Summer Writing Institute Days 2-3 Recap

The first two full days of AUSB’s Summer Writing Institute were filled with joy, creativity, laughter, discovery, camaraderie, enlightenment and many touching moments.

After connecting over a continental breakfast each morning, the participants and faculty headed to their five respective workshops from 9:00am to noon for intensive study in three genres, followed by several hours of free time.

Monday at 4:00pm, a fascinating conversation took place on “Journalism Yesterday and Today” between award-winning journalist and CalBuzz founder Jerry Roberts and Ann Louise Bardach, Daily Beast and New York Times contributor and author of Cuba Confidential and Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington. Attendees got an inside look at what really passes for journalism in this age of newspaper consolidation, shrinking readership, and the Internet.

Later that evening, memoir workshop facilitator Diana Raab, poet and author of Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey, read from her work and discussed the life experiences that led her to utilize poetry and memoir writing as a technique for recovering from trauma.

On July 30, Tuesday’s evening program began at 4:00pm with a panel discussion, “The Business of Publishing.” Author Ann Louise Bardach, book designer Anna Lafferty, editor and author Marcia Meier (Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World), and moderator Lou Cannon, former Los Angeles Bureau Chief of the Washington Post and award-winning Ronald Reagan biographer contrasted the way things used to be in the publishing world with how they are now, in regards to the digital revolution, the increasing popularity of e-books, the explosion of self-publishing, and more. 

Attendees and faculty gathered afterward on the AUSB Rooftop Patio for “Craft and Cocktails,” mingling in the sunshine and a light breeze over wine, beer, and a tasty assortment of hors d’oeuvres catered by Book Ends Café. On hand was Ramzi Hajj of Storiad to demonstrate the features of this new online writers network.

Day 3 was topped off by an engaging conversation about screenwriting, novel writing, and publishing between SWI director Marcia Meier and screenwriter, mountaineer, and sci-fi thriller novelist (Empyre and Echelon) Josh Conviser. “The thing about screenwriting,” he said, when asked to articulate the difference between Hollywood and the publishing industry, “is that completing a script just marks beginning of a very long process, whereas with a novel, you have a finished product in your hand.”

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