Catamaran Writers Conference Gems


Catamaran Attendees at the Tor House, Carmel, California, home of the renowned poet Robinson Jeffers

While at the 2015 Catamaran Writers Conference in Pebble Beach, I met so many talented writers, poets, editors, publishers, agents, aliens (just kidding) that I was overwhelmed, but in a good way!

Now I understand why people love going to these conferences. You become immersed in a creative energy field, plus you don’t have to cook, wash dishes or do laundry. Or deal with fighting siblings or a snotty partner!

I’d like to share these special people and resources with you. One of them may lead you to a great book, a conference, a poetry collection, landing your own book deal…who knows? 

From my Creative Nonfiction Class with Frances Lefkowitz:

  1. Frances Lefkowitz’s highly acclaimed memoir To Have Not about growing up poor in San Francisco is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. Meeting her in person, being her student and receiving her feedback and encouragement was almost better than chocolate. (Frances, chocolate is to me what a cute pair of shoes is to you! 😉  Visit her awesome website to learn about Frances’ upcoming workshops, writing/editing services & to read her blog.
  2. Rayne Wolfe, a fellow classmates, has an incredible resume. Her book Toxic Mom Toolkit is a bestseller and it has spurred a very active Facebook community. Rayne works as a journalist and has written for none other than the New York Times. She’s a writing coach, media source and guest speaker. Visit Rayne’s Facebook page (Toxic Mom Toolkit) to keep posted of her upcoming book (I can’t wait to buy it!) and her blog: 
  3. Annie Dawid is another talented classmate (hey, my class was 100% packed with talent! 😉 and a prolific author, artist, and writing teacher. Annie has had several books published, and her upcoming book Paradise Undone: A Novel of Jonestown is sure to be riveting. Learn more about Annie at

During one of our yummy meals I met two fascinating women who teach in my hometown. 

Helene Simkin Jara of is an actor, director and author. Her book Because I Had To is a Kindle bestseller. Her upcoming book consists of 96 interviews from women and men about childhood experiences with dolls; some are funny, many are terrifying, some are poignant. Some experiences occure in orphanages in Switzerland and Korea; takes place during the Holocaust.  It’s a peek into people’s lives with dolls as the catalyst. Her book sounds extraordinary. Check out her website for the details.


Dr. Adela Najarro of immediately set me at ease. She invited me to practice my publicity pitch with her about my book Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. Adela pretended that she was an independent bookseller and I “met” with her to promote my book. 🙂 Like everyone at the conference, she’s multitalented – she’s a poet, published author and creative writing instructor at Cabrillo College. I wish I had her as my teacher when I went to school!



Our lecturers made a big impression upon me. Two of my faves were:

Michael Larsen, literary agent and co-founder of the famed San Francisco Writers Conference in 2016 and the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference coming up very soon on September 12, 2015. I seized the opportunity to meet with Michael for a half an hour. We discussed my book Birth of a New Brain and he inspired me, gave me a bunch of great ideas, and listened. It didn’t hurt that he had one of the best senses of humor around. To get to know Michael visit his blog


Development editor/publishing consultant Heather Lazare gave an illuminating presentation. She explained how the New York editing scene worked, and much more. Heather has a comprehensive website and if you’re a fiction writer I suggest checking out her Northern California Writer’s Retreat she co-founded with literary agent Chelsea Lindman. It’s coming up in 2016 – I wish Heather and Chelsea would offer a nonfiction version, hint hint!  


Chicago Quarterly Review

(How cool & lovely is this collie on the cover? Doesn’t she look like Lucy?)


I was honored to meet Syed Haider, the founder of this highly respected nonprofit literary journal and author of To Be With Her. Syed was so kind to me and we had some wonderful talks at mealtimes. If you’re a writer, I encourage you to look at the website’s submission guidelines and send the Chicago Quarterly Review your work – they consider virtually all forms of writing. If published, you can be tremendously proud to be a part of this literary tradition.

Finally, I must mention the beautifully produced

Catamaran Literary Reader


Catamaran conference attendees were given swag bags upon check-in, which was a lovely way to start the conference. We received a copy of the latest issue of the Catamaran Literary Reader.

While at the dentist last Saturday for four hours (without WiFi or a smart phone) last week, I thank God that I brought my Catamaran issue. I leisurely enjoyed every page – I had the time! I was very impressed with this notable local publication founded by visual artist/writer/creative visionary Catherine Segurson.  

As someone who has lived on the West Coast of California for forty-five years, I particularly love Catamaran’s tagline: “West Coast Themes – Writers and Artists from Everywhere”.

Thanks for reading!  Please share if you dare! 😉

with love,






16 thoughts on “Catamaran Writers Conference Gems

  1. See what you would have missed? I envy and yet am so proud of you my fair lady. No way to go, write it all out to make Frances proud to have mentored you. And ofcourse all us are rooting for you. May someone else write same about you someday. For now, Lucy’s barking may do? Loads of love from my corner of the globe 🙂

    • As I wrote to Leslie, oh, how I wish you could have been with me, Marie. We would have had a blast. One dream of mine is a mental health bloggers conference in which we could all meet – how amazing would that be? I have your memoir by my table & see your beautiful, smiling face every day and please don’t give up on me about writing the review – I will! I’ll start reading it and I know it’s going to be 500 stars on Amazon! p.s. you are so funny! To quote that famous song, “You light up my life” – Lucy’s cuddling also lights up my life – the ear-splitting barking? Not so much, but if she’s in another room it’s okay! XOXOXOXO Love headed your way right now at the speed of light!

  2. I’m so happy for you, not only that you found the courage to go to the conference, but that you had such a positive experience! 🙂

    • I wish I was still there, and that you were there to join me, Leslie! 😉 Thank you so much for your kind support – it’s awesome!

    • I wish I could’ve packed YOU and brought you!!!!! Maybe next year??? You certainly deserve a fabulous experience such as this one – maybe there’s some just a leeetttle bit closer to you! Xo

      • Awww! It sounds fabulous and I’d love nothing more than to jet off to Cali for a conference. One day… You have inspired me to look closer. Another thing I love about my new home — more art and opportunities for enriching writing experiences.

    • My pleasure, Lynette! I wish I was back there now! 😉 Hoping to make it to part or possibly all of San Francisco’s conference, if I can get a scholarship…

  3. Hi, Dyane! Sounds like you had a wonderfully inspiring time at your conference- so happy for you! I, too, just was at a conference at our local holistic retreat center, a weeklong course called “The Natural Singer.” Being in an environment full of people who are so supportive of your own creative efforts is an amazing thing, so nurturing to our souls. I hope your takeaways from the writing conference continue to foster your creative, talented spirit!

    • “The Natural Singer” sounds like it was really incredible! I’m so glad you gave yourself that gift – you deserve it, lovely Mariah! I hope we both get the chance to enjoy more conferences & learn from them…I had no idea that such hotbeds of inspiration existed! Now I just need a conference trust fund!!! 😉

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