Sand Into Castles:

A three-week writing experience for midlife women who write.

“When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I’m only shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.” — Shannon Hale

March 1 - March 22, 2023

Learn. Write. Connect.

Learn from 10 instructors and speakers over three weeks.
Write together with instructors and other midlife women.

Participate in 10+ Workshops

A mix of writing workshops, interactive author interviews, and presentations

Dig deeply into the topics that interest you. Skip the ones that don’t. Topics will include: 

  • Balancing writing with life
  • Memoir
  • Personal essays
  • Finding ideas for writing
  • Voice
  • Journaling
  • And more

Write Together

Get three new writing prompts each week

Respond to the ones that connect with you. Share your writing with other participants.

  • Attend weekly co-writing sessions over Zoom.
  • Learn how to use your freewriting to write personal essays and memoir.

A Focus on Community

Build lasting relationships with other midlife writers

Writing should not be lonely. As a midlife woman, you are far from alone. Get to know writers and speakers inside our community platform.

  • Post and get feedback on your writing.
  • Participate in live events, live chats, and co-writing.
  • Get accountability partners (optional).

Meet Our March Presenters

Ann Douglas

Navigating the Messy Middle

Ann is the author of 26 non-fiction books and the creator of the internationally bestselling The Mother of All® parenting books series, which has sold over half a million copies to date. Her most recent book — Navigating The Messy Middle: A Fiercely Honest and Wildly Encouraging Guide for Midlife Women — was published in Canada last fall and will be published in the US in March. A passionate and inspiring speaker, Ann delivers keynote addresses and leads small-group workshops at in-person and online events. Ann and her husband Neil live in a forest in rural Ontario, where she is hard at work on her first novel.

Kimberly Garrett Brown

Using Freewriting To Develop Personal Essays and Stories: Freeing the Writer Within

Kimberly is Publisher and Executive Editor of Minerva Rising Press, a literary press dedicated to publishing thought-provoking fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and photography by women writers and artists. Her best-selling debut novel, Cora’s Kitchen, was published by Inanna Publications September 2022 and was a finalist for the 2022 Sarton Awards. Her work has appeared in Black Lives Have Always Mattered: A Collection of Essays, Poems and Personal Narratives, The Feminine Collective, Compass Literary Magazine, Today’s Chicago Woman, Chicago Tribune, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida.

Rhonda Douglas

From Fear To Focus and Flow

Rhonda is a writer, editor, and fiction writer living and writing in Ottawa, Ontario. She helps committed writers overcome fear and eliminate distractions so that they can write with ease and achieve their writing dreams. She has a particular passion for supporting women writers to finally finish their first books. She is the author of Welcome to the Circus: Stories (Freehand Books, 2015), Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems, (Signature Editions, 2008) and a poetry chapbook How to Love a Lonely Man (Apt 9 Press, 2013).

Sonya Huber

Voice First

Sonya is the author of seven books, including the new guide Voice First: A Writer’s Manifesto and the award-winning essay collection on chronic pain Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System. She is a professor of English at Fairfield University. Her work has been published in literary journals and magazines including The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Washington Post Magazine.

Natalie Serianni

Shaping Ideas Into Personal Essays

Natalie is a Seattle-based writer, instructor, and mother of two. Her work has appeared at HuffPost, Insider, Motherwell, ParentMap, Mutha Magazine and The Keepthings, and her essay, "Subtle Shifts," is included the anthology "The Pandemic Midlife Crisis: GenX Women on the Brink." She has taught college writing for over twenty years.

Shayna Kaufmann

Bringing Presence Into Midlife and Our Writing

Shayna is a Clinical Psychologist, meditation instructor and Founder of Embrace the Middle. Her company’s teaching and workshops focus on guiding women in midlife to experience these years with empowerment and joy, rather than crisis and dread. Shayna is working on her forthcoming book, which includes her original research on 620 women in midlife.

Vanessa Martir

Reclaiming Your Voice on the Page

Vanessa Mártir writes memoir and fiction, is a wanna be poet & playwright, and the creator of the Writing Our Lives Workshop and the Writing the Mother Wound Movement. She has been widely published, including in The NY Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Longreads, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, SmokeLong Quarterly, Aster(ix), and the anthologies Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay & So We Know edited by Aracelis Girmay. Vanessa is a 2021 Letras Boricuas Fellow, and has partnered with Tin House and The Rumpus to publish WOL alumni, and with Longreads and NYU's Latinx Project to publish Mother Wound essays. She has also served as guest editor of Aster(ix) and The James Franco Review. When she's not writing or teaching, you can find Vanessa hiking in the forest, hugging trees and talking to birds.

Kristy Roser Nuttall

Partnering with Nature for Writing Inspiration

Kristy is a children’s book author with a focus on picture books. She loves crafting stories about the natural world, relationships, feelings, magic, mischief, silliness, bravery, curiosity, struggles, and triumphs. She writes fiction and informational fiction. She has published an academic anthropology chapter in Roads to Change in Maya Guatemala. Currently Kristy teaches Forest Kindergarten and Advanced Nature Study classes at Wasatch Nature School in Provo, Utah.

Ani Tascian

Beginning a Memoir

Ani's work appears in Citron Review, Bird's Thumb, Foliate Review and others. Ani currently teaches creative writing at various Bay Area elementary schools and memoir classes at Berkeley Adult School. She's been awarded residencies at VONA and Vermont Studio Center and holds an MFA from Saint Mary's College of California. She's currently working on a book-length memoir about how generational trauma is held in families and in the body.

Stacey Loscalzo

A Tour of Writing Books We Love

Stacey is a reader and writer whose life revolves, as much as possible, around stories. She shares stories. She reads and writes stories. She watches and listens to stories. And most importantly, she discusses stories as part of a community. Her corner of the internet ( is a place where story lovers of all kinds can gather.


Writing for Healing and Growth

Joan Delcoco is a brain injury survivor who writes to retrain her brain and make sense of the world. She has been certified as a Journal to the Self© Instructor who believes strongly in the transformative power of writing to promote insight, healing, and growth.

Jessica Smock

Finding the Right Angle for Your Personal Essay or Article

Jessica Smock is the co-founder and co-editor of the HerStories Project. She is a writer, a former teacher and researcher, and a curriculum coordinator. She has taught writing to students from second grade to graduate school.

There's no doubt...

Writing conferences can be magical.

There’s something special that happens when writers get together to learn, connect, and grow at writing conferences, either in-person or virtually.

However, a typical conference also:

Our Writing summits are different.

Connect with women in the same stage of life about topics and challenges that matter to you.

Choose the live events that work with your schedule or watch the recordings any time. 

Work through exercises, prompts, and readings that appeal to you. Skip the ones that don’t.

Choose to attend live events throughout the week and meet with speakers, hosts, and other writers. Share your writing and participate in groups and forums.


"the summit empowered and energized me and my writing practice"

“As both presenter and participant, the summit empowered and energized me and my writing practice. The variety of workshops scratched the need for creative fulfillment, and this time of year was perfect for digging deep. The community felt small and intimate when, in actuality, the collected group was far and wide. The summit’s platform, the variety of topics offered, and the ease of participating are a testament to how Jessica and Stephanie have, once again, created a magical experience for midlife women writers and the kind of creative experiences they seek. Stephanie and Jessica honour every woman’s personal pathway to discovering what works for her. ”

- previous summit participant and presenter

Meet the HerStories Project

Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger are the co-founders and co-editors of the HerStories Project, a publishing and writing community for midlife women. We met online as “blogging friends” and then founded the HerStories Project in 2013. We’ve published five essay collections, led dozens of writing groups, and have taught writing to hundreds of female writers over the past several years. It’s been our joy to work with midlife writers just like you. Our lives of juggling family and jobs and writing are much like yours. We know what it’s like, as midlife women, to want to carve out space in our lives for just ourselves.


Years of HerStories

Teaching and publishing since 2013.


of Writers

Who have participated in our groups and workshops.



Essay collections about friendship, motherhoood, and more.

Flexible payment options

Write with us.

Gentle writing instruction and support from 10 authors, instructors, coaches, and editors.

10 presentations over 3 weeks (March 1 – March 22)

private summit community

writing feedback

3 writing prompts per week

After you sign up,

What Happens Next

Get Invited

You'll get invited to our private HerStories community platform and get an email with next steps.

Create an account

After you create an account, you can find more information on all the presentations and speakers and RSVP to the meetings you wish to attend.

Get Email Updates

During the summit you'll get regular email updates throughout the week about what's happening that day and the summary of the previous day.

"I absolutely loved the space you all created."

“There was connection, community, and wonderful opportunities to have conversations about writing. ..
Thank you again for creating this supportive space. You met a lot of women where they were; they felt encouraged to either begin or engage again in their writing. Kudos to Jessica and Stephanie on a successful first summit!”

- January summit participant


We’d love to hear more! Please fill out this form and tell us more about you and your teaching interests.

The Zoom meetings will be at different times each day from March 1 – March 22, 2023. Recordings will be available after the meeting. Do not worry if you cannot attend the meetings live. Discussions and other participation will continue after the meeting.

Perfectly okay! Participate in only what appeals to you.

The presentations will include live workshops, writing prompts, and other writing exercises. You can share your writing and receive feedback inside the workshop platform.

You can request a refund up to the end of the first week of the summit. Just email us at [email protected].

You’ll be able to access the summit community and workshops for at least 3 months. You’ll also get discounts on future summits.

Not ready to sign up this month?

Sign up for our mailing list to learn about future workshops, summits, and calls for submissions.

© HerStories Project, LLC