Writing Conferences and Retreats

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


New Moon Writing Weekend at Pt. Reyes Field Institute

Friday, March 16, 6:00 p.m. to Sunday, March 18, 2:00 p.m.
Instructor: Patti Trimble
$280 Member Price / $310 Non-Member Price

Location: Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email with directions to the meeting location.

Join us under a new moon for a weekend full of bright stars and early wildflowers: Workshops on writing craft help all level writers deepen their practice of writing as conversation, and as a practice of attention to the world. We will generate suprising new poetry and short prose.

Patti Trimble has been teaching for the Field Institute for over twenty years, and her supportive and intelligent approach creates a friendly, respectful, and thoughtful community of writers. You will find quiet time in wide and wild Point Reyes, a place where “beginners mind” seems only natural. Surrounded by trees, rivers, and ravens, join us to explore the mystery of how we shape thoughts and feeling with words.

More details and registration:


Sonoma Writers’ Festival at Sonoma State University

Friday, April 13 & Saturday, April 14
For the first time, Sonoma State University is hosting its annual Writers’ Festival. Nationally and internationally acclaimed writers will lead workshops, read from their work, and talk about craft and professional challenges. Renowned editors and publishers will discuss running literary magazines and managing independent presses. Throughout, we’ll foster a festive, joyous celebration of the art of writing and the pleasures of creating community. Please join us in celebrating our inaugural festival.
Schedule, costs and info at:


Redwood Writers Club 2018 Pen to Published Conference

Saturday, April 21, 2018
At Finley Center, 2060 West College Ave., Santa Rosa (lots of free parking.)

Redwood Writers, one of the largest writers’ groups in California, hosts its 10th biennial writers conference on Saturday, April 21 at the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa. Registration for the full-day conference is open until April 18 at The price is $135 for members and $175 for non-members.

Whether you are a seasoned author, or just have an idea you’d love to put into words, the Pen to Published Conference has something for you. Keynote speakers are publisher, author and writing coach Brooke Warner with her topic “Why and How to Green-light Your Creative Life,” and Ellen Sandler speaking about her experiences as a writer and producer of half-hour network television shows, including “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Extended workshops and smaller sessions focus on many aspects of the writing and publishing world.

The Pen to Published Conference draws writers, poets and would-be novelists from all over California. Membership in the Redwood Writers branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) numbers over 300, making it the largest of 22 branches in California. Early members of CWC included Jack London, George Sterling, John Muir, Joaquin Miller and the first California poet laureate, Ina Coolbrith.

  • Workshops will be on the following topics: Flash Fiction, Nonfiction/Fiction, Social Media, and Memoir
  • Keynote speakers: Brooke Warner and Ellen Sandler
  • Coaching Sessions: A private coaching session with the coach of your choice. 20 minutes for $20.
  • Lunch with Shakespeare: Healdsburg’s Raven Players will present Lovers, Liars, and Clowns: Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, during the lunch break.
  • Book Sales: Buy our speakers’ books from our local independent bookseller, Copperfield’s.
  • Photo Sessions: Book a professional headshot with Star Dewar, Star Shots Photography, or
  • Rob Martel, Rob Martel Photgraphy. Extra fee.

Sign-up early to get your choice of Workshops, Sessions and Coaching
Registration closes April 18, 2018. Members $135, Non-members $175.

For more information about Redwood Writers or this event, go to:


2018 Sonoma County Writers Camp

April 25–29Compelling Characters: Bringing People to Life on the Page
August 8–12Beg, Borrow, Steal: What We Can Learn from Different Genres
October 10–14Scene Making: The Essence of Storytelling

Ellen Sussman and Elizabeth Stark, both acclaimed authors and writing teachers, have put together three wonderful five-day events. Held in the gorgeous setting–gardens, pond, meadow and woods–of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, just 70 miles from both San Francisco and Oakland. These will be intimate, inspiring, enormously creative and productive adventures.

Small generative writing workshops in the morning, panel discussions with agents, authors and editors in the afternoon. Intimate group of 24. Delicious shared meals, evening gatherings, and free time to hike, write and explore.

Ellen Sussman is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is the editor of two critically acclaimed anthologies, Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave and Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex. She teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes.

Elizabeth Stark is the host of Story Makers Podcast (, author of the novel Shy Girl (FSG, Seal Press) and co-director and co-writer of several several films, including FtF: Female to Femme, a creative documentary and Little Mutinies, a short (both distributed by Frameline). She earned an M.F.A. from Columbia University in Creative Writing and has taught at the Pratt Institute, UCSC, St. Mary’s, where she was the visiting distinguished writer, and elsewhere.

More information at:


Napa Valley Writers’ Conference — July 29-Aug. 3, 2018

Applications are now open for the 37th Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, The admissions deadline for all applications, including requests for financial assistance, is April 2.

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

  • Camille Dungy is the author the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History and four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade. She edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.
  • Brenda Hillman is the author of 10 collections of poetry, including Extra Hidden Life, among the Days. Previous titles include Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2014. She has also co-translated At Your Feet by Ana Cristina Cesar, forthcoming in 2018.
  • Jane Mead is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently World of Made and Unmade, which was nominated for a National Book Award and a finalist for the Griffin Prize. Her poems appear regularly in journals and anthologies. She’s a resident of Napa County, where she manages her family’s ranch.
  • Carl Phillips is the author of 14 books of poetry, most recently Wild Is the Wind and Reconnaissance, winner of the PEN USA Award and the Lambda Literary Award. He is also the author of two books of prose: The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination and Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry.

Fiction workshops will be led by:

  • Lan Samantha Chang, who is the author of three books: the critically acclaimed novella All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, the novel Inheritance, and Hunger: A Novella and Stories. Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, and Best American Short Stories. Chang directs the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
  • Lauren Groff is the author of three novels, including Fates and Furies, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. Her short fiction has been published in journals including the New Yorker, Atlantic, and American Short Fiction, and in two collections of short stories, the latest of which is Florida.
  • Mat Johnson is the author of the novels Loving Day, Pym, Drop, and Hunting in Harlem, the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot, and the comic books Incognegro and Dark Rain. He is a recipient of the United States Artist James Baldwin Fellowship, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature.
  • Howard Norman‘s new novel, In The Hours Still Left to Us, will be published early in 2019, followed by a memoir, Forms of Prayer in Vermont. Previous novels include The Bird Artist, What Is Left the Daughter, Next Life Might Be Kinder, and My Darling Detective. His most recent memoir is I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place. 

A reading fee of $25 is due upon application. Tuition costs $1,025, and financial assistance is available, including scholarships specifically for Napa County residents. For faculty profiles and application information, visit To join the conference community online, “like” the conference at or follow

Sonoma County Literary Update logo

%d bloggers like this: