2017 Boot Camp Faculty

samantha-dunn-300x199Samantha Dunn is the author of Failing Paris, a finalist for the PEN West Fiction Award in 2000, and the memoirs Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life (Henry Holt & Co.), a BookSense 76 pick, and Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex and Salvation.  Samantha’s work is anthologized in a number of places, including the short story anthology, Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles, which she co-edited with writer Julianne Ortale. Other recent collections showcasing her work include the Seal Press releases Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small and Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up.  Samantha’s essays have appeared in numerous national publications including the Los Angeles Times, O (Oprah) Magazine, Ms., and Shape. In 2000 she received the Maggie Award for Best Personal Essay in a Consumer Publication. A widely published journalist, her bylines are regularly featured in InStyle, Glamour, SELF, Men’s Health and a variety of other consumer magazines. She has also written for the stage, as a co-creator of the show “American Ese,” and has taken a few turns screenwriting as a member of the Writers Guild of America. Samantha teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers Program and at the Idyllwild Arts Center in California, and was a longtime writer-in-residence at the New York State Summer Writers Institute.  A former specialty features writer for The Orange County Register, Samantha lives in Orange, California, with her husband, musician/politico Jimmy Camp, and their son, Ben.


Photo by Adam KarstenPam Houston’s most recent book is Contents May Have Shifted, published in 2012, by W.W. Norton.  She is also the author of two collections of linked short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, the novel, Sight Hound, and a collection of essays called A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton.  Her stories have been selected for volumes of Best American Short StoriesThe O. Henry AwardsThe Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is professor of English at UC Davis, directs the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers and teaches in The Institute of American Indian Art’s Low-Rez MFA program and at writer’s conferences around the country and the world.  She lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.


ada B&W high rez-1Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circles, and one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books of include Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program, and the 24Pearl Street online program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California.


BK LorenBK Loren is the award winning author of the novel THEFT, and the essay collection, ANIMAL, MINERAL, RADICAL. Her short fiction and essays have garnered many national awards and have been published in The Best Spiritual Writing Anthologies (2004 and 2012), Parabola, Yoga International, Orion Magazine, and many others. She is from a working class family and has usually worked in jobs that allow space to write as she works. She’s been a ranch hand, a cook for a gourmet catering service in NYC, a cook, also, in a cafe run by a reverend healer who cured people’s ailments with a pendulum and herbs.  She was also an aide on a locked psych ward, a tenured college teacher, and a furniture builder. She was extremely grateful for the chance to go to college (not a given)–and she attended the University of Colorado (Classics/Philosophy), the University of New Mexico (Lit), and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, (Fiction). She feels that her varied experiences in other fields inform her writing as much as her schooling has.  The publishing editor of her first book told her I wrote like she was raised by wolves. She tries to live up to that daily. TWITTER FACEBOOK   RADIO KRUU, WRITERS’ VOICE KBOO, a podcast from Orion Magazine and something completely different than Theft or Animal, Mineral, Radical. Theft has been optioned for film, and BK will be writing the screenplay.


Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including “Damascus,” which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.”  He’s also written “Fight Song” and “Some Things that Meant the World to Me,” one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times.  His novel “All This Life” won the Northern California Book Award. His first book of nonfiction, a memoir called “Sirens,” was recently published.


 lidia authorphoto1Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the best selling novel The Small Backs of Children (winner of the Ken Kesey Oregon Book Award and the Reader’s Choice Award) and the forthcoming The Book of Joan, both with Harper, as well as the novel Dora: A Headcase and the anti-memoir The Chronology of Water. Her work has appeared all over the place online and in print, but what’s more important is this:  she believes writing is a subversive and socially vital act, since art is one of the only forms of non-violent resistance left.  She teaches fiction and nonfiction and mixed genre writing at Eastern Oregon University, Mt. Hood College, The Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency MFA program and other non-academic institutions like rehab centers and jails. Lidia also runs the Corporeal Writing Workshop series in Portland.  She’s won some important writing awards but she remains fondest of her swimming trophies because they have little golden women in the dive position on top.  She is a very good swimmer.


Agents & Editors

ba-photo-trimmedSpring Session:

Betsy Amster is president of Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises. A former editor at Pantheon and Vintage, two divisions of Random House, she has been described in the Los Angeles Times as “a dogged prospector of…literary talent” and celebrated in the American Society of Journalists and Authors newsletter for her “no-nonsense style and whimsical sense of humor.” Her clients include Los Angeles Times bestselling writers Maria Amparo Escandon, author of ESPERANZA’S BOX OF SAINTS (Scribner), and Joy Nicholson, author of THE TRIBES OF PALOS VERDES (St. Martin’s; now a major motion picture starring Jennifer Garner); Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Sandi Ault, author of WILD INDIGO and three other titles in the “Wild” mystery series (Berkley Prime Crime); popular research psychologist Elaine N. Aron, author of THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON and THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE CHILD (Harmony); historian Margaret Leslie Davis, author of THE LOST GUTENBERG (forthcoming from Avery); MacArthur fellow and urban farmer Will Allen, author of THE GOOD FOOD REVOLUTION (Gotham); and James Beard Award-winning baker Kim Boyce, author of GOOD TO THE GRAIN: BAKING WITH WHOLE-GRAIN FLOURS (Abrams).  The agency’s areas of interest include literary fiction, commercial women’s fiction, mysteries and thrillers, memoirs, narrative nonfiction, travelogues, social issues, psychology, popular culture, health, parenting, cooking, gardening, and quirky gift books.


Jay SchaeferBorn and raised in New York City, Jay Schaefer graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley.  After studying in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State University, he started Fiction Network,a literary magazine and newspaper syndicate for short fiction that reached twenty-five million readers.  In 1987, he joined Chronicle Books as an editor, where he worked on a wide variety of books and launched the literary and mystery lists.  He was an editorial director at Chronicle before leaving to join Workman Publishing/Algonquin Books as an editor at large.  He now is an independent editor and writer based in San Francisco.  Jay has been on the faculty of many writing programs, including the Book Passage Mystery Writers’ Conference, Community of Writers (Squaw Valley), Edgars Symposium, Litquake, Maui Writers Conference, Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, Napa Valley Writers Conference, Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference,  Southwest Writers Conference, Stanford Publishing Courses Writers Workshop, Tomales Bay Workshops, and Writers at Work.  He also conducts private writing and reading groups.


Fall Session:

capronElise Capron is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. 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 fiction and well-written narrative non-fiction (particularly serious history with a good story).  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. On the non-fiction 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.  A graduate of Emerson College, Elise holds a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing. She has been with the Dijkstra Agency since late 2003.


elizlibraryElizabeth Wales, owner and principal agent of Wales Literary Agency, began her career in publishing at Oxford University Press in 1980. She also worked at the Strand Bookstore and in trade sales and marketing at Viking Penguin in New York. A graduate of Smith College, she did graduate work in Literature at Columbia University. Member of Association of Author’s Representatives, Inc. (AAR) and the Authors’ Guild. Founded in 1990, Wales Literary Agency (originally Levant & Wales) represents more than 60 clients and several independent presses. Seattle-based, the agency has come to be regarded as a competitive boutique agency with a quality list. Client titles have appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists, Publishers Weekly, and other national bestseller lists; earned strong reviews; and attracted a long list of awards and grants.