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 Sheila Bender 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. 


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Conference registration.

Conference registration.

Refund Policy

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


Sheila BenderSheila 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, A Year in the Life: Journaling for Self-Discovery 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 newest book, available on iTunes and Kindle, is Sorrow’s Words: Writing Exercises to Heal Grief. Sheila is currently Seattle University’s Distinguished Guest Lecturer in “Writing Lyric Poetry: Poetry and Spirituality.”

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 AgingMeridian 144 will be published as an e-book by Permuted Press in February. 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 book publishers in that time. He is the author of a number of books, including The Writer’s Idea Book, published in an expanded tenth-anniversary edition December 2011. His most recent book is The Local Boys: Hometown Players for the Cincinnati Reds (Clerisy Press, 2014). He was the managing editor of Man of the House, an online magazine, and 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

Although this year’s conference starts on Thursday night June 25 and runs through Sunday morning June 28 with Friday afternoon for exploring around Suquamish, last year’s Schedule of Sessions in West Bend, WI will give you an idea of how we organize our teaching:

Friday, May 2 st
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 — Writing Exercises to Prime the Pump — Jack, Meg and Sheila
8:00 – 9:00 PM Faculty readings
Saturday, May 3 nd
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 – 15:15 PM Manuscript Workshops small groups
7:00 – 9:00 PM Participant Readings
Sunday, May 4rd
7:00 – 8:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00 AM Meg’s’s Craft Lecture — The Audacity Component: 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