Presenters & Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2019 San Diego Writing Workshop.

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 8.36.35 PMHenry Herz writes children’s picture books, including MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, Best Picture Book at SoCal SCBWI Editor’s Day), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican), MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, Foreword Indies Best Picture Book finalist), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling), GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE (Schiffer), HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican), ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius), SHERLOCK CHICK AND BUNNY WATSON (Pelican), and TWO PIRATES + ONE ROBOT (Kane Miller). (Find/buy any of his books here.)

At the 2019 SD workshop, he will be teaching on picture book writing, and also offering picture book critiques for attendees.

He’s an SCBWI member, and recently sold his first short story to Highlights for Children. Henry also moderates author panels at literary and comic conventions.


Screen Shot 2018-12-08 at 11.07.24 AM.pngLisa Brackmann is the NYT best-selling author of the Ellie McEnroe trilogy (Rock Paper Tiger), and suspense novels Getaway, Go-Between and Black Swan Rising, which takes place here in San Diego.

At the 2019 SD event, she will be teaching on writing mystery & thriller. She will also be doing attendee manuscript critiques in the genres of suspense, thriller, crime, and mystery.

Her books have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Strand Critic’s best-first-novel and Amazon’s Top 100 Books of the Year and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Travel+Leisure, Salon, LARB, and CNET. She lives in San Diego with a cat, far too many books and a bass ukulele.


Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 11.12.28 PMMadeline Smoot is the publisher of CBAY Books and former editorial director for children’s books of Blooming Tree Press. She runs the Buried in the Slush Pile blog.

She is critiquing chapter book and middle grade submissions as an add-on element for attendees.

Madeline lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, son, two cats, a dog, and more books than should fit in any normal person’s house. Visit her website here.



Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 1.34.31 PM.pngMarni Freedman (BFA, LMFT) is a produced, published, and award-winning writer. At the 2019 workshop, she is teaching on memoir writing, and critiquing memoir, literary fiction, historical fiction, women’s fiction, and upmarket/mainstream as an add-on element for writers.

After graduating as an award-winning student from the USC School of Filmic Writing, Marni began her career with her play, “Two Goldsteins on Acid,” which was produced in Los Angeles. She worked as a script doctor for top film companies and worked as a script agent for The Seymour Agency. One of her plays was made into a film, “Playing Mona Lisa,” and was produced by Disney. She teaches at San Diego Writers Ink, UCSD Extension, The Center for Creative Aging, runs the successful San Diego Writers Network and produces a yearly theatrical Memoir Showcase.

Her first book on writing, 7 Essential Writing Tools: That Will Absolutely Make Your Writing Better (And Enliven the Soul) was recently published. Her next book, The Memoir Map, was released in November 2017. You can also find Marni at, a writing hub to help writers find and believe in their authentic voice.


Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 4.29.21 PM.pngHelenKay Dimon is a former divorce lawyer turned best-selling author of more than 40 Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, and Erotic Romance books and novellas. (Find all her books here.)

At the 2019 SD conference, she is teaching on romance writing, and doing critiques for romance writers.

Her books have been featured in various national and international venues and she has had two books named Red-Hot Reads in Cosmo magazine. She is a four-time RITA® Award finalist in romantic suspense (for Mr. and Mr. Smith, Facing Fire, Guarding Mr. Fine and The Fixer) and is 2018 RITA® Award winner for The Fixer. She’s also a Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award winner in romantic suspense for The Fixer. In addition to writing, HelenKay is the president of the Romance Writers of America and frequently teaches workshops and classes on fiction writing and romance writing.

Just in case you were wondering…HelenKay is her real name. Yes, that’s a capital K in the middle, all one word and no space (blame her two grandmothers – Helen and Kay). Dimon is pronounced Die-Mon.