2019 Beaufort Retreat

SCWA invites you to participate in its First Annual Fall Retreat held in beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina. Focus on craft with a full-day intensive writing workshop led by five literary masters. Enjoy the Pat Conroy Center Literary Festival and an evening with Mary Alice Monroe. We’ll be treated to focused workshops by SCWA member-leaders and of course the traditional Slushfest. A costume party reception tickles our CosPlay whimsy. A progressive Open Mic event takes advantage of First Friday Night fun. Yoga on the green and a sunrise run through the streets of Beaufort bring the physical wellbeing into the writing practice. It’s a rich, personal, individual experience and it’s waiting for you in Beaufort.




Thursday, October 31

6:30 p.m. Welcome Reception & Literary Costume Party at the Pat Conroy Literary Center, Beaufort, S.C.

Friday, November 1

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Writing Intensive Groups led by 5 stellar faculty:

  • Judy Goldman, memoirist
  • Megan Mayhew Bergman, short story author & novelist
  • Jon Pineda, poet, novelist, & memoirist
  • Dana Ridenour, crime novelist & former FBI agent
  • Jason Ryan, creative nonfiction author & journalist

6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Progressive Open Mic & First Friday in downtown Beaufort

Saturday, November 2

8:30 a.m. Mindfulness & Yoga on the Green waterfront downtown Beaufort

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Conroyfest Events & Independent Study time

7:00 p.m. An Evening with Mary Alice Monroe courtesy of the Pat Conroy Literary Center

Sunday, November 3

9:00 a.m. – 9:50 a.m. SCWA Member Expert Workshop led by Amber Wheeler Bacon, President SCWA, “Repeat, Repeat, Evolve: Structuring the Novel”

10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. SCWA Member Expert Workshop led by Stephanie Edwards, Chapter President Beaufort, “Creative Organization for Writers”

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Slushfest with a panel of readers for literary journals, publishers, and agents



Retreat Faculty    

Megan Mayhew Bergman is the author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Almost Famous Women, and a forthcoming novel with Scribner.  She has served as the Associate Director of Bennington College’s MFA Program, and now teaches at Middlebury College, and is the Director of their Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. Her work has been published in the New York Times, New Yorker, The Guardian, Ploughshares, Paris Review, Oxford American, and Best American Short Stories. She was a fellow at the American Library in Paris and received the Garrett Award for Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Workshop: Megan likes writers to begin with knowing themselves – imagining what kind of work they most want to create.  Students will spend time connecting with their unique gifts and passions, combing through stories only they can tell.  Starting from that place, writers in the workshop will focus on technique – like dialogue, character development, mood, and structure – and generate content through writing exercises. To conclude, we’ll move into the practical space of thinking about how to launch work into the wider world, and connecting with readers.

Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., is a six-time Pushcart Prize-nominated author of 16 books and audio programs of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, as well as a TEXx speaker, a blogger for the Huffington Post blogger and a columnist for Literary Mama. As Andi Buchanan, the author of the memoir, The Beginning of Everything, attests, “Cassie Premo Steele writes with poetry and power, managing to enlighten and educate even as she explores emotional depth. As insightful as it is lyrical, her work is not to be missed.” She works as a writing coach with people from around the world, combining mindfulness and innovative stress reduction techniques for a unique coaching experience, and she also offers an affordable weekly audio coaching program called JOYWORK at her website, www.cassiepremosteele.comWorkshop: Memoir as a Way of Writing from Healing to Being Whole- Our day together will be about writing, but also about how to learn to write in ways that are healthy and balanced and contribute to our well-being. Participants will have the opportunity to deepen their memoir writing with lessons taken from poetry, fiction, and screenwriting genres, and there will be ample time for working on a new or ongoing project during the day. Writing will not be shared, nor will critique be given, as this will allow writers to dive deeply without fear. We will also explore stress reduction techniques that will show you how to write more quickly and with less self-doubt, and this will lead to the development of memoir writing that takes risks, opens the way to healing, and makes things whole.

Jon Pineda is the author of the novels Let’s No One Get Hurt and Apology. His memoir Sleep in Me was a 2010 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. He is also the author of three poetry collections: Little Anodynes, winner of the 2016 Library of Virginia Literary Award, The Translator’s Diary, winner of the 2007 Green Rose Prize, and Birthmark, winner of the 2003 Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry Open Competition.  Pineda lives in Virginia and teaches at the College of William and Mary. Workshop: Building Images and The Element of Surprise In this poetry workshop, we will discuss various strategies for constructing vivid images and imagery in our poems.  Utilizing Frost’s advice of “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader,” we will practice crafting images (starting at the word-level and building from there) that utilize sensory details, strengthen the voice, and, ultimately, engage our readers.   

Dana Ridenour is an award-winning author and retired FBI Special Agent. During her twenty-year career she was assigned to four different FBI Field Divisions and had the opportunity to work a wide variety of cases to include multi-faceted narcotics investigations, domestic sex trafficking of minors, and violent crime. She spent most of her career as an FBI undercover operative. Dana’s first novel, Behind The Mask, won numerous literary awards and was named one of the Best Indie Books of 2016. Her second novel, Beyond The Cabin received the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Award for Best Thriller or Suspense Novel. Below The Radar is scheduled for release on August 13, 2019. Workshop: This full-day intensive training will be divided into two sections and will include one or more writing exercises. Session One is entitled: Dispelling the Myths of the FBI/What writers get wrong. This workshop will focus on the myths and clichés perpetrated by television and movies regarding the FBI. Writers will learn how to avoid the common pitfalls of writing FBI characters. The discussion will give writers a peak into the daily life of an FBI agent focusing on the FBI undercover program, the role of the FBI plays in terrorism and human trafficking investigations, and the FBI’s approach to chasing serial killers. Session Two is entitled: How to Write Believable Law Enforcement Characters/Crime Scenes/Fight Scenes. Law enforcement personnel are an integral part of crime fiction. Their roles range from those enforcing the law at street level up to the upper echelons of command. This discussion will include: The psychological toll of being a law enforcement officer, how to write realistic law enforcement characters and crime scenes, writing about firearms, understanding jurisdiction, writing realistic fight scenes and turning your real-life experiences into fiction. It will also delve into the importance of research.

Jason Ryan is a nonfiction author and journalist in Charleston, South Carolina. His books include the marijuana smuggling tale Jackpot: High Times, High Seas and the Sting that Launched the War on Drugs, the true crime thriller Hell-Bent: One Man’s Crusade to Crush the Hawaiian Mob, and the early aviation account Race to Hawaii: The 1927 Dole Derby and the Thrilling First Flights That Opened the Pacific. He is a former reporter for The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, and a graduate of Georgetown University. Workshop: Though I specialize in narrative nonfiction, I’m passionate about all types of original writing. I’d like to spend time at the retreat getting our hands dirty and taking a nuts-and-bolts-approach to writing samples, figuring out how pieces might become stronger and pack more punch. I’d also like to talk generally about long-form writing, and how to sustain feature-length and book-length pieces. For those passionate about narrative nonfiction (writing true stories that read like novels),  our discussions can touch on effective interview and research techniques, as good source material is crucial for good nonfiction storytelling.

Writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, can often be overwhelming, especially at the beginning of a project when an author desperately needs to be generating momentum. I’d hope to impart some tips on how an author can successfully organize so many thoughts, facts, ideas, characters, etc. to create a powerful story.


These hotels are offering discounts for retreat attendees.

Best Western Sea Island SCWA Group Rate – $170.99 per night                                                  For reservations call 843.522.2090.  

Holiday Inn SCWA Group Rate – $174 Thurs & Fri, $139 Saturday                                        For reservation call 843.379.3100.

Quality Inn SCWA Group Rate – $85 per night                                                                              For reservations call 843.524.2144. 

Home 2 Suites By Hilton – $124 per per night                                                                              For reservations call 1-877-6Home02