Frequently Asked Questions

    General Questions

    How can I purchase a gift certificate?

    Gift certificates are available in pre-paid amounts of $50, $100, $200, and $300. You can purchase a gift certificate here. If you'd like a gift certificate in a different amount, just give us a call at (303) 297-1185. 

    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. 

    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.

    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.)

    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 discover 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].

    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. Just about every session, we hold workshops on how to write query letters and other business-related topics. We’ve also had instructors work one-on-one with writers to help them submit their work to relevant publications. If you're interested in submitting to literary journals, check out Willfully Submit, which is a free event for members offered quarterly. 

    What if I still have more questions?

    Give us a call! We’d love to chat. 303-297-1185.

    Membership Questions

    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

    How many members do you have?

    Currently we have over 2,000 members, and they are a great group of readers, writers, and literary fans. Want to join? We'd love to have you.

    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. 

    Workshop Questions

    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 have long-term programs for experienced writers called The Book Project and Poetry Collective.

    What are the differences between classes?

    The 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. Many 8-week workshops involve workshopping up to 60 pages of prose or 10 pages of poetry, as well as reading published works. A few 8-week workshops are designated as generative, meaning sharing your own work is limited, as you’ll focus instead on in-class writing and take-home exercises. The Experimental/Hybrid Forms course is an example of a generative workshop.

    Our 4-week workshops focus on craft elements of writing and very rarely include a critique component. In these classes, you’ll either be generating new material or focusing together on a precise element of craft that will help you with current or future drafts. 

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

    Heck, yes. 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, Spark and Re-Spark, or any of our introductory 8-week courses.

    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, memoir, and poetry, 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. 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 Collective 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 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.

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

    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. That said, we do make a concerted effort to offer genre-specific courses in noir, YA, science fiction, speculative writing, graphic novels, 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. We are grateful for the variety you bring to the workshop.

    I tried a class once and it wasn’t what I expected. What should I do?

    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 don’t see the workshop I’m looking for. Why?

    Much like a university, we offer workshops in four sessions per year: winter, spring, late summer, and fall. We also have a short, 4-week session in July. While we offer the staples every session (intro, intermediate, and advanced workshops in novel, memoir, short story, and poetry), other classes are offered just once or twice a year. If you don’t see what you’re looking for now, check back in a few weeks, or give us a call at 303-297-1185 to see when we plan to offer that specific workshop again. 

    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.

    I can’t afford to take your workshops. Do you have anything for me?

    Absolutely! As a nonprofit, our primary goal is to make writing accessible for everyone. We have a robust Writership Tuition Assistance program that offers discounted tuition to anyone who applies. It’s a simple process and doesn’t require tax verification. We also offer many, many free programs and events. Stop by every second and fourth Friday for Friday 500 and check out our Write Denver community outreach program for free workshops like Hard Times, in partnership with the Denver Public Library. 

    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 non-transferable. 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 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.

    Website Questions

    I can’t login! Can you help?

    Yes, we can help! If you had an account on our old site, you’ll need to request a new password. To do this, click on the login/register button at the top right, and when you get to the login page, click on “Forgot Password.” Then follow the instructions. We've heard that the reset emails often go to spam, so check there if you don't see it right away. 

    If you can’t remember what email address you used as a login in the past, you can “Create an Account.” If you try to do this and the email matches one already in our database, the site will let you know; you’ll be able to request a new password from there.

    I requested a new password, but never received an email.

    Often, new password request emails end up in your spam/junk folder, so be sure to check there! If you still don’t see it, give us a call, and we can reset your password over the phone. Our number is 303-297-1185. 

    I entered a new password in my account, but when I try to sign in again, it says my password is incorrect.

    Make sure that when you change your password, that you hit the “Save” button all the way down at the bottom of the page. If you’re required to enter additional required information, such as your county, you’ll need to re-enter your password, along with the required information, and hit save.

    What’s the easiest way to find the workshop I’m looking for on your website?

    We recommend going to the workshops page and entering a word from the title in the “Filter Keyword” box on the top right. For example, if you’re looking for “Advanced Short Story,” type “Advanced” in the filter keyword box and hit search. This will get you to where you want to be in no time. 

    When I try and filter for a class by the instructor’s name, it doesn’t work.

    When you search by instructor name, you must use their full name as it appears on the course listing, i.e. “William Haywood Henderson” rather than “Bill Henderson” or just “Henderson.”

    (Please note: we’re working on this issue.)

    Young Writers Questions

    Do you work with young writers?

    Yes! We offer quality creative writing instruction to young people, grades 3-12. Our programs include weekend workshops, a popular weeklong summer camp, and visits to local schools. Teachers and parents interested in sending students to Lighthouse programs can contact us at [email protected]

    What happens in your workshops for young writers?

    At Lighthouse, our goal is to foster excitement about writing. Our workshops encourage creativity and give students tools to build the kinds of stories that they often don’t have the opportunity to explore in academic settings. We want students to leave the workshops feeling positive about their writing, no matter their level, and with concrete methods for getting their stories on paper. 

    Do you offer financial assistance for young writers?

    Sure do! Financial assistance is available to all students who need it.

    Can Lighthouse come to my child’s school?

    Our outreach program serves schools throughout the Denver area. Contact Roxanne Banks Malia at [email protected] to request a writing workshop at your school. 

    Lit Fest Questions

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

    Lit Fest is 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 13th, and will be held June 1 through June 15. For more info, visit the Lit Fest page.

    Who should take the weeklong Master Workshops?

    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. Master Workshops require an application, which is due in March.

    What if I missed the priority deadline for Master Workshops?

    After the deadline, 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. 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.

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

    The visiting authors and your fellow students need at least a month to review the material for workshop. See the Master Workshop page for specific deadlines, but typically, your work will be due about a month prior to the workshop’s start date. 

    How many pages can I submit for a Master Workshop?

    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’ll 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.

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

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

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

    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. 

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

    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. 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.

    What if I have a pass but am not interested in meeting with an agent?

    We highly recommend meeting with an editor. Every year, we bring in editors from local presses and journals such as Counterpath Press, Denver Quarterly, and Colorado Review. These meetings are a great opportunity to receive feedback on your work (up to 15 pages), especially for poets and short story writers, and though it’s not guaranteed, we have had people whose work has found a home in the editor’s journal or press as a result of the meeting. 

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

    Please see the Business Info Packet for details on when and how to submit  your materials for your meeting. 

    Query letter? How do you write one of those?

    We know! It’s hard stuff. There are some websites 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.

    When will my agent or editor meeting be?

    Those who are meeting with agents or editors will receive their meeting schedule by mid-May via e-mail.