Conference Testimonials

To Sheila, Meg and Jack, thank you for being such good teachers and so inspirational.  I learned more in 3 days with you than I did at all the other conferences (3) that I have attended in the past 3 years.

— Mary Lou Todd

“I also wanted to thank you again for a great conference. Just days after meeting with you individually and Jack in the manuscript group I felt my writing turn a necessary corner. It is a great feeling except for the fact that now I`m writing late into the night!”

Pat La Pointe

What a wonderful weekend I had in Arizona! Once again the three of you gave a fabulous conference. You each bring a tremendous body of knowledge to those of us who aspire to the writing life, and your skill and kindness in teaching us makes the experience rich and pleasurable. Thank you so much. Each time I meet and work with all three of you, I gain skills, knowledge and an ever-increasing enjoyment in the process of writing.  See you at the next one! 

Carolyn TerryMore Testimonials >>

The votes are in! Jack Heffron, Meg Files and I have agreed on our dates and location: June 25-28, 2015 at the Clearwater Resort and Casino, Suquamish, WA. Fly into SeaTac airport, catch a shuttle to the Seattle’s Washington State Ferry Terminal and take the Bainbridge ferry across Puget Sound (a beautiful 35 minute ride). The Clearwater’s shuttle meets every ferry and drives guests to the hotel, at no charge. You can visit a beautiful part of the country and not need a car! Once you are in the hotel, you will have access to a Northwest beach with majestic views. We’ll be scheduling time for the shuttle to take us to visit Chief Seattle’s grave and memorial and the Suquamish Museum. Sign up for the Writing It Real Quarterly Newsletter on the bottom left of our homepage or email us to be on the list to receive conference fee and schedule information as soon as we announce it. 

Below are our faculty bios and  a sample of what we offer taken from last year’s writing conference in West Bend, WI. This June, 2015 we will be meeting Thursday evening June 25 until Sunday noon June 28, with time off on Friday afternoon to explore.

Meg Files and Jack Heffron will offer you interactive craft lectures, in-class writing instruction, small group manuscript workshops limited to 10 participants per instructor, and writing and publishing consultations. Whether you are experienced or new to writing, have a special project in mind, need a jumpstart or are switching genres, our conference provides the professional guidance you are looking for in writing and publishing memoir, non-fiction, fiction and poetry. Our faculty’s trademark is enthusiasm, warmth and genuine down-to-earth instruction. Be sure to think about what you’d like to work on in your one-on-one session, appointments to be made during the conference.

We hope you’ll reserve your spot soon with an email to us as we keep our participant numbers low to guarantee the faculty can work effectively with each participant.

Call 360 385 7839 or email for information or to enroll.

Refund Policy

Fees are not refundable unless we can fill your spot from our waiting list. We will deduct a $50 processing charge.


Sheila Bender is an award-winning and widely published poet, author and writing facilitator. She founded Writing It Real in 2002 for those who write from personal experience, whatever the genre. A contributor to Writer’s Digest Magazine, she has written a dozen popular instructional books on writing from personal experience, including Creative Writing DeMystified, Writing Publishing Personal Essays, Second Edition, Writing Personal Poetry: Creating Poems from Life Experience, and Keeping a Journal You Love, among others. She has also written instructional prompts and writing tips for LifeJournal for Writers software (Chronicles Software). Her memoir, A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief, was published by Imago Press in September 2009 and in 2012, Imago published Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, a poetry collection. Her first digital book is Sorrow’s Words: Writing Exercises to Heal Grief.

Meg FilesMeg Files is the author of Meridian 144, a novel; Home Is the Hunter, a collection of stories; Write from Life, a book about using personal experience and taking risks in writing; The Love Hunter and Other Poems; and Galapagos Triptych: Three Ways of Seeing the Galapagos Islands. Her novel The Third Law of Motion was a finalist for the University of Michigan Press’s Michigan Literary Fiction Award. She edited Lasting: Poems on Aging. Her stories and poems have appeared in many publications, including Fiction, Writers’ Forum, Oxford Magazine, The Tampa Review, and Crazyhorse. Her awards include a Bread Loaf Fellowship. Her work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, for the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, and for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She was the James Thurber Writer-in-Residence at Ohio State University. She teaches creative writing and directs the Pima Writers’ Workshop in Tucson.

Jack HeffronJack Heffron has been a professional editor for more than twenty years, serving as editorial director for three publishers in that time. He currently is managing editor of Man of the House, an online magazine. He is the author of a number of books, including The Writer’s Idea Book, published in an expanded tenth-anniversary edition December 2011. He also was a founding editor of Story magazine, which twice won the National Magazine Award for Fiction. His own fiction has been published in numerous literary journals and twice was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His nonfiction has been included in Best American Travel Writing and has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and Authors. His column in Cincinnati magazine was selected as the best in Ohio in 2009. He teaches magazine and feature writing in the journalism program at the University of Cincinnati.

For questions or to let us know you want us to contact you with conference registration information, send us an email at If you’d like to reserve your spot now, mail a check to 394 Colman Drive, Port Townsend, WA or use the buy button on this form with a credit card.

Schedule of Sessions 

2014 May 2nd – 4th Schedule – Writing It Real Conference West Bend, WI

Friday, May 2nd
2:00 – 2:45 PM  Introductions
3:00 – 4:00 PM Sheila’s Craft Lecture — Writing & Spirituality: Our Writing is a Friend with Extraordinary Benefits
Check Into Rooms & Dinner
7:00 – 7:45 PM Teach-In Exercises to Prime the Pump from Jack, Meg and Sheila
8:00 – 9:00 PM Faculty readings
Saturday, May 3rd
7:00 – 8:00 AM Breakfast
8:30 – 9:30 AM Jack’s Craft Lecture — Dot the Dragon’s Eye: Bringing Your Writing to Life 
9:45 – 10:45 AM Meg’s In-Class Writing Exercise — Fun with Sentences (Really)
11:00 – 12:00 PM Manuscript Workshops small groups
12:00 – 1:00 PM Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 PM Sheila’s In-Class Writing Exercise — Interviews, Letters and Lists, Oh, My: New Takes on the Personal Essay and Poetry
2:15 – 5:15 PM Manuscript Workshops small groups
7:00 – 9:00 PM Participant Readings
Sunday, May 4th
7:00 – 8:00 AM  Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 AM Meg’s’s Craft Lecture — The Audacity Factor: Style and Voice
10:15 – 11:15  AM Jack’s In-Class Writing Exercise — Rescuing Shipwrecked Ideas
11:30 – 12:00 PM Panel – Keeping the Spirit Alive