Each and every SCWC has its unique take-away. For some it’s a specific scrap of information that suddenly blows open the floodgates of inspiration, for others it may be making a deep and visceral connection with another like-minded soul. An agent’s request to see your manuscript, a handful of peers responding favorably to your work during read & critique, even a silly, goober-spitting moment of hilarity while simply kicking it with other writers–the conference take-aways are varied and many and sometimes personal. For me, during our 37th conference in nearly 26 years, there were two…
LA9 Take-away 1: Writers are so hot that an L.A. firefighter ditched his friend’s wedding reception to hang with a group of us until 6:45 in the morning. See, even LAFD couldn’t put us out. LA9 Take-away 2: We often forget to recognize how far a writer’s come. Yes, Wes and I joke on Friday night that our only expectation of conferees is to leave the last day of the conference with their work sucking less than when they arrived on the first, but the thing is, stick-to-itness, the ability to listen to criticism and suggestions in effort to elevate your craft, coupled with the determination to do so, all that too warrants recognition.
Tenacity, determination, and the long slog of incremental improvements made that ultimately, hopefully, result in a good story well told is not unique to “aspiring” or emerging writers. It is the skein ALL writers share. And while some people measure a writer’s validation merely by publication, what also validates a writer is great improvement of craft, published or not. Wes and I were reminded of that Sunday when informed that one such writer, Lisa Holdren, a conferee who’s been with us for at least four conferences, demonstrated such. It’s been too many years since we rewarded such commitment. It’s been too many years since we applauded such achievement. Sunday was a good day to do so, and for that we are grateful. Now on to the awards…
From Diamond Bar, CA
From Sherman Oaks, CA
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman (read here)
From San Diego, CA
Bob Harman (read here)
From Laguna Beach, CA
Congratulations all! We plan to be back in Newport Beach next September. Thanks to our special guest speakers, Margaret Dilloway, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Darlene Quinn, Scott Sigler, and John Vorhaus. Special thanks to all our SCWC workshop leaders, advance submission readers and hard working volunteers. Above all else, a robust and especially beefy thanks 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. It is with you we wish to spoon.
San Diego 26 is only five months away. We hope to see you there. In the meantime, go forth and write well!
Awarded Outstanding Fiction way back at LA2, John Rosenberg’s Tincture of Time (previously titled Monday in the Tropics) is out later this year from Mischievous Muse Press. Many have been passionate about this book for a long time and John’s stick-to-itness should inspire all. Another tenacious writer, Janis Thomas, joined us for the first time at February’s conference. In June she was referred to an agent willing to read her manuscript. Within a week the agent reported back, loved it, asked for an exclusive, and the third week of July Berkley made an offer which she accepted. Janis writes, “(T)hank you… I was motivated to finish this novel in time for SD25, so you are indirectly responsible for my success!” Something New will be out Summer, 2012.
There’s plenty of room left to join us in Newport Beach. Online registration will remain open through Wednesday, Sept. 21. After that date only walk-in registration will be available at conference itself. And while the schedule’s getting close to complete, it’s still not exactly where we want it as at least three more sessions are being added
That’s all for now. We look forward to seeing you next week.
Eminently entrepreneurial New York Times bestselling author, freakishly fanatic digital maven, unrelenting wordslinger and co-founder of Dark Overlord Media, Scott Sigler will be in the LA9 house. Along with the boyz behind BackMyBook, Scott’s going to peel open the lid and allow you a look inside the multi-faceted machine that is his publishing reality, and that has won over a legion of self-described “junkies” that feed on his every read, bleed, podcast and weed. (“Weed” as in a short story, little and all alone on the lush, literary landscape, just waiting to be whacked. Or read. Something.) Bring a big brain to the session, you’re going to fill it up fast. We might even have the latest in his Galactic Football League series, The All-Pro, just ahead of pub. date.
From powerhouse agency N.S. Bienstock, literary rep. Paul Fedorko is aboard. Paul joined us for the first time at last year’s LA8 where he discovered longtime conferee Indy Quillen’s Outstanding Fiction Award-winning manuscript, Ceremony. He’s hungry for more good stories and obviously knows where to find them, so welcome back, Paul.
Speaking of agents, as usual about this time before a conference, advance submission readers are beginning to fill up. Agents are inevitably the first to do so–even though we all know that the majority of books that have come out of the conference tend to come from the passionate advocacy of author/readers, but that’s another story. If you haven’t selected your reader(s) and are looking to do so, do so really soon. August tends to be when a huge chunk of writers register for the conference, causing the availability of advance submission readers to quickly diminish. This is about your work. This is your time. This is your opportunity to shine. Don’t let another self-possessed, narcissist deprive you of it!
Did we mention that Marilyn Friedman’s back? Yeah, atleast one of her workshops will be the popular Rogue session, “Hanky Panky: Writing the Erotic.” Latex optional.
Just heard that our discounted hotel room bloc is nearly sold out. In fact, it might completely fill up by the end of this week. If you’re wanting a room, book it immediately. If you’re looking for a roommate to split the cost we have one female writer looking for one, albeit a female one (wimpy writer). Email Michael to get hooked up.
Finally, Drusilla Campbell’s NovelCram… Deadline for signing up for this immersion track is Sept. 1. Remember, space is limited for NovelCram and it’s half-full as of today. Or half-empty, depending on your level of cynicism.
Schedule’s getting close to complete, but is still not exactly where we want it. Be patient. Be sweet. Go write.
One of the true delights of running the SCWC is introducing great new authors who’re cutting through the distractions and doomsaying so rife in today’s ever-changing publishing world, only to make a big splash with their work in spite of it. (Spite. Yet another good reason to write.) Quality storytelling prevails. And while it’s always fun to have cherished authors whose careers span decades as special guests at the conference, the question often now debated is, “But could they get published today as a new author nobody’s never heard of?” That’s why we like talent fairly fresh to the game, who’ve overcome and continue to tackle the challenges all aspiring authors now must face. And that’s why we like Margaret Dilloway.
Author of the breakout sensation, How to Be an American Housewife (Putnam), Margaret’s debut novel was inspired in part by her Japanese mother’s experiences, and especially by a book her father had given to her mother called The American Way of Housekeeping. Publishers Weekly calls it, “Enchanting.” Author Susan Wiggs (Just Breathe) raves, “A triumphant debut novel. Margaret Dilloway gives us the most original, endearing, courageous and enduring narrator I’ve read in a long time.” And hails Margot Livesey (The House on Fortune Street), “[It] took me on two intricate journeys, from postwar Japan and the shadow of Nagasaki to contemporary California, and from motherhood to daughterhood and back again. A profound and suspenseful debut.” Replacing April Smith–who’ll be out of the country shooting her next movie–Margaret will be our Saturday evening Special Guest Speaker. We can’t wait!
The SCWC Twitter feed is now live at http://twitter.com/SCWriters. As with the SCWC Facebook group, our intent is to feed you with whatever particularly useful bits of publishing world news and views we find of interest. You can also post one tweet/one story at #TwitFiction. We’re thinking we should make a contest out of it. What do you think?
Talk about a book that has legs–or in this case, wings! New York Times bestselling author Stacey O’Brien returns to the SCWC in September. If you’ll remember, her enchanting memoir, Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl, first came to the attention of agent Sally van Haitsma at our LA6 event. First out in hardcover, now paperback, the book has garnered fans the world over, has been published in German, Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Japanese, a special U.K. edition, and, most recently, in Hungarian. Stacey’s going to conduct two sessions, “Memoir: Structuring Your Story and the Stories Within” and “Re-Entry: Editing Nonfiction for Dramatic Impact.”
Also returning to Newport Beach is that maestro of the midnight flame, author Matthew J. Pallamary. Matt will be conducting late-night Rogue workshops and accepting a limited number of advance submissions for one-on-one consultation.
From Martin Literary, agent Brianne Ogden is aboard. The agency fared well at San Diego 25, having signed on to rep conferee Christa Yelich-Koth and her novel Illusion. Writes Christa, “I know that I’ve already said thanks once before, but I wanted to pass on that I have just signed a contract this week with an agent who I met at your conference this past February–Kate Folkers from Martin Literary Management. I am so grateful that you and your colleagues put so much effort into these conferences and work hard to have writers get opportunities and chances they would never be able to otherwise.”
Thank you, Christa. Congratulations!
Heads up to all those noodling whether or not to sign up for Drusilla Campbell’s NovelCram Immersion Track. The last four times we’ve ran the Cram it’s been filled to capacity. With the $50 Early “Bard” Registration Discount ending Aug. 1, now might be the time to decide which way you want to roll.
We’re less than two months away from LA(ish)9. Plenty more to announce as we continue shaping the schedule. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our SCWC RSS feed to automatically be alerted to late-breaking good “muse” here on the site, or join our Facebook group and let the community know of your latest writing success.
Summer. The time of year many will agree that very little gets done in the publishing world. But times have changed. Summer is now the new Spring. Or the old Fall. Or maybe from here on out it’s simply the season of “E,” as has every other season necessarily become because of the inestimable impact of the internet, and the interminable beck & call of cell phone bondage and instant text messages which, arguably, enable nearly everyone to facilitate action from almost anywhere at anytime. Decisions get made and things get done rather quickly in the World of E. In fact, we are the e-World. The odds of your book getting into the hands of that cherished, anonymous reader on the other side of the page are almost utterly dependent on some aspect of the “E” — author website, blog, social media, SEO strategies, book trailers, podcast, you name it.
An overwhelming majority of writers have requested we help filter through the noise, histrionics, disinformation and plain nonsense about e-books, self-publishing, DIY, the end of the Big Six, boutique presses, and all the other distraction being hyped by so many who generally aren’t qualified to proclaim anything definitively for any one author.
Bottom line is that there is no single right route to successful publication, only an infinite number or wrong ones. While the tools available to bolster a book’s potential success have greatly expanded, those same tools are only as effective as those plying them.
What, genuinely, can one author do to leverage her odds for success in the World of E? Recognizing what she can’t, or is ill-prepared or unwilling to do, is where we’ll start in Newport Beach. Identifying and determining legitimate, real-world solutions is where we’ll finish, with a number of sessions devoted to just that.
Speaking of the real world — brick & mortar and all that “so yester-year” reality — LA8/SD25 conferee Jennifer Word posted on the SCWC Facebook page only yesterday this most exceptional bit of good muse: “I learned SO MUCH from you. The workshops, the fellow writers, the guest speakers, the shared dreams. Today I received news that my trilogy will be picked up by Stony Meadow Publishing, book one to be tentatively released November/December 2011. This book is better than it was, because I attended the SCWC, and made changes and improvements based on the incredible workshops I attended. Anyone who hasn’t attended an SCWC should do so. SCWC played a part in helping me achieve my dreams.”
Dreams. The stuff reality is made of. Thank you and congratulations, Jennifer. (Now, how cool would it have been if your parents named you “Paige!”)
Been a lot of schedule-fussing going on, as well as staff additions. Remember that the $50 Early “Bard” Discount expires August 1st. Register today to keep somebody else from doing so.
And remember… Spite. Perhaps the best reason to write!
Fresh off her winning a San Diego Book Award for Best Historical Fiction, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, author of the rousing Civil War novel Broken Promises, will be Sunday’s special guest speaker. Originally self-published, then picked up by Random House, Kirkus Discoveries hails that, “Hoffman intertwines history, romance, intrigue and fun in a novel that draws readers into her fresh take on the American Civil War.” While Pulitzer Prize winning author David Kennedy (Freedom from Fear) calls it simply, “[A] compelling read and masterful history.” Given Lisa’s road to publication success with her breakout novel is one being trodden by so many today, it’ll be fascinating to learn where the inevitable fork for her lay.
The preliminary schedule is now available for perusal. Don’t marry yourself to it, as there are holes to be filled, sessions to be swapped, drinks to be drank. The schedule will change over the next several weeks. It always does when we’re factoring in what truly are the pressing issues writers need to be dealing with at this particular time. Lots of writers have contacted us expressing big interest in all things “E” (both capital and small case), which we addressed pretty thoroughly at SD25. But that was four months back and times have changed. Don’t fret, we’re on it again with all the latest for LA9.
Among the latest staff confirmed, freelance editor Jean Jenkins returns with her wildly popular “Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress” genre-fiction workshops. Author Kathy Porter will debut a vitally needed session on getting you and your book into bookstores — and all the essential must-dos and how-tos an author needs to know to put on a successful book signing. Author/editor Mike Sirota is back, of course. So is author/editor Marla Miller and Sunbelt Publications Editor Jennifer Silva Redmond. They’re putting together a pitch session that you’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into, else risk losing a foot!
Still got a lot of stuff to announce. Please don’t hesitate to let Michael know what topics you’d like addressed in September. Things are moving fast out there. The more current information we all have, the mo’ better prepared we all are to make informed decisions.