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JUNE 18-23, 2017

January 11, 2017
SwirlEarly Bird Registration 
 $575–full conference!
Through February 15  
Register here.
Improve your craft. Find your tribe.
Make lifelong connections
Spend your conference week beachside at the charming Santa Barbara Hyatt.
We’re pleased to announce that the very talented Catherine Ryan Hyde has been added to our list of speakers for SBWC 2017. She’s an alumna of this conference with 32 published novels and counting. Her latest is Say Goodbye for Now.Another alumna and longtime friend of the conference, the charming and funny Fannie Flagg, will honor us by speaking opening night. Her most recent novel is The Whole Town’s Talking.

Over the past 45 years, SBWC has created a learning environment that can transform talented writers (beginners included) into bestselling authors … well, that and a lot of hard work on the part of the authors.

One of the best things about the Santa Barbara Writers Conference is the faculty. Our teachers cover a broad range of genres.

The 2.5-hour workshops allow time for learning craft, as well as getting individualized feedback on your work.

Early bird registration is open now. Please call 1-888-421-1442 and say you are attending the Santa Barbara Writers Conference to get the discounted rate.

On February 1, we’ll open registration for meetings with agents. You must already be registered for the conference to signup.

Since its origins in 1972, SBWC has given writers an oasis of time, place and focus to hone craft and connect with mentors, agents and publishers.

The Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook, a history of the conference written by founder Mary Conrad and longtime friends of SBWC, Y. Armando Nieto and Matthew J. Pallamary, is now available on Amazon.

There is a documentary film of the same title debuting at the SBWC in June.

The film and the book are labors of love, and both reflect the special nature of this conference.

New York Times bestselling author Christopher Moore says:
“I went into the Santa Barbara Writers Conference a foundering insurance man and came out a writer. I wouldn’t have made it without the camaraderie and enthusiasm for the craft I found there.” 

We invite you to be a part of this ongoing literary legacy.

I hope to see you June 18-23, 2017.

Grace Rachow
SBWC Director

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1997

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An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

The 25th Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference would have been SBWC Chief of Staff Paul Lazarus’ 20th anniversary with the conference. Unfortunately, Paul suffered a heart attack after hip replacement surgery.

William Styron (Lie Down in Darkness, Set This House on Fire, Sophie’s Choice, and Confessions of Nat Turner), not seen since the Conference’s early days returned to receive the inaugural SBWC Lifetime of Literary Excellence Award. Charles Champlin introduced him for brief comments on “The Writing of My First Book.”

Styron shook his head and said, “For years people have been calling my first novel LAY Down in Darkness. It’s Lie Down in Darkness.” Regarding the editing demanded by his first book’s publisher, the story would have been tame by modern standards.

“There’s not a single four-letter word in it,” Styron announced to the Miramar audience.

“Thank God,” some said out loud.

The road to writing and publishing was about as straight forward for Styron as for any aspiring writer. His first book made the best-sellers list at number seven when he’d been called to service in the Marines for the Korean conflict. He was in good company, as that list also included Norman Mailer’s From Here to Eternity and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Time magazine spurned the three young writers as “doomed to obscurity.” Styron enjoyed telling that story to the SBWC students.

The story of how he came to write his first book was also interesting. He quit his job reading manuscripts for a New York publisher in 1947. “I burned to write a novel,” he said, “but what about?”

He was motivated when he learned that a 22 year-old woman from his home town that he had a crush on, but never pursued, had committed suicide. “He’d never so much as held her hand,” Barney Brantingham wrote in a Santa Barbara News-Press article at the time.

Styron worked long and hard on the novel in a state of shock in his Brooklyn Flatbush neighborhood rooming house, and eventually finished Lie Down in Darkness. It was during that period that he met a fellow boarder, a Polish woman who didn’t speak a lot of English and had a tattoo from a German death camp. He developed a crush on her too, although his timing was bad because besides the language barrier she already had a boyfriend. Years later she became the title figure in Sophie’s Choice.

At the time there wasn’t a lot written about the holocaust and he had been working on a novel that wasn’t quite coming together.

“I’d become preoccupied with the camps. One book had the story of a gypsy woman forced to make a choice between her two children, forced by the Nazis to become a murderer of her own child,” then it occurred to him to marry the story of the woman from his boarding house twenty-odd years prior. He put aside the incomplete novel and began anew. Four years later Sophie’s Choice was the result.

1997 news 29

1997 ended on a sad and somber note for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference family. Susan Miles Gulbransen wrote about the passing of Paul Lazarus in a December 1997 column with affection.

“Every once in a while, someone touches your life, makes a huge difference and leaves you a much better person. Paul Lazarus was that kind of someone. As an insider in the movie business, the retired studio executive could have been a pontificating guru or a larger-than-life celebrity. Instead, Paul always remained a gracious, humorous and supportive friend whether in the company of deal makers or aspiring writers.

“Few people knew the movie industry like Paul Lazarus. As the middle of the Lazarus generational sandwich, he grew up in the movies. His father began a film career in 1916 while the industry was still in its infancy and warned his son not to try the crazy business.”

Paul Lazarus, retired Hollywood studio executive and SBWC Chief of Staff did end up working in the film industry. He brought his wisdom and experience in the genre to the SBWC, and a generation of writers thank him. He was loved, admired, and he will be remembered.

Paul and Ellie Lazarus1997

Paul and Ellie Lazarus

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1996

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An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

On Monday night two accomplished writers took the stage, one a newcomer, the other an old friend of the Conference. Elmore “Dutch” Leonard author of 32 novels including Mr. Majestyk, Hombre, Stick, and 52 Pick-up, fifteen of which were made into films and Scott Frank an accomplished screenplay writer, including the screen version of Leonard’s Get Shorty.

Dutch opened with a reading of how he wrote a scene in the book Get Shorty, where the character Chili Parker played by John Travolta meets the producer played by Danny Devito, as a way of showing how the written word gets transposed on film. True to his style, Leonard’s read words were short, crisp, and pithy.

“If only I was a light skinned black chick I could sing and do it on my own,” he read, the words of a transvestite reacquainting herself with Chili.

The patter between Chili and other characters continued in Leonard’s gravelly, cough-accented voice for ten minutes. Short bits, (cough), “inflict pain if I need to,” the character said. “Look at me,” Chili said, “no, I mean look at me like I’m looking at you. You’re nothing to me. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business…”

The audience was then treated to a slice of the Get Shorty movie and a scene played out by Danny Devito and John Travolta. Oddly enough, the dialogue between Devito and Travolta was close to what Dutch had read, but the rest of the scene so crisply read by Leonard was fleshed out with an overacting transvestite character. Clearly, the best part of the scene was the dialogue that Travolta and Devito delivered almost exactly as Dutch had written.

Scott Frank related the story of a two hour lunch with Leonard where he told of how others had made movies of his novels that were horrible. Scott went home and said to his wife that he didn’t want to give Leonard another horror story.

For that reason more than any other the scene with Devito and Travolta rang with verisimilitude, to the pleasure of the audience, author, and screenwriter.

get-shorty

elmore-dutch-leonard1984

Elmore (Dutch) Leonard

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1995

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An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

At the 1995 SBWC Bob Kane explained how he finally got his moment in the limelight with the resurgence of the Batman franchise. He opened his 4:00 pm lecture on Wednesday afternoon talking about growing up in the Bronx to the sound of Bing Crosby’s voice—“ba ba ba boom!”

Kane came up with the concept for Batman in 1939.

Speaking after a weekend when a Batman movie garnered $53 million Kane had a lot to say about Hollywood.

“Hollywood had a strange habit,” he began. “You bring them a concept and they buy it, and then they bring in ten other writers to change it for you.”

Kane expressed praise for all the Batman movies, and for the ‘60s television show based on his characters. He encouraged the audience to stay true to their characters and passions, no matter what. Regarding the movie industry itself, he said, “They speak with forked tongues in Hollywood. If you’re a failure there you’re treated like a leper.

“You’ve got to stick to your guns. You should never stop working and being creative. Being creative is like breathing. When you stop, you die.”

In his Santa Barbara News-Press article on the lecture, Daniel M. Jimenez talked with thirteen-year-old Billy Eckerson and his eleven-year-old brother Brent, both wearing Batman paraphernalia.

“Batman is more like a detective than Superman,” Billy said, echoing the argument that fans had been having for more than fifty years. Billy said he wants to create comics when he grows up.

Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics No. 27 in May of 1939 with “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” starring “The Bat Man.” When the first printing sold out immediately, subsequent issues built a following almost as big as Superman. A year later Kane approached his publishers about adding a teen-aged side kick named Robin. Despite his bosses grumbling that mothers wouldn’t approve of a young boy running around at night with the caped crusader, sales of Batman with Robin outsold Batman alone, five to one.

In 1995, a copy of that original Batman Detective Comics No. 27 was worth $150,000, depending on condition.

1995-bob-kane

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1994

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An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

In the June 17, 1994 welcoming Friday issue of Write Right ON! Jan Curran quoted Ray Bradbury:

If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life.

 “I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories. May you be in love for the next 20,000 days, and out of that love, remake a world.”

Ray opened the 22nd SBWC, as he had for the previous 21 years, and waxed eloquent on the subject of “Why Aren’t You Home Writing?”

By 1994 the SBWC was a well-established, premiere event for west coast literati, across the country and in other parts of the world. Australia was always well represented as well as England and the far east, but if you were to ask any of the participants, students, staff, or featured speaker you would get a variety of explanations for success.

In a Santa Barbara Independent article on June 16, 1994, Bill Greenwald wrote, “There’s something about the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference — a feeling, an ambiance you can’t describe. It’s a sense of being right there in the   middle of the literary swirl.” Greenwald continued, “It’s not intended for dilettantes who want to impress themselves by going to a writer’s convention, but the 22 year-old Santa Barbara institution is so multifaceted that even they will get something they didn’t expect.”

Barnaby Conrad, SBWC director and cofounder said, “We try to make it so no one who can write gets away unnoticed. Most beginners feel they have no chance to meet other writers. Here they have a chance to rub shoulders with famous writers and get professional advice.”

Columnist and former Los Angeles Times arts editor Charles Champlin said, “First, it gives you a chance to think about what you do and why you do it. It renews you. Writing is a lonely business. It [the SBWC] engenders a family feeling. There’s a terrific spirit throughout the conference.”

charles-chuck-champlin1987

 Chuck Champlin  – Veteran SBWC Workshop Leader

 Ray Bradbury had this to say: “I think what makes the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference different is that it’s more relaxed than others, not as pompous and self-conscious.” When asked how he prepared for each of his 22 appearances as opening speaker he said, “I just get up there and explode and have a lot of fun.”

Ray was quoted as saying, “Last year I told you to stop watching the local news,” gesticulating with a finger the size of bratwurst. “Today I tell you to fire the people standing in the way of your writing!”

Sparky Schulz, returned from a one-year hiatus to follow Ray on Sunday afternoon, speaking on the topic “Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Me.” It was a homecoming for frequent SBWC attendees.

Sparky was always asked where he got ideas for Snoopy and Charlie Brown. “An idea comes from your whole life. You don’t just create characters out of nothing and force ideas out of them. It has to come from your own life.”

He told the audience about a memory of reading that crunching wintergreen flavored Lifesavers candy would produce sparks. He said it followed that if one chewed them in the dark, the sparks would be visible.

“This is where cartoon ideas come from,” said the Peanuts creator, because although he was unsuccessful in making sparks, he still used the idea in a strip with Snoopy and Charlie Brown. “It takes maturity. You have to live. You have to suffer before you can cartoon these things.”

charles-schulz1984

 Sparky

1994 was the year that Bob Kane, creator of Batman, became a friend of the SBWC.  He passed through workshops, parties and SBWC events always accompanied by a bevy of devotees and a stunning companion who turned out to be Elizabeth, his wife. Although not scheduled as a speaker it was obvious that he loved being part of the maelstrom of creativity at the Miramar, and would be wooed to return to tell the Batman story at a future conference.

1994-pic-4

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE

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The brainchild of Y. Armando Nieto, a long time SBWC volunteer,  known to veteran conference participants as “Mando”,  The History of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference project has evolved on two fronts in the form of a book and film titled with same name.

sbwc-front-cover

As seen in the byline, the book was written in a three way collaboration between Mando, long time SBWC workshop leader Matt Pallamary, and founder Mary Conrad, along with the deeply appreciated help and graphics support from veteran humor workshop leader Ernie Witham.

The film, the book, and the conference itself would never have existed if it were not for the efforts of Barnaby and Mary Conrad, the founders of the SBWC.

Barnaby was the well known and loved face and “front man”of the conference, but it was Mary’s tireless devotion and work behind the scenes that made the SBWC a reality.

barnaby-and-mary-conrad-1980

 

Enter Lisa Angle, the talented filmmaker and producer of Literary Gumbo who conference attendees usually see behind a camera at the conference filming keynoters, who came up with the suggestion to make a documentary film of the conference which has been entered into the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Add to that Mando’s nephew, Hollywood special effects wizard Andras Kavalecz who generously donated his time and considerable talents to the film and the many SBWC “old timers” who came to be interviewed for the film, among them, Fannie Flagg and Catherine Ryan Hyde, with a special shout out of appreciation to Chris Mitchum who flew in from Boston over the weekend and flew right back in a “turn and burn”, specifically for the twenty minute interview!

And one more shout out of appreciation to Canadian recording artist André Nobels for his generous musical contribution to the film’s soundtrack.

http://www.andrenobels.com/

Here is the film’s trailer for your viewing pleasure and enticement.

 

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1993

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An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

SBWC Chief of Staff Paul Lazarus introduced Robert B. Parker, he highlighted Parker’s background as a tenured professor at Northeastern University in Boston. Lazarus explained that although a tenured professor, Parker was only teaching one Wednesday class a week when he left the university to write full time. When asked why he left academia where he only had to teach on Wednesdays, Parker replied, “Yeah, but it was every Wednesday.” His Spenser thrillers were hailed by the Washington Post as “a seminal and exceptional series in the history of American hard-boiled detective fiction.”

Parker was a big, affable man with an “elegant mustache,” according to one newspaper account of his visit to the SBWC. With his doctorate in English Literature, he created the well-read Spenser, a Boston detective whose cases comprised twenty-four novels and a television series. That same newspaper account noted that the purchase and subsequent loss of a handgun was the only genre related research Parker conducted in developing his character’s character.

On his writing process: “I write five pages five days a week.”

On his struggle as a beginning writer: “None, I’m sorry to say. I wrote my first book and sent it off to Houghton Mifflin because they were the closest. Three weeks later they wrote me to say they wanted to publish it,” and the Spenser series was born with publication of The Godwulf Manuscript.

Parker was sheepish in explaining that his wife Joan was responsible for much of his success; for encouraging his pursuit of a doctorate to get a better job, and negotiating with agents and publishers. “Trust me,” he explained, “if you have to get into an argument with one of us you want it to be me and not Joan.”

On what mystery writer he read: “I don’t read much at all. I have a Phd, so I don’t have to,” he joked, but seriously, he explained that he saved his creative juices for writing. “I like Dutch, because of the way he sounds,” referring to Elmore Leonard. He also admitted to reading non-fiction.

On Robert Urich who portrayed Spenser in the TV series: “No, I didn’t imagine Urich as Spenser. If I thought of anyone it would probably be a young Robert Mitchum, or now, an older Robert Mitchum.”

1993-pic-12

robert-mitchum1979

Robert Mitchum

SBWC workshop leader Matt Pallamary always had an affinity for the Spenser books and television series because he grew up in Dorchester, a tough Irish Catholic neighborhood, a setting where many scenes from and many of the Spenser stories took place. Best selling Crime writer Dennis Lehane is also from Dorchester.

When Matt met Parker this first time in Santa Barbara the exchange went something like this:

“Hi Bob, it’s nice to meet you. I grew up in Dorchester and I have always enjoyed Spenser.”

Parker sat back, eyes wide in an exaggerated gesture and said,  “Dorchester? What the f*ck are you doing here?”

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1992

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An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

sbwc-front-cover

Ray Bradbury spoke on Friday night about belief in oneself and to never lose faith. “When you make your first sale you need to celebrate, because it may be a year before you make another.”

He told how as a boy he opened an envelope on the lawn of his mother’s house and let out a yell when he read a letter telling him of his first sale. “My mother and I hugged each other and danced around the yard!” he said. For which he received a free subscription to the magazine.

He didn’t make another sale for more than a year.

Ray said that when his family moved to Los Angeles he was thirteen years old and he discovered the places in local museums where Hollywood memorabilia was housed. He searched out those places and wrote letters to cartoonists, pulp fiction writers, and the people who made magic in B movies, and he spent hours and days reading stories about everything, haunting the libraries.

He said he didn’t go to college. “I went to libraries, and I stayed there,” he said. “And when I was 27 years old I graduated from the library!”

He also spoke about his time in Ireland with movie director John Huston, who was filming his classic “Moby Dick.” As he told the story behind Green Shadows, White Whale, writer Bradbury painted a picture of his time in Ireland chasing Huston’s dream of an epic screenplay worthy of the concept in the director’s mind. Waving his arms and drawing out the pub owner and cab driver from the pages of his novel and memory he filled the auditorium with images of Irish fog, warm Guinness, and cold rain.

He got the gig, writing the screenplay for Moby Dick, when John Huston invited him to his hotel in Los Angeles and asked, “Well Ray, what are you doing for the next year?” When Ray answered, “nothing,” Huston continued, “Well, tell you what. Why don’t you go home tonight, read as much as you can of the book [Moby Dick], come back tomorrow and help me kill the white whale?”

Bradbury did go home and said to his wife, “Maggie, pray for me. I have to read a book tonight and give a book report in the morning.”

1992-news-2

 

 

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