Memoir: A course in craft (with Lindsey Crittenden)

Lindsey Crittenden




THURSDAYS, JULY 18-25; AUGUST 1-29; Sept 5 |

Writing memoir draws upon all of us.  We are the writer, the narrator, and the character living the events recounted. But which events, and how recounted? Many of us start with a specific period of time or relationship in mind; others memoirists travel over decades in pursuit of a thematic connection. The hardest part is deciding how to organize it all.  Our stories rarely leap fully-formed to the page, however well we think we remember all the pieces.

This class will provide concrete help through exploration and practice of such craft elements as narrative distance, scene and summary, and the handling of time. 


Writing the Unconscious (with Jenny Bitner)

Jenny Bitner




SATURDAY, JULY 20  | Writing is wonderful when it flows, but how can we regularly tap into the flow state? In this class we will explore ways of accessing the unconscious for our writing. We will brainstorm, explore, play writing games, look at our dreams, and explore guided meditation for creativity. I will give you ten activities that you can use outside class to get inspired when the inspiration is not happening, and you will create 23 Ideas for Me — a book that we will brainstorm together with individualized prompts for your writing. This will be three hours (with a 10-minute break) of intense brainstorming, creating, idea-making, and writing that will leave you inspired to write NOW.


Continued Work-in-Progress Workshop (with Lindsey Crittenden)

Lindsey Crittenden




SATURDAYS, JULY 20-27; AUGUST 3-17  | Do you have some pages you’ve taken as far as you can on your own and would like some feedback on? While this class started as a follow-up to Work in Progress Workshop, it is open to any writer with a prose work-in-progress (short story, personal essay, novel or memoir section, etc.) and hankering for solid, constructive feedback.

Please have 10-15 pages ready for workshop by the first class session.  We will spend our time focused on the exchange and reading of student work.  Each week, three to four students will have their pages read and commented on by the entire group.


Plan Your Writing Career (with Laird Harrison)

Laird Harrison




SATURDAY, AUGUST 10 |  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

This class is open to both new and mid-career writers pursuing their passion for the word.


Focus: A Daylong Writing Retreat (with Susan Ito)

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.


One Month to a Kick-Ass Literary LinkedIn Profile (with Lyzette Wanzer)

Lyzette Wanzer




WEDNESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 11-25 —OCTOBER 2  | Are you a writer who suffers from one of these misconceptions?

“LinkedIn is just about finding a job.”

“It’s for executives, lawyers, and doctors, not creative writers!”

“It doesn’t offer anything useful for writers.”

“I’m already on Facebook, so I don’t need it.”

LinkedIn is a social media marketing tool that writers often overlook. It’s a very powerful networking tool that offers a lot for us, and in the Bay Area, is one way to accelerate your success. Learn how to maximize LinkedIn to increase your audience, reinforce your funding applications, meet the Bay Area’s literary movers and shakers, and open opportunities for reading, conference invitations, and publishing.


Revise and Submit Your Story for Publication (with Laurie Ann Doyle)



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.


Flash Fiction: Little Stories with a Big Kick (with Jenny Bitner)

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.


Reading and Writing the Personal Essay (with Mark Wallace)

Mark Wallace



WEDNESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 18-25 —OCTOBER 2-30  | Close reading of great work is one of the best ways to improve your own writing. In this class, you’ll learn how to unlock the secrets of great personal essays and apply them to your work.

The class combines focused, constructive workshopping of student work with an examination of outstanding published essays past and present. We’ll split our time each week between providing feedback on students’ essays and performing a close read of one or more published essays. We’ll talk about some techniques that can be used to “get inside” a piece, and students will put those techniques to work not just in understanding their own work but in learning to provide useful feedback for their fellow writers as well.


So You Want to Write–and Publish–a Book (with Laura Fraser)

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.