Writers Workshops

Writing for Social Change

Thursdays, November 5, 12 & 19 2015 |  6:00pm – 8:00pm


In this workshop we will discuss writing about social issues, with an eye towards advocacy. We’ll survey reporting techniques and research, as well as how to select appropriate publications to pitch. Then we’ll move on to structuring your piece to appeal to a mass audience, as well as how to maintain objectivity in the face of reporting. The class will culminate in a two-to-three paragraph pitch on your chosen topic.
Jessica Pishko graduated with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. She practiced corporate law, specializing in securities fraud, and represented death penalty clients and victims of domestic abuse pro bono. She writes frequently about incarceration and social justice issues and lives in San Francisco with her family. Her work has appeared in The New RepublicVicePacific Standard, and The Atlantic among others.

How to Write a Novel (and Not Stop Halfway Through)

One Day Intensive w/ 5-Day Partner Writing (with Janis Cooke Newman)

Saturday, August 29th  |  10:00am – 4:00pm

CLASS FULL:  Click here to register for the WAITLIST

Too busy to commit to a four week writing workshop, but still want to write your great american novel? In this one day intensive, novelist Janis Cooke Newman will cover how to start a novel, how to develop a character you’ll want to live with for the long haul, and how to make sure you’ve got enough plot to keep a narrative in motion. We’ll look at things like bad behavior (mostly your characters’) and how to create a three-dimensional world on the page. We’ll also talk about all the reasons writers lose their way in a novel — and how to avoid them.

There will also be plenty of in-class writing time so you can try out some of the craft techniques we talk about. And you’ll get the opportunity to share your work with the rest of the group.

At the end of our day-long intensive, we can keep the conversation going at a local cafe— perhaps you’ll find your new writing buddies!

But you can’t write a novel unless you actually write. So to get you started on your writing practice, you’ll be paired with a writing partner (someone in the class) and given a week’s worth of prompts for a 5-day writing exchange. All work will be uploaded to a the Mill Valley Library’s Writers Salon page for the class to share.

Janis Cooke Newman is the author of the Bay Area bestseller Mary, an historical novel about Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, chosen as USA Today’s Best Historical Fiction of the Year in 2006, and a Booksense Year-End Highlight. Newman is also the author of The Russian Word for Snow, a memoir about adopting her son from a Moscow orphanage, which was published internationally. Her new novel, A Master Plan for Rescue, is forthcoming from Riverhead this summer. She is the founder of the Lit Camp writers conference.


Writers Workshop — Writing the Rant

Something bugging you? Really bugging you? Need to get it out? Why not write it down and let the world know the problem while turning your personal pet peeve into literature. We’ll start by mining our emotionally charged topics and then move to shaping our passions into monologues, stories, or personal essays.

Saturday, June 13th  |  1:00pm – 4:00pm

Click here to register.

John Levine’s plays have been produced throughout the US, as well as in Mexico, India, Australia, and the UK. He lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughter and teaches at the University of California.



Writers Workshop –Session 8

Aspiring and seasoned writers are invited to join this four week workshop. Participants will have the chance to meet other writers, write, and share feedback, all under the guidance of a talented moderator.

Tuesdays, March 3, 10, 17 & 24 , 2015 |  7:00pm – 9:00pm-COMPLETE

Jessica Gruner is the co-author of four Emily the Strange novels and a metric grip of comic books. She’s also taught high school English, owned a clothing boutique, worked in mergers and acquisitions, studied opera, and edited the quasi-legendary pop culture zine Bunnyhop. She lives on an island in the San Francisco Bay with her family and a smattering of chickens.


The Craft of Writing and the Power of Imagination

In this one day workshop, we’ll use writing exercises and prompts as starting points to stimulate the creative process, examining and exploring the intersection of craft and creativity to make good writing. Rather than emphasize “getting it done,” we’ll focus on getting our juices going to “get it started.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015  |  2:00pm – 5:00pm-COMPLETE

Cary Pepper is a playwright, novelist, screenwriter, and nonfiction writer. His plays have been presented throughout the United States and internationally, and he’s published dozens of articles as well as other nonfiction. Most recently, his one-act play Irish Stew was chosen for inclusion in Best American Short Plays 2013–2014 (Applause Books).

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