2016 Summer Writing Workshops Podcasts Now Available

Listen to your favorite craft talks again!

Tom Barbash gives a craft talk during the 2016 Writers Workshop.

The Community of Writers is pleased to offer the best of the 2016 Writers Workshops to the public as podcasts. We have seventeen of the most popular panels, craft talks, and lectures available for download on our website, including Tom Barbash‘s talk, “The Germs (of stories, that is): From Where Do Stories Emerge?” and Dava Sobel‘s craft talk on “The Construction of a Nonfiction Narrative.”

You can browse our selection of podcasts on our website, and download and listen to any talk on your computer or device.

You may also visit our Podcast Archives for previous years’ podcasts.



The Annual Campaign a Success!

Thank You!

KnightNow that 2016 has come to a close, we want to express our gratitude to all of those who have participated in this community or supported us financially. We hope that this Community will sustain and invigorate your writing life in 2017, as your participation sustains us.

We are so grateful for the financial support we have received in the past few months from so many of you. Thank you for making our Annual Fund Campaign such a success. You can find a list of supporters here.

All of us at the Community of Writers wish you a happy and productive 2017!


Join Us in Squaw Valley for These Literary Events

2016 grid for events

The Community of Writers 46th Annual Writers Workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, will take place in Squaw Valley the week of July 25- August 1st. You are invited to join us for public craft talks, panels, and readings by the teaching staff, agents and editors, and published alumni. You can find a printable schedule and make a reservation for the two evening Special Events (see below) here.


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Germs (of stories, that is): From Where Do Stories Emerge?” by Tom Barbash
2:00    Panel: “Telling Truth through Fiction: Transmuting ‘Real’ Events into Imaginative Fiction” with Rhoda Huffey, Joanne Meschery, Victoria Patterson and Amy Tan – moderated by Jane Ciabattari
3:00    Panel: “The Historical Novel”  with Sands Hall, Edie Meidav, Gregory Spatz, and Mary Volmer – moderated by Jason Roberts
4:00    “The Writing Community, Prizes and the Life of the Writer: Jane Ciabattari in conversation with Oscar Villalon
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings: Mark Childress, Natalie Serber, Andrew Tonkovich, and Mary Volmer
7:30    Panel: “The Big Nonfiction Book:Conquering Research to Find the Story” with Jason Roberts, Héctor Tobar, Jordan Fisher Smith and Dava Sobel – moderated by Julia Flynn Siler


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Construction of a Nonfiction Narrative” by Dava Sobel
2:00    Panel: “Humor, Voice, Character and Subtext” with Mark Childress, Dana Johnson, Anne Lamott, Matt Sumell – moderated by Andrew Tonkovich
3:00    Panel: “The Heart of Memoir” with Anne Lamott, Natalie Serber, Jane Vandenburgh – moderated by Sands Hall
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings with Edie Meidav, Jason Roberts, Julia Flynn Siler, Gregory Spatz
7:30*    Staff read & talk about their work: Dana Johnson, Anne Lamott, Matt Sumell, Héctor Tobar.

* This event has an admittance fee, and reservations are appreciated. Reserve your seat for this event.


1:00    Panel: “Book Editors” with Reagan Arthur, Erika Goldman, Joy Johannessen, Calvert Morgan, Jack Shoemaker – moderated by Michael Carlisle
2:00    Panel: “Literary Agents” with Noah Ballard, Joy Harris, and BJ Robbins – moderated by Joy Johannessen
3:00    “Journals We Edit, Journals We Read,” with Oscar Villalon and Andrew Tonkovich
5:30    Published Alumni Reading: Stephanie Kegan, Nayomi Munaweera, Marian Palaia, Juan Alvarado Valdivia, Heather Young – Introduced by Matt Sumell
7:30    A Writers’ Tribute to Alan Cheuse: Various readings, music and tributes by staff. All are welcome!


No events scheduled


1:00    “You Must Read This: The Narrative Technique Which Stopped You In Your Tracks,” various staff will read excerpts and discuss
2:00    Panel: “Adaptation” with Craig Bolotin, Héctor Tobar, Mark Childress, Nancy Kelly, Amy Tan – moderated by: Louis B. Jones
3:00    Panel: “Silence, Cunning, Exile: The Risks and Rewards of Untraditional Narratives” with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Louis B. Jones, Michelle Latiolais, and Al Young – moderated by Andrew Tonkovich
5:30    Short Takes Staff Readings with Lisa Alvarez, Rhoda Huffey, Victoria Patterson and Al Young
7:30*    Staff read and talk about their work: Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Michelle Latiolais, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Elizabeth Tallent.

* This event has an admittance fee, and reservations are appreciated. Reserve your seat for this event.


1:00    Craft Talk: “The Knowing Character and Other Craft Notes” by Ron Carlson
2:00    Panel: “The Craft of Writing the Short Story” with Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Ron Carlson, Kirstin Valdez Quade and Elizabeth Tallent – moderated by Thomas Barbash
3:00    Panel: “Writing Beyond The Conference” with Victoria Patterson, Rhoda Huffey, Julia Flynn Siler – moderated by Lisa Alvarez


9:30    The Closing Talk by Amy Tan

All Events are in the Olympic House in Squaw Valley. Most afternoon events will take place in Bar One. 5:30 readings and evening events will take place in Plaza Bar. For more information, see the Public Events listing on our website.

The Community of Writers at AWP – Reunion News

AWP_GroupThe Community of Writers made an appearance at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles March 30 – April 2.

On Wednesday evening, we hosted a casual reunion at a private home in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Writers and poets got to know each other on a blustery spring evening. One highlight was that 5 members of Fiction Workshop 6 from 2007 were in attendance.

Prizes were awarded to the alums who had traveled the furthest (Patricia Spears Jones, who will join the Poetry teaching staff this summer); the alum who had attended the most times over the years (Joan Baranow); and the newest alum (shared between the several alums of the 2015 Workshops that attended). New board member, alum, and teaching staff member Alex Espinoza gave a generous speech to the assembled.

Many thanks to Board Members Ruth Blank, Carlin Naify and Jim Naify for making this evening possible.

During the three day conference, regular teaching staff members, as well as alums in Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry, appeared on dozens of panels. We were delighted that there was a tribute in the honor of long-time staff member and Board member Al Young. And of course, Poetry alum Claudia Rankine (’93) gave the brilliant Keynote speech.

  • Lisa Alvarez and Alex Espinoza
  • 2007 Workshop Group 6
  • Group Photo
  • Al Young
  • Patricia Spears Jones

Photos by Amy Rutten




Juan Felipe Herrera to join the Poetry Workshop in June!

We couldn’t be more excited to report the new that Juan Felipe Herrera, the current Poet Laureate of the United States, will be teaching at the Poetry Workshop in Squaw Valley this summer. He will join staff poets Kazim Ali, Robert Hass, Cathy Park Hong, Patricia Spears Jones, and Sharon Olds. The application deadline has been extended to April 8th.

herrera 2016Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012-2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Notes on the Assemblage; Senegal Taxi; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include: SkateFate, Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

For more information about the poetry program, please visit the Poetry Workshop page.

Writers Workshop – New Additions to Our Program!

We are thrilled to announced that we will be joined at the Writers Workshop this summer by both Anne Lamott and Dava Sobel!

Lamott_Anne_Portrait_BWAnne Lamott, who will be joining us as a special guest, is the author of seven novels, including Hard Laughter, Rosie, Joe Jones, Blue Shoe, All New People, Crooked Little Heart, and Imperfect Birds. She has also written eight bestselling books of nonfiction, including Operating Instructions; Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son; and a writing guide; Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Her collections of autobiographical essays on faith are Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith; Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith; Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith; Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers and most recently Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. Her last book of essays, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, was published by Riverhead Books.


MiaBergsDavaSobelDava Sobel, joining us as a nonfiction teaching staff member, a former New York Times science reporter, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Longitude, which was the subject of a PBS science program “NOVA,” and Granada Films created a dramatic version starring Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon for A&E. Her nonfiction book, Galileo’s Daughter, was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won a 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Christopher Award, was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in biography and was the subject of a two-hour Emmy Award-winning “NOVA” documentary. She is also the author of the books The Planets and A More Perfect Heaven. Dava is a long-time science contributor to Harvard Magazine, Audubon, Discover, Life, Omni, and The New Yorker. Bloomsbury has just released a stand-alone edition of her Copernicus play, And the Sun Stood Still, which was produced in 2014 by the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company in Colorado.The editor of the collection Best American Science Writing 2004, published by Ecco Press, Ms. Sobel has served as a judge for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and the Lewis Thomas Prize awarded by Rockefeller University to scientists who distinguish themselves as authors. Her new book, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, will be published by Viking in December. www.davasobel.com

For a complete roster of 2016 Teaching Staff, Special Guests, as well as Agents and Editors, visit the Writers Workshop page. Applications are due April 12th.

Sacramento Benefit A Grand Success!

2016-Writer-Benefit-gridNatalie Baszile, Meg Waite ClaytonFrances Dinkelspiel, Marian Palaia, and Josh Weil joined us for the Community of Writers Benefit Reading in Sacramento last week.

Natalie, Josh, Meg, Frances and Marian

These authors — alums and staff — read from new work, and and introduced the Sacramento area to the Writers Workshops and the Community of Writers.

The event was in good hands with our emcee, Capital Public Radio’s Beth Ruyak. Her perspective on each of writer’s work effectively framed each reading for the audience.

After the readings, with roughly 170 people in attendance, Executive Director Brett Hall Jones auctioned off a complete set of signed books (the winning bid was $325,) followed by a wine and cookie reception along with book sales and signings.

Attendees browse the pop-up bookstore
Attendees browse the pop-up bookstore

Many thanks to the authors and Beth Ruyak for participating in this event. We are also grateful to our volunteers and Board members, who helped out tremendously.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Beers Books, Stories on Stage – Sacramento, and Verge Center for the Arts.