Presenters & Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are confirmed
for the 2019 Writing Conference of Los Angeles.


Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8.16.11 PMChuck Sambuchino (@chucksambuchino) is a freelance editor, best-selling book author, and former longtime staffer for Writer’s Digest Books. For many years he edited the GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS and the CHILDREN’S WRITER’S & ILLUSTRATOR’S MARKET.

At the 2019 L.A. conference, he is teaching many courses on getting published, and critiquing attendee query letters.

His Guide to Literary Agents Blog was one of the largest blogs in publishing, and he wrote the platform guidebook CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM. His humor book, HOW TO SURVIVE A GARDEN GNOME ATTACK, was optioned by Sony Pictures. Chuck’s books have been mentioned in Reader’s Digest, USA Today, the New York Times, The Huffington Post, Variety, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, Mental Floss, New York magazine, and many more media outlets. He is a successful freelance editor of queries, synopses, and manuscripts—seeing dozens of clients get agents or book deals following his consultations/edits. He loves meeting new writers.


Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 4.50.40 PM.pngWesley Chu is a published writer of science fiction and fantasy. At the 2019 L.A. conference, he is teaching on writing sci-fi & fantasy, and also doing critiques for attendees.

(See all Wesley’s books here.)

In 2015, Wesley won the John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award. Chu’s debut novel from Angry Robot Books, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Finalist slot.

His latest series, The Rise of Io, published by Angry Robot Books, features a con-woman with an alien cohabitation problem. He is currently co-writing a Magnus Bane book titled The Red Scrolls of Magic with Cassandra Clare.

Wesley lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Paula, his son, Hunter, and Eva the Airedale Terrier. Wesley’s work has been translated into German, Hebrew, Hungary, Russian, Chinese (Taiwan & China).


Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 2.20.26 AM.pngNew York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne wrote her first novel while researching the neuroscience of reading at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, she’s switched to full-time writing, which also involves getting into people’s heads but without the help of a 3 Tesla MRI scanner.

She is also the author of MIDNIGHT THIEF (an Indies Introduce New Voices selection), DAUGHTER OF DUSK, and ROSEMARKED (an Amazon best book of the month and YALSA Teens Top Ten Nominee).

At the 2019 LA workshop, Livia is teaching on writing awesome novels for teens. She is also offering critiques as an add-on element for attendees.


Screen Shot 2019-01-05 at 1.56.38 PM.pngLorna Hollifield is a published Southern fiction author. Her first novel is Tobacco Sun.

At the 2019 L.A. workshop, Lorna is offering critiques for manuscripts, including Southern fiction.

Lorna is represented by Kimberly Whalen of Whalen Literary. She is a former officer with the South Carolina Writers Association. Learn more about Lorna at her website.

Lorna was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but now enjoys the island life outside of Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Kimsey, and two mutts, Scarlet and Daisy.

She’s been an author from the time she could speak, always spinning yarns for anyone who would listen. She began her professional writing journey as a tourism and travel blogger, before finally deciding to pursue her dream of publishing fiction. Tobacco Sun is her first novel, and she’s delighted to share it with the world, When Lorna isn’t writing fiction, she enjoys blogging about writable women at


Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 9.08.42 PM.pngKari Sutherland is a literary agent with Bradford Literary Agency.

At the 2019 LA workshop, Kari is meeting with writers for one-on-one pitches. She is also teaching on revision & self-editing.

Kari joined the Bradford Literary Agency after a decade of experience in publishing from the editorial side. Previously a Senior Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, she has worked with bestselling and critically acclaimed authors on projects such as the #1 New York Times bestselling Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard. She graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in English and Psychology, which she considers the perfect combination for working with authors on character and plot development. With her editorial insight and experience with the entire publishing process, Kari is passionate about helping to polish each manuscript and equip her clients for success.

She is seeking: Open to genres from picture books through adult, Kari is most interested in finding stories full of heart; ones that carry readers to faraway places or deep into a character’s mind; action-packed page-turners that surprise her; dark dramas with touches of humor; and, above all, a voice that leaps off the page. She is actively seeking diverse voices across all genres.

In children’s books, Kari is interested in character-driven stories, new twists on classic tales, empowering themes, epic fantasy, fresh voices and experiences, inventive mysteries, humor, and magical realism.

In YA, which is near and dear to her heart, Kari is drawn to compelling voices, tight pacing, and clear world-building regardless of whether it’s a space drama, an underground dystopia, a small town, or a big city contemporary. She is open to any genre within YA.

Kari is interested in adult fiction — including general fiction; upmarket women’s fiction; intergenerational tales; magical realism; historical dramas; and light-hearted contemporary fiction.

A firm believer that truth can be stranger than fiction, Kari is seeking nonfiction in the following categories: quirky topics; history and biography; pop science and psychology; humor; and parenting. Most important to her are a concrete platform, an engaging voice, and well-researched material that will broaden readers’ understanding of themselves, the past, and the world around them.

Kari is not seeking: horror, romance, erotica, memoir, adult sci-fi/fantasy, thrillers, cookbooks, business, spiritual/religious, poetry, or screenplays.


Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 10.48.56 PM.pngLos Angeles native Jeri Westerson is the author of eleven Crispin Guest Medieval Noir novels, a series nominated for 13 national awards from the Agatha to the Shamus. (See all her books here.)

At the 2019 LA conference, Jeri is teaching on how to write great mysteries and thriller novels. She is also critiquing manuscripts for attendees.

Her first in the Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series, VEIL OF LIES was named Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society Review; her third THE DEMON’S PARCHMENT received a coveted starred review by Library Journal; and her sixth, SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST, was named Best of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. Also in 2013, her fifth novel BLOOD LANCE was named one of the “Ten Hot Crime Novels for Colder Days” by Kirkus.

For her debut paranormal romance series, BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN, Jeri was invited as a paneled author to the fan convention DragonCon, and the book was a finalist for RT Magazine‘s Seal of Excellence Award. Publishers Weekly said of it, “Readers sad about the ending of Charlaine Harris’s MIDNIGHT, TEXAS trilogy will find some consolation in Moody Bog.” The second in the series, DEADLY RISING, was just released. (See for more details.) Jeri was featured on two local NPR shows, ‘My Awesome Empire” and “KVCR-Arts.”

She has served as president for two terms for the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, as vice president for the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and twice president of the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She frequently guest lectures on medieval history at local colleges and museums, and lives in southern California with her home-brewing husband, a complacent desert tortoise, and 40,000 bees.


Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 7.17.16 PM.pngDan Marshall is the author of the memoir Home is Burning (Flatiron Books).

At the 2019 LA conference, he is critiquing memoir manuscripts and teaching on how to write a good memoir.

Dan grew up in a nice home with nice parents in Salt Lake City, Utah, before attending UC Berkeley. After college, Dan worked at a strategic communications public relations firm in Los Angeles. At 25, he left work and returned to Salt Lake to take care of his sick parents. While caring for them, he started writing detailed accounts about many of their weird, sad, funny adventures.

Home is Burning is his first book.


Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 8.03.12 PM.pngEve Porinchak is an author, as well as a former literary agent.

At the 2019 workshop, Eve is offering critiques for attendees, and teaching on both query writing and picture book writing.

Since earning a degree in biology and psychology from UCLA, Eve has lived all over the planet, including third-world countries, and spent much of her time in and out of prison—as a creative writing teacher and advocate for teen inmates. Eve serves as an aid worker in Tijuana orphanages and quenched her thirst for all things literary as a former agent with the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency in Los Angeles.

A former medical student, child welfare social worker, and first grade teacher, Eve grew up on a steady diet of Unsolved Mysteries and In Search Of, inspiring a lifelong desire to dissect complex true crime stories in pursuit of truth. She writes stories featuring youth she feels have been underrepresented in children’s literature, such as those born into gang life, the abandoned, the incarcerated, and war refugees, who—ironically—have the most fascinating tales to tell.


Screen Shot 2018-11-17 at 8.34.12 PM.pngDana Newman is a literary agent and the founder of Dana Newman Literary.

At the 2019 LA workshop, she is taking pitches from attendees, and also teaching on Frequently Asked Legal Issues for Writers.

She is seeking: “On the fiction side, we consider a very selective amount of literary fiction and women’s upmarket fiction. We look for character-driven stories written in a distinctive voice that are emotionally truthful.

“We are interested in practical nonfiction (business, health and wellness, psychology, parenting, technology) by authors with smart, unique perspectives and established platforms who are committed to actively marketing and promoting their books.

“We love compelling, inspiring narrative nonfiction in the areas of memoir, biography, history, pop culture, current affairs/women’s interest, social trends, and sports/fitness. A favorite genre is literary nonfiction: true stories, well told, that read like a novel you can’t put down.”

Dana Newman Literary was founded by Dana Newman in 2010. Prior to becoming a literary agent, she worked for 14 years as General Counsel for Moviola and its affiliates, Paskal Lighting and Magnasync Corporation. With years of experience working in the entertainment and communications technology industries during the digital revolution in film editing and audio recording, Dana enthusiastically embraces new technologies and ideas about how books will be created, distributed and experienced. Dana combines her professional insight, educational background (B.A. in Comparative Literature from U.C. Berkeley, J.D. from University of San Francisco), and a lifelong love of reading to her role as a literary agent. She regularly attends writers’ conferences and speaks frequently on legal issues for authors (including publishing contracts, collaboration agreements, and copyright). Dana Newman Literary works with Judy Klein of Kleinworks Agency on handling clients’ foreign rights sales. She works as a co-agent with Phyllis Parsons of The Parsons Company, Inc. in connection with speakers and film/TV rights.

In addition to her work as a literary agent, Dana is also Of Counsel at Raines Feldman LLP, where she focuses on business and legal advising, negotiating and drafting contracts, intellectual property (copyrights and trademarks), licensing and publishing law. She has extensive experience with publishing and literary agency agreements, and also does pre-publication legal review of manuscripts. Her specialty is helping creative entrepreneurs and authors achieve their goals, and she’s represented a wide variety of clients in entertainment, media and business. She wrote “Copyright Grants: as Powerful as Kryptonite?” published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and co-authored the chapter on Technology and Intellectual Property Rights in the book Emerging Companies Guide: A Resource for Professionals and Entrepreneurs, Second Edition (American Bar Association 2011).

Dana is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives and the California State Bar.


Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 10.53.47 PMMary Kuryla’s collection Freak Weather Stories was selected by Amy Hempel for the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction and was published by The University of Massachusetts Press in 2017. Kuryla’s stories have received The Pushcart Prize, as well as the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Prize. They’ve appeared in Epoch, Witness, Greensboro Review, Pleiades, The New Orleans Review, Strange Horizons, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others.

At the 2019 LA workshop, Mary is doing critiques, and also teaching on how to adapt a book to a movie screenplay.

Kuryla co-authored a series of children’s books with Newbery and National Book Honor winner Eugene Yelchin, including The Next Door Bear, The Heart of a Snowman, and Ghost Files: The Haunting Truth, which were published with Harper Children’s Books.

As a filmmaker, Kuryla’s feature film Freak Weather premiered at Toronto and was in competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Her award-winning short Memory Circus premiered at Sundance. She has written screen adaptations for United Artists and MGM, among others; her first adaptation was for John Malkovich to direct. She is a visiting screenwriting professor at Loyola Marymount University and specializes in writing the horror feature.


Screen Shot 2019-04-06 at 12.24.30 AMAngel Payne has been reading and writing romance for nearly twenty-five years. She sold her first romance novel to Kensington Publishing in the 90s, and went on to publish with Dell, Loose-Id, and Totally Entwined over the years. She’s also released several independent titles.

Her works span a number of romance subgenres, including historical, paranormal, urban fantasy, and high heat contemporary. Currently, she’s published through world-renowned Waterhouse Press, and is working on her thirty-sixth novel.

At the 2019 LA workshop, she is teaching on romance writing, and critiquing romance manuscripts for attendees.