Writing Classes

Corte Madera Class: Britta Stromeyer Esmail - Petite Prose: Crash Course in Writing Flash Fiction

Sunday, October 9, 2022 - 2:00pm



Petite Prose: Crash Course in Writing Flash Fiction

Two Sundays - October 9th & 16th • 2:00-4:00pm PT

Corte Madera Store • $150

 

Brevity seems easy (after all, we live in a hashtag world). But it’s not. What if 100, 500 or 1000 words is all you’ve got to take a reader’s breath away? We will examine the craft of writing short-short stories. Differentiate between forms of flash fiction. Understand fundamentals of craft terminology and how these elements function within very short stories. Compose petite prose with a complete story arc while strengthening your editing skills. Develop an awareness of how to read as a writer which will inform all of your writing.

Suitable for all levels, we will primarily focus on very short fiction across genres. Learn to write short narratives with a full story and character arc. Instructor will provide examples and various writing prompts. 

Britta Stromeyer Esmail is the author of the award winning picture book Raina’s (UN) Happy Birthday and Finalist for the Bellingham Review Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction 2021. She is an editor of Tuxedo Literature & Arts Journal and the associate editor for FastForward Magazine. She teaches creative writing workshops for adults and youth, grades 5-12. She holds a Certificate in Novel Writing from Stanford University, an M.A. in International Communication from American University, and is currently an MFA’23 candidate at Dominican University, CA. She is a member of and advocate for the National Writing Project Council, the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, and the 12x12 Picture Book Challenge. Her second picture book, Look at Me. Who Do You See? is forthcoming in 2023. www.brittastromeyer.com

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Corte Madera Class: Kerrin Meis - Granada/Alhambra

Friday, October 14, 2022 - 1:00pm


Granada/Alhambra

Two Fridays ( October 14th & 21st  1:00 – 3:00 pm PT)

 

Corte Madera in-person class

 
This class will be held in a large room with a door open to outside for good ventilation.
Book Passage will continue to follow all state and local health guidelines.

 

"If you have not seen Granada you have not seen anything." 

So says the Spanish adage. We shall visit the city of the pomegranate which is defined by the events of 1492 when the last Moorish King Boabdil surrendered to Ferdinand and Isabella. We visit the Cathedral designed by Diego de Siloe in a pseudo Italian Renaissance style, and the adjoining Royal Chapel where lie the remains of the Catholic Monarchs and a splendid Sacristy housing masterpieces by artists Hans Memling, Dierk Bouts and Roger van der Weyden. Across the street is the Banuelo, Spain's best preserved Arab bath. More Moorish reminders in the Palacio de la Madraza, originally an Arab University with a well-preserved madrasa. We visit the Albaicin, the most beautiful old city quarter in Andalucia, the Carthusian Monastery with its dazzling Baroque Sacristy, and the Monastery of San Jeronimo founded by the Catholic Monarchs on the site of a Moorish Mosque. It was embellished by Diego de Siloe and is an architectural feast! On to the Alhambra! We will visit this sensual place of space, light, water, and decoration. Highlights are the Hall of the Ambassadors, the Patio of the Lions, the Sala de Dos Hermanos, El Portal, the out- of-step Palace of Charles V and the Sala de los Reyes, where we find three multicolored ceiling paintings with figurative images (portraits, etc.). We end with a walk to the Generalife, the country palace of the Nasrids. Generalife means the garden of lofty paradise. If possible we stay at the Parador Alhambra! 

 

Kerrin Meis taught art history at SFSU for ten years and has led study tours in Europe. Her Book Passage classes have been favorites for years.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tama Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Corte Madera Class: Kerrin Meis - Seville: The Star of Andalucia

Thursday, September 8, 2022 - 1:00pm


Seville: The Star of Andalucia

Two Thursdays ( September 8th & 15th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm PT)

 

Corte Madera in-person class

 
This class will be held in a large room with a door open to outside for good ventilation.
Book Passage will continue to follow all state and local health guidelines.

 

Seville is the cultural and artistic capital of Southern Spain. Visitors head straight to her Cathedral, the largest in the world, and her Moorish bell tower: La Giralda.

We will explore the oddly shaped interior and its art work and move on to King Pedro I's Real Alcazar, built by Moorish craftsmen in 1364 and embellished by Charles V. The rooms, gardens and patios are astonishingly beautiful. The Museo de Bellas Artes, second only to the Prado in importance, houses works by the Seville School in a former monastery. Artists Murillo and Juan de Valdes- Leal can also be experienced in the Hospital de la Caridad with morbid messages to the faithful and in the Hospital de los Venerables. Look up! Highlights are visits to the Torre del Oro, The Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza and its museum, several places in the Barrio Santa Cruz (the former Jewish quarter), The Casa de Pilatos and the Parque Maria Luisa with its lovely gardens, and the Plaza de Espana for the 1929 Ibero-America Exposition. We will visit Triana, a picturesque neighborhood across the Guadalquivir River and the best place to experience Flamenco. We’ll conclude with some notes about the important festivals of Semana Santa and the Feria de Abril.

 

Kerrin Meis taught art history at SFSU for ten years and has led study tours in Europe. Her Book Passage classes have been favorites for years.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tama Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Mystery Writers Conference Class: Hallie Ephron - Managing Viewpoint in a Mystery Novel

Friday, August 5, 2022 - 9:00am


Managing Viewpoint in a Mystery Novel
Friday, August 5th | 9:00 - 11:30am

In-Person Class

 
This class will be held in a large room with a door open to outside for good ventilation.
Book Passage will continue to follow all state and local health guidelines.

 

Mystery and thriller writers are in the business of misdirection, surprising the reader with plot twists, revealing secrets, and creating tension with unanswered questions, all the while playing fair. In this workshop we'll talk about how POV relates to story (the sequence of events that actually took place in your fictional world) and plot (the order in which it's revealed to the reader). Careful management of viewpoint is key to making it all work. 

Topics will include figuring out whose story it is. Deciding which character(s) will get to narrate. First person or third? Single or multiple narrators? Handling narrator-to-narrator shifts. Shifting from near to far. What about omniscience? The problem with “head hopping” and how to avoid it. How to manipulate viewpoint to reveal (or hide) backstory. How to write an "unreliable narrator" and still “play fair." How to deepen viewpoint. 

Participants are encouraged (not required) to bring a chapter from their work in progress for in-class exercises. 

New York Times bestselling author Hallie Ephron, Edgar Award finalist and five-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, writes books she hopes readers can’t put down. Her newest suspense novel, Careful What You Wish For (August, 2019), with its echoes of Marie Kondo life-changing decluttering tips, explores the relationships built by professional organizers and their clients — showing just how easily the lines between professional and personal can be blurred. In it, Emily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she’s married to man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. Sometimes she find herself wondering if he sparks joy.

51 Tama Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Corte Madera Class: Kerrin Meis - The Feminine Eye: Women Art Collectors

Friday, July 22, 2022 - 1:00pm


The Feminine Eye: Women Art Collectors

Two Fridays ( July 22nd & 29th  1:00 – 3:00 pm PT)

 

Corte Madera in-person class

 
This class will be held in a large room with a door open to outside for good ventilation.
Book Passage will continue to follow all state and local health guidelines.

 

The collections of Isabella d'Este and Catherine the Great are legendary, but we know little about four women whose passion for art and discernment have left us with outstanding art museums.

We begin with Princess Izabela Czartoryski, whose collection of old masters including Rembrandt and Rafael once graced the family palace and included Leonardo's Lady with an Ermine brought from Italy to Poland. This priceless collection is now housed in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow. Helene Kroller Muller (nee Muller), a German who married a Dutchman, collected the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries well before they were generally recognized. The Kroller-Muller Museum in Oterlo is the high spot of any visit to the Netherlands. It is located in De Hoge Veluwe National Park. The sculpture garden is worth a trip! Note that this is the second largest collection of Vincent's work in the world. Isabella Stewart Gardner of Boston avidly collected art to grace her home, and then purchased pieces of architecture from Venice to build a museum to house her treasures. Much has been written about “The Gardner Heist,” the unsolved theft of 13 important works from the museum, but not enough has been revealed about the woman, her friends and the important independent decisions she made about purchases. Francine Clark (nee Clary) was a beautiful and talented French woman who married Sterling Clark, and with her taste and his money an outstanding collection was put together. “The Clark," as the Clark Collection is called, is in Williamstown, Mass. and houses, among other priceless pieces, the finest collection of Impressionist paintings in the country. We will look closely at the most iconic works in these four museums.

 

Kerrin Meis taught art history at SFSU for ten years and has led study tours in Europe. Her Book Passage classes have been favorites for years.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tama Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Corte Madera Class: Kerrin Meis - Modernism Revisited

Friday, July 8, 2022 - 1:00pm


Modernism Revisited

Two Fridays ( July 8th & 15th,  1:00 – 3:00 pm PT)

 

Corte Madera in-person class

 
This class will be held in a large room with a door open to outside for good ventilation.
Book Passage will continue to follow all state and local health guidelines.

 

The History of Modern Art has relied heavily on the contributions by French artists: the Impressionists, followed by Cezanne, Gauguin and Matisse.

But this is an incomplete picture! The move away from pictorial realism to the recognition of art for art's sake really began in Vienna where, around 1900, the Austro- Hungarian Empire was fading away in what one author has dubbed "a nervous splendor.”  A burst of innovation in medicine, psychiatry, literature and music took place, including a very important revolution in the areas of painting, sculpture and architecture. We study the controversial early works of Gustave Klimt and the Vienna Secession, including several important women artists in the group. The architecture of Adolf Loos, reviled at the time, and Otto Wagner as well as Koloman Moser whose influential work is often neglected in studies. Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele and especially Richard Gerstl offer insights into the psychology of both artist and subject.

We move on to the German Expressionists who, even more than Matisse and the Fauves, upset traditional use of color and form.  Special attention to August Macke, Franz Marc and the Blaue Reiter group in Munich and the painters of Die Brucke in Dresden:  Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl-Schmidt Rottluff, whose emotional and sexual themes made the Fauves look tame. We will pay close attention to Emil Nolde's "degenerate" religious works and Paula Modersohn-Becker in Worpsvede.

Of course we study Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian transplant to Munich whose compositions move steadily from a primitive style toward abstraction and the art  of Gabriele Muenter, his gifted companion. 

Kerrin Meis taught art history at SFSU for ten years and has led study tours in Europe. Her Book Passage classes have been favorites for years.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tama Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Corte Madera Class: Kerrin Meis - Convivencia: Toledo - City of Three Cultures

Friday, June 17, 2022 - 1:00pm


Convivencia: Toledo - City of Three Cultures

Two Fridays ( June 17th & 24th,  1:00 – 3:00 pm PT)

 

Corte Madera in-person class

 
This class will be held in a large room with a door open to outside for good ventilation.
Book Passage will continue to follow all state and local health guidelines.

 

Spectacularly sited, Toledo is blessed with important vestiges of her role as the spiritual capital of Spain: Two exquisite and historically important Synagogues, a Sephardic Museum, the intriguing Mosque de la Luz, an Arab fortress, the Gothic Cathedral's virtual gallery of paintings and its famous Transparente, San Roman church housing a Visigothic museum housing colorful murals.  El Greco is everywhere! -- in several churches, his house/museum, the Tavera hospital, and the Museum of Santa Cruz. Visit the spectacular Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes and study Mozarabic book illustrations created in nearby monasteries. In this time of disquieting xenophobia it is enlightening to reflect on the possibilities of tolerance as we learn about the cooperation among the scholars of Toledo's School of Translators: Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Kerrin Meis taught art history at SFSU for ten years and has led study tours in Europe. Her Book Passage classes have been favorites for years.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tama Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Corte Madera Class: Kerrin Meis - Cordoba: The Ornament of the World

Friday, June 3, 2022 - 1:00pm


Cordoba: The Ornament of the World
Two Fridays (June 3rd & 10th, 1:00-3:00pm PT)

Corte Madera in-person class

 
This class will be held in a large room with a door open to outside for good ventilation.
Book Passage will continue to follow all state and local health guidelines.

 

First in a series of lectures on the Convivencia , the 800 years when Muslims, Jews and Christians co-existed in relative harmony in Southern Spain. (Later lectures will focus on Toledo, Seville and Granada.)

Cordoba was first a Roman town, then a Christian Visigothic City, then was conquered by the Muslim invasion in 711.  But how did it become the most populated and cultured city in Medieval Europe and its Caliph the head of the entire Islamic World? The rather romantic story begins in Damascus with the Ummayad dynasty and is enriched by happenings in Baghdad. We will study the developments that created a city with paved streets, street lighting, underground sewers, advanced agricultural methods, new crops and exotic plants, to say nothing of its enormous libraries and the proliferation of literature, especially poetry.

Most tourists who visit Cordoba come on day trips to see the Mosque/Cathedral, which is fantastic in every respect. We will imagine ourselves there for at least two days to visit the Juderia - especially the Caleja de las Flores - and the Synagogue - the splendid Alcazar Real where the Christian Monarchs lived for eight years – as well as the flower-filled patios that are open to annual tours and competitions, the gorgeous Palacio de Viana and, most importantly, the ruins of Azahara Medina, the huge palace and garden complex just outside the city.

It was a 10th C Saxon nun who, hearing from travelers of the splendor of Cordoba, dubbed it The Ornament of the World.

Kerrin Meis taught art history at SFSU for ten years and has led study tours in Europe. Her Book Passage classes have been favorites for years.

Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tama Vista blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Online Class: Julia McNeal - Three Ways In to Evocative, Authentic Presence and Branding for Authors and Entrepreneurs

Saturday, May 22, 2021 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm



Saturday, May 22, 1:30-3:30pm PT

Hosted via Zoom • Live • $75 • Class limited to 24
 

 

Authenticity is a word that gets over-used these days, but what it refers to—credible, trustworthy expression of the essence of a thing or being—is essential to the kind of self-promotion that feels easeful and aligned. That easeful alignment relaxes you, clarifies who you are, and connects you intimately with your audience.

Every business, every book, every writer, event or online page, has an essential authenticity — a Character all its own. When you apply Julia McNeal’s acclaimed Five Ways In to Character technique to your book, your business, or your online presence, you’ll bring that character into clear and vibrant focus.

In this two-hour workshop, you’ll learn how to apply three of the Five Ways In for greatest effect in bringing your work, yourself and your brand to the marketplace. You’ll come away with practical tools you can use whenever you are promoting your work. You’ll get access to language and a tone that is intimately congruent with and evocative of who you are and what you are creating — in alignment with your most authentic intention and purpose.

Format of classes: Presentation, short interactive exercises, question/answer.

Julia McNeal’s Five Ways In to Character technique is a unique, 5-part approach for creating characters on the page and in performance. Synthesized by professional actor and coach, Julia McNeal, and honed over the last 15 years, this technique has never failed to deepen, clarify, and improve the character creation of all who apply it.

What Students Are Saying about Julia McNeal

“Julia’s Ways In is a brilliant and original set of techniques for exploring and deepening characters which go way beyond what writers usually learn and practice. A wonderful opportunity to learn from an accomplished actress how to
access the often elusive essence of characters and what makes them tick. Julia is a passionate and stimulating teacher and her classes crack open new insights and perspectives for writers committed to creating characters that are fully alive.”

"Julia's techniques help keep me excited about my writing projects rather than overwhelmed. Her classes offer a useful conceptual framework, actionable practices, and compassionate support."

Online Class: Julia McNeal - Five Ways In to Character: A Three-Class Series (Ways Four and Five)

Saturday, November 19, 2022 - 1:30pm


Way One (Sat., November 5, 1:30-3:30pm PT • $70)

Ways Two & Three (Sat., November 12, 1:30-4:00pm PT • $85)

Ways Four & Five (Sat., November 19, 1:30-4:00pm PT • $85)

Sign up for each class individually, or take all three and get a full-series discount

Online • Live • $200 for the series • Class size limited to 18

 

 

Five Ways In to Character is a unique, five-part technique for creating characters on the page and in performance. Synthesized by Julia McNeal, and honed over the last 15 years, this technique has never failed to deepen, clarify, and improve the character creation of all who apply it.

Following the great success of these online classes last year, Julia brings the entire series back to Book Passage this fall.

1. Way One of the Five Ways In to Character

The first of the Five Ways, “Way One” introduces the first of the “Outside-In” approaches of the technique. It’s the most fun to use and easiest to apply, with clear and immediate results. Even as it focuses on externally visible character details, by using this approach, deeper motivations and priorities are revealed, while characters come into individuated clarity.

Bring to class: A line or two in the voice of—or a short description of—two or three characters you are creating/writing about — fictional or real.

2) Ways Two and Three of the Five Ways In to Character

Way Two completes the “Outside-In” work of the technique — focusing on gender; and Way Three is the deep core of the technique: the Inside-Out work that opens the door to any character’s truest being and unique nature.

Bring to class: A notebook and pen (rather than a device) to write with, and a short paragraph (1 – 5 sentences) that describes—or is in the voice of—a character you are working on or thinking about.

3) Ways Four and Five of the Five Ways In to Character

Ways Four and Five are both Inside-Out work (starting with the inner world of a character, and discovering how that manifests outwardly). Way Four gives you Julia’s Artist’s/Writer’s Authentic Self meditation (totally valuable on its own, with or without characters to write!), and shows you how to apply it to creating distinct characters. Way Five is the simplest Inside-Out piece of the technique—almost a no-brainer—and always worth applying last.

Bring to class: A notebook and pen (rather than a device) to write with, and a short paragraph (1 – 5 sentences) that describes—or is in the voice of—a character you are working on or thinking about (they can even be You.)

In each class, you will learn practical tools to apply every time you want to get clear, compelling, recognizable and specific characters on the page. If you need something to shake up your writing routine, invite deeper truth, energy, and new ways of seeing the character(s) you are writing (even if that character is You), come play and learn on three Saturdays: November 5th, 12th, and 19th. You’ll come away with a whole new way of looking at characters, and a concrete method of approach you can use, going forward.

The book on Julia's technique: 5 Ways In to Character: bringing intimate humanity to the page, stage, screen and easel is now available for purchase!

Format of classes: Presentation, short interactive exercises, short writing time, question/answer. Class size limited to 16 students.

NOTE: Classes will be held on ZOOM and will not be recorded. Greatest effectiveness depends on working in person, in community (this is showing up for your Writing Time). Also, not recording protects individual and artistic privacy. Julia’s Five Ways In to Character book and videos are being created as we speak, and she hopes to have them available at the time of this Series.

©2021 Julia McNeal julia@juliamcnealarts.com

What Students Are Saying about Julia McNeal

“Julia’s Ways In is a brilliant and original set of techniques for exploring and deepening characters which go way beyond what writers usually learn and practice. A wonderful opportunity to learn from an accomplished actress how to
access the often elusive essence of characters and what makes them tick. Julia is a passionate and stimulating teacher and her classes crack open new insights and perspectives for writers committed to creating characters that are fully alive.”

"Julia's techniques help keep me excited about my writing projects rather than overwhelmed. Her classes offer a useful conceptual framework, actionable practices, and compassionate support."

“Thank you Julia. This was exactly what I needed to reconnect with my writing project after losing focus amid this whole pandemic situation.”

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