In memory of our co-founder, Harriet Williams, an Emerging Writer Program was established in 2016 and named in her honor. This program is a fitting legacy for Harriet who, over 40 years ago, formed The Literary Women Committee to ensure that the works of established women authors would be introduced to a greater reading public. It was to continue her vision that the Harriet Williams Emerging Writer Program was created.
This Program allows Literary Women Committee to focus on our mission to support and encourage new writers of talent and promise by selecting individuals from California State University Long Beach, Long Beach City College, Chapman University and PEN America Los Angeles to attend the Festival of Women Authors. It is our hope that these Emerging Writers will be encouraged to pursue literary aspirations as envisioned by our Festival founders.
We are particularly grateful for the sponsorship of the Port of Long Beach which has been a steady support and contributor to the success of this program.
Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Chapman University, Charity Griffin is minoring in Game Development Programming. She is an aspiring novelist and amateur creator of narrative-based games. Her short stories have appeared in Calliope Art & Literary Magazine and Inlandia: A Literary Journey. Writing is Charity’s passion, and she is always eager to find new mediums and ways to create.
Writer, tutor, and professor, Jessica Mendoza holds a B.A. in Screenwriting and is currently working towards earning her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at CSULB. Her magical realism stories focus on the complex, messy, and sublimely beautiful interpersonal relationships between and betwixt Black women. Jessica’s work has been published in The Good Life Review, Streetlight Magazine, The Dillydoun Review, and La Piccoletta Barca. She spends most of her time feverishly grading essays and raving about the semicolon’s usefulness
to her students, who kindly humor her fits of punctuation passion.
Originally from Phoenix, Yvette Park received her BA from the University of Arizona before moving to Los Angeles and is currently a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing Fiction program at CSULB. An accomplished songwriter and singer, Yvette has had collaborative music tracks published with international labels Soave, Hot Vibes Records and Warner Music. She is currently working on a novel about a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl who loses her mother to cancer and is grappling with the aftermath of that loss in conjunction
with discovering her own sexuality.
Based in Southern California, Kristen Yoo Shim is a Korean-American fiction writer and a 2023 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow. Her past work was selected as a runner-up for the Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize in 2022. She is currently at work on a novel-in-stories that explores immigrant identity, community, and economic mobility.
Botswana author Tlotlo Tsamaase (xe/xem/xer or she/her pronouns) has a debut novel, Womb City, coming out in January 2024. Xer novella, The Silence of the Wilting Skin, was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and shortlisted for a 2021 Nommo Award. In that same year, Behind Our Irises was the joint winner of the Nommo Award for Best Short Story. Tlotlo has received support from the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and xer short fiction has appeared in multiple best-of anthologies, Africa Risen, New Suns 2, Chiral Mad 5. Currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University, Tlotlo obtained a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Botswana.Visit Tlotlo Tsamaase’s website ›
Born in the Caribbean and raised in Huntington Beach, Alisha Westerman explores interpersonal and intercultural dynamics, ancestry, history and psychic connection through her work in prose, poetry, dance, experimental theater and music. She produced a studio album, Ego Trip, here in Long Beach and in 2020 created an 11-episode series for KLBP 99.1 FM about embodiment and healing. Alisha holds a B.A. in Writing from UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies and was a 2007 Pen Emerging Voices Fellow. She
works as a commercial copywriter and model in Los Angeles.
Long Beach-based writer Vickie Wippel’s first collection of stories, Still Life, will be released in late 2023. Her stories have been published in Saga Literary Journal volumes 5, 6, 7, 8, and book anthologies: Below the Poverty Line, Dialogue at a Bar, and Road Trip to El Dorado. Vickie is also a storyteller, writing and sharing true personal stories on stages throughout greater Los Angeles. In 2021 and 2023, she won the Search for Long Beach’s Greatest Storyteller. Currently enrolled in Long Beach City College’s creative writing program,
Vickie holds a master’s degree in public policy from CSULB.