Screenwriter and award-winning author of 66 Laps and Wife Goes On Leslie Lehr will be joining us for the first time come September. Her essays have appeared in the anthologies Mommy Wars, The Honeymoon’s Over and Arianna Huffington’s On Becoming Fearless. Her latest is What a Mother Knows, out next week from Sourcebooks Landmark. Heather Gudenkauf (New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away) proclaims the book, “A fast-paced and gripping exploration of a mother’s love. A powerful affecting novel.” Along with conducting at least one workshop, Leslie is the third of LA11 special guest speakers announced thus far.
Other new books out from SCWC staffers and alumni: NY Times bestselling NovelCram track instructor Drusilla Campbell’s When She Came Home and international award-winner Darlene Quinn’s Unpredictable Webs (which just picked up the Beverly Hills Book Award for Fiction.)
The second in her Samantha mystery series, Claudia Whitsitt’s Intimacy Issues was released last month by Blue Jay Media Group. And next month, we’ve got Richard Craig Anderson’s Cobra Clearance coming out from Hellgate Press, along with the follow-up to her wonderfully creepy debut novel Wuftoom, Mary G. Thompson’s Escape from the Pipe Men! (Clarion).
On the recent deals front, LA9 conferee Aline Ohanesian just signed with Algonquin. Her book, The Exile, is slated for 2014 publication. And Ryka Aoki, another SCWC*LAer, just got the contract from publisher Topside Signature for her He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song), also due out 2014. Congratulations to all.
While it’s true that the SCWC has long been the vanguard of foreseeing and addressing publishing industry trends, alerting and educating writers on how to navigate the ever-shifting tides of transmedia integration while not getting pulled down by its often unforgiving undercurrents, what’s also true is this: craft matters. The way in which a story unfolds, the deftness of its telling, the quality of its editing, the ability of the writer to effectively communicate the story in her mind to some stranger across a stark, simple page and ultimately fulfill what expectations were initially aroused in that reader–that remains the bed rock on which the SCWC was founded. It remains the foundation on which we continue to build each and every SCWC event.
Craft matters. Execution matters. Delivering on expectations roused in the reader matters.
There’s a lot of flotsam circulating out there at the moment. Everybody with a self-published e-book, anybody with a Twitter feed or Facebook page to like, Pinterest profile to ping, or any other one of a seemingly infinite variety of “vital” social media platforms that must allegedly be engaged to succeed, seems to be selling themselves as some kind of guru; an authority on how to succeed as a writer.
Problem is, too many of them are not the writers they need to be and too many are not the provably qualified authorities they claim to be.
It seems that now more than ever before conferences are sprouting up presenting lackluster or woefully uninformed information to attending writers, in particular, to those who now stand at the crossroads of whether to legacy-publish or self-publish.
It’s a racket. Writers must beware. Writers must do their due diligence. Get informed and do not discount information out of hand simply because you may not like it. The ridiculous furor over Barry Eisler’s recent comments at another conference and online are a testament to that. When Barry first joined the SCWC years ago he spoke to what he felt was imminent, of the choices writers would have to face with regards to publication. Nobody balked. We embraced, researched, anticipated and empowered writers with information.
Nobody in a professional capacity had the indecency to name-call and vent their fears of decreased relevance on Twitter to bolster their own self-perception of value to aspiring writers they might otherwise milk.
As usual, in September we’ll be dealing with the pertinent issues of Do Yourself Independence (DYI–not “DIY”), but be reminded that our first and foremost focus remains troubleshooting problematic storytelling in effort to further empower writers with the tools and understanding to allow their work to shine, regardless of their publication platform. And, as usual, we’ll devote ourselves to facilitating publication success of work that warrants being discovered.
Please do remember that the Newport Beach conference is more limited in size than San Diego. Reserve your spot by taking advantage of the Early “Bard” Discount. And don’t forget to join the conversation on our SCWC Facebook Wall.
Fresh off the “positively brain damaging” whirlwind weekend that is the SCWC’s Winter event, we ramp up for our Fall conference in Newport Beach. Though it’s some six months away we’re pleased to report the return of some former conferees who’ve landed publication success, including Marci Nault. Out May from Simon & Schuster (Gallery Books), Mary Alice Monroe, (New York Times best-selling author of Beach House Memories) calls Marci’s debut title, The Lake House, “[A] richly textured novel about love, friendship and second chances that spans generations… as uplifting and sparkling as a fresh water lake in summer.”
Also aboard, hailing all the way from Northern Ireland, Laurence O’Bryan is back with the third thriller on his HarperCollins UK contract, The Manhattan Puzzle (October, 2013). Set in Los Angeles, the novel follows his SD21 Outstanding Fiction Award winning The Istanbul Puzzle and recent follow-up, The Jerusalem Puzzle.
Speaking of awards, our other SD21 Outstanding Fiction Award winner, George Berger, has just seen his debut novel released in hardcover. Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman (Broken Promises, A Novel of the Civil War) calls South of Burnt Rocks West of the Moon, “[A] heart-stopping read.” While Kirkus hails it, “Smartly written… A wonderfully crafted balance of Roman-era drama and the fierceness of battle.”
A hearty congratulations to all!
As always, LA11 will offer a full slate of read & critique and craft-oriented workshops. Returning this year after a brief hiatus, New York Times best-selling author Drusilla Campbell’s NovelCram: Building a Better Book immersion track will run Friday through Sunday afternoon. Following the overflow, sold-out Cram turnout at this past month’s SD27, those writers interested should probably sign up much sooner than later this time around.
Along with the many authors, agents and editors yet to be announced, we’ll also be featuring another round of our popular “Do Yourself Independence” (DYI) sessions. Geared to the entrepreneurial author, whether traditionally or independently published, once again we’ll cut through the noise (and often utter nonsense) to better understand the strategies, tactics, tools and trade-offs inherent to succeeding in today’s ever-changing industry. Just as there’s no single right way to write an exceptional book–only an infinite number of wrong ways–the same can be said of reaching, engaging and winning over book-buying readers.
Early “Bard” Pre-registration is now open. You’ve earned it, so register by May 1 and save $75 off Full Conference/NovelCram. And be sure to check out this excerpt from author Valerie Wicks’ DYI workshop at SD27, then join the discussion on our SCWC Facebook page.
Ah, Newport Beach… This year’s LA10(ish) event brought us an unruly assortment of exceptional writers new to the SCWC, albeit unnervingly polite. And while over the weekend we regaled in written stories, both fictional and non, delved into the challenges of the swiftly changing business modalities that today’s publishing world presents–and how to overcome them–we also had time to confront and reflect on the realities stuck right in our face; those things not yet written, but better left said, expounded upon and then left behind at the hotel bar: lithe, hot ninjas and suicidal goats. True story. Now let’s get to the awards.
Ah, Newport Beach… This year’s LA10(ish) event brought us an unruly assortment of exceptional writers new to the SCWC, albeit unnervingly polite. And while over the weekend we regaled in written stories, both fictional and non, delved into the challenges of the swiftly changing business modalities that today’s publishing world presents–and how to overcome them–we also had time to confront and reflect on the realities stuck right in our face; those things not yet written, but better left said, expounded upon and then left behind at the hotel bar: Ninjas and suicidal goats. True story. Now let’s get to the awards.
OUTSTANDING MEMOIR (NEW CATEGORY)
Kathy Tuominen-Lenney for Finding Joy
from Mission Viejo, CA
Sharon Hicks for How Do You Grab a Naked Lady?
from Honolulu, HI
Krysten Nunn for Kitty (read here)
from Fresno, CA
HONORABLE MENTION (BOOK)
from Westminster, CA
HONORABLE MENTION (BOOK)
from Long Beach, CA
HONORABLE MENTION (BOOK)
from Los Angeles, CA
Congratulations all! We plan to be back in Newport Beach next September. Thanks to our special guest speakers, Selden Edwards, Jessica Brody, Mary G. Thompson, Robert Ward, and Pamela Samuels Young. 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 bear hug 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. Mass spoon!
San Diego 27 is only five months away. We look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, go forth and write well!
Some thirty years in the making, Selden Edward’s debut novel, The Little Book, became an international bestseller when published in 2009. Of it Pat Conroy hailed, “I’ve never read a novel like it. I felt like my life was changing forever as I savored its many delights and mysteries.” NPR’s Maureen Corrigan called it, “A soaring thing of joy whose only purpose—and I mean this as a compliment—is to delight and entertain.” Entertainment Weekly called it, “Back to the Future for the intellectual set.” Three years later, its eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Lost Prince, a kind of sequel, or maybe prequel, is just out. Selden returns to the SCWC to discuss the impact such breakout success has had on his journey, the pressure to deliver on expectations, and anything else he wants to. Be sure to watch Selden’s take on rewriting and rejection in the video excerpt from his SD24 keynote address at the bottom of this update.
Some more additions to the LA10 roster. From boutique publisher Muse Harbor, acquisitions editors Eileen Workman and Dave Workman are aboard and accepting advance submissions for consideration. Author and longtime SCWC workshop leader Matt Pallamary recently joined the house as its editor-in-chief. On the screenwriting front, Tarcher is sponsoring a Sunday panel featuring contributors to its popular Now Write! Screenwriting: Screenwriting Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. Moderated by Laurie Lamson, the book’s editor, those joining the discussion will be accomplished screenwriters Glenn M. Benest, Christine Conradt, and Tommy Swerdlow. Should be lively!
Author/workshop leader Maralys Wills is having a busy year. Two new books: Buy a Trumpet and Blow Your Own Horn! Turning Books into Bucks, which features 18 lengthy interviews with authors of all stripes, including our own dynamo Darlene Quinn; and So You’re Seventy… So What? How to Love the Years You Thought You’d Hate–that one pretty much speaks for itself.
Also, the jacket to Jessica Therrien’s second volume in her “Children of the Gods” trilogy, Uprising, has just been unveiled by her publisher ZOVA Books. ZOVA premiered the first, her debut novel Oppression, at SD26 along with SCWC director Wes Albers’ Black & White.
John Robert Marlow’s Make Your Story a Movie: Adapting Your Book or Idea for Hollywood is out from St. Martin’s come December. During his research for it, having spoken to authors, playwrights, comic book creators and publishers, Hollywood screenwriters, producers and directors responsible for adapting fictional and true stories into Emmy-winning TV shows, Oscar-winning films, billion-dollar megahits and smaller independents, along with the entertainment attorneys who made the deals, John amassed such a wealth of insight we just couldn’t wait until SD27 to have him share it. His LA10 workshop is one many will not want to miss.
Sharing information, providing different perspectives, having a constructive dialogue about the disparate, sometimes contradictory approaches authors and other publishing professionals have taken is a fundamental part of the SCWC experience. And as there’s no single right way to write a great book, only an infinite number of wrong ways, in this age of punishing digital distraction, the same can also be said of publishing a book–there is no single right way to do so, only an infinite number of wrong ways.
Just where does a writer turn? The Big Six publishers remain relevant, but will smaller, selective independent houses with legitimate distribution deals prove the more viable option for most? Or is POD and e-book truly the best (or preferred) way to go?
The answers to these questions are as varied as the author behind every title. What pretty much applies to all, however, is that the writer’s role in achieving success today weighs disproportionately on the shoulders of the writer. Not the publisher. And for myriad reasons this applies to all modes of publication, from legacy press to self-published e-book. Which is why we’re talking DYI.
“Do Yourself Independence” (DYI) is a practice, or attitude, that most emerging authors must possess in order to rise above the hype and distinguish their work. It speaks to the need that, regardless of how you choose to be published, you, the author, are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your career.
With particular emphasis on those electing to go it alone, whether via e-books, micro-press, POD, service-assisted self-publishing, or some combination, we’re introducing a number of DYI sessions that explore the options, strategies and tools writers can utilize to bolster the ability of their books to thrive. Among those already slated:
What we’ll not be advocating is spamming every Twitter feed, Facebook wall or other social media outlet with, “Hey, my e-book is available!” For those who haven’t figured it out, if you want people to buy your book, you don’t sell your book!
From the Corvisiero Literary Agency, none other than Marisa Iozza Corvisiero will be joining us from New York. Following her tenure at L. Perkins Lit., Marisa opened up shop just after her SD26 debut. We liked her. She’s hungry. She’s eager. She’s looking to build her client list. She’s accepting advance submissions, and she’ll be conducting a workshop.
It’s not unusual this many weeks out for us to be fielding lots of questions from writers new to the SCWC. For first-timers, coupled with the trepidation many feel exposing their work to professional critique there’s the added anxiety of not knowing what to expect from a writers’ conference in general. As every writers’ conference is different and we can’t speak to how another operates or what its emphasis may be, beyond the information available in our Frequently Asked Questions there are some things that distinguish the SCWC and factor greatly in the kind of experience any writer attending should expect:
The deadline for submitting material to optional advance submission readers is Sept. 1. There will no doubt be an addition or two to the list, but now is the time to make your selections if going with a reader. If you selected a reader “to be announced,” email Michael or Chrissie your choice(s) using the contact button on the right side navigation bar. If going with multiple readers, remember you can enclose the submissions in a single envelope addressed to the SCWC to save postal costs.
No doubt many have heard the news announced last week that Author Solutions (parent company of self-/assisted-publishing services AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, etc.) was acquired by the parent company of Penguin for $116 million. AS reported in a press release revenues of “$100 million in 2011 and has published 190,000 books by 150,000 authors since its founding in 2007.”
As posted on the SCWC Facebook wall, one savvy writer did the math: “In other words, 150,000 writers have paid Author Solutions to print and promote 38,000 books a year–over 3,000 a month–the overwhelming bulk of which lack the editorial integrity for legitimate publication.”
One of the services AS offers writers is a “Hollywood-style” book trailer for a mere $19,999.
You read that right. $19,999.
It’s not so much the cost as is the borderline swindle that a book trailer nobody is looking for is going to find it online without exceptionally well managed, targeted distribution and exhibition of it. How many book sales will it take to cover that $20k nut?
Writers, be careful out there. More people are making money from writers than are writers making money from their writing.
Updates on the next winter conference in San Diego should begin mid-August. For those looking to save big on our Presidents’ Day Weekend event in February, register by September 1st and knock a whopping $100 off Full Conference participation.
Another SCWC success. Mary G. Thompson’s scrumptious Wuftoom is now out from Clarion. Booklist hails it, “Impressively unappetizing and absolutely unique.” And like so many of today’s best work in the YA genre, Mary’s novel skews well into adult market appeal. It tells the story of young, sick Evan, for whom everyone is convinced that science will find a cure. Thing is, Evan knows he’s not sick. He’s transforming, and his metamorphosis keeps him confined to his bed, constantly terrified, and completely alone. Alone, except for his visits from the Wuftoom, a wormlike creature that tells him he is becoming one of them. How cool is that? Mary will be at LA10 and we’re delighted.
Bridget Hoida is also aboard. Recipient of an Anna Bing Arnold Fellowship and the Edward Moses prize for fiction, finalist in the Joseph Henry Jackson/San Francisco Intersection for the Arts Award for a first novel and the William Faulkner Pirate’s Alley first novel contest, her short stories have appeared in the Berkeley Fiction Review, Mary, and Faultline Journal, among others, and she was a finalist in the Iowa Review Fiction Prize and the Glimmer Train New Writer’s Short Story Contest. Of So L.A., Bridget’s debut novel just out, Shawna Yang Ryan (Water Ghosts) raves, “Bridget Hoida has crafted that rarest of books: intelligent, gorgeously written—and, best of all, fun.” And Chris Abani (The Virgin of Flames and Song For Night) declares, “This is a book Joan Didion will wish she’d written!” Her path to publication is a story in itself and we look forward to hearing what she’s learned and why she made the choices she did.
The working schedule is now posted for perusal. As usual this far out, it’s an amorphous thing that will continue to evolve over the next several weeks while we tailor the individual tracks to better serve the current needs of writers. Also, as usual, while the primary emphasis remains on story & execution workshops, the transmedia track, which the SCWC pioneered way back in 2005, will again focus on the myriad, rapidly evolving developments in the digital realm, and we don’t mean strictly social media–just because someone has a Facebook page and Twitter account doesn’t make them a social media guru.
In the Digital Age, even for the most entrepreneurial author, the choices writers have to make with regards to their books and career can be overwhelming: legacy publishing, indie press, DIY or straight to e-book? Will the marketing efforts that are successful for one author prove so for another? Will spamming Facebook walls and friends with unsolicited, un-evocative announcements about your e-book’s availability translate into actual sales? What are the challenges of going with Kindle, Nook, Smashwords or any other e-book platform and how do you overcome them? More importantly, what are the risks? Are agents becoming irrelevant? And what exactly is “agent-assisted publishing?” All this and plenty more will be dealt with in September.
Meanwhile, the advance submission readers are now open for selection. More will be added as we begin finalizing the remaining authors, agents and editors who’ll be joining us. Please let Michael know if there’s any specific topics you’d like addressed. Things are moving fast out there. The more current information we all have, the better prepared we all are to make informed decisions.
And if you haven’t watched it already, here’s author John Vorhaus (The Albuquerque Turkey) addressing one reality writers face with regards to e-books at last year’s LA9.
Described as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist,” Pamela Samuels Young makes her SCWC debut in September. The award-winning author of such taught legal thrillers as Every Reasonable Doubt, In Firm Pursuit, Murder on the Down Low, and Buying Time–honored with a 2010 Fiction Award by The Black Caucus of the American Library Association–her books are immensely popular with readers everywhere, but it’s her path to publication where the real story lies. Full of insight and inspiration, she’ll tell us all about it, as well as her latest, Attorney-Client Privilege, out July from Goldman House.
No doubt you’ve heard plenty about HarperCollins digital imprint, Authonomy, derived from its online effort geared to “flush out the brightest, freshest new literature around.” Well, none other than Mary Vensel White is aboard for LA10. Her debut novel, The Qualities of Wood, was the first book chosen for publication based on nominations from the Authonomy writing community. A work of literary fiction bestowed the 2012 International Book Award, the challenges of crafting the novel proved unique enough–though pervasive throughout the writing community–that Mary’s put together a workshop right up the SCWC’s alley: “Outside Genre: How Story Trumps Convention.”
Speaking of community, both our .COMmunity and extended community of SCWCers, Janice Thomas is a familiar face to many regulars. Among our prized volunteers behind the registration desk the past two conferences, not only will she be introducing a new workshop, “Getting to the Heart of Women’s Fiction,” but also her debut novel from Berkely Books, Something New. The publication date isn’t until November, but we’re pretty sure we’ll get our little digits on some advance copies. Congratulations, Janice!
Another member of the community couldn’t have made us more proud than Sheri Fink, best-selling children’s book author of The Little Rose and The Little Gnome. Sheri took it upon herself to compile not one, but two Amazon Listmania lists of books that have come out from SCWCers in recent years. While in no manner complete, it offers up over 60 titles in almost every genre imaginable for your reading pleasure, including Jennifer Word’s debut novel, The Society, just out from Stony Meadow Publishing. Thank you, Sheri!
Two debut novels were unveiled by ZOVA Books at February’s SD26 event. SCWCer Jessica Therrien’s Oppression, the first volume in her Children of the Gods trilogy, and SCWC director Wes Albers’s gritty Black & White. Both have won over gobs of fans since then, and both have given extended audio interviews to our friends at Scripts & Scribes. Here you can listen or download for later the podcast of Wes and the podcast of Jessica.
Quick shout out to yet another ZOVA Books writer, author and Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Blake. His sequel to Dances with Wolves, Into the Stars, recently nabbed the Gold Medal IPPY Award for Military/Wartime Fiction. Of course, Michael is one our special guest speakers and workshop leaders in Newport Beach. Members of ZOVA’s editorial team will also being joining in.
As usual, we’ll be opening up the advance submission readers for selection by month’s end, just as soon as the remaining agents, editors and authors who’ll be accepting material are confirmed. The working schedule will be posted in a week or so. Also, either at the end of June or first week of July, we’ll be rolling out a new feature of WritersConference.com that so many have been asking for for a very long time. Be sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to find out where it will be and when. If you’re a writer, you’ll not want to miss it.
Attending writers’ conferences often ain’t cheap and the motives of the organizers putting them on can sometimes prove questionable. Some are devoted to the writers attending, others more to those the writers are seeking to learn from or be represented by. For nearly 27 years the SCWC has distinguished itself for a reason: it is first and foremost about extending our community, our commitment to passionate advocacy for writers, far beyond the end of any given event’s weekend. Two brief essays that got lost in the website rollover, geared to help you choose the right conference for you, are now back: “Pitch Conference: My Opinion,” by Jean Jenkins and “Choose the Write Conference for Your Needs,” by Michael Steven Gregory. At some point we’ll get them back on the front page.
Finally, the Newport Beach conference is more limited in size than San Diego. Reserve your spot by taking advantage of the Early “Bard” Discount by July 1. And be sure to join the vigorous conversation on our SCWC Facebook Wall.