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The Writing Life

Writing from the Body

by John Lee

Paperback – 144 pages (December 1994)
St. Martin’s Press; ISBN: 0312115369 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.45 x 8.22 x 5.46

List Price: $10.95 Our Price: $9.31 You Save: $1.64 (15%)

 

“Let Me Ask You a Question” – The Art of the Interview

Saturday, May 2nd, 2:30-5:30 p.m.
$55 members/$65 non-members    San Francisco

Special Package Deal: Take this afternoon Interviewing workshop along with Cary’s morning “Breaking into Magazine Writing” workshop and get a discount: $95 for members, $115 for non-members.  You must be sure to select the “Breaking into Mags/Interviewing” option when you register.

“In order to write a good magazine article, you have to do good research,” says instructor Cary Pepper. “And part of doing good research is doing a good interview. In this class you’ll learn: how to get that interview…the pros and cons of interviewing in person and by phone…how to prepare so you’re at your best… techniques for getting good quotations…how to control an interview…what to do when things don’t go as planned…how to make the most of unexpected moments…and what to do if an interview begins to go bad.

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Get Your Book Published: The Ins, Outs, Ups and Downs

dianne-jacobheadshot2008Saturday, July 11th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.    San Francisco
$55 members/ $65 non-members           REGISTER

If you’re writing a book and hope to have it published, you’ll be that much more successful if you understand how the publishing industry works and what editors and agents want. Join instructor Dianne Jacob at this primer that looks at how to get happily published. In today’s rapidly changing world, what exactly does the book industry want?

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Breaking into Magazine Writing – The rules of the game

Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm   San Francisco
$95 members/$110 non-members
(this class is not currently scheduled)

“I’ve done stories on everything from home computers to a profile of the Emmy Award-winning sound engineer who worked on Basic Instinct,” says Cary Pepper. “But my favorite was the one I did about a new reading program for kindergartners; the kids pulled me right into the class, and I learned more that one day than I ever learned in kindergarten. That’s one of the things I love most about magazine writing — it’s a constant learning process. It gives you a license to probe into the world. It’s also the most accessible way to break into professional writing. Even when you have no publishing credits, if you come up with the right idea, and pitch it to the right editor at the right time, you can get the assignment.” Read the rest of this entry »

Q & A Roundtable: The Ins and Outs of Publishing Commerical Fiction

One Friday, 7 to 10 p.m. (this class is not currently scheduled)
$35 members/$45 non-members      Berkeley & SF

“‘But what do editors  want!’ is something I hear all the time, and the answer is always ‘It depends,’ says Nick Mamatas. “I’ve edited an award-winning science fiction magazine, published a ghost anthology with a major publisher, and now  work full-time running a science fiction imprint. I’ve also sold several books of my own, in various genres, to publishers of all shapes and sizes.

“What people think they already know about publishing commercial fiction – such as creating platforms and following trends – often hurts them as much as what they really don’t know. Writing last year’s movie isn’t going to cut it .”

Bring plenty of questions about agents, editors, submissions (or self-publishing), and commercial-versus-literary fiction to this free-form, wine & cheese get-together — and get answers from a working pro.

Note: The focus of this roundtable will be on commercial fiction (ie. science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries, and romance). Nick also teaches our 5-week Commercial Fiction class.

Nick Mamatas is the author of three novels: Under My Roof (Counterpoint), Move Under Ground (Prime Books), and the forthcoming Sensation (PM Press). He’s also published over sixty short stories in genre magazines, literary journals, and anthologies, some of which were recently collected in You Might Sleep (Prime Books). His fiction has been nominated for both the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild awards, and as editor of the online magazine Clarkesworld Nick has been nominated for the World Fantasy award and science fiction’s Hugo award. He currently teaches online at Western Connecticut State University, edits science fiction and fantasy for VIZ Media, and is awaiting the release of his next anthology, Haunted Legends (Tor Books), co-edited with Ellen Datlow.

Read Testimonials for Nick here

Kathleen McClung: Memoir Writing – Mine & Refine Your Memories

mcclungnew25 Saturdays, November 5 – December 10, 2-4:30pm 
Skip November 26
$275 members/$295 others  
Testimonials for Kathleen

*Class is sold out. If you’d like to be placed on the waiting list, send an email to hello@writingsalons.com.

Memoir is not reserved only for the rich and famous. Beautiful and haunting memoirs—books and essays—can grow out of our ordinary lives, carefully observed. Both the distant past and the not-so-long ago can be mined, remembered and re-created in writing. This class is a guide to the mining and refining process.

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Kate Montgomery: Screenwriting – The Rewrite & Polish

Katie Montgomery Screenwriting5 Tuesdays, January 17 – February 14, 7-9:30pm
$275 members/$295 non-members   
Testimonials for Kate

So, you’ve finished the first draft of your screenplay? Congratulations! This is no small feat. Celebrate. Brag a little. And take a break—you’ve earned it!

But now get ready to sit back down and start working on that rewrite.

“I’ve never heard of a first draft that was camera-ready,” says instructor Kate Montgomery, “so the key at this stage is to identify what works and what is not quite there yet. Many imperfections will be instantly obvious as you return to your script after a short break. But others will ‘hide in plain sight’. This is why it’s so helpful to have the support and feedback of fellow screenwriters who can help you spot any weaknesses or missed opportunities—and who will thank you for helping them to do the same.”

In this course, we’ll all put our first drafts through a series of “passes” to check and double-check the plotting, character development, dialogue, and pacing. Each screenwriter will learn the Hollywood process of script analysis known as “coverage”. At the very least, your screenplay should be a polished and professional writing sample that opens doors with agents and producers.

“Writing is re-writing,” says Kate. “But this doesn’t have to be a tedious chore. Through reader feedback, scene readings, and fun brainstorming and improv sessions, you will have the opportunity to see your script though fresh eyes and explore alternatives to what is currently on the page.”

Kate Montgomery wrote, directed and produced the Sundance indie feature Christmas in the Clouds, which won top honors at festivals in Austin, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale, and endorsements from Oprah Winfrey & Roger Ebert. She executive produced the micro-indie, Ever Since the World Ended, which won at the SF Indie Fest and the London Sci-Fi Film Festival. She has optioned & sold screenplays to producers and studios in the US, Canada and UK, and works for hire as a script editor and production consultant. Her current feature projects include the Italian romantic comedy Pane Vine, and the western Stealing Lily, for which she also wrote the adaptation.

Creating Fiction: Instructions and Insights from Teachers of our Associated Writing Programs

edited by Julie Checkoway

Hardcover
– 304 pages (April 1999)
Story Pr; ISBN: 1884910408 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 1.19 x 9.37 x 6.45

List Price: $18.99 Our Price: $13.29 You Save: $5.70 (30%)

 

The Elements of Style

by William Strunk and E.B. White

Paperback
(August 1999)
Anchor; ISBN: 020530902X;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.61 x 7.97 x 5.20

List Price: $6.95, Our Price: $5.56, You Save: $1.39 (20%)

Hardcover – 239 pages (September 1994)
Pantheon Books; ISBN: 0679435204;
Dimensions (in inches): 1.05 x 8.32 x 5.27

List Price: $14.95, Our Price: $10.47, You Save: $4.48 (30%)

 

Creative Writing Smorgasbord! – An introductory class

JoshMohr

Five Tuesdays, April 14-May 12, 7-9:30 p.m.
$185 members/$215 non-members
Berkeley

Note: This class, as well as the “Exploring Creative Nonfiction” class, are both good general “exploration” classes. Neither  focuses on just one genre; instead, they introduce you to a sampling of different genres and/or sub-genres.

Chekhov said that writing should “hit the reader on the snout.” A metaphor, sure, but fantastic advice for apprentice writers: a reminder that art needs a unique, compelling personality. In this class, students will nibble on appetizers from all the major genres—fiction, creative nonfiction, memoir, poetry, and others.

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Humor Writing: Transforming Life’s Disasters into Laughter, Part II

6 Fridays, once a month, 7-9:30 p.m.
$335 members/$365 others (plus $5 for Pamela’s hefty handout, payable at first class)     San Francisco 
(this class is not currently scheduled)

Pamela Bass is a teacher who challenges her students to combine depth with irony, meaning with wit. As Anne Lammott suggests, “Risk placing real emotion at the center of your work…Tell the truth as you understand it…it is a revolutionary act.”

For students who have already taken Pamela’s  “Humor Writing: Transforming Life’s Disasters into Laughter” (or the equivalent) this class will build on your knowledge of how to write the humor essay. For fiction or memoir writers who don’t usually write essays but want to spice up their prose with humor, this class will give you much needed tools. Above all, it will help you set deadlines and meet goals.

Maybe you want to finish some incomplete writing exercises from a past class. Maybe you want to put together an essay collection or infuse a memoir chapter with hilarity. Maybe you need motivation to build a regular writing practice that doesn’t end when your class ends.

“For the artistically unemployed and for writers who need a kick in the you-know-what, to continue their humor writing (or to get that witty memoir written) this class will offer not just concrete deadlines but the tools to enrich your writing, and a community to support you in achieving your goals.”

You will be exposed to new humor essayists from whom you will draw inspiration and learn new techniques. Readings will include: Mark Twain, Margaret Cho and David Sedaris among others. You will read 1-2 essays each month as well as the work of your peers. At each monthly gathering student writing will be workshopped and discussed in a supportive and constructive environment. You’ll do some in-class exercises, and a great deal more at home. Each student will complete at least one essay and one revision. Each student will set their own goals and the class will support you in meeting them. Some students might work on refining one essay, while others may work on building a portfolio of rough drafts.

In between classes you will have email dates with writing partners and regular check-ins with Pamela. You will receive written feedback from Pamela and your peers. Class lectures and discussions will introduce or deepen your understanding of craft concepts.

“Not only will we review the use of exaggeration and metaphor along with other humor tools, we’ll examine what it takes to craft an impactful piece from start to finish! As always, we’ll conclude with a public reading of your witty tales, for a supportive audience of invited friends at a local café or bookstore.”

*If you have not taken Pamela’s Humor Writing I class but want to explore your funny side, please email jane@writingsalons.com before registering for the class.  She’ll help you decide if this class is appropriate for you.

Pamela Alma Bass, who earned her MFA in creative writing at USF, has maintained her sanity by transforming her life’s disasters into comedy. Her humorous essay, hailed by the SF Chronicle as “hilariously clear-eyed,” can be found in the anthology I Should Have Gone Home. Excerpts from her novel-in-progress can be found in the anthologies Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009 and Hot Flashes: sexy little stories & poems I & II. Her writing has won awards from Glimmer Train and Traveler’s Tales. She blogs for The Huffington Post about the absurdity of parenting twins. www.pamelaalmabass.com

Jenny Pritchett: Personal Essays – Tell Your Real-Life Stories

5 Saturdays, May 13 – June 17 (skip May 27), 10:30am-1pm  Berkeley  
$275 members/$295 non-members 

Testimonials for Jenny

Have you always wanted to write about your crazy family? What about an accident that changed the course of your life? A discovery that changed your perception of the past? A mysterious neighbor whose comings and goings excite your imagination? If you know you want to, but you don’t know where to start, this is your class. “By the end,” says Jenny, “you’ll walk away with a rough draft of a personal essay.

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Lori Ostlund: Setting and Backstory – Two Underutilized Tools for Thinking about Character and Conflict

5 Sundays, April 9 – May 7, 10:30am-1pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members   

In this class we will address setting and backstory, two tools of fiction writing that are rich in potential but are underutilized. Writers often think of setting as simply the place and time in which events occur, but in this class we will first focus on setting as a way to shape and reveal a character, and we will then discuss the ways that setting can be used to isolate or challenge a character, leading to conflict.

“Over the years, numerous students have told me that they don’t feel comfortable writing backstory or have been told to avoid backstory,” says instructor Lori Ostlund. “My general philosophy is to utilize all tools, and backstory is one more tool to help writers make sense of their characters and give meaning to the plot. In this class we will look at ways to incorporate backstory through summary, exposition, flashback, and narrator recollection. We will also discuss some of the reasons that backstory has gotten a bad rap.”

We will look at examples from short stories and novels and engage in in-class exercises that focus on setting and backstory. Participants will use these exercises to create work at home, which we will workshop during the last two weeks of class. “My goal,” Lori says, “is for us to think about these craft elements in ways that are new and generative.”

Lori Ostlund’s novel After the Parade (Scribner, 2015) was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, was a finalist for the 2016 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her first book, a story collection entitled The Bigness of the World, won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the 2009 California Book Award for First Fiction. Stories from it appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Scribner reissued the collection in early 2016. Lori received the 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and a fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Most recently, her work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Southern Review, and the Kenyon Review.

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft

by Janet Burroway

Paperback – 480 pages 5th edition (July 1999)
Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0321026896 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.76 x 9.26 x 6.40

List Price: $38.00 Our Price: $30.40 You Save: $7.60 (20%)

 

Sin and Syntax : How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose

by Constance Hale

Hardcover – 224 pages 1 Ed edition (June 1, 1999)
Broadway Books; ISBN: 0767903080
Dimensions (in inches): 1.14 x 8.56 x 5.32

List Price: $20.00, Our Price: $14.00, You Save: $6.00 (30%)

 

Tune In to Your Inner Editor – For writers in ALL genres!

Cheryl Ossola Sunday, April 5th, 10 am to 4 pm; San Francisco
$95 members/$110 non-members

Would you like to learn how to recognize the deadwood in your copy? Do you want to write punchier sentences, free of redundancies and clunky phrasing? Does an assigned word count fill you with fear?

If you’re like most writers, you probably have trouble editing your own work. Sure, it would be nice to hire an editor every time you needed one, “but let’s face it,” says instructor Cheryl Ossola, “most of us are on our own.” So why not tune in to your inner editor? Come spend a day learning how to prune text without sacrificing content, thus making more room for all the facts and insights that give your writing power.

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Breaking into Magazine Writing

pepperforwebsite15 Tuesdays, 7/14-8/18 (skip 7/21), 7-9:30 p.m. REGISTER
$185 members/$215 non-members San Francisco

ATTENTION: CLASS CANCELLED. We might be able to reschedule it later in the session. If you are interested, please send an email to jane@writingsalons.com, letting her know this.

“I’ve done stories on everything from home computers — back when only three companies were making them — to a portrait of the Sherman House (a landmark hotel that survived the 1906 earthquake) to a profile of the Emmy Award-winning sound engineer who worked on Basic Instinct,” says Cary Pepper. “But my favorite piece is probably the one I did about a new reading program for kindergartners; the kids pulled me right into the class and I learned more that one day than I ever learned in kindergarten. That’s one of the things I love most about magazine writing — it’s a constant learning process. It gives you a license to probe into how the world — and the people in it — work. It’s also the most accessible way to break into professional writing. Even when you have no publishing credits, if you come up with the right idea, and pitch it to the right editor at the right time, you can get the assignment.”

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Show a Lot, Tell a Little – Creative writing in a nutshell!

Saturday, Oct. 16th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. San Francisco
$95 members/$110 non-members

Attention: This class is no longer available. Sorry.

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In just about any writing class, you will hear these words: “Show don’t tell!” But how do you do that?  “Ground your readers in their senses,” says Jane Underwood. “Run from abstractions, straight into the arms of all that is concrete — peaches, hurricanes, airplane roars, empty drawers, itching wounds.

During this day of sensory exploration, we’ll explore ways to come up with juicy images and details — descriptions that dance and breathe, scenes that taste and smell, characters that sing and shout, stories that are soft as the nape of a baby’s neck…or hard as a tack.

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Kathy Garlick: Tweaked Daily Write “Round Robin” – Creativity, Community, Commitment

garlick-2

July 10 – September 4
8 weeks of daily online activity (facilitated by Kathy)
Plus in-person final meeting
Sunday, September 4, 10:30am – 1pm (optional)
$195 members/$225 others

  

The imagination is like a muscle: The more you use it, the better it performs and the quicker you get ideas of higher caliber.—Dean Koontz

“The more you use your writing muscles,” said Jane Underwood, founder of the Writing Salons, and creator of Round Robin, “the more you tone and strengthen them. In the Round Robin, you practice writing every day, just as piano students practice scales and swimmers do laps. The only difference is that the Round Robin is more fun.”

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Finding Your Writer’s Voice

by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall

Paperback – 256 pages (January 1997)
St. Martin’s Press; ISBN: 0312151284 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.70 x 8.27 x 5.51

List Price: $13.95 Our Price: $11.86 You Save: $2.09 (15%)

 

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English

by Patricia T. O’Connor

Paperback – 227 pages (August 1998)
Riverhead Books; ISBN: 1573226254 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.67 x 8.06 x 5.20

List Price: $11.00 Our Price: $8.80 You Save: $2.20 (20%)

Hardcover – 227 pages (September 1996)
Putnam Pub Group (T); ISBN: 0399141960 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.97 x 8.38 x 5.44

List Price: $16.95 Our Price: $11.87 You Save: $5.08 (30%)

 

Flash Fiction – Yes, less can be more!

BoothDavidNew.jpgSaturday, May 19th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. San Francisco
$85 members/$95 non-members

register_off-70x18.gifAsked why she wrote flash fiction, writer Diane Williams said, "I need thrills…quick thrills, …[I need to] get answers fast and get relief."  The hallmarks of flash fiction are brevity, conciseness, suggestion, and surprise. Coming in at under 1500 words, and sometimes as short as a few pithy sentences, it not only gives us quick thrills but also sudden, often profound insights into the human drama. "In this class we’ll read some of the very best flash fiction written in the past 20 years," says instructor David Booth. "We’ll ask many questions about the form: what about this story makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up? How can I create moments of surprise and sudden shifts in the reader’s perception? How do plot, character, setting, and dialogue work in a story that fits on a postcard? We’ll develop our own recipes for flash fiction—our own original concoctions.  Come to the Writing Salon with your sleeves rolled up: we’ll read some wonderful stories and write a few of our own!"

David Booth has led many fiction workshops at the Writing Salon and San Francisco State University.  He currently teaches fiction in the MFA writing program at the University of San Francisco.  His flash fiction has appeared in a dozen journals, including Switchback, Absomoly, Quick Fiction, The Carriage House Review, and Sudden Stories: A Mammoth Anthology of Miniscule Fiction.

Magazine Writers Roundtable

pepperforwebsite1

Friday, Nov. 20th, 7-10 p.m.  San Franciscoregister_off-70x18
$35 members/$45 non-members

You’ve taken the magazine writing class (or maybe you haven’t), and you’re out there, trying to make it all work: seeking ideas for articles, finding markets for your pitches, putting together query letters, and dealing with editors — before, during and after assignments. Have questions? Want a little advice? Curious about how other people are doing it? Feel like exchanging ideas about what’s working and what’s not? Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Your Writer’s Voice – Learn how to hear what’s already there

delorenzochris.jpg Saturday, July 17th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. San Francisco
$95 members/$110 non-members

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Note: We also offer a 9-week version of this class, which many people take on a regular basis.  It’s an excellent class for beginners or anyone else who wants to keep generating new material while exploring their voice as a writer.

We all have unique “writing voices,” but often we can’t really “hear” those voices ourselves, even when others can. This half-day workshop will aim to help you hear the sound of your authentic writing voice, because once you feel secure with the individuality of your voice, you’ll grow immeasurably as a writer.

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Jumpstart Your Blog

Saturday Aug. 10th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.    Berkeley
$95 members/$110 others

Do you want to clarify your blog’s purpose? Commit (or re-commit) to a more regular blogging practice? Has “write on my blog” been languishing on your to-do list for far too long?

If your blog is in need of rejuvenation or resuscitation, this workshop will give you fresh inspiration, help you explore new directions, and also dispense some brass tacks information.

“Three obstacles people encounter when they start to blog,” says Britt Bravp, “are time, traffic and topics. I can give you tools to help you overcome these obstacles, jumpstart your blog, and very possibly fall in love with it all over again!”

“We’ll talk about how to find more time to blog, how to create an editorial calendar, how to increase traffic and readership, and how to format your posts to better draw readers in.

“But more importantly, we’ll also discuss ways to rev up your enthusiasm by learning how to generate more fun topics, how to develop your own unique blogging “voice,” and how to write different types of posts (e.g. personal story, how-to, and guest posts).”

Please bring to class:

* Print-outs of 2-3 blog posts that make you say, “I wanna blog like that!”
* A photo of an experience, or event you’d like to write about on their blog
* 2-3 magazines you don’t mind cutting up

Britt Bravo is a blogger, podcaster, creative career coach, and social media consultant for artists, creative entrepreneurs and nonprofits. She began blogging in 2005 with the launch of her personal blog, Have Fun * Do Good. Since then, she has written for the Huffington Post, WEtv’s WE Volunteer blog, BlogHer, NetSquared, the Stanford Social Innovation Review Opinion Blog, WorldChanging, The Extraordinaries, and the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship blog. She also produces the Big Vision Podcast, and the Arts and Healing Podcast. In 2007, the East Bay Express named her the Best Podcaster/Blogger Most Dedicated to Social Change. Britt is a frequent speaker about blogging and social media, and has presented at events such as the Bioneers, BlogHer Conference, Ladies Who Launch, Stanford Women’s Leadership Conference, Writing for Change Conference, and San Francisco Writer’s Conference. For more information about her work, go to www.brittbravo.com.

David Hill: Intro to Fiction – Discover the Writer Within

David Hill copy5 Mondays, July 11 – Aug 8, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$215 members/$245 others     
Student Testimonials

“The only way, I think, to learn to write short stories is to write them, and then to try to discover what you have done.”
–Flannery O’Connor, “Writing Short Stories”

“Whether we know it or not, most of us have a well-developed, intuitive sense of how to tell a story,” says instructor David Hill. “Whenever we begin a conversation with, ‘You won’t believe what happened today,’ or, ‘Promise you won’t tell anyone this,’ what follows is most likely a story, and often a pretty good one. But when we sit down to write, we don’t know where to begin. Our knowledge of how to tell a story floats right out of our heads.”

In this workshop students will discover the writer within themselves, developing their understanding of the craft through the practice of writing. We will focus on the fundamentals of fiction: plot, setting, and character development. In addition to reading and lively discussion of brief essays on craft and exemplary works of fiction, students will engage in a variety of writing exercises designed to deepen their understanding of how fiction works.

Writers of all levels are welcome, both beginners and those who want to brush up on the fundamentals.

David William Hill served as assistant editor for two oral history books: Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives (McSweeney’s, 2008) and Invisible Hands: Voices from the Global Economy (McSweeney’s, 2014). He currently serves on the editorial staff of Chicago Quarterly Review. His fiction has appeared in [PANK], Chicago Quarterly Review, Hobart, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and Cimarron Review, among others, and he was a finalist for both a Glimmer Train prize and the Montana Prize in Fiction. He holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and has taught creative writing at San Francisco State, Academy of Art University, and City University of Hong Kong.

In the Palm of Your Hand: The Poet’s Portable Workshop

by Steve Kowit

Paperback – 288 pages (June 1995)
Tilbury House Publishers; ISBN: 0884481492 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.76 x 8.94 x 5.96

List Price: $14.95 Our Price: $11.96 You Save: $2.99 (20%)

 

Get Published: 100 Top Magazine EditorsTell You How

by Diana Gage and Marcia Coppess

Paperback – 590 pages Rev&Updtd edition (March 1994)
Henry Holt (Paper); ISBN: 0805026894 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 1.68 x 8.94 x 5.98

List Price: $17.95 Our Price: $15.26 You Save: $2.69 (15%)

 

Intro to Screenwriting – The five stages of writing any screenplay

Five Sundays, June 3rd thru July 1st, 7-9:30 p.m. San Francisco
$165 members/$195 non-members

The basic premise behind almost every successful feature film can be stated in one simple sentence: Someone we care about wants something badly and is having a terrible time getting it. "Pretty simple, right?" says instructor Terrel Seltzer.  "But how do you make a character sympathetic? How do you establish a compelling desire?  How do you structure rising tension so that the Hollywood Reader keeps turning the page? That’s the art and the craft of screenwriting." 

In this class, every aspect of writing your screenplay will be explored in the following five stages:  Story Concept; Characters; Plot Structure; Individual Scenes; Writing Visually. "As in my nine-week class," says Terrel, "my approach is to teach by personal example, to provide a professional insider’s look at the screenwriting process.  By studying scripts of well known movies and referencing my own work, I’ll take you through the process of choosing and writing a viable story premise, and then how to work that premise into a feature length screenplay." Writing assignments (for those who want to do them) will encourge students to devolop an idea, or to hone an alreadly written screenplay into a more polished spec script.

Terrel Seltzer is a self-taught screenwriter. She learned the craft by watching and outlining literally hundreds of movies.  Her career started in the Bay Area, working with SF director Wayne Wang, for whom she wrote the screenplays for the independent films Chan is Missing and Dim Sum. Her two produced Hollywood screenplays are How I Got into College (with Lara Flynn Boyle and Anthony Edwards) and One Fine Day (with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Cloony). Currently, she has two scripts in development: Magick written for director Robert Zemeckis at Dreamworks,  and Foolproof, a spec script recently optioned by Warner Brother Classics.

Humor Writing – Transforming life’s disasters into laughter

pamelabass21 Nine Weeks, 7-9:30 p.m. San Francisco
$335 members/$365 others (this class is not currently scheduled)

Have you ever noticed that your most neurotic traits make for funny stories? Have you found yourself laughing over past personal disasters? In this class you’ll explore ways to craft these tales into prose. “Director Mike Nichols once said, ‘The great thing about being an artist is that for most people a shitty day is just a shitty day, but for us it’s all material,'” notes instructor Pamela Bass. Class members will explore the writings of funny writers such as Anne Lamott, David Sedaris and Jazmin Darznik. You’ll also do in-class and take-home writing exercises, to be shared and discussed in a supportive way.

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Exploring Your Writer’s Voice – 9-Week Class

delorenzochris.jpg9 Wednesdays, Oct. 13-Dec. 15 (9 weeks, skip 11/24), 7-9:30 p.m.
$335 members/$365 others
San Francisco

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We all have “writing voices,” but often we can’t really “hear” those voices ourselves, even when others can. In this class, you’ll learn to hear what’s unique about your writing voice, jumpstart your writing, and produce new work.

“What I want you to get out of this workshop,” says instructor Chris DeLorenzo, “is a sense of how your voice comes across as one-of-a-kind, and how writing can be fun and experimental.  Only then can you learn to let go of self-conscious writing—writing that sounds the way you think it’s supposed to sound.”

The exercises in this class focus on producing writing with concrete details, description and dialogue, along with a healthy dose of playfulness to balance the serious stuff.

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Fake Poetry Publishing

This is NOT a real course. We’re just testing a new shopping cart! Thank you.

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Elaine Beale: Creative Writing Boot Camp

elainebeale825093 Sundays, September 11 – September 25, 2-5pm 
$170 members/$190 others 
Testimonials for Elaine

You’re interested in improving your creative writing skills and you definitely want to write more. But attending a five- or nine-week class just won’t fit into your busy schedule. It’s too challenging to make anything more than a short-term commitment for now.

This workshop is designed for people just like you. Over three weeks, we’ll put you on the fast track to becoming a better writer and help you figure out how to get more writing done.

Over a short time, you’ll learn the fundamentals of what makes good writing. You’ll learn how to avoid the common mistakes made by “apprentice” writers. You’ll get an opportunity to practice writing skills, get feedback, and get your creative juices flowing. And you’ll get support in developing a writing routine that works for you.

“Of course, every writer’s voice is different and everyone has their own individual style,” says instructor Elaine Beale. “Nevertheless, there are some fundamental guidelines to writing effective and powerful creative prose. Everyone should learn them. In fact, learning those guidelines can help you find your voice as a writer.”

Designed for anyone who wants to newly explore creative writing or improve their skills, Creative Writing Boot Camp will be highly interactive. There’ll be lively discussion, in-class exercises, and plenty of inspiration. What’s more, each week you’ll leave with materials and assignments that will help you put into practice what you’ve learned.

“We’ll pack a lot in,” says Elaine. “It will definitely be a ‘boot camp.’ But it will also be a fun, focused, and highly productive three weeks.”

Elaine Beale’s second novel, Another Life Altogether, was published by Random House in 2010. It has received praise from the Boston Globe, Lambda Literary, Curve Magazine, the Bay Area Reporter, and Publishers Weekly, among others, and it was featured in Oprah Magazine. Elaine was the winner of the 2007 Poets and Writers California Writers Exchange Award and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She has taught creative writing for more than a decade.

Inventing Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir

by William Zinsser

Paperback – 224 pages Revised edition (May 1998)
Houghton Mifflin Co (Pap); ISBN: 0395901502 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 8.28 x 5.55

List Price: $13.00 Our Price: $10.40 You Save: $2.60 (20%)

 

How to Get Happily Published

by Judith Appelbaum

Paperback – 380 pages 5th edition (April 1998)
HarperCollins (paper); ISBN: 0062735098 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.97 x 8.02 x 5.34

List Price: $14.00 Our Price: $11.20 You Save: $2.80 (20%)

 

Write from Real Life – Personal Essays Workshop

register_off-70x18.gifNine Sundays,  July 15th thru Sept. 22nd

(no class Sept. 2nd), 7-9:30 p.m. Berkeley
$315 members/$345 non-members

This class combines the energy and expertise of two of our favorite teachers, Suzy Parker and Alison Luterman. Suzy will help you get those creative juices flowing. She’ll rip through the nuts and bolts of the personal essay by presenting dozens of quick and clever exercises, and by examining your own and other people’s essays. "I like to pack as much into class as possible," says Suzy. "Students will leave every week with an abundance of new and imaginative ideas."

Alison will focus on helping you to identifying your personal themes, the stories you each return to tell, over and over again. "Every one of us is neck-deep in the middle of our own long and winding stories – stories that, when shared, can help us to bridge the gap between ourselves and the rest of the world," she says. "What’s wonderful about finding and honing these stories – about being a writer, in fact – is that it redeems everything, even the moment of burning shame when you flunked the driving test three times, even the fact that you could never decide what you wanted to be when you grew up. It reminds you that once you were twenty and limber and unafraid to sleep in the cornfield when hitchhiking across France. And, like the smell of fresh coffee or the first kiss of summer on your cheek, it heightens the senses. We’ll workshop your essays from the standpoint of craft, voice, and structure, using the techniques of fiction writing, playwriting, and even poetry to enliven your writing."

Suzy Parker has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, The Sun, Hope, the Chattahoochee Review, Salon.com, ZYZZYVA and elsewhere. Her commentaries have aired on NPR’s Morning Edition and KQED’s Perspectives. She is a winner of the Richard J. Margolis National Literary Award, the California Independent Newspapers’ Writer Prize and the Best of the West Award for most outstanding columnist in a daily newspaper west of the Mississippi. The movie rights to her memoir, Tumbling After, have been optioned by HBO. Her personal essay column appears weekly in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Alison Luterman has been shamelessly telling tales from her own life ever since she could grip a sweaty pencil. She has published essays in The Sun, Radiance, Response, The East Bay Express, and The Boston Phoenix. Her book of poems, The Largest Possible Life, won The Cleveland State University Poetry Prize. She has taught poetry to thousands of school children through California Poets in the schools. The great love of her life is performing improvisational dance, singing, storytelling and poetry through the Wing It! performance ensemble. She has given workshops and readings around the country, and recently completed her first full-length play, Saying Kaddish with my Sister.

"Alison Luterman’s teaching style…."

"…touching and delicious…"

 "Thanks to everyone…"

"…I’ve already gotten my money’s worth!…"

Busting through Writer’s Block

elainebeale82509Saturday, Oct. 17th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.     San Franciscoregister_off-70x18
$95 members/$110 non-members

ATTENTION: This class is no longer open. Please don’t register for it.

Writer’s block.  It’s the curse of even the most experienced writer and stops beginners before they’ve even put a word on the page.  We may believe that we want to write, but instead we find ourselves rearranging the spice rack, repainting the kitchen, sorting our sock drawer.  Or perhaps we do actually get down a few sentences, but we don’t like what we’ve written or even if we do, we don’t think anyone else will be interested in what we have to say.  Or we just feel uninspired, in need of an infusion of energy.

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Approaching Difficult Material With Craft and Courage

5 Tuesdays, Oct. 12th-Nov. 9th, 7-9:30 p.m. Berkeley
$185 members/$215 others

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Writing about physical illness, emotional pain, childhood trauma, addiction, and other difficult circumstances can present writers with some unique challenges, and also some unique opportunities.  How can we ensure that deeply personal writing will be compelling and even luminous for our readers? How can we avoid getting mired in emotional or linguistic ruts? That’s where both the craft and the courage come in!

“When we dive consciously and skillfully into personally difficult material, whatever the genre, we can deepen our ability to see and hold complexity, name truth, and, ultimately, connect with our readers – as well as with ourselves – more powerfully,” says instructor Ruth L. Schwartz.

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Fake Fiction Class

$365 Add to Cart

this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).

this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales). this class is on sale from Aug 2 to Aug 4 (testing sales).

Ben Jackson: Intro to Creative Writing

Ben_Jackson5 Tuesdays, August 16 – September 20, 7-9:30pm   Berkeley
Skip August 23
$215 members/$245 others  
Testimonials 

In this beginner’s course, you’ll be introduced to creative nonfiction (i.e., personal essays/memoirs), fiction, and poetry. Ben will give you writing prompts to spark your imagination and to draw out stories. In fun and instructive exercises, you’ll explore craft basics such as developing compelling characters and creating believable dialogue.

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The Observation Deck: A Tool Kit for Writers

by Naomi Epel

Paperback – 160 pages Book&cards edition (September 1998)
Chronicle Books; ISBN: 0811814815 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 1.63 x 6.65 x 5.13

List Price: $19.95 Our Price: $15.96 You Save: $3.99 (20%)

 

How to Write Irresistable Query Letters

by Lisa Collier Cool

Paperback – 136 pages (March 1990)
Writers Digest Books; ISBN: 0898793912 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.50 x 9.00 x 6.03

List Price: $12.99 Our Price: $10.39 You Save: $2.60 (20%)

 

Revision Play Day

jane502Sunday, March 7th, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.     San Francisco
$95 members/$110 non-members  register_off-70x18

“Writing a rough first draft often feels more like play than work,” says Jane Underwood. “The words flow or even burst out, and you can be swept up in the thrill of simply getting something, anything down onto paper.

“Revision, on the other hand, tends to come in fits and starts, and to many beginners (or even pros!) feels more like work than play. But if you want to be a serious writer, you’ve got to rise to the revision challenge. You must go back and add more. Or, conversely, go back and subtract. You also have to think about things like order and structure and, god forbid, what you’re really trying to say. The list goes on. Your revision options are so numerous they can be downright daunting. But guess what: it doesn’t have to be that way. Revision can be pleasurable, exciting, and even fun. Yep, fun.

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Books to the Sky – Writing for Children

5 Weeks, 7-9:30 p.m  Berkeley
$185 members/$215 non-members

“The greatest stories we read as children still live large in our memories,” says Lindsey Alexander. “From Charlotte’s Web to Harry Potter to Where the Wild Things Are, the books we discover as children shape us, inspire us to read on, and maybe even turn us into writers.”

If you’re eager to share a story with the next generation of readers, this workshop will help acquaint you with the basics of writing for children, stoke your creative fire, and hone your writing craft. Whether you’re interested in picture books, chapter books, or young adult novels, this class will help you to begin new projects or further develop projects that you’ve already begun. Class time will be divided between craft discussions, writing exercises, and some peer critique. You’ll learn the ins and outs of the children’s book genre — the various formats, audiences, and markets for your work. We’ll also have the opportunity for a conversation and studio tour with published author and illustrator Thacher Hurd.

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Shirin Bridges: Decisions, Decisions – A Rational Approach to the Business of Getting Published

Shirin Photo 9.18.151 Saturday, April 8, 10am-4pm  Berkeley
$130 members/$145 others   
        
Testimonials for Shirin

   

 If, like many aspiring authors, you are increasingly overwhelmed by all the publishing options now on offer—you may have even cried aloud, I wish somebody would just tell me what to do!—this is the course for you. Using simple and overt “if yes then A, if no then B” logic, this workshop will walk you through a thorough and comprehensive decision tree. Going step by step, you will see the main options available based on how you personally answer each decision-point question, and learn why some options are subsequently more appropriate than others.

You will discover the latest publishing services and sales channels. You will asses the benefits offered by each, and be warned of their potential limitations. And you’ll be inspired by case studies illustrating some successful out-of-the-box thinking from aspiring authors like yourself.

Bring a pen and notepad to class, and a one-sentence expression of why you would like to be published. Leave with an overview of the publishing labyrinth, a recommended pathway based on your individual decision-point choices, and a clear grasp of your personal next steps.

Shirin Yim Bridges has successfully transitioned from Ezra Jack Keats Award-winning author (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, HarperCollins/Greenwillow, Chronicle books) to self-publisher, to award-winning publisher (Goosebottom Books). She has been featured on the front cover of Publishers Weekly, and she has taught and spoken about publishing at the California Writers’ Club, the Left Coast Writers, San Francisco State University, Illinois State University, and the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference—where she is the incoming Executive Director.
On Becoming a Novelist

by John Gardner

Paperback – 172 pages (October 1999)
W W Norton & Co; ISBN: 0393320030 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.43 x 8.27 x 5.52

List Price: $12.00 Our Price: $9.60 You Save: $2.40 (20%)

 

Literary Agents: What They Do, How They Do It,

by Michael Larsen

Paperback
– 207 pages 1 edition (July 30, 1996)
John Wiley & Sons; ISBN: 047113046X ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.67 x 9.03 x 6.03

Our Price: $14.95

 

“Let’s Get Busy” Screenwriting Seminar – Get your story map down on paper!

Two Saturdays, Nov. 10 & 17, 9 am to 6 pm, Berkeley;
$295 members/$325 non-members

“If you write it, they will come” is instructor Terrel Seltzer’s writing mantra for herself and her students.  But how to write “it” – the spec script that will open doors – is the rub.  “Respecting the form of screenplay structure is key,” says Terrel. “Hitting all the dramatic marks in 110 pages is a major part of the creativity.” The other rub is sitting down and getting the work done.

“Let’s Get Busy” is a fast-paced, two-day intensive designed for those looking for advanced instruction on how to hone their movie idea – and get it down on paper! You’ll do this by developing a working “story map” that can serve as a guide to follow in writing the script. Starting with this premise, you’ll use writing exercises to identify the “Major Dramatic Question,” then develop the “Five Structural Tent Poles” to ensure that your story has sufficient turning points, conflict and escalation. Finally, you’ll fill in eleven “character beats” to describe the protagonist, his/her goals, what keeps him from his/her goals, the theme, and resolution.

The workshop will be two packed days of writing, interactive class discussion, positive encouragement, and always lots of laughs and fun.  The goal will be to write a tight and active one page Story Map that will clarify how your unique story unfolds from its basic premise to its climax and resolution.  So come with an idea, a favorite writing tool, and a burning desire to finally get it down on paper!

NOTE: This workshop is designed for writers who already taken at least one prior screenwriting class. Beginners should take Terrel’s 9-week introductory screenwriting workshop before signing up for this seminar.

Terrel Seltzer is a self-taught screenwriter. She learned the craft by watching and outlining literally hundreds of movies.  Her career started in the Bay Area, working with SF director Wayne Wang, for whom she wrote the screenplays for the independent films Chan is Missing and Dim Sum. Her two produced Hollywood screenplays are How I Got into College (with Lara Flynn Boyle and Anthony Edwards) and One Fine Day (with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Cloony). Currently, she has two scripts in development: Magick written for director Robert Zemeckis at Dreamworks,  and Foolproof, a spec script recently optioned by Warner Brother Classics.

Exploring Your Writer’s Voice

delorenzochris.jpg This class is not being offered next session, but check out Chris’s other 1-day workshop: Writing from the Fingertips.
$95 members/$110 non-members San Francisco

Note: We also offer a 9-week version of this class, which many people take on a regular basis.  It’s an excellent class for beginners or anyone else who wants to keep generating new material while exploring their voice as a writer.

We all have “writing voices,” but often we can’t really “hear” those voices ourselves, even when others can. In this class, you’ll learn to hear what’s unique about your writing voice, jumpstart your writing, and produce new work.

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