Writing Classes

Class: Connie Josefs - The Shape of Time in Memoir

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 2:30pm
photo of Connie Josefs, craft of writing memoir instructor

This session is currently full.  To be added to the wait list, please email Classes@bookpassage.com.  Thank you.

Sunday, January 12, 2020 • 2:30pm – 5:30pm • $95 

“You don’t look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that... Nothing goes away.” — Margaret Atwood  Time can be one of the the most challenging aspects of memoir. We view events from two vantage points: then and now. How do writers accommodate this shifting narrative stance? How do we effectively utilize hindsight to gain access to narratives of the past? This workshop will explore how memoirists organize time, voice and point of view to structure scenes and create coherence.

Connie Josefs Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and writing coach who has worked extensively with writers to write and publish their memoirs. She has taught writing at the University of New Mexico, the Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She has also been a writer and story analyst for film and television.

What Students Are Saying about Connie Josefs

"The class went above and beyond my expectations! Connie is gifted in approach, connection, and content. She has a beautiful way of corralling the group and keeping people on track in a caring way. In addition, she has to hear people share some of their worst moments and traumas and respond with feedback on the writing, instead of as a therapist or friend. She’s truly brilliant in how she manages these delicate, intricate dynamics.” – Erin P.

"Connie was very clear & specific as to each segment she taught, answered questions thoughtfully and well AND had us do writing exercises in each segment. She is an excellent teacher. I feel so much better equipped to work on my memoir now." – Ruth M.

"The class totally met my expectations – so rich in content and experience. I only took one class – I wish I had taken all four!" – Joan L.

"Connie’s class surpassed my expectations. The instructor is deeply knowledgeable and wove many helpful concepts and exercises together to great effect." – Athena K.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Connie Josefs - You Had To Be There: Writing Scene in Memoir

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 10:00am
photo of Connie Josefs, craft of writing memoir instructor

This session is currently full.  To be added to the wait list, please email Classes@bookpassage.com.  Thank you.

Sunday, January 12, 2020 • 10:00am – 1:00pm • $95 

“I find that scene making is my natural way of marking the past.” — Virginia Woolf  
Scene is the building block of narrative; it brings the reader into the immediate experience of a story. But how do we determine when to move from scene to exposition? This workshop will examine the varied effects of scene and exposition in memoir and explore how they are used effectively to bring personal experience to the page.

Connie Josefs Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and writing coach who has worked extensively with writers to write and publish their memoirs. She has taught writing at the University of New Mexico, the Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She has also been a writer and story analyst for film and television.

What Students Are Saying about Connie Josefs

"The class went above and beyond my expectations! Connie is gifted in approach, connection, and content. She has a beautiful way of corralling the group and keeping people on track in a caring way. In addition, she has to hear people share some of their worst moments and traumas and respond with feedback on the writing, instead of as a therapist or friend. She’s truly brilliant in how she manages these delicate, intricate dynamics.” – Erin P.

"Connie was very clear & specific as to each segment she taught, answered questions thoughtfully and well AND had us do writing exercises in each segment. She is an excellent teacher. I feel so much better equipped to work on my memoir now." – Ruth M.

"The class totally met my expectations – so rich in content and experience. I only took one class – I wish I had taken all four!" – Joan L.

"Connie’s class surpassed my expectations. The instructor is deeply knowledgeable and wove many helpful concepts and exercises together to great effect." – Athena K.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Connie Josefs - The Way They Were: Writing Believable Characters in Memoir

Saturday, January 11, 2020 - 2:30pm
photo of Connie Josefs, craft of writing memoir instructor

This class is currently full. To be added to the wait list email Classes@bookpassage.com.  Thank you.

Saturday, January 11, 2020 • 2:30pm – 5:30pm • $95 

“I write to discover what I know.” ― Flannery O'Connor How do we get the people we know onto the page? When writing memoir, it’s all too easy to take our characters for granted because we know them. Complexity develops in characters as we discover them, moment by moment. This workshop will provide tools to help memoir writers reach beyond the familiar and craft characters in vivid and memorable detail.

Connie Josefs Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and writing coach who has worked extensively with writers to write and publish their memoirs. She has taught writing at the University of New Mexico, the Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She has also been a writer and story analyst for film and television.

What Students Are Saying about Connie Josefs

"The class went above and beyond my expectations! Connie is gifted in approach, connection, and content. She has a beautiful way of corralling the group and keeping people on track in a caring way. In addition, she has to hear people share some of their worst moments and traumas and respond with feedback on the writing, instead of as a therapist or friend. She’s truly brilliant in how she manages these delicate, intricate dynamics.” – Erin P.

"Connie was very clear & specific as to each segment she taught, answered questions thoughtfully and well AND had us do writing exercises in each segment. She is an excellent teacher. I feel so much better equipped to work on my memoir now." – Ruth M.

"The class totally met my expectations – so rich in content and experience. I only took one class – I wish I had taken all four!" – Joan L.

"Connie’s class surpassed my expectations. The instructor is deeply knowledgeable and wove many helpful concepts and exercises together to great effect." – Athena K.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Connie Josefs - Who’s Talking? The Narrator in Memoir

Saturday, January 11, 2020 - 10:00am
photo of Connie Josefs, craft of writing memoir instructor

This session is currently full. To be added to the wait list, email Classes@bookpassage.com

As of December 3, there are a few spaces in each of the other three sessions.

Saturday, January 11, 2020 • 10:00am – 1:00pm • $95 

“Get the narrator and you’ve got the piece.” —Vivian Gornick The narrator’s voice is central to the success of any memoir. It releases the story from the raw material of our lives and illuminates shape, forward movement, tone and theme. How do we find the right voice to tell our story? In this workshop, we will explore the concept of narrator as persona, a construct that emphasizes certain parts of ourselves and omits others. We will also explore the assets and liabilities of writing in first person. 

Connie Josefs Connie Josefs is a writer, teacher, and writing coach who has worked extensively with writers to write and publish their memoirs. She has taught writing at the University of New Mexico, the Taos Writers Conference, and Santa Monica College. She has also been a writer and story analyst for film and television.

What Students Are Saying about Connie Josefs

"The class went above and beyond my expectations! Connie is gifted in approach, connection, and content. She has a beautiful way of corralling the group and keeping people on track in a caring way. In addition, she has to hear people share some of their worst moments and traumas and respond with feedback on the writing, instead of as a therapist or friend. She’s truly brilliant in how she manages these delicate, intricate dynamics.” – Erin P.

"Connie was very clear & specific as to each segment she taught, answered questions thoughtfully and well AND had us do writing exercises in each segment. She is an excellent teacher. I feel so much better equipped to work on my memoir now." – Ruth M.

"The class totally met my expectations – so rich in content and experience. I only took one class – I wish I had taken all four!" – Joan L.

"Connie’s class surpassed my expectations. The instructor is deeply knowledgeable and wove many helpful concepts and exercises together to great effect." – Athena K.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Don George - Travel Writing Intensive

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 6:30pm
photo of Don George, travel writer

Seven Tuesdays: Jan. 14 - Feb. 25 • 6:30–9:00 pm • $425

Don George’s seven-week intensive travel writing class is patterned on a graduate school creative writing workshop. The emphasis is on the craft of travel writing. Weekly assignments progress from a few paragraphs to full-length articles, with the goal of writing publishable pieces. Students also learn to research stories, write query letters, work with editors, and market their articles. This highly successful class has led to numerous published stories in widely known venues such as the annual Best Travel Writing and Lonely Planet anthologies.

Don George literally wrote the book on travel writing — Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing, the best-selling travel writing guide in the world — and has been a travel writer and editor all his professional life. He chairs Book Passage's annual Travel Writers & Photographers Conference.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Laura Deutsch - Writing from the Senses

Saturday, October 19, 2019 - 1:00pm
photo of author and writing instructor Laura Deutsch

Saturday, Oct 19 • 1:00 – 4:00 pm • Tuition: $95

The sensory details that infuse our everyday experience—the smell of a favorite dish cooking, the texture of a well-worn coat, hearing a song that reminds us of a time in our lives—can add richness and spark to what we write. Using sensory prompts, Laura will show you how to tap into your best material, enriching memory and story with imagery and detail. With her book, Writing from the Senses, as your guide, you’ll never have to stare at a blank page or computer screen again. For writers at all levels.

Laura Deutsch leads writing workshops from Tassajara to Tuscany and has taught writing at UC Berkeley and SFSU. Her writing has appeared in the LA Times, SF Chronicle, Eating Well, and other publications and has aired on public radio.

What Students Say about Laura Deutsch

"Laura was terrific — organized and original, a generous and talented teacher. This is one of the best classes I’ve taken." -- Book Passage student 

“I loved this class and am eager for more.” -- Book Passage student 

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Corey Fischer - Telling Your Story

Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 6:45pm
photo of actor, storytelling teacher Corey Fischer

Five Thursdays: Oct 3 - Oct 31 • 6:45-8:45 pm • Tuition: $225

This class has reached the maximum enrollment. To be placed on the waiting list or to request that Book Passage offer this class again in the near future, please call Sandra at 415-927-0960, x230.

Creating on your feet, out loud, is a powerful way to explore and expand your “voice” as a writer or a storyteller. Award-winning actor/writer/director Corey Fischer uses free-writing exercises, theatre games, and prompts for group sharing in a safe and supportive setting as he guides each student in discovering, shaping and performing a particular personal story. In the final class, participants will share their stories with a small, invited audience. This class is for anyone who wants to tell their own stories – on the page or on the “stage.”

Corey Fischer, co-founder of Traveling Jewish Theatre (1978-2012), has been creating and teaching theatre over 50 years. He views autobiographical storytelling as a much-needed way to open imagination and memory and to nurture community.

What Students Say About Corey Fischer

“Corey Fischer is an amazing teacher.  I took his workshops in storytelling, performance, and improvisation whenever I could. Each time my mind opened, my body became more energized and limber, my spirit and imagination expanded – always in an atmosphere of safety, human connection, and enjoyment. I highly recommend Corey as an extraordinary teacher for anyone seeking to express their creativity, find their storytelling voice, and have a lot of fun along the way.” -- Jonathan D. Greenberg, Executive Director, Gandhi King Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, Stanford Law School

“With humor and heart, Corey guides you to the wild, unknown parts of your creativity.  He is a teacher not to be missed: a man with a lifetime of experience, an insightful perspective, and a gentle and supportive approach. He grounds you as you leap into the unknown, and expertly helps you shape what you bring back from your explorations.” – Naomi Stein, writer, performer

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Melissa Cistaro - The Memoir Writer’s Survival Kit

Saturday, September 21, 2019 - 10:00am
photo of author and writing teacher Melissa Cistaro

Saturday: Sept 21 • 10:00 am - 1:00 pm • $65

How does a writer survive the long journey of writing a deeply personal story? How do we handle the stages of rejection and self-doubt? Memoirist and industry insider, Melissa Cistaro will share her circuitous path to publication and the lessons she learned along the way. In this workshop, you will wrangle some new survival skills as a writer, flex your writing muscles, gather a deeper understanding of the current memoir market – and discover ways to thrive as you explore the path of publication.

Melissa Cistaro is the bestselling author of the award-winning memoir Pieces of My Mother (US edition) and the Canadian bestseller Without My Mother (HarperCollins Canada). Melissa mentors writers and teaches memoir writing workshops in the Bay Area and internationally.

What Students Are Saying about Melissa Cistaro

"Melissa’s compassionate feedback as a writing coach along with her generosity in sharing her years of experience, greatly enhanced my journey from manuscript to book signing. Her passion for mentoring writers is an absolute blessing." - Nisha Zenhoff, Author of The Unspeakable Loss

"Melissa is everything you would hope for in a teacher. She creates a safe learning and sharing space that facilitates valuable give and take and seems to know how to nudge students just the right way. She created a wonderful learning atmosphere, provided great writing exercises to get the creative juices flowing and provided encouraging feedback that kept us on track. I can't wait to take another class with her and highly recommend her to any aspiring writer." - S. Mirfattah

"I could not have asked for a better first time memoir writing class. Melissa was great and really set the mood for a safe and supportive workshop environment. The feedback she gave during class was always encouraging and helpful. I understand now how to go about writing my memoir and, most importantly, I feel very proud and courageous for attempting to share my story." - Nina Meechoonuk

"Melissa is more than an inspiring teacher; she is a wise human being who combines a macro passion for books, with a micro ability to connect with the ink words of her students. Melissa creates a very safe space for writers to share their work, and encourages the finding of one's own voice. I can say emphatically that I am a better writer and more reflective person having taken not one, but two classes with her." - Daniel Polk

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: David Corbett - The Final Polish

Sunday, September 29, 2019 - 10:00am
photo of author and writing teacher David Corbett

Sunday: September 29 • 10:00 am - 4:00 pm • $150

This class has been canceled. 

You’ve finished and revised your manuscript and believe it’s ready to send it out. But in today’s competitive marketplace, you may get only one chance to impress agents and editors. In this workshop, David Corbett will review your first ten pages and a one-to-two-page synopsis to determine: How unique is the voice? How compelling are the story questions? How engaging are the main characters? How high are the stakes?

After registering, your manuscript and synopsis must be submitted to classes@bookpassage.com by Sept. 22.

David Corbett is the award-winning author of The Art of Character and six novels, including The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday.

What Students Say about David Corbett

"To learn from David Corbett is to be in a safe space with a wise, patient teacher. David allows you room to make mistakes and learn from them; his feedback is exhaustive and extremely helpful...  With David, I have learned to create complex, real characters, define character arcs, and let them lead me into a well-knit plot. Thanks to his advice over the years, I now partner with a very good agent, and have landed a publishing deal." —Damyanti Biswas, author of You Beneath Your Skin 

"David is an insightful, passionate, supportive teacher and writing coach. He is attuned to the needs of his students and meets them wherever they are in their writing careers. He pushed me (nicely) to understand my characters deeply, to discover what made them tick, and to let them breathe on their own. That turned out to be the first book in a series and I'm still listening to David's advice as I head into the third one." —Susan C. Shea, author of Love & Death in Burgundy 

"David Corbett's teaching style should be measured by the success of his students. I and two of my classmates (see below) have progressed greatly since studying with him in 2015. My novel was published in 2016. Another classmate's novel is now with the publisher and will soon be in bookstores. A third classmate got an agent just a year after working with David. You can't argue with results!" —Rick Pullen 

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Gelfand - You Can Be a Winning Writer: the 4 C’s of Successful Authors

Monday, September 9, 2019 - 6:45pm
photo of writing instructor Joan Gelfand

Four Mondays: Sep 9, Oct 14, Nov 11, Dec 9 • 6:45 – 8:45 pm • Tuition $150 (includes book)

This class has been canceled, but the book is available for purchase.

Not all writing careers are created equal. Why are some authors quickly catapulted to publishing success while others seem to take forever? Learn the secrets of how you can become a successful author: What are the four C’s and how can you make them work for you? What are your writing challenges? What is a book proposal, and who needs one? What is the difference between non-fiction and fiction proposals? Does a poetry book need a proposal? Learn about cover letters, finding the right agent (or publisher) and what to do once your book is published.


A copy of Joan's book, You Can Be a Winning Writer: The 4 C's Approach of Successful Authors - Craft, Commitment, Community & Confidence, is included in the class tuition.

Joan Gelfand wrote You Can Be a Winning Writer, three volumes of poetry, and an award-winning chapbook of short fiction. Her novel, Fear to Shred, will be published in September. Photo credit: ilaBrightPhotographyStudio/Lisbon/2018

What Students Are Saying about Joan Gelfand

"Attendees went home with new excitement, inspiration, and tools to build their writing carreers...you've been mentioned by name in five star reviews." - Lisa Provost, San Francisco Writer's Conference

"You are a fantastic presenter, very dynamic and straightforward. You expertly answered their deepest questions and helped guide them to a fuller understanding of the publishing world." - Suzanne Lyons, Events Managers, Oaxaca Lending Library

"Joan presented to our audience at the National Association of Memoir Writers a hands-on, popular, and very useful tutorial on how to get published." - Linda Joy Meyers

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

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