2021 Narrative Nonfiction & Memoir Workshops

August 1 – 6 , 2021 in the Virtual Valley

In 2021, the Community of Writers will once again present its annual summer workshops online due to the global pandemic.  Disappointed though we are not to gather in person, we’re delighted to be able to offer this opportunity to writers during this difficult time. In order to be as effective as possible, the Nonfiction & Memoir Workshop will have its own week this year, separate from the Fiction Workshop. This six-day workshop will accommodate just 20 participants. Financial aid available.

This program is directed by Michael V. Carlisle and Sands Hall.

These workshops are designed to assist serious writers by exploring the art and craft as well as the business of writing. The week includes daily morning workshops, craft lectures, panel discussions on editing and publishing, staff readings, and brief individual conferences. The morning workshops, led by staff writer-teachers, comprise tracks devoted to both memoir and narrative nonfiction. In addition to having a manuscript addressed in workshop, participants may have the same manuscript read by a staff member, discussed in individual conference. This is not the conference for travel, self-help, how-to, or scholarly works. If you are working on fiction, please see our Fiction Workshop.

Please note that time is an important factor in the virtual valley. Morning  workshops begin at 8:30 a.m. on the West Coast, at 11:30 a.m. on the East Coast, with, of course, all the time zones in between—and beyond. Similarly, panels and readings that take place during Pacific time will be somewhat later depending on where you live. As you prepare your submission, you will also want to ponder how the timing will work for you, and ensure that your schedule includes time to read manuscripts, prepare critiques, and attend the online sessions.

Our goal is to create a conference with the same intensity, intimacy, and productivity as our usual week in the Valley. We hope you’ll join us!

A Message to our Community About our Community.

Although we will miss gathering physically together this summer, we’re excited that the breadth of online options might allow us to come together year-round in ways that are otherwise impossible to imagine. In addition to our summer workshops, we’ve been hard at work putting together online offerings that allow isolated writers to come together in all seasons for learning, camaraderie, and inspiration.

Teaching Staff

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Agents & Editors

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Important Details

  • 20 writers attend through Zoom
  • Participants’ manuscripts are critiqued in daily morning workshops
  • Afternoon & evening panels on art & craft, staff readings, and panel discussions on editing & publishing
  • Individual one-on-one conferences
  • Readings by prominent staff writers and special guests
  • Open Workshop led by Sands Hall

Tuition is discounted to $850. See Fees & Deadlines, below. Financial aid is available. Admissions are based on submitted manuscripts.

Dates: August 1 – 6, 2021
Registration/Opening Meeting Sunday, August 1, 2021
Workshops 8:30 AM – 11:30 am (Pacific) M – F
Individual Conferences 20 minutes. Wednesday afternoon.
Craft Discussions M-T-T-F at 3:30 – 4:30 pm PST
Gatherings M-T-T-F at 5:00 pm PST
Staff Readings T-T at 6:30 pm PST

Application Deadline: April 28, 2021
The Application Form link is at the bottom of the page. Please make sure to read all the information here before applying.

We make no admissions decisions before all the submissions have been read and evaluated.

Daily Schedule

Morning workshops meet daily from 8:30-11:30 (Pacific), with a different staff member leading discussion each day. Workshops are limited to ten participants. In the course of the week, every participant has their manuscript addressed, with two manuscripts discussed each session.

To avert online fatigue, our afternoon and evening schedules in the Virtual Valley are lighter than when we can gather in person. Nevertheless, we’ll offer panels, readings, and other presentations on the art, craft, and business of writing. Participants should be sure to set aside time for the reading and evaluation of workshop manuscripts.

Individual Conferences

Each participant has the opportunity to meet for a twenty-minute, one-on-one conference with a staff member other than the one who led their workshop. Unless other arrangements need to be made, these conferences are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Open Workshop
A special afternoon workshop led by Sands Hall

Several afternoons during the week, Sands Hall leads the Open Workshop, which provides another opportunity for participants to share their writing with their conference peers. Work is read aloud and discussed in a spontaneous and productive format. No additional fee.

Fees & Deadlines

Program DatesAugust 1 - 6, 2021
Deadline to ApplyApril 28, 2021
(before midnight PST)
Application Fee$40
Acceptance NotificationOn or before June 10, 2021
Deposit - NonrefundableA deposit of $425 will be due upon acceptance. (Awards of financial aid may reduce this amount.)
Deposit DeadlineJune 20, 2021
Registration/First Day of ConferenceSunday, August 1, 2021
Financial Aid & ScholarshipsView Financial Aid Information
Application FormNonfiction & Memoir Workshops Application Form

Application Guidelines

  • Deadline for receipt of application/submission: before midnight PST, April 28, 2021
  • Applicants, including past participants, should submit a sample of their best, unpublished prose.
  • Writing sample submission manuscript may consist of an essay(s) or chapter(s)/section(s). Book chapters must include a one-page synopsis of the whole book; add to the end of ms. LIMIT 5000 words.
  • If you have previously applied to our workshop, please do not apply or bring for consideration the exact same material. You may use previously submitted material that has been revised.
  • Please do not submit previously published material (print or online). It is acceptable, however, to send work currently under submission.
  • Submission ms. must be typed, double-spaced and 12 pt. On the first page of the manuscript, applicants must provide the following:
    • Top left side of page: Indicate application program (Nonfiction or Memoir), and indicate what you are submitting (nonfiction book chapter(s), memoir book chapter(s), nonfiction essay, or personal memoir essay.)
    • Top center of page: Word count for submitted manuscript. (Submission ms., excluding synopsis, must be less than 5,000 words.)
    • Top right side of page: Your name in the upper right-hand corner of each page. (Please use your actual name, not the name you write under.)
  • Attach a digital file (Word.doc or PDF) of your submission ms. to the online application form. Digital files will be deleted after workshops.
  • Those who require financial aid to attend should request it in the application form. Please see our Financial Aid page for more information.
  • A $40 reading fee will be due with submission.
    • Pay online with a credit card or PayPal. (Online payments subject to a 3.25% service fee.)
    • Or pay with a check payable to Community of Writers.

Mail to: Community of Writers – Nonfiction/Memoir
PO Box 1416
Nevada City, CA 95959

  • Once you complete the online form, you will receive an email confirmation.
  • Notification of acceptance by June 10, 2021
Apply Now

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