I attended a fantastic workshop series at DragonCon this past weekend. Most of the workshops were presented by Michael A. Stackpole, who is an amazingly engaging teacher. I say this because I usually have a 30 minute limit on remaining conscious in any seminar-type setting. (This is particularly embarrassing in long staff meetings.) However, not only was I wide awake throughout the duration of each hour-long session, I managed to do this hour after hour for a collected 13 or so hours over the course of the weekend. (Impending starvation drove me out of two of the sessions, and I totally derp-missed the very first session because I didn't go through registration the day before. Derp-derp.)
Many of the workshops were exercises to help writers map out their stories, and gave good, solid guidelines for commercially-successful novels (target ~40 chapters, about 2,500 to 3,000 words each; total length about 100-120k words, etc.) Others were about editing, self-publishing, crowd-pay to launch a book, and similar things. All of it very valuable. One of the things that I found most encouraging was one of the panelists who addressed writing for the YA market (and also sat on the Writing Combat panel) is a part-time writer, as are many popular authors today. (https://www.facebook.com/janine.spendlove.5 Her husband, also a Marine officer, started a publishing company -- http://www.silenceinthelibrarypublishing.com/ -- and was also a presenter at the series.) It reinforces the message given over and over throughout the workshops, that a writing career is just that: hard work. A business. Whereas writing itself may be an art form -- it still requires tons of endurance and willingness to learn and change to perfect it.
Anyway, if you have a chance to attend any of these series at conventions throughout the U.S., Mike says he attends about 12 conventions a year, so WATCH for him. (http://www.michaelastackpole.com/) I'll see if I can find out what their planned convention schedule is for the remaining year and into the next, and will add it to this thread.