Highlight on WWS-Long Beach, CA: An Interview with Chapter Leads Desiree Kannel and Rachael Rifkin

How would you describe your city and your local literary community?

We like to say that Long Beach is a “little ‘big’ city.” We have a big and diverse population and lots of very different communities. In fact, LB was named one of the most diverse cities in the US according to the last census. A fact we are very proud of.

LB has a lot going on in the literary world. It isn’t hard to find a poetry reading, someone doing a book launch, or even a critique group. Independent businesses like coffee shops and book stores like to support LB writers and welcome small groups to do events such as readings or workshops.

How did you hear of Women Who Submit, and why were you drawn to start a WWS chapter in your area?

Desiree heard about WWS from her Antioch friends, and Rachael heard about WWS from a writers group and Desiree. We both liked the idea of supporting women writers and wanted to create a space for writers of LB to connect and share resources. One thing that is lacking in our area is a way to find out and connect easily with literary events, organizations and people. WWS in Long Beach is hoping to bring in those writers who have not yet connected with other literary folks in the LB area.

What personal experiences are you hoping to bring to the table as the chapter lead?

Desiree brings her years of experience leading creative writing workshops and the variety of literary people she has met. Many writers that go through her workshops are both anxious and excited to begin researching and submitting. She is glad to be able to provide a safe space for them to enter the publishing maze.

Rachael brings her community event planning experience, love of storytelling, and passion for increasing women writers’ voices in media, publishing, and all fields.

What can people expect to find at a WWS-Long Beach submission party?

Most of our parties are held at Fox Coffee shop – a small, cute vegan cafe in the Wrigley area of Long Beach. Our groups tend to be small—about 5-7 writers so far—and we spend a good amount of time sharing leads and other resources. We have had one party with a guest speaker who talked about the submission process.

What specific submission barriers do the writers in your chapter face and what ways is your chapter addressing them?

Lack of support and knowledge. We address these barriers by sharing knowledge, feedback and support.

Do you have any submission success stories to share?

Our group members have had acceptances and personal rejections. At least one or two of the members are in the process of selling their books. We’ve also had a couple well-attended meetings of 10+ people


unnamed-2Rachael Rifkin is a personal historian/ghost writer (i.e., she helps people preserve their big life events and life stories by turning their memories into family keepsake books) and journalist. Her photo project, which features her posing as eight of her relatives, was highlighted on Huffington Post, Bored Panda, Buzzfeed, and the Jewish Journal. She is also a community organizer who has helped organized several Human Libraries in Long Beach.

unnamed-1Desiree Kannel is a writer and teacher. She graduated from Antioch University in 2008 with a MFA in Creative Writing. She is the founder and facilitator of Rose Writers Workshops, a creative writing community for writers at all levels. She also teaches college English at the Art Institute in Santa Ana. Her work has appeared online and she is currently seeking publication for her novel, Lucky John.

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