Guest Faculty

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Carissa Buffel is the CEO of The Traveling Picture Show Company and Co-CEO of TPSC Films, is an experienced executive and producer whose prolific career has taken her around the globe producing large budget motion pictures, independent feature films, documentaries, television and numerous award winning commercials and music videos. Carissa’s primary role is to guide the strategic direction of the companies by overseeing all day to day operations, and actively producing all films under the TPSC Films banner.

JoAnn Chaney is a graduate of UC Riverside’s Low Residency MFA program. She lives in Colorado with her family. Her first novel, What You Don’t Know, was released this spring in America and England to rave reviews, including in the New York Times, Daily Mail, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Electric Literature and many, many others.

Chiwan Choi is the author of 3 collections of poetry, The Flood, Abductions, and The Yellow House. He wrote, presented, and destroyed the novel Ghostmaker throughout the course of 2015. Chiwan is a partner at Writ Large Press, a downtown Los Angeles based indie publisher, focused on using literary arts to resist, disrupt, and transgress.

Ron Currie Jr. is the internationally acclaimed author of The One Eyed Man,  Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, Everything Matters! and God Is Dead, winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Often compared to Kurt Vonnegut, he was recently presented the Addison M. Metcalf Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ron Currie, Jr. worked full-time as a short order cook until becoming a full-time writer in 2007 with the publication of God Is Dead. His debut story collection won the 2008 New York Public Library Young Lion’s Award, and in May 2009 Ron was presented with the Addison M. Metcalf Award for Literature by the Academy of Arts and Letters.Two years later, Ron published his much anticipated novel, Everything Matters!, securing his place as a rising star in literary fiction. His next book, Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, further cemented his status as a strong figure in the genre, and his latest, The One Eyed Man, has garnered praise from around the country, including the Wall Street Journal, which called it “A comically verbose and culturally savvy narration tempered by a bass line of vulnerability. K. may not be the truth-telling hero America wants, but he’s unquestionably the one we deserve.”

Tyler Dilts Inspired by his father, a police officer who died when the author was five, Tyler Dilts has written four bestselling detective novels in the Long Beach Homicide series: A King of Infinite Space, The Pain Scale, and A Cold and Broken Hallelujah, and the Edgar Award-finalist Come Twilight. The 2014 Writer in Residence at John Cabot University in Rome, Dilts also teaches at California State University in Long Beach, and his writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Best American Mystery Stories. He lives with his wife in Long Beach, California.

Rae Dubow is the director of Talking Out Loud. She believes that everyone can be trained to communicate more effectively. Using techniques that she has taught for many years, she has a developed a system for public speaking that will help you create a dialogue with your audience. A former actress, Rae received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She has coached and directed actors since the late 1990s and has worked with many writers on their public presentations.

Prince Gomolvilas is best known as the world’s only Thai-American playwright. (He challenges you to find another!) His full-length plays include BIG HUNK O’ BURNIN’ LOVE [1998]; SEAT BELTS AND BIG FAT BUDDHAS [1999]; THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING [2000]; DEBUNKING LOVE [2000]; BEE [2001]; BOYZ OF ALL NATIONZ: THE RISE AND FALL OF A MULTI-ETHNIC BOY BAND [2002]; the stage adaptation of the Scott Heim novel, MYSTERIOUS SKIN [2003]; and THE FABULOUS ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN QUEER [2006].​ He frequently writes comedies with a supernatural twist, along with the occasional drama to shake things up a bit. Recurring themes include the contemporary Asian-American (and, specifically, Thai-American) experience, the tension between immigrants and their offspring, the intersection of ethnicity and sexual identity, race relations in the United States, the trauma of displacement, the nature of loss and grief, and, in the words of Erasure, “the infinite complexities of love.” His new play, THE BROTHERS PARANORMAL, a comedy/horror/tragedy about Thai-American ghost hunters, will premiere in New York during the 2018-2019 season. His work has been produced around the United States in such cities as Arlington (VA), Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Ana, Seattle, and Washington (DC), as well as in Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Singapore. Companies and venues include Asian Stories in America Theatre, The Drill Hall, DueEast Theatre Company, East West Players, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, INTAR Theatre, International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, King’s Head Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Orlando International Fringe Festival, Pork Filled Players, The Producers’ Club, Rude Guerrilla Theater Company, Singapore Repertory Theatre, SIS Productions, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, and Vertigo Theatre Productions. His short plays include CAUSE AND EFFECT ON CLEMENT STREET [1997, Actors’ Theatre, Santa Cruz], DONUT HOLES IN ORBIT [1998, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York City], CYCLOPS [2001, Theatre Rhinoceros, San Francisco], BRIDGES [2002, City Lights Theatre Company, San Jose], THE LAST GAYORCISM [2010, Chalk Repertory Theatre, Los Angeles], CHUNKY MARY [2010, Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company, San Francisco], ATM [2011, East West Players’ Studio Lab Project, Los Angeles], and HETERONESIA [2014, Impact Theatre, Berkeley]. His work has also been developed by American Conservatory Theater, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Bear Arts Foundation’s ColorFest, Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum, Chalk Repertory Theatre, Ford Amphitheatre, Geva Theatre Center, Lark Play Development Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, and University of Johannesburg. Prince is the recipient of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Drama, Julie Harris/Janet and Maxwell Salter Playwright Award, International Herald Tribune/SRT Playwriting Award (which was selected by playwrights Philip Kan Gotanda and David Henry Hwang, theatre critic Sheridan Morley, and writer/scholar Woon-Ping Chin), and East West Players’ Made in America Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for the Asian Pacific Islander Community.

Kit-Bacon Gressitt Spawned by a Baptist creationist and a liberal social worker, K-B inherited the requisite sense of humor to survive family dinner-table debates and the imagination to avoid them. As a result, she’s a feminist writer, so she supports unrestricted access to affordable abortion and other reproductive health services, and she’s an immigration and LGBTQ rights advocate. She also birthed a child of color, who’s taught her a lot about white privilege and intersectionality. An erstwhile daily paper political columnist, she has since earned an MFA in Creative Writing at our beloved UCR MFA Palm Desert, her work’s been published in literary and feminist journals, and she’s taught Women’s Studies in the Cal State system. She’s now represented by Trident Media Group. K-B is a founding editor of WritersResist.com, and her website is ExcuseMeImWriting.com.

Matt Horwitz is a Literary Manager at Echo Lake Entertainment. Originally from the Washington, DC area, Matt knew from a young age that he wanted to work with creative people in the entertainment industry. After graduating from Indiana University in 2006, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream and began work at the management company Sleeping Giant Entertainment.  In 2011, he was promoted to manager and in 2013 he joined the Echo Lake team.

Charles Jensen is the author of five chapbooks of poems, including Breakup/Breakdown and The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture, and The First Risk, which was a finalist for the 2010 Lambda Literary Award. His previous chapbooks include Living Things, which won the 2006 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award, and The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon (New Michigan Press, 2007). A past recipient of an Artist’s Project Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, his poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, Bloom, Columbia Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Field, The Journal, New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is the founding editor of the online poetry magazine LOCUSPOINT, which explores creative work on a city-by-city basis, and directs the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension.  He lives in Los Angeles.

Jillian Lauren is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and the novel, Pretty, both published by Plume/Penguin. Some Girls has been translated into seventeen different languages. Her next memoir, Everything You Ever Wanted, was released in 2015. Jillian has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Magazine and Salon.com among others and has been anthologized widely, including in The Moth Anthology, True Tales of Lust and Love and Best of Babble Blogs. She has performed at spoken word and storytelling events across the country, including being a regular on The Moth mainstage, and has been interviewed on such television programs as The View, Good Morning America and Howard Stern. She is a popular and sometimes controversial blogger at MSNBC, The Huffington Post and Jillianlauren.com, which was named a Top 100 Mom Blog of 2012 by Babble Magazine. Jillian is married to Weezer bass player Scott Shriner. They live in Los Angeles with their two sons.

Edan Lepucki is the author of the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me and the novel California. Her new novel, Woman No. 17, will be published in May 2017 by Hogarth/Crown. California debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestsellers List and has been the #1 bestseller on the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestsellers lists.  It’s also been on the IndieBound and Publishers Weekly Bestsellers Lists. California was a fall 2014 selection of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program.  Edan and Stephen Colbert are now besties. Edan is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Narrative Magazine, The New York Times, and McSweeney’s, among others. The Los Angeles Times named her a Face to Watch for 2014.  She is a contributing editor to The Millions and the founder of Writing Workshops Los Angeles.

Katherine MacDonald earned her BFA in Film Production from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her MFA in Screenwriting from our own UCRPD Low Residency program. Katherine began her career at New Line Cinema in distribution before moving into market research for the studio. She has also worked in marketing at Lionsgate, MGM and Nielsen Corporation. Katherine is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Production at Paramount Pictures where she reports to the President of the Film Group and acts as a liaison between the two divisions. She is also co-authoring a textbook on movie marketing for filmmakers, which will be published by Routledge in 2018.

Allison Malecha is an editor at Grove Atlantic, working on a mix of fiction and nonfiction. Her experience includes both editorial and publicity at Grove Atlantic which focuses on literary/upmarket fiction, serious nonfiction, works in translation, and literary mysteries and thrillers, and works closely with Otto Penzler on his Mysterious Press imprint. She has a B.A. in comparative literature from Columbia University.

Sara Marchant received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside/ Palm Desert. Her work has been published by The Manifest-Station, Every Writer’s Resource, Full Grown People, Brilliant Flash Fiction, and The Coachella Review . Her work is forthcoming in the anthology All the Women in my Family Sing. She is the prose editor for the literary magazine Writers Resist.

Kevin Matusow is President of The Traveling Picture Show Company and co-CEO of TPSC Films, is an established producer with over 15 years of experience working in independent motion pictures. Kevin has traveled throughout the world producing creative content and has played a pivotal role in launching The Traveling Picture Show Company and its early successes. TPSC has expanded into a full-fledged production studio with divisions in film, television and commercial advertising.

Jackie McKinley is a working television writer who has written for eight different sitcoms and two dramas.  She has over 40 produced episodes of television. Currently, she is working on the college set, BET show “The Quad” and TVOne’s “Media”.  Formerly, she was a writer for the Emmy award winning “The Bernie Mac Show” and last year she was the Co-Executive producer/Co-creator of the TVOne show “Here We Go Again”.  She also served as writer/producer of TBS “Are We There Yet?” “First Family” and “All of Us.” Jackie has been accepted in many prestigious programs such as the Writer’s Guild Showrunners Program, the WGA’s Writers Access Project and The Guy Hank and Marvin Millers Screenwriters Program.  She is a University of Florida undergraduate, and she has a MFA in Screenwriting from the University of California-Riverside.

Wendy C. Ortiz is a Los Angeles native. She is the author of Excavation: A Memoir (Future Tense Books, 2014), Hollywood Notebook (Writ Large Press, 2015), and the dreamoir Bruja (CCM). Her work has been profiled or featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Joyland, StoryQuarterly, Hazlitt, and a year-long series appeared at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She can be found on Twitter: @WendyCOrtiz

Matt Pearce is a national reporter for the Los Angeles Times and frequently writes about violence, disasters, social movements and civil liberties. A University of Missouri graduate, he has covered news in the Midwest for a number of publications and previously wrote about technology, culture and the Middle East as a featured writer for the New Inquiry. He hails from Kansas City, Mo.

BJ Robbins opened her Los Angeles-based agency in 1992 after a multi-faceted career in book publishing in NY. She started in publicity at Simon & Schuster and was later Marketing Director and then Senior Editor at Harcourt. Her agency represents quality fiction, both literary and commercial, and general nonfiction, with a particular interest in memoir, biography, narrative history, pop culture, sports, travel/adventure, medicine and health. A member of AAR and Pen USA West, Ms. Robbins has led workshops at UCLA Extension, UC Irvine Extension, the Writer’s Pad, and at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fiction Workshop. On behalf of PEN, she has been guest speaker in numerous cities in the West as part of their Writers Toolbox program, including Seattle, Portland, Santa Fe, Dallas, Las Cruces, Flagstaff and Oakland. She was profiled in Writer’s Digest and mediabistro.com. The BJ Robbins Literary Agency works with both established and first-time authors and is looking for projects of literary merit that are fresh and original.

David Shook writes poems that explore the vibrancy of the city and its inhabitants. His collection Our Obsidian Tongues was longlisted for the 2013 International Dylan Thomas Prize, and poems from that book have been translated into French, Isthmus Zapotec, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Swedish, and Uyghur, as well as being adapted into a short film in Rwanda. Shook founded Los Angeles-based nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, the first publisher to win consecutive Best Translated Book Awards for Poetry, and has himself translated books from Spanish and Isthmus Zapotec, including work by Mario Bellatin, Tedi López Mills, and Víctor Terán. He served as Translator in Residence for the Poetry Parnassus in 2012, part of London’s Cultural Olympiad, featuring a poet from every participating olympic nation, where he premiered his covertly filmed short documentary Kilómetro Cero, about persecuted Equatorial Guinean poet Marcelo Ensema Nsang. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oxford, Shook has performed his poetry in dozens of countries, from the Bangla Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh to London’s Southbank, South by Southwest to PEN Haiti. His writing has appeared in Ambit, the Daily Beast, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review, and World Literature Today, among many other publications. He was recently named an NEA Translation Fellow for 2017, for his translation of the São Toméan poet Conceição Lima’s selected poems. He is a contributing editor to Ambit, Bengal Lights, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and World Literature Today.

Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels Lucy the Giant, Sparrow, Hot Sour Salty Sweet, Flygirl and Orleans. Her bestselling novel, The Toymaker’s Apprentice  is the Southern California Booksellers Association Award winner for Middle Grade. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association Best Books for Young People, and Junior Library Guild Selections. Flygirl was the 2009 California Book Awards Gold Medalist. Sherri was a 2014 National Book Awards judge in the Young People’s Literature category. She is a three-time writer-in-resident at Hedgebrook retreat in Washington State, as well as a resident at Wassard Elea retreat, in Ascea, Italy. Born in Chicago, IL, she has lived on all three coasts (West, East and Lake Michigan!). She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Broadcast Journalism, an M.S. in Business and an M.A. in Humanities. Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. She worked in stop-motion animation on Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!, and spent three years at Disney TV Animation, helping to create stories for animated home video projects. Upon leaving Disney, Sherri found an unlikely home with a construction company, working in a triple-wide trailer on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport, while she worked on her first novel. From there she went on to work and write for Bongo Comics, the company that brings you The Simpsons in print. Recently, she worked in a monster factory, wrangling the folks that make monsters and dead people for movies and television. Sherri’s first novel, Lucy the Giant, was unanimously selected as an ALA Best Book for Young People, and received an Honorable Mention from the Dutch Golden Kiss/Gouden Zoen Awards. Her 2009 novel Flygirl, a WWII novel about a light-skinned black girl who passes for white in order to join the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post. In 2012, Sherri made her first foray into speculative fiction with the “cli fi” novel, Orleans, a book dedicated to her mother, who survived Hurricane Katrina. The Toymaker’s Apprentice , is a vibrant retelling of the story of the Nutcracker. Sherri is a faculty member of the Creative Writing MFA program at Goddard College and the MFA in Children’s Writing at Hamline University.

Bridget Smith began her career at Dunham Literary, Inc. in June 2011.. Previously, she was an intern at Don Congdon Associates, worked at a secondhand book store in Connecticut, and evaluated short story submissions for Tor.com under Liz Gorinsky and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. She graduated from Brown University in 2010. While there, she studied anthropology and archaeology, worked as a radio DJ, fenced on the varsity team, and helped design an experiment that she later performed in microgravity at NASA. She is also the co-host of the popular podcast Shipping & Handling, with Jen Udden.

Jamison Stoltz is the Executive Editor of Abrams Press, launching their new narrative nonfiction imprint this spring. Previously, Jamison was Senior Editor at Grove/Atlantic, where he published fiction and nonfiction. Before joining Grove/Atlantic, he worked at the William Morris Agency in London and New York, and in publicity at Houghton Mifflin in New York.