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:
- “Author-Publisher: First, Worst, or Best Choice for You?”
- “Authorpreneur: Managing YOUR Publishing Business”
- “Indie Excellence: Beyond Kindle—A Brave New World”
- “Reality Check: Do You Not Know What You Don’t Know?”
- “Team Publication: Avoiding DIY Pitfalls”
Among the many craft & execution workshops slated:
- “Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress” (1 & 2)
- “Building Characters from the Inside Out”
- “Defining Genre: What Are You Really Writing?”
- “Saving Your Life: Writing Memoir for Market”
- “Transformative Narrative: A Shamanic Approach to Story Structure”
- “How Story Suffers from Too Much Mystery”
- “Women’s Fiction Today: Much More Than a Love Story”
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:
- An alluring, professionally produced cover
- An evocative story summary/teaser that firmly establishes genre, rouses expectations, and motivates readers to “look inside,” or buy outright
- An author bio that conveys a confidant, qualified writer, not a self-published hobbyist or, even worse, a cat hoarder
Should be fun, so bring a paragraph or two write-up of your book and let’s see if it needs fixing.
Recent Good “Muse”
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