Past Workshop Leaders
GINA L. MULLIGAN is the author of two historical novels Remember the Ladies and From Across the Room and the nonfiction Dear Friend: Letters of Encouragement, Humor, and Love for Women with Breast Cancer. After her own diagnosis, Gina founded Girls Love Mail, a national charity that collects handwritten letters for women with breast cancer. She's been featured on The NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, The Steve Harvey Show, People.com, Today.com, Woman's Day Magazine, the Washington Post, and O, Oprah magazine.
Learn more at www.GinaLMulligan.com.
DOROTHY LAZARD manages the Oakland History Center of the Oakland Public Library where she provides reference services to a variety of researchers, including genealogists, architects, professors, and writers. For the past decade, she has hosted popular history programs, mounted exhibits highlighting Oakland history, and written articles for the Oakland Heritage Alliance News. Her mission is to make more of Oakland’s history accessible to a local, national and international audience, and to contribute to a fuller interpretation of California history. She holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies (UC Berkeley) and a master’s of fine arts degree in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College (Baltimore). Besides East Bay history, Lazard writes on the use of public space, travel, and African American history. Her writing has appeared in a number of anthologies, including The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson, B. Ma: the Sonia Sanchez Literary Review, Essence magazine, and Oakland Noir.
ELIZABETH ROSNER is a bestselling novelist, poet, and essayist living in Berkeley, California. Her newest book of nonfiction, SURVIVOR CAFÉ: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory, was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and in The New York Times; it was also a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award. Her three acclaimed novels have been translated into nine languages and have received prizes in the U.S. and in Europe. They include Electric City, Blue Nude, and The Speed of Light. Her volume of poetry is titled Gravity. A graduate of Stanford University, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of Queensland in Australia, she lectures and teaches writing workshops internationally.
Learn more at www.elizabethrosner.com.
VANITHA SANKARAN holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and an MFA in Creative Writing and is both a researcher and storyteller at heart. From her childhood days on, she has been lucky to travel the world, gaining diverse perspectives that continue to fuel her imagination. In addition to her 20-year career in medical communications, she has written Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages (Harper Collins) and numerous short stories and essays that have appeared online, in print, and on NPR.
She is a co-founding editor of the literary journal flashquake and has served as Conference Chair for the Historical Novel Society of North America for three terms. She is currently serving as the conference's Program Chair and writes monthly feature articles for Pacifica Magazine and On the Coast Magazine. She also teaches workshops in non-Western story structure and scientific storytelling.
JORDAN ROSENFELD is author of the novels Women in Red and Forged in Grace and six books on the craft of writing: How to Write a Page-Turner, the bestselling Make a Scene, Writing the Intimate Character, A Writer's Guide to Persistence, Writing Deep Scenes and Write Free. Her freelance articles and essays have been published in hundreds of publications, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Scientific American, Writer's Digest Magazine, The Washington Post and many more. She is also a freelance editor and journalist.
Poet Laureate Emeritus of Sacramento, INDIGO MOOR's fourth book of poetry Everybody's Jonesin' for Something, took second place in the University of Nebraska Press' Backwater Prize and will be published spring 2021. His second book, Through the Stonecutter's Window, won Northwestern University Press's Cave Canem prize. His first and third books, Tap-Root and In the Room of Thirsts & Hungers, were both part of Main Street Rag's Editor's Select Poetry Series.
In addition to poetry, Indigo has produced award-winning plays, short fiction, and essays. His stage-turned-screenplay Live! at the Excelsior was optioned as a full-length film. He is an established presenter and instructor, a former teacher at the Stonecoast MFA Program, and a Cave Canem fellow. Indigo sits on the advisory board for both the Modesto Stanislaus Poetry Center and the Sacramento Poetry Center. A 10-year veteran of the US Navy and a twice-decorated Gulf War Veteran, Indigo divides his time between writing, teaching, and Integrated Circuit Layout Engineering for computer companies.
SANDS HALL is the author of the memoir Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology (Counterpoint), a finalist for the Northern California Book Awards and a Publishers Weekly Best Book in Religion and Spirituality. Other works include the novel Catching Heaven (Ballantine), which was a Random House Reader's Circle selection, and a volume of essays and exercises, Tools of the Writer's Craft. Her stories and essays have been published in such places as Iowa Review, New England Review, and Los Angeles Review of Books, and her produced plays include an adaptation of Alcott's Little Women and the comic-drama Fair Use, which explores the "was it plagiarism?" controversy surrounding Stegner's Angle of Repose. Sands teaches annually for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and for the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She is also a theater artist and a singer/songwriter, and performs widely. Sands lives in Nevada City, California.
ALEXANDRIA GIARDINO is a writer, translator, community college professor, and mom. She is the author of three picture books, Ode to an Onion (2018), The Good Song (2020), and Me + Tree (2021), and the Spanish translator of Smarty Marty’s Got Game: En Español (2017). Ode to an Onion was
a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection and the recipient of the 2018 NCBA award for best children’s literature. Marie Russo, the New York Times children’s book editor, called Alex's work a “treat for the eyes and ears.” Ode to an Onion has been translated into French, Italian, and Spanish.
You can follow Alex on social media: @Alex__Giardino www.alexgiardino.com
GILLIAN BAGWELL is the author of three acclaimed historical novels based on the lives of real Englishwomen of the 16th and 17th centuries: The Darling Strumpet, The September Queen, and Venus in Winter. She’s currently working on something completely different: a Gothic thriller set in Scotland in 1901-1902. She’s presented many workshops and panels at the annual Historical Novel Society conferences in the US and UK and taught at the pre-conference academies; given workshops at the RWA national conference and Gold Rush Writers Conference; and taught online courses on writing historical fiction. Gillian’s first career was in theatre, and she has a BA in Dramatic Arts from UC Berkeley and a certificate from the Drama Studio London at Berkeley. She founded the Pasadena Shakespeare Company, producing 37 shows over 10 years. Gillian provides coaching on public speaking and performance and is also an editor and writing coach.
Visit her at gillianbagwell.com.
SCOTT JAMES is a novelist, veteran journalist, and most recently the author of Trial by Fire. Since 2009 Scott’s reporting has appeared in The New York Times, and he is the recipient of three Emmy Awards for his work in television news. He’s also the author of two bestselling novels, The Sower and SoMa. SoMa was a finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award for debut fiction.
Visit him at www.scottjameswriter.com
PIPER HUGULEY seeks to make new inroads in the publication of historical romance by featuring African American Christian characters. The Lawyer’s Luck, The Preacher’s Promise, The Mayor’s Mission, and The Representative’s Revolt constitute her “Home to Milford College” series, and are Amazon bestsellers. She is a 2013 Golden Heart finalist for her novel, A Champion’s Heart—the fourth book in her “Migrations of the Heart” series. The first book, A Virtuous Ruby, was the first-place winner in The Golden Rose Contest in 2013 and was a Golden Heart finalist in 2014. Other books in the series, which follows the loves and lives of African American sisters during America’s greatest internal migration in the first part of the twentieth century, include A Treasure of Gold and A Most Precious Pearl. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.
Visit her at piperhuguley.com
DIANA GABALDON is the internationally bestselling author of the beloved Outlander book series, with eight volumes written and another lurking under the kilt to be exposed soon. There are more than 35 million copies in print worldwide! She has written several of the Starz scripts for the series based on her books, appeared in a cameo, and serves as the show’s consultant. She has also written graphic novels, science textbooks, Disney comic book scripts, and has three scientific degrees, including a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology. Her character Claire isn’t just smart, she has been written with an authorial backdrop of training in zoology, marine biology, and quantitative behavior ecology. Is it true the first Outlander novel was written as a lark? Tune in and find out.
Pictured: Diana holds a canteen once owned by Bonnie Prince Charlie.
STACEY LEE is an award-winning author of historical and contemporary young adult fiction, including Under a Painted Sky; Outrun the Moon, winner of the 2017 Pen Center Award for Young Adult Fiction and the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association YA Book of the Year; The Secret of a Heart Note, which sold in eight countries; and her most recent, The Downstairs Girl, which received five starred reviews and which Booklist called “Spectacular." Her books have been selected for the Amelia Bloomer list for feminist fiction, as well as the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults List and the New York Public Library's Best Books for Teens. A native of southern California and fourth-generation Chinese American, she is a founder of the We Need Diverse Books movement and writes stories for all kids (even the ones who look like adults).
Find her @staceyleeauthor on Instagram and Twitter.
KRISTY LIN BILLUNI: With roots in sex work, queer activism, and sex ed, Kristy Lin Billuni writes triumphant fiction, essays, and plays. She has earned her living for almost 20 years as The Sexy Grammarian, a teacher of bold, free, turned-on writers. Her stories and essays appear in several journals and anthologies, most recently Sinister Wisdom and A Whore’s Manifesto. Prized stage credits include productions at an HIV clinic in the Castro, a leather bar in Chelsea, and on two of San Francisco’s finest cabaret stages, The Brava and Piano Fight. She lives with her heroic wife in San Francisco.
Learn more at www.SexyGrammar.com
KALIA KLIBAN has been part of the California Bay Area traditional dance scene since the mid-’80s, performing and teaching in a wide range of styles. At dance camps and festivals across the country, she has taught Morris dancing, longsword, English and American clogging, English country dance and contra, and she's a regular contra and English caller in the vibrant Bay Area dance community. Her welcoming and relaxed teaching style has helped dancers of all levels experience the joy of traditional dance.
DEB FILLER is an internationally acclaimed theatre, character, comic, and musical artist. She has written, performed, and toured shows across the world, including the groundbreaking 36-character Off-Broadway comedy solo Punch Me in the Stomach (PBS), the story of an extraordinary trip Deb took with her father to the concentration camps he was in during WWII, and Filler Up, a meditation on appetite and being hungry. Deb appeared in the documentary The Last Laugh alongside comedy legends Mel Brooks and Sarah Silverman as well as in the Toronto Centre for the Arts Yiddish production of Death of a Salesman. She coaches, mentors and leads storytelling and humor workshops across the world.
Visit her at www.fillerup.ca
TIM SEIBLES is the author of several poetry collections, including Hurdy-Gurdy, Hammerlock, Buffalo Head Solos, and Fast Animal, a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award and winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize. Tim is a former NEA fellow and recipient of a fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His latest collection, One Turn Around the Sun, was released in 2017. He recently completed a two-year appointment as poet laureate of Virginia.
"Elizabeth Rosner's presentation was fabulous! She had great advice about cutting to the heart of a project and understanding your goals."
"The chat Gina gave about writing a query letter was one of the most helpful on the subject I've heard. It clarified everything, what a delight. I'll look forward to anything she wants to teach about :-). A million thanks for all you guys are doing to get this all going.”
"So good! I am blown away by how well this was done — your speaker's information and tips were enormously helpful in thinking about that damn query letter. Very fine! Kudos!"
INDIGO MOOR Poet Laureate Emeritus of Sacramento, Indigo Moor’s latest book of poetry, Everybody’s Jonesin’ for Something, took second place in the University of Nebraska Press’ Backwater Prize. His second book, Through the Stonecutter’s Window, won Northwestern University Press’s Cave Canem prize. His first and third books, Tap-Root and In the Room of Thirsts & Hungers, were both parts of Main Street Rag’s Editor’s Select Poetry Series. Indigo is an adjunct professor at Dominican University and visiting faculty for Dominican’s MFA program, teaching poetry and short fiction. Indigo is a co-director for Open Page Writers.