Arts & Entertainment

Registration is open for Canyon Crest Academy’s 7th Annual CCA Writers’ Conference

Daniel Sweren-Becker, author of The Ones and The Equals, television writer ABC, USA, MTV and Nickelodeon, and playwright of Stress Positions, will be one of the speakers at the conference.

Canyon Crest Academy’s Creative Writing Club recently announced that registration is open for the 7th Annual Canyon Crest Academy Writers’ Conference, which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24.

High school students from all over San Diego County are welcome to this event, the only free writing conference for high school students in the US. Every year, students attend from Chula Vista to Oceanside, La Jolla to Santee, and even as far away as Ramona. Students can find more information and register at

Because of the generosity of conference sponsors Hamilton College Consultants and PrintNET, as well as extensive fundraising by the Creative Writing Club, this event is free to high school students. The CCA Creative Writing Club is looking for individual and corporate sponsors. Individuals can sponsor a student for as little as $25, or become a Gold Sponsor for more. Sponsors can email for more information on how to contribute.

The three club presidents, Claire Lee, Prisha Kukkal, and Sophie Camilleri, and other club members, have been working hard to organize this year’s conference.

Sophie said, "We are excited to have so many new and exciting authors and other writing professionals present at our conference this year. The bios of our speakers on the website are so impressive! I am personally looking forward to attending the poetry and screenwriting workshops, because I really enjoy learning about different writing disciplines.”

The keynote address will be given by Elana K. Arnold, author of What Girls Are Made Of, a 2017 National Book Award Finalist, and A Boy Called Bat, a Junior Library Guild selection. This year’s inspirational speaker is national headliner Taylor Williamson, a nationally-headlining comedian and second place winner Season 8 of America's Got Talent. He was named one of AGT's four favorite acts of all time in their recent 10 year anniversary special.

Other speakers include:

- Jonathan Maberry, NYT bestselling author, 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, comic book writer, and more. He will present Horror, Thrillers and Suspense in YA fiction.

- Kiersten White, author of the NYT bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, the And I Darken trilogy, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Slayer, and more. She will present The Voice.

- Abdi Nazemian, author of The Walk-In Closet and The Authentics, screenwriter for Menendez: Blood Brothers, The Quiet, Beautiful Girl, and Celeste in the City, and executive or associate producer on a number of films, including Call Me By Your Name. He will present Movie, Book, Play, TV? How to decide what your story is meant to be.

- Daniel Sweren-Becker, author of The Ones and The Equals, television writer ABC, USA, MTV and Nickelodeon, and playwright of Stress Positions. He will present Conflict: An Author’s BFF.

- T. Greenwood, award-winning author of 12 novels, including Bodies of Water and more. She will present Character is Destiny.

- Chris Hamilton, founder of Hamilton College Consulting. He will present Six Secrets for Great College Essays

- A panel of authors will present No Longer Niche: LGBTQ Fiction Goes Mainstream, including: Kristin Elizabeth Clark, award-winning author of Freakboy and Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity; Tim Floreen, author of Willful Machines and Tattoo Atlas; M.G. Hennessey, author of The Other Boy; and Brie Spangler, author of Beast.

- Kendall Sherwood, LA-based playwright/screenwriter who spent the last four years writing for TNT’s “Major Crimes.” She will present Writing for TV.

- James Hebert, chief theater critic/correspondent for The San Diego Union-Tribune and national and regional journalism award winner. He will present Finding Your Voice - and Place - in Journalism's New Age.

- Greg van Eekhout, author of the California Bones trilogy, Kid vs. Squid, The Boy at the End of the World and more. He will present Getting to The End: Overcoming Writer's Block and Finishing Your Stories.

- Jim Moreno, an Artist-in-Residence poetry teacher with Arts 4 Learning and the Juvenile Court & Community Schools, as well as an original member and coordinator of San Diego's Langston Hughes Poetry Circle. He will present Fighting Hate With Dignity: The Poet's Pen.

- Jill Marr, literary agent for the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, will present How to Find, Interest and Work with a Literary Agent.

- Laura Preble, award-winning author of the young adult series, Queen Geek Social Club and Out. She will present In The Beginning - How to write a first paragraph.

- James Matlack Raney, author of the Jim Morgan series and Lord of the Wolves. He will present Fast and Furious: Writing Great Action Scenes.

- Aleta Barthell, award-winning playwright, screenwriter, teaching artist with Playwrights Project, drama teacher, and founder of Kids Act at New Village Arts Theatre. She will present Dialogue! Dialogue! Dialogue!

- Lee Coulter, Sirius XM’s Coffee House channel dub him “the discovery of the year.” He will present Songwriting: Rhyme, Reason and the Infinite Paths.

- Henry Herz, picture book author of How the Squid Got Two Long Arms, Alice’s Magic Garden, Good Egg & Bad Apple and more. He will present Narrative Non-Fiction - The Best of Both Worlds.

The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore will sell speakers’ books with a portion of the proceeds going to the conference.

Students can learn more about the conference at, by liking the CCA Writers’ Conference page on Facebook, or following it on Twitter.

The conference will take place Feb. 24, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., in the Proscenium Theater and Media Center, Canyon Crest Academy, 5951 Village Center Loop Road, San Diego, CA 92130. Registration is required. The event is for high school students only, and is free. Registration is required.

Get the Del Mar Times in your inbox