Writing Conferences and Retreats

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


Sonoma County Writers Camp

Ellen Sussman and Elizabeth Stark, both acclaimed authors and writing teachers, have put together two wonderful four-plus day events. Held in the gorgeous setting-gardens, pond, meadow and woods-of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, May 3 -7 (SPACES STILL AVAILABLE) & August 2–6 (SOLD OUT), this will be an intimate, inspiring, enormously creative and productive adventure.

May 3–7, 2017
Go Big or Go Home: Lessons in Conflict

Conflict is the heart of story, but many of us have learned (or struggle to learn) to avoid it in life! How, then, do we turn around and make strong, dramatic, life-changing stories? If we are socialized not to “make a scene,” how do we do just that? This camp session will focus on plot decisions, on pushing your characters over the edge, making things happen, getting out of the habit of keeping quiet! Fiction is not life, but a heightened version of life. Same with narrative non-fiction. Get to the heart of your story and let it beat, loud and hard and with great force.



Rewrite Your Life Weekend Immersive: A Healing Creative Writing Workshop

Friday, May 12: 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 13: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 14: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Held at: Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco

According to common wisdom, we all have a book inside of us. But how do you select and then write your most significant story, the one that people line up to read?

We’re inviting you to join us this May to the Rewrite Your Life workshop held at Grace Cathedral. Over the course of three days, you’ll be shown how to mine your life to create resonant, healing fiction and how to organize and structure your time and writing.

Creative writing professor, sociologist, and popular fiction author Jessica Lourey guides you through the redemptive process of crafting a life-changing novel that recycles and transforms your most precious resources: your own emotions and experiences. And she shows you how to complete your book in a year.

Because we are writers who want to support fellow writers, we are offering the Sonoma County Literary Update community a steep discount. Use code SFOWritersDiscount to receive $250 off. Registration includes three days of instruction, two meals, a signed copy of Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction (an exclusive 80-page workbook) and a surprise gift.

The workshop details are available at: (Please note that this workshop is open to all, not just women).

We really hope you’ll join us at the inspiring Grace Cathedral this May, but for those not able, we’re offering a 10% discount to the online version of the workshop. You can find out more at Use code WRITERSREADERS.


Point Reyes Annual Writing Retreat with Patti Trimble

May 25 to May 27, 2017
Point Reyes Historic Lifeboat Station
(Friday evening to Sunday afternoon)

This will be Patti’s last writing workshop until next winter. The Lifeboat Station is a stunning location, at the remote tip of Point Reyes Peninsula, with elephant seals and cormorants for company.

These workshops are designed to deepen your writing practice and hone your observation of the world. In supportive community, with workshops on craft and form, we will write new poetry and short prose, finding surprising words, adding our voices to the conversation-

Please click to read the full description and to register. Or call the Point Reyes Field Institute (415) 663-1200 if you have questions.


Napa Valley Writers’ Conference  July 23-28, 2017

Applications are now open for the 37th Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, The priority admissions deadline is March 31. All applications for financial assistance are also due March 31.

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

  • Eavan Boland is the author of, most recently, A Woman Without a Country and New Collected Poems. Her other books of poetry include Domestic Violence, Against Love Poetry, The Lost Land, and In a Time of Violence. She directs the creative writing program at Stanford University.
  • Jane Hirshfield is the author of eight collections of poetry, most recently The Beauty, long listed for the National Book Award. Her second collection of essays, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World, received the Northern California Book Award. In 2012 she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
  • Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, and a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other books include Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers.
  • Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Sun Bear. Why Poetry, a book of prose, is forthcoming in summer 2017. He directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College of California.

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.
  • Peter Ho Davies is the author of two novels, The Fortunes and The Welsh Girl, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, as well as two short story collections, The Ugliest House in the World and Equal Love. He serves on the faculty of the Helen Zell MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan.
  • Daniel Orozco is the author of Orientation and Other Stories. His work has appeared in the Best American Essays, Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies, among other outlets. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Idaho.
  • ZZ Packer is working on a novel about Reconstruction and the Buffalo Soldiers, and previously authored the story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. She was named one of The New Yorker’s “Best 20 Under 40” American writers and GRANTA’s Best Young American Novelists, and her work has been featured in 100 Years of Best American Short Stories.

A reading fee of $25 is due upon application. Tuition costs $975, and financial assistance is available, including new scholarships for 2017 specifically for Napa County residents; requests for aid are due no later than March 31. For faculty profiles and application information, visit To join the conference community online, “like” the conference at or follow


Mendocino Writers’ Conference and Publishing Bootcamp 2017

Thursday, August 3, 8:30 a.m. – Sunday, August 6, 4:00 p.m.

The Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference is a vibrant gathering that offers morning workshops in a wide range of genres, relevant to differing experience levels—from a dedicated emerging writers’ workshop to a juried-in master class. Afternoons are packed with craft seminars, pitch panels, one-on-one consultations, and open mics; and every evening offers an opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie and connection that make this conference, in the words of a 2016 participant, “life changing.” An add-on or stand-alone publishing bootcamp is offered the day after the conference for all those interested in learning more about the business-end of writing.

Keynote speaker: Michael Krasny

Interactive workshops are restricted to fourteen participants, with the exception of the Master Class which is limited to twelve. Participants will follow their instructors for three mornings, Thursday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Enrollment for all workshops is first come, first served, with the exception of the Master Class which entails a juried entry (submissions for which must be received by May 15). Participants for all workshops will be expected to submit work prior to the workshop, and to read and comment on the work of others. Submission guidelines will be supplied upon enrollment.

Campus: Mendocino K-8 School, 44261 Little Lake Road, Mendocino.

Contact: 707-485-4031 or Details on workshops, instructors, events, and registration:


4-Day Women’s Writing Retreat at St. Dorothy’s Rest in Camp Meeker

Fall Retreat: Friday – Monday, September 22-25, 2017
Winter Retreat: Friday – Monday, January 19-22, 2018

With author & writing guide Susan Hagen. Retreat to a private, woodsy cabin to write, explore, and deepen your craft. We begin each day with meditation, guided imagery, and nature-based practices to quiet the mind. Then we write and share our stories, practicing new skills and techniques to improve our craft. Some writers are working on books or collections of stories, while others come for the freedom to explore and expand their writing lives. Cabin life is relaxing and informal, and someone else does the cooking. Everything supports the inner life and makes way for deep exploration. Beginning, experienced, and exploring writers of all genres are welcome. Payment plans available.


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