The Short Story Uncovered

I will teach a six-session workshop on Sunday afternoons on the short story at San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Class starts February 2nd and runs through March 16th.

I’m excited, and grateful the class is filling. Only two spaces remain. It’s a wonderful and diverse group of participants and I know we’ll do fine work together.

The first two sessions consist of brief in-class writing prompts and in-depth exploration of masterful short stories by American and international authors, including authors of color.

The final four sessions will be devoted to workshopping participants’ stories. At each workshop, I will use students’ stories to highlight craft lessons, with particular emphasis on character, action, consequences, and the atypical.

Participants are invited to share their work at a reading. The reading, limited to 3-minutes each, will take place on two Friday evenings, March 28 and April 4. I’ll confirm one of these dates for our class once we meet. This is a terrific event that students love. It’s a fast-paced and fun evening. Participants invite family and friends, and it’s always a full, appreciative house.

My bio and testimonials for my workshops follow. I’m deeply grateful to everyone below for his/her generous feedback.

Can I tempt you to join us? To register go here.



I’m a poet. As far as I know, I’ve always been a poet. It’s the way I’ve chosen to tell my stories. But lately many of those stories have spilled over their boundaries, asking for something more than I’m able to give them. I knew I needed an entry into the intimidating world of fiction, and Ethel Rohan’s flash fiction workshop, during the Aboard Writers Conference in Ireland, was beyond perfect.

She was just the guide I needed — she made it easy tor realize the parallels between my poetry and longer prose works, and led stimulating group conversations that left me feeling more than capable of not only beginning work in a new genre, but in conquering it. In fact, I’m using two pieces crafted in her workshop as the basis for a new book of short prose pieces. She gave me that much confidence! Patricia Smith, National Book Award Finalist and Winner of the Academy of American Poets 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

Ethel Rohan taught a two day workshop for Abroad Writers’ Conference at Lismore Castle. Her workshop was inspirational to all those who attended. National Book Award finalist Patricia Smith took Ethel’s workshop and she told me that it changed the way she thinks about writing. If you have the time, don’t miss this opportunity to work with Ethel. Nancy Gerbault, Founder, Abroad Writers’ Conference


In Ethel Rohan’s workshop you will find the atypical in yourself and in other writers’ work.  Ms. Rohan will help you analyze your text for its strengths and vulnerabilities. She will share short fiction from a variety of writers that will probably be new to you, and after reading these you will have a deeper understanding of what can be accomplished in a short story, or short short fiction.  Most importantly, you will write in a safe, supportive environment and surprisingly, you will want to spill your guts. Rather, you will find them in a story Ms. Rohan will delicately help you craft.  You will find the shifts within it.  I can’t wait to work with her again. Darothy Durkac, Winner, Abroad Writer’s Conference 2013 Flash Fiction Contest, Judge, Robert Olen Butler


I am privileged to have attended Ethel Rohan’s “The Brilliance of Brevity” course in Lismore, Ireland. Ethel’s two day workshop was my first introduction to flash fiction/non-fiction. Her empathetic technique, organization, examples, and prompts inspired me to produce two pieces I did not know I had in me. One is ready for submission and the other I continue to revise. It was a wonderful experience and increased my confidence as a writer. –Laurie Blanton


I am a non-fiction writer but, on a whim, decided to take Ethel’s Flash Fiction workshop. I was a bit nervous (fiction terrifies me) but Ethel’s knowledge, teaching approach, and encouragement had me believing that there might be a fiction writer inside me after all.-Kimberley Lovato


I recently took a class from Ethel Rohan in Ireland. I liked that she kept the class on focus and didn’t let other students begin talking about this and that and get off the subject. She gave each person her utmost attention and was able to make positive concrete suggestions. Our class was on brevity. Use one good word instead of five. So, it’s hard but I’ll pick just one word: enlightening. Lee Lyons


I really enjoyed my recent workshop with Ethel Rohan on brevity. One of the great things about her workshops is accessibility to all genres. As a poet first, I loved learning how to reduce the number of words but to increase the power of the message. It was painful to delve into memories not often spoken of as material, but I came away from the experience with a better understanding of how important empathy is for a writer to have in order to welcome a reader in.Rachael Ikins, poet, novelist, artist


Ethel teaches and directs her students with passion, patience and encouragement. She is a beacon in the dark, directing to that place only writing can take you to. Maria FitzGerald Houlihan


I had the great pleasure of participating in Ethel Rohan’s “The Brilliance of Brevity” workshop at Lismore Castle (Ireland) on December 14th and 15th, 2013. Although Ethel’s workshop came at the tail end of an intense week of other writing classes, she managed to keep me highly engaged and stimulated throughout 2 days of reading, writing, and responding. The class was comprised of beginning writers and those who make their living at writing, younger and older writers, poets and fantasy writers, Irish and Americans, and Ethel managed to challenge and bring together this diverse group of writers.

It was obvious from the course design that Ethel had been meticulous in her preparation — from her thoughtful selection of short fiction and non-fiction readings (which effectively introduced or reinforced pedagogical points she was trying to make) to wonderfully-effective writing assignments, which quickly brought us, a temporary writing community, to a deep place. It was also impressive that Ethel participated in the writing exercises along with us, and wasn’t afraid to share her vulnerabilities as a writer, something that really helped me, as a novice writer, to participate fully.

After the workshop I picked up a collection of her short stories, and it’s been an immense pleasure to read her work (now that I’ve gotten to know the person behind the carefully-crafted words on the page) and to know that she’s not only a great teacher but a great writer as well.

I recommend Ethel without hesitation to writers of any level, and I look forward to participating in more of her writing workshops! –Peter C. Palo Alto, CA



Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the latter named a 2010 Notable Story Collection by The Story Prize. She is also the author of the chapbook, Hard to Say. Her e-book, a short memoir titled His Heartbeat in my Hand, is forthcoming from Shebooks in 2014.

Winner of the 2013 Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award, her work has or will appear in The New York TimesWorld Literature TodayPEN America, Tin House Online, The Irish Times, BREVITY MagazinePost Road Magazine, and The Rumpus, among many others. She has reviewed books for New York Journal of Books, HTMLGiant, and elsewhere.

She has guest-lectured and/or taught writing at Book Passage, San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Festival, among others. Most recently, she served on faculty alongside the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jane Smiley, Edward Humes, Robert Olen Butler, and more, at the winter 2013 Abroad Writers’ Conference in Lismore Castle, Ireland.

She received her MFA in fiction from Mills College, CA, 2004. Raised in Dublin, Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco where she is a member of The Writers’ Grotto and PEN American Center.

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