Weekend Writing Seminars

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Kickstart your writing with one of three intensive workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and screenwriting. Taught by the faculty and alumni of the MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts, the Weekend Writing Seminars, offered in conjunction with the UCR Extension Center, are held three times per year —  in fall, winter, and spring — and feature immersive courses in the craft of writing. Our winter courses will be held February 20th & 21st on the campus of UCR Palm Desert.  Fee includes two-day course, editorial feedback and a continental breakfast each day. For more information, please contact Agam Patel at 760-834-0926 or via email at agam.patel@ucr.edu


Stephen Schwartz1
Writing Your First Novel with Stephen Jay Schwartz

In this intensive two-day seminar, you’ll learn the hallmarks of successful first novels and have the first 25 pages of your own book workshopped in class. We’ll also examine the intersection of character and setting, the mechanics of plot, the art of dialogue, the dynamics of timing and pace, and, finally, the path to publication. We’ll look at your first chapter with an eye towards where it needs to go to capture a publisher’s attention, but also with the aim of giving you the tools to effectively write your entire novel. Submissions for workshop are due February 14th. Students will be expected to provide written critiques for their classmates. 

Limited to 8 students. Cost: $695.

Los Angeles Times Bestselling Author Stephen Jay Schwartz spent a number of years as the Director of Development for filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen where he worked with writers, producers and studio executives to develop screenplays for production.  Among the film projects he helped developed are Air Force One, Outbreak and Bicentennial Man. His two novels, Boulevard and Beat, follow the dysfunctional journey of LAPD Robbery-Homicide detective Hayden Glass as he fights crime while struggling with his own sex-addiction.  The series was optioned by Ben Silverman (producer of The Office, Ugly Betty, and The Tudors) for development as a television series and is currently being shopped around the industry.

Stephen judged the Best Novel category of the 2012 Edgar Awards and was the lead judge for the Short Story category of the International Thriller Writers Awards.  He is currently judging the Mystery-Thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and has been a moderator and panelist for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for over five years.  His short stories and essays have been published in various compilations and will be featured in an anthology with T.C. Boyle in 2016 published by Red Hen Press.

Stephen is currently writing his third novel, a standalone FBI thriller.

He lives in Southern California with his wife and two children and can be found at his website, www.stephenjayschwartz.com

Mickey Birnbaum

Writing The Screenplay with Mickey Birnbaum

In this intensive screenwriting seminar, students will have the first 25 pages of their screenplays work-shopped by top Hollywood screenwriter Mickey Birnbaum, while also learning the principals of the craft and examining the current marketplace for both TV and film. Students will be immersed in the full “writer’s room” experience, breaking each other’s stories in a professional and creative atmosphere. Submissions for workshop are due February 14th. Students will be expected to provide written critiques for their classmates.

Limited to 8 students. Cost: $695.

Mickey Birnbaum’s play Big Death & Little Death inaugurated Woolly Mammoth’s new Washington D.C. theatre in 2005. It has been produced subsequently at Perishable Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island; Crowded Fire in San Francisco; the Road Theatre in Los Angeles; and the Catastrophic Theater in Houston. The play was nominated for a 2006 Helen Hayes/Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play, and was a 2006 PEN USA Literary Awards Finalist. His play Bleed Rail premiered at the Theatre@Boston Court in Los Angeles in 2007, and won a 2008 Garland Award for Playwriting. Mickey spent two months living in playwright William Inge’s boyhood home in Independence, Kansas as the recipient of a 2006 Inge Fellowship. He has written numerous children’s plays for L.A.’s celebrated non-profit organization, Virginia Avenue Project. He is a founding member of Dog Ear, a Los Angeles collective of nationally-renowned playwrights (visit www.dogear.org), as well as The Playwrights’ Union, and was a member of the 2008-2009 Center Theatre Group Writer’s Workshop. Over a thirty year career, Mickey has written screenplays for Universal, Paramount, Columbia/Sony, Interscope, Warner Brothers, and Leonardo di Caprio’s Appian Way Productions. He collaborated with director Steven Shainberg (Secretary, Fur) on the screenplay for The Big Shoe, which they are hoping will shoot in 2015, and is adapting the John Irving novel The Fourth Hand in collaboration with Shainberg. He wrote The Tie that Binds (1995), starring Keith Carradine and Darryl Hannah, for Interscope/Hollywood Pictures. Mickey received his MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of Riverside, Palm Desert in 2013. He teaches screenwriting at Santa Monica College as well. Mickey plays bass accordion for the Accordionaires, an accordion orchestra.


emily_rappWriting Your Memoir with Emily Rapp

Turning your life story into a compelling book isn’t merely recounting your adventures; you must also find an essential truth, some moment that exceeded the bounds of your previous life. We’ll take you down the path from memory to action, finding the story you not only wish to tell, but the story you must tell. Utilizing in class readings, writing exercises and the critical examination of published work, we’ll move you ever closer to the book you’ve been trying to write. Students will also workshop up to 25 pages of their creative work in class. Submissions for workshop are due February 14. Students will be expected to provide written critiques for their classmates.

Limited to 8 students. Cost: $695.

Emily Rapp is a former Fulbright scholar and graduate of Harvard University and is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir, in addition to many essays and stories in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, Salon, Huffington Post, The Bark, Bellevue Literary Review, The Sun, Body + Soul, StoryQuarterly, Good Housekeeping, The Texas Observer, and other publications. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, a James A. Michener Fellowship at the University of Texas-Austin (Michener Center for Writers), and the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence fellowship at Bucknell University. She has received awards and grants for her work from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Jentel Arts Foundation, the Corporation of Yaddo, and the Fundacion Valparaiso. Her latest book, The Still Point of the Turning World, was released in 2013 and was a national bestseller. She is at work on a novel.

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Nearby hotels:

Residence Inn Palm Desert

Homewood Suites by Hilton Palm Desert

Courtyard Marriott