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MARCH 2017
At A Glance
March 7: Final Ireland Deadline
March 11/12: OC RYSE!
March 14: US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera at Segerstrom
March 17: Gala - No School
March 24-6: CW/ACT 10 Min Playfest
March 30-Apr.2: CW/ACT 10 Min Playfest
This Month

Ireland Deadline Tomorrow!

The deadline to register for Literary Summer: Ireland is tomorrow, March 7. If you are still interested, you can check out the 5-city, 9-day trip details here:


Friday Poetry Master Class Openings

There are openings in the Friday afternoon Special Poetry Workshop for students interested in taking a class with our new master teacher Victoria Chang. Among our many new, talented teachers this spring, Mrs. Chang is author of 4 books of poetry including The Boss, winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award & California Book Award, and Circle, winner of the Crab Orchard Review Award. Mrs. Chang is teaching our Core Poetry class this spring, but so that more students can have a chance to learn from this award-winning poet, CW is running a special Advanced Poetry Workshop from 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. every Friday, from 3/3 - 5/5. Experienced poets only please. Sign up with Mr. Wood soon.

This Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12

OC RYSE is this weekend! And we need you--students, parents, grandparents, family pets!--to come cheer your fellow Creative Writers on as they compete for poetry, prizes and pride and to help with the volunteer duties.
This is one of OCSA largest events, and Saturday will see more than 100 students from across Orange County converge on our campus for 4 hours of fun and wonderful writing. Sunday, the top 6 teams will return and perform before a panel of celebrity judges including ...
We need you to help make this event a success. Even if you or your student is not performing, we hope you will join us in the audience or behind the scenes Saturday or Sunday--or both!
Volunteer sign-up information is here, dontation information is here or email our PAC parent Kim Napoleone here

New Playfest Opens 3-Week Run

The 3rd Annual CW/ACT Collaborative New Playfest begins this month, with a 3-week run in the intimate Studio Theatre. Come support your talented playwriting students as they put their individual spin on the collective theme: The Waiting Room. Those plays and playwrights are--
AUDITION, by Matt Gannon. 
THE WAITING DOOM, by Finley Brown         
THE BASTARD, by Emma Kuli  
HAMMY, by Lena Lamer   
THE STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE ON, by Kayla Cleland     
BATTLE OF THE BANDS, by Hannah Robison     
OCEAN DEBRIS, by Cassandra Hsiao   
P.E.S.T. CONTROL, by Jazmin Muños and Dixie-Lee Patterson
Last Month

Master Class: Scott Aukerman

OCSA alum and two-time Emmy winning comedy writer Scott Aukerman was kind enough to come by last month and tell the students of his path from OCSA--Los Alamitos to cult IFC hit Comedy Bang! Bang! and Netflix special Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special. Aukerman was entertaining and endearing and gave students several solid pieces of advice. Aukerman said when he was young he was determined to write serious things, which took a lot of energy and time, but after writing a funny "nothing" piece, his friends convinced him that it was clearly the path for him.
On writing: “When you’re a writer, you live in your head a lot. Part of the problem writing is sitting in front of a computer and trying to write. So much time is wasted staring at it, and not writing. The biggest time suck of writing anything is the not writing anything. Because writing doesn’t take all that long. If you just counted the hours that you’re actually writing something it would be so miniscule compared to the hours you spend not writing something. The less time you spend in front of that computer the better.”
On making it: “If you just write something at home and then you wait for it to be discovered, it’s never gonna be discovered. No one is going to come to your home and ask you for a script. An insane person would do that...You have to constantly be out there, getting in front of people. Not even people that can give you jobs, it’s actually way more important for you to find friends, and for you to find like minded people and make them laugh. Because if you can find your ‘tribe,’ as I say, that group of people is gonna be the people who give you jobs for the rest of your life.”
Thank you Scott Aukerman for sharing your time with us!
Next Month


The Creative Writing Showcase, April 24 in the Studio Theatre, is our conservatory's year-end chance for writers to perform, prior to our senior-reserved Awards Night in May. Showcase may see songs, plays, scenes, stand-up comedy--who knows!? The night is only limited by the talent of the students in Creative Writing, which means it is unlimited!
Student Successes
Congratulations to Sabina Holzman who placed 2nd in Chapman University's annual Holocaust Commemoration with her poem "rules for a language recovering from genocide." Sabina will be honored at a ceremony at Chapman University on Friday. This international competition is open to all levels of high school, so Sabina had some considerable competition. Here is an excerpt from the poem:

i sat down at night and touched my bloody lips 

which spoke the language that now had words for 

völkermord words for massenvernichtung words for

shoah words for holocaust from the greek meaning

burnt offering--

Mia Valenzuela's article "Ordinary is Still a Part of Extraordinary" was published at Affinity Magazine. In it, Mia doles out some sage advice on writing and accepting your present place in your own development: "My poetry and prose have not been published in a single literary magazine, I’ve never won any substantial awards....yet we often hold ourselves to higher standards than the sympathy we offer others." Mia makes a great case in her article for realizing your own value. Plus, she can't say she's never been published anymore.

AJ Rynders won last month's Inkling contest with her story "Wooden Crates."
Faculty Focus

Julia Walton is one of our talented new teachers this spring. Mrs. Walton is teaching a very popular Novel Writing course. She has her own novel coming out later this year: The YA book Words on Bathroom Walls centers around Adam, a teen diagnosed with schizophrenia. If the following excerpt speaks at all to the quality of the book, it is sure to be a brilliant read: "It must be hard to hold someone's hand while they're in restraints."

The adorable baby human on the left is Alexandria, Mrs. Walton's 18-month-old daughter, disguising herself as a sunflower. Alexandria was named for the famous library--a writer's child, go figure.
Among Mrs. Walton's other affinities are all things British: tea, scones, Mr. Darcy; Swedish Fish and gummy bears; and her husband, pictured above, of course.
On writing, she counsels she has been rejected--a lot. Her current novel is the fourth she's written.

She writes about rejection here:
You can also check out more about Words on Bathroom Walls here:
(Author Bio on Bent Agency page)
(Interview and Cover Reveal)
Contests & Events

The Blank Theatre's Young Playwright's Festival
March 15
A nationwide playwriting competition for writers ages 9 to 19. The 12 best plays are chosen by a panel of theatre professionals from submissions across America. Winning playwrights are provided careful mentoring and direction from industry professionals to help prepare their work for public performance and hone their skills, talent and confidence. Up to 3 plays per playwright or playwright team.  

NEW! - The Critical Junior Poet's Award Contest
March 15

The Critical Pass Review is now accepting submissions online for its Critical Junior Poet's Award Contest, an editor's choice award for exceptional promise in the art of poetry. Applicants between the ages of 13 and 18 can enter for free. The winner will receive a $100 cash prize, a $20 iTunes card, a CD of master poets reading their poetry, publication of his/her winning work in The Critical Pass Review's Summer 2016 issue, and more.

NEW! - Neverwhere
March 28

The Frida Theatre in downtown Santa Ana is running a Neil Gaiman-inspired art exhibit in honor of his upcoming visit to Segerstrom Center for the Arts. This is an visual art contest and exhibit, but many Creative Writing students are multi-talented and may find this contest worthwhile! Contact:

One Teen Story
Deadline: Open
Pays! $500 and 25 contributor copies.
One Story is a fantastic literary journal that publishes just a single story each month. It’s youth edition “is looking for great short stories focused on teen protagonists and dealing with teen experience (issues of identity, friendship, family, coming-of-age, etc.). Competition is steep - from the website: "One Teen Story publishes 12 stories a year and accepts submissions from both established and emerging writers. 8 of the 12 stories we publish are written by established and emerging adult authors of quality YA fiction. 4 of the 12 are written by outstanding teen authors."

Hanging Loose Magazine
Deadline: Open
Hanging Loose Magazine is a professional magazine that welcomes high school submissions. Payment plus 2 copies. Send 3 to 6 poems, or 1 to 3 short stories, or an equivalent combination of poetry and
prose to High School Editor, Hanging Loose, 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
Identify yourself as a high school age writer.

Indie Wire Scripts
Indie Wire is a Hollywood-industry website that, among other things, provides access to many modern scripts, including current Oscar and Golden Globe contenders.

New Pages Young Author’s Guide
A resource for young authors to find places to submit their work! Many of these magazine and contests are geared straight for high school students like Apprehension Magazine, an online quarterly publishing modern and experimental works from writers 14 - 21 years old, which has a current issue deadline of April 5th, 2017.

Orange County Scholar

An Irvine-based online publication striving to cover the untold stories of students in the county, Orange County Scholar is looking for young writers to cover topics “from concerts to coding workshops and everything in between.”

The Frida

The Frida Theater is a community-programmed theater in downtown Santa Ana that shows an exciting, eclectic mix of films—from the familiar to the foreign, from festivals to funky fun—all of it is worthwhile. Check out their calendar, for upcoming shows. The Frida also runs a recurring Rocky Horror Picture Show night every month. Friend of the conservatory and academic English teacher Ms. Happ is a board member on the Frida if you want to ask about show information. Or visit their website for programming details.

Conservatory Information
The Director of Creative Writing is Josh Wood: (714) 560-0900 ext. 6985.  

The Creative Writing Office is in SH 18, the basement of Symphony Hall, right next to the CW Library. This library is maintained by CW and houses more than 4,000 titles. Students are welcome in the library most 7th blocks unless it is reserved.
Kim Napoleone is our head PAC Coordinator. Creative Writing has a lot of opportunities available to volunteer - sign up for our Parent Advisory Council at to stay informed of upcoming opportunities. Stay in touch with questions and volunteer opportunities at
CW Facebook:  Don’t forget to “like” Creative Writing’s Facebook page to keep up to date on all of our events, opportunities, and announcements.  It’s also a great place to keep in touch with teachers, current students, and alumni!

Yawp, our spoken word and slam team, meets once a week, 7th block each Thursday in Symphony Hall Basement. The team has performed publicly at all sorts of events in Orange County and has even been heard on the radio at KFPC.  If students are interested in competing at OC RYSE this year they should definitely get involved with Yawp to prepare themselves!

Inkblot is our national award-winning literary and art magazine, which accepts creative writing and visual arts submissions from all OCSA students year round. While the deadline to submit this year is March 22 students should submit now. There is no limit as to how many pieces can be submitted. To submit go to and visit our Inkstagram @ocsainkblot for updates.

Our Laptop Loaner program is now in full swing. If you need a laptop for home or school use, visit Mr. Wood in the CW Office – basement of SH, next to the CW Library – or email him at We have a limited supply of laptops, but better they are in your hands than in the closet.
OCSA's Scrip Program is a simple, practical way to 1) pay off your parent funding agreement (PFA) and 2) raise money for CW. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles can sign up for the program, which issues you gift cards to a large variety of stores. From Target, to theater tickets, to Land’s End, there are more than 100 retailers who provide a portion of the card sales back to OCSA CW in the form of PFA or general donations, which means it goes directly into Creative Writing’s budget for our phenomenal programming. And, let’s face it, you’re going to be shopping at Target already, so you might as well make that money count. Email our Scrip rep, Creative Writing mom Koren Takata, or go to for more information. It’s easy, beneficial, and a sure way to make that difficult-to-shop-for certain someone smile.

The CW Library is always looking for new and gently used books in all subjects. But some authors and titles tend to be particularly popular. Below is just a small sample of those names. If you have any extra titles by the following authors that are taking up more space than you’d like, please send them down to the CW office at any time so we can share them with the students. Thanks!


Neil Gaiman                   Phil K. Dick

    Kurt Vonnegut             Barbara Kingsolver

Louise Edrich                  Don DeLillo

John Irving                    TC Boyle

William Faulkner            Terry Pratchett

Fun Fact of the Month

"You have to have a lot of pillows...Pillows are important. When you're supposed to sleep, you've gotta sleep like a king or a queen. Every time you turn, there should be something comfortable to greet you, and that softness reminds you of parts of your body. It's time to relax." DJ Khaled, The Keys.
The Creative Writing library has seen an influx of pillows recently, partially inspired by DJ Khaled's wisdom.
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