Now in Grass Valley:

–Get started writing.

–Or get serious about it.

Multi-week and one-day classes in fiction and nonfiction, taught by a New York Times-acclaimed memoirist and top-rated Stanford Continuing Studies instructor.

All classes at the Alpha Building, 204 Main St. (at Mill), Grass Valley

Members of the pilot Take Your Writing to the Next Level class, fall 2017.

Now Enrolling for FALL 2018

For those who want to GET STARTED:

Life Into Literature: Explorations in Memoir

Six Mon. nights, 6:30-9 p.m., Nov. 5th, 12th, 19th and Dec. 3rd, 10th and 17th

You’ve lived a rich life. You want to share it in writing. Where does your story begin? Where does it end? How do you make your life a page-turner?

In these classes with New York Times acclaimed memoirist Rachel Howard, you’ll learn how to shape compelling, meaningful stories out of the mass of experience. Discussing carefully chosen memoir readings by Jo Ann Beard, Alexandra Fuller and others, and completing guided exercises, you’ll learn to write cinematic scenes, craft powerful reflections, identify your richest material, and shape a suspenseful narrative. Our class series includes weekly “homework” to keep you rolling, and ends with a supportive, in-depth workshop of one longer submission (up to 5,000 words). No writing experience necessary, though experienced writers will also benefit.

Enrollment limited to six students.

Course fee: $345

Contact Rachel at for registration information.


Also Coming Soon

Book Club: Reading Chekhov for Our Times, every other Friday afternoon, Noon-1:30 p.m., January through March 2019.

Drop-In Workshop: Once a month, Friday afternoons. Get professionally guided feedback from a supportive group, on the spot. Coming January 2019.

Please email Rachel at if you are interested in any of these offerings. Full details will be posted by late July.

Instructor Bio: Rachel Howard teaches creative writing primarily at Stanford Continuing Studies and the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. She is the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night, which the New York Times praised as “enthralling.” Her novel, The Risk of Us, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in many publications, including the New York Times’ “Draft” series. She received an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College, and later served there as Interim Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing. She has also taught in the MFA program of Saint Mary’s College. She moved to Nevada City in 2014 and is founder and producer of the Yuba Lit reading series.

One-Day Classes

For those who want to GET SERIOUS:

Paths to Publication: Navigating the Literary Landscape

Winter date TBA, by demand

The paths to publication are many—but being a newcomer to the literary world can feel like groping through a dark, dense forest. This info-packed one-day class will give you a map of the publishing landscape. How do you place a short story with a literary journal? What do agents do? What’s a “platform” and why do publishers want you to have one? How is selling a nonfiction book different from selling a novel? How can residencies and conferences be helpful? What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing or “hybrid” publishing?

We’ll answer these questions and many more, and spend hands-on time (online) exploring literary journals and their submissions systems. You’ll take home real examples of successful pitches, cover letters, and query letters, along with pointers on how to learn from rejection, work with constructive feedback, and keep forging your own publishing path.

Course fee: $95

For more information or to register, contact Rachel at



Also, by request, for groups of three or more, I teach online or in-person:


Everything You Need to Move from Middle Stage to Finished Book

This class takes place entirely online, in a video classroom called ZOOM.

Four two-hour sessions, spaced apart at least two weeks.

Cost: $595.

Limited to three committed memoirists; email Rachel at to inquire about arranging a session.

Class description: Are you deep into writing a memoir and tired of having it critiqued in 20-page snippets? Ready to get bigger-picture response to issues like structure and narrative arc, but not quite at the stage when you need a full manuscript review? This is a memoir workshop for writers at that rich but tricky middle stage when piecemeal feedback no longer cuts it.

In this class, limited to three committed students, writers will submit a long section of their memoirs-in-progress—between 75 and 100 pages–along with a projected book outline. Our first session will be dedicated to a comprehensive lecture on big-picture craft concepts for memoir: Setting up the story engine, interplay of scene and reflection, character development, lines of tension, finding the narrative “turn,” and more. In subsequent sessions, we’ll workshop your manuscripts, one writer per week, following a guided process. You’ll learn a wealth about memoir by critiquing fellow workshop members, and benefit from a thorough discussion of your own work. You’ll emerge with a clearer sense of your memoir as a whole, and clear steps for taking it towards completion.

NOTE: This workshop is limited to three members. A firm commitment to reciprocating feedback and attending all sessions is required.

Unsolicited feedback from the previous session’s Monster Memoir Manuscript students:

That you could see the arc and the themes that I thought were there was so gratifying and encouraging to me. Now, no matter how much more work I need to do on this, I feel that I actually have a book with an arc that works here, and that is enough to keep me going for as long as it takes! Rachel, thanks for setting up the questions and the writing and discussion process that brought out so much positive encouragement as well as such thoughtful helpful suggestions. It really worked!


I was really impressed with your comments . . . it’s a huge talent to be able to see the depths of possibility for a story in progress.


I would like to express my gratitude for your support over the past several months. I enjoyed working with you and the group and even though there is still a lot of work ahead before I can call it a book, I am energized and excited to get it done.