The Book Project

Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Book Project is an intensive, two-year program for writers of book-length manuscripts (novel, narrative nonfiction, memoir, poetry collections, and short story collections). Join us to find out more about the program and how to apply, and to talk to current members of the Book Project along with the program mentors. (Click here or on the image to see the full brochure.)

For info on the Poetry Book Project, please visit this page.

Launched in the fall of 2013, the project has seen its first group of 18 (12 fiction writers, 6 memoirists) complete their first year—to stunning results. People who had treaded water for years and years finished their drafts; people who hadn't found time to write made it a consistent habit and had all the attendant breakthroughs; and people who had been working in solitude came together to form an enduring and indispensable community of writers. 

Applications for the 2016-2018 year are now closed. The next application cycle will open in April 2017. 

Wondering if the Book Project is right for you? We hold a general info session every May. This informal session is your opportunity to ask questions, meet mentors, and figure out if you're ready to take the leap. A Lighthouse staff member will be on-hand to discuss logistics, and mentors as well as past and present participants will be available to share details and answer questions.


  • It's affordable, just a fraction of the cost of an MFA degree program, yet every bit as rigorous as the best creative writing programs.
  • It's a personalized course of study—you will work closely with a mentor, who will help you create a curriculum that addresses your particular needs as a writer.
  • It's a proven way to break through the mire of drafts that never seem to get finished.
  • Our mentors are working, award-winning writers William Haywood Henderson (head of program), Erika Krouse, Benjamin Whitmer, Eleanor Brown, and Elizabeth Robinson—all highly skilled teachers with years of experience nurturing creative writers.
  • Our resident publishing expert, Shana Kelly, will guide you through the necessities and intricacies of the publishing world.
  • Remote study available—even if you’re not in the Denver area, you can participate in the Project over the internet and come to Denver for the three weekend intensives each year.
  • At the end of the program, each student will give a public reading to the wider community and receive a certificate of completion.
  • You’ll be energized by three weekend intensives per year plus the Lit Fest business weekend.


But don't take it from us! Here what Book Projecteers are saying: 

"I learned that ordinary people like me can do this, even people with little kids who get sick all the time.
Before I started the Book Project, I was adamant that I would never write a book. What did I have to say? And I was certain I didn’t have the attention span for a book. I started tentatively, thinking I had absolutely no business in this group and someone would figure that out sooner or later, but they never did, so at some point I became committed to both writing and my book. I finished my manuscript in early May. It’s around 67,000 words. I have an idea for a second book."  — Shawna Hickman Ervin

"This is a writing community all the way down to the bone, a community that 'gets it' with the resources to help in what can be a lonely journey.
The Book Project is a school, a workshop, a learning experience. Most importantly, for me, it is a community. A program that grew from within a writing community. I’ve been in an MFA program, an MPA program, and this is different at a fundamental level because it didn’t grow from the same roots. It didn’t come from a University planning group, a 'we ought to' memo from the English department to the regent. The Lighthouse Book Project happened when a community of writers intensified the education and production function within their own community. The alphabet checkboxes are there, MFAs, PHDs, MAs, agents, publications, lectures, all of those things, and the knowledge and connections they imply. But you can get alphabet soup on any grocery shelf. This is a writing community all the way down to the bone, a community that ‘gets it’ with the resources to help in what can be a lonely journey. Teamwork in solitude. Write on."  — John Holley

"I’m a writer because I write—I don’t think I could say that comfortably before this.
My favorite part of the Book Project (and it’s difficult to single out just one), is the way it’s teaching me to be a writer who writes, rather than an aspiring writer who will write someday. I’ve learned to organize my ideas (and generate new ones), to make time for writing that fits into life, and to push past all of the mental blocks that stopped me from digging into a book for years. So while learning how to be a better writer (and reader) is arguably the best part of the Book Project, it wouldn’t matter without the push and support to actually do the writing, and to normalize it as part of daily life."  — Amanda Boldenow

"The Book Project has met and exceeded the offerings of any MFA program I researched. 
Focused individual mentoring on my novel, the freedom to choose classes specific to my interests, two complete readings of my manuscript by experts, consultations and specific feedback from a successful literary agent—all this and more. At the end of these two years I will have finished my novel, I will have learned how to write well, and I will continue to have this brilliant community of writers in my life!"  — Christie Lips

"In this supportive environment, I’m surrounded by goal-oriented, exceptionally talented writers.
The Book Project has enabled me to keep my novel front and center—though it’s never easy to write a book, it’s several orders of magnitude less daunting when you’re writing, discussing, and thinking about your book every single day. Straightforward feedback and encouragement from Bill Henderson and the other participants in the novel group help me surmount creative hurdles and hit even the most ambitious deadlines."  — Carolyn Daughters



Over the years, we’ve seen great novels and books come out of the Lighthouse workshops, including PEN/Hemingway finalists, Colorado Book Award-winners, and national best sellers, but we also had a nagging feeling we could be doing more to support the long projects that people are undertaking. Our members are often working under the constraints of full-time jobs and busy lives, so we wanted to re-envision the best way we could support their efforts. Workshopping chapters is an option that many people benefit from, but this is not always ideal—readers and instructors are often unfamiliar with the larger project, writers themselves can become prematurely focused on revising early chapters, and momentum can be slowed or shut down.

The limitations of a typical workshop—ideally suited to short stories, essays, and poetry—on book-length projects are well known, and MFA programs and literary centers have been working hard to try to overcome them. We feel the best thing we can give our book writers is a customized program that helps them focus on a schedule, a timeframe, and a set of aesthetic goals. Our program pairs each writer with a mentor who will help him or her chart a path through the project, and also gives another necessary element—a community of writers to inspire and hold accountable each artist to his or her goals. At the end of the program, each writer will emerge with a book drafted, a book the writer can be proud of, plus a support team ready to help him or her take the next steps.


Tuition: $6,300 per year—which includes all courses, retreats (food and lodging up to participants), mentor meetings, agent meetings, and two full manuscript reads—for a total of two years. ($525/month or $545/month for Writerspace membership.)  At this time, we unfortunately do not have tuition assistance for the Book Project, but we're hoping to be able to offer it in future years, so stay tuned!


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