Writing Conferences and Retreats

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


Writing Weekend in Point Reyes National Seashore with Patti Trimble

Friday, May 31, 5:00 p.m. to Sunday, June 2, 2:00 p.m.
Spend a weekend writing in community in the Point Reyes wilds! Patti will lead workshops on poetry and prose forms and teach practices for attention, clear thinking, and sensitivity to the natural world. With time to write, wander, and share meals, you’ll leave with inspiration to spare. All levels welcome. Accommodations included at the Historic Lifeboat Station. $365. Details at:


Three-Day Scene Mastery Boot Camp

Geyerserville, June 9-12, 2019
Instructors: Susanne (C. S.) Lakin and Catharine Bramkamp

At this intensive three-day boot camp, we’ll be looking at all the steps needed to take to craft the perfect scene. We’ll be looking at the different types of scenes you can write as well as what kinds of scenes are best for specific places in your story. Genre plays an important part in the style and makeup of a scene, and we’ll also be looking at your writing style and character voice to help you make every word count. Come prepared to work on your scenes for your novel while at this boot camp, as well as help others with their scenes.

The wine country region of Sonoma County provides a sublime backdrop for our Scene Mastery Boot Camp. We’ll be holding our sessions in the newly renovated Geyserville Hotel, a short hop to dozens of local wineries (yes, wine tasting is in the schedule!) and town. We chose Geyserville not just for its great wineries but because it’s a bit off the beatn path, away from the crush of tourists and traffic endemic to the Napa region.

Registration fee includes: three full days of writing instruction and all handout materials. And always: coffee! The cost of the three-day workshop is as follows:

Early Bird rate: $300 (to February 28)
Regular Rate: $360
Fees must be paid in full at the time of registration.

Susanne (C. S.) Lakin is a writing coach, copyeditor, award-winning blogger, and author of more than thirty books, fiction and nonfiction.

Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach bringing her clients from idea to published book and beyond. She has written 17 novels and 3 books on writing.

More details and registration:


Napa Valley Writers’ Conference — July 28 – August 2, 2019

Applications are now open for the 39th Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, The admissions deadline for all applications, including requests for financial assistance, is April 15.

The conference will feature a new literary translation workshop in poetry and prose led by Howard Norman, recipient of the Harold Morton Landon Prize in translation from the Academy of American Poets. His memoir about working in the Arctic with Inuit language and folklore is In Fond Remembrance of Me, and he has led translation seminars and workshops for the Smithsonian Institute and elsewhere throughout the U.S. and Europe.

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

  • Eavan Boland has emerged as one of the foremost voices in Irish literature. She is the author of, most recently, A Woman Without a Country and New Collected Poems. She directs the creative writing program at Stanford University.
  • Forrest Gander is a writer and translator whose most recent poetry collection is Be With. Core Samples from the World was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has taught at Harvard University and Brown University.
  • Jane Hirshfield is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently The Beauty, a San Francisco Chronicle best book of the year. Her second collection of essays, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World, received the 2015 Northern California Book Award.
  • Major Jackson is the author of four books of poetry, including Roll Deep, Holding Company, Hoops, and Leaving Saturn, which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems. He teaches at the University of Vermont, and is Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review.

Fiction workshops will be led by:

  • 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.
  • Ryan Harty is the author of the story collection Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona, which won the John Simmons Award for Short Fiction and was named a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. Harty currently teaches at Columbia University.
  • Mitchell S. Jackson is the author of the memoir Survival Math, to be released in March. His debut novel The Residue Years won the Ernest Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. He teaches at New York University and Columbia University.
  • Julie Orringer’s debut story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her 2010 novel The Invisible Bridge. The Flight Portfolio, her second novel, will be published in May. She teaches at Brooklyn College and Columbia University.

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


The Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference
August 1-3, 2019

The Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference is a three-day festival of workshops, seminars, readings, and other celebrations that bring writers from all over northern California, the West, and the world together. Our 2019 program includes workshops taught by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, Victoria Chang, Shobha Rao, Ismail Muhammad, Scott Sigler, Charlotte Gullick, Mitali Perkins, and Jeannie Vanasco, as well as a juried-in Master Class taught by Myriam Gurba and a full slate of seminars and talks by agents, editors, and industry professionals. This year, we are offering a Speculative Fiction workshop for the first time ever, taught by Scott Sigler, as well as workshops in Novel, Short Fiction, Poetry, Hybrid Nonfiction, Memoir, Middle Grade/Young Adult, and a cross-genre workshop for Emerging Writers. Our keynote speaker is the iconic poet Sharon Olds.

The Novel, Short Story, and Memoir workshops have sold out, and seats are going fast in Hybrid Nonfiction, Middle Grade/Young Adult, and Speculative Fiction. But Poetry, taught by Victoria Chang, still has many seats available—as does Emerging Writers, which also welcomes poets. Victoria is a tenure-track faculty member at the prestigious Antioch University Los Angeles MFA and directs the Idyllwild Arts Writers Week, and is the author of several remarkable collections of poetry, including Barbie Chang from Copper Canyon Press. We’ve enrolled several great writers in the class, but many spots remain open.

For more information and to register:


Sonoma County Writers Camp

Acclaimed authors and writing teachers Ellen Sussman and Elizabeth Stark have put together this five-day event, held in the gorgeous setting –gardens, pond, meadow and woods — of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.

August 7 – 11, 2019 | The Same River Twice: Writing and Revision
Generative writing requires a freedom to stay loose and explore that is backed by the understanding that “writing is rewriting”-that we will return to this page later and fix it. Let’s call this return “regenerative writing.” This session will explore both sides-the wild exploration of the first draft and the practices that let us fruitfully revisit our initial efforts and make them deeper, stronger, more authentic and more powerful.

Info on rooms and fees and how to register:


Four-Day Women’s Writing Retreats at St. Dorothy’s Rest in Camp Meeker

FALL #1: September 20-23, 2019
FALL #2: October 11-14, 2019

With author & writing guide Susan Hagen. Retreat to a private, woodsy cabin in West Sonoma County to write, explore, and deepen your craft. We begin each day with meditation and nature-based practices to quiet the mind. Then we write and share our stories, practicing new skills and techniques. Some writers are working on books or collections of stories, while others come for the freedom to explore and expand their writing lives. Come walk among the trees, eat delicious food, sleep deeply, surprise yourself. This is a safe place for women to write, connect, heal and grow; everything supports the inner life and makes way for deep exploration. Beginning, experienced, and exploring writers of all genres – even NON-writers – are welcome. Registration now open; payment plans available.


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