Fiction Kitchen is an intensive hybrid workshop for writers with busy lives who want to further, fine-tune, and finish their work. It starts with an in-person weekend, then moves online for monthly meetings. It’s a unique program, designed to provide inspiration, ongoing support, feedback, and camaraderie. It’s a retreat that follows you home.

Why Fiction Kitchen?

For years, while wandering along my own literary path and while leading writing courses, I struggled to answer this question: what do writers need to keep going?

I finally concluded that writers need a restless curiosity and a steady community. They need the desire to continue risking and growing, and a trusted circle to fortify their courage and their faith in the endeavor.

After all the thinking, I designed Fiction Kitchen, which begins as an in-person retreat and then morphs into a monthly writing group. Because I enjoy good food and fun, I included some of that, too. The first in-person session happened in autumn 2022. The in-person intensive was a jam-packed weekend of sheer delight, and now I’m continuing to work with those inaugural participants in our ongoing Zoom workshops. They’ve developed strong writing practices and strong bonds. They’re producing tons of pages and are supporting each other as peers and friends. They’re an incredible, inspiring group.

So…it seems right to do it all over again in 2023.

Join in for community, commitment, and creative delight.


In-person weekend: Friday, October 27 – Sunday, October 29, 2023

Follow-up workshops online: Four Sundays, 3-5:30 pm: December 3, January 7, February 4, March 3

Plus ongoing online forum for sharing new pages, accountability, reading & responses


YOU—determined and curious, interested in working alongside like-minded people to grow as a writer of short stories, novels, and/or memoir.

ME—the same. Also, author of novels and shorter works and a devoted writing instructor who has led courses for years at Brooklyn’s Center for Fiction, Iowa Summer Writing Festival, MFA programs, prisons, and elsewhere. Learn more about me here.

What’s Included?

The In-Person Intensive Weekend, Oct. 27-29, 2023

We will gather in western Massachusetts, in the Connecticut River Valley, a paradise of college towns, dairy farms, idiosyncratic bookshops, and cannabis dispensaries.

Meetings will take place at Woolman Hill, a retreat center on a bucolic property in the historic town of Deerfield, 3.5 hours from New York City, 1.5 hours from Boston.

We’ll have the run of the place, including simple but comfortable private bedrooms (most with shared baths), writing studios tucked into the woods, and a 100-year-old meeting house where we’ll gather for a read-aloud. I’ll send more details and travel suggestions upon registration.

Our time together will include…

  • Workshopping and in-depth discussions. During the weekend, we will spend time focused on each writer’s project, exploring its inspirations and challenges and considering the writer’s questions and ideas. I’ll offer targeted strategies for refining structure, sense, and style. You’ll leave the retreat filled with momentum and new insights.
  • Deep-focus writing sessions. Optional prompts/portals provided. You’ll generate new pages and find new depths and perspectives.
  • Right-brain hour: a fun hands-on lab focused on generating new visions and approaches for your writing.
  • Bookish barbecue. A Saturday evening of writerly socializing, featuring sensational Texas-style slow-smoked barbecue, vegetarian/vegan dishes, and southern sides. (This where the “Kitchen” part really comes into play!)
  • Additional delectable meals. Dinner on Friday evening, breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, working lunch on Saturday, snacks/coffee, tea and cold drinks throughout. We eat well.
  • Trail walks and bonfires. Weather permitting.
  • Saturday night salon. Read a bit of your work or just listen, in a historic Quaker meeting house.
  • Schedule. Friday evening warm up, 7 to 9 pm. Saturday work session, 9 am to 3:30 pm plus dinner and salon. Sunday work session, 9 am to 12:30 pm.

+ Monthly Group Workshops via Zoom

After our weekend, we will move forward over four months, from November 2023 to March 2024, as a committed writing group. We will offer feedback and support to each other during monthly online meetings. You’ll have multiple chances to share up to 6,000 words, with one to two hours of group discussion centered on your project. Plus each piece will receive extensive margin notes. (You’ll tell us what type of feedback you find useful; sharing is always optional.) Since we meet once a month, your reading load stays manageable.

+ Keep-Going Forum for Posting Weekly Work

For accountability and support, we’ll have an online folder where you can share your week’s work. I’ll read up to 500 words from you every week, make light notes, and cheer you on. Other group members may do the same. For many writers, this forum becomes a compelling motivational tool; others choose not to post. You’ll use it whenever and however it works for you. Posting and reading there is always optional.

+ Two Private Conferences

Each student will have two private Zoom chats with me. Before our first weekend, we’ll meet to discuss your goals and how to best support your writing practice. After our final group meeting, I’ll offer one-on-one responses to your work and discuss next steps toward completion and/or publication.

FEE: $1650. Minimum 7 participants. Maximum 10.

Make it work for you: Have questions? Let’s talk! Email me at dimmergut at gmail.com.

What are the criteria for joining the group? Fiction Kitchen is for writers with solid skills and room to grow. Publications and degrees are lovely but not as important as a steadfast devotion to the craft and a desire to expand one’s creative reach. Memoir writers welcome! I work hard to assemble a group with good chemistry.

I know…you’re asking yourself….

Is It Worth It? What can I expect from a workshop with Debra?

Thoughts from Fiction Kitchen participants:

Debra is not only a gifted writer, but she is a gifted teacher of writing.  She meets writers where they are and gently takes them to the next level, with insightful feedback, warmth, and good humor. And her husband John makes a damn fine brisket! — Jeanie S.

Fiction Kitchen is truly a unique learning and workshop experience. Debra has a magical way of fostering rigor, curiosity, and generosity, and my work has grown immensely since the start of the workshop. — Nicole K.

Debra’s laserlike comments and brilliant suggestions have kept me going this fall and winter. Fiction Kitchen was the first in-person workshop I had taken since lockdown, and what a pleasure it was to be in a real live and really lively group, sharing work and urging each other on. I love that the it keeps on going and keeps on giving, with virtual meetings as we read and comment on each other’s writing all through the winter. I really can’t recommend this experience enough. — Anne M.

I had a wonderful time in Debra’s workshop at the Center for Fiction, so when she announced her inaugural “Fiction Kitchen” program, I jumped at the opportunity. A few things stand out: Debra’s warm, welcoming manner and her care in assembling a group of bright, engaged writers. She helped me develop a non-punitive plan — “a roadmap, not a train schedule” — toward completing the first draft of my novel, which has resulted in fruitful writing months. I like the monthly workshops and the weekly posting of jottings. I get generous amounts of feedback from the other writers and Debra herself. Writers need nourishment, and Fiction Kitchen provides. — Kasia N.

Former workshopper Serwah Rose Afriyie offers a few more details on my approach…

REQUEST YOUR SPOT NOW: This session is sold out. I’d be happy to add your name to the waiting list or add you to a mailing list for next year’s session.

Artwork: Franklin White, Burners, c. 1968