Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Final Post: Thank you!

This residency has exceeded my own objectives and expectations, and I hope it has been an inspiring and informative experience for writers, panelists, and the many guests who attended the public programs.

I am grateful to the City of Santa Monica, Nan, Naomi, Jonathan, and the many people who set-up the rooms and made each event seamless.

Please continue to attend public programs here, as they are all about the arts, are free, and are critical to building community around creative initiatives you could be part of just by being in the room.

We've attached a little video summarizing the last 14 weeks for your information and for fun!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

From this past Tuesday's final program, Cody Sisco announced two more resources dedicated to the writing community, which we are sharing for your information and use*:

Northeast Los Angeles Writers – a critique group

The Northeast Los Angeles Writers critique group is dedicated to helping writers finish, edit, and publish novels, memoirs, and short stories. We enable writers to learn from each other through critiques and networking and we provide a safe space for all participants to provide constructive feedback in a kind and helpful manner. 

If you’re not ready to submit your own work, you can still participate as a reader! By reading and providing feedback, both you and our writers learn and grow. 

We host mini-lectures at the beginning of each meetup on topics related to the craft and business of writing, from how to tell a story to managing the publishing process. Our members are pursuing self-publishing as well as the traditional publishing routes. We meet at the San Rafael branch of the Pasadena Public Library system and the Silver Lake branch of the Los Angeles Public Library system.

To participate, review our calendar and sign up to attend one of our meetings here: When you RSVP, you’ll receive guidelines and deadlines for submitting your work as well as links to manuscript excerpts and our critique guidelines. 

If you have any questions, please contact one of the co-organizers, Cody Sisco, at


BookSwell – L.A.’s Literary Calendar and Community Hub

BookSwell is dedicated to growing the literary community by supporting a vibrant and thriving culture of live events and online content. We offer readers a service that helps them get plugged in to what’s happening in their area and to discover books and authors they love.

You can submit an event to be included in the calendar here: All author appearances at local bookstores, literary festivals, and venues are welcome to submit events though listing is not guaranteed. BookSwell is also looking for partners and sponsors to help publicize our events. Email for more information

To sign up to receive updates about events, go to: Or view the calendar here:

(Note: December is a slow season for author appearances due to the holiday. Check back in January for a full schedule of events.)

*The ACBH, nor the City of Santa Monica, implicitly nor directly endorse any organizations, web-sites, or other program referred by the writer-in-residence, panelists, or their guests. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Final Public Office Hours Today; Viva Padilla comes to visit the MDGH

Thank you to all the docents and to the visitors who have come to talk about writing, share stories about their own writing journeys, who have read their work to me, and have shared a cup of tea. It has been truly inspiring to learn about how you work, and the commitment you have to your craft.

Poet Viva Padilla, came and wrote this week. Last night, we went to watch her read poetry out-loud in a salon format at Book Show in Highland Park. One of the poems she read to me while visiting earlier this week went into "woman destroyer" performance mode, and the audience went wild.

Viva, who is also the editor of Dry Lands, a literary journal dedicated to the writers of South Central LA, enjoyed the generous light and space the Marion Davies Guest House afforded her, and she edited poetry during her visit. I'm hoping she comes back to visit and that she considers applying for the residency next year.

Understanding the importance of literary citizenship is critical to us as writers. Support your fellow writers and other writers by showing up. I learned a great deal about the poetry movement in LA, and met some new poets.

Tomorrow night, panelist and mystery writer, Desiree Zamorano, reads at the Last Bookstore in downtown LA. Come listen to Desiree, Gary Phillips, Travis Richardson, and Danny Gardner read their pieces included in The Obama Inheritance Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir from 7-9 pm.
Viva Padilla edits poetry on the upstairs veranda on a blustery day.

Viva Padilla performs 12/8/17; Book Show, Highland Park

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wrap-up from Tuesday Evening Panel: Marketing and Promo in Publishing

Tuesday evening's final panel on marketing and promotion in publishing was well attended despite the fires burning all around us. The panelists and guests had a great time networking and chatting post-event, and I'm thrilled this is how the residency is wrapping up.

Women Writers of Color in our own Voices has been a passion project from the beginning, and I'm grateful to Annenberg and the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Beach = Culture for trusting me to actualize this work and for opening up the Marion Davies Guest House for so many writers to write, commune, and to contemplate their work. Most had never been to the ACBH, didn't even realize this stunning spot is a public park, and were overwhelmed with the generosity of time and space to write.

A novel was finished, poems were rewritten/edited, projects and collaborations have found some light to become something good, one writer, a recognized spoken word poet, read her fiction for the first time in public, another read for the first time outside her East LA community, and the evolution of women writers continues.

Many guests attended all three events and traveled from places as faraway as Pasadena, East LA, South Central, Thousand Oaks, and other parts of the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys. From the feedback received, the Santa Monica, Westside, guests were thrilled to have the programs on their turf. I am grateful for your support, positivity, and engagement.

If I can include hand-outs via the blog, they will be added; otherwise, I'll talk to Naomi about a different way to distribute.

In the meantime, you may follow Women Who Submit on FB, twitter, and Instagram. Their website is

Women's National Book Association-LA Chapter has a and are on FB. 

PEN USA also has a FB page. 

If you'd like to contact Natalie Desai-Obando at Do Good PR and current WNBA-LA Chapter President, 
go to
Photos and collage by Sally Lew

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tonight's marketing and promotion in publishing program is good to go! We've picked Rochelle Spencer up from LAX, and the panelists are meeting early in order to make the 6 pm reception at the Event House.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Good morning from my little corner of the Marion Davies Guest House where the sun shines, the ocean rocks, and the cars fly up PCH! Yes, it's public office hours today, as well as a day when a crew of women will write and edit until their fingers go numb, or we get hungry. :)

Tuesday night's public program will include information about organizations directed specifically to women, and there will be books for sale.

One of the books that should be on every shelf for frequent reference and reading is "All About Skin Short Fiction by Women of Color," edited by Jina Ortiz and Rochelle Spencer, our guest panelist flying in from the Bay Area. I'm grabbing a copy of this book Tuesday, so Rochelle can sign it for me. Please be prepared that most of the writers will take cash only. If they do take cards, the price is often higher for the book.

You'll learn more about the Women's National Book Association, from our panelist, Natalie Desai-Obando, the LA Chapter's current president, writer, and public relations professional. Her company believes in doing PR/communications with a social conscience.

Janine Lim, panelist from our emerging writers evening, will update guests on The Drunken Masters and how you can get involved. I'm going to attend in December as an audience member, but one day my own work might be read in one of those dark, damp, and beer stained bars.

Rachelle Yousuf, who heads up PEN USA's membership, and does an amazing job taking book clubs to a new level with the Edison PEN USA book club, will talk about the importance of community, understanding what PEN does for writers, and how writers can be part of PEN.

There will be more soon. For now, please know I'll post images and updates on what you can look forward to Tuesday evening in the Event House (our program is designed a bit differently and requires more space than the parlor can afford).

Available Tuesday evening, $24.95, cash only; may be signed by co-editor, Rochelle Spencer

Rochelle Spencer, co-editor "All About Skin Short Fiction by Women of Color"

Reception 6:00 pm / Program commences at 6:30 pm / ACBH Event House / RSVP via Eventbrite

Monday, November 27, 2017

Marketing and Promotion in Publishing--final public program on 12/5/17

Natalie Obando-Desai, Do Good PR; Neelanjana Banerjee, Editor Kaya Press; 
Rochelle Spencer, Co-editor All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women Writers of Color (U of Wisconsin Press), 
Rachelle Yousuf, PEN USA Membership
speak on all matters related to marketing and promotion in publishing 

It's finally happening. The last of three public events organized as part of my residency here at the Annenberg Community Beach House. Marketing and promotion in publishing is the culmination of guests learning about the writing, experiences, and goals for both emerging and established women of color writers. For those who have attended previous evenings, this one brings the conversations you've shared with writers full circle.

On 12/5, Tuesday evening, guests will hear from and dialogue with four dynamic and experienced professionals in the literary world. Some are writers. Some are not. The one thing they share is a passionate commitment to extending and advancing an inclusive publishing world for underrepresented writing voices. 

From publicity, to social media, to understanding the importance of building and supporting anthologies, to learning how important a writing community is and how to become part of one, the panel will break it down into consumable tidbits without all the jargon and complexity often associated with marketing and promotion.

If you arrive at 6:00 pm for the reception, you can meet the panel and writer panelists from the previous two events. Please use this opportunity to say hello, introduce yourself, and welcome our special guests to the Beach House. Networking and community building are strongly encouraged.

Some writers may even come with their books in case you'd like to buy a copy and have it personally inscribed to a special someone.

This event is ideal for writers, those who want to work in publishing, and for anyone who loves to read and understand how the publishing world works. It may make you a more strategic consumer when buying books, and for writers, a better understanding of how to maneuver through the tricky and confusing publishing industry.

6:00 pm reception; 6:30 pm program commences. RSVP via Eventbrite. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Local writers visit during public office hours

Annisa Mansour visits to discuss and read her work.

Richard Angres brought his self-published book to share his insightful and witty perspective on aging.

It was a sunny and cool day. Perfect weather to greet guests in the Sand and Sea Room. Annisa Mansour and Richard Angres both brought their work in to share and to discuss various components leading towards publishing. They're both attending the 12/5 final program on marketing and promoting in the publishing industry, which they may find useful.  

Even though the series is dedicated to fiction, there is plenty of overlap regardless of genre in the topics we'll discuss on 12/5. 

I have public office hours from 11 am until 2 pm this Saturday in the Marion Davies Guest House, so if you aren't passed out from eating turkey hash and pie, stop on by.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Public Office Hours today in the Sand and Sea Room, upstairs, overlooking the swimming pool. I'll be there from 11 am until 2 pm.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Halfway there!

Have been reflecting on the time spent in the guest house, how much of a gift it has been for both the guest writers (also known as panelists), and for me.

In talking with Thea Monyee last evening, we recapped why this program exists and how it impacts the lives of each writer, as well as the guests who come to listen to the readings and participate in conversation. At the end of their respective evening, the writers leaves inspired, enthusiastic, and ready to go make more stories come to life. I've received notes from guests indicating they feel similarly and are going out to buy new books by authors they hadn't realized existed.

As writers, who work in "solitary confinement," we carry our own bags and create energy to get through another round of rejections, empty pages, slow days, and the frustration in finding time to write between day jobs, parenting, partnering, managing a household, and balancing a load that surely melts brain cells.

I get excited each time one of the panelists tells me she's reworked a story, carved out time to write for half an hour, or feels she's overcome paralyzing fear after reading new work to our guests. It is rewarding to hear each of them find success and to listen to them collaborate on story ideas, sharing information about residencies, grants, fellowships, and other opportunities.

It demonstrates programs bringing women of color, and other underrepresented writing voices, together are a good thing for the literary world. Our ability to gird each other up when questioning the merits of a story, if it is even worth spending another minute reworking, is a perfect example of how women work. Yes, we like to write in isolation, but we also need a community of our own. A safe and sacred place where we can speak on our own terms, in our voices, and when we're ready. For now, those places are rare. One notable place where women have created a space just for us is "Women Who Submit," so check them out on Facebook or on the web.

My hope is programs such as the ones we are implementing at the Annenberg Community Beach House continue and grow with an intensity and fervor unlike anything the writing world has seen--maybe since the 60s and 70s. They should be loud and strong in every community--not just our own. The audience is out there. They just don't know these vibrant, fierce, and precise voices exist.

On December 5th, the final program dedicated to marketing and promotion in the publishing industry will close out my residency. The intention is not only to learn about women of color writers and their work, but to understand how the publishing industry needs to evolve to include a myriad of voices within their own walls. It makes good business sense and will ensure a wide range of stories are in the marketplace, which means more readers (aka customers) will buy books.

Until then, the writers will continue to visit the guest house and write together, share a coffee, and some cookies (I always have snacks). I will enjoy their company and watching them grow in confidence and create working relationships with women who understand their journey.
Panelists gather before the program. L-R clockwise from top: Teresa Lo, Sakae Manning, Desiree Zamorano, Thea Monyee, and Shubha Venugopal (moderator)

Guests enjoy the sunset prior to program. L-R Roselma Samala, Cathy Choi, and Sally Lew

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Change to schedule: Office hours will be on Monday, 11/20/17, 11 am until 2 pm, Sand and Sea Room (follow the signs). These hours are in place of normal Saturday office hours and are for this weekend only.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chinyere Nwodim chats with Teresa Lo, Dr. Shubha Venugopal, and Thea Monyee during Saturday's pre-event
luncheon meeting in the Marion Davies Guest House. (Not pictured Desiree Zamorano)

Tomorrow is the second public event! I cannot believe this residency is moving so fast, and I'm grateful for all the quick-witted, intelligent, and "woke" writers I'm working with to realize the three programs under the Women of Color Fiction Writers banner. The best part of Saturday was introducing last month's panelists to this month's panelists and having them all connect further over coffee after our meeting.

Chinyere and Shubha came to write for the afternoon, which all the panelists are invited to do for the duration of my residency. It is one small way to demonstrate my appreciation for their contributions to the public programs and for ensuring as many women have an opportunity to create, write, and to think in this gracious guest house. Bringing them together also affords a time for casual chatting, resulting in new story ideas. The generosity of information and shared desire for each of us to be successful brings me to an Oprah "aha" moment several times a day. 

I'd like to believe Marion Davies would be pleased and that if she were here, she'd put her feet up, join us for tea, a walk on the beach, and would laugh at some of our raunchiest humor.

The topic this month is identity. Seems simple enough in concept, but self-identity, which is our specific umbrella topic is way more involved than it sounds. We are mothers, wives, partners, have professional identities outside of writing, are volunteers, social activists, female, cis-gender, binary, lesbian, immigrants, children of immigrants, bilingual translators for family, physically able-bodied or have unseen challenges that draw dotted lines around our lives, and the list is almost never-ending. 

In addition to fiction writers, the women on this panel self-identify as a blogger, professors, a college counselor, a popular spoken word artist, and they may write in the following genres: screenwriting, erotica, young adult fiction/speculative fiction, mystery writer, essayists, and journalist. Some have MFAs; some do not. A couple are actors. I can tell you they like cheese, fruit, and veggies, because we noshed during our entire meeting. :) None are shy. All are talented and dedicated to their craft.

Thea will read from her current book being shopped by her big time NY agent--a young adult speculative fiction work taking place in Leimert Park. Ah, yes, oh, so yummy, and as is often the case, YA fiction is taking the lead on broaching new areas in fiction.

Desiree will read from The Amado Women--her critically acclaimed women-centered novel about family, while Teresa will read from her essay, The Flood.

Please join Desiree Zamorano, Thea Monyee, Teresa Lo, Dr. Shubha Venugopal (moderator), and me for a thought-provoking, informative, and entertaining evening.

6:00 pm Reception / 6:30 pm program commences in the Marion Davies Guest House parlor. RSVP via Event Brite.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Teresa Lo is sure to bring a crisp, clear-cut perspective to the panel. She is recognized as a feminist voice for the millennials. Her first book was consciously self-published, and Teresa will share her views on self-publishing, why it is relevant and critical for underrepresented voices to gain exposure. How is this related to identity? How does Teresa view identity in her work and when she first developed her writing resume? Come and find out next Tuesday, 11/14, 6 pm reception; 6:30 pm program commences in the Marion Davies Guest House parlor.

Teresa Lo Biography 2017

Teresa Lo is an American bestselling author and award-winning screenwriter. Her debut novel, Hell's Game, was one of the top 20 young adult horror novels on Amazon in 2013; and her series, The Red Lantern Scandals, was a bestselling Asian-American literary work. She has been interviewed by leading Asian-American publications such as Hyphen Magazine and Angry Asian Man, and in 2013, she was the judge for Hyphen Magazine's first ever erotica writing contest. Readers have commented that her books "read like screenplays" because they evoke strong emotions and visuals, and she has quickly established herself as a feminist voice for the millennial generation. In addition to writing books, she has been published in the Comma, Splice Literary Journal; Yahoo, Examiner, Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Lawcrossing, Hustler Magazine, and more.

Lo was born and raised in Coffeyville, Kansas, and her parents owned a Chinese restaurant which she began working at when she was twelve-years-old. After high school, she attended the University of Kansas, where she graduated from the honors program and earned a B.A. in History with a certificate in global awareness. She was named a KU Woman of Distinction for her achievements in the arts, and she was founder of the T.Lo Club and president of Phi Alpha Delta, the pre-law fraternity. During her senior year of college, she was a research intern at The Late Show with David Letterman.

After college, Lo moved to Los Angeles to attend the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she majored in screenwriting. She graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts, and she was a participant of the NAMIC Fall Writers Workshop. In 2010, she won the Grand Prize in the Script Pipeline Screenplay Contest, and she also placed two other scripts in the finals, a rare accomplishment. That same year, her drama script The Physicist also was a finalist for the prestigious 2010 Bluecat Screenplay Contest. Lo has one produced credit, "Angel's Bread," which won the Silver Lei Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the Honolulu Film Festival 2010; and she was a former cast member on PBS' movie and television review show, Just Seen It.

Lo’s fiction has been optioned by production companies such as Winkler Films (Creed, Rocky), and she is currently working on a TV adaptation of The Red Lantern Scandals with Danny Zuker, executive producer of Modern Family.

Reception at 6:00 pm / Program commences at 6:30 pm in the Marion Davies Guest House parlor / 
RSVP via Eventbrite for this free public program

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Has been a great writing week for guests, as Helen Georgas, my co-resident from Dorland Mountain Artists Colony and an outstanding fiction writer, wrote at the Beach House. She's traveling a year on sabbatical from her position at Brooklyn College to finish her book. I was lucky enough to hear her do a reading for Dorland residents, and I can't wait until Helen's book is finished.

Today, two of the panelists from the 10/25, Emerging Women of Color Writers evening, Shubha Venugopal and Chinyere Nwodim, are here writing. Every woman who participates in the public programs is invited to come write in the guest house during my residency. I'm thrilled they've both taken me up on the offer and will go write with them once this blog posts. More pictures after the writing session--don't want to meddle with their flow. :)

Helen Georgas

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Desiree Zamorano will read from her women centered fiction, The Amado Women, during the 11/14 public evening program in the Marion Davies Guest House parlor. Desiree is the second of three panelists being highlighted in anticipation of next Tuesday evening's reading and conversation with three established and published women of color fiction writers.

What attracted me to Desiree's work is her ability to float between genres--dramatic fiction to mystery writing, but all carry her signature smoothly connected, fast moving storylines. I am in love with how she incorporates the different parts of LA into her work and hope you will be, too. The objective of the second program is to engage writers who are established in their craft and may develop stories "outside the lines," challenging traditional assumptions about what women of color choose to write about.

Désirée Zamorano has wrestled with culture, identity, and the invisibility of Latinas from early on. Her commentaries have appeared in the LA Times, NPR's Latino USA and Publishers Weekly. She delights in the exploration of contemporary issues of injustice and inequity, via her mystery series featuring private investigator, Inez Leon. 
Human Cargo,
​ first in the series, was Latinidad's mystery pick of the year. ​
A Pushcart prize nominee and award-winning short story writer, her most recent novel, the critically acclaimed The Amado Women, Cinco Puntos Press, is about four women linked by birth, separated by secrets. 
She is the director of Occidental College's Community Literacy Center.​

Reception at 6:00 pm / Program commences at 6:30 pm in the Marion Davies Guest House parlor / RSVP via Eventbrite for this free public program

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

YA Speculative Fiction writer and poet, Thea Monyee

Thea is the first writer I met while on my search for women of color fiction writers who can bring energy, a wicked sense of humor, and a broad perspective on what is happening in the literary world. I felt immediately lucky and that the programs being planned were meant to happen once I talked to Thea. She had me laughing and shouting out, "speak," "yes," and "amen" the longer we spoke.

Thea understands people, and her imagination allows for stories that go beyond the world in which we walk, drive, and ride each day to make society go round. Her writing has layers and depth beyond time and current existence. It is what makes Thea unique and perfect for our second program when women of color talk identity, "Can you see me now?" next Tuesday, 11/14, at 6:30 pm. Please come early and join us for a reception where you can meet the writers and have a bite before the program starts.

Thea Monyee´ is an accomplished spoken word artist, speaker, and writer with credits that include appearances on HBO, BET, and TV One, performances at the legendary Ford Amphitheater and House of Blues in Los Angeles, countless college tours, and commissions to write poetry for the NAACP and other national organizations. In addition to blazing stages from theaters to film and television, Monyee´ is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Cal State L.A., a regular contributor to For Harriet and Black Girl in Om online publications, and co-host of Dem Black Mamas podcast. Currently, Thea is a contributor to and a board member of Manhood Camp for At-Risk males. She is the author of Murmurs of a MadWoman: An Unconventional Memoir, a contributor to Voices From Leimert Park Redux Anthology, and a signed author with Dystel, Goderich & Bourette.

Reception at 6:00 pm / Program commences at 6:30 pm in the Marion Davies Guest House parlor / RSVP via Eventbrite for this free public program