Writing Conferences and Retreats

Click here for an extensive list of writing conferences and retreats around the state and the country.



New Nature Writing at Point Reyes 

Friday, April 10, 6:00 p.m. to Sunday, April 12, 1:00 p.m.
Instructor: Patti Trimble
Fee: $365
Non-Member Fee: $395

A retreat for creating new poems and short prose, focused on the natural world. In supportive community we’ll join the contemporary conversation, writing from personal experiences, discussing ideas of inter-relationship, playing with 21st-century forms and vocabularies, and responding to each other and the writing of other writers. All levels welcome.

If you have any special circumstances or questions, please contact

Meeting at the Point Reyes Historic Lifeboat Station
27709 Chimney Rock Road



Sonoma County Writers Camp

Workshops and panels with agents, authors and editors
Facilitated by Ellen Sussman and Elizabeth Stark

April 29 – May 3, 2020
Feeding the Muse: How to Nurture Creativity, Spark Inspiration, and Master Productivity

If you can’t wait for inspiration, how do you urge it into being? How do you sit down every day and make magic? This Master Class will teach you techniques, strategies, methodologies and a few trade secrets to get you writing at the top of your powers, and building a solid, impactful writing life. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Draw on Ellen’s seat of your pants, no outline approach and Elizabeth’s strong initial structural exploration to develop your own individual best practices. Through the use of generative exercises, you’ll balance intuition and organization to produce deep work and accomplish your most important goals.

More information and registration:


Napa Valley Writers Conference

July 26–31, 2020

Applications are now open for the 40th Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, The admissions deadline for all applications, including requests for financial assistance, is April 13.

The conference’s second translation workshop will focus on translating poems in any language into English. The leader: Robert Hass is a poet, translator and essayist, whose collection Time and Materials was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He has co-translated many volumes of the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz and is the author or editor of several other collections of essays and translations. He served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997 and teaches at UC Berkeley.

Poetry workshops focus on the production and critique of new work. The poetry faculty:

  • Victoria Chang’s poetry books include OBIT (2020), Barbie Chang, and The Boss. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and many other awards, she is the Program Chair of Antioch’s Low-Residency MFA Program.
  • Brenda Hillman, returning to the conference faculty for the 18th time, is the author of 10 full-length collections, the most recent of which is Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the International Griffin Poetry Prize for 2014. Currently a Chancellor at the Academy of American Poets, Hillman teaches at St. Mary’s College of California.
  • Brian Teare is the author of six critically-acclaimed books, the most recent of which, Doomstead Days, was longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award. His honors include Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle Awards and a fellowship from the NEA. He teaches at the University of Virginia and heads the micropress Albion Books.
  • Matthew Zapruder is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Father’s Day (2019), as well as Why Poetry, a book of prose. He is editor at large at Wave Books and teaches at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Fiction workshops will be led by:

  • Charles Baxter is the author of seven works of fiction, most recently There’s Something I Want You to Do; his new novel, The Sun Collective, is forthcoming in early 2021. He teaches at the University of Minnesota.
  • Lan Samantha Chang is the author of three books: the critically acclaimed novella All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost; the novel Inheritance, winner of a PEN/Open Book Award; and Hunger: A Novella and Stories. Chang directs the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
  • ZZ Packer is working on a novel about Reconstruction and the Buffalo Soldiers. She is the author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere and has been published in the New Yorker, Harper’s, and the New York Times Magazine, among others, and teaches at Harvard University.
  • Joan Silber is the author of eight books of fiction. The most recent, Improvement, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. She also received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program.


Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference

July 30-August 1, 2020
Registration opens March 1, 2020

Keynote Speaker: Elissa Washuta

Julie Buntin, master class
Anita Felicelli, short fiction
Gabe Habash, novel
Rahawa Haile, nonfiction
Christine Hyung-Oak Lee, memoir
Kij Johnson, speculative fiction
Kerry Madden-Lunsford, middle grade/young adult
Tomas Moniz, emerging writers
Michelle Peñaloza, poetry
Susan Stinson, historical fiction
Ayesha Pande and Marya Spence, agent
Shirin Yim Leos, editor
Cameron Lund and Ginny Rorby, paths to publishing


Sonoma County Writers Camp

Workshops and panels with agents, authors and editors
Facilitated by Ellen Sussman and Elizabeth Stark

August 5 – 9, 2020
Talk to Me: Voice and Point of View in Fiction and Memoirs

Who’s telling your story, from what point in time, with what language and attitude, perspective and limitations? Voice and point of view are key elements in both fiction and memoir. In this camp you’ll master the technical aspects of point of view–first, second, third, omniscient, singular, plural, distant or close–and the substantive explorations of language, vocabulary, rhythm, and psychology that form voice. We’ll plumb the story questions that drive the choices you’ll make with each new character and tale.

September 30 – October 4, 2020
Learning from the Masters: Exploring Craft Through Reading and Writing

Combining elements of Ellen’s popular Best American Short Story seminars and Elizabeth’s proven craft exercises, this camp will delve into the craft of successful storymaking. Before camp begins, we’ll assign some short stories for you to read. In Ellen’s workshops we’ll ask the questions: what makes this story work? What elements of craft are at play here? How does this writer make the magic happen? In Elizabeth’s classes, we’ll try those techniques on for size. How can we take these new skills and put them to work in our own writing? This is an exciting opportunity to take your work to the next level by learning from the best writers producing great literature today.

More information and registration:


Sonoma County Literary Update logo

%d bloggers like this: