All writing is a tightrope walk from where the idea originates to the moment a book, movie, or TV episode emerges in the world. In The Write Process, Charles Jensen, director of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, asks writing instructors and students who’ve walked the tightrope and come out the other side to talk about their process. Each episode tells the story of how one writer took one project from concept to completion, showcasing the various—and varied—paths we take when we follow one good idea all the way home.
Jean Chen Ho on 100 writing days, draft breadcrumbs, nice pens, revision lists, and Fiona and Jane
Jean Chen Ho is a writer and doctoral candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California, where she is a Dornsife Fellow in fiction. She has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and her writing has been published in Guernica, The Rumpus, The Offing, Apogee, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, VIDA, NPR, Buzzfeed, Bitch Magazine, and others. She was born in Taiwan, grew up in Southern California, and lives in Los Angeles.
Fiona and Jane follows best friends since second grade, Fiona Lin and Jane Shen, as they explore the lonely highways and seedy bars of Los Angeles together through their teenage years, surviving unfulfilling romantic encounters, and carrying the scars of their families’ tumultuous pasts with them. Fiona was always destined to leave, her effortless beauty burnished by fierce ambition—qualities that Jane admired and feared in equal measure. When Fiona moves to New York and cares for a sick friend through a breakup with an opportunistic boyfriend, Jane remains in California and grieves her estranged father’s sudden death, in the process alienating an overzealous girlfriend. Strained by distance and unintended betrayals, the women float in and out of each other’s lives, their friendship both a beacon of home and a reminder of all they’ve lost.
Link to book: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/652717/fiona-and-jane-by-jean-chen-ho/
Socials: twitter.com/jeanho, instagram.com/jeanho66
Alexandra Alessandri on First Lines, Reading Picture Books Aloud, and Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela!
Alexandra Alessandri is the author of Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! (Albert Whitman), which won a silver medal in the 2020 Florida Book Awards, and the forthcoming Isabel and Her Colores Go to School (Sleeping Bear Press). The daughter of Colombian immigrants, she is also an Associate Professor of English at Broward College and a poet, with some of her work appearing in The Acentos Review, Rio Grande Review, Atlanta Review, and Young Adult Review Network. She received her BA and MA degrees in English from Florida International University and a Certificate in Fiction Writing from UCLA Extension. When not writing or teaching, Alexandra spends her time daydreaming, relearning the piano, and planning the next great adventure with her family. She lives in Florida with her husband, son, and hairless pup, dreaming of Colombia.
Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela!, illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda, is about a shy little girl, Ava Gabriela, who is visiting her extended family in Colombia for the holidays. She’s excited to take part in family traditions, such as making buñuelos and saying goodbye to el Año Viejo, but being around all her loud relatives in an unfamiliar place makes Ava shy and quiet. How will she find her voice before she misses out on all the New Year’s fun? Feliz New Year, Ava Gabriela! is an ode to Alexandra’s culture and to shy kids everywhere. School Library Journal praised the book, saying “This warm #OwnVoices look at Colombian traditions is both universal and deeply personal...Sonda's charming illustrations portray an idyllic finca…[and] The language is just as atmospheric.” Booklist called the illustrations “vibrant,” while Kirkus Reviews awarded the book a starred review, saying, “This gentle family story lets readers know that shyness is nothing to worry about.”
Social Media accounts:
Jennifer J. Chow on Writing in a Pandemic, Outlining a Mystery, and Mimi Lee Cracks the Code
Jennifer J. Chow is the Lefty Award-nominated author of the Sassy Cat Mysteries and the forthcoming L.A. Night Market Mysteries (Berkley/Penguin Random House). The first in the Sassy Cat series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, was selected as an Overdrive Recommended Read, a PopSugar Best Summer Beach Read, staff picks for both Richland Library and Changing Hands Bookstore, and as one of BuzzFeed’s Top 5 Books by AAPI authors. Jennifer has also published other Asian-American novels involving secrets and mysteries. She’s active in Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Crime Writers of Color.
In Mimi Lee Cracks the Code, Pixie St. James, one of Mimi’s pet grooming clients, has offered Mimi and her boyfriend, Josh, a getaway at her vacation home, nestled on beautiful Catalina Island. With the island just outside of Los Angeles but still far enough from the hustle and bustle, Mimi, Josh, and their cat Marshmallow (who, of course, wouldn’t be caught dead in a dingy pet hotel) are excited for their relaxing stay. That is, until Pixie’s last renter, Davis D. Argo, turns up dead. Mimi and Josh’s romantic getaway immediately turns into an enormous buzzkill, especially when Pixie asks Mimi for help. The police suspect Pixie, and Mimi knows a thing or two about wrongful allegations. Mimi figures it couldn’t hurt to snoop a little since she’s already there, and soon discovers that a valuable item is missing. Except Pixie isn’t the only one in the neighborhood who has been robbed. There is something strange happening on the island, and Mimi won’t stop until she finds out what it is.
Synopsis & Link:
When murder follows Mimi Lee to her romantic island getaway, she puts on her best sleuthing hat with her sassy cat in tow in this adventurous cozy mystery by Jennifer J. Chow.
Darrin L. Dortch on Pitching 3 Jokes, Punching Up Scenes on Set, Black Voices, and Claws
Darrin L. Dortch is a comedic writer, hailing from St. Louis, Missouri. His pilot, "Short Changed," won the inaugural Turner/American Black Film Festival TV Writing Contest in 2017. Darrin was a writer for two seasons on TNT’s outrageously delicious dramedy "Claws." Darrin’s first episode of "Claws" was also the directorial debut of star Niecy Nash. Currently, Darrin is an Executive Story Editor on Warner Bros./OWN's, "The Kings of Napa." He has written multiple pitches and spec scripts and is preparing to write his first book and a salacious podcast. Despite his raunchy sense of humor, Darrin has been a born-again Christian for nearly 30 years.
In the Claws episode “Zaddy Was A Rolling Stone,” five diverse, hardworking manicurists try to make ends meet at the Nail Artisan of Manatee County salon in Central Florida, contending with a staid economy while managing perilous personal lives awash in drama. Amidst all the silk wraps, pedicures and polish treatments, salon owner Desna, who lives with and cares for her mentally ill twin brother, leads a staff that includes best friend Jennifer, now sober and raising two kids from a previous relationship; enigmatic Ann, who provides security for the salon; mild-mannered preppy and ex-convict Polly; and Virginia, who becomes easily bored and impatient with her job. Also hanging around the salon are shady redneck Roller; ambulance coach Bryce, Jennifer's husband who is also newly sober; and Uncle Daddy, a dangerous, deeply Catholic and actively bisexual crime boss.
IG and Twitter at @LowBudgetLaughs.
Aminah Mae Safi on Finding the Core Story, Juggling Projects, and This Is All Your Fault
Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She's the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner and two cats. She is the author of NOT THE GIRLS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR (Feiwel and Friends), TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL (Feiwel and Friends), THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT (Feiwel and Friends) and the forthcoming Reclaimed Classics ROBIN HOOD (March 1, 2022).
In This is All Your Fault, Rinn, Daniella and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer. They’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with. It will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.
Social Media Accounts:
@aminahmae on Instagram
@aminahmae on Twitter (but mostly, I'm on Instagram)
Kenji C. Liu on Frankensteining Poems, Collections as Mixtapes, and Monsters I Have Been
Kenji C. Liu is author of Monsters I Have Been (Alice James Books, 2019), finalist for the California and Maine book awards, and Map of an Onion, national winner of the 2015 Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize (Inlandia Institute). His poetry is in numerous journals, anthologies, magazines, and two chapbooks, Craters: A Field Guide (2017) and You Left Without Your Shoes (2009). An alumnus of Kundiman, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and the Community of Writers, he lives in Los Ángeles.
Using an invented poetry method called frankenpo (frankenstein poetry), Liu takes existing texts and remixes them, creating multi-faceted poems that investigate the relationship between toxic masculinity and forms of violence plaguing our modern society. It also explores the male-male erotic and marginalized masculinities that are urgently needed as a counterweight to today's dominant hypermasculinity.
The podcast is so inspiring during these times. It's validating the small silver lining that writing can be fruitful and fulfilling for us who may be exploring it during the quarantine. Thanks for such an enlightening pod! 👏🏼
The Write Podcast!
Had to be done. Seriously, this podcast manages to feel like a conversation among friends AND a perfectly-distilled deep dive into the writing process. I'm excited to hear the rest.
Thrilled that this is happening.
Yes, I’m definitely invested as a writer and participant, but the UCLA Extension Writers Program keeps consistently pumping out writers I love, so I couldn’t be happier that so many of them get to talk process.