Our Spring residency kicks off June 7th at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage. If you are applying for the program for the 19/20 academic year and would like to visit for the day, please contact Agam Patel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-834-0926 to set up your visit.
Spring Residency Schedule
Breakfast & Lunch are served in Salon 4
All Graduate Lectures are in Salon 5
All Evening programs are in Salon 6
Lectures are held in Salons 5, 6, or 8, as noted.
Friday, June 7
4:00 – Check in
4:00 – Faculty & Staff meeting in Salon 6
5:00 – New Student Orientation in Salon 5
*Required for all new students
6:00 – Opening celebration in the R Bar.
Saturday June 8
9:00: All Student Orientation in Salon 5
*Required for ALL students
10:30-12:00: Guest Faculty Lecture: Lilliana Winkworth (S)
Secrets of The Second City:
A veteran performer of Chicago’s premier sketch comedy theater The Second City, Lilliana Winkworth wants to help you bring the funny to your narrative. From Lil Rel’s character in Get Out, the wry musings of Robert Shaw in Jaws – great narratives have one thing in common: moments of levity. A chance for your reader or audience to breathe, to relax, or to get duped into a state of relaxation only to have you pull the rug out from under them! In this lecture, we’ll workshop your non-comedy script and discuss how elements of comedy can help heighten character arcs and dramatic tension. (8)
10:30-12:00: Guest Faculty Lecture: Oscar Villalon (F,N,P)
The Last Word In Getting Accepted By Zyzzyva
Zyzzyva is one of the top literary magazines on the planet…and has been for a very long time, by only accepting the best work in the world. In this talk with editor Oscar Villalon, we’ll learn how to move from the slush-pile to the print edition. (5)
10:30-12:00: Faculty Lecture: Elizabeth Crane (F)
We’ll look at the Amy Hempel story “A Full Service Shelter” and the story it was inspired by, Leonard Michaels’ iconic, “In the Fifties.” Stories will be available in the office and via email before residency. (6)
1:15 Main Genre Workshops
(Combined classes each day:
Sun: Betsy and Jill)
(Combined classes each day)
Stillman/Rapp Black: Plumeria
(Deanne & Emily will be meeting with their own students Saturday, Wednesday, and Sunday; the course will be team taught on Monday and Friday. Emily’s students will meet in Desert Suite 2 on Saturday, Wednesday and Sunday unless otherwise specified)
Ulin: Salon 8
4:30: Graduate Lecture: Sarah Brogren (S)
More Than Methods and Monsters: The Philosophy of Science Fiction
With the publication of Frankenstein in 1818, the modern science fiction story was born, establishing the genre and creating a formula for the science fiction stories that followed. While it chronicles Victor’s attempts to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge, the novel is fundamentally an examination of the roles of God and man in the creation of life and man’s ambition to usurp that role, leading the reader to ponder the philosophical questions of what the roles of God and man truly are and if man’s ambitions should go unchecked. Using Frankenstein as a template, we will investigate how this tradition of using science-based stories to pose philosophical questions continues in the science fiction films of the 21st century.
8pm: Evening Program: Dan Smetanka and Olivia Taylor Smith discuss the literary marketplace
Sunday June 9
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Natashia Deon (F, NF, P)
The Writer as Literary Citizen
As writers, as artists, as teachers, we do not merely consume and/or create content. We participate in culture-making. We write stories that help shape how we understand and think about ourselves and those around us. Even more…if things go right, we sell our perspectives, our imaginations: maybe, $17 on sale on Amazon. What does it mean to be a literary citizen, to think about writing as both a matter of individual expression and part of a larger discussion of culture? What is our responsibility to the literary community—to one another as human beings and as colleagues? Must we hold that responsibility? If so, how does that affect not just how and what we write but also other activities, such as reading, reviewing, teaching, and how we conduct ourselves in public spaces, especially in professional capacities? In this seminar, we will discuss the nature of literary citizenship. In part, the class will address how writers build careers: teach, lecture, review, participate in and critique the cultural dialogue, as well as write. (5)
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Adam Deutsch (P, F, NF)
Publication is important, and we all want readers to discover our work. That’s fine, but there’s that huge gap between what we write and how it finds new hands. Let’s fill that gap with zines! We’re going to talk about the cultural contributions of short low-budget hand-made books (zines), the power of the artifact, and the opportunities for promotion, community building, and equity that come with producing our work in quick & cheap formats that magically becomes treasures for people to love. We’re also going to make stuff that we can share with each other, so bring some writing with you. (8)
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Brian Lipson (S)
A discussion on how to work with your film/TV agent. Or not. A candid conversation between Brian Lipson and Mark Haskell Smith on navigating the choppy waters of Hollywood. (6)
10:30-12:00: Faculty Lecture: Mickey Birnbaum (PL)
Breaking the Fourth Wall
We love those moments when plays and movies shatter objective reality–at least, when they do it well. Direct address to the audience, voice-over, narration, and other bold theatrical techniques can add humor, complexity, and depth to dramatic work, but when badly done, they take us right out of the story. Through examples and film clips, we’ll examine ways in which contemporary playwrights and screenwriters have successfully broken the fourth wall to create memorable and unique plays and films. You’ll come away with a greater understanding of how to use these techniques in your own work. (8)
10:30-12:00: Guest Faculty Lecture: Don Handfield (S)
Failure is a Super Power: Building and Sustaining A Career As A Screenwriter
In this talk, veteran screenwriter and producer and showrunner Don Handfield will cover the ups and downs of a career – from the 8 year process of bringing the acclaimed The Founder to the screen, to dealing with studio notes, and how to pick yourself up after failure. (6)
10:30-12:00 Faculty Lecture: Stephen Graham Jones (F)
The Horror, The Horror
Do you like scary movies? Scary books? In here there’s tips and tricks and cautionary tales, plenty of blood and guts, maybe a rule or two along the way, and, hopefully, a magic key to help you unlock the darkness you know is there, pass it on to the audience so they can feel the same spike of fear you do. (5)
1:15-4:15 Cross-Genre Workshops
Rapp Black: Iris
Smith: Salon 8
4:30: Graduate Lecture: Nathania Seales Oh (NF)
Annihilating the Boundaries of Traditional Characterization
Throughout various works of literature authors have been known to break from the customary and employ nonconventional methods of character construction. Rather than a person, being or thing a character can be created from something far less tangible. In this lecture we’ll explore what an unconventional character looks like, how they may or may not be similar to the traditional, and what if anything, they bring to a book or novel.
8:00: Evening Program: Melinda Leigh & Kendra Elliot in Conversation with Tod Goldberg
Two of Amazon’s most successful authors talk about how they’ve sold millions of books…and how you can, too.
Monday June 10
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Stacy Bodus (All)
Teaching Writing in the Prisons
What’s it like teaching creative writing to a really captive audience? In this talk Stacy Bodus will take you through the process of getting this job, but also about the unique challenges of teaching writing to those in the prison system. (8)
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Melinda Leigh & Kendra Elliot (F)
Writing with a Partner
Separate, Kendra and Melinda are huge best-selling authors. Together? Same. In this talk, they’ll tell you how to start a writing relationship that doesn’t end in divorce, how they write their books, and how you can too. (5)
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Leon Martell (PL)
Writing From Below the Neck
“God, (or the Devil, depending who you listen to) is in the details,” and the details of character are what we will be digging out in this class. We will use exercises in observation, imagination and a lot of adapting from personal experience, to create characters that are active, specific, and unique. The exercises will be cumulative, designed to give you a deeper perspective on the characters in your personal writing and will aim at either creating a new piece or adding substantively to existing work. I love the David Mamet quote, that says we speak, “…not to communicate our wishes, but to achieve our wishes from each other,” and accordingly we will explore the strategies of dialogue. The class will utilize some of the exercises developed for actors to get inside the skin of characters and we will look at the argot of the character’s immediate community and see how that can help put them in a clear place, time, and context. Then we will explore where they deviate from the norm, because that inconsistency, if often what makes a character memorable. (6)
10:30-12:00: Faculty Lecture: Matthew Zapruder (P)
Writing More Deeply and Honestly into the Political
Political poetry, and writing, is said to be everywhere … but what does it mean to call a piece of writing “political?” How do expressions of political passion and advocacy relate to the poetic act? Can our certainty, or lack of it, create difficulties in the creation of poetry? Why, and when, are we writing poems and not essays, manifestoes, editorials, propaganda? How do we move beyond the mere reproduction of superficial and unexamined slogans and ideas, into deeper, more dangerous, more truly poetic territory? How do we think of our own subject position, and how do we imagine our readers? What do we dream they will take from our political poems? To begin to engage with these and other difficult and essential questions, we will look at poems by Audre Lorde, W.S. Merwin, Brenda Hillman, and other contemporaries, to examine and discuss various ways poets have engaged productively and unexpectedly with difficult societal issues such as racial violence, militarism, the degradation of the environment, and so on. And I will share poems of mine that I have rewritten and rethought in order to make them more honest and more worthwhile. Writers from genres other than poetry are encouraged to join the discussion, which will be applicable to anyone engaging with these matters. (8)
10:30-12:00: Guest Faculty Lecture: Julie Albright (NF)
Communicating Simply: Making Complex Things Accessible
Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it.” Many academics and professionals fall into the (sometimes bad) habit of speaking in difficult to understand jargon specific to their fields. Yet being able to translate complex concepts into an easily digestible format is both an art and a science. Yet being able to do so is critical to communicate with a large audience. In this talk, digital sociologist Julie Albright will discuss the transfer of knowledge from the Ivory Tower of academia to the general public, using such techniques as case examples and storytelling. (5)
10:30-12:00 Faculty Lecture: Bill Rabkin (S)
Writing Mysteries is Murder
Every story is a journey from chaos to order — and the purest form of that arc comes in the murder mystery. That’s why great writers from Dostoevsky to Umberto Eco to Robert Towne have used the mystery form to convey serious political and philosophical thoughts. But before you can use the genre to tell your own stories, you have to understand how mystery plotting works. This lecture will explain how to build and sustain a compelling mystery — and how you can use these techniques to improve even stories with no mystery. (6)
1:15-4:15: Main Genre Workshops
4:30: Graduate Lecture: Michael Hood (S)
Exploring Deaf Culture Representations in Film
After years with only a handful of depictions from the film industry, the Deaf community has begun to make strides in visibility with the success of A Quiet Place (2018). However, with more opportunities for representation comes more possibilities for filmmakers to make mistakes accurately portraying Deaf culture. This lecture will offer a brief overview of what defines ‘capital D’ Deaf community and culture, an exploration of the characteristics several films choose to incorporate and omit from Deaf culture, and possible solutions to strengthen film narratives as well as create more honest depictions of a long-neglected minority group.
5:15: Graduate Lecture: Charli Engelhorn (F)
Literary Activism and the Power of Language to Effect Change
Literature as an agent for social change has a long tradition, with pioneers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Upton Sinclair, and Margaret Atwood paving the way. But what is literary activism, how is it approached, and what power does it hold in creating change in the world? In this lecture, we’ll look at the history of social and political novels, their effects on society, and how contemporary authors have taken up the call, albeit differently, to address the ideals and issues present in the modern world.
8:00: Evening Program: Student Reading in R Bar
Tuesday June 11
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: JoAnn Chaney (F)
Writing the Second Novel
You’ve written your first. Maybe it sold. Maybe it didn’t. But you still need to write another. We’ll talk here about how you start fresh and new, the challenges inherent in doing it all over again. (5)
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Michael Scott Moore (NF)
The Personal & The Political
In early 2012, Michael Scott Moore was taken hostage by a gang of pirates in Somalia. He’d traveled there to write a very different book about the pirate problem; but he wound up publishing a hostage memoir in 2018. He’ll outline his 2.5-year ordeal as a captive and the challenge of writing any book from a victim’s point of view. He’ll also discuss the challenge of writing about intense personal and political topics — including your own enemies — when the moral divide looks clear and insurmountable. (6)
10:30-12:00: Faculty Lecture: Mark Haskell Smith & Mickey Birnbaum (F, PL, NF, S)
Taking Comedy Seriously
How to put a little levity into your work without ruining the whole enterprise. We’ll talk about writing funny – when and how – in various forms and genres (5)
10:30-12:00: Faculty Lecture: Alex Espinoza (NF)
That’s a Fact, not Fiction
How a fiction writer became a nonfiction writer…and how a novelist’s style translates into the nonfiction form. Or, to be more precise, how to use what you’ve learned from fiction to write a compelling nonfiction account. (6)
10:30-12:00: Faculty Lecture: Anthony McCann (P)
Writing in the Words of Others
This session of writing exercises and conversation will explore different poetry techniques that allow us to create texts by sampling the work of others. Erasure, the cento, and other forms of literary appropriation, new and old will be examined. We’ll be doing a lot of writing in the session as well so bring a notebook and bring a good pen–you know those resort pens will always break or run out of ink just when you are getting going! Also bring the book you’ve got with you at residency that is of most interest right now to you. That book doesn’t need to be poetry, it may be more useful to you in this session if it’s not! (8)
1:15-4:15 Cross-Genre Workshops
4:30: Graduate Lecture: Maria Duarte (P)
Night, the ‘other’ night and Poetry
Night has always been part of the poet’s world. It is not just a time of day but a mystical realm where knowledge can be gained and the self can expand. The journey is always at the poet’s risk but the rewards can be endless. In this lecture we will explore the journey of three poets and their findings.
5:15 Graduate Lecture: Annette Davis (NF)
The Art of Dying
How do we write about death and loss? In the memoirs to be explored, there is a pattern to writing about the darker side of the human condition. There is a pull between anger and acceptance. Come see how some talented writers explore this difficult terrain.
8:00: Evening Program: Patriot Screening
Wednesday June 12
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Edan Lepucki (F)
Pacing in Fiction
What is pacing and how can we use it to deepen plot and character? In this lecture, novelist Edan Lepucki will entertain and interrogate various ways of thinking about pacing, and explore how we, as writers, can become more efficient, nimble, and surprising storytellers. (5)
9:00-10:30 Faculty Lecture: Emily Rapp Black (NF)
Life Skills for Writers
Okay, you’re a writer. Now. How do you live? How do you work? How do you make money? How do you do this? Emily is going to tell you. (6)
10:30-12:00: Kurtwood Smith & Steve Conrad in Conversation (S)
*This special program is mandatory. Plus, why would you want to miss it?
We’ll be talking about everything. The amazing show Patriot that Steve created and Kurtwood stars in. Steve’s new show Perpetual Grace. Kurtwood’s long career in Hollywood. How a show about a singing assassin got made. What it’s like working on some of the most iconic films and TV shows of our time. Whether or not Charles Grodin has heard that song. How that Rock-Paper-Scissors scene was shot. What it’s like working opposite a very angry half-man half robot all cop. Everything. This will be a special event. (5)
1:15-4:15: Main Genre Workshops
4:30: The Coachella Review Meeting: Come learn how you can work on The Coachella Review next academic year. Jobs are open now! (6)
Thursday June 13
8:45-9:30 Fall 19 Graduates Meeting. A mandatory meeting to discuss your upcoming thesis term. Bring a pen. (8)
9:30-11:00 Guest Faculty Lecture: Sara Marchant (NF)
Working with a Small Press
Interested in independent publishing? Manuscript out with a bazillion agents but you’re the impatient type? Just want to know how the process works with a smaller publishing house? Sara Marchant has published both fiction and memoir without benefit of agency and you can too. We’ll talk about the beginning (submission), the middle (the process of a MS becoming a galley) and the sometimes messy end (wanna be dead to your sister? I can tell you how!). Word on the street is that there will be cake. (6)
9:30-11:00 Faculty Lecture: Jill Alexander Essbaum (P)
NEW FRONTIERS IN REVISION!!! (Or: Jill’s Magic Mary Poppins Bag of Tricks that will Help You Find Something Useable and Maybe Even Marvelous in a Big-Ass Crap Draft of Whatever)
Sometimes it’s not about revising, it’s about re-visioning. Re-seeing. Re-purposing. Re-cycling. Smelting the metal, extracting the ore, and forging an iron horseshoe out of unavailing horse shit. You get the picture. In this lecture I’m going to spill my secrets and walk you through practical, varied, and un-on-the-nose techniques that I and others have successfully used to suss the awesome from the awful.
*Bring TWO COPIES (printed) of a SINGLE PAGE of something you’ve written (poetry or prose) that doesn’t work, is broken to a fault, something you’re past ready to trash. It should be something you’re willing to share. The terrible-er the better! (If you’re shy about sharing, leave off your name. No one will know!) (5)
11:00-12:00 Faculty Lecture: Bill Rabkin, John Schimmel, Joshua Malkin (S)
I’ve Finished My Screenplay, Now What? A Practical Guide to Your Next Steps
Just what that sentence right above says. We’ll step you through how to get that script from your computer and into the right hands. (6)
11:00-12:00 Guest Faculty Lecture: Bonnie Nadell & David Ulin (F,NF)
The Agent & Author
A candid conversation about how agents and authors work together over the long-haul, what Bonnie is looking for, and how she decides who to work with. (5)
1:00-2:30: Faculty Lecture: The Coachella Review Lecture Series with Gina Frangello (All)
Developmental Editing for Publication
In this inaugural kick-off of the TCR lecture series, faculty advisor Gina Frangello will discuss how fledgling editors at literary magazines or presses can best work with authors on improving their work, ranging from plot tweaks to deeper characterization to sensitivity editing. This lecture will not focus on “copyediting” for grammar and punctuation, but rather on how to work one on one with an author on transforming a strong manuscript you are interested in publishing into the best version of itself. Discussion will include how to approach authors with changes in ways that encourage collaboration rather than conflict. Attendance is strongly recommended for current editors and readers at The Coachella Review, but content will be equally applicable for any students interested in future careers in editing and publishing, as well as for self-editing. Bring your questions to this interactive discussion. (5)
1:00-2:30 Faculty Lecture: Rob Roberge (F)
The Top 15 (or 10, or maybe 20) Things That Will Get Your Work Rejected
…in the first 20 pages. Yikes. That’s a lot of things that can go wrong very quickly. But don’t worry. Rob is going to break you from this problem by revealing the dark secrets. If you’re getting ready to put your work out into the world, you need to now what might be standing in your way. (6)
2:30-4:30 Guest Faculty Lecture: Rae Dubow (All)
*This isn’t mandatory. But it should be. Maybe it is? Maybe we’ll grade you on it. But really? It’s hugely important…
How To Read Your Work In Public. How To Stand Up and Make A Speech. How To Not Bore The Crap Out of An Audience. How Not To Read in Poet Voice.
Here’s the truth: Our graduates are known for going out into the world and knowing how to talk. How to get up and deliver in public. It’s our calling card. We make professional writers. And that means, too, people who can start getting up tomorrow and lecturing, talking, reading. This class? It’s going to help you get there. Don’t miss it. (5)
4:30-5:00 Graduate Lecture: Kathy Kron (S)
Portrayal of Military Women in Film
The way military women are portrayed in movies has changed over the past few decades. Initially, they were shown as physically and emotionally weak, and as time passed, they fought against a double standard that was imposed upon them. Even though the women in recent movies are seen to be strong and competent, they still have to work for respect that is automatically afforded their male counterparts.
8:00 Evening Program: We Only Know So Much (based on Elizabeth Crane’s novel! Adapted by Elizabeth Crane! She’ll be there!)
Friday June 14
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Kimi Yoshino in conversation with David Ulin (All)
The State of the Fourth Estate
Fake news. Twitter wars. Pulitzer Prizes. Corporate shake-ups. Writers coming and going. An election around the corner. Hollywood fighting with itself. A new billionaire backer. The Los Angeles Times has seen some stuff these last few years. Kimi Yoshino has been on the front lines. In this talk, we’ll find out the state of our most precious public trust: the free news media. (5)
9:00-10:30: Guest Faculty Lecture: Rachel Kann (P)
The Poetry of Memory
Join poet Rachel Kann for this quick-and-deep dive into memory and emotions, all in service of creating rich, textured and real experiences for your readers, no matter the genre. We will embark on two guided writing exercises and discuss the process. You’ll leave this workshop with two brand new pieces of writing, as well as ideas for prompts for your own workshop leadership. (6)
10:30-12:00 Faculty Lecture: Mary Yukari Waters (F)
The “It” Factor – Describing what an experience feels like
With so much competition out there, what is the “it” factor that makes a piece of writing stand out to an editor? “It” factors come in many different forms. So I’ll focus on just one aspect that sinks many writers: conveying what a particular experience feels like. This is where many writers are at their most trite, tedious, and uninsightful. This is where an editor can weed out mediocre writers (or discover a promising writer). It’s what separates a diamond-in-the-rough writer from someone who may be technically more skillful but shows less promise. We will examine some great examples of “it” quality writing (BTW, this has nothing to do with beautiful prose, or writing styles. This also has nothing to do with showing vs. telling.) (5)
10:30-12:00 Faculty Lecture: John Schimmel & Joshua Malkin (S)
Knowing that distribution models are changing faster than anyone can keep up with, knowing that filmmakers have less and less control of the platforms on which their work is shown, the question of how we get people to exit their A.D.D. lives and pay attention to our work is increasingly compelling. The opening of a film can serve many masters. It can show off a role as actor candy. It can hook an audience on the journey of the protagonist. It can establish tone and rhythm and genre. It can cue an audience as to whether it will be okay to laugh and it can set us up to weep. And it can be the deciding factor as to whether those who can get your film made will continue reading. Come join Professors Schimmel and Malkin as they analyze some openings that really worked. (6)
1:15-4:15 Main Genre Workshops
4:30 Graduate Lecture: Mark Green (P)
Producing Poetry in Times of Turmoil
How do we respond when the world is collapsing all around us? Three of England’s greatest poets demonstrate how it is possible to create in the midst of communal and cultural chaos. Donne, Herbert, and Milton survived extremely challenging conditions—in their personal, public and professional lives—but still continued to write brilliant poetry. We will explore how these three artists can motivate us to persevere even when our particular trials threaten to overwhelm us.
8:00: Evening Program: Emily Rapp Black, Rob Roberge, David Ulin, Deanne Stillman
How To Tell True Stories & Keep Your Friends and Family – Memoirists & Nonfiction Writers Discuss How Not To Live Alone Forever
Saturday June 15
9:00-10:00: Faculty Lecture: Agam Patel (All)
How To Write Your Resume
It’s the first thing employers learn about you, before you ever walk in the door. So it’s important to get everything right. In this lecture, Agam will step you through the world of business…the one thing all of are terrible doing…so that you can find the job you want while finishing graduate school or right after graduation. (6)
9:00-10:00 Faculty Lecture: Stephanie Leder (S)
Writing for a Streaming Series
Everything has changed. Including the writer’s room. What do you need to know to work on a streaming show? What do you need to know to write a streaming spec? Stephanie Leder has all that answers. (5)
10:00-11:30 Guest Faculty Lecture: Tod Goldberg (All)
You Probably Won’t Make Money Podcasting, But I’ll Show You How You Can Try
This is not a content lecture. This is an actual “what do I need to do in order to make my own podcast, get it on iTunes, and begin making my fortune?” We’ll cover headphones, mics, computer programs, servers, all that. Bring your laptop with you. If you have a Mac, we’ll be using GarageBand, so you might like to familiarize yourself with that, too. (6)
10:30-11:30: Faculty Panel: Anthony McCann & Jill Alexander Essbaum (P)
Submitting Your Poetry
Where. How. Why. (5)
*Graduating students & faculty will be having a private lunch today
1:15-4:15 Cross-Genre Workshops
8:00: Graduation & Farewell Party in Grand Ballroom
Presentation of Graduates
Desserts, drinks, and dancing!
Sunday, June 16
9:00am-12:00: Main Genre Workshops & Final Meetings
12:00: Lunch….and then why don’t you come back in December. It’s going to be cool out. Like Cool Rick. Not Dead Serious Rick. So that’s pretty good.
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 and recently adapted 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. Hs most recent play, Backyard, was a finalist for the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for Drama.
Elizabeth Crane is the author of four collections of short stories including When the Messenger is Hot, All this Heavenly Glory, and You Must Be This Happy to Enter. Her work has been translated into several languages and has been featured in numerous publications including Other Voices, Ecotone, Guernica, Catapult, Electric Literature, Coachella Review, Mississippi Review, Florida Review, Bat City Review, Hobart, Rookie, Fairy Tale Review, The Huffington Post, Eating Well, Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Reader and The Believer, and anthologies including Altared, The Show I’ll Never Forget, The Best Underground Fiction, Who Can Save Us Now?, Brute Neighbors and Dzanc’s Best of the Web. Her stories have been featured on NPR’s Selected Shorts. She is a recipient of the Chicago Public Library 21st Century Award, and her work has been adapted for the stage by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater company. Her novel The History of Great Things was published by HarperPerennial in April 2016 and her fourth collection of stories, Turf, was released in 2017 from Soft Skull Press. A feature film adaptation of her debut novel, We Only Know So Much, won Best Feature at the Big Apple Film Festival in 2018.
Jill Alexander Essbaum is the author of several collections of poetry including Heaven (winner of the Katherine Bakeless Nason prize), Necropolis, Harlot, and most recently the single poem chapbook The Devastation. Her first novel, Hausfrau, was a New York Times Bestseller and has been translated into 26 languages. Her work has appeared in dozens of journals including Poetry, The Christian Century, Image, and The Rumpus, and has been included in textbooks and anthologies including The Best American Erotic Poems and two editions of the annual Best American Poetry anthology. A two-time NEA fellow, Jill is currently working on a new collection of poems and a second novel.
Gina Frangello is the author of four books — Every Kind of Wanting, A Life In Men, Slut Lullabies (a ForeWard Magazine Best Book of 2010), and My Sister’s Continent (named one of the Best Books of the Year by Las Vegas Weekly) — and edited the acclaimed anthology Falling Backward: Stories of Fathers and Daughters. In addition, Ms. Frangello has published dozens of stories, essays, and works of literary criticism – her work has appeared in such venues as the Chicago Tribune, Best of the Midwest, Prairie Schooner and others — which have resulted in her receiving several notable awards, including the Illinois Arts Council Literary Award in 2005 and the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose in 2002. Ms. Frangello is also an esteemed editorial voice, notably as one of the founding editors and publishers of Other Voices Books, an award-winning literary press based out of Chicago, and, as well, serving as the Sunday editor of The Rumpus and as the literary editor of The Nervous Breakdown. Gina has been a regular faculty member in the MFA programs at both Northwestern and Columbia. She is the editor of the Coachella Review.
Tod Goldberg is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including Gangster Nation (Counterpoint), The House of Secrets (Grand Central), Gangsterland (Counterpoint), a finalist for the Hammett Prize, Living Dead Girl (Soho Press), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the popular Burn Notice (Penguin) series, three times a finalist for the Scribe Award, and two collections of short stories, most recently Other Resort Cities (Other Voices Books). His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Black Clock, The Normal School, Post Road and Las Vegas Noir, where his story “Mitzvah” was subsequently named a Distinguished Story of the Year in Best American Mystery Stories. His essays, journalism, and criticism appear regularly in many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books and Las Vegas Weekly and have earned five Nevada Press Association Awards for excellence, while his essay “When They Let Them Bleed,” which first appeared in Hobart, was most recently featured in Best American Essays. In addition, he is the co-host, along with Julia Pistell & Rider Strong, of Literary Disco, one of the greatest podcasts on the planet, and with Maggie Downs of Open Book, which airs on KCOD in Palm Springs. Tod Goldberg holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Literature from Bennington College and directs the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside. His next book, Gang Related, will be out next year.
Stephen Graham Jones is the author of sixteen novels, six story collections, a couple of standalone novellas, and, so far, one comic book. Most recent are Mongrels and Mapping the Interior. Up soon are a couple of horror novels from Saga and another horror novella from Tor. Stephen’s been an NEA recipient, has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, a Bram Stoker Award, four This is Horror Awards, and he’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. He’s also made Bloody Disgusting’s Top Ten Horror Novels. Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Joshua Malkin has written feature projects for Sony, Warner Brothers, Cross Creek Entertainment, Universal Pictures as well as for more than a dozen production companies, both big and small. These include: an adaptation of the 80s cult franchise Beastmaster, a supernatural thriller for Australian company See Films and a “re-boot” of the franchise Buck Rogers In the 25th Century. He also wrote and produced three documentaries; two about the art of puppetry, and the other about underground comics. In 2008, his screenplay Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever completed production for Lionsgate. He is currently developing an animated family film for Intrigue Entertainment, a horror movie for Traveling Picture Show, and a TV series for Canadian-based Rezolution Pictures/showrunner Jonathan Glassner (Outer Limits, Stargate SG-1.) Joshua is a professor of screenwriting at the University of California Riverside, an occasional story architect for the video game industry, and the proud father of twins.
Anthony McCann was born and raised in the Hudson Valley. He’s the author of four collections of poetry, including Thing Music and I Heart Your Fate. His new prose non-fiction book, Shadowlands, on the 2016 takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by armed right-wing protestors, will be released in July 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing. Anthony lives in the Mojave Desert with his family. Anthony holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and currently teaches poetry and literature at the California Institute of the Arts as well.
Mary Otis is the award-winning author of the short story collection Yes, Yes, Cherries. Her stories and essays have been published in Best New American Voices (Harcourt), Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Electric Literature, McSweeney’s, Zyzzyva, the Los Angeles Review of Books Fiction Issue, The New American Canon, and in numerous other venues. Her writing has been performed by WordTheatre and recorded for Electric Literature. The New York Times has said of her work, “Sadness and humor sidle up to each other, evocative of the delicate balance of melancholy and wit found in Lorrie Moore’s stories.” Her writing is anthologized in Woof: Fiction Writers on Dogs (Viking), Do Me: Tales of Love and Sex (Tin House), and My First Novel (Writer’s Tribe Books). Her story “Pilgrim Girl” received an honorable mention for the Pushcart Prize, and her story “Unstruck” was a Distinguished Story of the Year in Best American Short Stories. Mary attended Bennington College and previously taught creative writing in the UCLA Writers’ Program and served as a mentor in the Mark Program for PEN. She also teaches at the Noepe Writing Center in Martha’s Vineyard. Mary is part of the core faculty of the UC Riverside Palm Desert M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts program.
Agam Patel is the Associate Director of both the MFA program and of the UCR Palm Desert campus and is on the board of directors of Lotus Outreach International, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the education, health and safety of vulnerable women and children in the developing world. He holds an MBA in Strategic Management from Alliant International University and lives in Rancho Mirage, CA with his wife and two children.
William Rabkin has written and/or produced hundreds of hours of dramatic television. He served as show runner on the long-running Dick Van Dyke mystery series “Diagnosis Murder” and on the action-adventure spectacle “Martial Law” and is currently creating series in China and Brazil. He has also written a dozen network TV pilots. His work has twice been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Television Episode from the Mystery Writers of America. He has written three books on writing for television, “Writing the Pilot” (2011), “Writing the Pilot: Creating the Series” (2017), and, with Lee Goldberg, “Successful Television Writing” (2003) and seven novels. He is the co-creator and co-editor of “The Dead Man,” a 28-book series of supernatural action thrillers published by Amazon’s 47 North imprint. Rabkin is part of the core faculty of UCR-Palm Desert’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts, as well as serving as an associate professor in television writing and producing for Long Island University’s TV Writers’ Studio MFA program. His latest show debuts on HBOChina soon!
Emily Rapp Black is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir (Bloomsbury USA) and The Still Point of the Turning World (Penguin Press), which was a New York Times Bestseller, an Editor’s Pick, and a finalist for the PEN Center Literary Award in Nonfiction. A former Fulbright scholar, she was educated at Harvard University, Trinity College-Dublin, Saint Olaf College, and the University of Texas-Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow in Fiction and Poetry. She is an active advocate for parents of terminally ill children through the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association, where she helps facilitate conversations between doctors and parents/caregivers about alternative approaches to pediatric palliative care, and she also works as a hospice care volunteer in the Inland Empire. Black has received awards and recognition for her work from The Atlantic Monthly; StoryQuarterly; the Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation; the Rona Jaffe Foundation (Emerging Writer Award); the Jentel Arts Foundation; the Corporation of Yaddo; the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where she was a Winter Writing Fellow; Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain; and Bucknell University, where she was the Philip Roth Fiction Writer-in-Residence. IN 2017, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her blog, a live medical narrative, http:// ourlittleseal.wordpress.com, was named by TIME as one of the top 25 blogs of 2012, and that same year the Huffington Post described her work as “Required Reading for Women.” Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in VOGUE, LENNY LETTER, the New York Times, Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, the Sun, TIME, Brain.Child, the Rumpus, Role/Reboot, O the Oprah Magazine, the Nervous Breakdown, The Establishment, Bodega, Good Housekeeping, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications and anthologies, including The Modern Loss Anthology (Harper/Wave) and O’ s Little Guide to Starting Over (Flatiron Books). Since 2012, she has been a literary correspondent for the Boston Globe. She also writes home and design, fashion, fitness, and lifestyle features for various publications, including Palm Springs Life, Fitness, and Redbook. Her essays about medical ethics, genetics, disability issues, medical narratives, 19th century philosophy, and the ethics of end-of-life care have appeared in many academic journals and anthologies. She has two books forthcoming in 2020: Sanctuary: A Memoir (Random House), and Cartography for Cripples: Mapping Disability and Desire in the Life and Work of Frida Kahlo (New York Review of Books). She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at UC-Riverside, and also teaches in the UCR School of Medicine.
Rob Roberge most recent book, the memoir Liar (Crown, 2016) was named a Spring 2016 Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick. It was singled out in The New Yorker, who wrote, “…both the smallest and the biggest pieces of his memoir fascinate,” and was chosen as one of the best non-fiction books of 2016 by both Powell’s Bookstore and Entropy Magazine. Roberge is the author of four books of fiction, most recently the novel The Cost of Living (OV Books, 2013), about which Cheryl Strayed wrote “is both drop dead gorgeous and mind-bendingly smart.” He is core faculty at UC Riverside’s Palm Desert MFA in Writing Program, his short fiction and essays have been widely published and anthologized, and several of his plays have been produced in Los Angeles. As a musician, he has released two solo albums, and has played with the LA-based roots rock bands The Violet Rays and The Danbury Shakes, and he plays guitar and sings with LA’s art-punk band The Urinals. He is at work on a new novel.
John Schimmel is in the middle of an extraordinarily diverse career as a writer/producer. He’s been the President of Furthur Films and Ascendant Pictures, an executive at Douglas-Reuther Productions, Belair Entertainment, and Warner Bros, co-penned the Tony-nominated musical “Pump Boys And Dinettes,” published fiction and nonfiction, including his first book, Screenwriting Behind Enemy Lines: Lessons from Inside the Studio Gates. He currently works as Senior Producer (narrative content) and Head of Global Video Production for Cloud Imperium Games which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest crowd funding effort in history. He recently executive produced the film Foster Boy with Matthew Modine and Lou Gossett Jr., written and produced by his student Jay Paul Deratany and also executive produced by Shaqueal O’Neil. John is also part of the core screenwriting faculty at the University of California at Riverside’s Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts, providing not just an insight into how to write screenplays, but how to write screenplays that sell.
Mark Haskell Smith is the author of six novels with one word titles including Moist, Baked, and Blown; and the nonfiction books Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World and Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup. He has written extensively for film and television. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Independent, Vulture and others.
Deanne Stillman has written several books of literary nonfiction and her plays have been produced in festivals around the country. Her latest book is Blood Brothers (Simon Schuster), which received a starred review in Kirkus, won the 2018 Ohioana Book Award for nonfiction, and appears on several “best of the year” lists, including two at the millions. Her other books include Desert Reckoning, based on a Rolling Stone piece, winner of the Spur and LA Press Club awards, an amazon editors pick, recipient of rave reviews in Newsweek and elsewhere, currently under option for film; Twentynine Palms, an LA Times bestseller and “best book of the year” praised by Hunter Thompson, and Mustang, an LA Times “best book of the year,” recipient of rave reviews from the Atlantic to the Economist, now available in audio with Anjelica Huston, Frances Fisher and John Densmore. Her essays have appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, Tin House, the rumpus, Angels Flight – Literary West, Salon, Slate, Orion, High Country News, the LA Review of Books (where she is a columnist), literary hub, and elsewhere, and her work is widely anthologized. She has also written for film and television, including the groundbreaking series “Square Pegs” and “A Different World.” Her play, “Reflections in a D’Back’s Eye,” is a finalist in the 2019 Garry Marshall Theatre New Works Festival and a semi-finalist for the 2019 Blues Ink Playwriting Award from American Blues Theater. “Star Maps” received its West Coast premiere in the Ink Fest series at the Hudson Theatre (LA) in 2016. Additionally, she was a winner of the first announced Amtrak writers residency. She’s a member of the core faculty at the UCR-Palm Desert MFA Low Residency Creative Writing Program. For more, see www.deannestillman.com.
David L. Ulin is the author or editor of ten books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay; The Lost Art of Reading: Books and Resistance in a Troubled Time; and Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Tom and Mary Gallagher Fellowship from Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship. The former book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, he has written for AGNI, The Atlantic Monthly, Black Clock, Columbia Journalism Review, Harper’s, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Zyzzyva, and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. He is editing the Library of America’s collected works of Joan Didion, the first volume of which will be published in October 2019.
Mary Yukari Waters’ fiction has appeared three times in “The Best American Short Stories.” She has also appeared in other anthologies including The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and Zoetrope 2. She is the recipient of an NEA grant, and her work has aired on the BBC and NPR. She has published two books, both with Scribner: the short story collection The Laws of Evening (a Barnes & Noble Discover Award for New Writers selection, Booksense 76 selection, and Kiriyama Prize Notable Book), and a novel, The Favorites. Waters received her M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine. She is a core member of the UC Riverside Palm Desert low residency M.F.A. Creative Writing faculty.
Guest MFA Faculty
Julie M. Albright, PhD, is a sociologist specializing in digital culture and communications. She is a lecturer in the Applied Psychology and Engineering Departments at the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Albright’s research has focused on the growing intersection of technology and social/behavioral systems. She was the co-principal investigator and project lead for the behavioral component of a $121 million smart-grid demonstration project with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the USC Information Sciences Institute, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and UCLA, which was funded by the US Department of Energy. She has also been a research associate with eHarmony. In addition, Dr. Albright has served as a peer reviewer for the National Science Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council, and a variety of professional publications. The author of a number of book chapters and multiple peer-reviewed articles, she has also given talks for major data-center and energy conferences , including SAP for Utilities, IBM Global , DatacenterDynamics, and the Department of Defense. She has appeared as an expert in such national media as the Today show, CNN, NBC Nightly News, CBS, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, NPR, and many others.
Stacy Bodus received her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside/Palm Desert. She teaches Rhetoric & Writing, Creative Writing, Children’s Literature, and Liberal Studies at San Diego State University, Imperial Valley. She taught memoir to inmates at Calipatria State Prison for the Prison Education Project and is finishing up on her teaching credential with a view to teach in the prison system on a regular basis, then she plans to pursue a PhD. She has been named Outstanding Part-Time Faculty by the Associated Students Council two years in a row, and has coordinated and directed two conferences for future teachers. She is always on the look-out for authors whose books could fit into course objectives for any of her courses, and has hosted several UCRPDMFA graduates as (paid) speakers on the SDSU-IV campus. If you’re interested in being a speaker on the Calexico campus (2 hours south of Palm Springs), feel free to connect with her.
JoAnn Chaney is a graduate of UC Riverside’s Low Residency MFA program. She lives in Colorado with her family. She is the author of What You Don’t Know, which was longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award and was one of BookRiot’s Best Mysteries of the Year, and As Long As We Both Shall Live, a New York Times Editor’s Pick, named One of the Best Winter Thrillers from The New York Times Book Review, a CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019, and hailed by People as “deliciously demented.”
Steve Conrad is the Executive Producer and director of Patriot on Amazon and Perpetual Grace Ltd. on Epix. Previously, he wrote The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,
Natashia Deon is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel, Grace (Counterpoint Press)—which was awarded the 2017 First Novel Prize by the American Library Association’s Black Caucus (BCALA). The novel was named a Kirkus Review Best Book of 2016, a New York Times Top Book 2016, a Book Riot Favorite Book of 2016, The Root Best Book of 2016, and Entropy Magazine Best Book of 2016. Author Caroline Leavitt describes Grace as “exploring a teeming, post-Civil War world where the emancipation of slaves can be anything but freedom.”, and the Kirkus starred review praised it thus: “[T]his is a brave story, necessary and poignant; it is a story that demands to be heard. This is the violent, terrifying world of the antebellum South, where African-American women were prey and their babies sold like livestock. This is the story of mothers and daughters—of violence, absence, love, and legacies.” In the novel, Naomi, the narrator — the specter of a dead slave — watches over her child as she grows amid the turmoil surrounding the Civil War. At one point, Naomi’s ghostly presence is felt in the land of the living, where a character says to the wraith, “There’s no justice. Only grace.” (LA Times). A UCLA creative writing professor, mother of two, Deón is creator of two popular L.A.-based reading series: Dirty Laundry Lit, a non-profit that focuses on introducing people to literature, and The Table. In 2017, she was a US Delegate to Armenia as part of the U.S. Embassy’s reconciliation project between Turkey and Armenia, in partnership with the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. A practicing attorney and law professor, Deón speaks to and for an abolition of the prison industrial complex—what she terms warehouses of people—through the reduction of prisons and penalties for crime. She is for rehabilitation — “real rehabilitation” — especially for those serving life sentences or have been sentenced to death. Her primary focus is drug offense sentencing reduction and rights restoration. Deón says, “My work is not primarily legislative or policy driven. My function as a lawyer is boots on the ground.” She birthed a 501c3 non-profit called REDEEMED the focus of which is to create a hub of services and relief for those who have been incarcerated or have been convicted of crimes. In 2018, Deón created the Drunk Girls Bible Study podcast, promoted as “A real talk Christian podcast about the Word. (And we’ll try not to say bad words).” Deón is the recipient of a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship, and has been awarded fellowships and residencies at Yale, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Prague’s Creative Writing Program, Dickinson House in Belgium, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside-Palm Desert. Her writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, Buzzfeed, LA Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Feminist Wire, Asian American Lit Review, Rattling Wall and other places.
Adam Deutsch is the Editor & Publisher of Cooper Dillon Books, a poetry press. He’s published poets like Jill Alexander Essbaum, Linda Dove, Clay Matthews, the late William Matthews, and more. He lives in San Diego, where he teaches college composition and writing, and has work recently or forthcoming in Arsenic Lobster, Thrush, Spinning Jenny, Ping Pong, and Typo. His latest book of poetry, Carry On, is out now.
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. She has taught in private schools, and at universities including the University of California, Riverside, where she is regular guest faculty.
Kendra Elliot’s 24 books have sold millions of copies, hit the Wall Street Journal top ten bestseller list countless times, and have earned three Daphne du Maurier awards. Her 2017 release, A MERCIFUL DEATH, was a #1 Amazon overall bestseller and has been optioned for TV by Warner Brothers Television and Ellen Degeneres’s A Very Good Production. She is an International Thriller Writers’ finalist and a Romantic Times finalist. She grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her family, three cats, and two Pomeranians. She’s always been fascinated with forensics, refuses to eat anything green, and can’t wait to wear flip flops every day. Her latest book, A Merciful Promise, has just been released.
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, was also 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, 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 LA 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 Community of Writers, Alex serves on the board of California 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. His newest book, Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime, is forthcoming from The Unnamed Press in June, 2019. Beginning in July, he will be the Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at UC Riverside.
Don Handfield is the co-creator of History Channel’s drama series Knightfall and produced The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, and Kill The Messenger, starring two-time Academy-Award nominated actor Jeremy Renner. Don also wrote and directed the Saturn Award-winning film Touchback starring Kurt Russell and Christine Lahti. He has co-created three comic series, including The Rift, which was produced by Steven Spielberg/Amblin Entertainment as an episode for the upcoming Apple reboot of Amazing Stories. His second series, The Mall, was optioned by Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) for development into a TV show. Don was named one of the top new faces of independent film by Filmmaker Magazine and has written screenplays or produced films for Warner Brothers, Sony, DreamWorks, Paramount and Lionsgate, among others.
Rachel Kann is a modern-day mystic: irreverently reverent and exuberantly human. She’s a Write Club Los Angeles champ and resident writer for Hevria. Her poetry has been featured on Morning Becomes Eclectic on NPR and as The Weather on the podcast phenomenon, Welcome to Night Vale. Her poetry and short story collection, 10 For Everything, is available from Orange Ocean Press. Her writing (poetry and fiction) also appears in journals such as Eclipse,Permafrost, Coe Review, Sou’wester, GW Review, Quiddity, and Lalitamba. You can find her work in anthologies including A Poet’s Haggadah, Word Warriors from Seal Press, His Rib from Penmanship Press, and Knocking at the Door from Birch Bench Press. Her work has received accolades from the James Kirkwood Fiction Awards (short story), Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story Awards (micro-fiction), LA Weekly Awards (best supporting actress) Backstage West Garland Awards Critic’s Picks (best supporting actress) and both the audio and video award for the International Slam Idol (poetry). Rachel was invited to perform her poetry at TEDx UCLA and in Flight 18 (where she was the DJ and Dance Captain at 3LD Technology in New York City. Rachel Kann’s latest poetry collection, How to Bless the New Moon, is forthcoming from Ben Yehuda Press (Fall 2019.) She is a 2019 Bruce Geller Memorial WORD Grant Recipient for her poetry film, “The Quickening” and a 2019 Inquiry Fellow through American Jewish University’s Institute for Jewish Creativity. She’s a resident writer for Hevria, where she’s also featured as a performing artist on The Hevria Sessions. She was the 2017 Outstanding Instructor of the Year at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
Stefanie Leder is the Supervising Producer of No Good Nick on Netflix and previously was the co-producer of Faking It on MTV, the story editor of Melissa & Joey, a staff writer on Men at Work, Victorious, and 10 Things I Hate About You, and has sold a number of pilots.
Melinda Leigh is a Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author and a fully recovered banker. A life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Over the next few years, she learned a few things about writing a book. The process was much more fun than analyzing financial statements, and she decided to turn her hobby into a career. Her debut novel, SHE CAN RUN, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. Since then, she has garnered numerous publisher awards, including two Silver Falchions and three Golden Leaf Awards. She is a two-time RITA® Award Finalist and has earned three Daphne du Maurier Award nominations. Melinda’s books have sold over 6.5 million copies. She holds a 2nd degree belt in Kenpo Karate. She’s dabbled in Arnis stick fighting, studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and taught women’s self-defense. She lives near the beach with her family and a small herd of spoiled rescue pets. With such a pleasant life, she has no explanation for the sometimes dark and disturbing nature of her imagination.
Edan Lepucki is the author of the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me and the novels California and Woman No. 17. California debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestsellers List and was a #1 bestseller on the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestsellers lists. California was a fall 2014 selection of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program. Edan and Stephen Colbert are now besties. Woman No. 17 received rave reviews from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications, and was #3 on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List. People Magazine’s books editor Kim Hubbard selected Woman No. 17 for the Book of the Month Club. It was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, PopSugar, and The Maine Edge. Edan created the popular Instagram Mothers Before, and she will edit a book inspired by the project, to be published by Abrams Press in 2020. She is the co-host, with fellow writer Amelia Morris, of the podcast Mom Rage. Edan is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Esquire, Narrative Magazine, The New York Times, The Cut, and McSweeney’s, among others. The Los Angeles Times named her a Face to Watch for 2014. She is contributing editor to The Millions and the founder of Writing Workshops Los Angeles. She is the co-host, with Amelia Morris, of the podcast Mom Rage.
Brian Lipson is a partner in the Los Angeles based literary management company Intellectual Property Group (IPG). Brian specializes in selling the motion picture/television rights of literary material. For 15 years he has represented such notable authors as Stephen E. Ambrose, Jared Diamond, Eric Garcia, Joe Lansdale, Brad Meltzer, Joyce Carol Oates, Rex Pickett and Mark Haskell Smith. Brian also represents the literary estates of Mark Twain and Jim Thompson. Some of the motion picture and television projects he sold include Band of Brothers, Boardwalk Empire, Ike: Countdown to D-Day, Sideways, Matchstick Men, Repo Men, Pain & Gain and The Departed. Additionally, Brian also markets non-fiction books to publishers. Some of the authors he has sold books for include Stephen Ambrose, Hugh Ambrose, the Osbournes, Alexandra Pelosi, Amber Tamblyn, Sacha Baron Cohen, Sharon Rocha (Laci Peterson’s mother), Scout Productions (the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), Aisha Tyler, Bob Newhart, Burt Bacharach and Roger Ebert. Prior to joining IPG, Brian ran the book division at Endeavor from 1999 until the merger with the William Morris Agency in 2009. Before Endeavor, Brian was an agent and assistant at the Renaissance Agency, where he trained under his current partner, Joel Gotler.
Sara Marchant received her MFA 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, The Coachella Review, Writers Resist, East Jasmine Review, ROAR, and Desert Magazine. Her work has been anthologized in All the Women in My Family Sing, and by Running Wild Press. Her novella, The Driveway Has Two Sides, was published by Fairlight Books. Her memoir, Proof of Loss, was published by Otis Books. Long ago and far away, she worked at The San Diego Natural History Museum in their Bi-national Education Department utilizing her BA in Latin American History. In her spare time she teaches Critical Thinking and Writing at Mt. San Jacinto College to the new generation that she hopes will someday save our society from its nihilistic impulses. She lives in the high desert of Southern California with her husband, two dogs, two horses, a goat, and five chickens. Sara is a founding editor of Writers Resist. Follow her on Instagram @the_sara_marchant
Leon Martell is an educator, writer, actor, director and co-founder of the Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater. This production troupe has performed live on stages across the country, National Public Radio, PBS and FOX Network. As a writer, he has written numerous award-winning plays, including Hoss Drawin, STEEL – John Henry and the Shaker and Bea[u]tiful in the Extreme. He has also written for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Concert Series and for the Summer Sounds Series at the Hollywood Bowl. As an actor, Leon has worked with numerous renowned actors in both American and Italian films. As a director, Leon’s eclectic work ranges from new plays to new opera. With Overtone Industries, Leon directed, String of Pearls, in concert at Carnegie Hall and the magic extravaganza, Steve Wyrick: Magic to the Extreme, for the Sahara casino in Las Vegas. He holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and teaches creative writing at the Writers’ Program at UCLA, where he was named Outstanding Instructor of the Year.
Michael Scott Moore is a journalist and a novelist, author of a comic novel about L.A., Too Much of Nothing, as well as a travel book about surfing, Sweetness and Blood, which was named a best book of 2010 by The Economist. He’s won Fulbright, Logan, and Pulitzer Center grants for his nonfiction; Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellowships for his fiction. He grew up in California, but worked for several years as an editor and writer at Spiegel Online International in Berlin. Mr. Moore was kidnapped in early 2012 on a reporting trip to Somalia and held hostage by pirates for 32 months. The Desert and the Sea, a memoir about that ordeal, is out now from HarperCollins. He’s covered the European migration crisis for Businessweek, and politics, travel, and literature for The Atlantic, Der Spiegel, The New Republic, Pacific Standard, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Daily Beast, and The L.A. Review of Books.
Bonnie Nadell is the president of the Hill Nadell Literary Agency in Los Angeles. Her nonfiction books include works on current affairs and food as well as memoirs and other narrative nonfiction. In fiction, she represents thrillers along with upmarket women’s and literary fiction. Nadell has taught or spoken at a number of universities and writer’s conferences, including the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, the LA Times Festival of Books, the Mayborn Conference on Literary Nonfiction, Tin House at Reed College, Antioch University, UCLA, USC’s Masters of Professional Writing Program, and the UC Riverside MFA program in Creative Writing. Her agency’s clients include David Foster Wallace, Richard North Patterson, Natashia Deon, Maggie Downs, Evan Wright, David Ulin, Barbara Boxer, and many more.
Dan Smetanka is the Editor-in-Chief of Counterpoint Press. He has worked in the publishing industry for 25 years. As an executive editor at Ballantine/Random House Inc., he acquired award-winning books including The Speed of Light by Elizabeth Rosner, Down to the Soundless Sea by Thomas Steinbeck, and Among the Missing by Dan Chaon, a 2001 finalist for the National Book Award. At Counterpoint, he acquires both fiction and nonfiction, and his projects include works by Dana Johnson, Abby Geni, Tod Goldberg, Natashia Deón, Jared Yates Sexton, Cristina Garcia, Joan Silber, and Karen E. Bender, Gina Frangello, Elizabeth Crane, Wally Lamb, Maggie Downs and many more. His books have won or have been the finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the NAACP Image Award, the Story Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Hammett Prize, the Dublin IMPAC, and countless others.
Kurtwood Smith is an acclaimed television and film actor, most noted for spending eight seasons as the the widely popular Red Foreman on That 70’s Show and playing the memorable Clarence Boddicker in Robocop. He currently stars in the Epix series Perpetual Grace, Ltd. and most recently seen as a regular on Amazon’s Patriot and ABC’s Resurrection. Notable television appearances include long-recurring arcs on Agent Carter and 24, and lead guest roles in Medium, House, X-Files, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Star Trek: Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and Picket Fences. Kurtwood was also nominated for a Cable Ace Award for Best Supporting Actor for the mini-series Nightmare Years. Besides Robocop, Smith has been featured in such successful films as the Academy Award Winning Dead Poet’s Society and Girl, Interrupted, as well as Cedar Rapids, Hitchcock, Deep Impact, Citizen Ruth, A Time to Kill, Broken Arrow, To Die For, Fortress, The Crush, Boxing Helena, and True Believer. Smith starred in the Oscar nominated short film 12:01 P.M. about a man caught in a time warp. Smith holds a MFA in drama from Stanford University. Theater credits include South Coast Repertory, Williamstown Theatre Festival, New York Stage and Film, Los Angeles Actors Theatre, California Actors Theatre, and California Shakespeare Festival and is currently an ensemble member of the classical theater company, Antaeus Theatre Company. Kurtwood resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Joan. He is a proud father and grandfather of two children and two grandchildren.
Olivia Taylor Smith is the Executive Editor of Unnamed Press. Her acclaimed authors include Gallagher Lawson, Debbie Graber, Cate Dicharry, Meghan Tifft, David Ulin, Alex Espinoza, and many others.
Oscar Villalon is the managing editor of ZYZZYVA. His reviews, essays, and interviews have been published in VQR, Zocalo, The Believer, Lit Hub, The Daily Beast, and many other publications. A former board member of the National Book Critics Circle, and past book editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, he lives with his wife and son in San Francisco.
Lilliana Winkworth is a proud alum of the Palm Desert program where she received her MFA in Screenwriting. She is a current member of The Second City’s National Touring Company, performing on the Mainstage in Chicago and travelling to any town that needs a laugh. She is the co-creator of the web series Kill Me and is part of the comedy sketch writing duo Todd’s Friend Todd, creating original content for the iO Comedy Network. Lilliana has studied improvisation and sketch comedy at The Second City (Chicago, LA), iO Theater (Chicago), and The Groundlings Theater (LA).
Kimi Yoshino is the Senior Deputy Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Times. As Los Angeles Times senior deputy managing editor, Kimi Yoshino oversees sports, business, arts, entertainment and lifestyle coverage. Yoshino served as Business editor for four years, following a distinguished turn as an assistant editor in Metro. Prior to becoming an editor, she was a reporter for the Metro and Business sections, and did two rotations reporting from Baghdad. Yoshino was one of the primary editors helping guide the paper’s investigation into corruption in the city of Bell, which won the Pulitzer Gold Medal for Public Service in 2011. Under her tenure as Business editor, the section twice received top general excellence honors from the Society of Business Editors and Writers. Before joining The Times in 2000, Yoshino worked as a reporter at the Stockton Record and Fresno Bee. She grew up in Modesto and attended the University of California at Davis.
Matthew Zapruder is Writer-in-Residence. He was born in Washington, DC. in 1967. He earned a BA in Russian literature at Amherst College, an MA in Slavic languages and literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he studied with Dara Wier, James Tate, and Agha Shahid Ali. Zapruder is the author most recently of Sun Bear, Copper Canyon, 2014, and Why Poetry, a book of prose about poetry, Ecco/Harper Collins, 2017. An Associate Professor in the MFA at Saint Mary’s College of California, he is also editor at large at Wave Books, and from 2016-7 held the annually rotating position of Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Oakland, California. He also plays lead guitar in the rock band The Figments, a Western Massachusetts based band led by songwriter Thane Thomsen. Zapruder’s other collections of poetry include Come On All You Ghosts (2010), The Pajamaist (2006), and American Linden (2002). He collaborated with painter Chris Uphues on For You in Full Bloom (2009) and co-translated, with historian Radu Ioanid, Romanian poet Eugen Jebeleanu’s last collection, Secret Weapon: Selected Late Poems (Coffee House, 2008). Come on All You Ghosts was selected as one of the year’s top 5 poetry books by Publishers Weekly, the 2010 Booklist Editors’ Choice for poetry, the 2010 Northern California Independent Booksellers Association poetry book of the year, and as one of the New York Times’s 100 Notable Books of 2011. His second collection, The Pajamaist, was selected by Tony Hoagland as the winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and was chosen by Library Journal as one of the top ten poetry volumes of 2006. His first book, American Linden, was the winner of the Tupelo Press Editors Prize, and was published by Tupelo in 2002. German and Slovenian language editions of his poems have been published by Luxbooks and Serpa Editions; in 2009, Luxbooks also published a separate German language graphic novel version of the poem “The Pajamaist.” A collaborative book with painter Chris Uphues, For You in Full Bloom, was published by Pilot Press in 2009. His poems, essays and translations have appeared in many publications, including Open City, Bomb, Slate, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Tin House, Harvard Review, Paris Review, The New Republic, The Boston Review, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Believer, Real Simple, and The Los Angeles Times. His work has also appeared in many anthologies, including Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll; Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century; Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, Politics, Sex, and Everything; and Best American Poetry 2009, 2013, and 2017. His awards include a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship in Marfa, TX, and the May Sarton prize from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has taught at New York University, The New School, the University of Houston, and at the University of California at Berkeley as the 2010 Holloway Lecturer in the Practice of Poetry. With Brian Henry, Zapruder co-founded Verse Press, which later became Wave Books. As an editor for Wave Books, Zapruder co-edited, with Joshua Beckman, the political poetry anthology State of the Union: 50 Political Poems (2008). He was the editor of Tyehimba Jess’s 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning volume of poetry, Olio. His next book, Father’s Day, will be out this fall.