Register to attend the 2015 S.B. Writers Conference

Find the distinctive voices of your characters and then allow them the freedom to lead you through your story.

- Walter Dallenbach

From Our Blog

SwirlPanels and Panelist Bios

2015 Panels will Include:

June 8 • First Book Panel
June 9 • Agent/Editor Panel
June 10 • Nonfiction
June 11 • Mystery Panel
June 12 • Building Your Author Platform Panel


First Book Panel
Monday, June 8th at 4 PM

Moderated by Lorelei Armstrong

This panel focuses on the excitement, the investment, and the trials and tribulations of being a first time novelist. What would you have done differently had you only known? Panelists, whether working with a major publishing house or small press, will discuss their experiences throughout the publishing process: agents, editors, publicity, book signings, and reviews. Panelists include:


Ara Grigorian

Ara GregorianAra Grigorian is a technology executive in the entertainment industry. He earned his Masters in Business Administration from University of Southern California where he specialized in marketing and entrepreneurship. True to the Hollywood life, Ara wrote for a children’s television pilot that could have made him rich (but didn’t) and nearly sold a video game to a major publisher (who closed shop days later). Fascinated by the human species, Ara writes about choices, relationships, and second chances. Always a sucker for a hopeful ending, he writes contemporary romance stories targeted to adult and new adult readers. His debut novel, Game of Love, will be published May, 2015 by Curiosity Quills Press.


Trey Dowell

Trey photoTrey Dowell brought the first twenty pages of a sci-fi/thriller novel called Aphrodite Way to the SBWC in 2011. A year later, he brought the completed manuscript to SBWC and won a prize in the fiction category, which softened the blow of hearing an agent say “I just don’t get it” during his first-ever pitch session. Luckily, another agent did “get it,” and the following year, Simon & Schuster bought that manuscript to be part of a new imprint: Simon451—a speculative fiction imprint named in honor of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Dowell’s debut novel, retitled The Protectors, was one of four titles that officially launched the Simon451 line in October of 2014. He graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he now resides—working feverishly on his next novel.


Liz Maccie

Liz MaccieLiz Maccie was born and raised in New Jersey and attended Bucknell University.  After college, she moved out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television writing.  She has had two movies produced, “The Thirst” and “Black and Blue.”  She went on to work at The Disney Channel until she found a home as a writer at the ABC Family show, “Make it or Break it.”  She recently adapted the popular YA book, The List  by Shiobhan Vivian, as a television show for MTV.  Lessons is Maccie's debut novel.  She currently splits time between the east and west coasts with her husband, Stephen Chbosky, author of Perks of Being a Wallflower and their two-year-old daughter.


Sameer Pandya

sameerSameer Pandya was born in India and came to California when he was eight. He earned a BA from the University of California, Davis and a PhD from Stanford University. His fiction has appeared, among other places, in NarrativeOther Voices, and Faultline, and his non-fiction has appeared in The AtlanticESPN, and Sports Illustrated.  His first collection, The Blind Writer: Stories and a Novella, follows the lives of first- and second-generation Indian Americans living in contemporary California. The characters share a similar sensibility: a sense that immigration is a distant memory, yet an experience that continues to shape the decisions they make in subtle and surprising ways as they go about the complicated business of everyday living. Pandya currently teaches literature and creative writing in the Department of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara.


Agent/Editor Panels
Tuesday, June 9th at 4 PM

Moderated by Fred Klein and Marla Miller

Agents and Editors will discuss querying etiquette, finding the right agent/editor, tips on attracting an agent, also, what should the writer know before becoming a client, or “writer bewares”. They will also touch on trends and changes in the marketplace, the future of publishing as they see it, and how the role of the agent/editor has evolved. 

Laura Chasen — St. Martin's Press
Erin L. Cox — Rob Weisbach Creative Management
Paul Fedorko — N.S. Bienstock, Inc.
Lucas Hunt — Orchard Literary
Michael Larsen — Larsen Pomada Literary Agents
Toni Lopopolo — Toni Lopopolo Literary Management
Eric Meyers — HarperCollins
Elizabeth Pomada — Larsen Pomada Literary Agents
Angela Rinaldi — The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency

Look for Agent/Editor bios on the Advance Submissions & Agents page

Nonfiction Panel
Wednesday, June 10th at 4 PM

Moderated by Susan Miles Gulbransen

Nonfiction has often been called the "bread and butter" of the publishing industry. Writers, whether they are supplementing their income by contributing to magazines or pursing a full-time career as a journalist, can engage in many forms of nonfiction writing. This panel will cover the how-tos of writing for magazines, newspapers, and online media. Panelists TBA.

Mystery Panel
Thursday, June 11th at 4 PM

Moderated by TBA

Every story starts with a mystery: how, why, when, or who? Whether it be the mystery of the human heart or an unsolved murder, solving that mystery is often what keeps readers engaged. We'll hear from mystery writers on plotting, character, and seemingly genre-specific tricks that can be applyed to all forms of fiction and nonfiction. Panelists include:


Suzanne Munshower

Suzanne MunshowerSuzanne Munshower is a former waitress, short-order cook, go-go girl, movie extra, celebrity interviewer, journalist, fashion columnist, advertising copywriter, and beauty industry publicist. The author of twenty-six fiction and non-fiction books before Younger, she’s lived in New York, Los Angeles, San Juan, St. Thomas, London, Berlin, and Città di Castello, Italy.  She currently resides in Las Vegas and is working on a new novel set there.



Meg Gardiner

meg gardinerMeg Gardiner is the author of twelve thrillers. Her novels have been bestsellers in the U.S. and internationally, and have been translated into more than 20 languages. China Lake won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. The Dirty Secrets Club was chosen one of the Top Ten Thrillers of 2008 by Amazon and won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of the Year. The Nightmare Thief won the 2012 Audie Award for Thriller/Suspense Audiobook of the Year. Her latest novel, Phantom Instinct, was chosen by O magazine as one of the Best Books of Summer.  


Karen Keskinen

karen keshkinenKaren Keskinen is the author of Blood Orange, the first book in the Jaymie Zarlin mystery series. Set in Santa Barbara, character-driven with a twisting plot, Blood Orange explores the fault lines between privileged and poor and exposes a vein of corruption in a heavenly little city. Her new book, Black Currant was released in 2014, and is the second book in the Jaymie Zarlin mystery series. Keshkinen is currently working on the third book in the series.

Born and raised in Salinas, California, Keskinen has also lived in Wellington, New Zealand, and in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. She now resides in Santa Barbara, in a house perched halfway up a steep hill known to geologists as the Mesa Fault.


Building Your Author Platform Panel

Thursday, June 12th at 4 PM

Moderated by Marla Miller

Whether you are published or unpublished, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the waterfall of opportunity and possibility in today’s world of online media. Panelists will discuss the multimedia tools available for promoting your writing and yourself as an author, tips on building an audience, and how to find a balance between writing and your online presence. Panelists TBA.