Joining the SCWC for her first time is Samantha Bremekamp, a rising star of New York’s Marisa Corvisiero Literary. Very much a hands-on agent, expanding her list, she’s interested in children’s, middle grade, young adult and new adult fiction. While open to any genre within those categories, Samantha is especially keen on speculative fiction, mystery, or the quirky romance. By her own admission, although there may be a difference between a three-year-old and a 33-year-old, Samantha finds that all of life’s challenges in these age groups offer the potential for great character growth and exploration.
We speak with a lot of emerging writers in the run-up to a conference. As with this past February’s San Diego event, premature e-publication remains a common topic. Upon realization of having done so, most lament that the books they’ve elected to self-publish really weren’t ready for prime time. Even those with quality prose and a story that warrants telling, with packaging, blurbs and ad copy that all managed to be “good enough,” the lack of an extensive backlist of traditionally published titles, or significant platform, or inability to devote the necessary time, marketing savvy and money, foiled their efforts to shine brightly.
Frankly, too many writers simply don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to succeeding in the current publishing environment. And the fact so many social media “gurus,” so-called “publishing services” and panel-centric writing events, offering little more than conflicting, sometimes utterly uniformed opinions by those thrashing equally in vain at the ether, trying equally hard to validate their purposeful being and sell a few more books (or services), can quickly make choosing the right course of action overwhelming.
The only thing that remains constant and certain is that craft matters, and that a good story well told stands a greater chance of being successful—whether traditionally released or indie-published. That’s why the SCWC focuses on workshops, emphasizes excellence in craft, and strives to maximize as much personal attention to the development of the individual writer’s work, his or her unique challenges, in effort to ensure s/he’s sufficiently apprized by industry professionals to determine which path to publication to choose. More so, how and when.
To that end, beyond our regular tiers of daily and late-night read & critique workshops, here’s a few of the practical sessions currently slated for LA13:
On the StoryCore track, all but two of the back-to-back workshops are now dialed in:
The remaining StoryCore workshops will be devoted to either young adult/new adult fiction or transformative narrative in fiction and non-fiction. If you have a preference, let us know. If you’re interested in something else entirely, let us know.
The fourth release in author/workshop leader Claudia Whitsitt’s Samantha Stitsill series, Inherited Issues, is out June 22nd … Bestselling author Andrew Peterson, an SCWCer from way back, whose first novel came out of one of our Palm Springs events, has his latest being released from Thomas & Mercer come August. Contract to Kill furthers the exploits of master marksman Nathan McBride … Another longtime SCWCer, humorist Paul De Lancey, has a new release from HumorOutcasts on June 2nd. Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms? tells the story of Debbie Devil, the horny, estranged wife of Satan. Or in other words, pretty much everything we expect of Paul to write.
See that big red button that says “rec” inside, over to the right of the page? If you have a camera on your computer—or phone—click it and share up to three minutes of your personal SCWC experience. We have gobs of testimonials recorded from the conferences themselves, but thought this might be fun for those seeking a more contemplative way to express their love. (Don’t worry, anything you record will first have to be approved before going live.) Take a look below for an example.
That’s all for now. Much more to announce soon. Meanwhile, lots of topics being discussed and advice being procured on our Facebook .COMmunity wall. Jump in and join the conversation. Like your work, your voice matters.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Writing can be a long, lonely slog. So often one works in isolation for such extended periods of time–conceptualizing a viable idea, crafting a first draft and winnowing it into a taught pile of pages worthy of submission to those who may be willing to represent and pitch it to others prepared to pay for the right to publish and make it available for strangers expected to spend money for the privilege of reading it (the ultimate goal)–that it’s often easy to overlook the needed joy of recognizing the accomplishment of each successive step of the process. Publishing a good book is a big deal. A bigger deal? Readers recognizing a good book published.
SCWCer Ara Grigorian’s debut novel, Game of Love, just came out, following a particularly tortured journey. Who bothered to care? Well, at his first-ever book signing, held last week at the Burbank Barnes & Noble bookstore, both readers and writers. While thrilled for Ara, we’re also especially proud that the SCWC community turned out to support another debut author’s success, among them Melanie Hooks, Kendall Roderick and August McLaughlin. There’s nothing like your first, except every other one after. Congratulations, Ara. Cheers to many more!
Ara returns to the SCWC in September with a couple of cool new workshops, “Anatomy of Romance: New Adult and Beyond” and “Finding the Beats of Your Story.” Other workshop leaders already committed to LA13 include Jean Jenkins, Marla Miller, Stacey O’Brien, Matthew J. Pallamary, Kathy Porter, Laura Taylor, Janis Thomas, Darlene Quinn, Jennifer Silva Redmond, Claudia Whitsitt and Maralys Wills. Still plenty more to announce, but we’ve identified topics and are beginning to build out another SCWC weekend itinerary that addresses what we believe to be the most pressing issues pertinent to the modern writer. Yes, for those electing to go it alone, selling books will be a part of it. But, as usual, crafting books that warrant being sold will be most of it.
Lots to report on the not-premature-e-publication front. Books recently out from SCWCers include Elana K. Arnold’s new adult fiction Infandous; Barrie Summy’s middle grade mystery The Disappearance of Emily H.; Vivian Carpenter’s legal thriller The Fifth Letter; Amy Gettinger’s memoir Roll with the Punches: A Story of Roller Derby, Alzheimer’s and Plagiarism; and Miranda K. Simon’s true tale Sexy Serenity. Cheers to the best of success for all!
Those with titles coming out shortly: Teresa Burrell’s The Advocate’s Geocache (The Advocate Series Book 7); Don Winslow’s The Cartel; Michele Scott’s (writing as A.K. Alexander) The Preference, the third book in her Holly Jennings thriller series; Stanton “Sandy” Swafford’s China Sea; and John Edward Mullen’s Digital Dick. Also, a shout out to Karla Tipton’s Dangerous Reflections: A Historical Fantasy through Time, which just got named a finalist in the Fantasy category of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Awards.
Been a few years since the founder of the SCWC has been actively a part of it, but she remained a fixture up until only recently. Though it turns out many conferees who join us time and again are not even aware of who Betty Abell Jurus is, it’s important to know not only that she passed away last week, but that our vital community wouldn’t exist had in not been for her. If you’re a writer (and you better be), check my latest blog post on Betty and watch the first 30 minutes of We, The Writer, a “doculogue” I made for PBS back in 1996, which features a lot of her. (It’s a crappy VHS copy, so I apologize in advance for the quality.)
Advance submission readers are now open. Several more will be added over the next several weeks, so don’t jump the gun. Also, don’t forget to join our greater .COMmunity on Facebook and Twitter to keep up on all things importantly writerly.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Busy couple of months for SCWC authors. Those with new titles released, or due out shortly, include Darlene Quinn, whose fifth installment of her routinely award-winning “Webs” series, Conflicting Webs, just won the Beverly Hills International Book Awards for General Fiction. Judy Reeves will be at Warwick’s this week for the launch of her long-anticipated latest from New World Library, Wild Women, Wild Voices. Dot Caffrey’s Cursed Power: Book Two in the Trilogy of Power, has just been released, as has Tameri Etherton’s The Temple of Ardyn (Song of Swords Book 2). Also just out is the second title in Jenny Hilborne’s Inspector Doucette mystery series, Easy Target. But wait, there’s more…
Two titles on the science fiction front are from Christa Yelich-Koth. Book two, naturally, in her ongoing Hollow’s Prism graphic novel series, Reunion, is now available in comic books stores everywhere, while her debut novel, Illusion, is due August from Buzz & Roar … In a similar vein, author/workshop leader Matthew J. Pallamary’s Phantastic Fiction: A Shamanic Approach to Story drops in June and is available for pre-order now … On the poetry side of things, novelist Ryka Aoki’s first collection, Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul, is out from Biyuti Publishing. And, finally, celebrating the launch of her latest novel, along with a newly rejuvenated website (ClaudiaWhitsitt.com), Claudia Whitsitt is offering readers a free short story for a limited time called Counting Tomorrows.
On the topic of SCWCers with new books, prolific novelist and overall outstanding human being Bethany Lopez is releasing a supplemental nonfiction title tie-in to her many popular stories. Love & Recipes incorporates dishes referencing back to the book and/or character from which each was derived. Spicy stuff, no doubt, but the even more tasty takeaway? Agent Marisa Corvisiero, of Marisa Corvisiero Literary, has just signed Bethany on as a client, after meeting her at our LA conference. Marissa returns to the SCWC in September and we’re pleased to have her back.
Other reps confirmed thus far for Irvine include Lane Heymont of The Seymour Agency, representing adult sci-fi/fantasy; Jill Marr of Sandra Dijkstra Literary, handling fiction, narrative & practical nonfiction; and Sara Sciuto of Fuse Literary, handling middle-grade, YA, select non-fiction and picture books. With still others yet to be announced, including our workshop leader roster and focus, as usual we’ll not be opening up the Advance Submission Readers for selection until late-May or early-June.
That’s all for now. Do remember that, in effort to ensure as much needed, personal attention to you and your work, and to maximize opportunities for publishing success—regardless which path to publication you may be seeking—the SCWC*LA13 (in Irvine) is limited in attendance to 150 participants. Your words are worth it. Take advantage of the Early “Bard” Discount and pre-register today.
And don’t forget to join our ever-expanding .COMmunity on Facebook and Twitter to keep apprised of all things writerly; watch SCWC*TV videos to learn more, and remember to SHARE, SHARE, SHARE the word with your peers.
Because publishing is personal. Today more than ever.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Though not out until next month, Aline Ohanesian’s debut novel, Orhan’s Inheritance, is already dropping large. A Barnes & Noble 2015 Discover Great New Writers Pick, an American Booksellers Association’s no. 1 choice for its April 2015 Indie Next Great Reads List, and Library Journal Editors’ Spring Reading Pick, in a starred review Kirkus hails it, “A harrowing tale of unimaginable sacrifice… A novel that delves into the darkest corners of human history and emerges with a tenuous sense of hope.” Library Journal declares it simply, “Unforgettable.” A former conferee, we’re thrilled to welcome Aline back to the SCWC as the second Special Guest Speaker to be announced for LA13.
Our third Special Guest Speaker to announce is Neal Griffin. Represented by Sandra Dijkstra Literary agent and longtime SCWCer Jill Marr (she’ll be with us in September), Neal’s Benefit of the Doubt is out May, in hardback, from Forge Books. A 25-year law enforcement veteran, Kirkus extols, “Griffin’s debut novel propels readers into the chilling worlds of big-money drugs, small-town corruption, and a murderer who strikes without conscience… superior to the unrealistic fare that often passes for a police thriller.” And Joseph Wambaugh (The Onion Field) effuses, “[A] unique and suspenseful debut novel by a cop-turned-author who knows the turf.” Welcome aboard, Neal!
First peek at two SCWCers with new books out soon. First off, workshop leader Ara Grigorian’s long-anticipated debut, Game of Love (Curiosity Quills Press), isn’t out until May, but today is the day that we all get to see what the cover looks like, and it looks great . . . Our other new cover reveal comes from none other than novelist/SCWC workshop leader Claudia Whitsitt. Telling the tale of three girls who become friends during the racially-charged aftermath of the 1967 Detroit Riots, Between the Lines is out March 20th.
Others to report next update. We’re still some six months out till LA13(ish), in Irvine. We’ve got the Sunriver Writers’ Summit taking place in Central Oregon’s high plateau before then. Register before the end of the month and you can knock a whopping $100 off Full Conference registration for September.
In the meanwhile, spend a few minutes watching this little inspirational excerpt from Isla Morley (Above) at this past September’s LA12 conference…
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
With San Diego 29 a mere two weekends past, we turn attention to September’s Irvine event. Our first Special Guest Speaker to announce is literary nonfictionalist Roseanne Montillo. The follow-up to her sensational The Lady and Her Monsters, which tells the lurid tale of how Mary Shelley came to write Frankenstein, is out this month from William Morrow. Chronicling the true story of America’s youngest serial killer, preying on Boston’s working-class neighborhood children in the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1872, Publishers Weekly calls The Wilderness of Ruin, “A riveting true-crime tale that rivals anything writers in the 21st century could concoct… [Montillo is] a masterly storyteller.” Reminiscent of The Devil in the White City, Kirkus hails it, “A lively, evocative reinvigoration of Boston’s Gilded Age… A chillingly drawn, expertly researched slice of grim Boston history.” Roseanne joins us for the first time at LA13, and we welcome her aboard.
For 29 years, with 45 conferences (San Diego, L.A. and Palm Springs) behind us, the bulk of the SCWC’s success can be attributed to a single through-thread: craft and community matters. To recognize and embrace the potential of writers coming through any given SCWC event, to assist in elevating the quality of their manuscripts and instill a vital obligation to aim for excellence and settle only for exceptional in execution, to extend valuable relationships beyond the end of any given conference’s weekend to facilitate success, that is what the SCWC prides itself in.
With well over 25,000 books being published each month, the majority, of course, self-published because doing so is so easy, so tempting, it is more crucial now than ever to respect the book-buying reader and write a well-written story that warrants being sold.
In a recent interview, literary agent Chris Parris-Lamb, a young dynamo within the industry (Chad Harbach’s The Art Of Fielding, Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm, Peter Thiel’s Zero To One, and John Darnielle’s Wolf In White Van), echoed our long-standing sentiment: “[The publishing industry] doesn’t exist to give writers a way to publish their books… It exists to bring readers books that are worthy of their time and attention, which is increasingly scarce and valuable.”
To that end, in addition to our San Diego and Irvine conferences, we’ve introduced the Sunriver Writers’ Summit, which takes place on the high plateau of Central Oregon, May 2-3, 2015. A 2-day, 3-track intensive limited to only 46 participants, the aim of the SWS is to provide writers who are aiming for excellence, who are willing to settle only for exceptional, a trusted environment to do so in preparation for submitting commercially viable material to agents, editors, or future conference evaluation opportunities. Even if you’re electing to go the total indie route, the SWS is geared to get you where you need to be. If you haven’t already, check it out at our Sunriver Writers’ Summit.
Just remember, regardless which path to publication you’re pursuing, take the time to write what you want at the quality you truly desire to be recognized for, not what too many lackluster others insist is “good enough” to be rejected out of hand via traditional means.
We’ve got a lot of SCWCers with books coming out soon, as well as our remaining Special Guest Speakers, workshop leaders, agents, editors and other staffers joining us in Irvine to announce. We’ll catch everybody up on all the good “muse” starting next month. In the meanwhile, the fifth installment of Darlene Quinn’s internationally award-winning series, Conflicting Webs, drops shortly. Here’s the trailer we did for it, which premiered last week:
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC