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Writing Workshops Hawaii 2023

Writing Workshops Hawaii brings together fiction and nonfiction writers for an intensive four days of workshops, craft seminars, one-on-one conferences, and in-depth discussions on the craft and business of writing. With two sessions to choose from, our program is inclusive, intentionally small, and will take place among towering evergreens and fragrant ocean breezes along Hawaii Island's North Kohala coast.


Each fiction and nonfiction workshop will have no more than 9 participants each. All writers will submit two completed pieces of writing. One submission will be workshopped by your cohort and instructor and a second piece will be submitted for your one-on-one meeting with your workshop leader. Daily craft talks are open to all participants and led by program staff or faculty.


Applicants can apply for Session I or Session II and indicate their preference. We will try to accept writers into their first choice. Applicants can also choose to be considered for either session. Note that accepted writers may only attend one session, either Session I or Session II.


Our workshops are open to writers who want to strengthen their voice, develop a greater understanding of craft, and forge a path to publication along the way. We take your writing seriously and place the highest importance on teaching the craft of writing so that students can produce meaningful and memorable work that has the opportunity to find a readership beyond the workshop.


Our mission is to bring your writing out of the wilderness and into community, and for a week every January we think there is no better place to do this than on 50 oceanfront acres of gardens, wild groves, and ancient valley trails at our workshop retreat. Scroll down for more details!


Aloha! Applications for our January 2023 Hawaii workshops  close on July 10th, 2022.


2023 Workshop Dates:


Session I: January 15 - 20, 2023


Session II: January 22 - 27, 2023



Though our admissions process is competitive and the quality of writing high, all interested writers are encouraged to apply. Accepted writers will attend Session I or Session II.


NOTE: The state of Hawaii is currently requiring incoming travelers to show proof of COVID vaccination upon entry.


Workshop Faculty for Session I:


January 15 - 20, 2023


Fiction Instructor Virginia Reeves is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her debut novel, Work Like Any Other, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and Booklist named it to their Top 10 First Novels of 2016. It has been translated into multiple languages and adapted into a graphic novel. Her second novel, The Behavior of Love, has been reviewed by The New Yorker, French Elle, and Le Monde, among others. Virginia’s short story “Bloodlines” is collected in the anthology Pie and Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter and Booze, and her flash-fiction “Old Girl” was a 2019 Editors’ Choice for Craft.  Virginia has taught writing workshops through writers-in-the schools programs, libraries, and museums, and she currently teaches writing, literature, and speech at Helena College. She lives in Montana with her partner, daughters, and three-legged Pit Bull.

Nonfiction Instructor Jill Talbot is the author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir (Soft Skull) and Loaded: Women and Addiction (Seal Press), the co-editor of The Art of Friction: Where (Non)Fictions Come Together (U of Texas Press), and the editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction (Iowa). Jill wrote “The Last Year,” a year-long column that appeared in The Paris Review. Her writing has been recognized four times in Best American Essays and has appeared in journals such as AGNI, Brevity, Colorado Review, Diagram, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, LitMag, Longreads, The Paris Review Daily, and The Rumpus. Her short story collection, A Distant Town, won The Florida Review’s 2021 Jeanne Leiby Chapbook Award and was published in Spring 2022. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas and is at work on a book of craft essays titled The Essay Form(s) for Columbia University Press.


Workshop Faculty for Session II:


January 22 - 27, 2023


Fiction Instructor Ying Compestine is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, and former food editor for Martha Stewart's Whole Living magazine. Ying is the author of 20 books published by Simon&Schuster, Penguin, Abrams, Henry Holt and Co., including the novels Revolution is Not a Dinner Party, Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier, A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts, and the forthcoming Morning Sun in Wuhan. Many of Ying’s books have won numerous awards globally and are required reading in schools around the world. A few are currently being adapted into TV shows and a feature film. She has also worked as the spokesperson for several international companies such as Nestle Maggi and Celestial Seasoning.

Nonfiction Instructor Mark Gottlieb is a highly ranked literary agent at Trident Media Group both in overall deals and other individual categories. Using that same initiative and insight for identifying talented writers, he is actively building his own client list of authors. Mark is excited to work directly with authors, helping to manage and grow their careers with all of the unique resources that are available at book publishing’s leading literary agency, Trident Media Group. During his time at Trident Media Group, Mark has represented numerous New York Times bestselling authors, as well as award-winning authors, and has optioned and sold books to film and TV production companies. He previously ran the agency’s audiobook department, in addition to working in foreign rights. Mark Gottlieb is actively seeking submissions in all categories and genres and looking forward to bringing new and established authors to the curious minds of their future readers.

Lodging at Hawaii Island Retreat

Immerse yourself in both comfort and inspiration for 6 days, 5 nights at Hawaii Island Retreat. This 4-star eco-boutique hotel and wellness spa is a place of intentional peacefulness, set among towering evergreens and ocean breezes along Hawaii Island's North Kohala coast. Including your own room, three delicious daily meals are included in your workshop tuition. 


Class Size

Each fiction and nonfiction workshops will have no more than 9 participants each. All writers will submit two completed pieces of writing. One submission will be workshopped by your cohort and instructor and a second piece will be submitted for your one-on-one meeting with your workshop leader. Daily craft talks are open to all participants and led by program staff or faculty.

Session I & II Schedule


Sunday

3:00PM: Hotel check-in begins.

6:30PM: Dinner meet & greet.


Monday - Thursday

Mornings: Breakfast served. Workshops and one-on-one instructor meetings.

Afternoons/Evenings: Lunch Break followed by optional craft seminar, led by faculty or staff. Optional mid-afternoon activity followed by dinner.


Friday

8:00AM-9:00AM: Goodbye breakfast at Hawaii Island Retreat.

11:00AM: Final check-out.


Optional Afternoon Activities will be included throughout the week. Full schedule detailed below.


Tuition

Tuition is $3,150 or $3,650 depending on room-type and includes the following:

  • Lodging in your own room at Hawaii Island Retreat for 6 days, 5 nights
  • Daily breakfast, lunch & dinner with faculty and staff
  • Luau on Monday
  • 4-day writing workshops in small groups of no more than 9 writers.
  • Critical feedback on two writing submissions
  • Several craft of writing and/or business of writing seminars
  • One-on-one conference with faculty
  • Optional afternoon activities
  • The time of your life
  • Payment Plans: accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) at checkout.
  • Accommodations: 9 Hotel Room's are available (tuition will be $3650  with hotel room accommodation) and 7 Yurt's are available (tuition will be $3150 with Yurt accommodation). Yurts come with a private toilet and sink, but will utilize a shared private shower area. In the common shower area there are  four private shower stalls, two indoor and two outdoor. Accommodations are first come, first serve, for accepted writers.
  • FAQ at the bottom of this page.


Session I Schedule Detail


Session II Schedule Detail

For Session II, students will have a chance to share their work, as well as meet with and pitch their ideas to both instructors.


2022 Hawaii Testimonials

"The Workshop in Hawaii exceeded my expectations. I loved connecting with other writers in such a beautiful and inspiring place. I also reconnected with myself. Thank you to the organizers, instructors, and guides. It was a magical experience that I'll never forget. The trip was so refreshing, and helped me reconnect with myself and connect with other writers. The space was also amazing. The combination of both made for the best time I've had in years. Diana is great and definitely helps me think about things in a whole new way. I loved the authenticity of the place and the owner. It felt like a true Hawaiian experience - spiritual and peaceful. The instructors. The guides. People make the experience, and there were some wonderful folks on this trip." -Sam H.

"The communication leading up to the workshop was excellent. Diana was a wonderful workshop leader and I would gladly take a class from her again. As organizers, Blake and Mike cover all the bases so attendees can totally relax in the environment and focus on writing and group connections. The overall experience, the inclusion of food and housing, the community that was built, the work we did -- thumbs up on everything!" -Catherine V.

"Best experience I've had as a writer. I have done writing workshops before, but nothing like this one. I received genuinely transformative feedback, knowledge, and social support around my writing and novel. I will always be grateful for all I gained, learned, and experienced in this workshop. I can wholeheartedly say that the amateur writer who came into this workshop is now a tremendously evolved amateur writer with a new lens on transferring thought into text. I learned so much about my own craft, and how to tailor the style, and plot points to better suit the story I want to tell. The adventures, authors, experiences, feedback, people, places and workshops were gratifyingly high quality. It felt safe being an amateur. I received transformative feedback on my current WIP which has greatly shifted the ways I write." -Enrique E.

"The workshop exceeded my expectations. The support from my group members was so helpful, but group cohesion was much better than I could have predicted. I looked at the week as a personal retreat, so the money was worth the time alone. And then being able to enjoy the grounds of the retreat and the company of other writers made it even better. I appreciated Brandon Hobson's generous feedback and the way he structured the workshops to allow specific and focused feedback. It was a lovely hotel with beautiful grounds and a great staff." -Margie D.

"I loved my first experience with Writing Workshops Hawaii. The teachers were amazing, the location was beautiful, and the community of writers were inspiring to be around. The entire trip was well thought out and organized, from the shuttles to the planned activities. For me it's not the destination, it's the workshop itself. I'll probably follow you anywhere." -Diane F.

"Brandon Hobson was very helpful and I’m returning home feeling inspired and re-invigorated. The week overall provided a great balance of structured group time and individual time. It was a fantastic experience and I’m glad I did it. I would 100% recommend Writing Workshops Hawaii!" - Aubrey M.

"Writing Workshops Hawaii was one of the most amazing gifts that I have ever given myself. I did not have to think of anything but writing and taking in the beauty and wisdom that Hawaii offers because everything was already done and thought of for me. All you have to do is show up. A truly magical and rejuvenating experience where you get to create, travel, and hangout with like-minded people. I will never be able to travel to Hawaii and do the touristy thing because I've been spoiled by Writing Workshops. And Diana Spechler made me feel like I have a seasoned writer on my side for life. I gained so much knowledge about the writing and publishing process on this trip. I also learned from Brandon Hobson and would recommend taking a course or at a retreat with either of them. I received an invaluable one-on-one with Diana. She had thorough feedback regarding my writing and also about publishing. Diana's time did not feel rushed and she tailored a plan for me based on my unique writing style and my desires as a writer. Diana is like the friend who succeeded and is willing to share all her secrets. I found the afternoon seminars extremely valuable. There were a lot of questions asked by other writers that I found helpful. If you're thinking about applying, you should!" -Corrie C.

"Writing Workshops Hawaii was an incredible experience. Everyone was so supportive and the energy from not only the retreat itself but the people as well, was an amazing opportunity and experience, one that you can’t recreate. Brandon Hobson has a very calm and genuine way of helping you better your writing. The support of the entire group was really great and appreciated. I liked that the retreat is secluded. It’s very relaxing and has an authentic feel to it. The staff was amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime experience." -Samantha B.



Program Staff

Executive Director Blake Kimzey worked as a bicycle tour guide in Paris in his 20s. He is the founder of WritingWorkshops.com and has an MFA from UC Irvine. Blake sits on the Board of the Elizabeth George Foundation and his fiction has been broadcast on NPR and published by Tin House, McSweeney’s, VICE, Longform, Redivider, Short Fiction, Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart, The Los Angeles Review, The Masters Review, and The Best Small Fictions. Blake’s collection of short tales, Families Among Us, was published by Black Lawrence Press.
Operations Director Mike Franz was General Manager and Tour Guide at Fat Tire Bike Tours, Paris, for seven years. His tours were featured on Rick Steves-Paris, The Independent-UK, and the television show 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Mike taught government, economics, and public speaking for ten years at Headwaters High School in Austin, Texas, where he won teacher-of-the-year award after his first year of teaching.


Application & General FAQ

What is the application deadline?

Applications for our January 2023 Hawaii Workshops open June 1st, 2022 will close on July 10th, 2022. Early applications are encouraged. Click here to apply now.

Will I be accepted into Session I or Session II?

Applicants can apply for Session I or Session II and indicate their preference. We will try to accept writers into their first choice. Applicants can also choose to be considered for either session. Note that accepted writers may only attend one session, either Session I or Session II.

What is your COVID policy?

The state of Hawaii is currently requiring incoming travelers to show proof of vaccination upon entry. Updated information on Hawaii’s COVID restrictions, requirements, and policy can be found at the Hawaii Tourism Authority website. It is the responsibility of attendees of Writing Workshops to make sure they are vaccinated and have the appropriate documentation required to enter the state of Hawaii.

If the state of Hawaii or the United States government forbids entry to the state of Hawaii, or if Hawaii Island Retreat closes, for the dates of January 15 - January 20, 2023, or January 22 - 27, 2023, Writing Workshops will offer a full refund for program fees. Writing Workshops will not reimburse for any airline tickets or additional trip-related expenses incurred. If the Hawaii writing workshop takes place on the dates planned, no program fees will be reimbursed, regardless of attendance.

What will my application include? 

  • Brief bio  informing us of your involvement in the writing and literary community,  as well as any prior or forthcoming publications. (250 words max)
  • Purpose statement  explaining why you would like to participate in Writing Workshops Hawaii. You can also discuss current manuscripts or writing projects that  you might choose to workshop. (500 words max.)
  • Writing sample excerpt in fiction or nonfiction. This does not have to be  published work, though that is acceptable, nor does it have to be a piece you plan  to workshop. Complete works under the word count are not required;  excerpts are acceptable. (Fiction/nonfiction: 2500 words max).
  • Applications are open. Click here to apply now.

When will I know if I've been accepted to the workshop?

We anticipate notifying all applicants of their status no later than July 15th, 2022. We  cap our workshop participation at 9 writers in each genre cohort (fiction and nonfiction) for the week. Our goal is to provide  an intimate, rigorous workshop environment so that participants can  come to Hawaii and find meaningful connections and excellent feedback on  their work. We will accept applicants on a rolling basis until each  cohort is full and then begin waitlists. Due to the volume of  applications and competitive acceptance, writers are encouraged to apply  early. We employ a reading committee of professional writers and  editors, and applicants will be notified after the application window  closes.

How much does it cost?

Tuition is either $3,150 or $3,650 depending on room-type selected.

What is the difference in tuition price?

Tuition includes your own room and is either $3,150 or $3,650 depending on room-type selected. Nine (9) Hotel Room's are available (tuition will be $3650 with hotel room accommodation) and seven (7) Yurt's are available (tuition will be $3150  with Yurt accommodation). Yurts come with a private toilet and sink,  but will utilize a shared private shower area. In the common shower area  there are four private shower stalls, two indoor and two outdoor. Accommodations are first come, first serve, for accepted writers.

Are Payment Plans Available?

Yes. Accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or  opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting  Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) or Lay-Buy (for applicants  inside or outside of North America) at checkout.

Are Scholarships Available?

Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to offer scholarships for this workshop. However, we do have payment plans available.

What does tuition include? 

  • Lodging in your own room at Hawaii Island Retreat for 6 days, 5 nights
  • Daily breakfast, lunch & dinner with faculty and staff
  • Luau on Monday
  • 4-day  writing workshops in small groups of no more than 9 writers, led by workshop faculty.
  • Critical feedback on two writing submissions
  • Several craft of writing and/or business of writing seminars
  • One-on-one conference with faculty
  • Optional afternoon activities
  • The time of your life
  • Note: accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or  opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting  Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) at checkout.

What is tuition payment schedule? 

If your application is accepted, full tuition is due by August 1st, 2022. You can pay your tuition in full or opt for a payment plan by selecting Affirm at checkout. There will be no refunds after August 5th, 2022. If a refund is requested prior to August 5th,  2022, all but a $500 deposit will be refunded. We have this refund policy because the balance of our Hawaii hotel deposit and all group expenses are due the first week of August and are nonrefundable.

Where is the hotel and workshop venue?

Immerse yourself in both comfort and inspiration for 6 days, 5 nights at Hawaii Island Retreat.  This 4-star eco-boutique hotel and wellness spa is a place of   intentional peacefulness, set among towering evergreens and ocean  breezes along Hawaii Island's North Kohala coast. Three delicious daily  meals are included in your workshop tuition.

How late can I apply? 

We will accept applications through July 10th, 2022.

What will you do with my email?

We respect your privacy. We will only use your email to send you  information about Writing Workshops. We won't sell or rent your  email to other organizations.

I have a question not answered here.

Please contact us and we’ll reply promptly. You can also Chat with us (lower left of your screen).

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