I’m excited to be heading home to California, and teaching again in the Bay Area. Starting in July, I’ll be teaching Pitch Your Book: Creative Nonfiction Proposals that Work for Stanford Continuing Studies’ Online Writers Studio. This is a course I taught last year with stellar results in the student work (and terrific feedback on the course’s helpfulness), so I’m looking forward to offering it again. Here is the information:

“Books of creative nonfiction—whether they are memoirs, historical narratives, or science investigations— are typically sold on the basis of sample chapters and a book proposal. So what are the crucial elements of a successful book proposal? In this course, appropriate for anyone who has drafted at least one chapter of a creative nonfiction book, we will examine the real proposals that sold several diverse and acclaimed nonfiction books, and emulate the writers’ successful strategies.

While workshopping and revising their sample chapters, students will also draft proposal introductions, refine their hooks, research the competition, and develop their marketing plans. We will work on building and defining your author platform and fine-tuning your bio, and we will workshop query letters to agents. This course is driven by the conviction that writing a proposal is not just the necessary “business” step to selling your book: Crafting a well-researched, thoughtful proposal pushes you to clarify your book’s intent and audience, and leaves you prepared to write the best book possible. You will receive abundant critique and support from your fellow students and your instructor, and finish this course with the tools to take your creative nonfiction book all the way to publication.”

Go here to register.

Later in July, at the San Francisco Writers Grotto, I’ll be offering another class that proved a helpful hit when I last offered it two years ago, the Monster Memoir Manuscript Workshop. This will run five Sundays, 2-4:30 pm, from July 21 to August 18. The course fee is $450, with a $100 deposit required to register; contact me at rachel (dot) howard (at) gmail (dot) com if you are interested:

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 four committed students, writers will submit a long section of their memoirs-in-progress—between 75 and 125 pages. Our first session will be dedicated to an overview of strengths and challenges in common among the drafts, and a comprehensive lecture on 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. 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 book as a whole, and clear steps for taking it towards completion.

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

Instructor Bio: Rachel Howard is the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night, described as “enthralling” by the New York Times. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in ZYZZYVA, the New York Times, Canteen, Fiction Writers Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many other publications. Rachel has an MFA in writing from Warren Wilson College, where she served as the Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow, and then as interim director of undergraduate creative writing.

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