Free Scholarship Contest for SBWC 2018 June 17-22

Enter to win a scholarship to the 46th Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

No entry fee.

You may share this opportunity with others.

There are 3 categories to this contest. 
You are welcome to enter each category, once, but please only one entry per email. 

  1. Opening sentence: Limit 50 words
  2. Prose: This can be a short essay, a short story, or the opening to your novel or nonfiction project. Limit 500 words
  3. Poem: Limit 50 lines

The judging team will look for writing excellence appropriate to each category.
The judges are award winning, published authors who are associated with SBWC. 
We do not announce the names of the judges.
To enter:

Email  <>

  • Put the category of your entry in the subject line.
  • This must be your original work, published or not.
  • Paste your writing entry and contact information into the body of the email or send an attached Word doc. 

Contact information should include:

  • Name
  • Phone number 
  • Email address
  • Mailing address

 There will be a full tuition day scholarship to the 2018 Santa Barbara Writers Conference awarded ($650 value) for each category.

  1. Scholarship recipients must be able to attend the conference this year.
  2. If not, the full scholarship will be awarded to the runner up.
  3. No entry fee
  4. Contest opens:  NOW April 21, 2018
  5. Submission period closes MIDNIGHT, Saturday, April 28, 2018 PDT
  6. Submission period is 1 week only

 Winners  announced 1st week of May.

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Hooking Readers with Marla Miller

Marla Miller’s Hooking Readers with opening pages and social media strategies is the much the same workshop she has delivered since her first SBWC workshop in 2003.

What changed is the publishing industry, and for this reason Marla deleted MarketingtheMusefrom her branding strategies. Why? Since indie publishing’s debut, her workshops became linked to those offered by marketers selling their wares to writers. 

Marla has no issue with marketing per se, but story comes first. Always. 

Bring your openings, 5-10 pages, fiction or nonfiction, to Marla’s Hooking Readers workshops. Any platform building ideas that stem from story and the writer’s profile are integrated into this read and critique workshop.

From time to time guests drop by - like an agent or editor - and when this happens, we add Q & A to our workshop discussion. 

Working with both fiction and nonfiction at all levels, Marla’s workshop cross-pollinates editorial work with marketing and social media strategies to expand author platforms. All are needed in the 21st century publishing reality. In all sessions, leader and participants will listen for reader hook-ability and social-media rooted, platform-building ideas and strategies.

Workshop attendees are invited to bring openings, 5-7 pages (fiction or narrative nonfiction) and book proposals – overview, introduction and sample chapter. Query letters for critiquing are also welcomed. Bring passion for your work and the willingness to hear constructively delivered critiques.

For 16 years, Marla Miller wrote for OC Register magazine before becoming founding editor-in-chief of an O.C. lifestyle magazine. In 1999, Simon and Schuster published her first book, All American Girls, the authorized biography of the World Cup/Gold Medal winning U.S Women’s National Soccer Team. Until 2003, her sports columns appeared on 

Though she appreciates the options writers now have, Miller’s point of view remains the same: first, write the best dang story you know how to write. 

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Creative Nonfiction: Leaping from Form to Form by Jervey Tervalon

According to Jervey Tervalon, every good thing in his life comes from his writing and his habit of reading obsessively. He’s had the good fortune to be paid to write about growing up in Southern California and Louisiana. In total he’s published ten books, novels, story collections and memoir, as well as numerous stories, essays, articles, and poetry.

Tervalon is called a “professional teller and gatherer of stories” and “literary networker” by the LA Times, an “award-winning poet, screenwriter, and dramatist” by Simon and Schuster, and “literary sage, cultural recorder, working class hero, father” by a community blogger.

Recently he said he’s especially fond of food writing, because he gets to eat great food. However love of food has not kept him from more challenging subjects, including murder, drugs and race.  

His dexterity as a writer makes him an apt SBWC workshop leader in the area of creative nonfiction, which blends the skill sets of various forms of writing to create work that reads like great fiction, even if it is not.

His workshop at SBWC in creative nonfiction combines techniques of fiction and nonfiction. The successful creative nonfiction writer strives to incorporate what is important to him or her and then transforms those passions into a compelling narrative. 

Jervey Tervalon was born in New Orleans, but moved to Southern California with his family when he was a young boy. He received his MFA in creative writing from UC Irvine and was a Disney Screenwriting fellow and a Shanghai Writers Association fellow. He is cofounder and literary director of Pasadena LitFest and teaches fiction writing at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. His latest novel is Monster’s Chef, published by Amistad/HarperCollins.

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Mystery Writing Demystified by Leonard Tourney

Leonard Tourney has been leading a  lively and popular mystery writing workshop at SBWC since 1986. He covers topics important to the mystery genre such as plotting, character development, creating tension and suspense, cluing, and point of view. 

He’s also been teaching writing at the university level for over forty years.

Of his ten published novels, nine have been mysteries.

It could therefore be said that Leonard Tourney knows a lot about teaching writing and a lot about writing mysteries.

What’s not apparent until you spend time in his workshop is that Leonard Tourney is a master of humor. This is not to say he doesn’t take mystery writing very seriously. He does.

Each workshop begins with a focused talk on one area of writing, and questions are welcome. The focus gradually segues into read and critique.  Feedback on the work presented becomes a great opportunity to amplify learning on the writing topic of the day.

Participants in this workshop should come with a willingness to consider new ideas, and actively participate in discussion during the read and critique session. It’s always helpful to practice open-minded listening to the writing of fellow participants and to all the feedback given…especially comments on your own work.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be intimidated by those you think are smarter and more accomplished than you.  It’s not necessarily so.

Leonard offers this tip to writers of all types of fiction: Complete the first draft as quickly as possible to discover the story for yourself. You can tweak and polish at your leisure.

Leonard Tourney discussing writing with Nicole. .jpg

The Funny World of Ernie Witham

Ever wonder how to write funny? Humor is everywhere. Every vacation, weekend outing, family function — even a trip to the mall — is fodder for humor, but capturing it is challenging.

Ernie Witham has always had a knack for recognizing odd opportunities for humor. Ask him what happened when he went shopping for something special for his wife’s birthday and told the clerk at the lingerie shop that he was pretty sure her favorite color was brown.

Ernie was a regular in Ian Bernard’s Humor workshop at SBWC and easily won the SBWC Best Humor Award some years ago.  That launched his career as a humor columnist. When Ian retired as the leader of SBWC’s Humor workshop, Ernie was the obvious choice to take over the role.  

His workshop is “The Craft of Humor Writing,” where the group concentrates on finding humor in everyday situations, getting it onto the page, and rewriting it to make it funnier and more saleable. The workshop includes lectures on technique, in-class exercises, read and critique sessions, and valuable marketing tips. Whether you want to write a humor column or add humor to your novel or screenplay, this workshop will help you learn to see, think and write funnier. Students should bring works-in-progress in any genre to read in class.


Ernie Witham has been writing the syndicated column, “Ernie’s World,” for the Montecito Journal for nearly two decades. He’s the author of three humor books: Ernie’s World the Book, A Year in the Life of a “Working” Writer, and his newest, Where Are Pat and Ernie Now?  His humorous writing has appeared in magazines and numerous anthologies, including more than twenty Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

He has led humor workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Whidbey Island, and on Cape Cod. Witham finds great pleasure in helping people get their funny stories onto the page and into circulation.

He lives by these three goals: First goal is to write. Second goal is to get published. Third goal is to get paid.

Read More

SBWC Changed My Life by Marilee Zdenek

If you think back about your life, is there a specific day or event that changed everything? 

For me it was a week in June in 1977 when I came to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference for the first time.  Four of my nonfiction books had already been published, but I wanted to write fiction, and I heard this was the place to go, for I had a lot to learn. A few conferences later, Barnaby Conrad asked me to lead a workshop, which led me to research ways writers could draw on the wealth of wisdom in the right hemisphere of the brain

I’ve taught at SBWC almost every year since then, and each time I’m grateful for the career that developed as a result.  It wasn’t in fiction, although Ross Macdonald liked the beginning of my novel, and a fine agent, Don Congdon, took me on as a client when Sid Stebel said he should read my novel-in-process.  

SBWC opened doors to an international speaking career and three more books.  This conference was the turning point, and the rewards were literally life changing. The Right-Brain Experience was on the bestseller list of the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Speaking invitations came from Germany and Switzerland, China and India and more.  So this conference changed the direction of my career, and therefore my life.

Every year I look forward to teaching and learning from the creative talent that is drawn here.  I stay in the hotel where the conference is held because I want to be in the midst of the highly charged energy of creative writers and speakers. I don’t want to miss a thing.  

I hope you’ll be there, too.

Marilee Zdenek is the author of 7 books, including Right Brain Experience.

Considered a pioneer in the use of right brain techniques and the constructive use of imagination, Zdenek lectures internationally and has taught her technique to Broadway casts, university students, and for 26 years at SBWC. Zdenek now considers the conference her literary home. Her most recent book is Between Fires, a memoir about recovering from devastating losses and creating a life that is meaningful and deeply satisfying.

Her SBWC workshop: The Right-Brain Experience

This is an experiential workshop to free the powers of your imagination. Each session includes right brain techniques that help you deal with your inner critic, discover ways to make your characters more fascinating, and your story to have greater depth.

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A Letter from Monte

To Santa Barbara's community of writers, and all those who travel to this beautiful oceanside city to celebrate the world of letters:

Writing may well be a solitary art, but there is a society of writers whose enthusiastic embrace of each other is irreplaceable. Having been part of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference since 1975, I've come to see that this has been the true reason for our gathering in June all these years.

We read and listen and share our support for that ongoing enterprise. We applaud each other's accomplishments, offer consolation during droughts of rejections, and remind one another that putting words on a page is not supposed to be easy or necessarily rewarding to our bank accounts, so much as it is a gift to our soul. We write because we have to, or because it makes us smile, or brings comfort on gray days, or allows us to communicate with our reader that simplest of ideas that we, too, are alive in the world and this is what we think of being here, and what it feels like to be human. We are the messengers and entertainers, the philosophers and sometimes even the bearers of great notions.

I am welcoming anyone who loves books and writing of any kind, who feels he or she has a novel or a play or a screenplay, a poem, an essay, a memoir locked away inside, who wants to be part of this community of writing to come see us next June 17-22, 2018 and take part in the 46th Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

My name is Monte Schulz, and I am a writer.



  Join us on June 18th  for the world premiere of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Documentary film at 4:00 p.m. as part of the 45th opening ceremonies of the conference. This film complements the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook which will be available at Chaucer's bookstore during the course of the conference. There will be a book signing later that evening alongside Fannie Flagg after her talk.

If you are already a member of the SBWC family we hope you will enjoy this nostalgic trip down memory lane and if you are new to the SBWC family, you will discover the rich literary tradition that you are becoming a part of.

If you are in the Santa Barbara area and want to see the where the historical roots of the conference come from, this event is open to the public.

Here is a teaser for the film.


SBWC 2017 Letter Welcome Letter for Attendees

June 18-23, 2017: Santa Barbara Writers Conference Welcome letter for Attendees

There are several useful links in this letter. If a link does not work by clicking, simply cut and paste into your browser.

Dear Writers,

The 2017 Santa Barbara Writers Conference begins Sunday, June 18, just two weeks away.  We look forward to meeting you and hope you have an exciting week at SBWC.

To do right now: 

Appointments with manuscript consultants:

If you wish, you may still mail 10 pages of your manuscript (2 copies please) ASAP to be given to one of our manuscript consultants to read before your appointment. We will have appointments scheduled throughout the conference week, and you may also bring your manuscript to the conference and sign up there for an appointment with a manuscript consultant. We would like to receive your mailed manuscript by June 11 at the latest.

Send to:


27 W Anapamu, Suite 305

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(If you are local, yes, you may drop a packet off at this location.  This is a UPS Store where they know SBWC well, and they accept packets over the counter. No postage required, but the packet should have an address.)

You may also sign up for an appointment to speak with a manuscript consultant at the conference, with or without a manuscript. You might like to get some advice on a particular issue with your writing or want some ideas of how and where to submit your work and how to know if your manuscript is ready.

If your manuscript has been mailed ahead of time, you will receive your appointment time and place when you check into the conference.  If you sign up at the conference, you will pick your own appointment time.

Sunday, June 18 ?NOON  on…

Check-in will be in La Cantina on the first floor. You’ll receive:

  • Your name badge and lanyard, which will be your pass to all conference events
  • A program booklet for the week, including a map to help you navigate

This program/schedule is available to download now:

  • Other information to help you make the most of your conference week

Agents appointments Tuesday, June 20

If you participated in the advanced submission program or signed up for a 10-minute agent pitch, your Tuesday appointment times with agents and editors will be given to you when you check in.  The appointments are all on Tuesday, June 20.

Registration 10-minute agent pitch sessions (no manuscript) are still open, and you may sign up through June 19, as long as there are available appointments.  Be sure to give alternate picks, in case your first choices are full.

Welcome and orientation in El Cabrillo on Sunday June 18

3:00 PM Meet the workshop leaders and get tips on navigating the conference.

SBWC Scrapbook Movie, a Documentary

4:00 PM This is a documentary film of the first 30 years of SBWC that supplements the SBWC Scrapbook. 

The authors and filmmakers will be with us throughout the conference.

 Opening Night Dinner in The Vistas

5:00 PM -- No-host bar

5:30 PM -- Dinner

 If you wish to bring a guest, banquet tickets are available for $50. 

Award & Keynote Address in El Cabrillo

7:30 PM -- The Ross Macdonald Award

8:00 PM – Fannie Flagg speaks with a book signing to follow

9:30 PM The Pirate Workshops begin Sunday night 

These late-night, read-and-critique sessions are great fun for night owls, and there are two to chose from every night, Sunday through Friday.

Monday, June 19 through Friday, June 23

There are many daytime workshops to choose from every morning and afternoon, Monday - Friday. You are free to attend those that best suit your interests. There is no signup ahead of time…you just show up and see if a workshop works for you. If not, you are free to change and may sample workshops all week. You will design your own program.

If you wish to present your writing in workshops that do read and critique, remember to bring printed copies of your manuscript to read. Length allowed varies with workshop, but approximately 3-5 pages of your beginning is typical. An extra copy to share with the workshop leader is always appreciated. If you are headed to poetry workshops, bring about 12 copies of your poem for crafting.

Panels and Speakers

Every afternoon Mon.-Fri. at 4 PM, and every evening Sun.-Thur. at 8 PM, we’ll have either a panel or a speaker with book signings to follow. These events are included in the conference package for all registered attendees. Tickets are also available to the public for $10 each.

Poolside Cocktail Party, Tuesday, June 20

On Tuesday 5:00 - 6:30 PM all conference attendees are invited to a cocktail party around the pool.

If you wish to bring a guest, extra tickets to this party are available for $30. 

Closing Night Dinner, Friday, June 23

On Friday evening we’ll have our closing night dinner in El Cabrillo with appreciations and a few awards.

If you wish to bring a guest, extra banquet tickets are available for $50. 


How to Dress

In June, Santa Barbara often experiences morning fog, which burns off about noon to beautiful sunny afternoons. Dress in layers, so you can peel off a sweatshirt or sweater when the day warms up. The “fashion sense” at the conference is decidedly casual. Many students wear shorts or jeans to workshops. The opening and closing night banquets and cocktail party are also casual events, but it is a great time for something a little dressier if you have packed something. Anything goes.

SBWC Information Desk

All week long during daytime conference hours there’ll be someone to help you in the La Cantina, whether you’re checking in late or you can’t find your workshop or need advice on just about anything having to do with the conference or writing.

Bookstore in La Cantina

Chaucer’s Bookstore will sell books by all the speakers, panelists, many of the workshop leaders and general books of interest to writers. Author signings will also take place in this room.

If you have a book in print and which to bring it to sell on consignment with Chaucer's, you may.

Dining at the Hotel

Hyatt will be offering a special breakfast buffet and lunch menu.  Conference attendees wearing an SBWC badge will also be able to take advantage of a 20% discount in Bistro 1111 on regular price items. Please remind your server of this discount.


The Hyatt Hotel offers valet parking for $10 per day if space is available.

Overnight parking at the main hotel is more. If you have a blue handicapped sign for your car, valet parking is free. There is reasonably priced parking in the city lot across the street for the day. Don’t forget to put money in the self-serve collection boxes to avoid a ticket. Yes, they do check!

If you prefer to have free parking, there’s quite a lot of nearby street parking. If you arrive early in the morning, chances are better for finding a great spot. Beware of street sweeping on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. Be very careful where you park on those days or you could receive an expensive parking ticket from City of Santa Barbara. Don't assume you can park in the space in the morning and remember to change spots by afternoon. Once you enter the zone of SBWC, your mind will be on writing, not parking. Tip: if there is a wide expanse of parking available on a street one day, it probably means it is street sweeping day. 

 If you can walk a bit, there’s plenty free parking in the lot at the far corner of Ninos Drive and Por La Mar that serves Dwight Murphy Park. There is more street parking all around the park.

Social Media?

This year’s Twitter hash tag is #SBWC17. We encourage you to post photos and quotes from throughout the week to Twitter and Facebook.


Facebook Page:

Facebook Group:

If you have not followed us on Twitter, or "liked" our SBWC Facebook page or joined our Facebook group, please do if you participate in social media.

If you have not signed up for our monthly e-newsletter, you may do so at This is an opt-in list and you may unsubscribe at any time.

SBWC Talent Show

If you have a talent besides writing, you might want to participate in the SBWC talent show in La Cantina after the Friday night dinner. You may signup all week at the information desk. After the closing night banquet, you will find La Cantina transformed into a cabaret. This is a great way to unwind after an intense conference week.

However if you still want to workshop your writing Friday night, the pirates will continue into the wee hours.

We hope you’ll have a fantastic week at the 45th Annual SBWC. See you on Sunday, June 18!

Write On!

Grace Rachow

SBWC Director

Questions?  You may respond to this email or email

Still Time to Mail Manuscripts for Ms. Consultation

The 2017 Santa Barbara Writers Conference begins Sunday, June 18.  We look forward to meeting you and hope you have an exciting week. There is still time to register if you have not at If you are already registered for the conference:

If you wish, you may still mail 10 pages of your manuscript (2 copies please) ASAP to be given to one of our manuscript consultants to read before your appointment. We will have appointments scheduled throughout the conference week, and you may also bring your manuscript to the conference and sign up there for an appointment with a manuscript consultant. We would like to receive your mailed manuscript by June 11 at the latest.

There is no extra charge for this service. It is part of your conference package.

Send to:


27 W Anapamu, Suite 305

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(If you are in the Santa Barbara area, yes, you may drop a packet off at this location, which is a UPS Store where they know SBWC well.)

You may also sign up for an appointment to speak with a manuscript consultant at the conference, with or without a manuscript. You might like to get some advice on a particular issue with your writing or want some ideas of how and where to submit your work and how to know if you manuscript is ready.

If your manuscript has been mailed ahead of time, you will receive your appointment time and place when you check into the conference.  If you sign up at the conference, you will pick your own appointment time.


  An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

1982 was a time of remembering, the “old timers,” reflecting on the ten years that made the SBWC arguably the best writers conference in the country.

Alex Haley returned to discuss life before and after Roots. Paul Lazarus told the story of how Haley got an agent for his book. Louis Blau was Barnaby’s agent at the time and agreed to give Haley fifteen minutes. After listening to the story of Roots for three hours, Blau told Haley, “If you can write the story you just told me you will change the world.”

Lazarus brought Danielle Steele to the podium to introduce the Roots author.

“Well, earlier today I came to speak to you as Danielle Steel. Now I’m back as the real me, a lady named Danielle Traina, and I’m here to talk about one of my very favorite people, my very best friend. You all know who he is, and what he does. Very rarely in a lifetime you meet someone, that a big piece of your soul goes out to them and stays there forever, and Alex Haley is that kind of person to me. He’s my dearest fiend, he’s one of the most special people in the world. You’re very lucky that he’s here tonight. Thank you.”

Alex Haley took the stage and wrapped author Danielle Steele in his arms. “I am sure glad,” he said in his booming voice, "that John Traina is so understanding. He just looks at us hugging each other and smiles, and that’s great.”

Haley began his remarks saying that as he walked into the Conference center he was thinking that he still found it odd to be standing at a podium or on a dais to address a room full of writers. “For so long, I used to dog-ear the Writers Digest and other magazines, to find a writers conference that I could get to.

“And, sitting somewhere near the back of the room, and feel a kind of vicarious something, but never ever did, seriously think about it happening as such, to me. I guess I thought that if I kept plugging, at something to which I was very very devoted, I would be able to write magazine articles such as that, but I never thought that in terms of books, and that it kind of came as a surprise.

“Some of the things, and I have no notes or anything, whatever I say will be off the top of my head. Trying to communicate, share with others as colleague writers.

“So much that Danielle said this afternoon, from my own experience, is absolutely right on target. Just plucking some of them from the air, I know she was saying that being a writer doesn’t mean that you necessarily have sold, or you’re a best-seller, or this and that. The fact that you are writing, and I would add only one word to that, that you are ‘seriously’ writing, that is what makes you a writer.”

Starting June first you may sign up for single day or 1/2 conference!

The 45th Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference opens on June 18 -- less than three weeks away! We still have some spaces left. If your schedule or budget does not allow you to attend the full conference, please consider signing up for a partial conference. Beginning June 1, you may register online for: $125 for a day Available for online registration now: $575 student rate (email info@ for promo code) $650 for full 6-day conference To register: For more information: Group rates available too.


  An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

Judith Kranz joined the list of featured speakers in 1981, and talked about writing Scruples and Princess Daisy. Saying that she was too busy at work on a new-not-to-be-revealed-novel to prepare a speech, she entertained the afternoon audience with tips on fashion as well as how she managed to pen two successful books, and how she handled the sex scenes.

Ms. Kranz reported that she had not realized how erotic the sex scenes in Scruples appeared to the American public when she started her book tour, so she decided that there would be no four letter words in Princess Daisy.

“And I think those sex scenes were better than Scruples,” she stated. “Writers have to feel comfortable with the words, just as readers do.”

One of the more fascinating speakers that year was Barbara Goldsmith, who spent five years researching her book, Little Gloria…. Happy at Last. Ms. Goldsmith was already an accomplished writer and editor when she came across a reference in research for her Straw Man book project to the proceedings of Vanderbilt vs. Vanderbilt.

With persistence she was able to access previously sealed court documents including 80,000 pages of testimony, details, and conversations related to the case. The Politics of 1934 were the historic background for the court case, and for her book, Little Gloria… Happy at Last.


  An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

William Styron was back, overheard at the Conrad’s party to say, “I love California in a perverse and unique way. It always seems both non-American and more American than America.”

Though the star-studded parties were in full swing, the real action remained at the Miramar Hotel. 1980 was the year William Styron told the conference how he came to write Sophie’s Choice which held the number one spot on the best-seller list for 47 weeks.

“In the early ‘70s I fell into that moment of creative impotence in which something goes haywire with the creative process, and one struggles and struggles with the obdurate word, with the intransigent paragraphs, with the hopelessly unyielding sentence, word, comma — and one wants to give it all up and go to Peru and fish sardines or something like that — anything but write.”

Questions from the assembled writers poked into those places most personal to any writer, such as, “You talk a lot about loneliness.” Styron said he didn’t think there was any way out of it — “Its self-flagellation.” and “was ‘Nathan’ (a principle in Sophie’s Choice) based on someone you knew?” Nathan was based on a composite of people he knew.

Students at the SBWC wanted to know everything about writing, and the smorgasbord of authors at the conference provided many opportunities to learn from masters in many fields.



  An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

The 1979 conference was dedicated to Erskine Caldwell, the shy and low-profile writer of Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre whose 50 books had been translated into 43 languages with a circulation of an estimated 80,000,000 copies in print.

Earlier in his career Mr. Caldwell was anything but shy when the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice instigated legal action against him, bringing about his arrest when he attended a book-signing for God’s Little Acre in New York. With his exoneration at trial, the novel The Bastard was deemed “not obscene” by Magistrate Greenspan. Caldwell promptly counter-sued for false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Barnaby met Erskine Caldwell when they both resided in San Francisco, joining with one another in the fecund hotbed of writers who comprised the Bay Area writing community, and who also frequented Barnaby’s El Matador Bar. When the Conrads moved to Carpinteria, Caldwell made his way to Paradise Valley, Arizona, where he lived until his death on April 11, 1987.

Deemed so by James Michener, the SBWC was “now known as the best [conference] in the nation,” and the Santa Barbara and Montecito society circles took notice.

Friends of Mary and Barnaby Conrad held parties in conjunction with the SBWC, including Mrs. Leinie Schilling of the Schilling Spice fortune. Attendees to Leinie’s legendary Mexican Buffet supper included workshop leaders, speakers, and visiting writers who met permanent and part time local residents including Jane Russell, Robert Mitchum, John Ireland, Dame Judith Anderson, and Priscilla Presley, but, as with Mary Conrad’s fabled cocktail party for friends of the SBWC in their Rincon home, the Leinie Schilling and every other SBWC associated party had a sharp curfew of 7:30 pm when party attendees were encouraged to “drink up and eat up” because the evening speaker started the lecture at 8:00 pm. Setting a good example, by that point Mary herself was absent from the festivities, ensconced at a table in the entrance to the Miramar Conference Center, checking name badges or collecting admission fees.

1979 marked the seventh year in a row that the Conrads convened the SBWC which had grown from 36 students and 7 workshop leaders and speakers, to 175 students and 31 speakers and workshop leaders.


  An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

A newcomer to the SBWC in 1978, Colleen McCullough was riding a wave of publicity for The Thorn Birds which included a $1.9 million price tag for the paperback rights. “I worked on it for five years,” McCullough said of The Thorn Birds. “I rewrote the whole thing 10 times. Whole chapters were added and dropped, new characters were created and others were ‘unborn.’ I stayed up for four or five days in a row sometimes without sleeping at all.”

Like Colleen, for some, it wasn’t about the money and glamour. In fact she shocked conference attendees and guests by saying, “I hate the book. I’m not just saying that — I hate it [The Thorn Birds] with a passion.

“I think it’s flat, dull, uninteresting, ghastly, and a complete embarrassment to me. I can’t see any virtue in it at all.”

As incredible as that may sound, it is exactly those kind of insights into the life and craft of writing that many conferees came back to glean from the conference workshop leaders, speakers, and published authors.

For many, there was something deeply moving about such raw honesty delivered succinctly, and although Ms. McCullough was featured speaker on the first full day of the conference, the audience felt her pain as if they’d already spent a week baring their own souls, scars, and open sores to the creative process. In truth, all writers share that toll that writing takes — some just wear their experiences more gently.



Congrats!!! SBWC Scholarship Contest Results

  Dear Writers,

Thank you to those of you who entered our annual writing contest. After reviewing a massive stack of entries from all over the United States and Canada, we’d like to congratulate our 3 winners and 3 runners-up.

There were many excellent entries…but there could only be so many winners.

Winners: Full scholarships to SBWC 2017

Mikko K. Cook Kim Cromwell Jeff Wing

Runners-up: Partial scholarships to SBWC 2017

Joy Allen Lorie Brallier Ann Doyle

Finalists: Entitled to a free agent appointment if they desire, and if they are able to attend SBWC 2017.

Claire Hsu Accomando Sharon Brown Suzanne Cardinal Christina Gessler Cherie Kephart Nancy Klann

We appreciate every writer who took a chance and submitted writing to be considered. We know that is an act of bravery.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”              — Ernest Hemingway

There were many excellent entries, but the above writers were the ones who, this time, around rose to the top with this year’s judges.

Congratulations, all. Grace Rachow

SBWC Director


  An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary:

By the fifth year of the Santa Barbara Writers conference the cadre of workshop leaders continued to evolve. Gwen Davis (Kingdome Come, The Motherland, and others), Don Freeman (Corduroy, Inspector Peckit, and others), Herb Harker (Dragon Hunter, Goldenrod, and others). Paul Lazarus, former Vice President of Columbia Pictures joined the ranks of Barnaby Conrad, Niels Mortensen, John Leggett, Jerry Hannah, Bill Downey, and Sid Stebel. Jerry Hannah brought in poet Charles Edwards who gained conference fame for a wildly successful poetry workshop at the beach house of Rosabel Cowper.

 Perennial speakers now included Charles “Sparky” Schulz, Clifton Fadiman, Ross MacDonald, James Sheldon, Eudora Welty, and Don Congdon in addition to the inimitable Ray Bradbury. William Styron (Lie Down in Darkness, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice, and others) was on hand in 1977 along with Clive Cussler and Barnaby’s friend, William F. Buckley, Jr. (Saving the Queen, Airborne, and others), who Barnaby had met through Buckley's younger brother when they had been friends at Yale.