Friday, June 06, 2014

Santa Barbara's Shelly Lowenkopf

Melinda Palacio
Shelly Lowenkopf

            Shelly Lowenkopf's numerous roles in the book world continue to flourish. He is the rare author who knows the ins and outs of the publishing world from his early days working as the Editor-in-Chief at Sherbourne Press in 1962. The 82-year old writer taught in the University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing Program for 34 years, where he was given a Lifetime teaching award, and he currently teaches at Santa Barbara City College and UCSB's College of Creative Studies. In Santa Barbara, he's best known for his longtime writing workshop with Leonard Tourney and his Pirate Workshop at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Although he is no longer teaching with Leonard Tourney or the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, students can find Shelly at UCSB, SBCC, or his Saturday workshop at Cafe Luna in Summerland, CA. Shelly has seen former students, such as Catherine Ryan Hyde, rise to the ranks of best-sellers. He's also had a hand in seeing over 500 books through the editorial and production process.
            The closing of bookstores, publishing houses, and the continuing evolution of the publishing world hasn't stopped Shelly from staying in the game and pushing his students to stick to their passion, produce the best book they can possibly write, and then sell it to a publisher. One can say love for craft and his students keeps Shelly enthusiastic about helping writers meet their goals. He has taken on the students of his late wife Anne Lowenkopf, who shared his love for writers who put words on paper.  
            In fact, the elusive concept of love figures in the 12 stories that make up his new short fiction collection, Love Will Make You Drink & Gamble, Stay OutLate at Night (White Whisker Books 2014). Of Lowenkopf's new book, bloguero Manuel Ramos says:
            "Lowenkopf unveils Santa Barbara's passion with clever tales about men and women (and cats and dogs) that surprise and delight. Subtle humor mixes with the loneliness and desire, but we laugh with the characters, not at them, because we see ourselves in these people. In the stories of Shelly Lowenkopf, we remember that love is life--long live love."
Love Will Make You Drink & Gamble, Stay Out Late at Night

            Originally from Los Angeles, Shelly has fond memories of riding the bus with his deaf grandmother to visit the Kosher Butcher shop in Boyle Heights. He later moved to Santa Barbara and the city remains dear to his heart. He's had opportunities to return to the bustle of New York City, but prefers sleepy Santa Barbara, the backdrop for his short stories. "Santa Barbara reminds me of L.A. when I was growing up," he said, "That L.A had no smog, an ocean, and relatively little traffic, and people were awfully nice."
            I asked Shelly what makes a student stand out as the one who might have a breakthrough book and his answer involved three  'r' words: reading, rewriting, and revising.
            "The ones who made it were readers. They read everything, not just books in their fields. They don't mind rewriting. Most actors don't mind rehearsals."
            His own love of reading is present in the ways he brings a poetic quality and an excitement to archaic and anachronistic phrases, such as a hair shirt. In his story, "Coming to Terms," the author describes his character Charlie as:
"Charlie began to slog about as though his soul wore a hair shirt. Vulnerable, flinching at the merest confrontation, his viscera would wrench up on him at the sight of borrowed books, notes and correspondence, concert ticket stubs, or any trace of the confetti of his failed relationship (Love, p.161)."
            Shelly's next books include a mystery novel and a writing handbook that uses acting techniques to reveal a story's subtext. Check out Lowenkopf's, The FictionWriter's Handbook, a resource for both readers and writers. He is also a regular blogger at

Book Launch Party for Shelly Lowenkopf today: June 6, Friday at 5:30 pm at Cafe Luna, 2354 Lillie Avenue, Summerland, Ca.


One Latina's Pen said...
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Mona AlvaradoFrazier said...

Shelly is an excellent teacher and writer. Sorry I can't attend today's book launch but will try to catch another one.