Writing Retreat Instructor Bios

looking through the tree tops at glencairn museum

Writing Retreat Instructor Bios

head shot of meg claytonMeg Waite Clayton is a New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including the Langum-Prize honored The Race for ParisThe Language of Light, a finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (now the PEN/Bellwether); The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time; and the forthcoming Beautiful Exiles (Aug 2018). She has written for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco ChronicleForbes, and public radio. https://megwaiteclayton.com

head shot of amy ferrisAmy Ferris is an author, editor, screenwriter & playwright. Her memoir, Marrying George Clooney, Confessions From A Midlife Crisis (Seal Press) was adapted into an Off-Broadway play at CAP21 Theater Company in 2012. She has written for both TV and film. Her screenplay, Funny Valentines, directed by Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust) was nominated for a BET best screenplay award in 2000. She co-wrote the film, Mr. Wonderful, directed by Anthony Minghella. Amy has contributed to numerous anthologies and magazines. She is the co-editor of the anthology, Dancing at The Shame Prom (Seal Press, 2012) and most recently the editor of SHADES OF BLUE, Writers on Depression, Suicide, and Feeling blue (Seal Press, 2015). Amy travels all over the country leading her very popular writing workshops, Women Writing/Righting Their Lives – an all women retreat for women to write their lives, use their voices, share their stories and change the world. Amy serves on the advisory board of the Women’s Media Center (founded by Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan and Jane Fonda), the Board of Directors at Peters Valley School of Craft, and co-founded The Milford Readers and Writers Festival in 2016 (where Gloria Steinem, MK Asante and John Berendt were the featured authors). She is on faculty at OMEGA Institute, where she co-facilitates a workshop, WOMEN WRITING TO CHANGE THE WORLD. Her morning post on Facebook, This is what I know. Post Coffee. Pre Wine is followed by thousands of people. You can read her blog at: www.marryinggeorgeclooney.comopens in a new window

head shot of heather flahertyHeather Flaherty grew up in Massachusetts and worked in New York City as a playwright during college. After much country hopping and some work in editorial, Heather became a Literary Scout, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood regarding what the next big book will be. Now as an Agent, she’s thrilled to grow authors for that same success.

Currently, she’s looking for authors of Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, and Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction projects. For YA, she’s looking across all genres, and loves an authentic teen voice for contemporary and well thought out worlds in fantasy. For MG, though she does love magic and adventure, she’s also looking for more realistic stories (either contemporary or period), about coping, coming-of-age, or situations seen through the eyes of a young person. In Adult, she’s specifically wanting female-centric thrillers, blood-curdling horror, and commercial woman’s fiction with solid storytelling and strong voices. She’s also always on the lookout for fantastic upmarket projects that bridge the gap between commercial and literary lists. On the Non-fiction side, she leans towards pop-culture, humor, social-media based projects, true crime, and young memoir. @HeddaFlaherty on Twitter.

head shot of rebecca gyllenhaalRebecca Gyllenhaal is an alumna of Bryn Athyn College, where she majored in English. After college, she moved to Philadelphia to pursue her publishing ambitions and worked as a reader at the Adroit Journal and as a Marketing and Publicity Assistant at Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Her short fiction has appeared in several magazines and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and in 2014, she was awarded the Lewis Edwards Memorial Prize. She is a member of the Rittenhouse Writers’ Group and attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in 2017. Rebecca is currently an Editorial Assistant at Quirk Books, where she juggles a variety of tasks including developmental editing, copyediting, writing, evaluating submissions, and author outreach. She has worked on everything from a Regency-era Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book to a heavy metal horror novel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the picture book, but has a special passion for distinctive, high-concept adult fiction. She is currently on the hunt for her dream first acquisition and is working on her first novel.

head shot of chandra hoffmanChandra Hoffman–Since graduating from Cornell University, Chandra has been an orphanage relief worker in Romania, a horse trainer in the Caribbean, a short order cook in a third world hospital, the director of a US adoption program and an event planner for Philadelphia’s Main Line.

She has lived in twelve international cities and this wanderlust shaped her writing—in each novel, the setting is its own character, flavoring the story. She prefers to write about everyday scenarios, shining a light on the complexities of situations through the voices of multiple characters. Her debut novel, Chosen, (HarperCollins 2010) uses the domestic adoption scene of Portland, Oregon as a backdrop to pose the questions What happens when you get what you thought you wanted and How far would you go if it might not be what you want anymore?

Chandra received her MFA from Antioch University in 2007. Her work has been reviewed and appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, USA Today and San Diego Chronicle.

After a stint on a remote Caribbean island she blogged for The Huffington Post as La Vida Tranquila, she is now settled back in her hometown outside of Philadelphia where she teaches writing and leads workshops at Bryn Athyn College. She lives with her husband, three children and an ever-changing menagerie of big dogs, needy cats and free-range chickens. www.chandrahoffman.comopens in a new window

head shot of sandy lapentaSandy LaPenta
Sandy LaPenta has been meditating for over 20 years, in various traditions.  A graduate of Virginia Tech in the artificial intelligence field, her journey began when she was chosen to be North America’s representative in a global overseas management program in Tokyo, where the only common language was enjoyed while visiting and meditating in the temple each day. Later, Transcendental Meditation provided much relief to this mother of five children during her thirty-year career as a marketing executive in the fast-paced telecommunications industry.

After leaving telecommunications, Sandy followed her own mother’s path and became a Medical Aesthetician with a focus on oncology applications. It was in this practice that she first noticed the direct contribution of worry and stress and it’s effect on the body. Encouraged to study beyond mantra-based meditation, as TM was the foundation teaching that grounded her for many years, Sandy graduated from The University of Holistic Theology in Vipassana meditation–insight or mindfulness meditation. Vipassana uses breathing combined with meditation and observation to purify the mind to relieve stress, anxiety and provide a method to deal with physical pain and insomnia due to overactive minds. Sandy uses this with clients to assist in breaking addiction to electronics and to help find relief from chronic physical pain. Sandy teaches locally in Bryn Athyn with group and private meditation sessions for training, calming and purifying the mind.

“Sandy emphasizes the practical application of these perennially brilliant teachings, with warm-heartedness, clarity and accessibility.”

head shot of michelle lordiMichelle Lordi
“An emotionally insightful performer with an arrestingly beautiful sound”-Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Chronicle.
Philadelphia native jazz vocalist Michelle Lordi has received international accolades and heavy rotation on jazz radio stations far & wide for her 2015 recording project, “Drive” and third album, Dream A Little Dream” ( released October 2017). Michelle’s profound love of the music she chooses to sing and the musicians she creates with is evident in every note of her vividly expressive and elegantly communicative voice.  Michelle has performed  many top rated Performance venues, Jazz clubs and festivals such as the Mann Music Center, The Kimmel Center,  Birdland (NYC) , Cornelia Street Café ( NYC) Mezzrow ( NYC) DazzleJazz (Denver, CO) , BluJazz ( Akron, OH) Bop Stop ( Cleveland, OH) Cliff Bell’s(Detroit, MI)  and is poised to tour more extensively with her current project, “
Dream A Little Dream”. In October of 2017, Michelle was selected to be a Teaching Artist in with the Kimmel Center’s Jazz Standards program, performing for & teaching students in the Philadelphia School system. Michelle has also curated several musical events in the Philadelphia area, including a seasonal jazz series at the Abington Art Center (2014-2016), Barnstock; a concert series bringing jazz and experimental music  (2015), and a weekly jazz session at Vintage Bar & Grill  which has become one of Philadelphia’s most treasured jam sessions for jazz students and seasoned professionals alike (2014-present).

head shot of sara wigalSara Wigal
Sara began her literary career peddling her original illustrated stories at age 6 to her parents’ patient coworkers. She studied literature at the University of California, San Diego as an undergraduate and went on to receive her M.A. in Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College.

She’s worked on the agent side, in publishing houses, and with private publicity firms, and she brings her varied perspectives about all aspects of an author’s writing career to the team at JKS Communications. A friend to writers both personally and professionally, she enjoys reading most genres and loves channeling her creativity to spread the news about each wonderful book she encounters. Authors are inspired by her ideas and high-octane energy

head shot of susannah meadowsSusannah Meadows is the author of the new book, The Other Side of Impossible: Ordinary People Who Faced Daunting Medical Challenges and Refused to Give Up. It tells the stories of unlikely recoveries and the science behind them and has been featured on Good Morning AmericaFox & Friends, and NPR, as well as in Oprah Magazine and The New York Times. The “compelling stories left me in awe,” wrote The Times’ Jane Brody. Psychology Today called the book “a must-read” and in Buzzfeed Curtis Sittenfeld wrote that it was “really moving and inspiring.”

Meadows is a former Senior Writer for Newsweek, where she covered the 2004 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, the religious right, the aftermath of Columbine, and the Duke lacrosse scandal, among many other stories. Since 2002, she has been a contributor to The New York Times, most recently writing a column about new books. She has appeared on CBS, ABC, ESPN, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, NPR, and The Charlie Rose Show. She’s also a former co-host of the Newsweek Radio Show.

Head shot of E.C. MyersE.C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and the public library in Yonkers, New York. He is the author of numerous short stories and four young adult books: the Andre Norton Award–winning Fair CoinQuantum CoinThe Silence of Six, and Against All Silence. E.C. currently lives with his wife, son, and three doofy pets in Pennsylvania. You can find traces of him all over the internet, but especially at http://ecmyers.netopens in a new window and on Twitter: @ecmyers.

head shot of darin straussDarin Strauss is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Chang and Eng, The Real McCoy, and More Than it Hurts You, and most recently a memoir Half a Life. A recipient of a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Library Association Award, and numerous other prizes, Strauss has written screenplays for Disney, Gary Oldman, and Julie Taymor, and currently has a production deal with Sony Pictures Television. He is a Clinical Professor of Fiction at NYU’s creative writing program. His work has been translated into fourteen languages and published in nineteen countries. Having recently finished a short stint as an opinion columnist at Al-Jazeera America, Strauss is beginning a recurring column about faith for Salon.