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.


A Poets & Writers Live Event

January 14–15, 2017

San Francisco Art Institute ~ San Francisco

This two-day "mini" conference is sponsored by my favorite literary magazine. Participating authors include Juan Felipe Herrera, Susan Orlean, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Hirshfield, Kay Ryan, Ishmael Reed, Benjamin Percy, and many others. On Sunday, January 15, at 2:00 p.m., I will join fiction writer Bich Minh Nguyen and poet Matthew Zapruder. We’re each giving a “Craft Capsule”—a twelve-minute crash course on writing. Mine will be called “Once Upon a Verb.” Details here: pw.org/live


Making Your Writing Unforgettable:

Finding the Voice That Makes Your Readers Keep Turning the Pages with Constance Hale

February 20, 2017, 2-5 p.m.

Mark Hopkins Hotel ~ San Francisco

You recognize a literary voice when you read it. Some writers put words on pages in a distinctive way. But how do you move from clear, competent sentences to those that sparkle with your personality? Connie will explain the idea of literary voice and show you how your own experiments with vocabulary, tone, point of view, and sentence length will make your writing so distinctive that readers have to keep reading. Handouts.

You will learn how to:
  • Avoid the seven habits of ho-hum sentences
  • Use Connie’s three spectra for choosing words for maximum impact
  • Modulate phrasing and rhythm to create emotional effects
  • Play ventriloquist to help find your voice
  • Allow your sentences to echo to your meaning
Fee: $79. Register at sfwriters.org. 

2017 San Francisco Writers Conference

Presidents Day Weekend

February 16–19, 2017

Mark Hopkins Hotel ~ San Francisco

This five-day event is packed with more than 100 sessions for writers–covering everything from the craft of writing to the business of publishing. In addition to these sessions, panels, and workshops, you’ll have the chance to network with the very people who can advance your writing career. One caveat: the sessions can be uneven, so pick carefully. Other perks: an opening gala; two keynote luncheons and breakfasts; social interaction with other writers; and evening Open Mic readings. There will be exhibitors with services and tools for writers, too. All of this in an incomparable San Francisco setting, the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Information and registration: sfwriters.org I’m going to be doing two sessions on Saturday and a special three-hour class you can take as an “ala carte” basis—in other words, you don’t have to attend the conference in order to join the class. Here are all three of my sessions: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH 10:00-10:45 a.m. ONLY THE LAST ONE COUNTS: The 7 Stages of Writing a Book SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH 3:00-3:45 p.m. CONFESSIONS OF A HYBRID: The Joys and Trade-offs of Self- and Traditional Publishing MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20TH 2-5 p.m. MAKING YOUR WRITING UNFORGETTABLE: Finding the Voice That Makes Your Readers Keep Turning the Pages (see above)

Hawai‘i Book & Music Festival

Spring 2017

Honolulu, HI

The 12th 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

Spring 2017

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.