Virtual Master’s Class in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Memoir

Summer Literary Seminars International Retreats

Founded 1998 as SLS

St. Petersburg Review

Speaking the same language through literature • Founded 2007

Summer Literary International Retreats and St. Petersburg Review are once again collaborating to bring you a unique online experience in writing. The Master’s Class in Hybrid Writing (fiction/nonfiction/memoir) will give you the opportunity to:

  • review your manuscript in a ten-person class taught by the internationally acclaimed Dawn Raffel and Laurie Stone
  • receive feedback in one-to-one sessions with both faculty members
  • attend a private reading and question and answer period with New Yorker regular Masha Gessen
  • meet and receive advice from successful freelance writers who regularly publish in the New Yorker, Interview, Vanity Fair, the New York Times Book Review,, GQ, Travel + Leisure, Saveur and many others including Alex Halberstadt, author of Young Heroes of the Soviet Union (2020).
  • participate in craft lectures with Polina Barskova, poet and critic, on place and Meg Storey, former fiction editor for Tin House, on the publication process from beginning to end
  • have your work considered for publication by St. Petersburg Review/Springhouse Journal
  • receive discounts for future virtual programs and residencies in Kenya and Georgia
  • read your work in a publicly advertised event
  • hang out with a vibrant international community of writers

Apply Today

Summer Literary Seminars International Retreats follows in the footsteps of SLS, a one of a kind international literary and cultural organization, founded in 1998 and operated on three continents: North America (Montreal), Europe (Tbilisi, Georgia; Vilnius, Lithuania; and St. Petersburg, Russia), and Africa (Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya). SLS enjoyed its place as one of the most dynamic and innovative programs of its kind. Many participants over the years have cited the program as a life-changing experience. Focusing currently on online programs, SLSIR will be continuing to offer the same caliber international literary and cultural programs in the future.

St. Petersburg Review, Inc. is the publisher of St. Petersburg Review and Springhouse Journal and has published writers from over 60 countries—quality work from established and emerging writers and artists with a special emphasis on translations, disenfranchised writers, and fostering a global literary community that, among other things, provides a forum for freedom of artistic expression especially for those writing and/or living in global conflict areas.

Together we have designed an online program that we hope is dynamic as well as truly a life altering experience.

Tentative Agenda*

The workshop involves about 3.0 hours of screen time daily from 5:00 p.m. on and a total of approximately 40 hours screen time in the two weeks.

Sunday January 17, 1700–1800
Meet and greet with questions and answers

Monday, January 18, 1700-2000
Manuscript workshop with Dawn Raffel

Tuesday, January 19, 1700-1900
Discussion/Questions and Answers
Masha Gessen, Surviving Autocracy (2020)

Wednesday, January 20, 1700-2000
Manuscript workshop with Dawn Raffel

Wednesday, January 20, 2030–2130
Reading with Laurie Stone

Thursday, January 21, 1600-1800
Writing (In) the Storied City/Space on Translation, Polina Barskova, Besieged Leningrad (2017)

Reading with Misha Iossel

Friday, January 22, 1700-2000
Manuscript workshop with Dawn Raffel

Saturday, January 23, 1300-1500
Informal talks with international writers about their place, literature, and culture followed by breakout rooms

Monday, January 25, 1700-2000
Manuscript workshop with Laurie Stone

Tuesday, January 26, 1700-1800
The Matrix to the Maze: Submission through Publication
Meg Storey, prior fiction editor for Tin House

Tuesday, January 26, 1830–1930
Questions and Answers
Meakin Armstrong, fiction editor, Guernica

Wednesday, January 27, 1700-2000
Manuscript workshop with Laurie Stone

Wednesday, January 27, 2030–2130
Reading with Dawn Raffel

Thursday, January 28, 1700–1830
When the Voice Is Real
Alex Halberstadt, Young Heroes of the Soviet Union (2020)
Paul Coates, The Brother You Choose (2020)

Thursday, January 28, 1900–2000
Reading/Questions and Answers
Kevin Sessums, Mississippi Sissy (2007)

Friday, January 29, 1700-2000
Manuscript workshop with Laurie Stone

Friday, January 29, 2000–2100
Mikhail Iossel, Summer Literary Seminars International Retreats
Elizabeth L. Hodges, St. Petersburg Review/Springhouse Journal

Saturday, January 30, 1700-2000
Public online readings with participants

Sunday, January 31, 1700-2000
Public online readings with participants

* Events and speakers may be added.

All times are EST.

Faculty & Speakers

Dawn Raffel, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney (2018); The Secret Life of Objects (2012)

Laurie Stone, Everything is Personal (2020), My Life as an Animal: Stories (2016)

Polina Barskova, Beseiged Leningrad (2017)

Masha Gessen, Surviving Autocracy (2020)

Alex Halberstadt, Young Heroes of the Soviet Union (2020)

Kevin Sessums, Mississippi Sissy (2007)

Meakin Armstrong, fiction editor, Guernica

Meg Storey, free lance editor; fiction editor, Tin House (discontinued)

Read more about the faculty and guest speakers.


$895 includes access to all panels, workshops, Q & As, and readings as well as review of your writing. It also entitles you to discounts in future programs including a winter residency in Kenya and a summer residency in Tbilisi.


Each submission must be original and accompanied by a USD $20 nonrefundable deposit that will be applied to your balance if you are accepted into the program.

A manuscript of 20 pages or less is required with your deposit.

You may attach your works as a Word or PDF document.

Your name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript itself, please.

Your privacy is important to us. We will never rent, sell or disclose information to any third party.

Payment is due at time of acceptance to hold your spot along with the manuscript you want to work on (max. 5000 words).

Submit no more than 20 double-spaced pages.

Participants who have attended SLS programs in the last five years are eligible for a 15% discount (can be applied forward if accepted into the online program).

No refunds will be made once the program starts, regardless of the student’s participation. Requests for refunds made 10 days prior to the program will be considered at the programs discretion and on a case by case basis.

For questions: