Writing Classes & Conferences

This is an entirely subjective selection of classes taught either by me or by writers and teachers I respect. I also include writing conferences that I am participating in, or that I think are well worth your time and money. All are listed (more or less) in chronological order, unless one item is especially newsy.


The Power of Narrative 2016:

Staying Savvy, Skilled, and Solvent in Journalism's Wired Era

April 1-3, 2016

Boston University

Narrative journalism icon Gay Talese will give a keynote, as will icon-buster Mary Roach. These are just two in a stellar lineup of journalists who are exploring how to tell true stories as human dramas. Important stuff. This is a re-invented version of the conference I briefly directed at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard. The conference's speakers, panel discussions, and working sessions maintain a high-level of discussion. I'll be there!

Fundamentals of Freelance Writing

April 7–24, 2016

UC Berkeley Extension, Online

I love the Danish proverb that says, "Ideas must have wings, but they must also have feet to walk on." This two-and-a-half week online class offers inspiration and practical advice to help you design the writing life you want. Proceed at your own pace (well, sort of) and participate either by text or video. We examine the changing media landscape and how to both survive and thrive in it. We'll deepen your understanding of what magazines, newspapers, books and websites look for, and discuss where and how social media and blogging fit in. Finally, we'll consider how to support dream projects with good work that pays the bills—whether it's tech writing, teaching, ghostwriting or corporate editing. Innovative course materials help you define your goals, sharpen your skills, and develop a personal strategy. The presentations are rich in wisdom, the exercises rigorous but fun. Price: $295. Learn more at UC Berkeley Extension.

National League of American PEN Women, Honolulu Branch, Presents:

Biennial Writers' Conference

April 22 & 23, 2016

‘Iolani School, Honolulu

"Craft, Process, and Essentials" are the focus of this conference, and why not go to Honolulu to get the goods? I will be leading a session on "Making Sentences Sing." It's an interactive workshop that will take you through a series of readings, exercises, puzzles, and games. Stretch new muscles! Kick bad habits! Duke it out in a war of words! We'll also talk about how to cultivate that most elusive of literary elements: the writer's voice. Registration begins Feb. 12.

Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival

April 30–May 1, 2016

Honolulu, HI

The 11th Annual Hawaii Book & Music Festival will take place in Downtown Honolulu on the Civic Grounds by Honolulu Hale. This two-day celebration of storytelling, books, and music features panels, presentations, and performances by authors and musicians from Hawai‘i and beyond. Find more details here.

Mokule‘ia Writers Retreat

May 1–6, 2016

On Oahu’s North Shore

The Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat is an annual gathering that brings three dozen writers to the North Shore of O‘ahu for a week workshops in fiction and creative nonfiction. Additional sessions in poetry, children’s book writing, and developing your voice. Special Native Hawaiian cultural experts give presentations on song and dance, as well as taking us to sacred sites. The retreat is high-level and professional—but also low-key and tuned in to the beauty of the surroundings. We foster an exchange in two directions—between islanders and mainlanders, published writers and budding writers, Native Hawaiian artistry and mainland publishing. Visit our Web site for information about past retreats and to be added to our mailing list.

Sin and Syntax: One-day Grammar Brush-up for Writers

Fall 2016

The Grotto, San Francisco, California

Six hours, 60 bucks, free bagels, buckets of grammar. How can you resist? Connie Hale will lead you through a series of hilarious exercises to perk up your writing in surprising ways. (We’ll use Sin and Syntax as our guide, but dip also into Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch.) Writers will stretch new muscles, disabuse themselves of bad habits, and duke it out in a war of words. We’ll also talk about how to cultivate that most elusive of literary elements: the writer’s voice. This 1-day session is perfect for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir who want to take their prose to the next level. While we realize this is catnip for students heading back-to-school, the course is intended for adult writers and writing teachers. Please email me (through the contact link) if you are interested in learning more about this class.

First-Person Plural: Crafting stories from our lives A writing workshop with Zoe FitzGerald Carter and Constance Hale

Fall 2016

Greensboro and Hardwick, Vermont

In this intimate and unusual workshop, writers work under the guidance of Zoe FitzGerald Carter and Constance Hale, who have published memoirs and essays in Vogue, Health, Honolulu, The Atlantic, O, and numerous anthologies. The workshop begins Friday afternoon, with hot cidar and snacks at the Carter’s lakeside cabin, followed by a gathering at The Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, where Connie and Zoe will read from their work and lead a conversation about memoir. After a Vermont breakfast on Saturday, Zoe and Connie will lead writers through of a mix of guided writing, critique sessions, coaching, and private writing time. Chef/writer Stephanie Klassen makes us gourmet farm-to-table meals, and at night we hang out by the fire, eat, drink, make music and be merry. On Sunday, Stephanie  warms us up with another fantastic breakfast,  and we dig into the writing again. Late Sunday afternoon, all participants will have the opportunity to read at the Galaxy followed by an optional dinner. The workshop is open to writers of all levels and genres. Lodging is available for an additional fee. For information on fees and registration, email Zoe: zoecarter[at]mac[dot]com.