About the Writers

Pat Alderete’s short stories are published in Joteria and PEN Center Journal and anthologized in the following publications: Hers 2 and 3; Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Latino Arts Anthology, 1988-2000; Geography of Rage: Remembering the Los Angeles Riots of 1992The Afro-Hispanic Review; and Love, West Hollywood: Reflections of Los Angeles. She has written two one-act plays: Ghost and the Spirit, produced as a staged reading in 1997, and Love and Fire, produced as a staged reading by the MACHA Theatre in 2003; her one-woman performance, Tina Gets Married, was produced in 1999.

Marie Joyce Artap is a sometimes wannabe Filipina writer born in Oakland and mostly raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles. She did her undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley and currently lives in Seattle, WA, where she is doing a service year with an education nonprofit. She is invested in the diverse narratives of Filipinx/Americans. In the fall, she will be entering graduate school to pursue a master’s in education. She has been previously published in {m}aganda magazine.

Aimee Bender is the author of five books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998), which was a New York Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000), which was a Los Angeles Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures (2005), which was nominated by The Believer Magazine as one of the best books of the year, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010), which won the SCIBA Book Award for best fiction and an Alex Award, and The Color Master, a New York Times Notable Book for 2013. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages.

Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper’s, Tin House, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, and more, as well as heard on PRI’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. She lives in Los Angeles with her family and teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California.

Doug Benerofe’s “The Brooklyn Tolstoy” is part of a collection of 10 stories about the same characters. Chronologically, “The Brooklyn Tolstoy” is the last story in the ongoing relationship between Neil Gluckman and Jane Wagner. Other stories from this collection have appeared in Narrative MagazineRosebud, and the South Dakota Review. Doug Benerofe has also published in Sonora Review. He earned an MFA in creative writing from Saint Mary’s College of California. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter. He is currently writing his first novel. He works as a high school and college English teacher.

Bob Blaisdell is a published adapter, author, editor, and illustrator of children’s and young adult books. He teaches English in Brooklyn at Kingsborough Community College. He is a reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Christian Science Monitor and the editor of more than three dozen anthologies for Dover Publications.

Lainnie Capouya is the mother of two teenagers. She grew up on a plantation in Central Louisiana. Having the opportunity to rear her children in Southern California, Lainnie is inspired to write about her childhood in rural Louisiana in the 1960s. Her novel, Road Kill, is a work in progress. She earned her BS in early childhood education at Louisiana State University.

Mary Lea Carroll, a lifelong resident of Pasadena, falls back on the phrase, “one could die of encouragement in Hollywood,” because in her younger days she wrote numerous scripts, many of which almost went somewhere. When her children came along, she turned her writing energies to freelance journalism, memoir writing, and poetry. For many years, she was the read-aloud lady at school, the theater mom for grades K-12, and taught kids’ creative writing.

She produced the first Pasadena High School Theatre Festival at the Pasadena Playhouse, and more recently, she has embarked on spoken word performance and is currently working on a memoir collection entitled The Mrs. McKay Stories.

Leonard Chang was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, where he attended Merrick public schools. After high school, Leonard studied at Dartmouth College, interned with the Peace Corps in Kingston, Jamaica, and continued his studies in philosophy at Harvard University, where he graduated with honors. He attended the graduate creative writing program at the University of California, Irvine, where he received his master’s of fine arts.

His first novel, entitled The Fruit ’n Food, sold while he was still in graduate school, won the Black Heron Press Award for Social Fiction, and is now taught at universities around the world. His next novel, Dispatches from the Cold, won a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award for Literature.

He is also the author of a popular and critically acclaimed noir trilogy, which includes Over the Shoulder (HarperCollins), Underkill (St. Martin’s), and Fade to Clear (St. Martin’s), a USA TODAY Summer Reading Pick and a finalist for the Shamus Award. His eighth novel, The Lockpicker, was recently published. His novels have been translated into French, Japanese, and Korean and are regularly studied in literature, sociology, and theology courses throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Recently the U.S. Consulate in Berlin sponsored his multi-city lecture and reading tour of Germany.

In addition to novels, he writes short stories, essays, and screenplays. He was a Distinguished Visiting Writer at Mills College and a faculty member at Antioch University’s MFA program. He lives in Los Angeles and is currently a writer and producer for the TV drama Snowfall, which is currently airing on FX.

Tina “Pasadena” Chavez. Writer, Creator, Advocate.

Chiwan Choi is the author of two collections of poetry, The Flood (Tía Chucha Press, 2010) and Abductions (Writ Large Press, 2012). His most recent project was Ghostmaker, a book he wrote, presented, and destroyed in 2015. He is currently working on The City is My Book, a novel to be written on a series of utility boxes in downtown LA, and a new untitled collection to be published by CCM in 2017. Chiwan is also one of the founding partners of Writ Large Press, an indie publisher that uses the book to resist, disrupt, and transgress.

Teresa Mei Chuc is the author of three collections of poetry: Red Thread (2012), Keeper of the Winds (2014), and Invisible Light (2018). Chuc was born in Saigon, Vietnam. Shortly after the Vietnam War, Chuc, her mother, and her brother were granted political asylum and settled in Pasadena, California. Her father remained in a Vietnamese “reeducation camp” for nine years. Chuc earned a BA in philosophy and credentials in primary and secondary education as well as an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. Teresa made several videos for the virtual LitFest Pasadena in 2021, reading her poems “Agent Blue” and “Photosynthesis.” She is a member of the Pasadena Rose Poets. www.tue-wai.com

Angelina Coppola grew up in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her BA in English with a concentration in creative writing. Her writing has been covered in Los Angeles MagazineThe Washington Post, and CNET Australia, among others. She has extensive experience as a teaching artist and has worked for several organizations in this capacity, including South Pasadena Arts Center (SPACE), WriteGirl, Bold Ink Writers, and Day One. She currently writes and teaches in Los Angeles. She is the in-schools program coordinator of Literature for Life.

Raised in New York, Bill Cushing lived in numerous states, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Returning to college later in life, he earned an MFA in writing from Goddard College. He now resides in Glendale, California, with his wife and their son. His work has been featured in anthologies, literary journals, magazines, and newspapers. When he is not teaching or writing, Bill facilitates a writing workshop and performs with a musician on a project called “Notes and Letters.”

Emma Demorest is a second year at the University of California, Santa Barbara who is double majoring in film and the College of Creative Studies’ writing & literature major. A longtime admirer of sketch comedy and humor writing, she is the assistant editor of the humor column of UCSB’s Daily Nexus. Emma considers short fiction too serious most of the time, but if everyone else is going to do it, she’ll get on board.

Yvonne M. Estrada is the author of the chapbook, My Name on Top of Yours, a crown of sonnets accompanied by original photographs. Her poems have recently appeared in Talking WritingFourth & Main, and in the anthology Gutters and Alleyways: Perspectives on Poverty and Struggle, which also included one of her photographs.

Janet Fitch is the author of the novels Paint It Black and White Oleander, an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and journals, such as Los Angeles NoirBlack ClockRoom of One’s Own, and Black Warrior Review. She teaches creative writing at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Currently, she is finishing a novel set during the Russian Revolution. A feature film of her novel Paint It Black, directed by Amber Tamblyn, will be released later this year.

Montserrat Fontes is a distinguished writer whose first novel, First Confession, has been widely praised as a major contribution to Chicana fiction. Her work is often taught in the California State University, Los Angeles’ U.S. Ethnic Literature course. Her second novel, Dreams of the Centaur, was translated into German and French. Fontes has served the community as an educator and taught at University High School and at Marshall High School.

She has received numerous endowments and grants, including honors for two National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars, a Carnegie Mellon grant, and a National Endowment for the Humanities independent study grant.

Fontes has had four book reviews published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and has been a guest speaker for organizations including the California Association of Teachers of English, the Journalism Education Association National Convention, and the University of California, Los Angeles Chancellor’s Conference. She earned her master’s degree at Cal State LA. Fontes is a Glendale resident.

Jonathan Gold was a food critic who currently writes for the Los Angeles Times and used to write for LA Weekly and Gourmet magazine. In 2007, he became the first such critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. He is also a regular on KCRW’s Good Food radio program. Gold often chooses small, ethnic restaurants for his reviews, although he covers all types of cuisine. A collection of his articles can be found in his book, Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles. Since 1990, he has been married to Laurie Ochoa, who was editor-in-chief at the LA Weekly; they met at the Weekly in 1984. Gold died in 2018 and is dearly missed.

Cultivated by the sun and moon peeking past the shoes dangling from the phone lines, Rebecca Gonzales was raised and resides “one block East of El Pino” in East LA. Rebecca’s work has been published in various literary anthologies and journals such as Issue 1 of Dryland LitBrooklyn & BoyleHinchas de PoesíaThe Más Tequila ReviewCipatli Issues 3 and 5 of San Antonio’s St. Sucia, Literature for Life, and others.

Celeste Gonzalez is an LA based writer/editor and sometimes model. Her work appears in high profile magazines and literary journals. After recently being diagnosed with cancer, she decided to document her journey with a blog entitled, “The Literary Pinup”. When not blogging about her cancer treatment in five inch heels or writing poetry and spills her hazelnut coffee, she can be found wandering the streets of L.A. Fashion District or perusing local vintage shops.

She was the March 2014 winner of the Poets of New York series at the Bowery in New York City. She has performed all over Los Angeles and the Inland Empire. She has three self-published books of poetry and is currently working on a book of short stories, poetry, and prose. As a mother she is humbled, as a poet she is obedient, and as a woman she is unapologetic.

Erica Goodwin began writing during her sophomore year of high school and never stopped. Inspired most by the themes of life, death, and the universe, she primarily writes nonfiction and poetry but occasionally is inspired to write fiction. Currently, Erica is studying at Harvey Mudd College, where she is majoring in computer science and math and continuing to pursue writing on the side.

Reyna Grande is the author of the bestselling memoir The Distance Between Us, and its sequel A Dream Called Home. Her other works include novels Across a Hundred Mountains, Dancing with Butterflies, and her most recent, A Ballad of Love and Glory, a novel set during the Mexican-American War. She is the co-editor of an anthology by and about undocumented Americans called Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival and New Beginnings. Reyna has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and a Latino Spirit Award. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards, and in 2015 she was honored with a Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. Writing about immigration, family separation, language trauma, the price of the American Dream, and her writing journey, Reyna’s work has appeared in The New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, CNN, The Lily at The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, among others. In March 2020, she was a guest in Oprah’s Book Club.

Jean Guerrero is a journalist and novelist and is author of the upcoming cross-border memoir, CRUX, winner of the PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize. She is the Fronteras reporter at KPBS, San Diego’s NPR and PBS NewsHour affiliate. She started her career at the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires as a foreign correspondent. Her reporting has taken her into the sewers of Tijuana, opium poppy plantations and some of the deadliest desert smuggling routes along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Andrés Guzmán was raised in Union City, New Jersey. He recently earned his BA in creative writing from the University of Southern California. He currently lives in Los Angeles. He is a voracious reader of Mexican American and African American history, and he loves hip-hop music. He is pursuing a career as a hip-hop artist and seeking work in hip-hop radio or in education to help low-income, first-generation students achieve their college degrees.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez co-founded the performance poetry group The Taco Shop Poets in 1994. The group toured nationwide, published, and recorded two CDs. Since 2000, Adolfo has been a reporter at NPR-\ affiliate KPCC 89.3 FM in Los Angeles. When he doesn’t feel like a poet impersonating a journalist, he feels like a journalist impersonating a poet.

Rosalind Helfand works independently to create and lead innovative programs that connect and improve communities. From the arts to conservation, her focus is on doable big ideas that lead to lasting positive change and a better future.

A leader in LA’s literary community, she co-founded the award-winning West Hollywood Book Fair in 2000, directing the festival for its first decade. She’s developed, curated, and produced hundreds of literary programs, in partnership with leaders from LA’s diverse literary and arts communities, with a focus on multi-disciplinary collaborations with the arts, sciences, politics, and more.

In addition to Literature for Life, her recent literary projects include Sci-Fest LA, Lit Crawl LA, and LitFest Pasadena. She was also a curator of The Last Bookstore’s Indie Shelves Initiative. In 2013, Rosalind produced a community-wide dialogue series in conjunction with the play Cooking Oil’s premiere in Los Angeles, which brought together nonprofit leaders to discuss international aid, women’s rights, and education.

Rosalind is a past programming director of West Hollywood’s Women’s Leadership Conference and Human Rights Speakers Series and is currently directing educational programming for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. She was a guest speaker at the California World History Association’s annual conference, and she teaches high school classes in creative writing and academic writing at West Hollywood College Preparatory School. She is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz: rozhelfand.com

Peter Hsu is the author of the short story collection If I Were The Ocean, I’d Carry You Home (Red Hen Press, 2022) and the experimental chapbook There Is A Man (Tolsun Books). His writing has also been featured in The Los Angeles Review, The Bare Life Review, F(r)iction Magazine, Faultline Journal of Arts and Letters, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and others. He was a 2017 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow and the 2017 PEN in the Community Writer in Residence. He was born in Taipei, Taiwan and currently resides in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley. peterhzhsu.com

Eva Huang grew up in the Bay Area. She attended the University of Southern California, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She lives in California.

Joel Jacobsen’s nonfiction contribution to the third issue of Literature for Life tells a story drawn from handwritten trial transcripts found in the New Mexico State Archives and newspaper articles from the 1890s. Joel is the author of Such Men as Billy the Kid: The Lincoln County War Reconsidered, which the great historian of American violence Richard Maxwell Brown said “belongs on the same shelf as the classic works on the Kid and the County.”

Michael Jaime-Becerra is a native of El Monte, California, a working-class suburb of Los Angeles. He is the author of This Time Tomorrow, a novel awarded an International Latino Book Award, and Every Night Is Ladies’ Night, a collection of interrelated stories awarded a California Book Award. He also teaches at the University of California, Riverside, where he is an associate professor of creative writing.

Maya Johnson is an award-winning fiction writer currently working on a BA in Writing and Literature at University of California, Santa Barbara. Born and raised in sunny Long Beach, California, they currently reside in the party town of Isla Vista where they’ve published stories such as “Good Hair” and “Consumption.” With five roommates and an eccentric cat, Johnson is well accustomed to chaos, from there comes their best works. Currently, they find themselves delving into the complexities of artificial intelligence and queer love in the form of a novel. A lover of fashion and botany, they find beauty in the perverse and unconventional.

Detrice Jones was born and raised in the vibrant city of San Francisco. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in African American studies and English. As a student, Detrice’s short story “Just Surviving Another Day” was published in the anthology The Cocaine Chronicles. Her story was critically hailed and highlighted in the Los Angeles Times and on NPR. Detrice was later awarded the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Scholarship. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she works on several short stories and her debut novel.

Erin Aubry Kaplan is a weekly op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, the first African American in the paper’s history to hold the position. Kaplan first appeared in a monthly independent news magazine called Accent LA, a small publication dedicated to a large mission of providing thoughtful, literate, alternative coverage of black Los Angeles.

Kaplan was an original staff writer for New Times Los Angeles in 1996 and moved to the staff of the LA Weekly later that year. At the Weekly, she indulged her interest in race and a host of other topics—some related to race, some not—with essays and features on culture, politics, the arts, and the many smaller but no less significant concerns therein. She began writing a column for the Weekly in 2000 called “Cakewalk,” a forum that showcases her not only as a journalist, but also as an author and observer of varying scales, who speaks as passionately about the history of affirmative action as she does about beauty trends and initial forays into psychotherapy.

Kaplan was a 2001 recipient of PEN Center West’s award for literary journalism for the cover essay, “Blue Like Me,” a rumination on the connections between ancient American race struggles and modern-day depression. She was Columnist of the Year in 2002.

Kaplan has been widely anthologized in the following publications: Body Outlaws (Seal Press); Salon’s essay collection Mothers Who Think: Tales of Real-Life Parenthood (Villiard); Step Into A World, a compendium of journalism and nonfiction by new black writers (John Wiley & Sons); Geography of Rage (Really Great Books), an essay collection reflecting on the April 1992 civil unrest and its long-term effects in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere; and Rise Up Singing (Doubleday), a collection of essays by black women writing on motherhood, whose contributors include Maya Angelou, Marian Wright Edelman, June Jordan, and Alice Walker, among others. The collection won an American Book Award in 2005.

Kaplan’s articles have appeared in many publications, including the GuardianSalonThe CrisisNewsday, the Utne Reader, and Black Enterprise. Kaplan was born and raised in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in English and a MFA in theater arts from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Kate Kesner thinks writing is the most reliable form of transportation. A recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s global studies major, she is currently trying to figure out life. She likes sci-fi, dancing, and most people, and is honored to be included in Issue 6 of Literature for Life. She lives in San Francisco.

Cheryl Klein is the author of the novel Lilac Mines (Manic D Press) and the story collection The Commuters (City Works Press). She received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and her fiction and essays have appeared in The Normal SchoolMutha Magazine, and New California Writing 2011, among other publications. Her work has been recognized by the Center for Cultural Innovation and the MacDowell Colony.

Ivy Kuo is a fourth-year English major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She completed a year of English literature studies at Queen Mary University of London. Her journalistic articles, prose, and poetry have appeared in American and English publications, and she is dedicated to furthering her passion for creative writing by practicing the craft and exploring the nuances of everyday life. She plans to continue publishing fiction and continues to experiment within various writing genres.

Angelica Lai is a writer and editor born and raised on Guam. Having moved to Las Vegas, then Los Angeles, and now Cambridge, England, she is constantly exploring the idea of home and in-between spaces. Her work has appeared in the Columbia Journal and Paper Darts. Angelica received a BA in English and creative writing from UCLA and was the senior prose editor of Westwind Literary Journal in from 2012 to 2013. When she’s not writing, she can be found making food puns @punsonaplate and combining her love of food and stories at wordsonaplate.com.

Sofia Leggio is a writer living in Los Angeles, after time in New York, Houston, and Saudi Arabia, whose writing tends toward observational essay and fictionalized biography. Past works have been published in The Truth About the FactLA Miscellany, and Attic Salt. She is currently working on her first collection of short stories, written around the experiences of one fictional California family across several generations. She has also recently finished writing and illustrating a children’s book called Meet Napoleon.

Benin William Lemus is an essayist, poet, filmmaker, and educator. A longtime resident of South Los Angeles, she earned a BA in English from Bennett College and an MFA in cinema television from the University of Southern California. Benin has had fellowships with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Hurston Wright Foundation. She has performed at the Kirk Douglas Theater through her work with the Center Theater Group’s community as partners program. Benin has mentored public school students as an English teacher for 15 years.

Janine Lim is a Los Angeles-based multi-disciplinary artist. Her short film, “Grandfather Clock,” and photographic work were exhibited in San Francisco and Los Angeles. She is a former student of theater and a long-time student of martial arts. Her personal essays have been published in Youth Outlook Magazine and The Bold Italic. In 2018, she co-produced the monthly reading series Drunken Masters for Writ Large Press and performed in contemporary dance piece “Solid as a Rock” as part of the REDCAT’S New Original Works Festival.

Tyra Lyn likes to write family history­-based short stories and fantasy superhero novels. She lives in Goleta, California, with no dogs and no cats.

Sophie Marie has just earned her creative and professional writing degree with First-Class Honours. Since then, she’s moved from Canterbury to Wales to enjoy a quieter, slower way of life. She’s had short stories published online and in print but is currently focusing her efforts on writing a much longer piece. When she is not writing, Sophie can usually be found with an energy drink in her hand, a notebook in the other, her doggie Leia on her lap, and her pup Chewie by her feet.

Bronwyn Mauldin is the author of the novel Love Songs of the Revolution and the short story collection The Streetwise Cycle. She’s a past winner of The Coffin Factory magazine’s (now Tweed’s) very short story contest. Her work has appeared in the Akashic Books’ Mondays Are Murder series and in Necessary FictionCellStoriesClamor Magazine, and other places. She’s also the creator of GuerrillaReads.com, the online video literary magazine.

Miranda Morgan is a fourth year at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a literature and creative writing major within the College of Creative Studies. She has written multiple short stories, nonfiction essays, and two full-­length, original screenplays. Her work has appeared in Mission and State, an Investigative Journalism Initiative in Santa Barbara, as well as on ZYZZYVA Magazine’s online blog. She plans to pursue an MFA in creative nonfiction.

Yxta Maya Murray is the author of The Conquest—winner of the Whiting Award—and The King’s Gold, the second novel in her acclaimed Red Lion series. She is a professor at Loyola Law School and lives in Los Angeles.

Andrew Nicholls grew up in England and Canada. With his longtime writing partner Darrell Vickers, he has written for performers including Mickey Rooney, George Carlin, Rodney Dangerfield, and Johnny Carson. Since 1976, he has created or staffed over 100 TV shows and pilots, including two dozen animated series in the United States and abroad. Nicholls’ fiction and humor have appeared in Black ClockMcSweeney’s, the Los Angeles Review of BooksKugelmass, and The Santa Monica Review.

Keenan Norris’ novel Brother and the Dancer won the 2012 James D. Houston Award. He’s completing his next book, about Richard Wright, Barack Obama, and the problem with “Chi-Raq.” He holds an MFA from Mills College and a PhD from the University of California, Riverside. Keenan is a 2017 Marin Headlands Artist in Residence and a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Fellow.

He teaches English and African American literature and facilitates a study abroad program at Evergreen Valley College. He’s served as a guest editor for the Oxford African American Studies Center and is a faculty advisor with Goddard College.

Keenan’s short works, both fiction and nonfiction, have appeared in numerous forums, including the Los Angeles Review of BooksLiterature for Life, popmatters.com, Post-Soul SatireInlandia, and Oakland Noir. He is also the editor of Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape.

Scott O’Connor Scott O’Connor is the author of A Perfect Universe: Ten Stories, the novels Zero Zone, Untouchable, and Half World and the novella Among Wolves. He has been awarded the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and his stories have been shortlisted for the Sunday Times/EFG Story Prize and cited as Distinguished in Best American Short Stories. Additional work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Zyzzyva, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He teaches creative writing at Cal State Channel Islands and in workshops around Los Angeles.

Daniel A. Olivas is also the author of eleven books, editor of two anthologies, and has penned three plays. By day, Daniel is a government lawyer who specializes in environmental enforcement and land use. danielolivas.com

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoirs Anarchy at the Circle K (Punk Hostage Press, 2022), Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books, 2015), and Hold-Up (13e Note Editions, 2013). He is the co-author on two instructional writing manuals, Writing Your Way to Recovery: How Stories Can Save Our Lives (Independent Press, 2021), with the author James Brown, and PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program’s, The Sentences that Create Us: Crafting a Writer’s Life in Prison (Haymarket Books, 2022). His writing has appeared in numerous publications including: Juxtapoz, Salon, The Fix, Decible, and Razorcake. O’Neil is a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine, a Pushcart nominee, a two-time nominee for Best Of The Net, and a PEN Center USA Professional and former Emerging Voices Mentor. O’Neil holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles where he is adjunct faculty for their Continuing Education program. He also teaches at a Los Angeles community college and various rehabs, correctional facilities, institutions, and workshops. patrick-oneil.com

Jamila Osman is a Somali writer, educator, and organizer living in Portland, Oregon. She teaches high school English and facilitates poetry workshops for marginalized youth, including currently incarcerated and immigrant and refugee youth. Her writing explores the tension between place, history, and identity. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, Catapult, The Establishment, BOAAT, DIAGRAM, and other places. She is a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA) workshop alum.

Asha Parekh is a licensed clinical social worker who devotes her time to improving Utah’s refugee systems to be welcoming and effective in facilitating refugee integration. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Candace Pearson won the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry from Longwood University for Hour of Unfolding. Her poems have been published in such leading journals as PloughsharesCrab Orchard ReviewpoemmemoirstoryBellevue Literary Review, and Cider Press Review. Her work has been featured in anthologies, including Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond and Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems. You’ll find her writing away in an old hiker’s cabin at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Kia Penso was born in New York City and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She earned her PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and later her MS from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her study of an American poet, Wallace Stevens, Harmonium, and the Whole of Harmonium, was published in 1991. She has worked as a writer and editor in California, the Caribbean, New York City, and Washington, D.C., where she lives. She has worked extensively as an editor and writer for national and global organizations.

Raised deep amid the concrete and weathered palms of South Central LA, weaned on the images of Kirby and Steranko in comic books and Hammett and Serling in prose, Gary Phillips also draws on his experiences, ranging from teaching incarcerated youth to running a nonprofit started after the riots to directing a shadowy political action committee to delivering dog cages, in writing his tales of chicanery and malfeasance.

Kevin Powell is an American political activist, poet, writer, and entrepreneur. Powell is an activist who speaks out against violence toward girls and women. He appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009.

Andrew Ramirez, a writer from El Paso, Texas, is an LA transplant. His fiction and poems have most recently appeared in Slake and if&when. These days, he is at work on an erotic retelling of the Alamo coming soon to a rejection stack near you.

Conrad Romo grew up in NELA short, stocky, and swarthy. He is the producer and host of the literary series, Tongue & Groove LA at the Hotel Café, now into year eleven. He is also a co-founder of Lit Crawl LA: NoHo. He earns his daily bread as a salesman. His writing has appeared in the The Los Angeles ReviewHuizacheLatinos in LotuslandTu Ciudad, Silver Birch PressPale House, splicetoday.com, and most recently, in Men’s Heartbreak Anthology. Find him here: conradromo.com.

Ximena Salas was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and immigrated to South Los Angeles when she was four years old. She discovered her passion for writing when her ninth-grade English teacher assigned the class a personal narrative essay. It was then she discovered she could express her happiness, woes, and hopes and dreams with a paper and a pen. Her favorite things to do when she isn’t writing are reading—her favorite book is Always Running by Luis J. Rodríguez—watching movies—her favorite movie is The Place Beyond the Pines—and painting —mostly portraits, all while eating Red Vines.

Robert Schilling Schick experienced the traumatic birth and subsequent death of his son Silas in early 2008. This event forever altered his outlook on life yet gave him a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. Rob is a marine ecologist who lives in Scotland with his wife and daughter.

Veda Stamps is the author of the middle-grade novel Flexible Wings. She also co-owns The Ramsay Group, a community planning consulting firm. She was born in Los Angeles, California, but grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her BA in sociology at California State University, Fresno and is currently completing her MPA at the University of Southern California. Veda spent time in Washington, D.C., where she served as a legislative aide and speechwriter to Congressman Harold Ford Jr. She currently lives in Valencia, California, with her husband, two daughters, and three little dogs.

Tim Stiles lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area. He received his MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. His poems, stories, and lyrics have been published and recorded throughout the United States and Great Britain. His poetry and photography collaboration with photographer Jay Tyrrell, entitled Botmerica: Repeat After Me, was published in 2016.

Susan Straight was born in Riverside and still lives there with her family. (She can actually see the hospital from her kitchen window, which her daughters find kind of pathetic; most days, she walks the dog past the classroom where she wrote her first short story at 16, at Riverside City College, which they find even more sad.)

She has published seven novels and one middle-grade reader. Highwire Moon was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001; A Million Nightingales was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006. Her short stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All-StarThe Ontario ReviewThe Oxford AmericanThe SunBlack Clock, and other magazines. “The Golden Gopher,” from Los Angeles Noir, won the Edgar Award in 2007; “El Ojo de Agua,” from Zoetrope: All-Star, won an O. Henry Award in 2007.

Her essays have appeared in the New York TimesReader’s DigestFamily CircleSalon, the Los Angeles TimesHarper’s Magazine, the Nation, and other magazines. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to work on Highwire Moon, and a Lannan prize was an immense help when working on Take One Candle Light a Room.

Lisa Teasley is the author of the acclaimed novels Heat Signature and Dive and the award-winning story collection Glow in the Dark, all published by Bloomsbury. Lisa’s essays, stories, and poems have been much anthologized, appearing in publications and media such as NPR, the Los Angeles Times, ZYZZYVA, Black Clock, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where she is currently a fiction editor.

Her BBC television documentary High School Prom was in long-term rotation in the United Kingdom. Lisa has taught fiction writing at the UCLA Writers Program, University of California, Riverside, CalArts’ MFA Writing Program, and Antioch University, as well as in other parts of the world, such as Indonesia, Nigeria, and Haiti.

Jervey Tervalon, MFA, is the award-winning, Los Angeles Times best-selling author of five books, including Understand This, a novel based on his experiences teaching at Locke High School in Los Angeles, for which he won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices award. His newest novel, Monster’s Chef, was released by HarperCollins in 2014.

He was the Remsen Bird Writer in Residence at Occidental College and is now an associate professor at National University and a lecturer at the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He’s lectured at the University of Southern California and Occidental College.

He is also an award-winning poet, screenwriter, dramatist, and the founder and editor of Literature for Life. Jervey was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine and studied with Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark.

Kosiso Ugwueze is a Nigerian American writer. She received her BA in English and international relations from the University of Southern California. She has a professional background in consulting and public health communications. Kosiso has attended the Voices of Our Nation (VONA) Writing Workshop, as well as the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She lives in Los Angeles, California. This is her first publication.

Elsa Valmidiano, Philippine-born and LA-raised in the City of Carson, is currently an Oakland resident. She is a writer, poet, partner, feminist, globe trekker, and women’s freedom fighter. Her works have appeared in various literary journals, such as {m}aganda magazineTAYO Literary MagazineMake/Shift MagazineBurner MagazineAsUs, and others, as well as the anthologies Field of MirrorsWalang Hiya Anthology, and Same Difference.

She holds a BA from the University of California, San Diego, a JD from Syracuse University, and an MFA from Mills College. She is is a longtime member of the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. (PAWA), based in San Francisco, where she has performed numerous readings. You can follow her on Twitter: @evalmidiano.

Daniel Voll, a Chicago native, is an award-winning journalist who has written for EsquireVanity Fair, and the New York Times. He has reported from Bosnia, South Africa, and covered the United States’ pullout from Iraq for Esquire. He has also written extensively on hate crimes in America and produced the HBO documentary Soldiers in the Army of God about the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement.

In television he has served as executive producer and writer on the prime-time dramas, Lie To MeThe Unit, and Threat Matrix. For Oliver Stone, he adapted the screenplay Patriots based on his reporting of a racially motivated murder in the 82nd Airborne Division; for MGM, he wrote Fire Dogs about a season he spent fighting forest fires with a convict crew. An Esquire contributing editor, Daniel lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife, Cecilia Peck, and their two children, Harper and Ondine.