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), and TWO PIRATES + ONE ROBOT (Kane Miller, 2020). (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.


Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 5.49.11 PM.pngSandra O’Donnell, Ph.D. is a literary agent & founding partner of RO Literary.

At the 2019 SD workshop, Sandra will be taking pitches from attendees and also teaching on nonfiction book proposals.

has been involved in the writing community and the business of books for over twenty years. “A Walk on the Moon is one of my favorite movies,” she says. “And not just because there is an incredible scene in it that involves Viggo Mortensen and a waterfall. I love this movie primarily because of the last scene where Marty, Pearl’s husband asks her the quintessential question that we will all ask ourselves someday if we don’t write the book that is begging to be written, ‘Who stopped you?’ ”

She studied writing at the graduate level at the University of Utah while working on her master’s. While there, she taught writing in the Writing Program and learned as much from teaching as she did from her classes. After her Master’s Sandra went on to ghostwrite, edit and co-author a number of books for the academic market. She also earned her Ph.D. in History from Arizona State.

In 1996, Sandra and a partner formed Snowgoose Cove a boutique publishing company. As a publisher, Sandra learned what it takes to make a title successful by guiding authors through the editing, launch, and marketing of their books. For Food Talk: A Man’s Guide to Cooking and Conversation Sandra and her team arranged a 12 state book/PR tour, selling out of the first edition of the book within six months.

For the past few years, Sandra has been working with authors to take them from draft to polished manuscript. Many of the authors she’s worked with have gone on to find excellent agents, editors, and publishers. However, many projects have languished once they have left her charge. Frustrated authors asked her time and again why she couldn’t be their agent. Why Sandra couldn’t guide them through the next stage with the love and care she’d used shown during the development phase of their books. After much consideration and discussion with her partner Laura Rothschild, RO Literary was formed.



Screen-Shot-2018-12-16-at-4.24.45-PM.pngFaculty member Frankie Mallis is a professional freelance editor and doing add-on critiques for science fiction and fantasy at the 2019 SD event.

Frankie is a veteran freelance editor, and her work was formerly represented by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Unlike other editors at the workshop, Frankie will not be present at the SD event. Instead of meeting with her for 10 minutes at the event, she will be doing 10-minute Skype/phone calls for any critiques, and also passing along written notes via email.


Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 9.25.16 AM.pngCarlie Webber is a literary agent with Fuse Literary. Previously, she was the founding agent of CK Webber Associates Literary Management.

At the 2019 SD workshop, she is teaching on query writing. She is also taking one-on-one pitches from attendees.

She represents fiction in the genres of: young adult, middle grade, new adult, women’s fiction, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, science fiction, and fantasy.

She does not want to rep picture books, easy readers, poetry, scripts or curriculum nonfiction. She no longer seeks nonfiction (or memoir) of any kind.

Carlie refused to major in English in college because no one would let her read Stephen King or R.L. Stine for class. She took her love of YA and commercial fiction to the University of Pittsburgh, where she obtained a Master of Library and Information Science. For ten years, she worked as a public librarian serving teens and adults, served on book awards committees, and reviewed books professionally for journals including Kirkus Reviews and VOYA. Wishing to pursue her interest in the business side of books, she then enrolled in the Columbia Publishing Course. Her professional publishing experience includes an internship at Writers House and work with the Publish or Perish Agency/New England Publishing Associates and the Jane Rotrosen Agency.


Screen Shot 2018-12-24 at 9.06.54 AMKimiko Nakamura is a literary agent with Dee Mura Literary, and a co-coordinator of the 2019 San Diego Writing Workshop.

At the 2019 SD workshop, she will be teaching on revision & self-editing.

A graduate of Skidmore College and Boston University’s Book Publishing Program, Kimiko worked within Shambhala Publications and Harvard Common Press before becoming a literary agent. She partners with aspiring and published authors alike, enjoys well-worn library books, and is always up for a game of Scrabble. She loves projects that reimagine what’s possible, characters with something (or nothing) to lose, unique viewpoints, trailblazing heroines, and anything with elements of magical realism. She represents memoir writers.


Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 3.03.00 PM.pngNatalie Lakosil is an agent at the Bradford Literary Agency.

At the 2019 SD workshop, she is teaching on writing professionalism. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches.

An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. After nearly four years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and a brief dabble in writing author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune, Natalie joined the Bradford Agency in February of 2011. Natalie is drawn to talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook.

Her specialties are children’s literature (from picture book through teen and new adult), romance (contemporary and historical), cozy mystery/crime, upmarket women’s/general fiction and select children’s nonfiction. Her interests include historical, multicultural, magical realism, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, middle grade with heart, and short, quirky or character-driven picture books. She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, professionalism, good grammar, and fantastical, beautifully written, engaging and sexy plots.

Natalie is not looking for: inspirational novels, memoir, romantic suspense, adult thrillers, poetry, screenplays

Natalie is a member of SCBWI & RWA.


Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 10.10.22 PM.pngElise Capron is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

At the 2019 SD workshop, she is meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches. She is also teaching on how to hook an agent.

In addition to handling her own list, she oversees the daily operations of the SDLA office, and works closely with Sandra Dijkstra on author development and management. She is most interested in character-driven literary/mainstream fiction and well-written narrative nonfiction (particularly serious history with a good story).

A graduate of Emerson College, Elise holds a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing. She has been with the Dijkstra Agency since late 2003.

Elise is interested in fiction that has unforgettable writing, a distinctive narrative voice, and memorable characters. She loves novels with an unusual or eccentric edge and is drawn to stories she has never heard before. She aims to work with writers who are getting their work published regularly in literary magazines and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Some of Elise’s representative fiction titles include Tiphanie Yanique’s upcoming Monster in the Middle (Riverhead), Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead) and How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf); Courtney Brkic’s The First Rule of Swimming (Little, Brown); Rachel Toor’s On The Road to Find Out (FSG); Jonathon Keats’ The Book of the Unknown (Random House); Rikki Ducornet’s Netsuke (Coffee House Press); Maureen McHugh’s After the Apocalypse (Small Beer Press), which was picked as a “Top 10 Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly; Ali Liebegott’s The IHOP Papers (Carroll & Graf); and more.

On the nonfiction front, Elise is looking for fascinating true stories told in a compelling way. She is especially interested in working with up-and-coming scholars (particularly historians) who are looking to transition from the academic market to a trade readership, as well as journalists. Some of Elise’s representative nonfiction titles include Cynthia Barnett’s Rain: A Natural and Cultural History (Crown), which was long-listed for the National Book Award and the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award; Meera Subramanian’s A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka (Public Affairs); Jack Shuler’s The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose (Public Affairs); Jonathon Keats’s You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future (Oxford University Press); Leo Braudy’s Haunted; Jane Vandenburgh’s The Wrong Dog Dream: A True Romance (Counterpoint); Billy Smith’s Ship of Death: The Voyage That Changed the Atlantic World (Yale); and more.

Please note that Elise is specifically not interested in: young adult, middle-grade, picture books, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, business books, cookbooks, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or self-help.

And while she will consider memoir, please note that she is very selective.


Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 2.16.13 PM.pngBeth Marshea is a literary agent and the founder of Ladderbird Agency.

At the 2019 SD workshop, she is teaching on writing science fiction & fantasy. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches.

Ladderbird is a boutique literary agency. Beth has a long love of literature, which started as part of a family of bookworms. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in literature, Beth earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She became determined to find a way to merge her business passion and her love of literature, which she did as an agent. Beth is passionate about writing that pushes genres and boundaries and challenges the reader to accept a new point of view.

She is seeking: literary fiction, women’s fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, crime novels, and young adult sci-fi & fantasy. 


Screen Shot 2019-02-02 at 11.03.59 PM.pngJeniffer Thompson is a personal branding expert, digital marketing strategist, and publishing consultant with more than 20 years experience in the publishing industry.

At the 2019 SD workshop, she is teaching on branding and platform building.

Jeniffer is an author and speaker who delivers strategy-rich content and actionable tools that educate and empower authors. She is passionate about helping authors establish highly visible brands that sell books.

She is a co-founder of the San Diego Writers Festival; she serves on the boards of Publishers and Writers of San Diego, and the San Diego Memoir Writers Association. She is also the founder and principal at Monkey C Media, an award-winning design firm specializing in book packaging, author websites, and digital marketing strategies.