Fiction

Upcoming classes: Fiction


Susan Ito

 

 

 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24 | If you’ve longed to attend a writing residency, where quiet, food and uninterrupted time are provided, you can experience a taste of indulgent focus at the Grotto’s first weekend writing retreat. Bring that unfinished story, that new chapter, those poems to our writing nooks and crannies, and enjoy the time and space to write in community with others. You’ll be well fed, supported and inspired to make solid headway with whatever writing project you’re working on.

You’ll get tips from a seasoned writer and writing retreat facilitator on how to make the most of our time together. This full day will include writing time, brief periods of walking (to get those brain cells stimulated), both indoors and outdoors, as well as some sharing and brainstorming. When you’re feeling stuck, an on-call writing coach will be available to help with writing prompts or a pep talk. Nourishing snacks will appear throughout the day, and you’ll be treated to a delicious catered lunch. You’re guaranteed to leave the retreat with fresh pages and the momentum to continue on your own.

 

Susan Ito is the author of The Mouse Room. She co-edited the literary anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. Her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Hip Mama, Hyphen, Catapult, The Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is on the faculty at Mills College and Bay Path University. She has been leading writing and creativity retreats for over ten years.

Contact: susanito@mac.com.

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm

Dates: Saturday, August 24

Course fee: $110


 

 

SUNDAYS, SEPTEMBER 15 & 22  | Whether you have a short story fresh out of the printer, or a memoir piece tucked away in the drawer, this highly interactive, two-session workshop gives you concrete tools to strengthen your work and publish it. Students in this class have gone on to publish in online and print journals, as well as place in national writing contests. In the workshop, we’ll about revision as a process of “re-envisioning” your work, and you’ll learn how to accomplish this in do-able steps. You’ll have the chance to step back and look at your story, assess where it would benefit from more work, and select among different in-class revision exercises to get the process going. At the second session, we discuss strategies to successfully publish your work, detailing effective approaches used by the instructor and other widely-published writers. You’ll come away with a collection of time-tested resources, including recommended websites, sample cover letters, and submission tracking tools. There will also be plenty of time to address your specific questions and concerns, as well as get feedback on your revisions. This workshop is designed for both fiction and memoir writers.

Laurie Ann Doyle is the author of World Gone Missing, which won the Nautilus Book Award in fiction and was praised by New York Times bestselling author Edan Lepucki for delivering “astute portrayals of people desiring connection, hope, and renewal.” She has successfully published over twenty-five stories and essays in journals and anthologies such as The Los Angeles ReviewDogwood Journal, The Rumpus, 100 Word Story, Speak and Speak Again, and Under the Sun. Laurie teaches at The Writers Grotto and U.C. Berkeley Extension, where she is an honored instructor. www.laurieanndoyle.com

Contact: doyle.l@berkeley.edu

Number of sessions: 2

Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00pm

Dates: Sundays, September 15 & 22

Course fee: $150


Jenny Bitner

 

 

TUESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 17 & 24 —OCTOBER 1-22  | Do you want to write the Great American Novel but find it hard to finish a short story? Maybe you need to ease into writing with something you can write a first draft of in a few hours. I believe that before we can tackle a longer piece of writing, it’s important to learn the elements of what make good writing, and the perfect practice ground for this is short fiction.

This class will focus on learning these elements by writing flash fiction (stories under 1500 words). We will discuss different aspects of craft and read some of the best examples of flash. I will give you daily writing prompts, and each week the class will give you feedback on a new story. At the end of the class I will encourage you to send your finished work out into the world.

Jenny Bitner’s short stories and flash fiction have been published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Sun, Mississippi Review and Fence magazine. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia.

Contact: jenny.bitner@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: Tuesdays, September 17 & 24; October 1, 8, 15, 22

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Course fee: $395


Laura Fraser

 

 

THURSDAYS, SEPTEMBER 19-26 —OCTOBER 3  | Whatever kind of book you want to write – fiction, memoir, business, how-to, children’s– this class will help you take an idea you’re passionate about and show you how to develop it, and get it edited, published, and into the hands of readers. We will demystify how to pitch your book, write a proposal, land an agent, and find the right publisher. We’ll discuss ghostwriting, freelance editors, how to handle revisions, cover designs, excerpts, book publicists, and self-publishing vs. legacy publishers. We will also walk you through what you need on your author website, and how to attract readers via social media and other avenues.

This class is for anyone who wants to write a book, at whatever stage of the process. Note that this is not a class for workshopping your book, but for getting it into print. You’ll leave with an elevator pitch, a longer pitch, and a roadmap for turning your book idea into a reality.

Laura Fraser is the author of four non-fiction books, including the New York Times bestseller, An Italian Affair. As the co-founder and editorial director of Shebooks, she published 75 ebooks. She has also ghost-written a couple of books, and coached authors through several others. She’s familiar with the publishing process from agents and auctions to the font type of the pages. She has taught at numerous venues, including, recently, a class on book editing at the Aspen Institute. She brings snacks and a sense of humor to class.


Number of sessions
: 3

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Dates: Thursdays, September 19 & 26; October 3

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Course fee: $225


Lit Starts: Writing Character

Constance Hale

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAYS, SEPTEMBER 23-30 —OCTOBER 7-21  | The Writers Grotto is launching a fun, light-hearted, smart series on the writing craft, called LitStarts. The first four books in the series—Writing Action, Writing Character, Writing Dialogue, and Writing Humor– will be released on September 10. This class will use the series as the basis of five weekly workshops. Constance Hale, who wrote the essay that kicks off Writing Character, will be joined each week by other contributors from the Writers Grotto. Four heads are better than one! The sessions will be lively, helpful, and provocative, and will include in-class writing, using prompts from the book. Longer assignments, which Connie will give feedback on, will use the prompts to generate works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or a hybrid. A copy of one of the books is included in the price of the class. Come and become an early adapter!

Constance Hale is a San Francisco–based journalist and the author of four cheeky writing manuals, a book for adults on hula, and a picture book for children set in Hawai‘i. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many national magazines, and she specializes in profiles and personality sketches. In 2019, her essay on writing profiles kicks off Writing Character, a book chockful of thoughts, tips, and prompts that is part of the Lit Starts series. She can be found at www.sinandsyntax.com

Contact: chale@well.com.

Number of sessions: 5

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Dates: Mondays, September 23, 30; October 7, 14, 21

Course fee: $280


Allison Landa

 

 

SUNDAYS, OCTOBER 6-27; NOVEMBER. 3 | You don’t need a jester’s cap or a red clown nose to make people laugh. It takes a pinch of craft and a judicious seasoning of self-awareness as a writer. Working together through class discussions as well as in-class reading and writing exercises, we’ll explore just how humor can make your writing sing–or caterwaul, depending on your particular voice. Fiction, non-fiction, journalism–this class is appropriate for any genre where you want to add a dash of humor.  Join us!

Allison Landa is a Berkeley-based writer of memoir and fiction whose work has been featured in The Guardian US, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post, among other venues. A graduate of St. Mary’s College of California’s M.F.A. program in creative writing, Allison runs the On the Cusp reading series in San Francisco. You won’t, however, find her running marathons.


Number of sessions
: 5

Contact: allison@allisonlanda.com

Time: 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Dates: Sundays, October 6, 13, 20, 27; November 3

Course fee: $300


Jenny Bitner

 

 

WEDNESDAYS, OCTOBER 9-30; NOVEMBER 6, 13 | What happens when we approach writing like an experiment? Our minds are open, our writing is deep, and there is no room for writers’ block or cliché ideas. Burroughs used cut-up writing, Anaïs Nin made her diary her art, and now novels are being written in tweets and texts. Each week we will explore different experimental styles from surrealism to postmodernism and do exercises to loosen our minds and push us in new directions with our writing. With daily writing prompts and in-class exercises, this class is great for beginning or experienced writers wanting to push their writing in new directions. In the first session we will do a group hypnosis for creativity and for opening our imagination in new directions.

Jenny Bitner’s short stories and flash fiction have been published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Sun, Mississippi Review and Fence magazine. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia. She is also a certified hypnotherapist with an interest in how we can use the unconscious mind for increased creativity.


Number of sessions
: 6

Contact: jenny.bitner@gmail.com

Time: 6 pm – 8:30 pm

Dates: Wednesdays, October 9-30; November 6, 13

Course fee: $395


Lindsey Crittenden

 

 

 

MONDAYS, OCTOBER 14-28; NOVEMBER 4-18 | In this class, we’ll spend six weeks building stories from the foundation up. We’ll celebrate the trouble at the heart of good short fiction. We’ll look at ways to get characters in and out of hot water. We’ll look closely at short stories that achieve unity of purpose, precision of craft, and an emotional wallop. From James Joyce’s “Araby” to Aimee Bender’s “The Rememberer,” we’ll examine not only how each story builds from the first word to the last but how tightly the structure depends upon – and enhances – our understanding of character.

During these six weeks, each student will craft a short story from beginning to end, starting with in-class exercises and prompts. Homework will consist of weekly reading assignments as well as writing. Please be prepared to share your work in a supportive and constructive manner (with guidelines provided by the instructor). If you’ve written short fiction before, or are looking to start, this class will give you concrete help in developing (or tightening) your craft.

Our small class size will facilitate sharing and support.

Note: this class is generative rather than revision-oriented. While you may already have a draft, please be prepared to write (and share) new material.

Lindsey Crittenden‘s stories have won awards and been published in Cimarron Review, Mississippi Review, Glimmer Train, Quarterly West, Santa Monica Review, and other publications. She is the author of an award-winning collection of short fiction, The View from Below, and her story “The Ruins” will be performed on stage by Word for Word in November 2019. An Honored Instructor at U.C. Berkeley Extension, she has taught and developed curricula for creative writing classes since 1995 and loves working with students in finding the story within their stories.


Number of sessions
: 6

Contact: lindsey@lindseycrittenden.com

Dates: Mondays, October 14, 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Course fee: $395 (early bird, registery by Oct. 6); $410 after October 7


Lyzette Wanzer

 

 

 

SATURDAYS, OCTOBER 26; NOVEMBER 2-23 | Writers, it’s time to set aside the bevy of excuses about why you’re not sending your work out to journals, newspapers, magazines, and contests. In this boot camp-style workshop, you’ll focus on submitting a maximum of two short stories, articles, essays, and/or creative nonfiction pieces to 15 markets in just five weeks (poets should be prepared to submit a group of three to five related poems.) In a safe, supportive community, you’ll begin by learning proper submission etiquette and protocol, avoiding pitfalls that mark you as an amateur.

  • Learn where to locate legitimate, respectable markets, including literary journals, contests, and grants
  • Become proficient in navigating the publication landscape
  • Get practical tips on formatting professional submissions
  • Find out what the most popular submission platforms are and how they make your life easier
  • Write your author bio
  • Create a Research Collection Sheet to identify individualized markets
  • Select and use a professional submission tracker
  • This workshop is designed for committed writers who have one or two finished, polished pieces (three to five pieces for poets) of 5,000 words or less that are completed, proofread, and ready to send out for publication. A laptop, notebook computer, or iPad is required for this class.

Lyzette Wanzer is a San Francisco writer, editor, and creative writing workshop instructor. She received her M.F.A. in Fiction from Mills College. A flash fiction connoisseur and essay aficionado, her work has appeared in Callaloo, Tampa Review, The MacGuffin, Ampersand Review, Journal of Advanced Development, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Pleiades, Flashquake, Glossalia Flash Fiction, Potomac Review, International Journal on Literature and Theory, Fringe Magazine, The Naked Truth, and many others. She is the recipient of an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, three Individual Artist Commission grants from San Francisco Arts Commission, and three Professional Development Grants from the Creative Capacity Fund.

Number of sessions: 5

Contact: RoadKing1200@gmail.com

Time: 11:00 am – 1:30 pm

Dates: Saturdays, October 26; November 2, 9, 16, 23.

Course fee: $330


Laird Harrison

 

 

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27 |

Getting published is a thrill, but competition is stiff. To succeed, you have to carefully plan your career.

In this survey course, you’ll create a roadmap to your fondest literary ambitions. Do you want to make money? Get published in top magazines? Hit the bestseller list? You’ll learn to evaluate the market for your work by analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, finding your competitive edge and identifying your niche. You’ll lay out each step you must take to get from where you are to where you want to be.

This course will include a concise overview of the following topics:

  • Setting goals
  • Psychological obstacles
  • Market research
  • Accounting
  • Negotiating rates
  • Pitching
  • Time management
  • Professional organizations
  • Contracts
  • Working with literary agents
  • Developing relationships with editors and publishers

Number of sessions: 1

Contact: lairdharrison@gmail.com

Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Dates: Sunday, October 27

Course fee: $95

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