Guest Presenters 2017



Dorothy Hearst

Dorothy Hearst has over twenty years of experience in the publishing industry as a published novelist, nonfiction editor and writer, acquiring editor, marketing professional, and proposal writer. She specializes in finding, crafting, and sharing ideas and stories that can change the way people live, work, and see the world.

Dorothy is the author of The Wolf Chronicles trilogy, published by Simon & Schuster. The series tells the story of how the wolf evolved into the dog from the wolf’s point of view. She is an editor-at-large for Sounds True, publishing books on personal transformation and spirituality, and a freelance proposal writer, co-writer, and editor. Previously she acquired books for Jossey-Bass/Wiley, publishing books for nonprofit, public, and social changes leaders.

Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and author of DECEIT AND OTHER POSSIBILITIES, which received the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists’ Association. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, FRONTLINE/World, Washington Post, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. She has filed stories from China, South Korea, Panama, Burma and Ecuador. Her novel, A RIVER OF STARS, is forthcoming (Ballantine, Spring 2018).

Rebecca Lawton

Rebecca Lawton is a writer, fluvial geologist, and former Colorado River guide who has published in Aeon, Brevity, Hakai, Orion, Shenandoah, Sierra, THEMA, Undark, and many other journals. She is the author and co-author of eight books, including the San Francisco Chronicle Bay Area Bestseller Reading Water: Lessons from the River. Her writing honors include the Ellen Meloy Award for Desert Writers, a WILLA for original softcover fiction, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize, three Pushcart nominations, a Best American Science and Nature Writing nomination, and residencies at Hedgebrook, The Island Institute, and Playa. Rebecca recently completed her second novel, drafted while she was a 2014/15 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair at the University of Alberta.

Lori Ostlund

Lori Ostlund’s novel After the Parade (Scribner, 2015) was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her first book, a story collection entitled The Bigness of the World, won the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the 2009 California Book Award for First Fiction. Stories from it appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Lori has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and a fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is a current finalist for the 2017 Simpson Family Literary Prize. Lori is a teacher and lives in San Francisco with her wife and cats, though she spent her formative years in Minnesota, cat-less.


Bonnie Solow

A former journalist and film and publishing executive, Bonnie established Solow Literary Enterprises in 1997, home of 29 New York Times bestsellers. Acting as a creative midwife, she plays a hands-on editorial role shaping and developing proposals and manuscripts for sale to publishers. As a literary manager, she goes beyond procuring book deals for her clients, taking advantage of her background in intellectual property development by leveraging opportunities to migrate her clients’ content beyond the bookshelf. She has helped broaden her clients’ reach through PBS productions, film deals and speaking engagements. She is committed to representing projects that are fresh, well written, and marketable; ones for which she feels considerable passion and that make positive contributions by expanding how people see, feel and think. Among her most recent bestsellers (2016) are The Importance of Being Little by Erika Christakis (Viking), A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan, MD (Harper), and Grain Brain Whole Life Plan by David Perlmutter, MD (Little, Brown). Bonnie is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives and The Authors Guild.

Mary C. Moore

Mary C. Moore is a literary agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates based in the Bay Area. She is seeking fiction, primarily fantasy, science fiction, young adult, women’s fiction, and upmarket book club fiction. Find out more at and


Peter Coyote

PETER COYOTE has performed as an actor for some of the world’s most distinguished filmmakers, including: Barry Levinson, Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar, Steven Spielberg, Martin Ritt, Steven Soderberg, Sidney and Jean Paul Rappeneau. He is an Emmy-Award winning narrator of over 120 documentary films, including Ken Burns, National Parks, Prohibition, The West, the Dust Bowl and this year’s acclaimed The Roosevelts for which he received his second Emmy in 2015. Mr. Coyote has written a memoir of the 1960’s counter-culture called Sleeping Where I Fall which received universally excellent reviews, and is new book, The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education, about mentors and the search for wisdom, was nominated for one of the top five books in Northern California in 2015


Past Presenters:

Rhona Berens

In her talk, Rhona Berens, PhD, PCC will introduce the four primary styles of toxic communication–a.k.a., ways to fight “wrong”–as guidelines for crafting riveting conflicts and developing complex characters. While mastering dramatic conflict enriches writing, it undermines relationships and self-esteem. In the second part of her talk, Rhona will explore how common challenges faced by writers–e.g., procrastination, over-writing–often result from internalizing toxic conflict styles.  She will share ways to turn those toxins into tools.  Get ready to learn more about writing fights in service of your art and fighting right in service of your life.

Rhona is a professional coach who works with creatives, leaders and parents. She helps clients stay sane, stay real, and stay the course to their dreams. For those who seek coaching as a quick path to happiness, Rhona provides great referrals. For those who yearn to live their complex, paradoxical lives with courage, creativity and humor, Rhona’s the coach of choice. She offers empowering tools, tales and touchstones to shift self-criticism to self-acceptance, and turn obstacles into opportunities. Rhona studied at The Coaches Training Institute and The Center for Right Relationship, is accredited by The International Coach Federation, and holds a PhD in Film & Media Studies from UCLA. When she’s not coaching, or parenting her two fabulous, obstinate children, she writes slam poetry and compulsively rewrites a biographical memoir entitled, Piggyback with a Madman.

Lucy Jane Bledsoe

Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s new novel, A THIN BRIGHT LINE, which the NEW YORK TIMES says “triumphs as an intimate and humane evocation of day-to-day life under inhumane circumstances,” was published in October. She’s the author of five other novels, a collection of narrative nonfiction, and a collection of short stories. Her fiction has won a Yaddo Fellowship, the 2013 Saturday Evening Post Fiction Award, the Arts & Letters Fiction Prize, the Sherwood Anderson Prize for Fiction, a Pushcart nomination, a California Arts Council Fellowship, an American Library Association Stonewall Award, and two National Science Foundation Artists & Writers Fellowships. Her stories have been translated into Japanese, Spanish, German, Dutch, and Chinese. Her next novel, THE EVOLUTION OF LOVE, will be published in 2018.

Amy Cloughley

Amy Cloughley is an agent with Kimberley Cameron & Associates. Keeping with the agency’s unique legacy of The Reece Halsey Agency, she strives to represent the highest quality writing. Amy came to the agency with a background in editing, writing, and marketing. You can also find her coaching writers via a Writer’s Digest course designed to help authors craft and strengthen their submission materials. She is looking for literary and commercial fiction and has a special interest in mystery/suspense, near historical, and upmarket women’s fiction. She also seeks narrative nonfiction projects. You can visit her agency website at or follow her on Twitter @amycloughley.


Ileana has been a mover her entire life.  She has studied yoga and dance extensively.  She is a teacher and practitioner of Shaivite Tantrisim.  Combining her years of immersion in the practice of non dual with her love of movement, her yoga classes blend vinyasa style asana with meditation on present moment awareness and connection with source.  Her movement classes are fun, sweaty, and will get your body moving and grooving.

Angie Powers

Great conflict is always about basic human needs, things like safety, security, being loved and being part of a community, even being challenged. A fight about a cup of coffee can come off as lackluster and boring, unless you write it keeping in mind that the cup of coffee with cream represents freedom and autonomy to one person and to the other it represents the end of security. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we’ll examine how we can bust through boring scenes (or edit the ones we’ve already written) to get to great conflict supported by superb subtext.

Angie Powers teaches Story Development and Book in a Year at She has an M.F.A. in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, where her novel, The Blessed, won the Amanda Davis Thesis Award, and a Certificate in Screenwriting from the Professional Programs at UCLA. The co-director and co-writer of the several shorts that premiered at Frameline, as well as the short Little Mutinies (distributed by Frameline and an official selection of the Palm Springs International Short Fest) and a quarter-finalist for the Nicholl Fellowship and at Blue Cat Screenplay Competition for the full-length screenplay of Little Mutinies. She is shooting her first feature film, Lost in the Middle, in April 2017.

Peg Alford Pursell

Peg Alford Pursell is the director of WTAW Press and of the national reading series Why There Are Words that she founded in the Bay Area in 2010. She has over 20 years of experience as an editor. Peg is the author of Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow (ELJ Editions, March 2017), a collection of hybrid prose and micro-fictions with praise from Peter Orner, Joan Silber, Margot Livesey, Antonya Nelson and others. She earned her MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Visit her

Andy Ross

Andy Ross opened his literary agency in 2008.  Prior to becoming and agent, he was the owner of the legendary  Cody’s Books in Berkeley.  Andy  represents books in a  wide range of  non-fiction genres  including: narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, popular culture, memoir,  and  current events . He also represents literary, commercial, upmarket women’s fiction, and YA fiction.

Authors Andy  represents include: Daniel Ellsberg, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Anjanette Delgado, Elisa Kleven, Tawni Waters, Randall Platt, Mary Jo McConahay,  Gerald Nachman,  Paul Krassner, Milton Viorst,  and Beth Hensperger.

You can read more about Andy at his website at and on his popular blog “Ask the Agent” at

Shanthi Sekaran

Shanthi Sekaran lives in Berkeley and is the author of two novels. Of her latest novel, Lucky Boy, the San Francisco Chronicle says, “With wit, empathy and a page-turning plot, the novel stirs ethical questions in the reader that the author rightly refuses to answer”. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Canteen Magazine, Huffington Post and Best New American Voices. She’s a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and teaches writing and literature at California College of the Arts. You can find out more about her writing and events at

Heather Young

After a decade practicing law and another raising children, Heather Young decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a novelist. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers’ Workshop, both of which helped her stop writing like a lawyer. Originally from Maryland, she now lives in Northern California with her husband and two teenagers.