For the past four years, the Writers of Kern has deviated from the usual itinerary for its spring conference. For this special event, taking place Saturday, the local writers group has planned a day of activities, including guest speakers, a pitch contest, networking, book signings and more.

Rebecca Langston-George: The author of 11 books for children was the 2016 recipient of the California Reading Association’s Armin Schulz award for children’s writing in social justice. Her most recent is "The Women’s Rights Movement: Then and Now (America: 50 Years of Change)." In addition to being an elementary school educator, Langston-George is the assistant regional adviser for the Central-Coastal region of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators). She is also a past president of Kern Reading Association, a chapter of California Reading Association and a recipient of the Writers of Kern Robert Hargreaves Award.

She writes and (mostly) rewrites in Bakersfield, and notes that revision has been her constant companion over the last five years as she has worked on a very tight publication schedule. She has learned a few things along the way about revision and the way attitude, expectations and knowledge influence the process.

For the conference, she will address "Revising with Vision and Purpose: Tips to Push Your Writing to the Next Level." Attendees will learn to approach revision with mindfulness and purpose.

Dr. Ernie Zarra: A lifelong educator whose career spans nearly 40 years, Zarra currently teaches Advanced Placement and college prep United States government and economics at Centennial High School in Bakersfield and serves as an adjunct professor of education at Cal State Bakersfield. He is a former KHSD professional development leader and has published six books and written more than a dozen journal articles. 

For his presentation, he will share his experience and provide tips when he presents “How to Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse!” His interactive session will provide insight into some of the common struggles and successes experienced throughout the process of writing and authorship, focusing on flipping each author's understanding of what it means to match their writing to publishers' expectations.

Brendan Constantine: The Southern California poet and champion for the literary arts is known for his workshops at Venice's Beyond Baroque. He currently teaches poetry at the Windward School and regularly offers classes to hospitals, foster homes, veterans and the elderly. Constantine's work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, FIELD, Ploughshares and Virginia Quarterly among other journals. His latest collection is "Dementia, My Darling."

In his presentations, Constantine specializes in demystifying how metaphor really works and the value of "crafting" the last idea you put before the reader. His topic for the conference is “the haunted line,” a generative workshop that explores the strange and elusive qualities of the poem that stays with you.

David Congalton: The radio host and screenwriter currently serves on the faculty of the Rocaberti Writers Retreat in Barcelona, Spain. He wrote the screenplay for the 2014 romantic comedy "Authors Anonymous," starring Kaley Cuoco, Chris Klein and Dennis Farina. He has two other screenplays under option and is also developing a murder-mystery series for the Hallmark Movie Channel.

Congalton will share his experience of writing for The Hallmark and Lifetime Movie Channels, and the basic do's and don'ts and how to improve your chances of sealing the deal.

He says, “The Hallmark and Lifetime Channels have exploded in popularity, creating a demand for dozens of new, original teleplays each year.”

In addition to these four featured speakers, activities will include a “Pitch Contest” held at lunch, networking and connecting with other writers and local authors will have their books for sale. The 2017 Young Writers of Kern Anthology, “Social Media News: Fake or Fact,” will also be available for purchase.

Registration is open to everyone. Sign up at The cost for registration is $95, $45 for full-time students with ID. Admission includes continental breakfast, snacks, lunch and door prizes.

— Diane Lobre is a member of the Writers of Kern.

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