Writers Workshops

Writing Workshop: Experimental Forms for Fiction and Non-Fiction 

Four-week Writing Workshop: October 25th, November 1st, 8th, & 15th | 7:00pm – 9:00pm

In this workshop, we will investigate numerous shortened and experimental forms with an eye towards shaking up the participant’s prose-writing. Useful for both fiction and nonfiction, we’ll look at micro-stories, list-stories, and vignettes, to name a few. We’ll look at a few writers who have pushed the boundaries of prose-writing. The workshop will include a generative portion as well as time for feedback, if desired.
Moderator Bio:

Linda Michel-Cassidy‘s writing has appeared in Harper Palate, Eleven Eleven, Jabberwock, the anthology,Seeking Its Own Level, and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Entropy Magazine, was a fiction editor for the Bennington Review, and recently guest-edited for The Notebook. She writes reviews and conducts interviews for various publications, including Electric Literature and The Rumpus. She has won the Emma Bell Miles Prize for the Essay, and was the runner-up for the James Still Prize for Fiction.

Linda holds a MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and has studied at Bread Loaf (Middleburg College), the Sewanee Summer Writers’ Workshops, and Tin House. While all of these places have wonderful libraries, she maintains her unwavering adoration for the Mill Valley Library.

Registration required. Click here to register.


The Business of Writing| August 13th 2016 | 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Ready to elevate your literary career to the next level, but not sure how? Having trouble achieving recognition as a serious writer? You’ll have to treat your writing—poetry, fiction, nonfiction—as a business. Get the literary world to notice you and your work. Learn how to elevate your profile through managing the business side of creative writing. You will need to use an iPad, tablet, or laptop for this class. Bring your own or use one of the Library’s Mac laptops.

Moderator Bio:
Lyzette Wanzer is an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts. She received her MFA in Creative Writing 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, Aesthetica Magazine, and others. Lyzette has completed a short story collection, and is currently at work on an essay collection entitled Jaywalking.

Registration required and space is limited. COMPLETE


Writing the Short Story| July 7, 14, 21 and 28 | 7:00pm

Short stories have the power to devastate and transform us — with a final image, a dramatic turn, a revelatory moment. How do writers achieve this, often in less than 5000 words? How do writers use the elements of character, point of view, imagery, and dialogue to create taut and powerful narrative? This four-week workshop will explore the necessary scaffolding of successful short fiction — the beginning, the ending, and the important “turn” where everything changes — and help writers apply these tools to their own works-in-progress. Through directed, focused writing exercises and prompts, we’ll explore how to construct a story that fulfills the promise it sets up in exciting and surprising ways. Come to class with an idea, a character, or an image — and leave with a complete draft and concrete plans for moving forward. Supportive, constructive feedback and a spirit of discovery will bring you closer to what it is your story wants to say, and how to say it.

Lindsey Crittenden is the author of two published books, The View From Below: Stories and The Water Will Hold You, a memoir. Her fiction has won national awards and appeared in Arroyo Literary Review, Glimmer Train, Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, Pisgah Review, and elsewhere. Her articles and personal essays have appeared in The New York Times, Best American Spiritual Writing, Bon Appétit, Real Simple, Spirituality & Health, and Image. Lindsey has been awarded fellowships by the Ucross and Ragdale foundations, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, UC Davis, and Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She was named Honored Instructor at UC Berkeley Extension in 2013. She is a native of Marin and a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. lindseycrittenden.com

Registration required. COMPLETE



Writing the Personal Essay | April 24th, 1:00pm

Everyone has a story to tell, but how do you elevate your story to the personal essay? This course will focus on the 2,000 word personal essay for on-line and print publications. We will talk about how to elevate your story to something relatable to a mass audience. Other elements to discuss will include plot, setting and character description.



Freelancing Bootcamp | March 20th, 1:00pm 

Breaking into the world of freelance writing is a daunting task Maybe you’re thinking: How do I write a pitch? Where should I be pitching my work? How can I successfully pitch without a portfolio or any published clips?

In this workshop, we will cover the basics of freelancing and fundamentals skills, coming up with story ideas, writing the perfect pitch, identifying the best publication for your story, working with editors, negotiating payment, scheduling and managing work, handling conflict and more.

About the Moderator:
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 has published personal essays in Racked, The Morning News, The Rumpus, and Lucky Magazine.




Writing for Social Change

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

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

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


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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