Joining us for the first time as a Special Guest Speaker, celebrated writer, performer, musician, and educator Ryka Aoki, recipient of a University Award from the Academy of American Poets. Author Robert Morgan (Gap Creek) calls her He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song)—out August 26th from Topside Press—“A debut novel unlike any you have ever read.” Maureen McCody (Junebug, Walking After Midnight) lauds, “Rich in authentic voice, the book is grounded in emotional honesty, rhythmic prose, and doses of humor and heartbreak that loft the reader along as believers in Aoki’s thrilling dream.” Ryka was last with us as a conferee and we’re thrilled to welcome her back, let alone boasting such beautiful affirmation of her literary talent.
We’re getting great suggestions for topics many would like addressed at LA12. Given the accelerated pace of galvanizing trends across the entire publishing spectrum, it’s no surprise emerging writers require as much real-world perspective from those now in the trenches and successfully plying their trade—whether it be in Big 5, boutique house, hybrid or self-publishing—in order to make an informed decision on which path to choose. As usual, the SCWC brings plenty to the table. Among our new business and indie publishing “Do Yourself Independence” sessions lined up:
Among the many craft & execution workshops slated:
The response to our Scrivener software workshop at this past February’s conference was such that Ara Grigorian returns with not one, but two sessions he’s been crafting: “Scrivener Demystified: Maximize the Value, Minimize the Stress (for Beginners)” and “Scrivener in Practice: Advanced Tips and Techniques.” Having become a recent convert, there’s no doubt in my mind that it should be considered the go-to software in almost any writer’s toolbox.
A reminder that Drusilla Campbell’s “NovelCram: Building the Better Book” immersion track, along with the two-part “Best Forward: Polishing to Impress” workshop, led by Jean Jenkins, are both very popular and require pre-registration as they tend to sell out. While there’s more wiggle room with NovelCram, BFF is strictly limited to 12 participants. If you’re writing genre fiction, you do not want to miss it.
The bedrock of the SCWC remains its emphasis on producing exceptional craft by providing writers with empirically qualified feedback on their work. In addition to our usual storytelling prose and query letter read & critique workshops, at LA12 we’re going to test one devoted to book summaries. Reason being is that we’ve seen so many writers—especially author-publishers—post such awfully written book summaries on their Amazon pages and elsewhere that they instantly snuff any interest in exploring them further.
The odds of a good book being discovered and propelled to success by discerning, book-buying readers are slim, so long as confidence in the writer being a professional is undermined every step of the way. Presentation is key. That means a book needs:
Should be fun, so bring a paragraph or two write-up of your book and let’s see if it needs fixing.
SCWCer Mary Vensel White’s The Qualities of Wood, her debut novel and the first book chosen for publication based on nominations from the Authonomy writing community, went on to win a 2012 International Book Award for literary fiction. Initially released only in digital format, come June 17 HarperCollins finally drops the hardcopy of the book and we couldn’t be more pleased. There’s a recent interview with Mary over at Authonomy.
Out August 5th, our own Mary G. Thompson’s follow up to Escape from the Pipemen drops from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The comedic fantasy Evil Fairies Love Hair tells the story of Ali and her middle school classmates, who are raising hundreds of two-inch-tall fairies in effort to make their wishes come true. Thing is, it turns out the little imps have plans all their own: to replace all the parents in town with the awesome magical powers they possess to do so!
Out now on Kindle is SCWCer Jennifer Hilborne’s third installment of her popular Jackson mystery series. In The Blackest Night our favorite homicide inspector is forced to turn to a wrongfully convicted ex-con with problems of his own, in effort to solve a murder he just might be connected to.
That’s all for now. Plenty more staff to add to the schedule, as well as the schedule itself. We’ll begin opening up the Advance Submission Readers for selection shortly. Remember that Newport Beach is more limited in attendance than our Winter conference in San Diego. Take advantage of the discounted pre-registration price today to secure your spot. Your words are worth it!
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
A refreshing mystery without a murder, Good Sam delivers on many fronts. The debut novel from Dete Meserve, it has earned the 2013 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards Gold Medal. Kirkus declared it, “[A] solid feel-good romance sparked with mystery.” And Barbara Schroeder (Beverly Hills Confidential) raves, “Bravo! Author Dete Meserve takes us into a world not often explored, and writes fluidly, always leaving the reader wanting to turn the page… Hot stuff!” Not only our third Special Guest Speaker to be announced, Dete will also be conducting a workshop, “From Book to Screen: Turning Your Novel into a Film or Television Series.” As president of Wind Dancer Films, producer of TV hits such as Home Improvement and film successes like What Women Want, as well as several book-to-screen adaptations, it’s a subject she knows well.
Speaking of workshops, as we begin sorting out the schedule for September, please feel free to submit topic suggestions. Naturally, beyond our slate of critique and craft sessions, we’ll devote plenty of needed attention to the most pressing legacy, indie, and self-publishing issues. Despite what too many say, regardless of which route to publication you pursue, attaining success will ultimately hinge on inspiring confidence in your readers—and delivering on expectations roused—each and every step of your journey. Beyond writing an exceptional book, how best to do just that will be covered in our “Do Yourself Independence” (DYI, not DIY) track.
SCWC veteran Teresa Burrell’s been busy. All five titles in her ongoing legal thriller series are newly available as audiobooks. The Advocate, The Advocate’s Betrayal, The Advocate’s Conviction, The Advocate’s Dilemma, and The Advocate’s Ex Parte can all be had and heard at Audible.
From longtime SCWC author/workshop leader Michele Scott, Dark Harmony: A Vivienne Taylor Horse Lover’s Mystery, the second in her Fairmont Riding Academy series, is out May 20… Also out next week, in a departure from the Peri Minneopa mysteries she’s best known for, author/workshop leader Gayle Carline introduces readers to new characters and a new venue in Murder on the Hoof.
Finally, on the young adult front, the second in Valerie Wicks’ 7-part Seven Spectral series is out. The Orange World Outlaw follows her 2012 debut, Into the Red World. Congratulations and best of success to all!
We’ll begin plugging in what authors, agents, editors, and other pros will be joining us on the staff page soon, along with what workshops are being lined up. Advance submission readers will start being listed early June. Remember that Newport Beach is more limited in attendance than our winter conference in San Diego. Discounted pre-registration is highly recommended.
More soon. In the meantime, we’ve begun recording the reading of SCWC Topic Award recipients. You can listen to LA11’s honored entry here, written by Stephanie Lewis. The topic was “bidet.” And don’t forget: Aim for awe. Settle only for exception.
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Selected a “Best Buzz Book” by PublishersLunch for Spring/Summer 2014, Isla Morley’s Above tells the story of a 16-year-old girl abducted and locked in an abandoned missile silo by a survivalist convinced the world is going to end. Booklist calls it, “[A] menacingly sinister tale of imprisonment… that will appeal to fans of riveting psychological suspense and cut-throat dystopian fiction.” The Boston Globe hails, “A compelling tale of survival, reinvention, and hope… Vivid and poignant.” “[An] audacious page-turner,” declares Publishers Weekly. And from Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants): “Grips your heart from the first page and doesn’t let go… A novel to savor.” Isla will join us as a Special Guest Speaker in Newport Beach to discuss her latest novel, and whatever the hell else she wants to.
Our second Special Guest Speaker to be announced is none other than Tonilyn Hornung, winner of the SCWC*LA8 Outstanding Non-Fiction Award for the manuscript that became her breakout success, released just this month, How to Raise a Husband: A Whole Bunch of Ways to Build a Strong and Happy Marriage. A prolific essayist and blogger, Tonilyn’s inventive discoverability campaign supporting the title’s release includes a series of fun trailers, which everybody should share. Welcome back, Tonilyn!
Since reporting so many SCWCers with titles due out in our February 26 update several more have dropped or are about to. Among them, Jeremy Lee James has released the first installment of his Nephilim Chronicles, I, Jequon, a taught thriller chronicling a half-angel, half-human’s fight to prevent a modern day “Holycaust” being waged against his noble people by an ancient religious cult… On the epic Armageddon front, Christopher P. Simmons delivers a sprawling, fresh take on the End Times prophecy, Judas Christ: Immaculate Inception. In it, following his betrayal, Jesus’ most infamous apostle prays for a second chance and is given it–some 2000 years later.
Fantasy folk can regale in Dot Caffrey’s Awakening Powers: Book One in the Trilogy of Power. Of it, multiple award-winning author and longtime SCWC workshop leader Laura Taylor lauds, “Readers will delight in the characters, both good and evil, and the world-building skills of the author… A 5-star achievement”… An equally delightful urban fantasy, Janet Tait’s Cast into Darkness is also just out. Mixing magic, megalomania and mystical intrigue to provide yet another fun foray in yet another far-spun otherworld, it marks the debut of her projected Kate Hamilton series.
And for both the young ‘uns and our elders, we got two new titles to glean: First up is from that unstoppable force of nature, Sheri Fink. The fifth of her “Whimsical World” of cherished children’s titles, The Little Seahorse also marks her 5th No. 1 best-selling debut… And from conferee Lynne Martin, whose travel memoir Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World sprouted at SD27, the book is now out to wide acclaim, even landing her only this past week a guest appearance on CBS’ “The Morning Show.”
Congratulations and best of success to all our SCWC community authors!
As we now begin finalizing the itinerary for LA12 and which legitimate, genuinely knowledgeable authors, agents, editors and other pivotal publishing professionals will be joining us in September, much focus is being drawn from our new Sunriver Writers’ Summit intensives in Central Oregon. Strictly limited in size and planned to take place twice a year—one in the spring, one in the fall—the Summit grew out of what many of us behind the SCWC have come to believe: Too many writers remain too un-prepared for today’s industry reality. Because of that, they’re often bilked by publishing predators and punksters, or writer events that unapologetically ally themselves with entities whose mission is solely to profit from doing so.
Writers must break the cycle of rejection, whether it be from agents, publishers or, most importantly, book buying readers. With the ease of publication what it is today, far too many writers are giving up on the traditional path to publication altogether and simply skipping straight to self-publication. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The overwhelming majority of titles—especially those that are self-published—fail to find a readership for a reason: they’re not ready for public consumption.
Craft matters, today perhaps even more than ever in the past. Aspiring for mediocrity does not a good writer make. And good writing doesn’t necessarily equate to good storytelling. A good writer understands this. A good, commercial writer respects the expectations of her reader, aims for awe and settles only for exceptional in each and every step of the book production process. Unfortunately, most writers don’t discover their work is far from good enough until it’s been rejected by agents and editors. Or worse, after their book’s been self-published and too late.
We need to address that. And, as usual, we will again tailor an SCWC that uniquely guides you along the right path to publication success on your terms.
In the meantime, as requested, we’ve begun posting extended audio podcasts of some of our Special Guest Speakers’ talks from the archives. There’s a lot, but only a few are up and running at the moment. You can find them at Voqel.com/SoCalWriters.
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Hot off our warm winter event in San Diego (“chance of cloud, tanning likely”), the debate that began opening evening at SD28—whether 50% length of a Kindle book is enough or 100% is too much—still rages. With our fall conference nearly seven months away, we’ll leave it open for discussion. Meanwhile, there’s much good “muse” to report in the way of new books just out, or coming out shortly, all written by SCWC conferees. Among them, E.V. Fairfall’s Transformed, the fantastical YA tale of young Thea, who’s forced to break God’s one rule and forsake her animal form in order to become human, only to fall in love with the one thing she hates: a hunter. Yikes!
Next up, this week marks the release of Barbara Garren’s debut contemporary romance, Infinite Potential. Book 1 in her Phasms Trilogy—inked in a sweet 3-book deal with Entranced Publishing—it tells the story of young widow Kelsi Thomas, haunted by memories of her dead husband and desperate to distinguish reality from the guilty pleasure of the stranger that fills her sleep. Nice job, Barbara.
Evan Ramspot’s follow-up to the first novel in his Plagued series, The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment, is next on deck. Plagued II: The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment is out both in print and paperless come March, 2014. SCWCer Kendall Roderick, a writer and graphic designer, did the jackets for both titles. You can check out her other covers and availability here.
In April we’ll see the awaited publication of Tonilyn Hornung’s How to Raise a Husband: A Whole Bunch of Ways to Build a Strong and Happy Marriage, out from Conair Press. Her manuscript earned the Outstanding Non-Fiction Award at LA8 and nabbed an agent on the spot, a mere three years ago.
And in May, David Putnam, a San Diego SCWCer from way back, will see the hardcover release of his debut novel, The Disposable, from Oceanview. Best-selling authors Michael Connelly and T. Jefferson Parker are giving it raves and we can’t wait for the release, or for David to tell us all about it.
LA12 (in Newport Beach, again) will offer the usual full slate of SCWC-centric read & critique, craft-oriented and business-savvy workshops. In the wake of SD28’s introduction of several new ones, we’ll also be devoting plenty of time and attention to the biggest rip so many writers are rending today: the choice to go fully indie, to pursue legacy, or to go hybrid when possible. As we all know, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Where you are with your work come September, where you want it to be afterward, that’s what we’ll be dealing with. What we’ll not be doing is settling for anything—or anyone—aiming to settle for anything less than exceptional.
All that said, Early “Bard” Pre-registration is now open. Sign up for the Full Conference or Drusilla Campbell’s NovelCram immersion track (which includes all Special Guest Speakers, State of the Agent panel and Rogue workshops) today and save a whopping $75.
For just a little taste of the stories you’ll hear and what nifty nuggets of useful information you’ll glean at SCWC, check out this clip of LA11 Special Guest Speaker Leslie Lehr (What a Mother Knows) then join your greater SCWC .COMmunity on our Facebook page.
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
You really couldn’t ask for a more perfect conference. Exceptional writers were found every which way you wandered, the weather was beautiful, and we introduced a shockingly new “Take an Agent Home” session that just might have to become a fixture. Most uncanny? The awesome guy pictured below we discovered in the Hyatt’s sculpture garden, located just down from the bar where such discoveries are often posited, pondered and parlayed each evening. We prefer to think of it as a writer carrying the weight of a writer, or the writer’s responsibility, or some such. That may have changed by dawn.
Anyhow, on to the awards.
OUTSTANDING NONFICTION (Memoir)
from Sylmar, CA
OUTSTANDING NONFICTION (Memoir)
Christine Magnus Moore
from Silverado, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Historical)
from Provo, UT
OUTSTANDING FICTION (International Thriller)
from Apple Valley, CA
OUTSTANDING TOPIC STORY
Stephanie Lewis for English Language Gone Astray (read here)
from Carlsbad, CA
We’ll be back in Newport Beach next September. Thanks to our special guest speakers, Leslie Lehr, Marci Nault, Brett Battles, Sheri Fink, and Elana K. Arnold. Big shout out to all our SCWC workshop leaders, advance submission readers and hard working volunteers. And above all else, a robust and especially big spoon to all the conferees who entrusted us with their work and aspirations this past weekend. It is the SCWC’s honor to be a part of your community.
San Diego 28 is only five months away. We look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, settle for exceptional, go forth, write well and suck less. More t-shirts are coming!
Celebrated author and SCWC workshop leader Darlene Quinn just scored another win. Unpredictable Webs, the fourth installment of her wildly popular suspense series set in the world of high-fashion intrigue, opulence and depravity, just won the International Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal in the General Fiction category (along with the National Beverly Hills Book Award). Its immediate predecessor, Webs of Fate, also claimed the honor at last year’s competition. A brand-spanking new trailer for the book premieres online today. You can be among the first to check it out below. As with the WOF trailer, SCWC executive director Michael Steven Gregory produced and directed.
Another big winner at this year’s International Readers’ Favorite, none other than SCWC alumni and Sunday morning speaker Sheri Fink. Sheri’s wildly popular The Little Gnome and Exploring the Garden with the Little Rose took the Gold Medal in both the Children’s Fable and Children’s Concept categories, respectively. Along with mystery writer Dean Koontz and historical writer Martin Dugard, Sheri was also recently named as one of the top local writers of Orange County by CBS.
Bethany Lopez, yet another SCWCer, nabbed the Bronze Medal in Contemporary Romance for her most recent novel, Trust in Me. A blog post she wrote after attending this past February’s conference in San Diego details the top self-publishing takeaway tips she gleaned from SD27 here.
That’s all for now. The working schedule is up. Still plenty of room to join us in Newport Beach. As always, it’s going to be a fantastic, brain-numbingly informative weekend. If you can’t make it this time around, remember that our winter conference takes place in San Diego, Presidents’ Day Weekend, Feb. 14-17, 2014. $100 Early “Bard” Discount off Full Conference is available now through September 15th.
Now let’s watch our latest book trailer…
How much good “muse” to report is too much? Recipient of our SCWC Outstanding Nonfiction Award for her manuscript How to Raise a Husband, Tonilyn Hornung recently signed the contract with Conari Press to publish her book. (That’s Tonilyn pictured holding the precious baby, along with an infant.) Literary rep Sally van Haitsma negotiated the deal after discovering Tonilyn at our LA8 event in Newport Beach. As usual, Sally’s got a good eye for talented writers and will be joining us again in September.
Literary agent Dana Newman, who sold conferee Marsha Aizumi’s Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love And Acceptance to Magnus (now Riverdale) after reading her SCWC submission, reports yet another deal. Her client–also met at the SCWC–author/workshop leader Robert Yehling signed with Houghton Mifflin to write Just Add Water, a biography of surfing great Clay Marzo and his life with Asperger’s Syndrome. Bob’s most recent collection of poetry and essays, Backroad Melodies, has recently been released.
Among other SCWCers with books now out? Orit Arfa’s politically relevant The Settler, edited by Jennifer Silva Redmond; the mystical adventure Crossing Jack by Jeffrey J. Michaels; and the special ops thriller Cobra Clearance by Richard Craig Anderson (who just returned from his first panel appearance at Thrillerfest). Congrats to all!
And this exceptional bit of good “muse” just in… Mr. Dave Putnam, longtime SCWC conferee from way back, just sold his first book to Ocean View Publishing. It’ll be out May 2014, but has no official title yet. Thing is, while it’s his first book to get published, it’s his 32nd book written. A true writer and retired San Bernardino County deputy, Dave got his second wind and is riding it out as he writes hard now on book 36. Good for you, Dave!
Rounding out our Special Guest Speakers is none other than international best-selling, award-winning children’s author, Sheri Fink. Sheri’s first children’s book, The Little Rose, an enchanting story about a rose growing in a weed bed who learns to accept and love herself despite her differences, was published in March 2011, remained a #1 best-seller on Amazon for over 60 weeks and was adapted for the stage. The Kindle edition became the #1 top-rated children’s eBook on Amazon and is also a best-seller. In 2012, The Little Rose won the gold medal for best children’s K-3rd fable in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards. The Little Gnome followed. And the latest in the series, The Little Firefly was just recently released.
We’re fine-tuning the schedule, which will include a fairly robust DYI (Do Yourself Independence) track alongside the vital read & critique and craft tracks. One particular thing we’ve been keeping close watch on is the use of crowdfunding by writers seeking to publish independently. Crowdfunding is tricky, offering results often wildly unpredictable, even saddening.Beyond the typical go-to platforms–Kickstarter and Indiegogo for most–there’s an intriguing new kid on the ether-block, specifically geared to writers of all ilk. The platform is called Pubslush and we’re having its passionate vice president, Amanda Barbara, come show you all the ins & outs of how it works. The platform really could be a boon for the entrepreneurial indie author.
Last bit of business for now is this… After going on a deserved hiatus, Jean Jenkins is returning with her brain-bursting two-part “Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress” (complete info here). The sessions are limited to 12 participants and require pre-conference participation. These workshops always fill up. If you’re serious about writing genre fiction and want in, get in quick. Jeanie will also be conducting her popular open attendance session, “Defining Genre: What Are You Really Writing?” on Friday.
Finally… The Newport Beach Hyatt, our OC home for the LA conference run from SD, saw fit to improve their Conference Center to ensure we writers have even more cause to enjoy the SCWC (pictured below). Waterslide, writers!
Remember that our LA11 event is more limited in attendance than our winter conference in San Diego. Discounted pre-registration is open. Folks are writing and sharing great writerly info and more on our Facebook wall (here). Do yourself a favor and join us.