Former student Elba Iris Perez’s novel was a finalist (top 3) in the Simon & Schuster Books Like Us First Novel Contest. Elba says, “My novel, Woronoco, represents the journey of culturally displaced characters who are invisible in most books of traditional history and fiction. With this contest, Simon & Schuster is creating space for these stories, and I’m delighted that Woronoco is a finalist.”

Update: We’re thrilled to announce that Elba WON the Books Like Us First Novel Contest!

Of her experience in the Writers’ Program, she says, “When I had difficulty turning this manuscript into a novel, I consulted with Marcela Landres, an editor who recommended I study at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. I had the privilege of studying with Harry Youtt and Judith Prager who taught me to develop narratives into scenes a reader could savor. By the end of the first class, I acquired the tools and confidence I needed to finish writing Woronoco, and soon started writing a romantic fantasy series. Enrolling in the Writers’ Program was the most important decision I’ve made in my writing career.”

Congratulations, Elba! If you have a success story, we want to hear about it! Click here.

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