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! this year’s conference was a big success with attendees taking home new writing, ideas for revising writing they had brought and lots of writing spirit. To stay up to date with our June 2015 conference location and dates, please email us  or join our mailing list by visiting our home page.

May 2-4, 2014 — West Bend, Wisconsin

Plan now and arrange to join us in West Bend. WI at the Cedar Valley Retreat Center north of Milwaukee. We’ll meet Friday evening through Sunday noon. Email us at conference@writingitreal.com if you’d like us to put you on our “interesteds” list for conference related emails. Scroll down for a description of the conference, the retreat center, faculty bios and the schedule of sessions. Faculty members Sheila Bender, 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. Faculty members Sheila Bender, 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 group and one-on-one instruction. Two nights retreat center lodging, all meals from Friday dinner through lunch on Sunday, skilled writing instruction and consultations in one of Wisconsin’s most beautiful settings conveniently located near Milwaukee and shared shuttle to the center!  Visit our website for conference schedule, faculty bios and retreat center information. We hope you’ll reserve your spot soon with payment via the website or an email to us, as we keep our participant numbers low to guarantee the faculty can work effectively with each participant.

For full conference registration, including room and meals, the price is $670.

For those who want to commute, the price is $520 and includes meals.

Refund Policy

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

Faculty

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, 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 conference@writingitreal.com. 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 – May 4 th Note: You might want to book yourself into the Cedar Valley Retreat Center for a night before or after the conference to take advantage of the spa offerings. Participants will schedule their 15-minute consults with the instructors for before or over meals.

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
Dinner
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

Lunch