Saturday, April 19, 2008

LA Times Festival of Books Writing Seminars

For the very first time in the Festival’s history, six intensive 2-hour writing seminars are being offered featuring worldwide renowned writers in an intimate setting – only 50 seats per seminar!
  • Tickets will be open to the general public when the Festival program is published in the Sunday, April 20th edition of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Tickets cost $100 per seminar.
  • Tickets can be purchased online at or at select Ticketmaster locations, including Ritmo Latino, Beverly Center and select Macy’s locations. Only 50 seats are available! Tickets are not available over the phone.

Ron Carlson

Saturday, April 26th, 11:00am – 1:00pm

Title: The Short Story: Surviving the Draft

Celebrated author Ron Carlson will lead this 2-hour seminar with a lecture including samples of fiction from his work and others that illustrate the craft of fiction writing and the way forward into the darkness. His primary focus will be on the short story and will talk about the entire process: idea to draft, with all notes in between focusing on surviving the draft. A Q & A session will be incorporated towards the end of the seminar.

Novelist and short story writer Ron Carlson has received citations in Best American Short Stories twelve times since 1984. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including Harper’s and GQ. He is the author of two story collections, “Plan B for the Middle Class” and “The News of the World”, and three novels, the most recent of which, “Five Skies” is his first adult novel in more than 20 years. Ron currently teaches at University of California, Irvine.

Thomas Curwen

Saturday, April 26th, 1:30pm – 3:30pm

Title: Bring on the Lions: Writing the Non-fiction Narrative from the Inside Out

Human beings are hard-wired for narratives. We fall effortless into the spell of a good story, and there is no greater game than capturing a portrait of life that keeps readers hanging on until the bitter end. Yet the road to writing a successful narrative is dark and perilous. It is also both an art and science. It begins with sound reporting and a love of language. It combines strategic pacing with a jazzman's sense of rhythm. You must be a strong writer, a good editor -- and finally, you must love what you're doing. In this seminar, Thomas Curwen will have an extended conversation about the writing and pleasure of a good story. So bring pen and paper, and be ready to write, talk and discuss the meaning of this wonderfully foolhardy endeavor.

Thomas Curwen is an editor at large for the Los Angeles Times. He has a master's degree in Creative Writing from USC and was a recipient of a 1991 Academy of American Poets prize. In 2002, he received a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for mental health journalism.

A. Scott Berg

Title: Biography: Telling Lives

Saturday, April 26th, 4:00pm – 6:00pm

A. Scott Berg will conduct a two-hour seminar on Life Writing in its various incarnations--including “objective” biography, autobiography, psychobiography, memoirs, and diaries. Part lecture, part question-and-answer period, the class will examine some of the elements that go into the writing of life stories--selecting a topic, primary research, interviews, secondary research, organizing and analyzing material, writing and rewriting techniques.

A. Scott Berg is a renowned biographer of "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius," for which he received the National Book Award, "Goldwyn: A Biography”, which bestowed upon him a Guggenheim Fellowship, and "Lindbergh”, for which he was awarded 1999's Pulitzer Prize for biography. His most recent book is a memoir of a legendary star Katharine Hepburn, called, "Kate Remembered." He is currently working on a biography of Woodrow Wilson.

Jane Smiley

Sunday, April 27th, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Title: Write a Novel in Two Hours!

Or not! What is a novel? How do you write one? Novelist Jane Smiley will use material from her book, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel”, to illustrate some of the ways an aspiring writer might approach his or her own ambition to write a novel. Lecture, Q and A, and discussion will be interspersed throughout the two hours. Seminar participants may read the two chapters in Thirteen Ways entitled "A Novel of Your Own, part 1" and "A Novel of Your Own, part 2", but advanced preparation is not essential.

Jane Smiley is one of the most beloved novelists and author of more than ten works of fiction. She is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, and in 2001 was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006. Her latest novel is “Ten Days in the Hills”. Smiley lives in Northern California.

Robert Pinsky

Sunday, April 27th, 12:30pm – 2:30pm

Title: Listening to Words: The Vocality of Poetry

Robert Pinsky will lead this 2 hour seminar by concentrating on the physical materials of poetry: the sounds of vowels and consonants arranged to make words and sentences. As when someone is noodling at a piano or shooting baskets or playing with paints or whittling, the physical material sometimes draws out ideas and feelings. The group will view some of the Favorite Poem Project videos from the DVD included with an Invitation to Poetry. A Q & A session will be incorporated towards the end of the seminar.

Robert Pinsky, an American poet and former Poet Laureate of the United States, is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently, “Gulf Music: Poems”. He received the 1997 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for “The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996”. He is also the author of several prose titles, including “The Sounds of Poetry”, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Stephen J. Cannell

Sunday, April 27th, 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Title: Television, Film and Bestselling Novels

Stephen J. Cannell will lecture on how to adapt a novel to the screen. He will talk about modifying and condensing material without compromising its creative content, how to interface with the marketplace and get your work seen, as well as tips on construction when writing novels, screenplays and for television. A Q & A session will be incorporated towards the end of the seminar.

Stephen J. Cannell is the bestselling author of numerous novels, including the critically acclaimed Shane Scully series, which includes his latest installment, “Three Shirt Deal”. He is one of television's most prolific writers, having created or co-created more than 40 shows, including The A-Team and 21 Jump Street. Cannell has received multiple awards including the Marlow Lifetime Achievement Award from Mystery Writers of America and the WGA Paddy Chaefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement.

For more information on the Festival of Books Writing Seminars, please contact Elizabeth Samson at or go to

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