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.

Fundamentals of Freelance Writing

October 8 - 24, 2015

Online, UC Berkeley Extension

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 seminar offers inspiration and practical advice to help you design the writing life you want. 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. Guests share their unvarnished experiences, and 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. The online class lets you proceed at your own pace (well, sort of) and you can participate either by text or video. Price: $195. Details at UC Berkeley Extension.

Discover the Magic of Memoir:

A Weekend of Craft, Process, and Publishing

Saturday and Sunday, October 17-18

Berkeley, California

This weekend-long workshop is led by Berkeley's own Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers, who co-teach an intensive course, Write Your Memoir in Six Months. They are the co-authors of Breaking Ground on Your Memoir: Craft and Motivation for Memoir Writers. I've gotten to know Brooke since she became publisher of She Writes Press, but I had heard her name when, at Seal Press, she edited books by friends and colleagues. The weekend includes panels with experts in publishing, sessions on important craft points (scene, theme, scope, reflection, flashback, and more), time to write, and the change to engage with teachers and panelists. Registration is $449 and includes these bonuses:
  • Free Magic of Memoir t-shirt
  • Written evaluation of your memoir-in-progress
  • Hard copy of our book, Breaking Ground on Your Memoir
  • "What Made Eat, Pray, Love a best-selling Memoir?" CD
  • 2 free raffle tickets


Day of the Dead Writing Fiesta

With Laura Fraser

Friday to Friday, October 30-November 6, 2015

San Miguel de Allende

Imagine a luxurious writing retreat with lots of time to focus on your writing and explore the beautiful town of San Miguel de Allende when the town is filled with marigold-strewn altars containing mementos to the departed. This is much more than a writing workshop–it’s an immersion in Mexican culture, a chance to relax and pamper yourself, an opportunity to eat great Mexican food, meet interesting local artists, shop for beautiful jewelry and pottery, and have a few margaritas along the way. You’ll see the beautiful colonial town of San Miguel de Allende with someone who knows its secrets well. The writing workshop is small–limited to ten–so that you will get very individualized attention from Laura. She’ll talk about your writing goals, and finish up with a one-on-one coaching session. The workshop is held in a gorgeous and luxurious refurbished 300-year-old colonial villa, filled with gardens and private writing spaces, right in the center of town. Laura’s Mexican Writing Fiesta.

Mokule‘ia Writers Retreat

Spring 2016

On Oahu’s North Shore

The Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat is an annual gathering that brings three dozen writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, and memoir to the North Shore of O‘ahu for a week of intimate workshops and one-on-one coaching. 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.

Writing As Refuge

A retreat for writers interested in social and ecological change

With Zoe FitzGerald Carter and Constance Hale

TBD 2016

The Mesa Refuge, Point Reyes Station, California

Are you writing about social justice? Racial inequality? Environmental change? Or, do you want to deepen a personal story by tying it to a larger societal issue? In a setting of unparalleled beauty and calm, this unusual writers workshop offers a small group of writers a literal and psychic “refuge” where you can pause, consider your work from a new perspective, and enjoy the fellowship of other committed writers. Authors Zoe FitzGerald Carter and Constance Hale will coach you on how to approach difficult topics with verve and humanity. Readings from a variety of genres will inspire you to explore a more intentional literary style. Guided writing exercises will spark fresh ideas. You will have the opportunity to share your writing and be critiqued by the group in a supportive, thoughtful manner. The date and details for 2016 have yet to be determined. But for a description of the 2015 retreat, please see the Writing As Refuge page.