August 5 - 9, 2018

5th Annual Catamaran Writing Conference at Pebble Beach

At Catamaran Literary Reader, our artistic themes tap into the rich literary history and beautiful setting of the California Central Coast.  We invite you to transform your own creative work in the scenic location of Pebble Beach, a major source of inspiration for writers from John Steinbeck to Robinson Jeffers.  The conference will be held on the campus of the Robert Louis Stevenson School, and attendees will meet in the elegant Stevenson classrooms, commons, theater, and chapel for workshops, lectures, and presentations. Registration includes four nights lodging at the Robert Louis Stevenson campus on 17-Mile Drive, access to the Stevenson dining commons for 12 meals with your fellow attendees, 4 days of literary workshops in a small group of 12 participants.  Also available are optional daily literary themed excursions, daily craft talks, nightly special guest readings, and student readings

For our 2018 Summer Conference, we are asking participants to submit a manuscript of their preferred genre for review and approval.  Fiction and nonfiction pieces may be short stories or novel excerpts of up to twenty pages.  Poetry submissions may include up to five poems, not to exceed a complete page count of ten pages. You will receive submission instructions after registering. 


2018 Faculty


Joseph Millar’s first collection, Overtime, was a finalist for the 2001 Oregon Book Award. His second collection, Fortune, appeared in 2007, followed by a third, Blue Rust, in 2012. His latest collection, Kingdom, was released in February of 2017.

Danusha Laméris has been published or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2017, the New York Times, the American Poetry Review, the Gettysburg Review, Tin House, and the Sun, and elsewhere. Her first book, The Moons of August (2014), won the Autumn House Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award.


Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of three novels, most recently The Portable Veblen, a finalist for the Bailey Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Nonrequired Reading, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. She is the senior editor for Chicago Quarterly Review and managing editor of Catamaran.

Detective fiction

Peggy Townsend is an award-winning newspaper journalist who has covered stories from serial killers to murder trials. Twice she won a statewide Best Writing Award from the California News Executives Council. Her first book See Her Run: An Aloa Snow Mystery was published in 2018. Her second book The Thin Edge will be published in 2019.


Pam Houston is an American author of short stories, novels and essays. She is best known for her first book, Cowboys Are My Weakness, which has been translated into nine languages, and which won the 1993 Western States Book Award.

generative writing retreat

Joan Staffen has served as a facilitator for Julia Cameron's Artist's Way for 15 years, helping her clients recover, visualize, plan, and actualize their dreams. She is the author of Swimming the Inner Ocean (memoir and story), and Catching You, Catching MeCatching Fire (a book of poetry). 

To get a taste of the Catamaran Writing Conference experience and for a list of past faculty, guest lecturers, and keynote speakers, visit our History page.


Daily Craft Talks

Enjoy optional daily guest lectures open to all registered participants and Day Pass holders. Topics are related to the craft of creative writing, giving attendees a chance to experience craft topics outside the focus of their small group writing workshops. Craft talks are one hour each, with a a portion of the hour devoted to discussing questions raised by participants. The craft talks will be presented by professional authors, poets, editors, and agents all working in literary field.   


2:00 - Maggie Paul: Poetry of Affirmation

3:00 - Michelle Bitting: Poetic Composition


2:00 - Paul Skenazy: Novel Writing

3:00-Michelle Bigley: Guide to Travel Writing


2:00 - Heather Lazare: Editing

3:00 - Peggy Townsend: Art of the Interview


Evening Guest Lectures and Readings

Each evening join us for a reception at 7:00 followed by an evening presentation at 7:30. The evening series will include a lecture by our special guest Dana Gioia, prose and poetry readings by our faculty, and a final celebratory student reading. The evening literary presentations are open to all participants and Day Pass holders. The readings will be followed by book signings by the presenters. Books will be available for sale during the reception and after the presentations. 


Dana Gioia


Michelle Bitting, Danusha Lameris, Joseph Millar


Elizabeth McKenzie, Pam Houston, Peggy Townsend


Student Readings

Literary Themed Excursions

Robinson Jeffers tour:

Visit Tor House, the poet’s home and stone tower at Carmel Point.  The tour bus will depart from Stevenson School on Monday, August 7th at 2:00 and return to campus at 4:00. The tour will be led by docents from the Robinson Jeffers Foundation, and will include stories and history about Robinson Jeffers. We will also ask volunteers from our tour group to recite some of Robinson Jeffers poems along the tour. The tour is open to all registered participants. 

John Steinbeck tour:

Visit Cannery Row and the historically preserved Ricketts Lab on Cannery Row where Ed Ricketts and Steinbeck met to create The Log of the Sea of Cortez. The lab is not open to the public, and a special opportunity for our conference attendees. The tour will be led by docents from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and will include stories and history on John Steinbeck and Doc Ricketts from the 1930's and 40's. There will be a Steinbeck reading in the living room of the Rickett's House after the tour followed by a walking tour of Cannery Row to sites of inspiration for the John Steinbeck novel Cannery Row. The tour bus will depart from Stevenson school on Tuesday, August 8th at 2:00 and return along the scenic Pacific Grove coast route to campus at 4:00. The tour is open to all registered participants.

Robert Louis Stevenson tour:

Hike the physical site that was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island at Point Lobos.  Experience the beautiful vistas that inspired writing and art along the central coast.  Choose between a relaxing stroll to the China Cove, or a more rigorous hike up the Bird Island Trail up to Pelican Point. The tour bus will depart from Stevenson school on Wednesday, August 9th at 2:00 and return to campus at 4:00. 


• Olympic swimming pool

• Fitness Center

• Nature trails through the Del Monte Forest to local beaches. The campus is a 10 minute walk to the beach. 

Share in the Conference Experience from 2018