Classes

Class: Pat Holt - Contemporary Classics Book Group (Fridays)

Friday, March 12, 2021 - 10:30am to 12:30pm


Five Fridays: March 12, April 16, May 14, June 11 & July 16, 2021

Hosted via Zoom • Live • 10:30am-12:30pm PT • $125

 

Pat Holt leads a discussion of books that have captured the contemporary imagination. Pat is the former book review editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and publisher of Holt Uncensored.

March 12
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

April 16
This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

May 14
Maud's Line by Margaret Verble

June 11
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

July 16
Real Life by Brandon Taylor

 

All titles are available at Book Passage. Please support your local, independent bookstore and buy from us!

 

 

Class: Pat Holt - Contemporary Classics Book Group (Tuesdays)

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 10:30am to 12:30pm

Five Tuesdays: March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8 & July 13, 2021

Hosted via Zoom • Live • 10:30am-12:30pm PT • $125

 

Pat Holt leads a discussion of books that have captured the contemporary imagination. Pat is the former book review editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and publisher of Holt Uncensored.

March 9
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

April 13
This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

May 11
Maud's Line by Margaret Verble

June 8
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

July 13
Real Life by Brandon Taylor

 

All titles are available at Book Passage. Please support your local, independent bookstore and buy from us!

 

 

Virtual Seminar: Connie Josefs - Finding Form: Shaping Your Memoir (Session II)

Saturday, March 20, 2021 - 2:00pm to 4:30pm



Session I: The 3-Act Paradigm (Sat., March 13, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

Session II: Alternative & Hybrid Structures (Sat., March 20, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

$125 per class • $200 for both
 

 

“We often turn to memoir for wisdom rather than form. But sometimes the form is the wisdom." —Stephanie Burt

You’ve written a draft of your memoir... a series of personal essays... a few vignettes. Now what? How do you revise, organize, put the pieces together?

Structure is more than a container, it’s a dynamic expression of voice, character and theme. This seminar will examine how writers of memoir and memoir-based fiction shape their work. We will analyze elements of the 3-Act Paradigm as well as alternative and hybrid structures, and explore how the shape of a memoir, its organizing principle, comes from inside the story. Seminar format includes advance readings, class handouts, lecture, and Q&A.

Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and memoir coach. She has led workshops in memoir and fiction for 30 years and has taught at UNM Albuquerque, Southwest Writers, The Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She holds an MFA from Antioch LA and has worked as a writer and story analyst for film and television. Find more at conniejosefs.com

 

Virtual Seminar: Connie Josefs - Finding Form: Shaping Your Memoir (Session I)

Saturday, March 13, 2021 - 2:00pm to Saturday, March 20, 2021 - 4:30pm



Session I: The 3-Act Paradigm (Sat., March 13, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

Session II: Alternative & Hybrid Structures (Sat., March 20, 2:00-4:30pm PT)

$125 per class • $200 for both
 

 

“We often turn to memoir for wisdom rather than form. But sometimes the form is the wisdom." —Stephanie Burt

You’ve written a draft of your memoir... a series of personal essays... a few vignettes. Now what? How do you revise, organize, put the pieces together?

Structure is more than a container, it’s a dynamic expression of voice, character and theme. This seminar will examine how writers of memoir and memoir-based fiction shape their work. We will analyze elements of the 3-Act Paradigm as well as alternative and hybrid structures, and explore how the shape of a memoir, its organizing principle, comes from inside the story. Seminar format includes advance readings, class handouts, lecture, and Q&A.

Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and memoir coach. She has led workshops in memoir and fiction for 30 years and has taught at UNM Albuquerque, Southwest Writers, The Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She holds an MFA from Antioch LA and has worked as a writer and story analyst for film and television. Find more at conniejosefs.com

 

Catherine Grace Katz - Five Things I've Learned About Writing the History We Think We Know (Virtual Class)

Sunday, February 28, 2021 - 1:00pm


Sunday, February 28th • Virtual

Live • 1:00-2:30pm PT• $40


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things I’ve learned about uncovering the forgotten voices and experiences that make us reconsider the people and events that we assume we know inside and out.

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt. World War II. These are some of the biggest names on the biggest stage of history—the people and events that have endured in the public imagination perhaps more than any other. As Winston Churchill said in 1940, “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this?” Indeed, what is its worth? And with more than one thousand books written about Winston Churchill alone, it is natural to wonder what is left to say that hasn’t been said already.

However, it is the history we think we know so well that is the history that most needs to be reexamined. Sometimes this is because new sources come to light, revealing perspectives we did not know existed that suddenly illuminate the shadows that lie just beyond these well-trodden paths. Long-forgotten voices and experiences make us reconsider the people and events that we assume we know inside and out, offering nuance through crucial details that have escaped notice. In other instances, it is because events in our own times spark fresh ideas about how to think about the past, and new technologies make it possible to reconstruct what has come before in tangible and immersive ways.

When I set out to write The Daughters of Yalta, I knew that it would be very different from any book written about the 1945 conference between Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. Yes, it is the story of Yalta, the consequences of which we are still living with today, but despite all that has been written about Yalta, a crucial story had remained hidden. Yalta is also the story of the special bonds between three fathers and their remarkable daughters—Winston and Sarah Churchill, Franklin and Anna Roosevelt, Averell and Kathleen Harriman—all brought together on the world stage. These three women had been passed over by historians, in part because historians only engaged with their story to sprinkle in tidbits of lighthearted human interest between heavy debates about the fate of the world. But never before seen sources and the forces of the present brought these daughters to the forefront of the narrative. They also challenged me to see their famous fathers as I had never seen them before.

In this class, I’ll share the things I’ve learned about what we mean when we talk about “history” — about how the ways that we and our contemporaries see things impact what feels like a new story worth telling about the past, about how historical perspectives change over time, and about how a fresh look at what we think of as a well-known figure or historical event can teach us something new about the legacy we inherit from the past.

More than anything, I will share what I’ve learned about history’s time-bending power. History should not be considered in a vacuum. It is about so much more than static memorization of names and dates in the steady march of time. It is also sold short by the dire warning that we must learn the past so as not to repeat our mistakes in the future. History is dynamic. It should be harnessed to comfort and inspire us today and tomorrow. It can show us that even in the most challenging times, those who we think of as the “Great Men of History” grappled with the same doubts, fears, and trepidations that we face in our own times, and that ingenuity, creativity, and cooperation can win the day.

At its heart, history is just a story about relationships, whether it is relationships between nations or relationships between individuals—including the relationship between one father and his daughter. Most of us will never know what it’s like to tussle with Stalin over the future of Europe in a Tsar’s former palace on the war-torn coast of the Black Sea, but we all know what it’s like to be someone’s parent or child. It is in the most difficult times, we need to look again and again at the history we think we know so well to remind ourselves that the individuals we put up on a pedestal are not so very different from us after all.

We’ll do that together when we meet. I hope you’ll join me.

Catherine Grace Katz is the author of the internationally acclaimed book The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War, named one of the Best Books of 2020 by Publishers Weekly and one of the Best History Books of 2020 by the Telegraph. Originally from Chicago, Catherine graduated from Harvard in 2013 with a BA in History and received her MPhil in Modern European History from Christ’s College, University of Cambridge in 2014, where she wrote her dissertation on the origins of modern counterintelligence practices under the supervision of Professor David Reynolds. After graduating, Catherine worked in finance in New York City before a very fortuitous visit to the bookstore in the lobby of her office in Manhattan led her to return to history and writing. She is currently pursuing her JD at Harvard Law School. The Daughters of Yalta is her first book.

Don George - Five Things I've Learned About How to Be a Travel Writer (Virtual Class)

Saturday, February 6, 2021 - 1:00pm

Saturday, February 6th • Virtual

Live • 1:00-3:00pm PT• $60


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things I’ve learned about creating and publishing great travel writing.

Join the author of How to Be a Travel Writer, Lonely Planet’s best-selling guide to travel writing. (It’s actually the best-selling travel writing guide in the world!)

I’ve been fortunate enough to be a travel writer and editor all my professional life, more than three decades. I’ve been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, and Lonely Planet, and I’m now an Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel. Through the years, I’ve learned what makes a great travel story and how to maximize your chances for success in travel writing. My goal in this class is to share the most important lessons I’ve learned, as a writer and as an editor, for both print and online publications.

Some of the questions I’ll answer include: What are the secrets of great travel writing? How do you get started? How do you decide what to write about? How do you research a story before a trip and on the ground?  How do you shape a story for maximum effect? What are the biggest mistakes you should avoid? How do you take your writing from good to great? What’s the best way to work with editors and travel industry professionals? Can you actually make a living as a travel writer? Is it all as good as it sounds?

Whether your goal is simply to write unforgettable emails and wow-inspiring blog posts or to make a career from your travels, I’ll share field-tested tips that will help distinguish your writing from everyone else’s and give you the best chance for realizing your dreams.

I’ve been teaching travel writing for three decades, and I love sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey into the art and heart of travel writing.

Don George is the author of the award-winning anthology The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George, and of How to Be a Travel Writer, the best-selling travel writing guide in the world. He is also the editor of ten acclaimed literary anthologies, including A Moveable Feast, The Kindness of Strangers, and An Innocent Abroad.

Don is currently Editor at Large for National Geographic Travel, and has been Travel Editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, Salon, and Lonely Planet. He has visited more than 90 countries and has written more than a thousand articles for print and online publications. He has been honored 17 times in the Society of American Travel Writers’ annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism competition.

In addition to his writing and editing, Don has spoken and taught at dozens of colleges, conferences, and corporations, including Google, the New York Times Travel Show, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, TravelCon, TBEX, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, the San Jose State University MFA Program in Creative Writing, and the Melbourne Writers Festival. He is co-founder and chairman of the renowned Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference, now in its 29th year.

As an editor, Don has worked with numerous celebrated writers, including Isabel Allende,  Anthony Bourdain, Paul Bowles, Bill Bryson, Tim Cahill, Dave Eggers, M.F.K. Fisher, Robert Hass, Pico Iyer, Peter Matthiessen, Frances Mayes, Peter Mayle, Alexander McCall Smith, Jan Morris, Eric Newby, Joyce Carol Oates, Susan Orlean, Ann Patchett, Francine Prose, Jane Smiley, Gary Snyder, Wallace Stegner, Cheryl Strayed, Paul Theroux, and Simon Winchester.

He remains as passionate about travel and travel writing now as he was at the beginning of his career, and he loves sharing what he’s learned along the way.

Pico Iyer and Michael Shapiro - Five Things We've Learned About Deepening the Creative Flow (Virtual Class)

Saturday, March 6, 2021 - 1:30pm

Saturday, March 6th • Virtual

Live • 1:30-3:30pm PT• $60


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things we’ve learned about cultivating your creative spirit and making it as deep and wide-ranging as possible in your art and in your life.

We’re all creators—not just consumers of others’ creations—and in this class we’ll explore how to give voice to your creativity on the page and in the world. We’ll address how to develop your creative muscles and your creative confidence; how to break rules and go in unexpected directions; and how to ignore the pressures of society to craft a life that sustains you and those around you.

Michael Shapiro recently published The Creative Spark, a collection of interviews with musicians, writers, explorers, and visionaries who suggest exciting new ways of living and being. Pico Iyer has spent much of the virus season writing on writing—which is to say, the subconscious, surrender, and leaps of faith.

Together, we’ll share the five things we’ve learned about deepening the creative flow in our own lives and how this same process has played out in the lives of people we admire: Sometimes creativity involves simply taking things out, sometimes it involves bringing together two familiar worlds to create something liberatingly unfamiliar. Often it means finding ways of crafting lives of value and thinking afresh — thinking, for example, about how best to raise children, how to make a living, and how to honor our deepest selves. Our hope is to help you engage and cultivate your own creative spirit, and to make that spirit as deep and wide-ranging as possible in your art and in your life.

We hope you will join us.

Pico Iyer is the host of the “Speaking with Pico” series in Santa Barbara, regularly conducts interviews for the City Arts and Lectures series in San Francisco and, over 25 years, has conducted intimate onstage conversations with everyone from Philip Glass to Zadie Smith and from Martin Scorsese to Ireland’s President Mary Robinson. His four talks for TED have received more than 10 million views so far.

Since 1982 he has been a full-time writer, publishing 15 books, translated into 23 languages, on subjects ranging from the Dalai Lama to globalism, from the Cuban Revolution to Islamic mysticism. They include such long-running sellers as Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk, The Global Soul, The Open Road, and The Art of Stillness. He has also written the introductions to more than 70 other books, as well as liner and program notes, a screenplay for Miramax and a libretto. At the same time he has been writing up to 100 articles a year for Time, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, the Financial Times, and more than 250 other periodicals worldwide. Since 1992 he has spent much of his time at a Benedictine hermitage in Big Sur, California, and most of the rest in suburban Japan.

Michael Shapiro is a journalist and author of two interview collections: A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration, which includes Bill Bryson, Isabel Allende, Paul Theroux, and Jan Morris; and the recently published The Creative Spark (including Amy Tan, David Sedaris, Barbara Kingsolver, Graham Nash, and many others). He moderates panel discussions at events such as Key West Literary Seminar and Book Passage’s travel conference.

Laurie R. King - Five Things I've Learned About How Characters Come to Life (Virtual Class)

Saturday, January 30, 2021 - 1:00pm


Saturday, January 30th • Virtual

Live • 1:00-3:00pm PT• $60


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things I’ve learned about creating memorable characters who come to life for my readers.

Fiction is characters.

Oh, sure, we love an exotic setting and research that puts us there and a plot so clever we never saw the twists coming—but without the characters who walk through that scrupulously researched setting and perform that series of intricately choreographed acts, those other elements are an empty stage, waiting for actors to emerge from the wings.

I’ve been a published writer for nearly thirty years. More than 12,000 pages of hardback fiction have come out under my name, hitting the New York Times list, winning a lot of prizes, finding their way into a number of languages and bringing together a community of fans. Every one of those stories, from 650-word flash-fiction tale to 115,000-word novel, succeeds or fails because of the characters who inhabit its pages.

So how do we, as writers, create these people? How do we use the 26 letters of the English language to summon up living, breathing beings—characters so memorable that readers cry with their sorrows and celebrate their victories, find courage and inspiration from them, and change their lives because of the words on the page? How do we shape characters that, when a book is over, the reader continues to feel them, wondering about their lives, speculating and daydreaming as if they were real?

Creation is magic—but it is also craft, a long series of deliberate choices and experiments which are the focus of this workshop.

In this two-hour class, we will look at what goes into building a character who feels real: What kind of research do I need to do? What does he look like, how does she speak, where are they from? What has made this person a villain and that one a hero, and how much of their backstory do I need to know—more than that, how much does my reader need?

And then, once I have made these myriad decisions to build three-dimensional characters, how do I use them?  What brings a character to life on the page, and makes the reader care what happens next?

Join me, as I explore how creation is done and how characters come to life.

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories (from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, named one of the 20th century’s best crime novels by the IMBA, to 2015’s Dreaming Spies). She has won or been nominated for an alphabet of prizes from Agatha to Wolfe, been chosen as guest of honor at several crime conventions, and has both an Edgar and Creasey and an honorary doctorate in theology.

Cara Black - Five Things I've Learned About Crafting a Sense of Place (Virtual Class)

Sunday, April 11, 2021 - 1:00pm

Sunday, April 11th • Virtual

Live • 1:00-3:00pm PT• $60


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.


Discover the five things I’ve learned about the focal point of all great writing: Location. Location, Location.

How do the most successful writers so effectively transport their readers to another era, to another planet, to Timbuktu, or to a dark, rainy Paris street during World War II? To date, I’ve written nineteen books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series and a historical standalone, Three Hours in Paris. In the process, I’ve thought a great deal about how a strong sense of place can immediately engage a story’s readers and how essentially location establishes a story’s themes and characters, shapes its plot, and determines the narrative’s possibilities.

I live in San Francisco, but each of my Aimée Leduc mysteries are set in Paris. In part because I work so hard to establish an authentic sense of that wonderful city, I’ve been fortunate to be recognized for my writing. I’ve received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture—and invitations to be the Guest of Honor at conferences such as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime. I also know that my writing travels: With more than 400,000 books in print, the Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.

In this online class, I’ll share the five things I’ve found most essential to my own ability to establish a strong sense of place, no matter the subject or location. A good part of creating a vivid sense of place is linked to preparation: Each time I return to Paris I make a point of entrenching myself in a different part of the city, learning its secret history. I’ve posed as a journalist to sneak into closed areas, trained at a firing range with real Paris flics, gotten locked in a bathroom at the Victor Hugo museum, and even gone down into the sewers with the rats so that my heroine Aimée can complete the same journey in a way that feels genuine and authentic to my readers.

I’m hoping to share a couple of these wonderful stories with you, but our time together will focus on some other essential strategies you can employ to make the settings in your stories come alive for your readers. I’ll share the ways I research a location before I sit down to write — what I first need to understand about a place before I can even begin a draft, the kinds of details I search for to make things vivid for my readers, and how later I focus my research once writing is underway. I’ll share how I invoke the five senses to bring key details to life in my writing; and the ways I use emotions and feelings to deepen, contrast, or complement the story’s essential elements. I’ll also share my thoughts about what I call “writer’s immersion,” and how this technique helps me uncover the most important, most telling details that keep my story moving forward.

It’s a lot to cover in a single sitting, but I’m confident you’ll find our time together worthwhile. When our class has concluded, you’ll know what it’s taken me a long time to discover for myself about the ways that a strong sense of place establishes everything else in a story. If you’re a writer, the things I’ve learned are sure to help you to compose your own more effective narratives no matter your subject or style—in fiction, non-fiction, memoir, or travel essay.

A strong sense of place anchors readers and draws them into the story. If you’re a reader, this class will give you a behind-the-scenes, personal glimpse at the ways my mysteries are crafted and assembled.

I hope you’ll join me.

Cara Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nineteen books in the Private Investigator Aimée Leduc series, which is set in Paris. Cara has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, a Washington Post Book World Book of the Year citation, the Médaille de la Ville de Paris—the Paris City Medal, which is awarded in recognition of contribution to international culture—and invitations to be the Guest of Honor at conferences such as the Paris Polar Crime Festival and Left Coast Crime. With more than 400,000 books in print, the Aimée Leduc series has been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.

Isabel Allende - Five Things I've Learned About Writing Fiction (Virtual Class)

Sunday, March 28, 2021 - 1:00pm

Sunday, March 28th • Virtual

Live • 1:00-2:30pm PT• $60


Five Things I’ve Learned online classes connect you with creative leaders and thinkers eager to share the lessons of their own experience. Classes take place live, online, with an on-demand video archive so that you can easily view again whenever and wherever you like.
 

 

Discover your voice and the work you were born to create with one of the most widely read authors in the world.

 

I have written twenty-six books, eighteen of which are novels. I can say without bragging too much that I have some experience in this strange craft of writing. In this class, I will talk about the most important lessons I’ve learned about fiction writing in the last forty years.

First, I’ll discuss the distinctive characteristics and requirements of some literary genres, such as historical fiction, the crime novel, and young adult fiction.

Then, I’ll talk about my way of shaping a plot, which probably differs from the standard norm, but it has worked for me.

Next is research: What’s the best way to find the information needed to write your book? How do you use the information without overwhelming the story? Research is essential, but it shouldn’t be too obvious. When is it time to stop researching and start writing?

I’ll also discuss the challenges of creating characters that are believable, three-dimensional and complex, like real people.  Characters move the plot and sooner or later they have to talk, so I’ll discuss the role of dialogue in my fiction, when and how I use it.

For me, a sense of place is essential in a novel. I’ll talk about how I bring a place to life in my writing.

And finally, we will talk about the very act of writing: How do you instill discipline in your schedule? What should you do when you get stuck? How do you kill off characters you love? And how do you know when you’re done?

I’ll be joined for part of this journey by a trusted travel companion and my beloved friend, the writer and editor Don George, who will be asking me some of the questions that you submit in advance of the class.

I am passionate about fiction writing, and it’s my honor to share my experience with other writers, wherever they are in their own writing journey. Maybe I can help you a little to discover your voice and to write the work you were born to create.

I hope you’ll join me!

Isabel Allende is one of the most widely read authors in the world, having sold more than 75 million books. Chilean born in Peru, Isabel won worldwide acclaim in 1982 with the publication of her first novel, The House of the Spirits, which began as a letter to her dying grandfather. Since then, she has authored more than twenty-five bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Daughter of Fortune, Island Beneath the Sea, Paula, The Japanese Lover, and A Long Petal of the Sea. Her work has been translated into more than forty-two languages. Her books entertain and educate readers by interweaving imaginative stories with significant historical events.

In addition to her work as a writer, Isabel devotes much of her time to human rights causes. In 1996, following the death of her daughter Paula, she established a charitable foundation in her honor, which has awarded grants to more than 100 nonprofits worldwide, delivering life-changing care to thousands of women and girls. More than 8 million have watched her TED Talks on leading a passionate life. She has received fifteen honorary doctorates, including one from Harvard University, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, received the PEN Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Allende the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, and in 2018 she received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. She lives in California. Find more at isabelallende.com.

 

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