THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 2002

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

By the time the 30th Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference opened on June 21st in 2002, it felt as if it had always been at Westmont College. Because of the influx of new students due to  regular attrition, hills too rigorous for some old-timers, and overall expanded enrollment because the Westmont College campus was bigger than the Miramar Hotel, the SBWC had the same air of a freshman’s first day at any university campus. It also helped that Mary Conrad doubled and at times tripled the number of Westmont College-student-staff-driven golf carts that criss-crossed the campus offering rides to any students challenged by the college’s hills.

Dorm accommodations enhanced this impression, where endless conversations filled the dorms with tales of the “old days” at the Miramar Hotel. The regularly scheduled meals in the campus cafeteria far exceeded the quality of the food at the Miramar and the new setup of dormitories and dining hall reminded workshop leader Matt Pallamary of his time in the Air Force, prompting him to nickname them the chow hall and barracks.

After the workshop leader introductions and business of logistics on Friday night, Saturday saw the familiar pattern of morning and afternoon workshops. Late Saturday afternoon, SBWC workshop leader Charles Champlin introduced two Hollywood legends, Eva Marie Saint and her husband and director/actor Jeff Hayden, in a reprise of their previous year’s reading of Willa Cather, On the Divide.

The converted for the conference gymnasium turned auditorium echoed with the words of Willa Cather from the sweeping plains of Nebraska as her work was read aloud by the consummate actors.

2002 News

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 2001

Posted on by SBWC

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

In 2001, the 29th Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference found a new home at Westmont College in the hills behind Santa Barbara. The Miramar era was over, and the Westmont Campus was a dramatic change from the beachfront blue-roofed Miramar Hotel. With no ocean near the campus, Barnaby said, “There’s no beach to tempt the people away from their typewriters.” Duly noted. “They shouldn’t be on the beach; they should be writing!” he added laughing, in an interview with Santa Barbara News-Press reporter Ann Shields.

Tuesday night veteran newsman Sander Vanocur moderated a “Behind the Headlines” panel of journalists, including Ann Louise Bardach (Troubled Waters, Cuba, and others), Lou Canon (President Reagan — The Role of a Lifetime,) and Martha Smilgis (Time Magazine, People Magazine, and others).

In typical Barnaby style, he introduced Vanocur by saying “There has been altogether too much frivolity around this place,” so he read a piece by Dave Barry about the founding of America, with the hope of instilling some gravitas before hearing from the distinguished panel.

“Hundreds of years ago, America was different,” Barny read. “The only inhabitants were Indians who formed tribes and gave rivers hard to spell names. Meanwhile, in Italy, Christopher Columbus spent hours gazing out to sea and thinking, ‘someday I will be the cause of a holiday observed by millions of government workers.’ Columbus assembled a group of mariners and set out across the storm-tossed Atlantic in three tiny ships, the Ninja, the Piña Colada and the Heidi Ho.

“After numerous storm-tossed weeks they came to an island where Columbus had this conversation with the local chief.

“Columbus: You guys are Indians, right?

“Chief: Ramanona, jaway, which means, ‘No, we came over from Asia 20,000 years ago by the land mass bridge.’

“Columbus: Listen, we’ve spent weeks looking for India in these three storm-tossed ships and we have canons pointed at your wigwams, and we say that you’re Indians.

“Chief: Banama kawowi saki, which means ‘Welcome to India.’

“By the 17th Century the English had started a colony on an estuary and called it Jamestown. Their leader was John Smith, under whose direction Jamestown engaged in numerous activities primarily related to starving, then just when the colonists were about to give up, they discovered a vast untapped market for a product that consumers would set on fire and they’d inhale, gradually turning their lungs into malignant lumps of carbon.

“Meanwhile, the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock. The new world was harsh and desolate and they would have starved, if not for a friendly native named Squanto. A year went by and the Puritans held their first Thanksgiving. They invited Squanto for turkey. ‘Next time,’ he advised, ‘try cooking it,’ then they watched the Lions/Bears game. Ultimately the Puritans built New England, part of it which can still be seen.

“Next came the revolution, the single most important historical event to occur in America with the exception of Super Bowl IV. Amid this climate the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. Its members realizing their actions could determine the fate of the new world, voted to give themselves a raise. The Continental Congress also knew that they would need an army and they knew just the man to lead it. A man who was respected and admired, a man who had experience, and the leadership needed to organize men and lead them into battle. That man, of course, was Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

“None of this stuff,” Barny added, “has anything to do with Sander Vanocur, a man who you all recognize from television news. I give you Sander Vanocur.”

2001 News Article

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February Newsletter

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February 5, 2017
SwirlEarly Bird Registration 

Party in Hyatt bar
 $575–full conference!
This price is good 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.
Take advantage of early bird pricing and register for the conference by February 15.

We’re pleased to announce that our list of 2017 agents is complete, and you may register for an appointment with an agent and advanced submission of a 5-page manuscript to be read before your appointment on June 20. Register for an agent here.

If you wish to register for an appointment with an agent,  you must already be registered for the conference.

We have a great group of agents to choose from:

Annie Bomke 
Annie Bomke in San Diego

Amy Cloughley  
Kimberley Cameron & Associates

Paul Fedorko 
N.S. Bienstock, Inc.

Julie Hill 
Julie Hill Literary Agency in Del Mar

Toni Lopopolo 
Lopopolo Literary Management

Eric Myers
Dystel and Goderich Literary Management

Patricia Nelson
Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Angela Rinaldi
The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency

BJ Robbins
BJ Robbins Literary Agency in North Hollywood

Ken Sherman 
Ken Sherman & Associates

Over the past 45 years, SBWC has provided a learning environment that can transform beginners 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 30 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.

We have a special room rate at the Hyatt Santa Barbara:

  • $199 (single occupancy) per night and free parking: 24 rooms in Santa Barbara House, a separate building, but adjacent to hotel
  • $209 (single occupancy) per night and $38 overnight parking, (or free parking close by on the street) in the hotel

For reservations call (888) 421-1442, or visit this reservation link: Santa Barbara Hyatt.

If you wish to register for an appointment with an agent,  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.

For SBWC fans in the Santa Barbara area, there will be a book signing at Chaucer’s bookstore on February 9 at 7PM. Meet all three authors.

There is a documentary film of the same title debuting June 18, 2017 at SBWC.

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 — 2000

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An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:
The Santa Barbara Writers Conference went on hiatus during the year 2000 due to the closing of the Miramar, thoughts of the Conference were never far from longtime attendees and staff. It was also the year that the conference lost Sparky.

Poetess and workshop leader Perie Longo captures the essence of the loss of the Miramar with the following poem.

Souvenir from the Miramar: Fall, 2000

by Perie Longo

They could be tears, these bougainvillea blossoms,

shed for the passing of the train we won’t hear

come June, we writers who collected at the Miramar

each year, recollected our lives best we could

in  fog, sometimes fire, turned anguish

into something approachable and fine,

a keepsake until next time. Without notice

they closed it, restoration the reason,

everything for sale; lights and beds, dressers,

night-stands, a cache of  ugly prints torn

from the wall, bolts still stuck in the center

of frame tops. I dragged through the lobby,

dining room, around the pool, peeked

into rooms where the air of years laid down

on tossed mattresses and sighed. Behind

the buildings I wound around yellow tapes

strung  to keep us out, crossed the railroad tracks

and eased to the beach glad to see the sand

still there, the gulls, at least the sky’s blue roof.

And conversations about those who leave

this earth without asking our permission.

I save some bougainvillea petals

from the bush near the train tracks where

a gray parrot once mocked our words.

I wanted to gather a whole sprig,

but overnight they collapsed on the counter

like separate words to be rearranged

into something else, something to carry us on,

we weavers and bleeders of words,

something to bring us back.

September ‘00

2000 News 12

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1999

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

Catherine Ryan Hyde and screenwriter Leslie Dixon (Outrageous Fortune, Mrs. Doubtfire, Pay it Forward, etc.), were introduced by SBWC workshop leaders and screenwriting team of Vicki Patik and Walter H. Davis. At conference time Dixon was still finalizing rewrites of the screenplay adaptation of Pay it Forward which would star Kevin Spacy.

Catherine was an unpublished writer when she first came to the SBWC as a student in 1993, and then returning as a successful author in 1999. She appeared a tad uncomfortable with her newly acquired fame.

“Leslie, maybe you should tell them about Pay It Forward,” said Ryan Hyde. “Because you didn’t write it and you can be more effusive than I can.”

Dixon began by speaking about screenwriting and the adaptation of an original work to the big screen. “I think when it comes to being a screenwriter and adapting a novel, the biggest thing is; is there a movie in this book?

You look at Beloved, which is one of the best books ever written, and you look at the movie which is a downer, and you ask yourself, what happened?”

Dixon talked about Gone With the Wind, and other novels which became great movies. When adapting a novel to film she said she looks at how the story can be told best by film — without a dreaded “voiceover.”

Where Pay it Forward was concerned, Dixon said she was reading it in bed and kept wondering, what happens next? When she finished reading she turned to her husband who was asleep next to her and said aloud, “I’m going to get this project,” and then to the SBWC audience, she said, “And I did!”

“See,” said Catherine, “I knew she should tell the story!”

The story of how the two women met and worked together was part of the SBWC magic, containing a series of coincidences including a mutual friendship with Barnaby Conrad. For attendees at the 1999 Conference the lecture had a Cinderella-esque aspect that captured the attention of more than one aspiring writer. The enthusiasm of the speakers also bespoke the sense that Catherine and Leslie both knew how rare the Pay it Forward Hollywood experience was for them.

Pay It Forward Poster1999 Pic 6

If you are in Santa Barbara join us for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook publication party!

 

 

 

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1998

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

On Sunday night the SBWC heard from Robert McKee, an acknowledged guru of Hollywood screenwriters, and a master at any form of story-telling. The title of his lecture was “Character vs. Plot Driven,” and he began by citing one of the earlier teachers and story-tellers, Aristotle in the Poetics.

Story

“What is more important in a story? The story told, or the characters in the story?

“Aristotle also had a hierarchy of good writing,” McKee said, “which included plot, character, idea, dialogue, music, and spectacle.”

According to Aristotle, “Spectacle is the least creative aspect of a production. It is the least important aspect of the production. It just costs money.”

McKee noted that Aristotle had a lot in common with modern day producers. “In fact, Aristotle sounds like a Hollywood producer, more than once in the Poetics,” McKee said. He guided the audience through an examination of modern film and Broadway productions and other forms of story telling, noting Aristotle’s litany  scrambled.

“In what order are things promoted today?” he queried, “Spectacle. Second? Music. Third? Witty dialogue. Number five? The idea. And number six the story.”

McKee said that Aristotle also noted that when story telling goes bad in a culture so does society. The result is decadence.

“Compare for example the last two Oscar winners,” said McKee. “Titanic, and the abysmal The English Patient.” Spectacle and so many caricatures in the movie making.

He continued, “Just once, I’d like to hear the stiff-upper-lip British ship’s captain say, ‘I’m fucking scared man!’”

The lecture continued with a recitation of the intervention points required to stop the decline in culture represented by films, plays, and literature in the U.S. and he discussed character vs. characterization, saying that the only way to know the true human nature of a character is by their choices under pressure. It cannot simply be a good or bad choice because the character will always choose the good or the right from their point of view. It’s one of the laws of nature.

“This is true, from Genghis Khan to Adolf Hitler. Choice and dilemma of the character reveal the nature of a character. Characterization is what is said about the character, what the character says or does, the story. Characterization is not character.

“It is the pressure combined with choices made under pressure that reveals the true ‘character’ of a character.”

McKee said this is true in films, as it is in literature. “Sophie’s Choice, for example,” he proffered.

Increasingly difficult choices that lead to change are the milestones of a good story, movie or production.

1998 News 24

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 Logo

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

Posted on by SBWC

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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