Stephen Markley Will Speak at SBWC Tuesday June 18 at 8 PM.

Stephen Markley

Tuesday June 18, 8:00 PM, El Cabrillo

Stephen Markley’s OHIO is one of the best debut novels I have read in years.

Stephen Markley’s new novel is Ohio. In it he depicts an American generation fumbling through disillusionment and a turbulent new age of war, addiction, political unrest, and unemployment.

Markley is a gifted writer, masterfully weaving together the stories of his protagonists through a variety of perspectives and timelines that culminate in a stunning reveal. 

Stephen Markley is an author, screenwriter, and journalist. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Markley’s previous books include the memoir Publish This BookThe Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold, and Published This Very Book, and the travelogue Tales of Iceland. He lives in Los Angeles.


Monte Schulz Teaches Voice & Style

Voice and Style

Monday - Friday
1:00-3:30 PM
El Monte

Monte Schulz asks that his students try to write the best they can. There’s no reward in striving to be mediocre, no matter what genre you choose.

His popular SBWC workshop is about finding the right voice or style to fit your story or novel or poem. Style is how we as writers present ourselves to the world. Writers are often known for how they tell a story, rather than the tale itself.

Schulz has been a writer for over forty years. He published his first novel in 1990. He then spent ten years writing a thousand page novel of the Jazz Age that was published in three parts by Fantagraphics Books (2009–2012). Schulz’s most recent projects include his novel Crossing Eden, published in 2015, and “Seraphonium,” an album and live performance, for which he served as composer, songwriter, and producer. Schulz has been teaching at SBWC since 2001 and became the conference’s owner in 2010.


New Book Panel on Monday June 17, 4-5 PM

The New Book Panel is open to registered SBWC attendees, and the public may attend as well for only $15 per person.

SBWC likes to feature new books, especially first books, and for bonus points, we love it when the new publications are by authors who were or are SBWC attendees. This year we have a rich representation in all of the above on this panel.

Moderator Lorelei Armstrong is a novelist and leader of one of the SBWC late night pirate workshops.

August Norman, known as Norm Thoeming to SBWC attendees, has been promoting his first novel, Come and Get Me, a thriller.

Deborah Gaal’s first novel, Dream Stitcher, was selected as a finalist of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award.

John Reed is the author of five novels and he will be talking about his latest, Mountain of Ashes. He teaches the other late night pirate workshop at SBWC.

K. N. Crighton, is a longtime SBWC attendee, and her first novel The New Normal is set post-Katrina New Orleans.


Dale Griffiths Stamos is Big on Structure

Monday - Friday
1:00-3:30 PM

Dale Griffiths Stamos will be back teaching Story Structure for All Genres at SBWC this year June 16-21.

In both fiction and nonfiction, Stamos looks to help writers strengthen those all-important story elements, without which the novel, memoir, play or screenplay will fall apart, no matter how beautifully worded. Stamos will look at pages from your work in the context of your whole story, helping you to strengthen the parts in ways that contribute to make a more compelling whole. Remember STORY is at the heart of every good story!

She prefers her students to bring in no more than five pages from any genre: fiction, nonfiction, memoir, play, screenplay. Those pages should be drawn from a key dramatic scene in the work, preferably not from the beginning. Students may also bring in ideas for new work, and she will help answer questions regarding potential structure. When bringing in pages, where possible, bring a copy for her.


Sid Stebel & Karen Ford Return to SBWC to Help Writers Find Their Secret Stories

S.L.(Sid) Stebel and Karen Ford

Finding Your Secret Story

Monday - Friday
1:00-3:30 PM
RM 269

Those attending read their own work aloud for positive feedback moderated by workshop leaders.

This workshop is valuable for writers at all levels.

Sid Stebel is a five times published novelist, produced screenwriter & playwright, and spent twenty years teaching grad students at USC. He has been at every SBWC since the early 1970s, except for one.

Karen Ford is a novelist and short story writer, a contributing editor to American Salon magazine and a long-time veteran of the SBWC. Her recent publication credits include Ginosko Literary Journal; Ginosko Anthology 2; Narrative Magazine, where she was the winner of the 2013 Winter Fiction contest; and bosque (the magazine), where she was the winner of the 2015 Fiction Prize.


Four Genres Panel on Thursday June 20, 4-5 PM

Four Genres Panel is open to SBWC attendees, and the public may attend, as well, for only $15.

Several years ago SBWC discovered that if you get authors working in different genres on a panel together, the conversation gets very lively. This year we have a poet laureate, a maven of YA novels, a historical novelist and an editrix of a literary journal discussing their various angles on storytelling and publishing. We hope you will join us for the fun.

Moderator Trey Dowell is the author of The Protectors, a thriller.

Laure-Anne Bosselaar is the current Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara and is the author of multiple volumes of poetry, including her latest, These Many Rooms.

Robin LaFevers writes for middle grade readers and her latest, Courting Darkness is receiving rave reviews.

Willard Thompson is the author of four historical novels and his newest is The Girl from the Lighthouse.

Silver Webb, known to us at SBWC as Angela Borda, is a writer of speculative fiction and is the editrix of the Santa Barbara Literary Journal.


Steph Post Will Speak at SBWC on June 17

Monday June 17, 8:00 PM, El Cabrillo

I just finished reading Steph Post’s latest novel, Miraculum, an epic battle between good and evil with plenty of quirky characters. I look forward to hearing Steph speak on June 17. She shares her writing world with a flock of chickens and some dear dogs. I enjoy her daily Facebook posts of her menagerie. Her writing career is off to a roaring beginning with four novels already in print. According to her official bio:

Steph Post is the author of the novels Miraculum, Walk in the Fire, Lightwood, and A Tree Born Crooked. She graduated from Davidson College as a recipient of the Patricia Cornwell Scholarship and winner of the Vereen Bell award, and she holds a Master’s degree in Graduate Liberal Studies from UNCW. Her work has most recently appeared in Garden & GunNonBinary Review and the anthology Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a Rhysling Award and was a semi-finalist for The Big Moose Prize. She lives in Florida. 


How and Where to Submit to Literary Magazines and Online

Max Talley will be teaching his very popular 3-day workshop on how to market short essays and fiction this year at SBWC.

Whether you are writing short stories, poems, nonfiction, or novels, getting short pieces published in literary magazines is an essential part of platform building for an author. It is also the way potential agents and editors will gauge your experience level. This one-day workshop covers basic rules in formatting, grammar, and submission guidelines. Learn how to avoid mistakes that will cause immediate rejection.We will read the first three pages of writers’ stories or novel chapters and discuss the best places to submit to, and ways to strengthen the crucial beginning of the story to compel weary slush-pile readers to continue reading.

Mac (Max) Talley is the author of the novel, Yesterday We Forget Tomorrow, published in 2014. His short fiction has appeared in Two Cities Review, Del Sol Review, Iconoclast,The Opiate, Gold Man Review, Thoughtful Dog, Chantwood Magazine, and in the Hardboiled: Dames and Sin anthology, and is forthcoming in the Freakshow anthology from Copper Pen Press. He is a contributing editor for Santa Barbara Literary Journal.


Jervey Tervalon and Ginger Swanson Teach Creative Nonfiction at SBWC

Creative nonfiction combines techniques of fiction and nonfiction

Monday - Friday
1:00-3:30 PM
Vista II

The successful creative nonfiction writer strives to incorporate what is important to him or her and then transforms those passions into a compelling narrative. 

Course Description

This workshop will help you identify and solidify your structure and foundation, and it will help you clarify your past and present voices. It will provide you with action steps to take as you begin or continue your creative nonfiction or memoir-writing project.

 Sometimes the hardest part of writing is getting close to the most meaningful elements of your story—the parts that may be difficult to reveal. Ginger and Jervey help you delve beneath the surface to the gold in your story—drama and passion.

We will “whiteboard” your ideas and find what’s most important—that kernel from which your story really begins. We’ll discover the emotional energy and dramatic pace that will keep your voice active and alive and your story vibrant and truthful. And, we’ll have fun.

Jervey Tervalon is a “professional teller and gatherer of stories” and “literary networker” by the LA Times,“award-winning poet, screenwriter, and dramatist” by Simon and Schuster, and “literary sage, cultural recorder, working class hero, father” by a community blogger, Jervey Tervalon was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles.

He received his MFA in creative writing from UC Irvine and was a Disney Screen-Writing fellow and a Shanghai Writers Association fellow. He is the executive director of Literature for Life/Locavore Lit.LA, a literary magazine and educational advocacy organization. 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.

Ginger Swanson authored The Other Woman: Film and Feminism and is currently in the dissertation to book adaptation process. Ginger worked for Phoenix Pictures in Story Editing. She wrote, directed and produced A Room for Sara (Official Selection Santa Barbara International Film Festival). She is currently working on a long-term writing and film project entitled The Art of Writing: Craft and Community. Ginger is also the founder in Santa Barbara where she leads Writing, and Body, Soul and Dream Tending Retreats. 

 Ginger holds a PhD and MA in Depth Psychology, a BA in Film and Media Studies, and degrees in Writing and Directing, and Performance Arts. Ginger holds an adjunct faculty position at Pacifica Graduate Institute and has a private psychotherapy practice in Santa Barbara, California. 


Eric Myers Moderates SBWC Literary Agents Panel on Tuesday June 18, 4-5 PM

All day on Tuesday June 18, SBWC attendees will meet with literary agents to discuss their book projects. The marathon of appointments will culminate with an agents panel in El Cabrillo, open to the public for only $15. The panelists will reveal the secrets to gaining agent representation. Eric Myers, will moderate. Panelists are Annie Bomke, Charlotte Gusay, Dara Hyde, Mary C. Moore, Dana Newman, and Liz Parker. It should prove to be a lively discussion.


Taylor Jenkins Reid will speak at SBWC June 19.

Wednesday June 19, 8:00 PM, El Cabrillo

We are pleased to announce that Taylor Jenkins Reid will be speaking at SBWC this year. She is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoOne True LovesMaybe in Another LifeAfter I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. Her novels have been Indie Next Picks, chosen by Book of the Month, and featured in People, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, and more. Her newest novel, Daisy Jones and the Six, came out in March 2019. She lives in Los Angeles.


After 33 Years Teaching Mornings, Leonard Tourney Mysteriously Switches to Afternoons


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.

Author Platform Panel on Friday June 21 at 4 PM--El Cabrillo

Building Your Author Platform panel is open to SBWC attendees, and the public may attend as well for only $15.

Every author is faced with the responsibility of promoting his or her own book, as well as as their own authority as an author.

Marla Miller, author , editor and writing coach, will interview four author platform experts.

Flor Edwards, author of Apocalypse Child, promoted her memoir extensively before it was published last year. Since this publication, she has been on the circuit and is regularly sought out as a speaker on her book, thus allowing her a great platform to sell more copies.

Hendrika DeVries memoir, When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew, will be published later this summer. She will speak about her extensive prepublication process, which comes as a surprise to authors who assume their work is done as soon as they turn in a final draft.

Jake Wachtel is a media and entertainment industry expert with a background in journalism, as well as being a producer, writer, and director on a range of projects for big name media entities. He supports authors in helping them to create a media presence.

Elizabeth Gould has been speaking and teaching in the area of her nonfiction book, Your Best Health by Friday: How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression, Stress, Trauma, PTSD and Chronic Illness. She has designed and created her own author platform.


Pete Shamlian Writes about the Enduring Legacy of SBWC

This is an excerpt from a letter Pete Shamlian wrote after SBWC 2015 to people he had met at the conference that year. He recently shared it with SBWC and gave permission to share it will all. He will be back at SBWC 2019.

To my new friends at SBWC,

During the conference I was sleeping about five hours each night. It’s now Saturday morning and I’m at my desk after sleeping, you guessed it, five hours.  

What got me up this morning is all of you.  

What an amazing experience, what a great group of people.  What a superb gift Barnaby Conrad has left us and how good of Monte Schulz to cherish, preserve and refresh that gift every year.  I cannot think of a more enduring legacy.  

The talent that’s nurtured here, through the magic of storytelling of all kinds, ultimately reaches every corner of the planet and inspires people to dream dreams and take actions that we, even as imaginers, cannot begin to fathom.  

It could be something as simple as an act of kindness to a child in Calcutta.  Perhaps someone is reading Ray Bradbury or Jerry Dunn, or You, and because they feel a connection and, in some small way, are released from the dogma of their day, they help that child, and that child feels the lightness of possibility.  

Perhaps it’s a teachable moment and that boy or girl realizes that the lightness is within and can be revisited at will, and they practice it, spreading it the rest of their lives on a daily basis, amongst the magnificent, tragic turmoil that is India.  

He or she passes it on thousands of times, and so it goes.  All because Barnaby Conrad, sipping his coffee one morning, decided that a Writers Conference would be the thing to do, and because a writer attended who had no clue how to go about this business and came to understand.  

To quote Steve Jobs, Wow!

Best Wishes,

Pete Shamlian


The Funny World of Ernie Witham

Ernie Witham’s humor writing workshop is a tradition at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

If you think that you can’t write funny, think again. Humor is everywhere. Every vacation, weekend outing, family function — even a trip to the mall — is fodder for humor, and capturing it in writing is something you can learn.

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.


Jeffrey C Stewart Wins 3rd Literary Prize

Jeffrey C. Stewart

Thursday, June 20, 8:00 PM, El Cabrillo at SBWC

SBWC is pleased to host author/speaker Jeffrey C. Stewart, a National Book Award Winner for Nonfiction, November 2018, the Pulitzer Prize in April 2019 and the Mark Lynton Prize for History, May 2019. He is a Professor of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara, where he was chair of the department from 2008-2016. Dr. Stewart is the author of numerous articles, essays and books, including The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about African American History, an essay to the exhibition catalog “Procession: The Art of Norman Lewis,” and the foreword for “Barthe: A Life in Sculpture.” He founded the Black Studies Review: An Undergraduate Research Journal, for which he won the Chancellor’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring (2018). Professor Stewart has taught at Harvard University, Yale University, UCLA, Tufts University, Howard University, Scripps College, and George Mason University.


SBWC 2019 Funny Dog Story Humor Winners


“Tips for Training Your Human” Chris Westphal from Martinez, CA



“That One” Jennifer Gunner from Santa Barbara, CA



• “Fowl Play” Julie Mock from Lompoc, CA

 • “The Most Beautiful Poops in the World” Natalie Jarboe from Templeton, CA

 • “Rat Hound” Ronald Doctors from Santa Barbara CA

• “The Dog Who Ate Cat Food” Sharon Brown from Carlotta, CA


Complete List of 2019 Contest Winners & Honorable Mentions

Not only did we have an abundance of entries in this contest, we had so much good writing. The judges said it was a real pleasure to read all the offerings. They did manage to narrow the field and pick winners and honorable mentions. Congratulations to all, including everyone who was brave enough to send their work out to be considered. Thank you.

Grace Rachow, SBWC Director



 Priscilla Lee from Newbury Park, CA

 Honorable Mentions:

J. D. Blair from Walnut Creek, CA

Gordon Ross from Phoenix, AZ




Karen MH Kersting from New Orleans, LA

Honorable Mentions:

Ken McAlpine from Ventura, CA

Kia McInerny from Los Angeles, CA

Katherine Rooks from Denver, CO

David Shulman from Skyland, NC




 Tanii Carr from Clearwater, FL (nonfiction)

Melissa Mimms from Ventura, CA (fiction)

Honorable mentions:

 Ellis Conklin from Seattle, WA

Russ Doherty from Santa Barbara, CA

Alyson Gines from Chelsea, MI

Jesse Krenzel from Auburn, CA

Nove Meyer from Port Orchard, WA

Shira Musicant from Santa Barbara, CA

Elizabeth Janis Perl from Goleta, CA

Cheri Rae from Santa Barbara, CA

Brian Watts from Carlsbad, CA

Nicolas Werner from Sherman Oaks, CA




Free Humor Writing Contest for Scholarship to SBWC 2019

Yes another contest!

This time make it funny, and for extra credit, make it a funny dog story. At the very least, put a dog in the humorous piece in some way. 

Enter to win a scholarship to the 47th Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

No entry fee.

You may share this opportunity with others.

The judging team will look for overall writing excellence as well as "the funny factor."

Submissions should be between 500 and 750 words.

Limit of 2 entries per person.

Each humorous entry should be sent in a separate email and will be judged separately. 

The judges are published humorous authors. 

We do not announce the names of the judges.

To enter:

Email <>

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:

Phone number
Email address
Mailing address
First prize will be a full tuition day scholarship to the 2019 Santa Barbara Writers Conference. ($699 value).

Scholarship recipients must be able to attend the conference this year, June 16-21.
If not, the full scholarship will be awarded to the runner up.
No entry fee
Contest opens:  May 1, 2019
Submission period closes MIDNIGHT, Friday, May 10, 2019 PDT

Winners announced several days after the submission period closes.