Summer Writing Institute Gets Rave Reviews

Ron_Carlson_webThe weeklong Antioch Summer Writing Institute was capped off by a lively reading on Friday night, August 2, by special guest author Ron Carlson, bestselling novelist and short story writer (The Signal and Five Skies), who is also Director of the Graduate Program in Fiction at the University of California, Irvine.

Earlier that afternoon a demonstration of Masterwriter 2.0 creative writing software was presented by company representative Barry DeVorzon.

Marcia-Gail-Robin_webAfter participants completed their final 3-hour intensive workshop on Saturday morning with faculty Gail Tsukiyama (fiction), Diana Raab (nonfiction–memoir), Maureen Murdock (nonfiction–memoir), Maria Streshinsky (long-form nonfiction), and Robin Swicord (screenwriting), they couldn’t praise the SWI program highly enough at the event’s closing farewell luncheon.

Here is a sampling of their enthusiastic reviews:

SWI2013-Participant2“I’ve been writing for a long time, and this was so inspirational to me; I am really happy that I chose to participate in the Antioch Summer Writing Institute.”

 “Of all the writing programs I have taken, this was the very best one! I learned valuable approaches to making my work better that have had an immediate impact on my script.”

SWI2013-Participant1“It was more than just a workshop, it became a remarkable life experience for me that I will always remember.”

Summer Writing Institute Days 4 and 5 – Still Going Strong

The Antioch Summer Writing Institute has continued through the week with participants immersing themselves deeper into their chose genres, and faculty and guest speakers sharing their expertise.

SWI-Cheri-Bill-SteinkellnerWednesday, July 31, proved relatively light, with the regular morning workshops from 9:00 am to noon, followed by free time until that evening’s presentation. “A Night of Playful Improvisation”—led by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, the Emmy® award-winning husband-and-wife writer/producer team of “Cheers” fame—had SWI participants and special guests dynamically interacting through inventive and often-humorous improvisation exercises designed to spark creativity. Enjoyment was the theme of the night, as everyone involved let loose, laughed uproariously and had a great deal of fun!

SWI-PanelThursday afternoon, a New Genres panel discussion explored “Dynamic New Writing Frontiers” with CalBuzz blogger Jerry Roberts, memoirist, blogger, and SWI faculty Maureen Murdock, playwright and webisode writer Mattie Brickman, YA novelist Jennifer Bosworth, moderated with casual flair by Michael Todd, online editor of Pacific Standard magazine. 

 

AUSWI-Anne-Loiuse-BardachAUSWI-Rooftop-CocktailsAfter another “Craft and Cocktails” gathering on AUSB’s Rooftop Patio catered by Book Ends Café, author Ann Louise Bardach (Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington) discussed the challenges she faced transitioning from writing long magazine pieces to full-length nonfiction books. 

Summer Writing Institute Days 2-3 Recap

The first two full days of AUSB’s Summer Writing Institute were filled with joy, creativity, laughter, discovery, camaraderie, enlightenment and many touching moments.

After connecting over a continental breakfast each morning, the participants and faculty headed to their five respective workshops from 9:00am to noon for intensive study in three genres, followed by several hours of free time.

SWI-Jerry-Roberts_Ann-Louise-Bardach,Monday at 4:00pm, a fascinating conversation took place on “Journalism Yesterday and Today” between award-winning journalist and CalBuzz founder Jerry Roberts and Ann Louise Bardach, Daily Beast and New York Times contributor and author of Cuba Confidential and Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington. Attendees got an inside look at what really passes for journalism in this age of newspaper consolidation, shrinking readership, and the Internet.

SWI-Diana-RaabLater that evening, memoir workshop facilitator Diana Raab, poet and author of Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey, read from her work and discussed the life experiences that led her to utilize poetry and memoir writing as a technique for recovering from trauma.

SWI_Lou-Cannon-Anna-LaffertyOn July 30, Tuesday’s evening program began at 4:00pm with a panel discussion, “The Business of Publishing.” Author Ann Louise Bardach, book designer Anna Lafferty, editor and author Marcia Meier (Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World), and moderator Lou Cannon, former Los Angeles Bureau Chief of the Washington Post and award-winning Ronald Reagan biographer contrasted the way things used to be in the publishing world with how they are now, in regards to the digital revolution, the increasing popularity of e-books, the explosion of self-publishing, and more. 

Attendees and faculty gathered afterward on the AUSB Rooftop Patio for “Craft and Cocktails,” mingling in the sunshine and a light breeze over wine, beer, and a tasty assortment of hors d’oeuvres catered by Book Ends Café. On hand was Ramzi Hajj of Storiad to demonstrate the features of this new online writers network.

SWI_Josh_Conviser_Marcia_MeierDay 3 was topped off by an engaging conversation about screenwriting, novel writing, and publishing between SWI director Marcia Meier and screenwriter, mountaineer, and sci-fi thriller novelist (Empyre and Echelon) Josh Conviser. “The thing about screenwriting,” he said, when asked to articulate the difference between Hollywood and the publishing industry, “is that completing a script just marks beginning of a very long process, whereas with a novel, you have a finished product in your hand.”

Day 1 – Antioch’s First Summer Writing Institute Off to a Great Start

MarciaMeier-Gail Tsukyama opening night at SWISunday evening, July 29, the students, faculty, and advisory board of Antioch University Santa Barbara’s first Summer Writing Institute (SWI) were welcomed by Director Marcia Meier, AUSB President Dr. Nancy Leffert, and Board Chair Victoria Riskin for drinks and dinner on the campus’s beautiful rooftop patio.

A delicious Mexican feast was catered by the recently opened on-site café Book Ends, with wine generously donated by Hearst Ranch Winery. Guests also enjoyed hand-scooped McConnell’s ice cream for dessert before heading downstairs to Community Hall for the evening reading by Gail TsSWI-Opening Night Eventukiyama, best-selling author of seven novels, including Women of the Silk, The Samurai’s Garden, and her latest, A Hundred Flowers.

The self-effacing novelist shared humorously about what it takes to research, write, and edit consistently lauded manuscripts, while keeping ideas fresh from one book to the next. She read several excerpts and took questions from the delighted audience. Tsukiyama is leading the Fiction workshop, Finding Your Voice, throughout the week.

Workshops also include two memoir classes, The Essentials of 
 MemoirSWI-Nancy Leffert-Vicki Riskin Writing led by Diana Raab, poet and author of Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey, and Making Meaning From Your Memories: An Intermediate Memoir Workshop led by Maureen Murdock, best-selling author, The Heroine’s Journey, editor of Monday Morning Memoirs: Women in the Second Half of Life and Huffington Post contributor; Long-form Nonfiction led by Maria Streshinsky, 
 Editor in Chief, Pacific Standard magazine and former award-winning managing editor, The Atlantic; and Screenwriting – Developing Your 
Story Intuition led by Robin Swicord, Oscar®-nominated screenwriter, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 
and Memoirs of a Geisha.

The participants accepted to this yeSWI-Welcomear’s SWI are spread evenly across the three main workshop genres—Fiction, Nonfiction, and Screenwriting—and represent a wide range of ages from 17 to 70. Approximately two-thirds traveled to Santa Barbara from such places as Bayside NY, Bethesda MD, Marco Island FL, Swansea, IL, Scottsdale AZ, Humble and Fort Worth TX, and Vashon and Mercer Island, WA.

Antioch’s Summer Writing Institute to Host Readings by Stellar Writers in a Variety of Genres – Apply Today!

Only registered participants of AUSB’s Summer Writing Institute (SWI) will have the envious opportunity to study the craft of writing in a chosen genre with an award-winning author for one entire week, and attend two industry panels on “How to Get Published” and “Breaking Into New Genres.” Writers of all experience and education levels are encouraged to apply by this Saturday, June 15 for priority consideration. You do not need to be affiliated with Antioch to register.

Other special activities at SWI, which will take place from July 28 to August 3, 2013, on AUSB’s beautiful downtown campus, include an opening dinner reception, closing luncheon, and evening readings with both faculty and guest authors, representing a cross-section of the Institute’s four genres: Fiction, Nonfiction, Screenwriting, and Writing for Young People. Scheduled readings include the following authors:

Gail_Tsukiyama_fictionBWSunday, July 28 Reading:
Gail Tsukiyama
, the lyrical, award-winning author of seven novels, including Women of the Silk, The Samurai’s Garden, and A Hundred Flowers, will present the first reading on Sunday, July 28Recognized by the Academy of American Poets Award, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence, and the Asia Pacific Leadership Award from the Center of the Pacific Rim and Ricci Institute, she has taught writing at San Francisco State University, Mills College, and University of California, Berkeley. 

 

RL-LafeversYoung_people_BWTuesday, July 30 Reading:
Tuesday’s featured author on July 30 is Robin “R.L.” LaFevers, who has penned 14 books for young readers, including the Theodosia and Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. Her latest book, Dark Triumph, is the second in a trilogy that started with Grave Mercy, which have both received five-starred reviews. In 2012, Grave Mercy was a Booklist Editor’s Choice and Amazon Best Book of the Year, and was recognized by Kirkus Review, School Library Journal, and Publisher’s Weekly. She also writes a monthly column for WriterUnboxed.com.

 

Cheri-SteinkellnerWednesday, July 31 Reading:
Prepare for an uproarious Night of Improv especially for writers, with producer/screenwriting couple Cheri & Bill Steinkellner on Wednesday, July 31. Together, they are best known as the renowned Emmy® Award-winning team behind the television series Cheers, and also wrote the Tony-nominated book for the musical Sister Act. Separately, they are each highly accomplished in their fields. 

 

Thursday, August 1 Reading:
Ann_Louise_BardachThe next night, Thursday, August 1, will feature a reading by PEN award-winning investigative journalist Ann Louise Bardach, who started the International Journalism class at University of California, Santa Barbara, and has written extensively for numerous publications. She is the author of Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington and Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana, and editor of The Prison Letters of Fidel Castro and Cuba: A Travelers Literary Companion.

 

Ron-Carlson_Credit-Tracy-HallFriday, August 2 Reading:
The final evening, Friday, August 2, will feature a guest reading by Ron Carlson – prize-winning novelist, short story writer, poet, and Director of the Graduate Program in Fiction at the University of California, Irvine. Ron Carlson Writes a Story, his book on writing, is taught widely, his most recent novel is The Signal from Viking, and his book of poems, Room Service, was published by Red Hen in 2012.

SWI participants will study their craft with the same leading author in daily intensive 3-hour workshops, with intimate groups of no more than 10 students. At the end of the week, students will come away with the ability to assess their own writing within that specific genre and the specific skills and techniques necessary to bring it to publishable level.

A first night dinner reception, continental breakfast each morning and a closing luncheon are included in the $975 program cost. Space is limited. Potential participants should apply by the priority application date this Saturday, June 15 to ensure the chance to study with their preferred author and genre.

For a complete list of workshops, full faculty and guest reader profiles, program schedule, and application details, visit www.antiochsb.edu/swi.

Writing Mysteries From the Inside Out

Naomi_Hirahara_fictionNaomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series, which features a Japanese-American gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes.  Nominated also for Macavity and Anthony awards, the novels in the series include Summer of the Big Bachi, Gasa-Gasa Girl, Snakeskin Shamisen, Blood Hina, and Strawberry Yellow, released in March.  Her crime short stories are featured in Los Angeles Noir, Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics, A Hell of a Woman, and The Darker Mask.  She also has an award-winning book for middle-grade readers, 1001 Cranes, and is at work on another novel for the same age group.  Her new series, based on a female LAPD bicycle cop, will launch in 2014. Hirahara, born and raised in Southern California, has led numerous writing workshops, most recently at UCLA for undergraduate students. 
Her website is www.naomihirahara.com.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. I certainly knew at a very young age. I was attempting to write novels during my summer vacations between fourth and fifth grades.  They were all about Ma and Pa and their ten children — as far away from my reality as possible!

Q. What inspires you? 

A. The unexpected.

Strawberry YellowQ. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

AStrawberry Yellow, the fifth novel in my Mas Arai mystery series, takes place in the strawberry fields of Watsonville, California. My amateur sleuth is a Japanese-American gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes.

Q. I’ve heard that writers often bond to their characters. What does it feel like to finish a story and let go of that bond a little? 

A. I miss them. In fact, today someone mentioned Angela, a character in my first middle-grade novel.  I started wondering, what is she doing now, and then I had to stop myself.  She’s not real . . . or is she?

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. Sit down at the computer and notepad and start writing, “I am so blocked.  I don’t know what to write.”  In time, you will start to come up with something.  Sometimes your work is telling you that you are going in the wrong direction.  You have to be sensitive to your work’s voice and turn the steering wheel in the right direction.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. Journalism was my way in.  Journalism, of course, is very different than fiction, but that’s how I was able to deal with various aspects of being publishing: meeting deadlines, dealing with criticism, making public mistakes, recording dialogue, rewriting, investigating crimes, and understanding story arcs.  And also establishing some sort of platform. Journalism is not a viable career as it once was.  Today we have technical writing, copyediting, and online writing.  I wouldn’t count anything out. Experiment to see if you can forge a supplementary income stream in addition to fiction writing.

Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?

A. I am addicted to iced tea. The more exotic, the better.  Also, I write on a ten-year-old laptop, which confounds my husband and other family members.  I have the dumbest phone ever. So those are three things — not very interesting, but a part of my daily life.

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. Mushroom soon tofu (Korean tofu soup).

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. The first installment in my new mystery series featuring a 22-year-old female bicycle cop will be published by Berkley Prime Crime in April 2014.  I’m currently completing a middle-grade steampunk novel and the sixth in my existing Mas Arai mystery series has a pub date in spring 2015, about the same time the second in the bicycle cop series will be released.  So I’m juggling a lot of projects simultaneously!

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. Helping writers develop their ideas and manuscripts to the next level.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. It really depends on what you’re writing as well as your personality and skill sets.  For me, networking with people face-to-face has been invaluable.  I often use social media to maintain those relationships.

Q: Do you have any practices regarding the above question that you have found successful? Any websites you swear by, any online communities that have been helpful, etc.? 

A. I really think that it’s better to meet people in person first.  I would encourage mystery writers to attend conferences like Left Coast Crime or join Sisters in Crime.  Sisters has an online writing group, the Guppies, that some have found helpful.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. I love Anne Lamott’s writing book, Bird by Bird. There she mentions that no one is really going to care about your book like you do. So don’t think that teacher, agent, editor and publisher will come down and whisk you away to success.  We have to continue to do the hard work with every single book.

Q: Can you give us a rough breakdown of the process of writing a novel from the point of conception to having the book published and sitting on bookshelves?

A. My first took me fifteen years!  The second, nine months.  I wrote the first in my new mystery series in four months, but it won’t be on bookshelves for another year.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you that we haven’t covered yet?

A. Come to the Summer Writing Institute and find out in person!

Taking in the Limelight

Cheri-SteinkellnerCheri Steinkellner has won four Emmys, two Golden Globes, the People’s Choice, BAFTA, Writers Guild Award and a TV-Land Legend Award for writing and producing television’s Cheers” and the Disney animated series and feature film, Teacher’s Pet,” a 2011 Tony-nominee for Best Book of a Musical for Sister Act,” and 2012 Ovation-nominee and Indy winner for Best Book of a Musical for “Hello! My Baby.” Cheri has also written the book and lyrics for the off-Broadway musical “Mosaic” and Princesses.” She teaches writing at UCSB and is partnered with Bill Steinkellner in writing, marriage, and parenting their three favorite children – Kit, Teddy and Emma Steinkellner.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. I grew up in Orange County, land of freeway billboards. We’d drive up the 5 and I’d read every single slogan out loud, wishing that someday little girls would read my words off freeway signs. I didn’t know I wanted to write, but I did know I wanted to be read.

Q. What inspires you? 

A. Found humor, striking metaphors, stuff I wish I’d written. Also: Babies, toddlers, kids and playful adults.

hello my babyQ. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. My heart belongs to my new musical, “HELLO! MY BABYHello! My Baby.” I can’t stop playing with it. And I won’t stop until it’s playing at a theater near you.

Q. I’ve heard that writers often bond to their characters. What does it feel like to finish a story and let go of that bond a little? 

A. I don’t know. I’m attached to the concept of detachment, but detached from the reality of it.

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. I force my students to write daily Morning Pages – and in solidarity I do them, too. They don’t have to be good – don’t even have to be legible. They just have to be.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. Thirty-five years ago I fell in love with a writer and his job, so I married both. Best advice: Write fast first, slow second.

Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?

A. I can sing every track of “Tapestry,” “Liza With A Z,” “My Name is Barbra,” “Meet the Monkees,” “Fiddler on The Roof,” “Man of La Mancha” and “A Chorus Line.” It’s like Pandora, only a little pitchy.

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. I’m trying this Sansum meal-replacement thing – so I’d have to say it was when I put two tablespoons of powdered peanut butter into the vanilla shake and didn’t use as much ice.

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. My first novel! At long last! The one I wanted to read when I was 12 years old, but nobody had written it then. Me Now is writing it for Me Then.

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. I’m excited to surprise students with stuff they never imagined they could do!

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. According to Contagious by Jonah Berger – it accounts for a paltry 7 percent of word-of-mouth. I’ll go with that if it means I don’t have to tweet.

Q: Do you have any practices regarding the above question that you have found successful? Any websites you swear by, any online communities that have been helpful, etc.? 

A. Writers Dreamtools is my go-to treasure trove for idioms, cliches, quotes, slang, decades and all that jazz.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. You have to collect a lot of pink-slips before they let you be a real writer.

Q: Can you give us a rough breakdown of the process of writing a novel from the point of conception to having the book published and sitting on bookshelves?

A. I’m just starting down that path. But my son can tell you! Trash Can Days by Teddy Steinkellner hits bookshelves August 20. It’s a hilarious and hard-hitting, uber-realistic story of a year in the life of four middle-schoolers and I thank you for giving me this unintended opportunity to shamelessly promote it.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you that we haven’t covered yet?

A. Oh, I’m saving the best secrets for class!

John Pielmeier: Adapting For The Screen


John-Pielmeier-screenwriting
John Pielmeier began his career as an actor, working at Actors Theater of Louisville, The Guthrie Theater, Milwaukee Rep, Alaska Rep, Baltimore’s Center Stage, and the O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference. It was at the O’Neill that his play “Agnes of God” was first staged. A co-winner of the 1979 Great American Play Contest, “Agnes” premiered professionally in March 1980 at Actors Theater of Louisville, followed by several regional productions and a seventeen-month run on Broadway.

His other plays include “Courage,” a one-man show about J.M. Barrie that premiered in Louisville, opened the new theater at the Lambs’ Club in New York City, and has been filmed by Kentucky Educational Television; “Jass,” presented at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference; “Young Rube,” a musical comedy (with music and lyrics by Matthew Selman) based on the formative years of cartoonist/inventor Rube Goldberg, which premiered at The Repertory Theater of St Louis; and “Willi,” a one-man show based on the speeches of mountaineer Willi Unsoeld, presented (and performed by the author) at A Contemporary Theater in Seattle, where it broke box office records.

For “Choices of the Heart,” a television movie he wrote about the slain American missionaries in El Salvador, he received a Christopher Award, the Humanitas Award, a Writers Guild of America nomination, and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from St Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He has written several movies for television, as well as the screenplay for the film “Agnes of God” (Writers Guild nomination).

He is a member of The Dramatists’ Guild, The Writers’ Guild of America East, and an alumni member of New Dramatists. He is a past recipient of an NEA grant and a Shubert fellowship, and has received Alumni Achievement honors from both his alma maters.

agnes of godHe is blissfully married to poet/author/book-maker Irene O’Garden and resides in Garrison, New York.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. No, I never thought it possible until I got my first check for something I wrote. Then I realized that maybe I could make a living out of this.

Q. What inspires you? 

A. Dreams. Waking ones and sleeping ones.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. I never talk about something I’m working on – it puts the creative energy in the wrong place.

Q. I’ve heard that writers often bond to their characters. What does it feel like to finish a story and let go of that bond a little? 

A. Like sending your grown children out into the world: you’re proud and more than a little relieved.

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. Write even though it’s crap – you can always fix it later or throw it away.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. By writing something that people responded to. There’s no secret to this – you either do it or you don’t.  

Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?

A. I’m a vampire.

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. My wife’s cooking.

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. Interacting with students.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. Very, but I suck at it. 

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. Find a mentor who will give you advice like this.

Reserve Your Hotel for Antioch’s Summer Writing Institute Soon!

Summer is approaching fast and as we gear up for the brilliant sunshine that Santa Barbara promises, we want to remind you that reservations with our hotel blocks need to be made soon. Antioch has reserved a limited number of rooms at a hotel in downtown Santa Barbara: Hotel Indigo. It’s best to call the hotels directly, and mention Antioch SWI.

  • HotelIndigoHotel Indigo offers rooms with a king bed for $197 on weekdays and $299 on the weekend (note, it’s Fiesta). This rate is good through Saturday, Aug. 3; you do not need to stay the extra night to get the block rate. Call the hotel for reservations before June 28 (805-966-6586)

 

  • parkside innThe Parkside Inn, about 2 miles from AUSB, is situated near the beach in Santa Barbara, is close to Santa Barbara Zoo, Lotusland, and Presidio Santa Barbara. Also nearby are Santa Barbara County Courthouse and Stearns Wharf. Call ‎1-866-539-0036.

 

  • lavender innLavender Inn by the Sea, about 1 mile from AUSB, is just two blocks from Santa Barbara’s picturesque beaches and yacht harbor. Stearns Wharf, the oceanfront bike path, and downtown shops and restaurants are all within walking distance. Golf courses, wineries, and the Santa Barbara Mission are just a short drive away. Call ‎1-866-539-0036.

      If you want to check out other downtown hotels, visit this website.

      Looking forward to a wonderful week of creativity with you all!

5 Reasons You Can’t Miss The Antioch Summer Writing Institute:

5-reasons 1. Small Groups: there is a maximum of only 10 people per workshop, giving you the opportunity to work very closely with workshop leaders.

 2. Accomplished, high-caliber faculty. All of the workshop leaders are successful authors and screenwriters.

 3. Special Treats: Every evening there will be a reading by a distinguished author, and two afternoons will feature panels on How to Get Published and Breaking Into New Genres. A first-night reception with dinner, continental breakfast each morning and a closing luncheon are included in the cost of the institute.

 4. Genre Specific Workshops: including in Fiction: Finding Your Voice, Creating Worlds, Writing Commercial Fiction, Writing Mysteries from the Inside Out, The Art of Revision; in Nonfiction: Explanatory Journalism, Intermediate Memoir Workshop, The Essentials of Memoir Writing, Long-form Nonfiction; in Screenwriting: Developing Your Story Intuition, Adapting forthe Screen, Advanced Dramatic Writing, The Writer’s Journey, and Improv for Writers; in Writing for Young People: Transformative Journeys, Writing YA From the Inside Out, and Hooking the Little Ones.

 5. Did we mention it’s held in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA? The American Riviera! 

See you this summer! Register here.

Bruce Hale: From Acting and Singing to Writing for Kids


Bruce_Hale_young_peopleBW

Bruce Hale has written and illustrated more than 25 books for kids. His Underwhere series includes Prince of Underwhere and Pirates of Underwhere. His Chet Gecko Mysteries series includes The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, The Big Nap, The Malted Falcon, Hiss Me Deadly, and others.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. No, in fact as a kid, I was more drawn to the idea of being a pirate, firefighter, cowboy, or Daniel Boone.  Late in elementary school, I decided to become a children’s book writer, but switched to cartoonist by middle school.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. My latest project, the SCHOOL FOR S.P.I.E.S. series, is a mash-up between Oliver Twist and James Bond – orphans being trained to become super-spies.  Intended for the upper range of the middle-grade audience, it’s fast, funny, and suspenseful.  The first book, Playing With Fire, comes out at the end of June.

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. In my experience, writer’s block is just fear — fear of not being perfect.  My way of beating it is to give myself permission to write a really crappy first draft, and then write it as quickly and sloppily as possible. The idea is just to get the rough shape of the story down. Nobody else needs to see your ugly first draft, and if you intend to make it crappy, there won’t be the pressure of trying to achieve perfection the first time out.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. I started out by sending out stories and collecting rejection letters, which I did for 8½ years.  During that time, I self-published five picture books, which taught me a lot about writing, promotion, and publishing.  Finally, I met an agent at a writers’ conference who liked my Chet Gecko story.  Three months and a quick rewrite later, I had a three-book contract with Harcourt.  

Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?

A. I’m a former actor and current singer.  I perform with a Latin jazz band called Mezcal Martini, and if I weren’t an author, singer would probably be my next choice of career.  

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. Fresh chocolate-chip walnut cookies.  Mmm…

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. There’s always something new.  Right now, in addition to my ongoing SCHOOL FOR S.P.I.E.S. series, I’m doing several picture book and easy reader stories about CLARK THE SHARK.  And I’m pitching a fractured fairy tale mystery series, so my writing plate is nicely full.

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. I’m looking forward to diving deeply into the subject with my group of writers.  When you take this much time, you can really learn something and apply it, which isn’t necessarily the case with brief weekend conferences.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. These days, social media is becoming more vital than ever – but it’s important not to get lost in it.  In the end, what counts more than anything is good writing.  If you haven’t made your book as awesomely good as it can possibly be, all the tweeting and blogging in the world won’t help it, or your career.  However, if you’ve really spent the time on your work, the networking can be truly helpful.  I’ve heard of writers whose social media abilities helped land them a book contract – because they had a great book to back it up.

Q: Can you give us a rough breakdown of the process of writing a novel from the point of conception to having the book published and sitting on bookshelves? 

A. Now that’s a big subject.  Okay, here’s the reader’s digest version… A story idea is like a grain of sand in an oyster, slowly growing into (hopefully) a pearl.  Sometimes, the initial idea will knock around in my head for years, sometimes only for a month or two, but always evolving and becoming more complex.  When I’ve jotted down enough rough ideas, I spend a few weeks to a month plotting things out.  Then comes a first draft, rough and sloppy.  It’s followed by revision after revision – however many it takes to get things right.  If it’s an already-contracted book, I send it to my editor; if not, I send it to my agent to shop around.

More rounds of revisions follow.  Sometimes, I also do illustrations, if it’s that sort of book.  After a final round of copyediting, it’s out of my hands.  Then the publisher’s team does its part – designing, hiring illustrators, promoting, and physically producing the book.  What seems like a short forever later, I finally receive a box of printed books, and shortly after that, my books are out in bookstores.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. Barry Moser said that talent is like house dust – we’ve all got a little bit of it stuck to us somewhere.  What counts more than talent is persistence.  That’s what gets you published.

Gail Tsukiyama: Poet, Novelist, Teacher


Gail_Tsukiyama_fictionGail Tsukiyama is the author of seven novels, the most recent of which is A Hundred Flowers. She was born in San Francisco to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father and attended San Francisco State University, where she received both her Bachelor of Arts degree and a master of arts degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Most of her college work was focused on poetry, and she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Award.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. I knew I always wanted to tell stories.  Even when I was very young, I was always writing down stories or scenes or dreaming of them in my mind.  I began as a film major, thinking that was the medium in which I wanted to tell my stories.  I quickly realized it was too confining in terms of structure and development and turned to the writing department.

Q. What inspires you? 

A. Good music, well-written books, a wonderful movie, friends, a lovely glass of wine.   

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. It’s early in the writing, but it might depart a bit from my other more historically placed works.  A good part of it takes place in modern day.

Q. I’ve heard that writers often bond to their characters, what does it feel like to finish a story and let go of that bond a little?

A. How I really know I’m finished with a story is when it also feels like it’s time to let go of my characters.  It feels similar to sending a child out into the world; it’s hard and you worry, but you inherently know that you’ve prepared them in every way you can and that they’re ready.

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. I tend to walk away from the work for a short time and take on a different mindset – I go window shopping or grocery shopping.  I see a movie or read a book.   I go for a walk or work out in the yard.  Doing something physical always works for me, even something as mundane as vacuuming.  By the time I return to the story, I almost always feel rejuvenated and able to see the work more objectively.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. I majored in English with emphasis in creative writing at San Francisco State University.  I began publishing my poetry in small literary magazines and worked my way up to writing short stories and then the novel.  When I was almost finished with my first novel, I attended a writer’s workshop at Mills College.  There I met a group of writers who have remained my writer’s group for the past twenty-five years.  I met my agent through one of them and the rest is history.  It’s important to have readers whom you trust that you can show your work to for feedback.  And if you’re not in an MFA program, there are many writing programs, such as the Antioch Summer Writing Institute that bring together writers with those in the writing industry. 

My best advice is to concentrate on writing the best story you can, and to write it without thoughts of being published.  If the writing comes from a passion within, the rest will follow.  

Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?

A. I always wanted to be a doctor.  

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. Fried chicken.  I don’t eat it often, but when I do it’s got to be good!

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. Besides a new book, I’m also involved with a books + water project called WaterBridge Outreach.  It’s a private, nonprofit that supplies books and water needs to impoverished countries.  I was in India last November checking on projects we’ve sponsored.  I hope to keep working with WBO in the years to come.

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. Hearing new voices.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. Apparently very important.  I’m so bad at it that it’s embarrassing.  I wrote an entire keynote talk about my inability to use social media in ways that would help with the business of writing.

Q: Do you have any practices regarding the above question that you have found successful? Any websites you swear by, any online communities that have been helpful, etc.? 

A. I finally have an Author’s Page on Facebook.  Unfortunately, I’m not very good at keeping up with it so I’m definitely the wrong author to ask.  I’m going to try and do better with using social media in the months ahead! 

Q: Can you give us a rough breakdown of the process of writing a novel from the point of conception to having the book published and sitting on bookshelves? 

Hundred-FlowersA. The initial process of writing a novel is in the writer’s hands.  You have to sit down and write every day until that glimmer of light finds its way onto the page(s) and shines.  It takes discipline and dedication.  Only after you’ve written a really clean final draft, do you look for an agent who believes in your book, so they’ll find the right home for it. (Meaning an editor and publishing house.)  They are your allies and will help fight for everything that becomes the business of writing – from designing the book cover to how much marketing will take place, from sending early copies out for reviews to which bookstores or warehouses will carry the book.  (This is also when social media can play a helpful role in getting the word out!) While the process of writing a book is very solitary, it takes a team to bring the final product to the bookshelf of a bookstore.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. Always tell the truth.  It’s also what I tell students.

Partial Scholarships Now Available for Qualified Summer Writing Institute Participants

We are pleased to announce the availability of ten President’s Access Grants for qualified participants of AUSB’s Summer Writing Institute (SWI). These partial scholarships will provide a 20% reduction of the $975 fee, allowing grant recipients to attend for only $780. Applicants must apply for a grant online and will be chosen from among all entries.

“It’s important for Antioch to make this program as accessible as possible to promising writers,” says Marcia Meier, director of SWI, “so I am especially delighted that President Nancy Leffert has made these partial scholarships available to those in need.”

To apply for a President’s Access Grant for SWI, submit a 200-word essay via email explaining why you need this grant and how it would benefit you, with “SWI Grant” as the Subject line. Include your full name, email address and phone number. Hard copies of essays will not be accepted.

The President’s Access Grant application deadline is Thursday, May 30, 2013. Recipients will be notified by Wednesday, June 5. The application deadline for the Summer Writing Institute is Saturday, June 15.

Maureen Murdock: Make a Commitment to Your Writing and Show Up


Maureen-Murdock-bw-jpeg-300x214
Maureen Murdock is an author, educator, Jungian-oriented psychotherapist and photographer. Author of the bestselling book, The Heroine’s Journey, Maureen conducts workshops on memoir writing and personal myth. She combines her interest in the mysterious workings of the psyche with a study of mythology and a love of storytelling and memoir writing. Maureen’s popularity as an author, lecturer, and workshop presenter has enriched the lives of thousands of people. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. No, I wanted to be an artist.

Q. What inspires you? 

A. The prose of good memoirists like Jeanette Winterson, Mary Karr and Jennifer Boylan.   

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. I have been working on a book-length memoir about my relationship with my bipolar son, which takes a universal look at how motherhood is a profound journey, which includes loss and acceptance. 

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A.  Take your writer for a long walk in nature or by the sea and find out what your writer needs. Maybe she needs a bit of a vacation from your nagging. Send her in your imagination to Hawaii for a couple of weeks and go back to your writing room and read a good book or look at some artwork that inspires you.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

spinning-inward-using-guided-imagery-with-children-for-maureen-murdock-paperback-cover-artheroines-journey-maureen-murdock-paperback-cover-artA. I was very lucky. I first self-published a book on guided imagery with children that was noticed in the library at Naropa Institute by the then-publisher of Shambhala Publications. He asked the librarian how to contact me and I had just taught a workshop there so she told him. He contacted me, asked me to add three chapters to the book and published it as Spinning Inward in 1987. From there I wrote The Heroine’s Journey and The Heroine’s Journey Workbook for Shambhala and then got book deals from Ballantine and Seal Press. My best piece of advice is to not get discouraged when the rejections come in. And they DO come in. Keep at it. You’ve got to write for the love of it because very few writers make a living from it.

Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?

A. I worked with the Huastecan Indians in Mexico and, at the time, learned their language. 

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. Eggplant Parmigiano at Tre Lune in Montecito.

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. I just wrote a nonfiction piece on working at San Luis Obispo Men’s Prison; I will continue to write about the criminal justice system.

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. Hearing all the wonderful stories from the memoirists I will be working with. Being inspired by other writers.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. I’m finding that it’s very helpful to have a blog; I appreciate the feedback I receive from the people who read the blog: maureenmurdockblog.com. Keeping up with the blog, however, takes time, time that takes away from my other writing.

Q: Do you have any practices regarding the above question that you have found successful?Any websites you swear by, any online communities that have been helpful, etc.? 

A. Narrative Magazine’s blog.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. Make a commitment to your work and show up at a regular time to write. Make an appointment with your writer even if you don’t have anything to say. Listen.

Barbara Samuel: From Romance to Women’s Fiction, Winning Awards All the Way


Barbara_Samuel_fictionBW
Barbara Samuel is a multiple RITA award-winning author with more than 38 books to her credit in a variety of genres. She has written historical and contemporary romances and a number of fantasy novellas with the likes of Susan Wiggs, Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney. She now writes women’s fiction about families, dogs, and food as Barbara O’Neal.

Her work has captured a plethora of awards, including six RITAs from the Romance Writers of America; the Colorado Center for the Book Award (twice); Favorite Book of the Year from Romance Writers of America, and the Library Journal’s list of Best Genre Fiction of the year, among many others. You can find a full list of all titles here.

Now living in her hometown of Colorado Springs, Barbara writes in a study overlooking Pikes Peak, a pin that draws her home from her travels. She shares her home with Christopher Robin, a British endurance athlete, a gorgeous and lovable chow mix named Jack; a very, very old Siamese named Esmerelda; a rescued street cat who has become the fattest silver tabby on the planet, and the wonder twins, two tuxedo kittens from a local shelter, whose names have changed several times. Yes, a lot of animals.

An avid photographer, cook, and traveler, Barbara keeps a log of travels, recipes, and photos at her blog, A Writer Afoot, where she also sometimes posts writing advice. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook, but she doesn’t promise to be particularly interesting there.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else.  When I was in the fifth grade, I was reading a novel and it occurred to me that someone wrote this book, that it hadn’t just appeared in the world.  Which meant writing novels was a job. And if that was a job, why would anyone do anything else? I started writing novels right then.

Q. What inspires you? 

A. Beauty, first of all.  Common and extraordinary beauties. Children’s hands, the sea, dandelions, music, the smell of the earth.  Food and cooking and the hearth where women gather.

And I am drawn to the way we survive things–or don’t. How one person faces a disaster and stays stuck in the moment for the rest of their life, while another finds a way through it.  Spirituality and physical endurance are parts of that quotient. 

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. Four food bloggers aged 24 to 85 come together at a lavender farm in the Pacific Northwest to celebrate the eldest’s birthday.  Lavender, wandering chickens, an Airstream trailer, a great dog and the odd ghosts all play a part.

Q. I’ve heard that writers often bond to their characters, what does it feel like to finish a story and let go of that bond a little?

A. At first, I’m the irritated mother of a just-graduated senior who knows everything. I can’t wait to pack them off to college and let them be somebody else’s problem.  But I experience empty nest syndrome when I actually ship the book off.  I miss the characters very much, and I know I won’t really see them again. It’s great to hear from readers when they’ve spent time with them.

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. I don’t actually believe in writer’s block.  It just means something has taken a wrong turn.  Either fix it, start over on something else, or just keep showing up every day and plug away.   If the trouble is too many voices in your head, kindly ask them all to leave and write for yourself. That’s always the answer anyway: write first for yourself.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. I started ages ago, writing category romances when there was a huge, sucking demand.  It was lucky timing.

But the same things still are true: study your genre. Know who the masters are and what their path is. Educate yourself to the business–agents, editors who love work like yours, which lines and houses publish the kind of work you write.  Read Publishers Lunch and all the industry rags. Pay attention to the changing markets, too.  At the moment, that’s the great unknown.  How will we be publishing books five years from now? Ten?

Q. What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know?

A. I don’t know how interesting it is, but I collect rosaries on my travels.  I have a wooden one from Chimayo, one of jet my son brought me from Barcelona, and one made of rosewood that I bought when I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compestela, among others.

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. A pile of asparagus grilled with lemon juice, olive oil, and kosher salt.

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. I have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment.  Working on the ideas for the next book for Bantam, collecting material for a side project, and playing around with another genre I’m not ready to discuss.

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. I love the immersion of being with a group of writers for a whole week.  Teaching renews me, and I always learn a tremendous amount.  I’m also looking forward to being in Santa Barbara, which is one of my favorite places on earth.  I have to go commune with my tree, for one thing (the giant Moreton Bay Fig). I met her cousins in New Zealand.  Just cannot get over those trees–they’re so ancient and enormous and enchanting.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. Ugh. A necessary evil, I’m afraid, if you want to sell books.  There’s a lot of pressure from the publishing industry to learn it and maximize your online presence, so it’s something we all have to learn.  That doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Pick a few things that suit you and try to be good at them.  I love Facebook, not so much Twitter, and love to blog, since I was a columnist in my journalism days.  It comes naturally.  Figure out where your strengths are.  I thought I’d love Pinterest and don’t, but one of my friends is great at it.

Q: Can you give us a rough breakdown of the process of writing a novel from the point of conception to having the book published and sitting on bookshelves?

A. For me, the point of conception can be a long time before the actual start of the book. I always have a bunch of possible stories rolling around in my head. They collect things, sort themselves into baskets, and at some point, I realize one is fully loaded and ready to go. I’ll play around with research, browse websites, think about the possibilities.

 At that point, I’ll write a sketch/synopsis, and character bios.  The first 100 pages are slow, far less word count than the rest of the book as I figure out what’s going on, what the story is really about, and what I might need to know.   The final 100 pages go very, very fast–sometimes a few days or a week.  I’m tired. I need to live in the book, and have no patience for the outside world. I like to hibernate, wild-haired and lost in the wilderness, and write.

Revisions are usually tackled as I go, so at the end, I’ll spend a week or two going through it before I send it out to editor and agent, who return with questions, clarifications, suggestions. I rewrite the most substantially here, and polish a lot.  Then it goes to line-editing, then copy editing, then galleys, then the book. The whole process takes about two years.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. Remember that you are always writing your backlist. Every book has to be the very best you can muster.

Diana M. Raab: Gift of a Childhood Journal Launched Her Writing Passion

Diana_Raab_nonfictionBWDiana M. Raab is a memoirist, essayist and poet. She has a B.S. in Health Administration and Journalism, and an RN degree from Vanier College in Montreal, in addition to an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from Spalding University’s Low-Residency Program. She is currently a PhD Candidate at Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) in Palo Alto, CA.

Q. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

A. Yes. Ever since the age of 10 when my mother gave me my first journal. It was a beautiful red leather Kahlil Gibran journal with sayings on the top of every page.

Q. What inspires you? 

A. Life inspires me, as do emotional experiences, nature, reading wonderful writers and speaking to interesting people.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest project?

A. My latest collection of poetry to be released in early 2014 is called Lust. I am also a doctorate candidate in psychology. My dissertation will combine my passions for writing and psychology. As a writer, I have always been interested in the psychology of the mind and what makes people tick.

Q. I’ve heard that writers often bond to their characters, what does it feel like to finish a story and let go of that bond a little?

A. This happens more commonly with fiction writers than with nonfiction writers or poets. What we might get attached to is the joy of what we are writing.

Q. Do you have any advice/cure/ for the infamous “writer’s block”?

A. I don’t really believe in writer’s block. There are ebbs and flows in every profession and every act of creativity. If you are having difficulty with a particular project there are different ways to work through this. Sometimes just writing helps. You can also take advantage of this time to do a lot of reading of writers whom you admire, and do whatever inspires you. Being in nature, whether it is for an ocean walk or a hike in the mountains; it is always inspiring.  Journaling can also bring ideas and inspiration to writing.

Q. How did you get started in the writing industry and what is your best piece of advice to people interested in pursuing writing as a career?

A. I started writing at an early age and was the editor of my high school newspaper. The most important thing about breaking into the market is to be passionate about what you are writing about. If you are passionate about what you write about then your readers will be passionate about reading your work. How to break into the market depends a great deal on the genre. The best way to start is on the local level by writing letters to the editor and/or for local newspapers or magazines.

Q. What is the best food you’ve eaten in the past week?

A. Fresh lobster. Chocolate mousse.

Q. Is there anything new on your plate? What can we expect from you in the future?

A. I am always creating. Writing is my lifelong passion. There are not enough hours in the day for the ideas I have. I blog regularly for the Huffington Post and write a column for The Santa Barbara Sentinel called, “The Mindful Word.” I have a few new book ideas but I don’t want to jinx them by talking about them!

Q. What is one thing you are really looking forward to with the Summer Writing Institute?

A. Inspiring emerging and published writers to write regularly. Sharing and hearing about what others are writing. Memoir and real life stories have always fascinated me.

Q: How important is networking and social media in the field of writing?

A. Networking and social media are extremely important and it is becoming even more important. Publishers are doing less and less to promote writers, thus leaving a lot of publicity to be done by the writer. The better your network, the more chance you have for success.

Q: Do you have any practices regarding the above question that you have found successful? Any websites you swear by, any online communities that have been helpful, etc.?

A. One site or online community is not more important than the other. What matters is the combination of many to build a platform. Writers should choose sites depending upon the area of interest, whether it is poetry, history, health, biography, science, journalism or general interest. If you have published books it’s a good idea to have a Facebook page for those books. Twitter is also helpful. “Red Room” and “She Writes” are also great networking sites.

Q: Can you give us a rough breakdown of the process of writing a novel from the point of conception to having the book published and sitting on bookshelves?

A. First, you must be passionate about your subject. Second, just write without editing, and get your words out on the page. Third, find readers to read and review before sending out to editors/publishers or agents. Fourth, only submit when you are really happy with your work. Fifth and most important is be persistent. This is probably the most important trait as a writer. If you want others to believe in your work, you must believe in it first. You also need to understand that rejection is simply a part of the process. You are not being rejected as a person, but your work might not hit a chord in the reader. Do not take rejections personally. You need to develop thick skin and get used to it. Forge forward.

Q: What was the best piece of advice about writing or becoming a writer that someone has ever given you?

A. Write what you are passionate about and not necessarily what you think the market wants. Persistence pays.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you that we haven’t covered yet?

A: Love what you do and do what you love.