Session 8: Daily Workshop #805; Sunday, February 16 — 11:00 AM
Panel: The Rewards and Challenges of Collaboration: How to Create a Successful Partnership With a Co-Writer or a Ghost Writer

with Laura Davis , Ellen Bass,  Amy Ferris, Hollye Dexter & Lulu Torbet

Thirty years ago, Laura Davis and Ellen Bass teamed up to write The Courage to Heal: For Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Four editions and a million-and-a-half books later, The Courage to Heal still the most recommended resource for survivors. Laura and Ellen describe their relationship as co-authors this way: “Our partnership has been like a marriage for all these years. Creating a book together is an incredibly intimate undertaking. Our collaboration has had its ups and downs, lessons and rewards.”

Laura Davis is the author of seven non-fiction books, including The Courage to Heal, Becoming the Parent You Want to Be and I Thought We’d Never Speak Again. Laura’s groundbreaking books have sold more than 1.8 million copies around the world. Laura has also worked as a columnist, talk show host, radio reporter, radio producer, blogger, editor, and speaker.

Currently, Laura teaches writing workshops and memoir classes in Santa Cruz, California, and leads retreats at Esalen and other Northern California locations. Her “Write, Travel, Transform” retreats bring writers to a variety of international locations. Each spring, she leads a writing and yoga retreat to Bali. Future destinations will include Greece, and Vietnam & Cambodia.

You can also work with Laura online for free through her Writer’s Journey Roadmap community. If you sign up at, you will receive an evocative weekly writing prompt in your inbox each week, along with an invitation to post your response as a member of her free, lively, supportive online writing community.

You can learn more about Laura’s retreats, classes and books at

Ellen Bass’s poetry books include Like A Beggar (forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in February, 2014); The Human Line (Copper Canyon), named a Notable Book of 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle; and Mules of Love (BOA), which won the Lambda Literary Award in 2002. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday, 1973).

Her work has been published inThe New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Progressive, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Sun and many other journals. Her poetry has been widely anthologized and frequently read by Garrison Keillor on “The Writer’s Almanac.”

Among her awards for poetry are a Pushcart Prize, the Elliston Book Award, The Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod/Hardman, the Larry Levis Prize from Missouri Review, and the New Letters Prize. Her nonfiction books include Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth and Their Allies, I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, and The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, co-authored with Laura Davis, (HarperCollins, 1988, 2008) which has sold over a million copies and been translated into twelve languages. She teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.

Amy Ferris is an author, screenwriter, editor, and playwright. Her favorite collaborations have been with film director, Julie dash (Daughters of the Dust) working on the film, Funny Valentines, and with Hollye Dexter, creating the anthology, Dancing at the Shame Prom

Amy compares collaboration with dancing: “There’s a time to lead, a time to step back, a time to give your partner the opportunity to stand up and shine, and at the very end, you both take a bow.” Amy’s print collaboration (editor-in-chief of two magazines) and TV/screenwriting experiences were profoundly joyful and reciprocal.

Her least favorite collaboration was with the theater director of Marrying George Clooney (an off-broadway play), an adaptation of her memoir of the same name. But you have to come to the panel to find out why.

Hollye Dexter is an author, editor and activist. In addition to co-editing Dancing at the Shame Prom with Amy Ferris (as well as 25 other brilliant women writers), Hollye has had a 20-year career as a songwriter, co-writing with men, women and people of every personality type. She muses, “Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but my collaboration experiences, both good and bad, have truly enriched my writing life.”

Painter and photographer Lulu Torbet is the author or ghostwriter of over thirty books, two of which made the New York Times Best-Seller List. She also works with clients on, fiction, non-fiction and memoir projects. A complete list of her books can be found at; her painting and photography