CCA Writers’ Conference enters 10th year

Sophie Camilleri (center) with writers Aleta Barthell and Jonathan Maberry.
Sophie Camilleri (center) with writers Aleta Barthell and Jonathan Maberry.

The conference will be held Feb. 20-21 and March 6-7.


The Canyon Crest Academy Writers’ Conference for high school and middle school students will take place virtually over two weekends in February and March, the second year in a row it won’t be held in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re a bit more prepared since we had to do it online last year,” said Sophie Camilleri, 18, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy who is president of the CCA Creative Writing Club. “The pandemic ended up canceling our event just a few days before it was supposed to happen, so last year we had to move it online kind of last minute.”

Sophie, whose mother, Simone, is one of the parent advisors involved in the conference, is in her fourth year planning the event, which is in its 10th year.

“It’s added some challenges but it’s also made some things a bit easier,” Sophie said, referring to the shift to a virtual conference. “For example, we don’t have to cover costs to provide lunch for students, and we can also reach out to a different range of authors, because normally when we have the conference in person we could only really reach out to more local authors. We’ve been able to reach out to a bigger variety this year since it’s virtual.”

The in-person conferences were open to students from the San Diego area, but the virtual conferences are open to students from all over the country, and potentially around the world. Last year there were almost 300 people who signed up.

The conference will have a keynote speaker every day. The two who have been confirmed so far are Gretchen McNeil, whose novel “Get Even” is the basis of a Netflix original series, and Benjamin Saenz, whose writings include the novel “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.”

Sophie, who first attended the conference while she was in middle school, is also joining a small group of published authors to edit a short story anthology with stories by past conference attendees to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the conference. One of those authors is Greg van Eekhout, whose works include science fiction and fantasy.

“Thousands of young writers have attended the Canyon Crest Academy Writers Workshop, and I’m excited to see them show off their talents and imaginations to a wider audience,” van Eekhout said in a statement last fall, when details of the conference were first announced.

The conference will be held Feb. 20-21 and March 6-7. Registration is free and required. The event is for high school students only.

For more information and to register, visit