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This year the “Writing Intensives” are SIX hour sessions, both of which will be held on Friday, September 7th ONLY.  Intensives are limited to 6-10 Participants, so please register early.  The Intensive Registration deadline is 8/27/17.  Workshops that draw fewer than 6 Participants will be cancelled, unless the Writer agrees to conduct it. 


The Intensive is for Participants in the process of developing manuscripts. You will share work and receive feedback on your writing. The Festival will provide space dedicated solely to each Intensive in order to maximize this special opportunity. 

Intensive Participants will pay a Registration fee of $120 for the unique opportunity to spend a day in an advanced setting with a professional writer, one of our Festival Alumna. The $120 Registration fee includes a lunch on the day of the Intensive and covers ALL OTHER Festival activities, but minus any lunches Saturday and Sunday. All we ask of you is a firm commitment to attend once you register.

While Intensive participants may register for other Festival Workshops, they may register for only one Intensive. If your Intensive is cancelled and there are available spaces in other Intensives, we will email you. If you find that you cannot attend an Intensive Workshop that you have signed up for and it has not been cancelled, a refund may be given if we find a replacement for you from the waiting list.

Please consult the specific Intensive description for any required materials or references.


TIME SLOTS 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10 are Reading & Special Event Slots which are Free of charge

and therefore NOT listed here.

(See the "PUBLIC PROGRAMS" tab

on the menu above)

Friday 9/7/18

11:00 am - 5:00 pm




    The Deep Red Heart Of Life 

Presented by  Esther Cohen 

We each have stories — good stories — only we can tell. Good stories are the living breathing unpredictable deep red heart of life, of writing, of what we want to say, no matter what form we choose.

Our Intensive will look at examples from poetry and prose, from fiction and non-fiction, and from oral traditions, old and new. Our goal will be to create and tell our own story, in the form that matches our own intrinsic voice.


This Intensive is for story lovers and story makers who want to make their own stories better. How the world began, all that we know and don’t know, whatever we feel and see and hear. We will look at every part of our lives as rich material for stories, good stories.



    Self-Publishing Fundamentals

Presented by  Julie Enszer

​Want to publish your book? Technology makes self-publishing available to anyone with the time, commitment, and resources to make it happen.

This workshop will explore the phases of self-publishing from initial decision-making through manuscript preparation, book design, production, and distribution with guidelines for various phases and examples of self-published books.


A nuts and bolts review of how to create beautiful books and help them reach readers in the world.



Practical Strategies for Connecting With Readers and Selling Books

  Presented by  Mary Johnson 

How does a writer cut through the confusion to find a promotional strategy that suits her? Does a writer REALLY need a Twitter feed, an Instagram account, AND a Facebook page? Is it better to schedule readings in big chains or in independent bookstores? How much promo will your publisher do and how much must you arrange yourself?

Together, we’ll brainstorm ideas for your particular project and discuss best practices for blog tours, media opportunities, social media, author websites, avoiding promo overwhelm, and much more.


If possible, come with a specific work in progress or in print that you want to promote--as well as a computer, tablet, or phone with mobile access--and you'll leave this intensive with a promotional plan tailored to your particular project, skills, interests, and ambition.




Presented by  Sophfronia Scott


Creating a strong book proposal is key if you want to sell your nonfiction book to a publisher, but many writers stumble when it comes to assembling one. Why? Because a book proposal is a business document, not a creative one, and it requires you to think like a publisher in order to write a good one.

In this workshop we’ll study each part of a book proposal, discuss what an agent and/or editor looks for when reading a proposal, and examine real life samples. We’ll also look at the pitfalls inherent in each section of a proposal and discuss strategies for how to avoid them.


By the end of the class each participant will come away with a working sketch of a plan that will put her well on her way to writing a complete book proposal.



   Constructive Feedback and Comfort Food

                                Presented by  Elizabeth Searle

Participants’ own work is welcome here; no experience is necessary.  Bring three pages of fiction-- flash fiction; the beginning of a novel or short story; YA or script excerpts-- for multi-genre mini-workshopping.

Participants will be guides in frank yet friendly critiques, so that Participants can learn from each other’s works. 

Participants are encouraged to bring their favorite bite-sized snacks to the workshop to share along with their words.


Writing Workshops are a solid tradition of the Festival of Women Writers.  Writers returning to the Festival and those who have been invited for the first time will offer the Festival a diverse group of Workshops.


Each Workshop will be presented for two hours and will address a variety of topics, genres, skills, and techniques.

In order to participate in any Workshop, a registration fee of $60 is required. This fee entitles you to attend as many workshops as you wish with the exception of the Intensive Workshops which has its own registration fee requirement of $120. Those seeking to take part in an Intensive Workshop on Friday, September 8th and attend any Workshop on Saturday or Sunday should simply register for the Intensive Workshop of your choice then make your 2-Hour Workshop sections in the appropriate Time Slots.

Pre-paid lunch fees for Saturday and Sunday are additional for both Intensive Workshop and 2-Hour Workshop attendees. See the Registration Page for full details.


TIME SLOTS 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10 are Reading & Special Event Slots which are Free of charge

and therefore NOT listed here.

(See the "PUBLIC PROGRAMS" tab

on the menu above)


Friday 9/8/17

11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Workshop # 1


Presented by  Breena Clarke

Bodies so often don't do what we want them to. Across genres, the experience of a body at less-than-peak-performance is an element of the human condition.

How do we create characters or describe our own selves on the page without overwhelming the telling? How do we write pain, disease, mental illness, and other challenges of the broken body in a realistic and complex way? How do we write about the body without exploitation, whether fiction or non-fiction, with honesty and clarity?


With reference to the recent memoir of the body, “Hunger” by Roxanne Gay, the workshop will focus on body-centered writing, using an array of writing exercises to challenge participants to focus on how their bodies feel in the moment and how their own bodies can become conduits for writing the body on the page.

In this workshop we will use visual art as a means to inspire, expand, and explore new ways of seeing our own personal narratives. In an effort to build 'three-dimensional' poems we'll consider how we, as women, arrive at the intimate marrow of truth in our bodies, histories, hopes, and memories.

Workshop # 2


Presented by  Rachel Eliza Griffiths

We will think about the relationship of our visible selves and the complex, psychological effects of light, shadow, texture, color, and space in terms of our poetry. You will use an assortment of materials (which will be provided) during workshop. No prior experience of visual art is needed.

Saturday 9/9/17

9:30am - 11:30am 


Workshop # 3



Presented by  Elisabeth Nonas 

Inspiration will fail you. Whether you’re an experienced writer or novice, whether or not you believe writer’s block exists, we all get stuck at some point.


In this workshop, we’ll explore ways to write even when we’re not inspired. After a discussion of story elements (including but not limited to character, dialogue, setting) and in-class writing exercises, you will leave with tools to help you silence your inner critic and jump-start, re-start, or simply keep your writing on track.

Workshop # 4


                         Presented by  Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

Zuihitsu is a Japanese hybrid poetic form that incorporates journal entries, essays, fiction, haiku, fragments of letters, songs, poems, emails, tweets, overheard conversations, and random thoughts.

Participants will learn how to create this cross-genre text.

Workshop # 5


     Writing Inside/Out

                          Presented by  Margot Farrington

This Workshop explores emotional and physical states as shaped by the power of place. Learn to sharpen characters through environments they inhabit, to make them synchronize or collide.

We’ll trade insights from selected poems, stories, and nonfiction, and employ key strategies during pods of writing time. You’ll also receive a reading list, commentary, and two prompts as takeaway at Workshop’s end.

Saturday 9/9/17

1:45 pm - 3:45 pm 


Workshop # 6


     Memory, Magic and Your Manuscript

                    Presented by  Alexis Pauline Gumbs

This two-hour workshop/ceremony will use individual writing exercises, partner and group work, and intentional breathing to deepen and broaden Participants’ relationship to their current writing project and/or writing practice.  If Participants feel like deadlines, procrastination, publishing norms, or their own fears are drowning them, come get free.  

This workshop is appropriate for writers of poetry, fiction, academic work, experimental work, and anything in between.  You will practice skills of ancestral and environmental listening, collaborative creativity, working and writing beyond familiar forms, and intensifying relationships to forms that inspire you most.

Workshop # 7


    A Workshop For Fiction Writers

Presented by  Jewelle Gomez

For years the Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction establishment only recognized male writers, many of whom changed the landscape. 

However, women have been creating ground break speculative fiction for almost as long. James Tiptree, Jr., Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Joanna Russ, Nalo Hopkinson to name just a few.


What does it take to create a new universe and fashion a story that is both credible and incredible.  We’ll talk about and do exercises around spec/fic conventions; how to create out of this world worlds and characters; what the stories can look like.


This is a very special opportunity to work with one of the groundbreaking authors of women's speculative fiction.

Workshop # 8


Presented by  Stephanie Nikolopoulos

To land a book deal you need more than a good manuscript. Get insider tips as we go step-by-step through the elements of a proposal.

Discover how to market through social media and network with agents and editors. Even if you haven’t written a single page of your book, now is the time to build your readership.


Open to any genre, this workshop will include writing exercises to help you develop your proposal.


Sunday 9/10/17

9:30am - 11:30am 

Workshop # 9


    Poetics of Protest and Collective Grief

                         Presented by  Kamilah Aisha Moon

The workshop will examine poems that employ strategies across aesthetics and poetic impulses, an overview of poetry that responds to public tragedy.

Participants will discuss approaches, ethical considerations and craft choices poets make when responding to various kinds of events: (acts of war, gun violence, police brutality, natural disaster, etc.) through art.

Workshop # 10


   Descriptive Techniques for Fiction and

  Creative Non-Fiction


Presented by  Sandra Rodriguez Barron

“Description” is anything that creates a picture. Great description reproduces the emotional impact of experience. If done well, the reader will be swept along by the words, believing every moment of the story.

Borges famously said, “Writing is but a guided dream.” In order to maintain that delicate dream state (especially for a longer work), a writer has to offer carefully chosen data for all the senses, not just sight.


Participants will learn to construct vivid sensory details, to craft emotion and thought, to harness the power of subtlety, and to avoid descriptive traps—all without interrupting the flow of action.



Three short readings, sent in advance, will serve as discussion texts and will help stimulate a 3-5 page writing exercise prepared prior to the Workshop and to be shared with a Workshop partner.

PLEASE click on the links below to download the Preparation Materials information:


        Prep Materials in PDF Format

        Prep Materials in WORD Format

Workshop # 11


What They Can Teach Writers about Beginnings

         Presented by  Martha Southgate

All four of these writers can teach us about beginnings:  how to start with clear characterization and arresting images, to set up major themes early on, and to involve the reader compulsively right away.

For example, the first 15 minutes of the first episode of Vince Gilligan’s immensely popular television show “Breaking Bad;” or the first five pages of Flannery O’Connor’s celebrated short story “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” employ excellent beginning strategies.


We’ll do a close reading of both the O’Connor and the Gilligan beginnings and see what we can excavate from them. Then you’ll have a chance to examine your own beginnings with the aid of exercises that might strengthen them.


PLEASE READ O'Connor's “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” prior to the workshop. This short story can be found by clicking on any of these three links:


        Story in PDF Format

        Story in WORD Format

        Story Online at:



We will watch the relevant section of “Breaking Bad” during the workshop.