How do you get there from here?

How do you get there from here?

Big picture bookshop:

Bring up to 200 pages and let's talk book.

October 12 & 13 2019 ONE WEEKEND ONLY. (email me if interested)

Want to find out if your book is doing what you want it to do? Or, maybe you need to know how to get to the end? Few other workshops invite authors to submit so many pages — a great opportunity to have an astute set of eyes see the larger framework of your book and thus provide more comprehensive feedback. Here are a few things we will focus on as well as some key reasons to attend:

  • While we call it a 200-page manuscript workshop, this means UP TO 200 pages, with a minimum of 100. We’ll even take fewer if you show you’ve got perseverance.

  • Close attention and lengthy discussion around your manuscript not only as it stands today but also your intentions for the direction of the story

  • Input on how to get those intentions into motion on the page

  • Characters and their motivations. You have a great character but what is their story and how do you best tell it?

  • Plot – what elements does your story need?

  • Structure – how do you sequence those elements? How might you re-arrange or re-order events to tell a better story?

  • Deadlines get things done. Signing up for the workshop is a great motivator to make some real progress on your project. And, getting feedback in October is a great motivator for getting the next draft done by 2020, like you promised yourself.

  • The value in reading other author's manuscripts and organizing your feedback around their work--this can help you see and solve problems in your own work.


Have you been struggling with seeing the vision for your book come to life on the page? Working on a novel, short story collection or memoir and desperately need a few readers and some critical feedback? At the Big Picture Bookshop, an exclusive group of your peers, led by professional critic and author, David Ulin, will spend up to two hours diving deep into the core of your project and help you brainstorm around ideas, solving problems, and most importantly, unearthing the potential in your book.

So far, we’ve had two attendees who have been published by major publishing houses, three who have found top New York agents. And, 2018 we congratulated our third published author! All authors count our workshop as the key to those successes.

David L. Ulin is the author of Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, shortlisted for the 2016 PEN Literary Award. He’s authored eight previous books, including The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time (just re-released September 2018) and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he is former book critic and book editor of the Los Angeles Times.

Each day of the one-weekend workshop will include in-depth, honest critique delivered with the authors’ creative intentions in mind. Because of the intensity and personal focus, the workshop is strictly limited to 6 participants. Attendees will be expected to have read the other manuscripts. See below for comments from previous attendees.

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Coffee and snacks are served throughout the day. On Saturdays, lunch is provided, usually savory pie or soup; Sundays, lunch is on your own. Ivy Salon is located in the historic South Park area of San Diego, 3 blocks from a variety of restaurants. If you are coming from out of town, I can suggest a comfortable hotel in nearby Little Italy, or B&Bs within walking distance. Or, Airbnb has been a great option for previous participants with many options within a block.

This workshop is by acceptance and referral only. If you are interested in attending, please email me for instructions. The workshop fills fast, so check with me sooner, rather than later.

How many chances are there to have a professional book critic review your manuscript before you submit it to an agent or editor?

Cost: $1800 for two-day intensive workshop in a comfortable setting (no cold metal folding chairs, just comfy couches).

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  • July 1 -- Enrollment ends. Sign up soon as the workshop fills FAST ! 50% deposit due upon acceptance to hold your spot.

  • September 6-- manuscript due. Final Payment due.

Due to logistics and advanced preparation, all deposits and payments are non-refundable, except in the rare case that David or I must cancel and are unable to reschedule.

Limited to 6. By acceptance only and referral only. Email me for further information. Our goal is to create a strong and supportive group dynamic. Your work does not have to be Pulitzer-Prize winning to get accepted, but your personality and work ethic does. 

Attendees who are published: Susan Henderson, author of The Flicker of Old Dreams which she worked on in our workshop released Mar 2018, Patricia Santana (her latest book she worked on in the workshop is due out soon), Rachel Groves (worked on two novels in our workshop -- her award-winning collection of short stories, When We Were Someone Else was published in November 2018).

We have numerous repeat students. This is a sign that something’s working! Here’s what some are saying about the workshop:

“It was intense and critical…I took volumes of notes because I wanted to remember everything [David] said. He has a remarkably good heart in tandem with his humongous brain. [Amy] is especially good at seeing the core, what a book is really about. I realized that for me writing is not so much about writing as uncovering secrets and lies I tell myself.” Lawrence Spann attended October 2015

“David was brilliant, insightful and gentle. He’s not only a master of craft, he masterfully runs a workshop. Best experience ever!” Rachel Groves attended May 2014 and January 2015

“David’s comments and written notes are worth the trip alone. A supportive and small (no name tags or sign-up sheets!) group of smart, fun writers. Generous, safe workshop – with pie.” Tudy Woolfe attended January & October 2013, May 2014 and October 2015 (4 times!)

“I signed up for this workshop for the chance to work with some of the most brilliant minds in literature. I was stuck and sheepish about showing my novel-in-progress with all its flaws and broken plot lines. What sets this workshop apart from others, besides the chance to have a critique of 200 pages of work, is the comfortable atmosphere: a comfy living room, pets, homemade pies, and laughter. My fear disappeared. I left the workshop feeling confident and inspired, with specific ways to transform my manuscript into something so much better.This workshop will do miraculous things to your work in progress.” Susan Henderson, acclaimed author of UP FROM THE BLUE, attended May 2014 & October 2015