CCA Writers’ Conference features top speakers


Canyon Crest Academy’s Creative Writing Club has opened registration for the 11th Annual CCA Writers’ Conference which will be held in person on Saturday, March 19, and online on Sunday, March 20. This event is the only free writing conference for high school and middle school students in the country.

Erin Grammar
Erin Grammar
(Alex Grammar)

Attendees should note that masks will be required. Students can register at

Bella Hirst, co-president of the CCA Creative Writing Club noted, “We’re so excited that all these young writers are able to come together and learn from some truly incredible authors, poets, and more. The conference is such an amazing opportunity to grow as a writer, and we hope everyone takes advantage of it.”

Speakers include keynote Michael Gaulden, speaker and author of “My Way Home,” an inspirational memoir that chronicles growing up homeless in the inner city. He’s also CEO of Creating First Impressions, a communications and work readiness organization for homeless, foster care, juvenile courts, and all disadvantaged youth.

Other speakers include:

Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestseller, five-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, three-time Scribe Award winner, Inkpot Award winner and comic book writer, executive producer, magazine feature writer, playwright, and writing teacher/lecturer, who will present: Teens at the End of Time: Writing Post-Apocalyptic & Dystopian YA Fiction. His vampire apocalypse book series, “V-Wars,” was a Netflix original series.

Gretchen McNeil
Gretchen McNeil

Gretchen McNeil: Acclaimed author of “Get Even and Get Dirty,” which have been adapted as the series “Get Even” for BBC and Netflix, who will present: All the World’s a Stage.

• Amy Spalding, award-winning author of several novels, including the bestselling “We Used to Be Friends” and “The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles),” will present: Taking the Tragedy out of LGBTQ Young Adult Fiction.

Alonso Nunez, founder and executive director of Little Fish Comic Book Studio, a nonprofit comic art studio and advocacy group, will present: Into the Comic-Verse: A Comic Book Writing Workshop!

Gill Sotu, Navy veteran, a multi-faceted poet, playwright, musician, DJ, and performing artist. He is a two-time Grand Slam Poetry Champion, two-time Raw Performing artist of the year, and more, will present: Healing Through Poetry.

Nick Zayas, Hollywood writer for both film and television including writing on “Major Crimes,” and serving as a writer and co-producer on “Star Trek: Picard,” will present: Writing for Film and TV: What I Wish I Knew in High School.

• Chris Hamilton, founder and CEO of Hamilton Education, will present Six Secrets for Great College Essays. He has assisted Hamilton College Consulting, helping local and international students apply to selective colleges. Hamilton has helped literally hundreds of students gain access to Ivy-level universities, and thousands find a path to colleges of all descriptions.

James Raney, award-winning novelist and screenwriter currently writing on the CBS procedural, “Bull,” will present: Fast and Furious, Writing Great Action Scenes for Novel and Screen. He will also present the Inspirational Keynote titled Writing Through Tragedy.

Natalie Lakosil, literary agent at the Irene Goodman Agency, will present Getting Published 101.

Catriona McPherson, national-bestselling and multi-award-winning mystery author, will present: Deep in a Bowl of Porridge: Planting Clues and Obscuring Red Herrings.

Nikki Katz, recovering rocket scientist, author of “The Midnight Dance” and “The King’s Questioner,” editor, book developer, and social media stalker, will present: Turning a Familiar Story Upside Down: The Art of Retellings.

Erin Grammar, debut author of “Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl,” will present: Ugly and Proud: Emotional Authenticity in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Tammy Greenwood, author of 13 award-winning novels including “Keeping Lucy,” “Rust & Stardust,” “Where I Lost Her” and “Bodies of Water,” will present: The 6 Cs of Plotting Your Novel (Concept, Character, Conflict, Crisis, Climax, Conclusion).

Bijan Mostafavi, hilarious stand-up comedian, and lead instructor for the School of Talk’s Comedy workshop, will present: Yes, You Can Write Stand Up Comedy.

Margaret Dilloway, award-winning author of “Where the Sky Lives,” “The Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters,” and more, will present: Including Social Issues in Your Novels.

Greg van Eekhout, award-winning author of nine novels, including “Weird Kid,” “COG,” “Voyage of the Dogs,” and the “California Bones” trilogy, will present: Blasting Through Writers Block.

Kevin Langdon, local singer-songwriter, performing improvisor and musical improv teacher, will present: Writing Memorable Songs.

The Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, long-time supporters of the conference, will sell speakers’ books at the event through their website.