Learn how to write the book you're meant to write in this weekend workshop. You'll be introduced to the powerfully therapeutic value of creative writing and taught to transform your life experiences into healing fiction with the bones to be the next great American novel.

$395.00 Last minute special Pricing, use discount code: writeoff400

In this 3-day intensive, you will be shown:

  • the science behind the healing power of transforming fact into fiction

  • a simple yet powerful model for sifting through pivotal life experiences to select the one you most need to write about

  • practical guidance in plumbing your past to create memorable characters and to craft a compelling plot

  • direction on how to use the power of smell, sound, taste, and touch memories to access your past as well as craft cinematic setting

  • the POP method, a wildly effective tool for pulling all your words together and crafting a novel in one year’s time

  • how to set and keep personal writing and self-improvement goals in your everyday life

From Jessica Lourey, MA, MS, Workshop Co-Leader:

On September 13, 2001, I stood in front of my multicultural lit class assigning a response essay. The class was small, five students, all of them enrolled in the Technical Communication program. Because I taught all but one of their courses, we’d become a sort of tribe. I remember being excited about the assignment. I don’t remember what I was wearing. I do remember I was growing my hair out, and that I was worried about the pregnancy weight I was putting on and whether or not something I’d elected to call “Second Lunch” was doing me any favors.  I remember being tired. It was a Thursday.

The door opened, and the college’s office administrator stepped into the room. It was a first. She was unable to meet my eyes. She led me to the Dean’s office, where two plainclothes detectives waited for me.

They told me that my husband had shot and killed himself on 9/11, two days earlier.

In the days and then months that followed, my brain swirled out of control, and the only way I could calm myself, distract myself, heal myself, was to write. Not memoir, of course. My husband’s suicide was too raw and personal. Besides, I understood on a cellular level that the only way I would survive was to find a way to think about something else.

So I wrote fiction. One novel. And then another. I rebuilt myself from the ground up, better and stronger than before (cue “Bionic Man” theme song). Through what I came to call rewriting my life, I accessed a resilience that I hadn’t known I possessed. I discovered faith in myself and the people around me, shed judgmental attitudes and fear, became a better parent, and fell more comfortably into the fabric of life. As an unexpected gift, I also rediscovered my sense of humor. Shaped like a whoopee cushion, it had been lost behind a big shard of broken heart that I was able to sweep away with the help of novel writing.

And the wildest part? The books that I wrote sold, and continue to sell, to the tune of tens of thousands of copies.

In my grief, I had stumbled across what writers have known for centuries: if properly recycled, your life experiences—the pleasure and the pain, the secrets and the sighs—create bestselling fiction. David Copperfield is Charles Dickens’ public grappling with his haunting childhood experiences, including a complex, troubling relationship with his father. Tim O’Brien is a Vietnam War veteran whose fictional The Things They Carried follows a Vietnam War veteran named Tim O’Brien. Jeanette Winterson acknowledges that her novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is her own story of growing up gay in a fundamentalist household in the 1950s. Sherman Alexie reveals personal truths in his novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.

The list goes on because as I’ve come to discover, the best-kept secret in novel-writing is that every author calls on, crystallizes, and shades his or her life experiences to craft fiction, whether they’re writing world-bending sci fi or a thinly-veiled autobiography. It is precisely those most conflict-ridden moments of our lives—the tragedies, humiliations, and terrors—that shape the best stories. Yet, while there exists a wealth of resources explaining how to turn memory into memoir, there are few resources explaining how this fact-to-fiction process provides not only the essential building blocks of bestselling novels but is also personally transformative, as I discovered after my husband’s suicide.


Rewrite Your Life workshops fill that void by becoming the first writer’s retreat that offers both a map and a model for converting real-world experiences into a powerful and ultimately healing novel.

To keep the process entertaining, Rewrite Your Life includes raw, vulnerable, and funny personal experience as well as anecdotes from best-selling writers who’ve mined their own lives for stories. The result is a uniquely engaging, practical tool for the person looking to harvest their life experiences to heal, lead a more authentic life, and craft a rich, powerful novel.



On Jess' workshop style:

"Jess Lourey is a rare double talent.  She is an outstanding writer, but just as remarkable as her writing is her ability to teach writing to others. She clearly communicates the essence of good writing -- whether it is giving a novice writer broad guidance on how to structure a novel or write sentences that grab the reader's attention, or working with experienced writers on the fine art of wordsmithing to improve elements of pace, suspense or character development."

-Stephen M. Terrell, Author of Stars Fall

Retreat Leaders

Your leaders, Jessica Lourey and Allison Quaid, have gone through this journey in their own lives and are robust guides that will offer you the support and instruction you need. Jessica Lourey (MS, Social Responsibility; MA, Teaching Writing; tenured writing professor since 1998; author of 15 books) and Allison Quaid (CEO Creative Eco-Catalysts, rock star change-agent, 20 years experienced workshop facilitator, Reiki healer, storyteller ) combine their unique talents to help you connect vision to action. 

Dates, Times & Locations

Friday, May 12: 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 13: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 14: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Held at: Grace Cathedral                            1100 California Street, San Francisco


Registration: $750

$395.00 Last minute special Pricing, use discount code: writeoff400

Registration fee covers all instruction, the 80-page course workbook, a signed copy of Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction, dinner on Friday night, and lunch on Saturday.

(Note that you'll be taken to the webpage for Wellness Retreats for Women, our parent company, when you register; this workshop is open to men and women.)



Friday, May 12

5-9 pm   Welcome

  • The Science and Power of Writing Fiction from Truth
  • Choose Your Novel Concept
  • Guided Writing
  • Pizza Dinner

Saturday, May 13  

9 am - 12 pm 

  • Control Your Destiny through Genre

  • Guided Writing

  • Draw from Real People to Craft Compelling Fictional Characters

  • Guided Writing

12-1 pm   Lunch Break - Provided

1-6 pm  

  • Structure Your Story
  • Mine Memories to Create Cinematic Settings
  • Optional: pay-on-your-own group dinner afterward (indicate your interest on registration page)

Sunday, May 14

9 am to 12 pm

  • Pulling It All Together: A 7-step Process for Crafting a Powerful Book
  • The Magic of Revision
  • Closing Ritual

Logistical Information about the Workshop Location

The workshop will be held at Grace Cathedral in downtown San Francisco. Grace Cathedral is a majestic, welcoming space situated conveniently close to public transportation and many hotels.  If you are flying into SFO (San Francisco International airport), take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, adult ticket as of 1/1/2016 is $8.95) to the to the Embarcadero Station and the California Street Cable Car $7 ticket to the Cathedral, or take the BART to the Powell Station and walk the .8 miles to the Cathedral. San Francisco weather in May averages 13°C/55°F.

Below are some recommended hotels. We encourage you to look at for deals at nearby hotels as well. Click on the hotel name to be linked to the hotel website.

Luxury Hotels:  Fairmont Hotel and Mark Hopkins Hotel

Mid-priced to Budget: Hotel RexOrchard Hotel, and Petite Auberge