Yet another stellar weekend of writers who traveled from far and near to immerse themselves in story. To all the many talented first-timers and returning veteran members of our extended conference community, Wes, Chrissie, myself—we thank you for raising the bar, elevating expectations and daring to do better than best with your work. With your dreams. Your trust. Your generosity. In other words: Thank you for being writers. Truly, a memorable SCWC.
And to Melanie Hooks and Laura Perkins, whose Rogue Read & Critique ran deep into Sunday’s wee hours, thank you for texting me the selfie from your workshop at 3 a.m. No, really. No.
This year’s Special Guest Speakers warrant a shout out, as well. Big Spoon to Kelly Abbott (Great Jones Street Publishing), Greta Boris (Margin of Lust), Rachel Howzell Hall (City of Saviors) and Cherie Kephart (A Few Minor Adjustments). Quality talks and information provided by all. We’ll be posting highlights from each on SCWC*TV soon.
Now, on to the awards . . .
SCWC*LA/IRVINE 15 Award Recipients
OUTSTANDING NONFICTION (Memoir)
Miss Yoo, a Piece of Me
By Hanna Yoo of Rancho Mirage, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Commercial Fiction)
By Kellie Crawford of Los Angeles, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (“Cozy” Horror)
Dead Viking Rehab
By Dana Hammer of Anaheim, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Mystery)
Starlet: Mystery and Murder in Old Hollywood
By Sandra Homicz of Dana Point, CA
Of course, each SCWC holds a contest in which all writers are invited to participate. The rules are simple: Write a piece in any form you wish of no more than 250 words based on the one-word topic announced Friday night. The topic for LA15 was “Bare/Bear/Behr/Beyer.” Here’s this year’s winning entry . . .
OUTSTANDING TOPIC STORY
of Mission Viejo, CA
They’re not afraid of us, but they should be.
They think we’re cute, and photogenic. They think we add a forbidden thrill, a delightful shiver of danger to their woodland vacation. They love to see us plodding on all fours, irritably growling, hunting for game, stockpiling calories against the long, dark winter. They watch spellbound as we stand mid-river, waiting for the salmon to fling themselves upstream, catching their tender pink flesh in our great drooling jaws, ending the migration of a thousand miles with a single, shredding bite.
They take pictures. They take “selfies,” trying to frame themselves in a digital photo with a bear standing uncomfortably close, as if to showcase their bravado, smiling inanely just a few feet away. They think we we’d never attack them – that we’d never indulge in a tasty side order of photo-snapping tourist meat.
And most of the time they’re right.
Most of the time.
But I’ve noticed something about our flesh-colored visitors. They like to test the boundaries, to skirt the edges of safe and secure. By wandering just a little too close, or staying just a little too late in the season, when the fish and grubs and rodents disappear, and sweet nourishment becomes harder to find. When the hunger gnaws and festers, and turns all-consuming. When tourists begin to look less like nuisances and more like dinner.
When we stop growling and suddenly strike.
I enjoy the tourists. I especially like their soft centers.
Congratulations to all the award winners!
We’ll return to the O.C. next year with our 16th annual LA(ish) event. Dates are September 21-23. Discounted pre-registration opens March 1, 2018. In the meantime, our 32nd annual San Diego conference will take place Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 16-18, 2018. Limited to 175 writers, all the details can be found here.
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC