Frequently Asked Questions

    General Questions

    Lit Fest FAQ

    Q. So, what’s this Lit Fest I keep hearing about?

    A. We’re so glad you asked. It’s a two-week celebration of the art and craft of writing. During the two weeks, there are weeklong Master Workshops for advanced writers of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and dramatic writing; weekend workshops for writers of various levels and genres; one-time seminars on particular topics; readings; salons; and parties galore. This year's fest will be our twelfth, and will be held June 2 through June 16.

    Q. Who should take the weeklong Master Workshops?

    A. In 2017, the weeklong Master Workshops are designed for people who have been writing for a long time, who have experience in the writing workshop, and who want a little extra push to get them to the next level. This is a chance to work with some of the great writers and teachers working today. The priority deadline was March 1.

    Q. What's this about a weekend Master Workshop?

    A. For the fourth year running, Steve Almond will be working throughout an intense weekend with 10 writers of short prose (short stories or essays). This is a chance to work with an advanced group for a shorter span of time, along with working with one phenomenal teacher. The priority deadline for this workshop was also March 1.

    Q. What’s a priority deadline for Master Workshops?

    A. After March 1, our jury will convene to review all of the applications that have come so far, and offer spots to those who qualify for the class. In other words, everyone who submits by the priority deadline will be guaranteed consideration for one of the 10 spots in each workshop.

    Q. What if I missed the priority deadline?

    A. If there are still open spots in the weeklong Master Workshops, you can still apply. Applications received after the priority date will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

    Q. If I’m accepted into the Master Workshops, when does my work need to be submitted for workshop?

    A. May 5 (noon, MST) is the deadline for Master Workshops with Steve Almond, Geoff Dyer, Sarah Manguso, Rebecca Makkai, and Elizabeth McCracken (week one). May 12 (noon MST) is the deadline for Master Workshops with Ada Limón, Jennifer Haigh, Andre Dubus III, Akhil Sharma, and David Henry Hwang (week two). You will then receive copies of your workshop’s manuscripts to read in advance of the workshop dates.

    Q. How many pages can I submit?

    A. For most of the prose workshops, one chapter, one short memoir or essay, or one story, 20 pages or fewer. That’s 20 manuscript pages, double-spaced, 12-point font. For poetry, you will be invited to submit up to four poems. Please consider that other people spend a lot of time and energy editing down their submissions, and it’s not considered cool to fudge spacing, font, or margins to fit more in. (And yes, everyone can tell when you do.)  Those enrolling in the Master Workshops will receive more detail once you’ve accepted a spot.

    Q. I'm from out of town. Where can I stay?

    A. There are many affordable options around Lighthouse, including a few that offer discounts to Lighthouse Lit Fest participants. See our recommended hotels for details. 

    Q. How do I meet with an agent or editor at Lit Fest?

    A.  You have to hold a Gold, Silver, Bronze, Almond, Penny, or Full-Access Business Pass. There are a limited number of slots with agents and editors due to the fact that they’re only here for a short while, and we like them to have time to read manuscripts and engage in thoughtful discussions with participants. If slots remain available after all of the passholders have an opportunity to schedule meetings, we will release those slots for purchase. Based on past Lit Fests, however, this is unlikely. 

    Q. But I don’t want any of these passes; I just want to meet with an agent!

    A. Lit Fest is a two-week celebration of the art and craft of writing, and we bring in the agents and editors as part of the program. We are committed to first allowing participants who are engaged in this intensive learning experience the opportunity to meet with an agent or editor, but of course if there are spots left after they have that opportunity, we’re more than happy to open up meetings to anyone! In the meantime, there are some really great manuscript marts out there that allow pretty economical access to a large number of agents over a short period of time—you might try Googling it!

    Q. That doesn’t help me. I need an agent.

    A. There are ample opportunities to meet with agents throughout the year in various ways. You are also always free to query agents (for just the cost of postage or clicking “send” via e-mail!) and try to acquire them the old-fashioned way. There’s no reason you have to pay to be involved in a festival or conference to meet your agent. Most people meet them through queries and you can find details on querying agents all over the Web. While many people have found their agents at Lit Fest, we think of it more in terms of the possibility of learning from an agent, who usually doesn’t have time to respond to individual queries and manuscripts.

    Q. What about editors of literary magazines?

    A. Not all the editors attending Lit Fest will be available for meetings, but a few will be! Editors available for meetings at Lit Fest 2017 include Julie Carr (Counterpath Press), Mairead Case (Denver Quarterly), Matthew Cooperman (Colorado Review), and Lindsey Drager (Crazyhorse). 

    Q.  If I’m a passholder, when do I need to have my material ready for the agents and editors?

    A. We’ll need your top three agent/editor choices by May 8 and a final draft of your query letter and first chapter by May 19 (noon MST).  We need it electronically as the agents prefer it that way—as a Word Doc attachment or a pdf. You’ll e-mail the query letter and chapter to [email protected].  We will do our best to match you with an agent or editor who’s familiar with the type of work you’re writing. 

    Q. Query letter? How do you write one of those?

    A. We know! It’s hard stuff. There are some Web sites out there that do their best to show what stands out in this regard. For starters, take a look at queryshark.blogspot.comagentquery.com, and nelsonagency.com/pub-rants.

    Q. When will my meeting be?

    A. Those who get meetings with agents or editors will receive their meeting schedule by May 12, via e-mail.

    Q. What if I still have more questions?

    A. Give us a call! We’d love to chat. 303.297.1185.

    I have some finished work and I’m interested in publishing. Do you offer any professional assistance?

    There are a few ways that we help. Some instructors end their classes with visiting editors or with talks on the business of writing. Lit Fest, our two-week summer conference held every June, has a series of panels, salons, and opportunities to meet with editors and agents from Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

    Can I work with a faculty member one-on-one?

    Yes. Many of our award-winning faculty members will consult with writers individually. However, private consultation can be costly. We recommend taking a workshop or two first, as this allows you to get to know the instructor, and whether his/her style is a good fit with your own. All of our instructors are working writers and university-level teachers of writing, so their time is well worth the money, but it is an investment. To inquire about one-on-one work, email us at [email protected].

    Is Lighthouse a nonprofit?

    Yes! In 2004, Lighthouse Writers Workshop was officially designated as a 501(c)3 organization. (Unofficially, we always had nonprofit leanings.)

    What is Lighthouse?

    We are a community devoted to the literary arts in Denver. We accomplish our mission through workshops, literary events, and a youth program, all of which support writers (and readers!) at any stage in their journey. Writers need writers, and we offer opportunities to connect with our tribe.

    How long has Lighthouse been around?

    We started in Denver in 1997. Prior to that, we ran a few workshops in Boston. We figured Denver needed a Lighthouse, while Boston already has its fair share.  

    How many members do you have?

    Currently we have over 1,800 members, and they are a great group of readers, writers, and literary fans. Want to join? We'd love to have you.

    Workshop Questions

    I'm more of a writing enthusiast and reader these days. Do you have programs for me?

    Sure do.  Check out our Events page for details on upcoming dates for our free, community series, as well as special programs, partnerships, and collaborations.  Or, if you want something more sustained, or a more structured environment, you might like our Reading as a Writer classes, four-week workshops that focus on reading great literary works.

    What is your workshop cancellation policy?

    If you need to cancel a workshop for any reason, the following refund schedule applies:

    • More than three weeks before start date: A cancellation fee of 10% of the total workshop cost applies.
    • Less than three weeks before start date: 15% cancellation fee applies.
    • Less than one week before start date: 25% cancellation fee applies.
    • 48 hours or less before class start: No refund is available.

    All deposits and payments made are nontransferable. Lighthouse cannot provide refunds, transfer payments, or offer makeup sessions for classes a student might miss, for any reason. All tickets and special events purchases are non-refundable and non-transferable. (For all retreats, please see retreat brochure for cancellation policies.) If Lighthouse has to cancel a class, you will receive a full refund.

    Any balance due should be paid by the first session. Please call Lighthouse if you wish to set up a payment plan. Checks should be made payable to Lighthouse Writers. Lighthouse reserves the right to charge late fees and interest on any overdue balance. Lighthouse also reserves the right to remove any student from a workshop at the instructor's discretion.

    I tried a class once and it wasn’t what I expected.

    Every class is different—not only is the chemistry always changing based on the participants in the workshop, but every instructor at Lighthouse is encouraged to teach with their own signature, the way they think works best. So, if you try one class and it didn’t work for you, we encourage you to try another. One thing that keeps Lighthouse thriving is the wide spectrum of styles and voices on our faculty. Also, keep in mind that intro-level courses may have quite a variety of participants, from experienced writers trying a new genre to someone who hasn’t written seriously since high school. We want everyone to find a place at Lighthouse. As you move up to intermediate and advanced levels, you’ll see more focus and emphasis on craft.

    I keep hearing that Lighthouse is for literary writers and I’m working on a mystery. Am I out of luck?

    While our instructors tend to write literary fiction and use literary examples, we believe in the beauty of storytelling in all its forms. Some of the best genre writers of our time are creating exciting, page-turning work, and we’re on the same team. We believe that good stories are good stories. That said, we do make a concerted effort to offer genre-specific courses in noir, YA, science fiction, speculative writing, graphic novel, and horror from time to time. If your specific genre is not being offered, we recommend taking the workshop that would best cater to your project -- novel, screenplay, play, etc. -- and seeing for yourself how it works. If you discover our focus feels too literary, we apologize, but at the same time are grateful for the variety you bring to the workshop.  

    What kind of technology is required for the online courses?

    Not to worry: the technology is both basic and secure. We use a web-based program called Canvas. For a list of browsers and programs that work best, see here. The freedom is the real advantage here: You can check in according to your own schedule, anywhere that you have an internet connection, keeping you connected to our literary community on your own time.

    I can't make it to the regularly scheduled classes. Are your online courses a good alternative?

    Like our regular workshops, the online classes include readings, writing exercises, and a workshop component.  But rather than a regular meeting time, the instructor posts materials on Monday and the discussion unfolds over the course of the week.  Each participant determines how much work to do and what they would like to share, but everyone is expected to participate in the workshop component, not only submitting their own work but also carefully reading and commenting on all of their peers' submissions.

    Q: I’m an established writer, but would like the support of a writing community. Do you offer advanced workshops?

    We offer intermediate and advanced classes in short story, novel, personal essay, and memoir, as well as The Book Project and Poetry Collective.  All of the workshops are designed to do one thing: keep you writing and pushing yourself as a writer.  We encourage any and all writers to take intro-level courses when trying a new or different form/genre, and then moving into the intermediate sections, which could just as aptly be called "ongoing." The focus of these workshops is to keep story writers writing stories, poets writing poems, novelists progressing through their novels, etc. You decide when you're ready to enroll--no application is necessary. These can be repeated for eternity (and perhaps even beyond).
     
    The advanced courses are generally full of members who have been with Lighthouse for a long time, who have been studying through MFA programs, or have worked on their writing for years.  Because space is limited in these workshops, we do require a submission to the instructor in order to apply. If the advanced courses are full or you don't get in right away, we recommend enrolling in the intermediate classes and generating as much new writing as possible while awaiting a spot in the advanced course. The Book Project and Poetry Book Project are competitive programs requiring an application due each summer. Due to space limitations, we are generally able to accept a little less than half the applications we receive.

    I’m a beginner. Do you have something for me?

    Heck, yes. You’re one of our absolute favorites. Lighthouse serves writers of all ability levels, from beginners to published authors and MFAs. There’s no caste system here—all writers are writers, regardless of where they are on the journey. We recommend starting out with a half-day or one-day workshop, or one of the courses designed specifically for folks just starting or needing a refresher, like Writing 101: You Gotta Start Somewhere, or any of our introductory 8-week courses.

    What are the differences between classes?

    The Book Project programs and 8-week workshops are places to go for the full experience of the community and give-and-take of a writing workshop. That means, depending on the class, you’ll be submitting your own writing to the instructor and group for constructive feedback. Our workshops live by the rule: Let the writer go home inspired to get back to work. When everything’s clicking, the workshop becomes a working group of writers who push each other to continue down the sometimes arduous path of writing.

    The 4-week courses are NOT workshop-based. In other words, they’re designed not as a place you’ll go to get detailed feedback on your work, but a place to generate new ideas and material, do writing exercises, read like crazy, and focus on certain special elements of craft.

    Our one-day and half-day workshops are wonderful for writers who wish to focus on a particular element of craft (point of view, character development, narrative arc etc.) or be introduced to a completely new form of writing. These workshops are interactive, discussion-driven, and involve a lot of hands-on writing.

    What kind of workshops do you provide?

    We offer 8-week, 4-week, and one or half-day workshops in novel, short story, poetry, nonfiction, screenwriting and more. We also offer workshops for young writers. As of 2013, we also have long-term programs for experienced writers called The Book Project and Poetry Collective.

    Young Writers Questions

    Do you work with young writers?

    Donation Questions

    Who funds Lighthouse?

    Lighthouse is proud to be an SCFD Tier III Organization. Additional funds come from Colorado Creative Industries, National Endowment for the Arts, The Bloomfield Foundation, Kinder Morgan Foundation, members, and individuals like you.  And we're eternally grateful to you all!

    Membership

    What are the benefits of membership?

    We have several membership levels with various special benefits; take a look at the membership page for details, or give us a call. All members get discounts on Lighthouse workshops and events, advance notification of new class postings, invitations to member events, and access to free weekly programming such as Friday 500 and Member Writing Hours. You must also be a member to qualify for Writership tuition assistance.