Descriptions and Faculty

In our manuscript workshops, capped at 10,  you will distribute manuscripts in advance, prepare comments for your colleague’s submissions, and gather each morning to share insights and gain inspiration on the best path to advance your writing. You’ll receive critical feedback from peers and your faculty mentor and learn what other writers are working on as well. 

Our write now workshops, capped at 12, allow you to immerse yourself in the craft of writing without the pressure of preparing or reading manuscripts. Through daily reading, writing exercises, and prompts, you’ll write both in class and during the afternoon to generate new work over the course of each day, dedicating as much time as possible to your own new writing. 

Available Workshops

Rachel Beanland

Historical Fiction, all levels

  • Megan O’Grady, writing for The New York Times, calls the era we’re living in a “golden age of historical fiction,” and argues that where we’ve previously leaned into dystopian literatures during periods of uncertainty, we now find ourselves searching the past for answers to what ails us. Look at popular recent works of fiction such as Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, Lauren Groff’s Matrix, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer, and you’ll realize that these works manage to both destabilize our ideas of the past and illuminate our present. In this manuscript workshop, we’ll read and analyze your historical short story or novel excerpt (no more than 20 pages, double-spaced). Not sure what counts as historical fiction? For our purposes, it’s anything that you’ve intentionally set prior to today. We’ll read each manuscript with an eye toward understanding and improving standard fictional elements such as character, plot, and setting, but will also leave plenty of time to consider how the narrative is informed by and interacts with the past.Rachel Beanland
  • Rachel Beanland is the author of Florence Adler Swims Forever, which was released in July 2020 by Simon & Schuster. The book was selected as the Barnes & Noble Book Club pick for July, and was named a Featured Debut by Amazon and an Indie Next pick by the American Booksellers Association. It was also named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the best books of 2020 by USA Today, and was recently recognized with the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction. Rachel received her M.F.A. in fiction from Virginia Commonwealth University and lives in Richmond where she is at work on her second novel.
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  • Barbara Jones

    The Middle Place, A Workshop for Book-length Works in Progress, multi-genre, all levels

    Please prepare 15-20 pages from a longer work in progress; this could be a story collection, novel, memoir, or collection of essays. We’ll read the samples from each work in advance, then spend workshop time considering which kinds of inspiration and which sorts of technical assistance might benefit each writing project now; that is, we’ll investigate how to nourish and sustain each of these projects to completion. And, overall, we’ll share the trials and joys of being in the sometimes vast-seeming middle of a book-length piece as well as the notable benefits of reaching the end.

    • Barbara Jones
      • Barbara Jones has 30 years of experience as an editor. As executive editor at Henry Holt & Company and editorial director at Hyperion Books, she worked with such authors as Luvvie Ajayi, Paul Auster, Susan Choi, Kelly Corrigan, Sebastian Faulks, Lauren Groff, Rachel Khong, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, Lillian Li, Julie Lythcott-Haims, and many others. As an editor at Harper’s, Vogue, Real Simple, and More magazines, she worked with such writers as Jennifer Egan, Louise Erdrich, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Hood, Jean Korelitz, Lorrie Moore, Ann Patchett, Francine Prose, and many others. Barbara is currently a literary agent at the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. She has taught at New York University, Queens University of Charlotte, Yale College, and elsewhere.
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        • Fred Leebron

          Advanced Novel

        • “A novel is really like a symphony,” Katherine Anne Porter once said, “where instrument after instrument has to come in at its own time, and no other.” Whether you’re working on conventional or experimental fiction, your novel is shaped by the instruments you choose: the scenes you select and extend, the voices in which you describe them, and your treatment of narrative time. In this workshop, we will examine your novel excerpt (of no more than 20 double-spaced pages) for both technique and the critical impulses that inspire a long work of fiction. What is your novel accomplishing in its narrative tracks, character arcs, and structural shape? And, just as important, what instruments are you choosing not to “play” that you might try to incorporate in the symphony that is your novel? For any writer who has completed several polished chapters or a first draft of a novel, this workshop will help you evaluate how your approach to the novel is working for you and your readers and offer you fresh ideas for development and revision.Fred Leebron

          Fred Leebron has published three novels, a novella, and numerous short stories, winning both an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize. He has founded and directed writing programs in Europe, Latin America, and the United States, and has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate level for nearly 30 years. His second novel, Six Figures, was made into a feature length award-winning film in Canada, and he has worked on a number of film and television projects. He is co-author of a Harcourt Brace textbook on fiction writing and co-editor of the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Fiction. A new work of fiction, The News Said It Was, is due out in Summer 2022.
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          • Rebecca Lindenberg

            Radical Presence: Poetry as an Art of Attention, all levels

      • This write now workshop is designed to be generative, exploratory, and hopefully, empowering. We’ll do all sorts of writing activities ranging from automatic or “free” writing to carefully crafted aphorism, writing en pleine aire (inspired by the Impressionist painters) to creating “photo negatives” of published work (substituting each word with a seeming opposite to see what emerges). We’ll engage in poetic collaborations with each other, and with poets whose work we’ll read – a diverse array of North American and international writers across the ages, an inclusive host of voices bringing different subject matter, artistic strategy, and aesthetic style to our conversation. We’ll free ourselves from the pressure to “improve upon the blank page,” as Nicanor Parra has said, and let ourselves access some of our most primal lyric impulses, deep images and symbols, sensate speaking selves, so we’ll never again wonder (when we find it challenging to write), “What do I do now?” We’ll workshop, but in some new and nontraditional ways designed to teach us to be as spontaneous as readers as we can be as writers, responding not with our opinions but with our intuitions. Consider this an opportunity for serious whimsy, for meaningful play, and for personal and artistic discovery.Photo of Rebecca LindenbergRebecca Lindenberg is the author of two poetry collections: Love, an Index (McSweeney’s) and The Logan Notebooks (Mountain West Poetry Series), winner of the 2015 Utah Book Award. She’s the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, an Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Fellowship, an NEA literature grant, a seven-month fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and other awards. Her work appears most recently in Tin House, American Poetry Review, The Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, and in the Best American Poetry 2019 anthology, ed. Major Jackson. She is a member of the full-time poetry faculty at the University of Cincinnati, where she is also director of creative writing and the poetry editor of the Cincinnati Review.
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      • Jim McKean

        Creative Nonfiction: A Generative Retreat, all levels [no longer available]

        So much to remember. Where do we begin? This retreat will discuss how we might generate the bits and pieces of our personal narratives, with the aim of compiling these fragments into more finished work. The emphasis will be on drafting moments, lines and images, scenes, portraits, anecdotes, and flashes of memory, and sharing these discoveries with classmates. Through readings and discussion, we’ll investigate such structural elements of creative nonfiction as dual time frames, the narrative impulse versus reflection, character development, scenes, voice, rhythm, and lyricism in the service of good prose.

      • But the main focus of the retreat will be on your writing process, the material you generate, and sharing that material with a sympathetic audience. Class time will be dedicated to sharing work aloud, discussing the art and craft of writing, and perhaps working on an exercise or two. Outside of class, you’ll be asked to write in response to prompts or wherever the muse takes you. In writing our lives, Annie Dillard says that we must “fashion a text.” The goal at the end of our week is to develop new material and new resources for fashioning your personal essays, stories, and/or memoirs.
      • Photo of Jim McKeanJames McKean writes poetry and nonfiction. He has published two books of essays: Home Stand: Growing Up in Sports, and Bound; and three books of poems, Headlong (1987 Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writer Award), Tree of Heaven (1994 Iowa Poetry Award), and We Are the Bus (the 2011 X.J. Kennedy poetry prize from Texas Review Press). His work has appeared in magazines and collections such as The Atlantic, Iowa Review, Gettysburg Review, the Southern Review, and the Best American Sports Writing 2003, and has received a Pushcart Prize. Back to Top

        • Dan Mueller

        • Fiction Writers’ Retreat, all levels

        • In this write now workshop, we will focus predominately on fiction, we’ll embody the practice of writing daily.  During meeting times we’ll discuss matters of craft derived from reading a wide swath of contemporary fiction; read aloud to one another from our own newly written work and respond to it as a community of writers intent on helping one another find a larger audience; write from prompts; approach publishing as a part of the creative process; and address any and all concerns related to the writing life from writer’s block to sources of inspiration to submission strategies. While conventional creative writing workshops privilege the critique, the quality of them hinging upon the amount of time and thought outside of meeting times writers put into reading and responding to each other’s manuscripts, in ours we’ll honor the act of writing by putting the time, space, and camaraderie to use in the drafting of new work. This workshop is open to writers of all skill levels and degrees of experience.Daniel Mueller

        • Daniel Mueller is the author of two collections of short fiction, How Animals Mate (Overlook Press 1999), winner of the Sewanee Fiction Prize, and Nights I Dreamed of Hubert Humphrey (Outpost 19 Books 2013). His work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The Cincinnati Review, Gargoyle, Story Quarterly, CutBank, Joyland, Booth Journal, Solstice, Free State Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Writing Disorder, Another Chicago Magazine, The Mississippi Review, Story, and Playboy. He is currently working on a memoir, tentatively titled I Wish This Book Belonged to Me. He teaches at the University of New Mexico and on the faculty of the low-residency M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte.
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          Jon Pineda

          Multiple Genres/Singular Voices: An Approach to Writing, multi genre, all levels [no longer available]

        • In this multi-genre manuscript workshop, we’ll read and discuss published poems, stories, and essays, with attention to how various components from each genre might be implemented to establish singular voices and, in turn, increase reader engagement. In addition, participants will submit their own work for critique (max. 10 pages per genre), with the workshop focusing on strategies and concepts essential to each genre. This workshop is open to all skill levels.
        • Photo of Jon PinedaJon Pineda is author of six books. His second novel Let’s No One Get Hurt (FSG) won the 2019 Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction from the Library of Virginia, and his third poetry collection Little Anodynes won the 2016 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry. His memoir Sleep in Me was a 2010 B&N Discover Great New Writers selection and a Library Journal “Best of 2010” pick. He lives in Virginia and teaches at William & Mary.
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      • Laura Ruby

        Not Your Mother’s Hunger Games: Writing the Young Adult Novel, all levels 

        In this lively and informative workshop, we’ll discuss what makes YA, YA, and how to distinguish it from fiction for adults and works for younger children. We’ll read and discuss selections from recently published young adult novels with a particular focus on character and point-of-view, write from prompts, and share the results in a supportive environment. We’ll also discuss how character shapes plot, and touch on other vital aspects of craft such as structure, setting/world building, and pacing. And we’ll cover other topics of interest to any writer working in any genre or category: Where to begin. How to draft. When to let go of that draft in order to find your best, most resonant writing, and much more. In addition, each participant will submit their own work ahead of time for critique (no more than 15 pages) and will walk away with helpful strategies for revision. This manuscript.  

        Laura RubyA two-time National Book Award Finalist, Edgar® Award Nominee, and Pushcart Prize Nominee, Laura Ruby writes fiction and poetry for adults, teens, and children. She is the author of 12 books, including Printz Medal Winning novel Bone Gap, as well as Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, and the York trilogy. Her short fiction has appeared in The Florida Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, and Nimrod International, among others, and her poetry has or is forthcoming in Clockhouse #8, Poetry.Onl, and Sugar House Review. She is on the faculty of Hamline University’s Masters in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and makes her home in the Chicago area. Find her at

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