If there's a story you've wanted to share but you need some direction on the best way to approach the process, Erica Garza is an excellent guide.Read More
Laura van den Berg is the author of the novels The Third Hotel (FSG, August 2018) and Find Me, which was selected as a best book of 2015 by Time Out New York and NPR. She is also the author of two story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, both finalists for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.Read More
When a number of faculty members recommend someone to teach for us, we pay attention, especially when they've been published by a who's who list of literary journals: Ploughshares, AGNI, n+1, Bookforum and more. Lisa Fetchko is that highly recommended guest instructor and our first profile.Read More
Impressive showing by WWLA faculty and students this season! Congratulations to all!Read More
It's that (best) time of year again! The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is happening at USC on April 21-22 and we will be there. Check out the details below for where you can find us. The instructors' spring classes are listed after their names if you want to immediately apply that FOB inspiration.
We're crossing our fingers for Ivy Pochoda, whose novel Wonder Valley is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller! Winners will be announced on the Friday night before the Festival at the prize ceremony. Go, Ivy!
Edan Lepucki will be on the panel "Damage Done" with Lisa Ko, Claire Messud, and Gabriel Tallent, moderated by Dana Johnson, on Saturday at 1:30 pm in Salvatori 101.
Ivy Pochoda will be on the panel "Crime Fiction Under the Sun" with Tod Goldberg and Attica Locke, moderated by Gar Anthony Haywood, on Saturday at 1:30 pm in Seeley G. Mudd 123.
Scott O'Connor (Novel I and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Writing About Place) will be on the panel "The Art of the Short Story" with Elizabeth Crane Brandt, Daniel A. Olivas, and Susan Straight, moderated by Matthew Specktor, on Saturday at 3:00 pm in Salvatori 101.
Following in Salvatori 101, Natashia Deón will moderate the panel "You Go, Girl: Women in Charge" with Amy Alkon, Melissa Carbone, and Krista Suh on Saturday at 4:30 pm.
Zan Romanoff (Young Adult Fiction) will be on the panel "Young Adult Fiction: Forging Your Own Path" with Gloria Chao and Mary H.K. Choi, moderated by Amy Spalding, on Sunday at 12:30 pm on the YA Stage.
Chris Daley (Playtime—Experimenting with Form) will moderate the panel "Epics: Old & New" with Janet Fitch, Laila Lalami, A.G. Lombardo, and Madeline Miller on Sunday at 2:00 pm in Hoffman Hall.
Last but not least in our profile of new spring guest instructors, we have online instructor Chelsea Biondolillo! Chris and Edan both met Chelsea in 2014 when we were all at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming and we're excited to have Chelsea teach our online seminar Words + Images—Showing and Telling with the Photo Essay on May 12 and 19.
First things first: our online classes are just like our in-person classes, discussing and workshopping writing in real time. You'll click on a URL at the time the class begins and you and the rest of the class (and Chelsea!) will appear Brady Bunch opening credits style. You'll be able to see and hear each other easily, just as if you're sitting around a living room. (No driving plus students from all over the world—maybe! Our first online class had someone joining from New Zealand.)
Chelsea Biondolillo is the author of the prose chapbooks Ologies and #Lovesong (Etchings Press). Her work has been collected in several anthologies, including Waveform: Twenty-first Century Essays by Women, Best American Nature and Science Essays 2016, How We Speak to One Another: an Essay Daily Reader, and has appeared in Orion, Guernica, Vela, Diagram, Brevity, Passages North, and others. She has a BFA in photography from the Pacific NW College of Art, and an MFA in creative writing and environmental studies from the University of Wyoming. She currently lives about 30 miles outside of Portland, OR at the foot of Mt. Hood.
Words + Images—Showing and Telling with the Photo Essay with Chelsea Biondolillo
11:00 am to 1:00 pm (Pacific)
May 12 and May 19, 2018
Combining texts and photos is not new, but social media and camera phones have brought the once expensive and time-consuming pastime of picture making to the masses. During this generative two-day seminar, we’ll look at the art and craft of combining words and images on the page to create essays that engage both viewer and reader. Whether found or taken, we will explore how photographs can inspire text, creating ekphrastic essays, and how writing can become an extension of the photographic eye and the essayist’s I.
In the first meeting, we will talk about the work created in preparation for class and read/view artist and authors who have combined photographs and nonfiction to create beautiful works of fine and literary art. We will talk about their different approaches and how each create a very different mood on the page. During the second meeting, participants will have the opportunity to workshop a piece of art/writing. This seminar is open to students of all levels.
Enrollment limit: 8 students
$150 course fee
For more information or to enroll, please visit www.writingworkshopsla.com/seminars.
Today, we're highlighting guest instructor Aja Gabel, whose novel The Ensemble has been receiving a lot of buzz in advance of its May release. "Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel's debut novel gives a behind-the-scenes look into the competitive, mysterious world of high level musicians. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth." We're delighted that she will be offering a one-day seminar for us this spring: When We Talk About Love—Writing About Relationships on May 6 in Silver Lake.
Aja Gabel's debut novel, The Ensemble, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House in May 2018. Aja's prose can be found in Kenyon Review, New England Review, Glimmer Train, BOMB, and elsewhere. She has taught fiction, nonfiction, and literature at the University of Virginia, the University of Houston, Sweet Briar College, and Pacific University, as well as at undergraduate creative writing conferences and community workshop organizations. She earned her BA at Wesleyan University, her MFA at the University of Virginia and has a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Aja was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown 2012-2013, and she currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Bear.
When We Talk About Love—Writing About Relationships with Aja Gabel in Silver Lake
10:00 am to 2:00 pm
May 6, 2018
Most of us have grown up on love stories, everything from Shakespeare and Jane Austen to Sweetbitter and ’90s rom coms. All writers write about relationships—to the self, to friends, to family, to the world. And most writers at one point or another take on our most trodden subject matter: romantic love. But when we sit down to write our own, what are we really writing? What structures and tropes should we be aware of? What biases are revealed and how can we make our stories true and new and original? What are we really talking about when we talk about love?
In this one-day seminar, we’ll look at common pitfalls when it comes to writing a love story and creative ways around them. We’ll examine love stories of all different kinds and find original ways into familiar narratives. Students will write and develop their own personal manifestos for love stories and leave with inspiration and tactics to tackle their own work.
This seminar is open to students of all levels. It will be held in Silver Lake where coffee, sparkling water, and light snacks will be served.
Enrollment limit: 8 students
$130 new; $120 returning
For more information or to enroll, please visit www.writingworkshopsla.com/seminars.
Next up in our showcase of spring guest instructors is Jessica P. Ogilvie, who was recently named a contributing editor at Playboy Magazine! She's teaching the first installment of our online Essay Writing workshop beginning April 19. We hope you'll sign up and get our online workshops off to a strong start!Read More
This week, we'll be introducing you to our outstanding guest instructors for the spring term (unless you're already familiar with their excellent writing). First up, we have Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, who will be teaching Poetry I, an eight-week workshop starting Tuesday, April 26 in Melrose Village.Read More
Congratulations to all! Please send us any news you'd like to share for this or future posts!
The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process, the new book from Francesca Lia Block (Novel III), will be released May 1 by Seal Press. Edan Lepucki writes in her blurb, “With The Thorn Necklace, Block explores her life as an artist and shows us—through encouragement, compassion, and useful exercises—how to find and nurture our own creative selves. An inspiring read.”
“Shadowland,” an exhibit featuring the art of Bernard Cooper and Lloyd Hamrol, opens March 22 at Thomas Paul Fine Art.
Chris Daley (Experimenting with Form in Fiction) was awarded the Yefe Nof California Writing Residency and she will spend two weeks in Lake Arrowhead working on her novel in progress later this spring. Chris will also be in conversation with Janet Fitch at LitFest Pasadena on May 19.
Christopher DeWan (Flash! Workshop) led a flash masterclass for the Arts Enterprise Laboratory, hosted at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.
DeLon Howell’s essay “For Quieter Plans” was published by Wanderlust Journal. He read his essay “Listening for the Boys” for the Tahoma Literary Review’s Soundcloud page. His essay “The One I Hold On To” is forthcoming from Hypertext Magazine.
"The Last Lunch," a story by Jon Krampner started in Neelanjana Banerjee's fiction workshop, was published by Singapore-based Eunoia Review.
Edan Lepucki's second novel Woman No. 17 was noted in the New York Times Book Review's Paperback Row column. On Sunday, March 18 at 4 pm, she will celebrate its paperback release at Book Soup in conversation with visual artist Christine Frerichs.
Brian Lin was accepted to the University of Southern California Ph.D. program in creative writing.
Elline Lipkin (Poetry Techniques) has three poems coming out in The Cost of Paper: Volume Five from the 1888 Center sometime this spring. She appeared this past weekend on the AWP panel: "Literary Public Citizen: The Laureate in the Community."
Mary Jane Myers’s new story collection Curious Affairs: Ordinary Women, Peculiar Tales is now available from Paul Dry Books.
The Expeditioner published Sarah Osman’s essay “Kentucky Fried Camel in Egypt: My Return to a Country I Never Left.”
Ivy Pochoda is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Mystery/Thriller Book Prize for her novel Wonder Valley.
Lilliam Rivera (American Horror Story) received an honorable mention for the James Tiptree, Jr. award, recognizing exploration and expansion of gender in her novel The Education of Margot Sanchez. Her story “Crave” will be published by Nightmare Magazine on March 21.
Zan Romanoff (Young Adult Fiction) published the following essays since our last news post: “The Joy and Intimacy of the Personal Writing Outlet” for LitHub, “The Women Writers You've Been Overlooking” for The Paris Review, “Butcher Katie Flannery Carries On a Family Tradition,” which was also in print for the Los Angeles Times, “How Sanrio Turned Hello Kitty into a Food Superstar” for Eater, and “Boxing Gloves for Women Can’t Just Be Smaller (Or Pink)” for Racked. Zan also conducted an interview with Karla Welch for The Sunday Times.
Lisa Sanchez’s short story "Doubt" was published in Porter Gulch Review earlier in 2017. It was nominated in October by Pushcart editor Mark Wisniewski. Her essay “After Franken: Three Logical Fallacies that Triggered a Resignation” was published at Wrath-Bearing Tree. She was also a finalist for the 2017 Cutthroat Magazine Rick Demarinis Short Story Award for her short story "Nightingale's Lover."
“Trying to Get Pregnant Took Over My Life—Here's How I Got It Back,” an essay by Jessica Wright Weinstock started in Zan Romanoff’s nonfiction workshop, was published in Glamour.
Lauren Westerfield’s poems “As Killjoy” and “As Block Paragraph” appeared in Hobart, and her essay “The Need to Use Your Teeth” was published by The Baltimore Review. She is also nonfiction editor of Fugue Journal—its latest issue was released this month, in which Lauren interviews Mary-Kim Arnold. Fugue’s 2018 Prose Contest closes March 15.
1) You've written novels for adults and screenplays in addition to your young adult novel Extraordinary October. How do you approach YA differently than the other genres? What do you like about writing YA?
I have fewer expectations of the reader when I write YA. The story can be just as complicated, just as deep, just as scary or troubling or sad as an adult book, but I think of my readers as fresh and more open to where I might lead them.
2) What does a typical evening look like in the Young Adult Fiction workshop?
We share our week briefly, any writing problems or questions that have come up, either in their work or what they’re reading. Then we discuss the work for the evening—and I do my best to make the comments both an example for everyone and at the same time particular to the work we’re critiquing. I use a particular critique method where everyone speaks positively first—to set a positive tone for the workshop—and the writer has to come with specific questions he or she needs answered.
3) Who are some of your favorite YA authors? What makes a YA novel or short story stand out from the crowd?
I’m an old-fashioned reader—love E. Nesbitt, C.S. Lewis, Graham Wilson, and other old works of fantasy and adventure. On the other hand, The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp really stands out for me. A book about a teen alcoholic, but the narrator is charming and funny. Tharp shows both the ecstasy of drinking—politically incorrect as that seems—and then the despair. For me, it’s not the content as much as the character. Give me a character I want to follow anywhere.
We're pleased to have Ismail Muhammad coming down from the Bay Area this term to teach his seminar, Making the Political Personal. Ismail is a writer and critic living in Oakland, where he's a staff writer for The Millions and contributing editor at ZYZZYVA. His writing has appeared in Slate, the Los Angeles Review of Books, New Republic, and other publications. He's currently working on a novel about the Great Migration and queer archives of black history.
Making the Political Personal will take place in Glassell Park on March 4. Details below!
One-Day Seminar: Making the Political Personal
(taught by Ismail Muhammad in Glassell Park)
Sunday, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
March 4, 2018
As second wave feminists taught us, the personal is political—but how do we acknowledge that tension in nonfiction without sacrificing political urgency or personal perspective? During this seminar, we will practice techniques for incorporating political critique into personal narrative, such as writing effective scenes and developing momentum. We will examine contemporary examples of politically inflected narratives and engage in writing exercises that blend creative and civic purposes. The goal of this seminar is to explore how writers can best express their personal and political ideas and identities in narrative nonfiction and memoir.
This seminar is open to students of all levels. It will be held in Glassell Park where coffee, sparkling water, and light snacks will be served.
Enrollment limit: 8 students
$130 for new students; $120 for returning students
Congratulations to all our WWLA faculty and students who wrapped up 2017 in style!
"Taking Care With Broken Things: How I Came to Practice Ethical Taxidermy" by Summer Block (Essay Writing) was published by Catapult. Summer also wrote about the 25th Annual Sea Chantey Festival for The Awl. Look for her review in the anthology Critically Acclaimed: Fake Movies, Real Reviews, coming out January 9 and edited by former WWLA instructor Adam Cushman.
Sara Campbell wrote about one of her favorite records, R.E.M.'s Murmur, for The RS 500, an online outlet that's publishing stories and essays about Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time.
Melissa Chadburn (Nonfiction II) went undercover as a temp worker for her Longreads essay, “The Human Cost of the Ghost Economy,” which was among the 25 most popular Longreads exclusives of 2017 and the 10 best stunt journalism stories of 2017.
Andrea Ciannavei’s poem “Landowner” was published by Writers Resist.
“Unknocked,” a story by Chris Daley (Improve Your Submission Game), was published by Front Porch Journal.
Kristen Daniels will be a resident at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in March 2017.
April Dávila’s story “Quitter” was published by F(r)iction Online.
Christopher DeWan (The Art of the Short Story) is one of six fellows invited to join the inaugural Script Lab at Middlebury College's historic Bread Loaf campus this January. He is a recipient of a 2018 grant from the Arts Enterprise Laboratory for flash fiction. Chris was also named one of Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch by the International Screenwriters’ Association. His collection Hoopty Time Machines was reviewed at Glassworks Magazine.
You can now read Jennifer Alise Drew’s essay “Personal Matters” in The Iowa Review.
Ruby Dutcher has an essay in the forthcoming book, Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome.
Jackie Elam’s flash nonfiction “Looking in the Mirror: The Ugly Truth of Search Engines” was published by HeadStuff.
Seth Fischer (Novel II) is the new nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Lunch Ticket republished his story/adjusted excerpt "Coyote in the Blood" for their special celebrating 20 years of the Antioch MFA Program.
Terrance Flynn performed his story “Ambrosia” at The Moth Mainstage in Portland.
Melissa Haley wrote about women pilots in the 1930s for Acid Free, the publication of the Los Angeles Archivists Collective.
Tahoma Literary Review will publish DeLon Howell’s essay “Listening for the Boys.”
Edan Lepucki’s novel Woman No. 17 was a notable work of fiction by The Washington Post, a recommended book by the San Francisco Chronicle, and one of POPSUGAR's Best Books of 2017. Los Angeles Times critic-at-large Susan Straight highlighted the novel in her column about her favorite books of the year. Edan also interviewed Margaret Atwood for a PEN Center USA event.
"Villanelle: Warning," a poem by Elline Lipkin (Poetry II), was published in the fall issue of Moria. Her poems "Agape, Age Three" and "Yes, I Am" were published in the fall issue of Tinker Street.
Kate Maruyama (Novel I) will be part of the Shades & Shadows Reading at The Mystic Museum on January 20.
Only one month until A Perfect Universe, the new story collection from Scott O'Connor (Fiction I; Getting to the Heart of Your Characters), is available for purchase (but you can pre-order today!).
Sarah Osman's essay "A Teacher's Letter to Her Students About Charlottesville" was published by Hello Giggles.
Wonder Valley, the new novel from Ivy Pochoda (Plot & Pacing), was included in LitHub’s Best Crime Books of 2017, Entertainment Weekly’s 14 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in November, Village Voice's 2017's Best Crime Fiction, Los Angeles Times's Best Fiction of 2017, POPSUGAR's 12 Must-Read Books of November, and NPR’s Guide to 2017’s Great Reads, among others. It was also featured on Good Morning America as Michael Connelly’s favorite book of the year/the book he’s giving his friends this holiday season. Ivy also wrote about Wonder Valley and Twentynine Palms for The New York Times and snowboarder Chloe Kim for Vogue.
Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff (Nonfiction I) was included in NPR’s Guide to 2017’s Great Reads and Vulture's 10 Best YA Books. Her Personal Geography series at Medium concluded with her essay “The City Burning.” (See also “Where to Have a Near-Death Experience in Los Angeles.”) Zan also wrote about “The Peculiar Sadness of Animated Alcoholics” for The Awl, “The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes” for The Atlantic, and "Why We Learned to Fight" for Bon Appétit.
Samantha Jean Sumampong's essay "I Was the Roommate from Hell" was published by Role Reboot.
Christina Simon has joined the editorial team at Angels Flight Literary West. Her essay “Tarnished Silver” was published in the summer 2017 “Death” issue of The Broken City.
Two fairy tales by Sally Stevens, “The Sad Queen, the Selfish King, and the Magical Flowers” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves—A Collective Overview,” will be included in a forthcoming anthology from Between the Lines Publishing.
Laura Warrell (Westside Fiction), along with guest instructor Natashia Deón and many other excellent writers, will be reading for Angels Flight • Literary West’s Year of the Woman: Writing for Change event on January 13.
Lauren Westerfeld’s poem “Hologram” appeared in the fall/winter 2017 issue of [PANK]. Noble/Gas Quarterly published her poems “As Saturnine in Spring” and “After Flash Rain in Summer” in their latest issue.
Writing Workshops Los Angeles will start offering online courses in February!
Two Cities Review published Elizabeth Youle’s story “The Caver.”
The editors of TriQuarterly nominated "Civilian," a poem by Kim Young (Poetry I), for a Pushcart Prize. Also, Kim’s poem "Tiger," originally published in The Cincinnati Review, was selected by the Academy of American Poets for inclusion on the site Poets.org.
The waitlist for Backstory—Moving Forward, Looking Back with Natashia Deón has grown to be quite lengthy, so we're pleased to offer a second section of the one-day seminar in Los Feliz on Saturday, December 2 from 10 am to 2 pm. Get your seat early before this section sells out, too!
Since novelist and nonfiction writer Zan Romanoff just joined our roster over the summer, we wanted to do a Q&A to help the WWLA community get acquainted with her. Once you read her answers below, feel free to snap up one of the few spots left in her Mixed Levels Nonfiction workshop starting October 17 in Hancock Park.
WWLA: While you've been writing nonfiction for some time, last term was your first time teaching for WWLA. What was your experience like? What did you find most surprising? What did you find most exciting?
ZR: It was so fun! This is actually my first year as a full-time freelance writer, so it's easy to start feeling a little burnout-y when all you do is write all day. I was anxious that teaching might contribute to that, but it was truly the opposite: gathering with people who were enthusiastic about writing once a week helped remind me of what's interesting and exciting about the practice—all the different places it can take you and the ways it can help you to think about and see the world.
WWLA: You've published nonfiction in a number of different venues from Bon Appetit to The New Republic. How did you get started writing for websites and magazines?
ZR: My mom is a writer, so I grew up scribbling—I've been writing journals and stories and blogs forever. For a long time, I looked at writing as a skill that I could use to help other people out: my best friend was an editor at a college newspaper, and when someone didn't turn in a column, I volunteered to write about an episode of Project Runway that had just aired. (What's up, 2006.) I did stuff like that—writing for various college publications, or unpaid websites, and my own Tumblr—for a long time before a piece I'd written for a zine ended up on The Paris Review Daily, and a couple of agents got in touch to ask if I had a book proposal. I could not have been more stunned. It took a lot of years to transition from working as an event planner to writing full-time, but that planted the seed that I was maybe good enough to think about writing professionally, on my own terms—not just when someone else gave me permission to do it.
WWLA: What are you looking forward to in this fall's Mixed Levels Nonfiction workshop? What will a typical workshop meeting look like?
ZR: I'm looking forward to reading students' work—I learned how to write by reading, and I still feel like reading and critiquing on a regular basis makes everyone's work much, much stronger. Because I'm so focused on reading as a necessary skill for writers, I usually start class with a quick check-in about how everyone's doing and what (if anything) they read that week. It helps us get to know one another, opens up all kinds of interesting discussion topics (from love of our pets to stories about viral tales of cheddar cheese and butternut squash to sighing over proper text etiquette), and helps remind students that stories are everywhere—the trick is to teach yourself to recognize them.
Congratulations, writers!Read More
Before we release our schedule on Wednesday, we'd like to announce that we have two new talented guest instructors for the fall! Melissa Chadburn will be teaching our Nonfiction I workshop in Atwater Village and Summer Block will be teaching Essay Writing in Burbank (both on Wednesday evenings starting the third week of October). Read below for more information on these fine writers and please welcome them to WWLA!
Summer Block has contributed essays, short fiction, and poetry to The Toast, The Awl, The Rumpus, Catapult, The Nervous Breakdown, McSweeney's, and PANK, and many other places. Her work has been featured in several anthologies, most recently California Prose Directory: New Writing from the Golden State. She is currently working on a book about occult communities in the San Fernando Valley.
Melissa Chadburn has written for The Atlantic's Citylab, Buzzfeed, Poets & Writers, Salon, American Public Media’s Marketplace, Al Jazeera America, and dozens of other places. She is a fellow for The Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Her essay, “The Throwaways,” received notable mention in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her debut novel, A Tiny Upward Shove, is forthcoming with Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.