2018 Program

  • Mokule'ia Writers Retreat
  • Mokule'ia Writers Retreat
  • Mokule'ia Writers Retreat

The retreat is led by Constance Hale. The daily workshops are taught by writers and editors who bring deep experience in many genres. (Find their bios below.) For those locals wanting to dip a toe in rather than taking a deep dive, it’s possible to join us for the afternoon workshops only.


The program is still being finalized, but here’s what we know so far. (Click here to see the tentative schedule for 2018.)

Arrival. We begin on of Sunday afternoon, May 6, as participants settle into the camp and explore the surroundings. Our first gathering will be a dinner for all writers, their companions, and some special guests.

Morning. The morning writing workshops begin on Monday, May 7 and continue through Friday, May 11. They foster creative exploration and include readings, writing prompts, and feedback.

Afternoons. From 1:00 to 2:30 p.m., we will have sessions open to all attendees staying at the camp, as well as to some local writers on an “à la carte” basis. The they will include sessions in fiction, poetry, memoir, and breaking in.

Evenings. We invite family and companions as well as members of the local community to join us for our special evening programs, which are free.

Optional activities. Each day will include open writing time to allow for reflection and the polishing of pieces. Faculty will be available for personal guidance and editing. A local expert will guide us on a visit to a sacred site. (See photos below of our 2016 visit to Kūkaniloko, the birthing stones of the ali‘i, and the gifts of Hawaiian salt we received.) Writers—as well as family and companions staying at the camp—are welcome to join our opening pā‘ina (Hawaiian-style party), hikes, excursions to parks and Hale‘iwa, as well as swimming, beachcombing, and for the truly adventurous, skydiving at Dillingham Airfield.

Last day. We end the retreat on Friday, May 11, at 1 p.m. after a group reading (ending with singing—see right) and lunch.

Daily workshops  9 – 11:30 a.m. (simultaneous; each writer signs up for one only)

Life Into Literature: Discovering the tools of fiction. With Linda Watanabe McFerrin. Writing without the proper tools is like trying to build a house with a spoon.
Humor, honesty, imagination, invention, attention, surprise, intent—these are a few of the tools used in creating literature. Join Linda, a published poet, travel writer, and novelist, in a workshop designed to acquaint you with the implements of the writer’s craft and to show how to wield those tools to create a short story or novel. We’ll look at character, plot, scene, dialogue, and more. Participants read a little and write a lot, gaining confidence, skill, and a clear picture of what they want to write, where they want to publish it, and how they can achieve this vision.

What We Talk about When We Talk about Art: Narrative nonfiction in search of a soul. With Bridget Quinn. This workshop focuses on reportage, personal essays, and criticism. We look closely at—and respond to—the blooming world around us, whether that be nature, painting, food, music, architecture, books or anything that captures our interest and fires our passions. Really: anything. It might be the fabric of your favorite shirt. It might be a piece of coral you find on the beach. It might be the old Sagara Store, boarded up along Farrington Highway. Or a shuttered gas station in the town you grew up in. We’ll begin each session with close observation and writing. We’ll read essays, features, and memoir. We’ll look at how we create a compelling narrative with the bones of what we’ve got—the conflict, action, and resolution that all good storytelling requires. Then we’ll fashion something with form and meaning. In other words, art.

Crafting Your Manuscript. With Larry Habegger. This workshop is for writers with fiction or nonfiction manuscripts underway and on the way to publication. The class offers a mix of instruction, workshopping, solo writing time, and one-on-one feedback. We meet as a group Mon., Wed. and Fri. On Tues. and Thurs., writers will focus on revising while Larry offers intensive one-on-feedback. This session is intended for writers in any genre. We will workshop material you’ve already written rather than giving you prompts for new material. Attendance will be limited to eight and by invitation only. To be considered for this workshop, and so that we can ensure the right mix, please send a double-spaced, 10-page sample of the manuscript or stories you are working on to constancehaleretreats@gmail.com at the time of registration.

Afternoon sessions 1 – 2:30 p.m. (one per afternoon, open to all attendees)

Launching into Verse: Titles, first lines, and how to get started. With Matthew Zapruder. (Mon. 1 p.m.) In this workshop and discussion for those writing poetry, Zapruder shares insights and some reliable tips on the craft.

Make your Memoir Read Like A Novel: Using the tools of fiction in personal storytelling. With Zoe FitzGerald Carter. (Tues. and Thurs. 1 p.m.) All books, whether fiction or nonfiction, explore the human condition and universal themes. This series of two workshops looks at how to balance action and reflection in the in literary memoir, specifically through scene, plot, dialogue, character development and description. We will also discuss where to begin and end your story and how to use multiple timelines.

Side-by-Side: Words, art, book. With Tamara Moan and Lynn Young. (Tues. and Thurs. 1 p.m.) This workshop explores the cross-pollination that comes when words and pictures meet. By engaging in both literary and visual art exercises writers will experiment with making meaning on the page. Some writing exercises stimulate idea generation, and consider formal aspects of craft such as sound, rhythm, and metaphor. Others walk you through the process of refining and editing your raw material. Visual play will include exercises in drawing and other mark-making techniques, as well as communication through abstract design, experimentation with materials, page composition, pacing, and sequencing. At the end of our days together you will have constructed your own handmade book of text and image. This workshop is suitable for writers and artists at all stages of development and does not require any prior experience. All art materials will be provided.

Exploring the Image: Workshopping poetry. With Barbara Marsh. (Wed. 1 p.m.)  In the first half of this session we use exercises to find fresh ways of expressing emotions by moving through the concrete image and then re-envisioning the whole poem. In the second half, we share our poems, with or without the possible new lines.

Read Me a Story: Children’s Lit. (Thurs. 2:30 p.m.) Writers read their children’s stories and get feedback. Listeners welcome.

Faculty leading morning workshops and afternoon sessions (preliminary list)

A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, Zoe FitzGerald Carter has written for The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, and Vogue. Her memoir, Imperfect Endings: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Loss and Letting Go, chronicled her mother’s decision to end her life after living with Parkinson’s disease for many years. Zoe teaches writing at The San Francisco Writers Grotto and is currently at work on a book about race.

Larry Habegger is a writer, editor, journalist, and teacher who has been covering the world since his international travels began in the 1970s. As a freelance writer and syndicated columnist, his work has appeared in many major newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Travel & Leisure, and Outside. In 1993, he cofounded the award-winning Travelers’ Tales Books, where he has helped develop the company’s publishing program and worked on all of its 140-plus books. As a writing teacher and coach, Larry emphasizes the craft. He specializes in the art of the personal essay, but he also edits memoirs and books about, oh, golf.

Constance Hale (director) writes children’s books, adult’s books, essays, profiles, and, every now and then, a poem. She also curates sinandsyntax.com, a place “for those who love wicked good prose.” Connie has been an editor at the Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, Wired, and Health, and coaches writers tackling their first (or fifth) books. She was born in Waialua, and her family lives in Mokulē‘ia, which makes this retreat a happy overlay of the personal and the professional. Her recent children’s book, ‘Iwalani’s Tree, is even set here.

Barbara Marsh is a London-based American writer, musician, and teacher. She won the 2015 Troubadour International Poetry Prize, and her debut collection is To the Boneyard (Eyewear Publications, 2014). As a musician/singer/songwriter, she was half of the Anglo-American duo The Dear Janes (Geffen Records). She has an Mphil in Creative Writing from the University of Glamorgan.

Tamara Moan is an artist and writer who lives in Kailua, on Oahu’s windward side. With BFA and MA (creative writing) degrees, she works as an editor, freelance writer, and instructor at the Honolulu Museum of Art School. Her non-fiction on art and Hawaiian culture topics has been published in Hawaii- and national-circulation magazines; her poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals including Bamboo Ridge.

Bridget Quinn is the author of Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art & Made History (in That Order), an Amazon pick for Best Art & Photography Books 2017. Her writing appears in Narrative Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Hyperallergic, Ms. Magazine blog and many other publications. A denizen of that lively creative community, the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, Bridget is co-host of the Grotto’s weekly podcast, The GrottoPod: Writers on Writing.

Linda Watanabe McFerrin is a poet, travel writer, novelist and popular workshop leader. She is the author of two poetry collections and a winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Her novel, Namako:  Sea Cucumber, was named Best Book for the Teen-Age by the New York Public Library. She has written the short-story collection The Hand of Buddha, co-edited twelve anthologies, and written a zombie novel, Dead Love, which was a 2009 Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Superior Achievement in a Novel. She is the founder of Left Coast Writers a writers organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lynn Young is an artist and a writer living on Oahu.  She works as visual arts educator at UH-Mānoa in the College of Education and has been teaching art in public schools and museums for more than 15 years. She is the author of the poetic memoir, Where’s My Ritspik? published by TinFish Press in 2015.

Matthew Zapruder is the author, most recently, of Why Poetry, a memoir about poetry (Ecco/Harper Collins, 2017), and the volume Sun Bear (Copper Canyon, 2014). Zapruder has published three other collections of poetry and collaborated with painter Chris Uphues on For You in Full Bloom (2009). He co-translated the Romanian poet Eugen Jebeleanu’s last collection, Secret Weapon: Selected Late Poems (Coffee House, 2008). His books have been selected as  top five poetry books by Publishers Weekly and top ten poetry volumes of the year by Library Journal; he also won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America in 2006. An Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s College of California, he is also editor at large at Wave Books, and from 2016-2017 held the position of Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine. He also plays lead guitar in The Figments, a Western Massachusetts–based rock band.

Special guests & evening events

Sunday, 6:30 p.m.:

The Bobby Ingano Quartet: The father-and-son virtuosi Kaipo and Adam Asing accompany steel guitar master Bobby Ingano  and legendary guitarist Kuki Among to play traditional Hawaiian music in what is referred to as “the Territorial style.” In the strains of their renditions of beloved classics, you will hear traces of jazz, swing, and even country, as well as echoes of the greats of yesteryear: Alfred Apaka, Jerry Byrd, David “Feet” Rogers, and Gabby Pahinui. They will serenade us , honoring requests and accompanying hula dancers in the crowd. The Asings play with the Royal Hawaiian Band, and all four musicians have been regulars at many of Honolulu’s famous rooms, like The Halekulani’s Room without a Key and the Waikīkī Marriott’s Moana Terrace. They also play every Monday night at Dot’s, in nearby Wahiawa.

Monday, 7 p.m.:

Why Poetry: An impassioned call for a return to verse. Award-winning poeteditor, translator, and professor Matthew Zapruder shares his story of a life in poetry, in a reading and Q & A with the audience. (7 p.m. Free and open to the public.)

Tuesday, 7 p.m.:

Barbarian Days: A Surfing life. Pulitzer Prize–winning author William Finnegan reads from his memoir about surfing in Hawai‘i and around the world. He also answers questions about what it’s like to write for The New Yorker, how he chooses his subjects, and how he works the craft of narrative nonfiction.

Wednesday, 7 p.m.:

One Voice: The Kamehameha Schools Song Contest. Join independent filmmaker and hula dancer Lisette Marie Flanary for a screening and discussion of her award-winning film. The writer, director, and producer of Lehua Films, Lisette creates documentaries that celebrate a modern renaissance of the hula dance and Hawaiian culture.  Her film credits include American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawai‘i, Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula, as well as One Voice.  She is currently in post-production on the third film in her hula trilogy entitled Tokyo Hula.  Lisette is an Associate Professor at the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi and was recently awarded the Board of Regents’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching in 2016.

Thursday afternoon and evening:

Hawaiian Featherwork and Make-your-own-lei Session. Master craftsman Herman Kekoka’oiwinani Mossman Tachera studied and developed his knowledge in Hawaiian feather art under the guidance of the late Mary Louise Kaleonahenahe Kekuewa and Paulette Nohealani Kahalepuna, who are considered the foremost masters the art. He has over eighteen years of experience and has conducted workshops throughout Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. In January 2016 he was artist-in-residence at the de Young Museum in San Francisco during a special exhibition there. He will talk story, show you his exquisite work, and guide you in making your own flower lei.

Mokule`ia Writers Retreat, May 3–8, 2015