Residency Program

Residency on the lawnIf you’re considering enrolling in an MFA program in creative writing, or are an advanced writer looking for in-depth instruction, consider participating in NILA’s ten-day residency in January or August.

At residencies, students spend their mornings taking masters-level craft and workshop classes with NILA faculty members; their afternoons in sessions with notable guest faculty members; and their evenings enjoying and participating in literary readings. There’s something of interest for everyone, including fantasy, magical realism, poetry, nonfiction, marketing, pitching, humor, and more.  Find out more by reviewing our Residency Handbook. It was created by students and alumni to help new students know what to expect at residency.

For NILA’s MFA students, ten-day intensive residencies set the foundation for each fourteen-week online semester. Students who have completed their coursework and theses graduate during the August residency, and all are welcome to attend.

Coming in January 2015

January 8-17, 2016 at the Captain Whidbey Inn in Coupeville, Washington

We’re excited to welcome a diverse and talented guest faculty, including:

  • Sri-Lankan-American journalist and novelist, Ru Freeman
  • Fiction writer Ann Pancake, whose work gives voice to the people of rural Appalachia
  • Inventive essayist and Normal School editor Steven Church
  • The wildly prolific and darkly comic children’s young adult writer Suzanne Selfors

We’ll also welcome back several friends of the program, including Gary Lilley, Jennie Shortridge, Lori May, and Martha Brockenbrough. Rounding out the team from a publishing perspective will be Andrew Karre, executive editor at Dutton Books, and Peter Fish, editor-at-large at Sunset magazine.

Stay tuned for more details about the sessions and guest faculty for the spring residency.

Past residencies

To get a better idea of what happens at residencies, take a look at our past residency programs. Inside each program, you’ll find session descriptions as well as bios of faculty and guest faculty members.

Residency Program Fall 2015

Fall 2015

Residency Program Spring 2015

Spring 2015

Residency Program Fall 2014

Fall 2014

Residency Program Spring 2014

Spring 2014







Application for residency (Non-MFA students)

NILA accepts residency applications during two periods:

  • May 15 to June 15 for the August residency
  • October 6 to November 6 for the January residency

Here’s how to apply:

  • Complete the residency application
  • The application requires a one page letter of introduction titled “Why I write.” Tell us about the genre(s) you write in, the writing education and experience you’ve had, and anything else you feel will help introduce you and your writing.
  • Include a 20-page manuscript of your original work in the genre that you plan to focus on:
    • Fiction (You may submit double-spaced short stories or chapters.)
    • Poetry (One single-spaced poem per page.)
    • Nonfiction (You may submit double-spaced short pieces or parts of longer works.)
    • Writing for Children/Young Adults (You may submit double-spaced short pieces or parts of longer works.)

Any interested individual may apply.  Members of the Whidbey Island Writers Association will be given preference.  Acceptance will be based on the quality of the material submitted. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Cost of residency

The cost for a 10-day residency for non-MFA students is $900, or $850 for members of the Whidbey Island Writers Association. Payment does not include meals and lodging and is due after you’ve been accepted into the program.