to build languages and work them seamlessly into your fantasy world without confusing your readers. Moderated by Jade Benjamin.


Dianna Gunn
Laitie Montai
KJ Harrowick
Dan Fitzgerald

About the Panelists

Event Moderator: Jade Benjamin

Jade Benjamin is a Canadian writer and editor who is fiercely in love with language, words, and magical worlds. After acquiring a double undergraduate degree in English (and Environmental Sciences), a Postgraduate Certificate in Book Publishing, and interning as an Editorial Assistant at Fitzhenry and Whiteside Ltd. (Markham, Ontario) she discovered that finding a permanent paid position in Canadian traditional publishing was easier said than done. 

Jade now works as a freelance editor, fitting work for independent author clients around her 9-5 expenses-paying job. She has a penchant for collecting interesting names and a fondness for projects that expand her knowledge of story structure and use of evocative language. 

When she isn’t working, writing, or editing, Jade can be found reading, keeping up with an inordinate number of podcasts, adopting furry family members and contributing to Weeknight Writers events. 

Mary Kit Caelsto

Mary Kit Caelsto never grew out of the phase of being a “horse crazy girl”. Though she’s now over 40, she’s finally fulfilling her dream of writing equestrian books for others who haven’t grown out of being “horse crazy”. She lives in the Ozarks with her four very spoiled and very opinionated horses, as well as a large flock of poultry and enough cats to qualify her as a crazy cat lady. Her husband, though not an equestrian himself, understands and supports all her equestrian dreams.

She’s convinced three of the best things in the world are the smell of a sun warmed horse, the smell of leather tack, and making sure to hug her horses every single day.

Picture of the author and “SuperDuck” taken 3/2019. Hair color varies depending on mood.


Sarah Chorn Headshot

Sarah Chorn has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a freelance writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor with hEDS, and mom to two kids. In her ideal world, she’d do nothing but drink lots of tea and read from a never-ending pile of books. She has been running the speculative fiction review blog Bookworm Blues for over ten years and is the author of Seraphina’s Lament and Of Honey and Wildfires. Sarah has been a full-time book editor for four years.

You can find Sarah at

Panelist Dustin R Cummings

Dustin Cummings is an author who lives in New York, NY. Originally from Mid-Michigan, he is an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, classical music, and long walks. He is an assistant professor of surgery in the New York Metropolitan area.

Find Dustin at

Dan Fitzgerald headshot

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy author living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, taking photographs of nature, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music. The Maer Cycle is his debut trilogy, with Hollow Road and The Archive on several book bloggers’ best-of lists for 2020, and The Place Below coming March 4 2021. His upcoming duology, The Weirdwater Confluence, will be published in October 2021 and January 2022. All books published by Shadow Spark Publishing. 

Find out more about Dan and his books at, or look him up on Twitter or Instagram, under the name danfitzwrites.  

Cait Gordon headshot

Cait (pronounced like ‘cat’) Gordon is a Canadian disability advocate who writes speculative fiction that celebrates the reality of diversity. Originally from Verdun, Québec, Cait worked for over two decades as a technical writer, then channeled her love for words into storytelling.

She is the author of the humorous space adventures Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers.

Her short stories appear in Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland  (Ed. Colleen Anderson), We Shall Be Monsters (Ed. Derek Newman-Stille), and Stargazers: Microtales from the Cosmos (Eds. Paul Jarvey and Erin MacNab). The Hilltop Gathering from We Shall Be Monsters features a disabled protagonist and was discussed at a symposium about Frankenstein at Carleton University.

In 2016, Cait founded The Spoonie Authors Network to connect with writers in the disability community. Her desire to find better disabled and autistic representation in fiction prompted Cait to co-edit Nothing Without Us with Talia C. Johnson. The multi-genre anthology features authors and protagonists who are disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, and/or they manage mental illness. Nothing Without Us was included in the syllabus of a disability studies course at Trent University and earned a 2020 Prix Aurora Award nomination.

Panelist Jasmine Gower

Jasmine Gower, author of Moonshine and other queer fantasy works, hails from Portland, Oregon. Jasmine received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in Book Publishing from Portland State University.
Inspired to write by a childhood filled with fantasy novels, 90s video games, and the curious experience of growing up in the rural Willamette Valley, Jasmine has a passion for exploring themes of gender, sexuality, and disability through the conventions of speculative fiction, mythology, and fantasy world-building.

Jasmine is represented by Laura Zats at Headwater Literary Management.

Find Jasmine at or on Twitter @Jas_Gower.

Event moderator: Dianna Gunn

Dianna Gunn is a freelance SEO writer, digital marketing consultant, indie author, podcast producer, and about 18 other things. She is dedicated to helping other indie authors navigate the complex world of business and marketing. To accomplish this, she published her first workbook, Branding for Fiction Authors, in 2019.

In 2021, Gunn launched the Author Marketing Club, a 100% free educational initiative for authors overwhelmed by marketing. She is also the founder of the Weeknight Writers group and main event organizer.

You can buy Dianna Gunn’s workbooks for authors and her first novel, Moonshadow’s Guardian on her Ko-fi store. Moonshadow’s Guardian is also available everywhere ebooks are sold.

Panelist KJ Harrowick

K. J. Harrowick is a fantasy and science fiction author with a strong passion for twisted stories blending grimdark worlds and futurist technology with threads of romance and revenge.

K.J. is the co-creator of Writer In Motion, Rewrite It Club, the creator of Winterviews and the 2020 Director for CampRevPit, sharing her love of community with those around her. She’s also won first prize in the #WonderPitch contest (2017), contributed to Dan Koboldt’s Science in Sci-Fi series with the article “Erroneous Code in Fiction” (November 2018), was a panelist in the Write Hive online convention (April 2020), and was a RevPit winner (May 2020).

Her debut novel BLOODFLOWER is slotted for fall 2021 where she hopes to capture readers hearts by casting a grimdark lens on what might happen when a woman who craves peace is thrust into a world of revenge and sacrifice.

Find KJ Harrowick on her website or on Twitter @KJHarrowick.

Stephen Graham King

Stephen Graham King (He/They) is a writer of space opera novels, re-imagining the classic genre and its high tech adventurers through an unabashedly queer lens. His stories have appeared in the anthologies North of Infinity II, Desolate Places and Ruins Metropolis. His books include Chasing Cold, and the novels in his Maverick Heart series: Soul’s Blood, Gatecrasher, A Congress of Ships, and the forthcoming Ghost Light Burn, due later this year. He is also a long term survivor of metastatic synovial sarcoma and an avid black and white street photographer. He can be found online, along with all his social media coordinates, at

Leigh M Lorien headshot

Leigh M. Lorien is a queer neurodivergent author who writes queer neurodivergent characters. She has a degree in Creative Writing, has published four short stories/novellas, a novel, and a piece of flash fiction, and wishes she could marry the entire genre of science fiction because she loves it so much.

When Leigh isn’t being a cubicle drone for corporate America, she streams art and writing on Twitch, retweets memes on Twitter, plays D&D, and cuddles her pets.

Panelist Laitie Montai

Born and raised in Rochester, NY, Laitie Montai has had a pretty average life. But a look inside her imagination would make you think otherwise. She can usually be found daydreaming or writing or her daydreams down in a word document or journal. Today, she still lives in Rochester with her Mr. Beloved, two cats, and fifteen fish.

Find Laitie on Twitter at @laitie315.

Panelist Steve Savage

Steve Savage writes extensively on how people can leverage their creativity in a variety of ways.  He’s most well known for the Way With World series of Worldbuidling books, an ever-growing collection of guides to coach people on creating fictional settings.  The series is currently at seventeen books and counting.

He is also writes the Avenoth series, about the adventures and misadventures of people in a solar system of sorcery, super-science, internet-using gods, and interplanetary demons.  The first book, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet was released in 2018, with the sequel, A School Of Many Futures arriving this year.

Find him at Steve’s website or his press site. He also maintains the random tools site Seventh Sanctum.

Mato J. Steger is an openly out and proud Queer and Anishinaabe (North American Indigenous) fantasy and sci-fi writer, who can’t resist making everything he touches a romance. He is proudly represented by Hannah VanVels of BelCastro Literary Agency.


Storycrafting Sessions are hosted by the Weeknight Writers Initiative. If you’d like to know when the next virtual event will be, sign up for for the newsletter to get all the latest updates.