All workshops and events will take place at the conference hotel, the Wyndham Irvine, located at 17941 Von Karman Avenue, Irvine, CA 92614. Workshops summaries can be found on the Workshops and Events page, and within the working Workshops and Events page, and within the working Schedule (when it becomes available).
Staffers conducting optional Advance Submission Critique, followed by one-on-one consultation, are indicated beneath their respective bio. The deadline to submit material is August 31, 2016.
Special Guest Speakers
LISA BRACKMANN‘s debut novel Rock Paper Tiger, set on the fringes of the Chinese art world, made several “Best of 2010” lists, including Amazon’s Top 100 books and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers, and was a New York Times best seller. Her second novel, Getaway, a thriller that unfolds in Mexico, was chosen as an ALA Summer Reading Pick and was a finalist for SCIBA’s T. Jefferson Parker Award. Two more thrillers followed featuring her Rock Paper Tiger heroine, Ellie McEnroe, an Iraq War vet living in Beijing. Hour of the Rat was shortlisted for Left Coast Crime’s Calamari (international mystery) award and nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Audio Book. And Dragon Day was named a Seattle Times Best Mystery of 2015. Of her latest standalone, Go-Between, Publishers Weekly declares, “The edgy plot never lets up, touching on the war on drugs, for-profit prisons, and nefarious nonprofits.”
MATTHEW QUIRK is the author of three novels. The 500, his debut thriller which became a national bestseller in 2012, is currently in development as a major motion picture. Booklist called its follow up, The Directive, “[A] nonstop, heart-pounding ride in which moral blacks and whites turn gray in ‘the efficient alignment of power and interests’ that is big-time politics.” Of his latest, Cold Barrel Zero (Mulholland Books), Kirkus declares, “The story is expertly stripped down, the action relentless, and the characters multilayered.” While in a starred boxed review Publishers Weekly concluded, “Quirk goes flat-out explosive in this superior military adventure novel … There’s plenty of cool cutting-edge technology, but in the end it comes down to action, and the riveting battle scenes are among the best in the business.” A graduate of Harvard College, Matthew joined The Atlantic magazine and spent five years reporting on a variety of subjects including crime, private military contractors, the opium trade, terrorism prosecutions, and international gangs.
GWENDOLYN WOMACK is the author of The Memory Painter, here enchanting debut novel exploring love and reincarnation. In a starred review, Library Journal declares, “It’s best not to try to analyze the ambitious plot of this thriller, which combines romance, fantasy, and adventure; just hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” “Well-drawn historical flashbacks, engaging characters, and a twisty ending make this thrilling blend of neuroscience, romance, and ancient worlds good bets for Da Vinci Code and Outlander fans,” affirms Booklist. And from Kirkus Reviews: “Womack makes a romantic case for the existence of destiny … and does a beautiful job … Dive into this sweeping, romantic journey that will leave you breathless and a little unsure of where in time you’ve landed.” (One of the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Reads of the Month).
Authors & Industry Experts
AS OF 6/23/16: MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED
WES ALBERS is Director of the Southern California Writers’ Conference. For more than a decade he has helped to facilitate over $4 million worth of first time book and movie deals for emerging authors through the SCWC and his personal contacts. His own writing draws from over twenty years in the San Diego Police Department, first as a patrolman, then sergeant. He now serves as Detective Sergeant in charge of Border Investigations, as well as Staff Sergeant supervising the Emergency Negotiations Team, a hybrid team of hostage negotiators from the SDPD, the FBI, and NCIS. Of his debut novel, Black and White (ZOVA Books), New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds (The Book of Spies) hails, “Gritty and rewarding … A top-notch cop novel. Watch out, Joseph Wambaugh!”
- SESSIONS: “How to Make the Most of the Conference,” No-Host Mixer, Introductions
GAYLE CARLINE began life as a software engineer until she chewed her way out of the cubicle to become a storyteller. In addition to writing a humor column for her local Orange County newspaper, she is the author of the fun and entertaining Peri Minneopa Mysteries, including Freezer Burn, Hit or Missus, The Hot Mess, and Clean Sweep, featuring a housecleaner-turned-detective living in the OC. Her recent releases are the stand-alone From the Horse’s Mouth: One Lucky Memoir, and the first of a new equine-themed murder-mystery series, Murder on the Hoof. A More Deadly Union, featuring housecleaner-turned-detective Peri Minneopa, is out June.
- SESSIONS: TBA
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Fiction, mystery, humor, columns; first 15 pages (or multiple columns up to 15 pages), cover letter
MICHAEL STEVEN GREGORY, Executive Director of the Southern California Writers’ Conference, is an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter. He has scripted network series, directed television and features, and been involved as a writer, producer or director in over 150 short films. His longform projects include the doculogues We, The Writer and We, The Screenwriter, the romantic-comedy A Valentine Carol, and groundbreaking Don King Presents: Prizefighter, for 2K Games. His books include Disc Golf: All You Need to Know about the Game You Want to Play, which remains a bestseller over a decade after publication. Michael is also the owner of AuthorEdge, a transmedia content producer for publishers. He was recognized as Man of the Year from San Diego Writer’s Monthly, and is a recipient of the Odin Award for Lifetime Achievement from the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild.
- SESSIONS: No-Host Mixer, Introductions
ARA GRIGORIAN is a technology executive in the entertainment industry who helps firms and individuals leverage strategy, leadership, and technology to produce extraordinary results with lasting value. He earned his Masters in Business Administration form University of Southern California where he specialized in marketing and entrepreneurship. True to the Hollywood life, Ara wrote for a children’s television pilot that could have made him rich (but didn’t) and sold a video game to a major publisher (who closed shop days later). Fascinated by the human species, Ara writes about choices, relationships, and second chances. Always a sucker for a hopeful ending, he writes contemporary romance stories. Ara is an alumnus of both the Southern California Writers’ Conference and the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. His debut novel, Game of Love (Curiosity Quills Press), won the 2015 Readers Favorite International Book Awards Gold in Sports Fiction.
- SESSIONS: Novel Intensive: “Concept and Genre,” “Structure and Beats,” “Opening, Act II, Midpoint, Act III, Closing” “Dialogue, Character, Theme, Arc,” “Story Lab: Applying Novel Immersion Concepts to Your Work” (all with Janis Thomas)
MELANIE HOOKS is a recent graduate ‘With Distinction’ of UCLA Extension’s TV Writing Program, Melanie Hooks first dipped her toe into Read & Critiques over ten years ago at her first SCWC San Diego. As an English teacher, she thought herself prepared, but discovered firsthand the terrors that can await the fragile writer ego. She’s happy to share her ‘id’ survival tricks – and all her distinguished, unfunded script pitches if you sit still too long over coffee… you’ve been warned.
- SESSIONS: “Read, Critique & Live to Write Another Day” (with Laura Perkins) and Rogue Read & Critique: SciFi/Fantasy (with Laura Perkins)
PAULA MARGULIES is the owner of Paula Margulies Communications, a public relations firm for authors and artists. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned her master’s degree in Language Arts and Literature, Paula also holds degrees in marketing communications and education. She specializes in all aspects of marketing and publicity, including writing press releases and creating media kits, setting up speaking and reading appearances, conducting blog tours, garnering book reviews, and setting up print, radio, and television interviews. Paula is also the author of award-winning novels, short stories, and essays, so she understands the business of writing firsthand. Her latest release is The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion.
- SESSIONS: “The Tao of Book Publicity: Book Promotion Strategies that Work!”
OZ MONROE is the author of Soil-Man, Book 1 of the Symphony dark fantasy series, recently awarded the Gold in Horror Fiction by the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards. In it, a grieving husband must confront his disbelief in religion during a desperate race to reclaim the soul of his wife, murdered before him by what appears to be a dark angel. Award-winning horror author Mark Clements (Lorelei, The Land of Nod) calls the debut novel, “[A] rare combination of fine (sometimes incandescent) writing, high-speed action, violence, gore, humor, erudition and philosophical point-scoring.” Jennifer Silva Redmond (Editor, Sea of Cortez Review) proclaims it, “righteous in every sense of the word. Not for faint hearts or weak stomachs, Soil-Man will appeal to strong-willed, clear-eyed seekers of truth–if they’re out there.” An active member of MENSA and a passionate proponent of Humanism and critical thinking, Oz is currently at work on the second book in his series.
- SESSIONS: “The Science of Storytelling: How Neuroscience Can Help Us Tell Better Stories”
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Science-fiction, fantasy; first 15 pages double-spaced
LAURA PERKINS has penned five young adult fantasy novels and serves as a freelance editor and writing coach. She has an extensive background in facilitating groups as well as conducting personal feedback sessions, assisting clients with motivation issues, goal setting and strength assessment. She brings first-hand knowledge and experience in many areas writers often use as their story worlds, including the Criminal Justice Department, probation, psychiatric facilities, wilderness programs, adventure sports, middle schools and high schools – internationally and in the states. She has lived in Europe and South America and traveled extensively internationally and domestically. While her passion is fantasy, young adult, character driven fiction and sci-fi, she works with many different genres and loves the offbeat and out of the ordinary.
- SESSIONS: “Read, Critique & Live to Write Another Day” (with Hooks) and Rogue Read & Critique: SciFi/Fantasy (with Melanie Hooks)
JANIS THOMAS is the author of Something New, her laugh-out-loud debut novel published by Berkley Books in 2012. Of it, Sally Koslow (The Late, Lamented Molly Marx) effused, “[S]pot-on in capturing how it feels to be an upper-middle class suburban mom who longs for…something more. She writes with sparkle and humor.” Her equally funny follow-up, Sweet Nothings, was released July of 2013 and called “A breezy read” by Publishers Weekly. Say Never followed. Her equally next novel, Sweet Nothings, was released July of 2013 and called “A breezy read” by Publishers Weekly. Her next, Say Never, followed. Now, eschewing legacy publishing, in a departure from the chick-lit genre she’s best known for, Janis’ latest is a a crime thriller called Murder in A-minor, the first in her Sam Wedlock Musical Murder Mystery series. Janis has also written over fifty songs and two children’s books (with her dad).
- SESSIONS: Novel Intensive: “Concept and Genre,” “Structure and Beats,” “Opening, Act II, Midpoint, Act III, Closing” “Dialogue, Character, Theme, Arc,” “Story Lab: Applying Novel Immersion Concepts to Your Work” (all with Ara Grigorian)
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Commercial and women’s fiction, romance, first 15 pages double-spaced; cover letter
CLAUDIA WHITSITT is an award-winning author and retired special education teacher. Her debut novel, The Wrong Guy, was published by Echelon press to raves. The plot was based on personal experiences, having attended Eastern Michigan University on the heels of the serial murder of seven college coeds, dubbed “the Michigan Murders” by the media. Her experiences with identity theft and stalking also led her to write Identity Issues, which she published as her second novel, the first in Claudia’s popular Samantha Series. Intimacy Issues followed and Internal Issues and Inherited Issues are the most recent. The Wrong Guy has also been re-released independently, officially establishing Claudia as a full-on indie author-publisher. Her latest novel is Beyond the Lines, the second in her Kids Like You series, which kicked off with Between the Lines, telling the story of three girls who become friends during the racially-charged aftermath of the 1967 Detroit Riots.
- SESSIONS: TBA
MARALYS WILLS is the author of a dozen published books in a variety of genres, including the techno-thriller Scatterpath, of which The New York Times said, “Her cockpit sequences all but put the reader at the controls,” and four romance novels. Her nonfiction includes the critically lauded Higher Than Eagles: The Tragedy and Triumph of an American Family, which chronicles the loss of two of her sons and has been optioned for film five times, and Save My Son: A Mother and a Sheriff Unite to Reclaim the Lives of Addicted Offenders (with Michael Carona). Maralys’s other titles include A Clown in the Trunk, a sequel of sorts to her light-hearted memoir, A Circus Without Elephants, and Damn the Rejections: Full Speed Ahead. Prevent, Survive, Thrive: Every Woman’s Guide to Optimal Breast Care, written with Dr. John West, is out October in hardcover from BenBella Publishers.
- SESSIONS: TBA
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Mainstream, literary and historical fiction; memoir and narrative non-fiction; first 15 pages double-spaced, cover letter
Agents & Editors
AS OF 6/23/16
MARISA A. CORVISIERO, Esq. is the founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency and its senior literary agent. During the few years prior to starting her own agency, Marisa worked with the L. Perkins Agency, where she learned invaluable lessons and made a name for herself in the industry. She is also a Literary Consultant and an Attorney practicing law in New York, She belongs to the New York City Bar Association, New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Marisa seeks creative stories with well developed plots and rich characters with unique voices.
- STATE OF THE AGENT PANEL
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Adult, new adult, and young adult fiction of romance, thriller, adventure, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, and Christmas themes (or any combination thereof); for middle grade, unique concepts in fantasy, adventure and science fiction; picture books (illustrations not needed) with unique voices and special messages; Non-fiction: out of the box and high concept spiritual, self-improvement, parenting, science, and business; first 10 pages, cover letter
STACEY DONAGHY founded Donaghy Literary Group in 2013 and to date has sold a total of 9 six figure deals, as well as many other sales in a number of genre areas. Her client projects have been sold to a variety of Publishing Houses such as: Harpercollins, Simon and Schuster, Hachette Book Group USA, Sourcebooks, Kensington, Curiosity Quills Press and others. DLG represents NY Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestselling Authors, as well as Authors who have been nominated or have won awards for various works.
- STATE OF THE AGENT PANEL
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Romantic suspense, contemporary romance, thriller, mystery, diverse books that highlight different cultures or LGBTQ subject matter, as well as young adult and middle grade with quirky and memorable characters; first 10 pages, cover letter
JEAN JENKINS is a freelance editor (MsRewrite.com) and consultant to writers. She has successfully shepherded to print genre and mainstream novels with major publishers and small independents, as well as editing/advising self- and e-published writers. Clients include writers, both foreign and domestic. Her specialty is teaching craft and what works in the marketplace as she helps writers polish their material. Several books on which she has consulted are in the pipeline and nearing publication with major houses. Calling upon her varied life experiences and over twenty years of editorial consulting, she is equally at home editing spy thrillers, cozies, suspense, women’s issues, mainstream, or any bloody good story. It might be said, the bloodier, the better.
- SESSIONS: “Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress” (1 & 2), and TBA
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Mystery, suspense, thriller, police procedural; narrative non-fiction; first 15 pages, double-spaced, cover letter
JILL MARR is an agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, one of the most respected literary agencies in the U.S. Representing an impressive and eclectic client roster, SDLA has helped guide the illustrious careers of many best selling authors in several genres, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, Lisa See and Diane Mott Davidson and on the non-fiction side, Peter Irons, David Landes, Mike Davis, Chalmers Johnson and Susan Faludi, among others.
- STATE OF THE AGENT PANEL
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Commercial, women’s, multi-cultural and historic fiction, mysteries and thrillers; in non-fiction, self-help, inspirational, memoir, parenting, history, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor and music; first 10 pages, cover letter
MARLA MILLER is an author and freelance editor. She wrote for the OC Register’s lifestyle magazine for 16 years before becoming founding editor-in-chief of an O.C. coastal lifestyle magazine. Her first book, All American Girls, the only authorized biography of the iconic World Cup/Gold Medal winning U.S Women’s National Soccer Team, was published by Simon & Schuster, and her sports oriented columns appeared in Oxygen.com. Marla launched MarketingtheMuse Workshops in 2003, motivated by her recognition that most traditionally published authors receive little help from “big house” marketing departments. Her experience in the entrepreneurial author movement includes “with author” bylines for two indie books, The Booty Bible and Decode the Black Box of Group Health Insurance, along with her own Days Gone By and first e-novel, Deadly Little Secrets. MarlaMiller.com is a resource center for writers with emphasis on marketing information in publishing/epublishing.
- SESSIONS: “Pitch Witches: Query Letter Critique” and “Pitch Witches: What’s Your Book About?” (with Jennifer Silva Redmond), ” Rogue Read & Critique: “Cold Openings: Your First Five Pages”
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Fiction; narrative and prescriptive non-fiction; columns (Note: anything emphasizing medicine or psychology, Marla’s your reader); first 15 pages, cover letter
VALERIE NOBLE is an agent in search of fresh new voices for Donaghy Literary Group. She loves science fiction and fantasy (think Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins) but reads everything under the sun. For her, it’s more about the writing and less about the genre. In saying that, Valerie is generally not interested in romance or paranormal.
- STATE OF THE AGENT PANEL
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Young adult and new adult fiction in the following categories: science fiction, fantasy, historical fantasy; first 10 pages, cover letter
MATTHEW J. PALLAMARY is an author of several fiction and nonfiction books. His first, The Small Dark Room of the Soul, a collection of short stories, was mentioned in The Year’s Best Horror and Fantasy. His historical novel Land Without Evil received rave reviews along with a San Diego Book Award. Spirit Matters, a memoir, took first place in the San Diego Book Awards Spiritual Book Category, and was an Award-Winning Finalist in the National Best Book Awards. He frequently visits the jungles, mountains, and deserts of North, Central, and South America pursuing his studies of shamanism and ancient cultures. He has taught a fiction workshop at the Southern California Writers’ Conference and the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference for over twenty years and is Editor-in-Chief of Muse Harbor Publishing. His latest titles include a novel, Eye of the Predator, and nonfiction Phantastic Fiction: A Shamanic Approach to Story.
- SESSIONS: “First Sight: Using Images to Evoke Emotion,” “Transformative Narrative: A Shamanic Approach to Story” and Rogue Read & Critique (All-Genre)
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Horror, fantasy, transformative fiction; memoir, biography; first 15 pages double-spaced
KELLY PETERSON is a junior agent with Corvisiero Literary who is aggressively looking to build her client list. A graduate of West Chester University her B.S.Ed. in English, she finds that “there’s just something about strong female main characters holding their own against the world, in an environment that Kelly could never, in her wildest dreams, find herself living within. It tears at her heart and pulls at her soul, especially when the main character finds that she never needed another to complete her in the first place.”
- STATE OF THE AGENT PANEL
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Adult fantasy,Kel romance; Middle-grade fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi; YA fantasy (all sub-genres); New Adult fantasy, historical, romance; first 10 pages, cover letter
JENNIFER SILVA REDMOND spent more than a decade as editor-in-chief/acquisitions editor at Sunbelt Publications before becoming a freelance publishing consultant and editor. On the staff of the Southern California Writers Conference and San Diego Writers, Ink, she was also prose editor for A Year in Ink Vol 3, and co-founder of the Sea of Cortez Review. Her essays, articles, and short fiction have been published in various anthologies, such as Latinos in Lotusland, and national magazines. She is always looking for “great new stuff” and has a wide circle of agents, editors, and publishers with whom to share marketable fiction and non-fiction. More information, a short list of edited titles, and client testimonials can be found at www.jennyredbug.com.
- SESSIONS: “Pitch Witches: Query Letter Critique” and “Pitch Witches: What’s Your Book About?” (with Marla Miller) and TBA
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, short stories; first 15 pages double-spaced, cover letter
LAURA TAYLOR is an author and freelance editor, whose work has received endorsements from Pat Conroy, W.E.B. Griffin, and Stephen King. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her writing, including 6 Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement, Reviewer’s Choice, and Career Achievement Awards, 2 Maggie Awards from GRW/RWA, 2 Golden Heart Finalist Awards (RWA), an RWA RITA Finalist Award, and a Golden Rose Award from the Gold Coast Chapter of RWA. Having sold over a million books in print, an additional 550,000 digital editions have been downloaded by e-book readers. Her novels feature sassy, strong-willed heroines and determined alpha male heroes. Her romance e-books include: Desert Rose, Midnight Storm, Heartbreaker, More Than Friends, Fallen Angel, Wilder’s Woman, Warrior Series Boxed Set, Moment By Moment, The Christmas Gift, Anticipation, Seduction, Surrender, Sublime, and the Love at the Beach Boxed Set.
- SESSIONS: “Indie Excellence: Glocalization and the Key to Survival” and Rogue Read & Critique
- ADVANCE SUBMISSION CRITIQUE: Mainstream, historical and genre fiction, romance; first 15 pages double-spaced, cover letter
JENNY D. WILLIAMS‘ stories, essays, poems, photographs, and illustrations have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Elephant Journal, Orange County Register, Huffington Post, The Sun Magazine, Vela, New World Writing, Prick of the Spindle, and Matador. Her work has been anthologized in The Best Online Science Fiction and Fantasy; Battle Runes: Writings on War; and The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009. In addition to being a freelance editor, she’s also been the news editor for Ethical Traveler, director of the Glimpse Graduate Program in Travel Journalism at MatadorU, and for a brief but glorious period, an extra in Bollywood. Jenny has an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. Her debut novel, The Atlas of Forgotten Places, will be published by Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press in 2017.