Joining us for the first time is Tom Zoellner, co-author of the New York Times bestselling An Ordinary Man, mesmerizing autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who turned Rwana’s luxurious Hotel Milles Collines into a refuge for more than 1,200 Tutsi and moderate Hutu refugees during the 1994 genocide that inspired the film Hotel Rwanda. His latest is Train: Riding the Rails that Created the Modern World (Viking/Penguin), which Booklist hails as, “An exuberant celebration.” The New York Post calls it, “Enchanting.” And the L.A. Weekly concludes, “Once you open it up there are so many reasons to keep reading that it’s nearly impossible to put down.” Tom’s our final Special Guest Speaker to be announced for LA12, and he’ll be conducting a workshop for novelists, non-fictionalists and short story writers that bites down to the bone of story, “Clearing the Narrative Brush.”
Lots of additions to the staff and workshop roster. We’ve many trusted, familiar faces in the September fold, of course, but also new folk introducing fresh sessions to the mix. Some of the workshops most recently added:
- An Agent Explains Author Platform
- Author-Publisher: The Crucial Steps to Achieve Success
- From First Draft to Best Seller: Revising and Editing Your Novel for Publication
- Memoir: Structuring Your Story and the Stories Within
- POV: The Power of Point of View
- Start Your Book With a Bang
- Re-entry: Editing Non-fiction for Dramatic Impact
- Story Structure Made Simple: The 7 Key Steps Based on Truby’s Method
- Ten Ways to Upgrade Your Manuscript
- The New World of Killer Queries: The Key to Getting Requests
Still more to come, but you can always check where we’re at with the line up on the Workshops and Events page, via the navigation menu on the right.
Does Story Trump Good Writing?
A topic making the rounds among many in the SCWC is the lackluster quality of writing found in so many novels being published today, both traditionally and independently. True, mediocrity is sometimes rewarded, but it should never be the aspiration of any writer to achieve.
Efficient, albeit uninspired prose, errant POV, sloppy structure, muddled or missing voice—these and myriad other issues of execution seem so common in so many books populating the bestseller lists as to astonish. (Though, figuring what number of books actually sold quantifies a “bestseller” these days is hard to come by.) But so long as there’s the semblance of a good story, adequately presented and that satisfies the expectations of its readers, does it matter? Do readers really care about the writing? Should they?
I recently had a fascinating conversation with a writer who self-published his first novel to moderate Amazon “bestseller” success that faded fast. Thing is, in hindsight, he recognized just how much he didn’t know he didn’t know when he elected to eschew the traditional path to personal validation he was seeking from legacy publication. Rebuffed by agents, ignored by slush pile sifters, he opted to go indie. Then he realized his book was not anywhere near ready for publication. More importantly, he realized its execution did not represent the superior quality of storyteller he’s determined to become. Pretty much the norm nowadays, actually.
Recognizing the unique approach and success rate the SCWC has maintained these past 28 years, this writer reached out to us. He called and proclaimed that he wants to write his next book right. More than just a good story, he’s coming to LA12 to learn how to write a terrific book. Not only for his readers, but for himself.
That’s what every writer should aspire to.
Now For Some Good “Muse”
Congratulations to SCWCer Amanda LaPera. You may recall that her debut title, Losing Dad, Paranoid Schizophrenia: A Family’s Search for Hope (Adamo Press), broke out big upon its release last December. Well, Amanda was just in New York as recipient of the Silver Award in the IBPA’s prestigious Benjamin Franklin Book Awards category of psychology… Also, at Book Expo America in New York, SCWCer Jide Zeus was formally presented the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award for his debut novel, Losing My Religion… And in Florida, word’s in that SCWC*SD workshop leader Rick Anderson’s Cobra Clearance has been selected as a finalist for the Royal Palm Literary Award.
Couple new books out from SCWCers… The follow-up to I, Jequon, Book Two of the Nephilim Chronicles, With Mercy, is now available from Jeremy Lee James for all those who dig a taught, paranormal thriller (Jeremy will also be conducting a workshop or two come September)… And from Doug Bournemann, his debut novel has just been released. The Demon of Histlewick Downs (The Dreamweaver Chronicles Book 1) follows the adventures of a young man forced to outwit magic-wielding heretics in order to save the lives of his parents, falsely accused of heresy.
Advance Submission Readers Open
Advance Submission Readers are now available for selection. If you registered for a reader “to be determined” simply email Chrissie, Wes or myself which reader(s) you’d like to go with and we’ll take it from there. It is important that you select a backup reader, as well. Also, remember that we are now accepting submissions strictly through email. Details on advance submissions can be found on the upper right navigation menu.
Discounted pre-registration expires soon. Do yourself a favor and secure your spot today. And just to whet your writerly appetite, from her LA11 keynote, here’s why you probably don’t want to miss Leslie Lehr’s “Story Structure Made Simple: The 7 Key Steps Based on Truby’s Method” workshop:
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC