THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1976

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: The Fourth Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference returned to the Miramar Hotel from June 18-23rd in 1976. In addition to the now ensconced regulars and the return of Eudora Welty, new speakers included Rolling Stone Magazine co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner, Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and others), Los Angeles Times book review editor and Book Talk columnist Digby Diehl, and Irwin Shaw (Rich Man, Poor Man, and others).

Ken Millar, the Santa Barbara resident known world-wide as Ross Macdonald, introduced Eudora Welty saying “It seems kind of a miracle that she came from Jackson, Mississippi to speak to us.”

Beverly Jackson recorded Welty’s opening words in a 1976 article in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

“I’d like to clear the air about symbols,” Welty began reading. “The novel exists within the big symbol of fiction, and not the other way around.”

She elaborated, “One way of looking at Moby Dick is that his task as a symbol was so enormous, he had to be a whale.”

Welty continued to pass along other words of wisdom.

“Communication is going on when you can believe the writer. Belief doesn’t depend upon plausibility, but it’s a quality that makes reliability.” Later on she said, “Style is the product of highly conscious effort that is not self-conscious.”

When asked about writing as a woman in the question and answer portion of the lecture, Welty said, “It doesn’t bother me a bit,” to the titters from the audience, then added, “I don’t really feel limitations in writing as a woman. I feel I can see the point of view of a man. Once you’ve leaped into looking at the point of view of another person, I don’t think it matters whether it’s a man or a woman.”

April 2 SBWC Newsletter

April 2, 2017 SwirlSBWC Register here.

Dear Writers, Excitement is building for the 2017 Santa Barbara Writers Conference, June 18-23. We have a great line up of speakers, teachers, panelists and agents. Our schedule goes from 9:00 AM every day into the wee hours of the morning.

Speakers: We're pleased to announce that the very talented Shanti Sekaran has been added to our list of speakers for SBWC 2017. Her latest novel Lucky Boy was named an "IndieNext Great Read" and an "Amazon Editors' Pick."

Other featured speakers are Fannie Flagg, Angela Rinaldi, Tracy Daugherty, David Brin, Lesley M.M. Blume, and Catherine Ryan Hyde Workshop Leaders: One of the best things about the Santa Barbara Writers Conference is the faculty. Over 30 workshop leaders cover a broad range of genres. 2.5-hour workshops allow time for learning craft, as well as getting individualized feedback on your work.

Panels: We'll have three panels during the week: Agents Panel New Book Panel Navigating the Amazon (Author Platform Panel) Agents: You may register for appointments with any of our 10 agents and advanced submission of a 5-page manuscript to be read before your appointment on June 20Register for an agent here.

Manuscript consultations: All registered students are eligible for a free manuscript consultation with some of our conference workshop leaders. To take advantage of this option, send no more than 10 pages of the opening of your manuscript to:

Santa Barbara Writers Conference 27 West Anapamu Street, Suite 305 Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Include a cover letter briefly describing your project. Hotel: 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. SBWC Register here.

$650 -- full 6-day conference $100 -- deposit with balance due May 15 $40 each -- agent appointment with advance ms submission* *If you wish to have appointments with agents,  you must be registered for the conference. Please reserve your space soon so that you do not miss out.

Special prices: $600 -- group rate for 2 signing up together $575 -- rate for registered high school or college students or 3 or more signing up together

Please email info@sbwriters.com for promo codes for special pricing. 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.

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." 

Over the past 45 years, SBWC has evolved a learning environment that can transform beginners into bestselling authors ... well, that and a lot of hard work on the part of the authors.

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

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1975

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: In 1975 the Santa Barbara Writers Conference opened for the first time at the Miramar Hotel in Montecito, just South of Santa Barbara, beginning a twenty-five year Santa Barbara literary tradition. It was the first year that Charles (Sparky) Schulz came to the SBWC and not only decided to stay the entire week, but became a fixture of the conference, returning and staying for the entire week all the way through to the end of his life in the year 2000. With Sparky's blessing, his Peanuts character Snoopy became the SBWC logo and official conference mascot, and Sparky gave generously of his time and characters without thought of compensation for the next twenty-five years.

SBWC Banner

 The Last SBWC Banner hanging in Barnaby Conrad's art studio

The SBWC became synonymous with Snoopy typing away on the roof of his doghouse, set on the canvas of a sea of blue roofed cottages glimpsed from the 101 Freeway against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. It was the SBWC at the Miramar Hotel era.

How it came to be held there was because of the Cate School's new headmaster's unwarranted concerns about profitability. Mary Conrad had enough of the school's politics and contacted James Gawzar, a friend whose father owned the Miramar Hotel.

“Can we hold the conference there?” Mary asked.

“Sure,” came the answer from the elder William Gawzar.

With those prophetic words the Miramar Hotel became home to the SBWC for a quarter of a century, and birthed more stories than can be included in this volume of the history of the SBWC, or which the lawyers will allow us to relate, but it would not be a true reflection of the history if the book did not contain a generous sprinkling of the tales birthed and passed on along the way.

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1975 flyer0003

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1974

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: A short distance South of Santa Barbara, the 2nd Annual SBWC got underway with Ray Bradbury as Keynote Speaker, Kenneth Rexroth conducting a poetry workshop, and Mel Torme promoting his new book, “I’d Rather Write than Sing.”

Building on the success of the first year, the Conrads produced a line-up of speakers that would be the envy of any well-established conference:

Budd Schulberg showed his landmark film, “On the Waterfront.” James Michener (Hawaii, the Pulitzer Prize winning Tales of the South Pacific and others), gave an evening address and Mel Torme explained why “I’d Rather Write Than Sing.”

Ross MacDonald (Ken Millar) spoke about “Writing, Mystery & Suspense,” and the afternoon speakers included Joan Didion (Slouching Towards Bethlehem and others), John Gregory Dunne (Vegas: A Memoir of a Dark Season and others), Alex Haley (Roots), Clifton Fadiman (Mathematical Magpie and others), and James Sheldon (radio broadcaster, “We, The People”).

By the end of the conference the SBWC had become an institution in Santa Barbara County, and in the world of writers and conferences, but not everyone was convinced.

After the second conference in 1974, Barnaby’s boyhood friend Headmaster Clark left Cate School and the new headmaster was concerned that the school was losing money on the deal the previous headmaster had made with the Conrads.

As a result of the new headmaster's erroneous impressions of the conference, the SBWC moved to the Miramar Hotel in 1975.

James MichenerAlex Hailey

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1973

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: Held from June 22nd to June 29th, the first Santa Barbara Writers Conference featured Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and others), Clifton Fadiman (The Mathematical Magpie, and others), Ross MacDonald (The Zebra-Striped Hearse, the Chill, and others), Don Freeman (A Rainbow of My Own, Corduroy, and others), John Leggett (Ross and Tom: Two American Tragedies, and others), Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront), Niels Mortensen (Endangered, with Barnaby Conrad), and Jessica “Decca” Mitford (Hons and Rebels, The American Way of Death, and others), and Jerry Hannah.

In total there were six workshop leaders and 37 students.

By the second night, Bill Downey wrote, “You could tell the students by the glazed look in their eyes.” Their countenances were attributed to the Pirate Workshops, a device invented of necessity. Rather than lying awake with comments and critiques from the published writers torturing their sleep, students stayed up most of the night reading and re-working the endings or beginnings of their Great American Novels to each other, and those workshop leaders young enough to participate without a full night’s sleep.

It was a grand experiment off to a promising start, if only in the minds of the conference organizers and attendees, but the experience was successful enough to encourage Ray Bradbury and others to return the next year, because unlike most writers conferences, there was something tangibly different from other conferences. When they made their way from the Cate School Campus each looked forward to the next year, as if to a beloved family gathering. Thus began a long-standing tradition of Ray Bradbury making the opening remarks every year until failing health caused him to miss the annual event in 2005.

Barny, Ray Bradbury, and friends

Barny, Ray Bradbury, and friends

[audio mp3="http://www.sbwriters.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Ray-Bradbury-2002.mp3"][/audio]

Words of wisdom from Ray Bradbury

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1986

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: The following news clipping from May 31 1986 was published prior to the 14th annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference which took place from June 20-27, 1986. By then, the SBWC was fully established in the cottages and confines under the landmark blue roofs of the Miramar Hotel in Montecito, where legends were both celebrated and created.

Over the space of a quarter of a century, for one magical week a year the SBWC took over the old fashioned resort and became a world unto itself. There was a piano bar where you might walk in to find Steve Allen, Barnaby Conrad, or Cliff, the black house piano man tickling the ivories, and a long hallway that connected the registration desk to the bar and restaurant, aptly nicknamed "Peacock Alley" where people strutted their stuff, and a huge conference hall where the keynoters spoke.

In a smaller hall nestled beneath the main hall, Pirate Workshops were held after the evening speaker, ending when the last person read, almost always after midnight, and often into the wee hours of the morning. Night or day that setting was bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful Miramar beach front facing cottages, with tennis courts, and railroad tracks that sent locomotives and rattling box cars through the middle of the property at all hours of the day and night, past a stationary railroad club car restaurant beside the tracks. It was a perfect setting for a gathering of creative talent of all levels and genres, all dedicated to nurturing and celebrating their shared love of writing with varying degrees of angst, anger, fear, passion, and hope.

Beginning article

 

Beginning article 2

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 2004

An excerpt from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: 2004 was the last year that the Conrads owned the SBWC and it was the conference's last year at Westmont College.

Gayle Lynds who is one of this year's keynoters for 2017, was a keynoter that year.

“I am here,” Gayle stated, “to talk about plotting, because Barnaby asked me.” She directed the students to look in their SBWC packets for The Writer Magazine. “There’s an article written by a very fine writer — the one with plotting, or plotting a thriller or plotting suspense, or something like that — with interviews written by Julian Abbott. Interviews with me, and Dennis Lehane, and Stuart Woods, and so Barnaby took it into his head that it would be a good thing for me to talk about.”

Gayle talked with the audience about her experience plotting and said that everything has a plot. “Even when they say it doesn’t have a plot, it’s got a plot.” She read from a 1939-40 book by Jack Woodford that discussed plotting. He wrote that in any other profession you can put relatives to work, but novels require a special skillset.

“‘Publishers’ relatives can’t write them. No matter how devoted the publisher is to his relatives, he can’t chisel them in on this one profession. It’s an honor left fairly free from nepotism.

"‘Of course publishers’ relatives do write novels, or have them written by ghost writers, but it’s one place where the nepotism game won’t really work, because you’ve got to have some brains to be a writer, and relatives never have brains. All the brains in the family run to one guy, in a given generation.’”

Gayle spoke again about the difference between a thriller and a mystery. She used the same Alfred Hitchcock example of a bomb place underneath a table that Andrew Klavan had used the previous day, “but I want to come to it from another direction.” She used the example of 9/11 in 2001 — acknowledging that it was a terrible event, but that in a thriller the story would start a few days before 9/11, perhaps with the terrorists preparing for the planes crashing, then build up to the moment of the crashes.

For this particular lecture she took the time to give the subtleties of plotting and story elements, interweaving her personal experience with the novels that she has written. “Two key words, for any novelist, are, What if?”

This was how she created a second novel to follow up on an earlier one. For years her publishers were after her to do a sequel, but Gayle could not see the story until finally she had her character go back to school and start a new way of life. At this point she admonished the audience to be in love with the story, because if they weren’t, then they could not credibly write for their audience, and once she came up with the new life for her character, she needed to develop plot elements to move the character into and through the story.

Gayle Lynds

Gayle Lynds - Coil

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 2002

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

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 2001

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

February Newsletter

February 5, 2017SwirlEarly 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

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 2000

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

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!

https://youtu.be/KZIkSZWKg4g

 

 

 

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1998

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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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 connectionsSpend 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

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1997

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.

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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.

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Paul and Ellie Lazarus

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1996

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

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Elmore (Dutch) Leonard

THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1995

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.

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE — 1994

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.”

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 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.”

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 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.

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THE HISTORY OF THE SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE

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.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCFQ2nhNZlc[/embed]