Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts

Writing Retreat

Write with other writers!

Join us for the fifth annual Writing Retreat at Shake Rag Alley, open to writers of all levels. Enrich your talent and prospects in one of three genres:

•  Memoir & Personal Essay with Patricia Ann McNair (Retreat Artistic Director)

•  Crafting Fiction with Christine Rice

•  Writing for Young People with Sarah Hammond

These in-depth workshops will challenge you across the three days and are led by award-winning published authors and experienced teachers of writing.

Interwoven around these main workshops will be optional and inspiring creative activities, including:

•  Craft Talks and Panel Discussions

•  Faculty and Local Author Reading

•  Two Participant Open Mics

We look forward to welcoming you to a retreat jam-packed with opportunities to learn, share, network, and write.

Manuscript consultations are available with instructors on a first sign up, first served basis, at a very affordable price.

We are pleased to work in partnership with Hypertext Magazine & Studio, a social justice writing nonprofit organization.

Books by Faculty, Panelists & Presenters


Mining the Story

May 21-23, 2021

Writing Retreat Details & FAQs

Friday, May 21

10 – 10:30 am: Welcome & Faculty Introductions

10:45 – 11:45 am: Panel Discussion: Literary Citizens and Building Community, Sheree L. Greer, Sarah Hammond, Patricia McNair, Shawn Shifflet

Noon: Lunch

1:00 – 4:30 pm: Workshop Groups

  • Patricia McNair, Memoir & Essay
  • Christine Rice, Crafting Fiction
  • Sarah Hammond, Writing for Young People

4:30 – 6 pm: Meet & Greet

5:30 – 7 pm: Manuscript Consultations

Free Evening to Explore Mineral Point and/or Write

Saturday, May 22

9 am: Manuscript Consultations

10:00 – 11:00 am: Craft Talk: Writers Dreaming, Shawn Shiflett

11:15 am – 12:15 pm: Professional/Publishing Talk: Confessions of a Literary Magazine Editor, Christine Rice

12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch & Participant Open Mic

1:30 – 4:30 pm: Workshop Groups

4:45 – 5:45 pm: Craft Talk: Writing Your Opposite, Eric Charles May

7:30 pm: Faculty and Local Author Reading | open to the public

Sunday, May 23

9:30 am: Manuscript Consultations

10 – 11:00 am: Workshop: Magic in Your Pocket (Easy Handmade Books), Philip Hartigan

11:00 am – noon: Craft Talk: Trust Your Voice, Trust Your Reader: Revision as Craft, Sheree L. Greer

12:15 – 1:15 pm:  Lunch & Participant Open Mic

1:30 – 4:30 pm: Workshop Groups conclude

4:30 – 5 pm: Closing Remarks & Toast

Select the genre you would like to focus on: Memoir & Personal Essay, Crafting Fiction, or Writing for Young People. Register for that workshop.

All workshops meet simultaneously. All retreat participants meet jointly in the Lind Pavilion for craft talks, readings, and lunch.

Add a manuscript evaluation if you would like to meet one-on-one with an instructor to receive feedback on work submitted prior to the retreat. The instructor you meet with does not need to be the one teaching your workshop.

Writing Retreat participants may sign up for a 25-minute one-on-one manuscript consultation with select faculty members. You may submit one piece no longer than 12 pages.

Saturday, May 22 | 12:30-1:30 pm

Sunday, May 23 | 12:15-1:15 pm

Registered workshop participants are invited to read from their own work. Please limit your selections to under 10 minutes.

Writing Retreat Workshops

select one to register for the retreat

(workshops meet simultaneously)

Only Registered Workshop Participants May Purchase Manuscript Consultations

Saturday — 9-9:25 am

open to all retreat participants at no cost

Friday — 10:45-11:45 am

Literary Citizens &
Building Community

What does it mean to be a good literary citizen and how does one find, or build, a writing community?

Panel Discussion with Patricia McNair, Sheree L. Greer, Sarah Hammond, and Shawn Shiflett.

10-11 am

Craft Talk

Writers Dreaming
Shawn Shiflett

Some of our earliest storytelling attempts came from the sharing of our nighttime dreams. This craft talk will help writers relate the rich, various, and powerful world of dreams to the needs and delights of imaginative prose. Bring your dreams and your journals!

11:15 am — 12:15 PM

Professional/Publishing Talk

Confessions of a Literary Magazine Editor
Christine Rice

What do lit mag editors look for in the multitude of submissions they receive each month? What do they wish you knew before you sent your work? What drives them batty? What makes their literary hearts leap? Christine Maul Rice, publisher of Hypertext Magazine, will fill us in. What do you want to ask?

4:45 — 5:45 PM

Craft Talk

Writing Your Opposite
Eric Charles May

The writer and educator John Schultz once wrote: “Many of the great characters of literature have been opposites of the author…” Examples would be Captain Ahab of Moby Dick and Herman Melville, the freed slave Sethe of Beloved and Toni Morrison, the murderous Raskolnikov of Crime and Punishment and Fyodor Dostoevsky. In creative nonfiction as well, some of the most engaging depictions are of people who are opposites of the author: Hector, the boyfriend of Mary Karr’s mother in Liar’s Club, Mademoiselle, the governess of Vladimir Nabokov in Speak Memory. This presentation will look at some creative approaches to developing and writing the opposite personae, be it fiction or nonfiction.

10-11 am

Craft Workshop

Magic in Your Pocket (Easy Handmade Books)
Philip Hartigan

It’s been said that a book is its own uniquely portable magic. Visual artist and writer Philip Hartigan will lead us in a hands-on bookmaking workshop designed to help us create our own vessels for portable magic to fill with our words and slip into our pockets.

11 am — 12 PM

Craft Talk

Trust Your Voice, Trust Your Reader: Revision as Craft
Sheree L. Greer

Stephen King said, “Kill your darlings,” but what if we took murder off the table and focused on saving and nurturing creative voice? Building and sustaining a relationship with our readers? Let’s explore revision as craft and discuss approaches that support the dynamic and rigorous work of sculpting our work from first draft to final form.

12:30-1:30 Pm
12:15-1:15 PM

Participant Open Mic

Sign Up in Person
to read for
10 minutes or less

open to the public

Faculty & Local Author Reading

Saturday, May 22
7:30-9 pm

Gather in the spacious Shake Rag Alley Lind Pavilion, at 411 Commerce Street, in Mineral Point for a reading by Writing Retreat faculty, Galena author Kathy Gereau, and Mineral Point authors Justin O’Brien and Matt Renwick.

Campus Map: Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts

Coach House
18 Shake Rag Street

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Art Café

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Ellery House

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Open Air Parking

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Lind Pavilion Parking

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Roadside Parking
allowed on Commerce Street

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Smejas’ Studio parking

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Smejas’ Studio
30 Doty Street

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Curbside Parking
as indicated

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Accessible Parking
with curb cut

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Accessible Parking
with curb cut

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Alley Stage

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Cabinet Shop

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French Cabin

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1830 Log Cabin

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Potter’s House

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Blacksmith Barn

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Federal Spring

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Monarch Garden

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Lind Pavilion
411 Commerce Street

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two blocks to

High Street & Commerce Street
Restaurants, Shops & Galleries

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To Grocery Store
Point Foods
622 Dodge Street

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Street Parking with Additional Parking behind Smejas’ Studio

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The Green
open air park

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Stair Steps
Cabinet Shop & Lind Pavilion

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Stair Steps
to Alley Stage

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Stone Bridge
Federal Spring

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The Sardeson
223 Commerce St.
The Sardeson is home to the
Sardeson Pottery Studio,
Roland’s Loft,
and Tuckpoint. 31 of 33

Weaving & Fiber Arts Studio

Cannery Row Arts Incubator
121 Water St.

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ADA accessible buildings: Lind Pavilion, Coach House, Smejas’ Studio