Djerassi Resident Artists Program




Workshop Information

Writing the Debut Novel: Developing Your Manuscript
and Your Career

with Heidi Durrow

The workshop is geared to writers working on a first novel and is well-suited for those writing about difference, race, or social justice. The workshop will include workshop manuscript critiques (max 50 pages 12-point font double-spaced), time for new writing as well as workshop writing prompts, a private consultation of 50 pages of your manuscript, and talks on actionable steps you can take to start your career as a published writer. Includes up to 50 pages manuscript consultation in private 1/2 hour session with Heidi Durrow. Full novel review available for an additional fee. Applicants accepted pending review of writing samples by Heidi Durrow.

Dates: Friday, January 22 – Thursday, January 28, 2016
Deadline: November 6, 2015  EXTENDED to November 13, 2015
Notifications: by November 17, 2015

Application fee: $10

Workshop fee: $1500/$1650 private room, shared bath/private room and bath
Special couples rate: $1200 each (shared room/bed)
Includes 6 nights lodging, all food, and local transportation from and to the San Francisco Airport

$500 due by November 24, 2015 (Deposits holds your place and are non-refundable)
Final payment: due by December 22, 2015

Application Process:
Applications for the workshop can be accessed through this link:
or by clicking on the APPLY button on the top left of this page.

Application materials requested:

  • 2016 Heidi Durrow Workshop Application Form
  • A statement of max 300 words about where you are with your work-in-progress and what you hope to gain from the workshop.
  • A writing sample of up to 25 pages. This does NOT have to be the manuscript that you will workshop at Djerassi. (Note: You will need to submit the manuscript that will be workshopped no later than Dec. 15.)

Heidi W. Durrow is the New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin Books), which received writer Barbara Kingsolver’s PEN/Bellwether Prize for Literature of Social Change, and is a book club favorite. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky has been hailed as one of the Best Novels of 2010 by the Washington Post, a Top 10 Book of 2010 by The Oregonian, and named a Top 10 Debut of 2010 by Booklist. Ebony Magazine named Heidi as one of its Power 100 Leaders of 2010 along with writers Edwidge Danticat and Malcolm Gladwell. Heidi was nominated for an 2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Debut. Heidi is a graduate of Stanford, Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and Yale Law School. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Heidi has worked as a corporate attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and as a Life Skills trainer to professional athletes of the National Football League and National Basketball Association.

She was a founder and producer of the now defunct Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, but is excited to be spearheading this new festival project, the Mixed Remixed Festival, an annual free public event, that celebrates stories of the Mixed experience through films, books and performance. She was the co-host of the award-winning weekly podcast Mixed Chicks Chat; and is now the host of a new audio and video podcast called The Mixed Experience.

Heidi is also a highly acclaimed and sought-after public speaker who has spoken at Brown, Exeter, Yale Law School and many other universities nationwide. She has also been a featured speaker at Sundance and other popular festivals, conferences and high schools on creativity, women’s empowerment, and multicultural and multiracial issues. She has been featured as a leading expert on multiracial and multicultural issues and identity by the NBC Nightly News, the New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, Ebony Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is an occasional contributor to National Public Radio and blogs for the Huffington Post.

"At age 29 I quit my job and set out to write the Great American Novel by age 30. After 6 years of feeling stuck, I realized I was only playing at writing a book while I waited for my muse to come and for someone to discover my talent. I realized that I had to treat my ambition to become a published novelist the same way that I had planned out my professional career. I learned to grow my craft and my career and ended up with a New York Times best-selling novel that continues to grow a wide readership now internationally. This workshop is tailored for the person who has always wanted to write for a living, but doesn’t have an idea about how to start. I'm looking forward to sharing my process and helping other writers who are looking for a way to take tangible steps toward achieving their dreams."--Heidi

What to Expect:
We will meet each morning to discuss the participants' manuscripts with an eye toward providing feedback that builds on the manuscript's strengths. These sessions will focus on craft and developing skills as a debut novelist. Afternoons will be reserved for time to do new writing and private consultations with Heidi as well as free time to explore the wonderful trails of Djerassi. In the evenings, (either before or after dinner), there will be brief talks about how to develop a career as a writer and provide information about resources helpful to debut novelists. At least one night will feature a reading by participants.

For an additional fee, writers are offered the opportunity for a full manuscript critique with Heidi. Once accepted to the workshop, more details about the additional full manuscript consultations will be sent to you.


"Heidi was just amazing. The audience, heck the whole city, just loved her."
Andrew Proctor, Executive Director, Literary Arts, Portland (on the occasion of the Multnomah County Library Everybody Reads)

"Heidi's visit to Lewis & Clark was the highlight of our student and community programming. It is a rare gift to have such a talented and transcendent women-of-color writer serve as a living role model for other aspiring young writers and artists."
— Tricia Brand, associate dean of students, director of multicultural affairs, Lewis & Clark College

"Heidi herself was warm, generous, and gently constructive & gave attention to practical matters, e.g. how to give a great reading. She set a wonderful tone for workshop and critique to be directed at expanding work in progress, rather than attacking it." Jenn R., workshop participant

"Heidi's candor was refreshing. She really emphasized how relentless debut authors need to be BEFORE being published and after publication. She shared some critical strategies and some of her mistakes so that we can avoid making them. I also liked her authenticity. She was not afraid to get emotional. She does not present a façade, she is refreshingly real and approachable. One story she told us about one of her young readers perfectly illustrated the power of being an author and it had nothing to do with fame, money or ego. The story she shared left me determined to create art with my novel. I never had that goal before the workshop because I did not consider myself an artist. Finally, I think Heidi is brilliant. She has keen insights and is a writer’s writer. She set a constructive tone for the workshop by emphasizing that we look for the energy in each other’s work and suggest ways to build on that. That was such a great approach and we all benefitted. I felt like I could share freely because I was in a safe place." Robin Farmer, workshop participant

"Heidi provided extremely constructive, detailed manuscript critiques; extremely useful and practical information re the nuts and bolts of selling and promoting your work – and the practice doing readings was so helpful. Heidi is an engaging, energetic and masterful guide through the intricacies and necessary action steps to successfully complete, publish and promote your novel.

"The positive energy, support and enthusiasm from Heidi and the workshop attendees that renewed my spirit and revved me up with the energy and tools I need to complete my novel and get it out into the world." — Ginger McKnight-Chavers, workshop participant

"I loved the intimacy of the group—it was very supportive and generative. And I loved Heidi’s teaching/coaching style. She is a natural teacher and encourager. I enjoyed the pacing and the mix of sessions and events planned. I learned so much, and received so much encouragement from, the workshops, the one-on-one, the discussions and talks that Heidi gave on the other parts of the writerly life. I appreciate Heidi’s style and her genuineness. And I surely appreciated her generosity of spirit and heart." Michele Beller, workshop participant

"I was so impressed with Heidi’s organization and preparedness for the workshop. I wasn’t expecting anything more than a few workshops and time to write, but she provided so much more than that with super informative sessions on marketing, networking and getting published. I am always so focused on writing that I hadn’t even thought about all of the nuts and bolts that go along with creating art. She also managed to curate a group of writers who seemed to mesh perfectly together, as well as create a workshopping environment that managed to be both nurturing and constructive. I didn’t feel like my fellow workshoppers (or Heidi) were holding back, but at the same time I never felt attacked or defeated. Quite the opposite." Jessica Haas, workshop participant

"It was, quite simply, a stupendous experience. Heidi packed so much into a few days: giving us advice; providing the opportunity to have our work read by others as well as by herself; and even “forcing” us to read our own work, out loud and in public. Her selection of other writers was spot-on, and she quickly created a safe space for us to bond and support each other. I don’t think anyone expected we’d become life-long friends, our own clan, within a few short days." Romalyn Tilghman, workshop participant

Djerassi Resident Artists Program
2325 Bear Gulch Road  
Woodside, CA 94062

650 747-1250