Our Fall Residency Guest Faculty

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Each residency, we’re joined by a slate of guest writers, producers, agents, publishers, editors, and industry professionals. Here’s who will be joining us from December 2-11th in beautiful Rancho Mirage. http://palmdesertmfa.ucr.edu/residency/ 

Interested in applying? Want to visit for the day? We’d be happy to have you. Please contact Agam Patel at agam.patel@ucr.edu or 760-834-0926.

Lauren Barnett is a glasses-donning, pro-plaid, cat-owning television writer hailing from a small coastal town in New Jersey. Lauren’s writing career began at the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Red Bank Regional High school where she was a creative writing major in the program. There, Lauren was introduced to screenwriting. When she was 19, Lauren moved to LA to attend Loyola Marymount University, where she graduated in 2011 with a BA in Screenwriting. Lauren has a penchant for writing quirky, female underdogs fighting through life, absorbing its punches with grace, alongside endearing and comedic sidekicks. Lauren has been fortunate enough to work for two women who excel at dramedy, including Nancy Meyers and Shonda Rhimes, and has also done freelance work with Mattel, Inc., helping to create the new voice of perhaps the most influential woman for children: Barbie. Lauren is currently a Story Editor on Shondaland’s Grey’s Anatomy.

Molly Bendall is the author five collections of poetry, After Estrangement, Dark Summer, Ariadne’s Island, Under the Quick, and most recently Watchful from Omnidawn press.  She also has a co-authored with the poet Gail Wronsky Bling & Fringe from What Books.  Her poems and translations have also appeared in the anthologies:  American Hybrid,, Poems for the Millenium, and Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House. She has won the Eunice Tietjens Prize from Poetry magazine, the Lynda Hull award from Denver Quarterly and two Pushcart Prizes.  She currently she teaches at the University of Southern California.

Ben Blacker co-created successful podcast franchises – The Thrilling Adventure Hour, The Writers Panel, and Dead Pilots Society – while also writing comics (inclusing Deadpool vs Gambit), screenplays for animated shows, including The Adventures of Puss in Boots. He’s sold several sketches to Fox late night television, developed the segment “Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars” as an animated cartoon for Nickelodeon, and a pilot for a primetime animated comedy with 20th Century Fox Studios. In 2010, he co- wrote two pilots for the USA network—an hour and a half-hour—as well as a half-hour comedy for Spike, as well as writing on Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas and CW’s Supernatural.

Lucas Carter is the Senior Vice President of Intrigue Entertainment. Before joining Intrigue in October 2010, Lucas was the Vice President of Production and Development for the Weinstein Company where he worked directly under co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. During his tenure at TWC, Lucas was a credited studio executive on ALEX RIDER: OPERATION STORMBREAKER, based on the best-selling novels, starring Alex Pettyfer, and I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, based on the novel by Allison Pearson. Lucas worked as an executive for The Weinstein Company on NINE directed by Rob Marshall, SHANGHAI directed by Mikael Hafstrom (1408), and THE GREAT DEBATORS starring and directed by Denzel Washington, and produced by Oprah Winfrey. For Weinstein Television, Lucas was an executive on MOB WIVES, which he helped set up at VH1 with Ben Silverman. Additionally, with Harvey Weinstein, he developed and set up a MARCO POLO series pilot at Starz, with John Fusco (YOUNG GUNS) writing.

Adam Deutsch is Publisher and Editor of Cooper Dillon Books. Adam Deutsch has his M.A. from Hofstra University and M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been on the editorial staff of a number of presses and journals, including Ninth Letter and Barn Owl Review. Adam has been interviewed and has written about publishing at Delphi Quarterly, Quarterly Conversation, Crossroads Lit Journal, the Best American Poetry Blog, & diode. He teaches writing at community colleges in San Diego and has a chapbook, Carry On, from H_NGM_N Books.

Ben Ehrenreich is the author of The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine, published earlier this year by Penguin Press, as well as two novels, Ether and The Suitors. His writing has appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine and the London Review of Books, among many other publications. His work has been honored with a National Magazine Award and a PEN Center USA Literary Award.

Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico to parents from the state of Michoacán and raised in suburban Los Angeles. In high school and afterwards, he worked a series of retail jobs, selling everything from eggs and milk to used appliances, custom furniture, rock T-shirts, and body jewelry. After graduating from the University of California-Riverside, he went on to earn an MFA from UC-Irvine’s Program in Writing. His first novel, Still Water Saints, was published by Random House in 2007 and was named a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. The book was released simultaneously in Spanish, under the title Los santos de Agua Mansa, California, translated by Lilliana Valenzuela. His second novel, The Five Acts of Diego León, will be published by Random House in March 2013. Alex’s fiction has appeared in several anthologies and journals, including Inlandia: A Literary Journey Through California’s Inland Empire, Latinos in Lotusland, Huizache, Silent Voices, The Southern California Review, Flaunt, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. His essays have been published at Salon.com, in the New York Times Magazine, in The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity, in The Los Angeles Review of Books, and as part of the historic Chicano Chapbook Series. He has also reviewed books for the Los Angeles Times, the American Book Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and NPR. His awards include a 2009 Margaret Bridgeman Fellowship in Fiction to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a 2014 Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a 2014 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for The Five Acts of Diego León. An active participant in Sandra Cisneros’ Macondo Workshop and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Alex serves on the board of Cal Humanities, a statewide non-profit whose aim is “to connect Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.”  Alex is also deeply involved with the Puente Project, a program designed to help first-generation community college students make a successful transition to a university. A Puente student himself, he has since served as a Puente mentor and often visits Puente classes to talk with students and teachers about writing, literature, and the opportunities he gained through education. Alex is a professor in the Department of Television, Film, and Media at California State University, Los Angeles where he is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Arts. As always, he is at work on his next books

Ryan Harbage founded The Fischer-Harbage Agency in January, 2007 after a successful tenure at a major literary agency. He has placed books for seven #1 New York Times bestselling authors. He represents New York Times bestselling authors Frank Calabrese Jr., Miranda Esmonde-White, Robert Graysmith, Janet Mock, Susan Shapiro and J. Ryan Stradal; and award-winning authors and pioneers such as Karim Dimechkie, Jen Doll, Thomas Healy, Taylor Plimpton, Rob Roberge, Robbie Robertson, Amy Sullivan, Jackson Taylor, Timbaland, Pete Wentz, Thad Ziolkowski and others. He represented Gérard de Villiers until the author passed away–his S.A.S. series has sold more than 120 million copies worldwide; Ryan continues to work on behalf of the estate. Other Ryan has also worked on behalf of Trace Adkins, Bob Greene, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tricia Yearwood and Gary Zukav. Prior to being recruited to work as an agent, Ryan was an editor at Simon & Schuster where he helped create and launch a new imprint, Simon Spotlight Entertainment (now Gallery Books). He also worked as an editor for Little, Brown & Company as well as The Penguin Group (USA) where he edited books for Plume, Dutton and Viking. He acquired and edited Farah Ahmedi and Tamin Ansary’s New York Times bestseller, The Other Side of the Sky; the Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church; E: The Environmental Magazine’s Green Living; as well as Peter Singer’s New York Times bestseller The President of Good & Evil: Questioning the Ethics of George W. Bush. He has also worked with numerous other bestselling authors, including Michael Connelly, Matthew Diffee, John Feinstein, Malcolm Gladwell, David Kuo, Brad Listi, Alice Sebold and Danny Wallace. Ryan teaches courses on writing book proposals and fiction at The New School University’s MFA Program, Pratt and Mediabistro. He addresses students and writers regularly at New York University’s MFA program, Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program and conferences including The Colgate Writers’ Conference, Miami Writers Institute, The New Orleans Writers Conference and The Writers’ League of Texas, among others. He has been quoted on writing and publishing in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Poets & Writers, Publishers Weekly and on “Good Morning America,” among other outlets. Ryan is a graduate of Kalamazoo College, The Radcliffe Publishing Course and the Master of Fine Arts program in writing and literature at Bennington College. He lives with his children in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Dana Johnson is the author of the short story collection In the Not Quite Dark, forthcoming from Counterpoint in August 2016. She is also the author of Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novel Elsewhere, California. Both books were nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Callaloo, The Iowa Review and Huizache, among others, and anthologized in Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of Interest, Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, and California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, MD, FACP, is the widow of the late Dr. Paul Kalanithi, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, for which she wrote the epilogue. An internal medicine physician and faculty member at the Stanford School of Medicine in Palo Alto, CA, she completed her medical degree at Yale, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society, her residency at the University of California-San Francisco, and a postdoctoral fellowship training in healthcare delivery innovation at Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center. At the cross-section of her career as a medical professional and her personal experience standing alongside her husband during his life, diagnosis, treatment, and death, Dr. Kalanithi has special interests in healthcare value, meaning in medicine, patient-centered care and, end-of-life care. She has appeared on PBS NewsHour, NPR Morning Edition, and Yahoo News with Katie Couric, and been interviewed for People, NPR, and The New York Times. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.

Sneha Koorse, an Indian American screenwriter born in Kuwait City, Kuwait, came to the United States with her family as a refugee from the Gulf War. Her parents were able to rebuild their lives in Sugar Land, Texas, a suburb of Houston as pleasant as the name suggests. Koorse went on to earn bachelors degrees in Liberal Arts and Radio-Television-Film at The University of Texas at Austin, which proudly boasts both the Longhorn and Matthew McConaughey as mascots. She went on to the University of Southern California to receive an MFA in Writing for Screen and Television. Koorse first gained attention upon winning the Grand Prize in the Slamdance Screenwriting and Teleplay Competition. Her pilot THE BLOODLINE was the first television pilot ever to win grand prize. Her first staff writing job was on FX’s THE AMERICANS, for which she received a Writers Guild Award Nomination for Best New Series. Her episode “Trust Me” was featured in TV.com’s list of The 20 Best Episodes of the 2012-2013 TV Season. Her next gigs were on NBC’s short-lived BELIEVE, a J.J. Abrams/Alfonso Cuaron creation and another one-and-done series, NBC’s David S. Goyer show CONSTANTINE, based on the HELLBLAZER comics. (May both shows R.I.P.) More recently, she wrote for season 2 of the Netflix series Marvel’s DAREDEVIL and the upcoming Netflix series GYPSY starring Naomi Watts. Koorse met her fiancé Chris, an Iraq war veteran and fellow screenwriter, in graduate school. He won her over when she discovered his unit captured Saddam Hussein, a man who loomed large as the Big Bad Wolf of her childhood. They reside in Los Angeles with their Boxer pup Gob Bluth, named after the character from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. Like his namesake, he does magic.

Jessica Kubzansky / Co-Artistic Director, The Theatre @ Boston Court has been the Co-Artistic Director of The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena since its inception. For The Theatre @ Boston Court, Jessica has directed the world premiere of Stefanie Zadravec’s Colony Collapse, Luis Alfaro’s Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles (at The Getty Villa), Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch (Rattlestick at the Cherry Lane, NYC), plus World premieres of: EYT, R II (Kubzansky’s three-person adaptation of Richard II), Michael Elyanow’s The Children, Jordan Harrison’s Futura, Laura Schellhardt’s Courting Vampires, Salamone/ McIntyre’s Gulls, Mickey Birnbaum’s Bleed Rail, Carlos Murillo’s Unfinished American Highwayscape #9&32, Van Itallie’s Light, Cody Henderson’s Cold/Tender. Plus: Camino Real, and Mother Courage. Elsewhere: South Coast Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen, ACT, Portland Center Stage, etc. Recently: Stupid Fucking Bird, Hold These Truths (ACT), Pygmalion (Pasadena Playhouse), Hamlet (Theatre 150). Kubzansky teaches graduate playwrights and directors at UCLA, has her MFA in Direction from the California Institute of the Arts, and her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins and Harvard. She has received many awards and honors, among them the Los Angeles’ Drama Critics’ Circle’s Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre. Proud member of SDC. Click here to contact Jessica.

Maret Orliss is Associate Director, Events Programming at the Los Angeles Times, where responsibilities include overseeing the program for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Prior to working for the Times, she was the associate promotional director at Vroman’s Bookstore. She is a graduate of Occidental College and has served on panels for the NEA and AWP conference.

Nina Revoyr is the author of five novels, including The Age of Dreaming, a finalist for the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Wingshooters, winner of an Indie Booksellers’ Choice Award, one of O: Oprah Magazine’s “Books to Watch For,” and a Booklist Editors’ Choice for 2011; and Southland, which was a Los Angeles Times “Best Book” of 2003 and was recently named by the LAist as one of “20 Novels That Dared to Define a Different Los Angeles.” Her most recent novel, Lost Canyon, was described by Booklist as “a gripping tale of unintended adventure and profound transformation” and was one of the San Francisco’s Chronicle’s “Recommended Reads” for 2015.  Revoyr has taught at Cornell University, Occidental College, Pitzer College, and Antioch University, and until recently was chief operating officer of a large nonprofit organization that serves children affected by violence and poverty in Los Angeles.

Christopher Roessner is an Iraq War Veteran and Pat Tillman military scholar. His script SAND CASTLE, which made the 2012 Blacklist, is based on his two years and over 200 missions in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle. Currently he has a project with Pearl Street Films, a book adaptation with Ben Affleck attached to direct, as well as the action film ON THE JOB at Universal Pictures with Baltasar Kormákur set to direct, and a TV adaptation of the award-winning book CALIFORNIA FIRE & LIFE by Don Winslow. He is an MFA Graduate of USC’s Peter Stark Producing Program. He is repp’d by UTA and LBI.

New York Times best-selling author Caitlin Rother has written or co-authored 11 books, including Then No One Can Have Her, I’ll Take Care of You, Lost Girls, Poisoned Love, Twisted Triangle, Body Parts, Naked Addiction, and My Life, Deleted. Rother’s newest releases are the true crime collection Love Gone Wrong and an updated edition of Dead Reckoning, about the transgender female killer Skylar Deleon, whom she interviewed at San Quentin last year. Deleon tied Tom and Jackie Hawks, formerly of Prescott, Arizona, to an anchor and threw them overboard – alive — near Newport Beach, California. Before becoming a full-time author, Rother was an investigative reporter at daily newspapers for 19 years, and has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Her more than 100 TV and radio appearances include “Nancy Grace,” “Snapped,” and other shows on Investigation Discovery, A&E, C-SPAN and various PBS affiliates. Rother also works as a writing/research coach and teaches narrative non-fiction at UCSD Extension and San Diego Writers, Ink. She is currently working on a book about Charles Manson for one of the Big Five publishers.

Jim Ruland is the author of the award-winning novel Forest of Fortune and the short story collection Big Lonesome. He is the co-author of My Damage with Keith Morris, founding member of Black Flag, Circle Jerks and OFF!, and Giving the Finger with Scott Campbell, Jr. of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch. Jim writes about books for San Diego CityBeat, gambling for Eephus and punk rock for Razorcake — America’s only non-profit independent music zine. He also writes book reviews for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Jim’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Believer, Esquire, Granta, Hobart and Oxford American, and has received awards from Reader’s Digest and the National Endowment for the Arts. He runs the Southern California-based reading series Vermin on the Mount, now in its thirteenth year, and is a member of the Golondrina arts collective in Barrio Logan. Jim is a veteran of the U.S. Navy and has worked as a copywriter for advertising agencies, entertainment enterprises, and Indian casinos. He is an avid enthusiast of punk rock music, tattoo culture and strong coffee. Jim lives and works in San Diego, California.

Rayhané Sanders worked for Newsweek Magazine, Penguin Group, and William Morris Endeavor before beginning to build her own list. Her authors include national and New York Times bestsellers; TED speakers; and winners of the Hopwood Award, Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, Oregon Book Award, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and more. She’s looking for literary and upmarket women’s fiction, and propulsive narrative nonfiction. She likes voice-centered projects that include specific settings and/or cross-cultural themes. She works for Lippincott Massie McQuilkin; and her authors include Lidia Yuknavitch, Jonathan Weisman, Alyson Foster, Sarah Stonich, Margaret Malone, Kerry Cohen, and many more. www.lmqlit.com

Marisa Silver is the author, most recently, of the novel, Little Nothing. Her other novels include Mary Coin, a New York Times Bestseller and winner of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Fiction,  The God of War, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction, and No Direction Home. Her first collection of short stories, Babe in Paradise was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. When her second collection, Alone With You was published, The New York Times called her “one of California’s most celebrated contemporary writers.”  Silver made her fiction debut in The New Yorker when she was featured in that magazine’s first “Debut Fiction” issue. Winner of the O. Henry Prize, her fiction has been included in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, as well as other anthologies.

Clay Smith is the editor-in-chief of Kirkus Reviews. The former literary director of the Texas Book Festival, he is also the current literary director of the San Antonio Book Festival. He was elected to the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle in 2015 and has written for the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. He is a graduate of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at NYU and began his journalism career at the Austin Chronicle.

Olivia Taylor Smith is the Executive Editor of Unnamed Press, an independent publisher of literature from the US and around the world. Her first translation, Panthers in the Hole, was published by Phoneme Media in 2016. She lives in Los Angeles.

Dan Smetanka is the Executive Editor and Vice President of Counterpoint Press. has worked in various aspects of the publishing industry for over twenty years. As an Executive Editor at Ballantine/Random House, Inc., he acquired and published many award-winning books including The Ice Harvest by Scott Philips, The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner, Down to a Soundless Sea by Thomas Steinbeck, and Among the Missing by Dan Chaon, a 2001 finalist for the National Book Award. His authors include Linda Gray Sexton, James Brown, Janna Malamud Smith, Neil Jordan, Dana Johnson, Karen E. Bender, Tod Goldberg, Natashia Deon, Gina Frangello, Abbi Geni, Joshua Mohr, Elizabeth Crane, Emma Woolf, Tara Ison, Maria Hummel, Andrea Portes, Kim Addonizio, and Lisa Bloom.

Forrest Stephan is currently the CG Supervisor for Cloud Imperium Games where he defines and owns the unified and common technological vision and roadmap for content authoring and its associated tools and pipelines—in collaboration with the game team and central partners. He is also accountable for mentoring and coaching the art technical community on technical skills. Forrest also is an instructor of  RealTime Visualization, mentoring students in Unreal, Oculus Rift, Substance Designer, ArchViz, Illumination, Sequencer, Blueprints, Megascans, Physical Based Rendering, etc! Forrest was previously an environmental artist at Total Immersion Software where he worked on assorted serious game projects for use in the Gamebryo engine, developed high fidelity assets for real-time simulations, designed complex shaders through Total Immersion’s node-based “Integrated Shader System,” and developed and implemented time-saving asset creation pipelines. Before moving into games, Forrest worked at Huff Construction where he created 3d visualizations for architecture projects.

Mitchel Stein has been an agent since 1980, when he joined Shapiro-Lichtman, a boutique literary agency in Century City. The agency grew, the name changed to Shapiro-Lichtman-Stein, and then, in 2000, he left to form his eponymous agency, The Stein Agency, representing writers and producers.

Susan Straight has published eight novels: Aquaboogie (Milkweed Editions, 1990);  I Been In Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All The Pots (Hyperion, 1992, Anchor paperback, 1993), which was named one of the best novels of 1992 by both USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly, as well as named a Notable Book by the New York Times; Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights (Hyperion, 1994, Anchor paperback 1995);  The Gettin Place (Hyperion 1996, Anchor paperback 1997); Highwire Moon (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Commonwealth of California Gold Medal for Fiction.  Highwire Moon was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and Los Angeles Times bestseller, and was named one of the year’s best novels by The San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post.  It was optioned for film by Little Monument Pictures;  A Million Nightingales (Pantheon Books, 2006) was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller.  It was a Finalist for the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2006 Southern California Booksellers’ Award.  It was released in paperback May 2007.  Her novel Take One Candle Light a Room was published October 2010 by Pantheon Books, and released in paperback in 2011 by Anchor Books.  The book features characters from the previous novels, and is set in Los Angeles, Rio Seco, and Louisiana during August 2005.  It was named a best novel of 2010 by the Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Kirkus. Her new novel, the final in the Rio Seco Trilogy, is Between Heaven and Here, ublished September 12, 2012, by McSweeney’s.  It was named a Best Book of 2012 by The Los Angeles Times and The Daily Beast. Her first middle grade reader, The Friskative Dog, was published by Knopf in March 2007.  Her picture book Bear E. Bear was published in 1995 by Hyperion Books. In 2011, Straight received the Gina Berriault Award for Fiction from San Francisco State University.  In November 2007, Straight received The Lannan Award for Fiction, for her body of work.  In 1998, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction. She has published essays and articles in numerous magazines and journals, including The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Harpers, The Believer, The Nation, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple, Family Circle, Salon, Oxford American, and Ms.  Her short fiction has appeared in Zoetrope All-Story, McSweeney’s, Black Clock, TriQuarterly, Story, Ploughshares, The Ontario Review, and North American Review, among other magazines.  Her short story “The Golden Gopher,” published in Los Angeles Noir, won the 2008 Edgar Award, given by the Mystery Writers of America.  Her short story “El Ojo De Agua” was chosen for the 2007 O Henry Prize collection, and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2007.  “Mines” was chosen for Best American Short Stories 2003 and won a Pushcart Prize in Fiction.  “Bridgework” was a Distinguished Story in Best American Short Stories 2004.  She has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She was born in Riverside, California in 1960, and still lives there with her three daughters.  She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, where she has taught since 1988.  She received the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008.  Currently she serves on the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the university. Recently, Susan received the L.A. Times Book Prize’s Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Charles Thompson a Pushcart Prize nominee, lives in Los Angeles, California where he writes fiction, nonfiction, plays, and memoir. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Five to One, Cowboy Jamboree, Full Grown People, The Offbeat, Printers Row Journal, Reunion: The Dallas Review. He was named a finalist in the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival’s 2015 Fiction Contest. His short play Cherry won two playwriting awards. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside/Palm Desert. Follow him on Twitter @cgregthompson

Moises Velez is Creative Executive at Warner Bros, developing scripted content for digital native audiences. Which means: he’s the guy you want to know. Previous to Warner Bros. he was director of development for cable net NBC Universo overseeing the development of scripted, documentary series and alternative formats. He is a recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Documentary Association (IDA), the leading organization advocating for and serving the documentary film community.

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