Shut Up & Write is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that hosts free, in-person writing events for writers all over the world. Our goal is to ensure that every writer - regardless of genre or skill level - has access to the resources, community, and accountability that they need to be successful in their personal writing goals.

Meet Our Team

Rennie Saunders

Founder and CEO

Rennie, our founder and team visionary, drives big ideas forward and keeps our organization focused on the future. Rennie's motivation to enable others to express themselves creatively is the force behind Shut Up & Write, and his desire to improve the world has established Shut Up & Write! as a nonprofit dedicated to literacy efforts.

Favorite Fiction Books

Dune cycle by Frank Herbert, Neuromancer trilogy by William Gibson, His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, The Unhewn Throne trilogy by Brian Stavely

Current writing project:

Terminal Velocity, Book 1 of the Seedship Audacious Cycle, a science fiction series.

Favorite non-fiction books:

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Deep Work by Cal Newport, The Misleading Mind by Karuna Cayton, Synergetics by R Buckminster Fuller, Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Interests and obsessions:

Helping people express themselves, Pencak Silat, Burning Man, redesigning cities, space migration, transhumanism

Malaika Santa Cruz

Director of Operations

Malaika is involved in virtually every aspect of organizing the Shut Up & Write! team and engaging its flourishing community. She knows the organization inside and out, and likes to think of herself as the person that always makes sure the rubber meets the road. A writer and artist herself, her passion for supporting creative individuals runs deep, as does her commitment to growing Shut Up & Write! into its full potential as a global organization for positive change.

Favorite Fiction Books

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson, The Stand by Stephen King, After On by Rob Reid, The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Current writing project:

Personal essays that mix memoir and wellness philosophy

Favorite non-fiction books:

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Atomic Habits by James Clear, The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Interests and obsessions:

Travel photography, weightlifting, cooking, yoga, language, mixology, stand-up comedy, painting, skincare, smoothies, and the Oxford comma

Jeremy Thweatt

Content Development Director

Jeremy manages the content department and loves engaging our members through educational blog posts about the craft of writing, while continually reading about all things writing-related in order to distill what he learns into content for Shut Up & Write. He is currently co-authoring a science fiction novel with Rennie.

Favorite Fiction Books

Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, Imajica by Clive Barker, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Martian by Andy Weir, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Current writing project:

Sci-fi psychological thriller villain origin story

Favorite non-fiction books:

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, Emerson: Essays & Lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

Interests and obsessions:

Reading, rock climbing, hiking, general outdoorsy wonderfulness, The Burn, geeky sim games (especially Kerbal Space Program), cooking, baking, dancing, electronic music, musical theater.

Alison King

Business and Content Strategist, Executive Assistant

Alison brings several writing degrees, a perpetually in-progress novel, and a lifelong passion for writing and editing to the Shut Up & Write! team. She works on strategy and business development, manages social media content, and serves as the team’s in-house editor. As an experienced project manager, she also helps transform Rennie’s big ideas into reality.

Favorite Fiction Books

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Hop on Pop! by Dr. Seuss

Current writing project:

A YA novel that's part magical realism, part romance

Favorite non-fiction books:

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Interests and obsessions:

Electric guitar, live music, vinyl, fandom and fanfic, children's books, musical theater, the Great British Baking Show, and the original Star Wars trilogy (no prequels or special editions, please).

Lira Samanta

Program Coordinator, Executive Assistant

Lira collaborates with Malaika to grow and support our member community, and her expertise in all things data enables her to also contribute to a wide range of functions, including business development, product ideation, social media marketing, and content strategy.

Favorite Fiction Books

Lilith's Brood and Kindred by Octavia Butler, The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, Heavens by Sandra Newman, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Current writing project:

A speculative novel about time-travel, regret, and love

Favorite non-fiction books:

Femme in Public by Alok-Vaid Menon, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, I've Got The Light Of Freedom by Charles M. Payne, Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger's Life by Sarah Kaminsky, Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer

Interests and obsessions:

Speculative and mystery novels, feminist sociology, plant medicine, human anatomy, the splendor of forests and mountains, visual art, electronic music, and programming

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