The SCWC community has fostered author excellence since 1986. Fact is, little excites us more than welcoming back past conferees who’ve gone on to publication success because of achieving it. David Putnam is one such writer. Our first Special Guest Speaker to be announced for SD12, his The Disposables, now out from Oceanview, represents the quality of storytelling we want every writer to aspire to. Michael Connelly effuses, “I really loved The Disposables. It’s raw, powerful and eloquent…a gritty street poem recited by a voice unalterably committed to redemption and doing the right thing in a wrong world.” T. Jefferson Parker proclaims it, “Dark, disturbing and all too believable, this is the tale of one man’s quest for atonement in a world where innocence is a liability.” And from Booklist, “This novel gives off heat… [with] unique and startling plot twists. But what really recommends the book is the high octane presentation… [and] the sense of urgency and authenticity, the feeling that this is the real deal, set down by somebody who was there and still hasn’t gotten over it.” Welcome back, David.
While we’re a ways off from the winter conference in February (kind of a misnomer when you’re in San Diego), plenty of trusted, familiar friends are already aboard, along with many new to the fold that we’ll announce soon. As usual, we’ll be rife with read & critique workshops, advance submissions, interactive troubleshooting and craft-centric sessions, our popular DYI (Do Yourself Independence) track, agents, editors and more. If you haven’t, be sure to subscribe to our periodic .COMmunity updates and receive all the latest. (Or join the well-moderated conversation on our SCWC Facebook group.)
With an estimated 50,000-plus titles currently being released each month, it’s safe to say that a Day of Reckoning will sometime soon be upon us. Why? Because of premature e-publication. Good storytelling matters. Quality writing matters. Forgettable e-books that are written “good enough,” merely to game the ever-changing algorithms in pursuit of the quickest cash-in grift, suck. And in the end, discerning readers—agents, acquisition editors, book buyers–and the ruthlessly pragmatic, analytical profiteers behind the digital retail curtain will code a means of rewarding quality, not quantity, of material, no matter how slick the book cover; no matter what number of 5-star reviews. Generally, one brief “Look Inside” a book is all anybody needs to know about how seriously a writer regards her work, or, worse, how little she respects her reader.
Because of the numbers, writers everywhere are quickly moving into a market of diminishing returns. But there remains a fighting chance for those who stick to quality craft, business savvy and consistency of execution. Satisfying the expectations roused in one’s readership—rewarding your readers at every level, regardless of genre–is the starting point. And that’s where we’re starting as we begin building the SD29 schedule.
Early “Bard” Registration is now open. Do so by Sept. 15 and save $100 on Full Conference participation. Up next is our fall conference in Newport Beach. If we don’t see you there, we look forward to seeing you in San Diego come February.
In the meanwhile, aim for excellence and settle only for exceptional. “Good enough” is a concession made only by grifters.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
The Kool-Aid was tasty this time around as another fantastic bunch of writers drank from the conference well, to hone their craft and expand new opportunities. What with the current solar vortex hovering over San Diego, many were at risk of mild tanning exposure, but persevered late into the wee hours of nocturnal radiance to shine bright and write hard, all with ample SPC lotion, despite the broken bar. And when the local NBC news affiliate showed up at 1 a.m. to do a story on SCWC writers, they found them hard at work in Rogue workshops, reading & critiquing. (Appreciate your running with the story, Derek; we’ll post the segment soon.)
Thanks to all the staff authors, editors and agents who brought their A-game to our many tables, as usual. And big thanks to our Special Guest Speakers, Janis Thomas (notice the spelling), Suzanne Redfearn, Laurence O’Bryan and Bhava Ram. Also to Christopher John Chater and Andrew E. Kaufman, for sharing so much during Sunday’s “E-publication: First, Last or Best Choice for Emerging Authors?”
Biggest shout out of all goes to this year’s conferees. What a talented bunch of storytellers, albeit rather polite. Now let’s get to the awards…
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Historical)
Hatchepsut, First Queen of the World
by William Roberts of Poway, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (YA/Urban Fantasy)
Snowfall in the City of Dreams
by Carolyn Griffiths of Los Angeles, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Erotic)
Return to Haven
by Marie Wade of Houston, TX
Dis(member)ed: A Mormon Mom’s Memoir
by Anne Sacson of Los Angeles, CA
by Michael R. Shevock of Portsmouth, NH
Congratulations to the honorees and to all staff who rocked SD28. Dates for SD29 are Presidents’ Day Weekend, Feb. 13-16, 2015. Between now and then, join us in Newport Beach for LA12, Sept. 19-21, 2014, and anytime on the SCWC community Facebook Page where there’s always good gab going on and gobs of pertinent information being exchanged.
Discounted pre-registration for LA12 (in Newport Beach) opens shortly. Be there or beware. In the meantime, go forth, write well, and settle only for exceptional.
And be sure to read Michael R. Shevock’s Topic Award-winning story, “Clout,” down below.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Each year the SCWC*SD holds a writing contest in which all conferees are invited to participate. The rules are simple: Write a piece in any form you wish of no more than 250 words based on the topic announced Friday night. The topic for the 28th annual San Diego conference was “Clout.” According to Merriam-Webster there are four full definitions to the noun clout: 1) <dialect chiefly British> a piece of cloth or leather; 2) a blow especially with the hand; also: a hard hit in baseball; 3) a white cloth on a stake or frame used as a target in archery; 4) pull, influence <political clout>. Michael R. Shevock of Portsmouth, NH is the writer of this year’s winning entry. Read it below or listen to it here.
Michael R. Shevock
YOU MAYBE DON’ KNOW, but de clouts is alive. You look up an you see big white clout, you say, “Ho boy! Dat pretty up dere!” But it is not just smoke in da sky. It is alive. It is full of little animals dat do majik tings dat make it rain. Oh yeah. You got blue sky, den you got no majik animals dat can make de rain.
You cannot hear de clouts, because dey are soft like de foam on top of beer, and de animals in clouts are quiet like de animals dat make bread. You call dem yeast. Not Yeats. I think he was a poet. De animals in clouts and bread can’t make a rhyme for shit, so dey never write noting.
Less than two weeks till SD28 and so much good “muse” to report. For starters, Tonilyn Hornung’s How to Raise a Husband: A Whole Bunch of Ways to Build a Strong and Happy Marriage—recipient of the SCWC*LA8 Outstanding Non-Fiction Award—is set for release April 1 from Conair Press. As you regulars might recall from this post last summer, the always keen-eyed-for-talent literary agent Sally van Haitsma scooped Tonilyn up at the time and went on, as usual, to find yet another precious baby a home. Congrats to both. Another book birthed!
Slated for April 15th, SCWCer Lynne Martin’s travel memoir, Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World, will be delivered by Sourcebooks. Our own Robert Yehling worked with Lynne to shepherd it to placement. Quite busy working on multiple projects, Bob himself has two titles dropping this year: Just Add Water: The Biography of Autistic Surfer Clay Marzo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and, just in time for our fall conference in Newport Beach, When We Were the Boys: Coming of Age on Rod Stewart’s Out of Order Tour, ghostwritten for musician Stevie Salas (Rowman Littlefield), out Sept. 4th. Always on point, Bob will be conducting a new workshop at SD28, “Co-, Ghost, With or And: Succeeding as a Collaborative Writer.”
Other SCWCers with new books: Claudia Whitsitt’s Internal Issues, third in her popular Samantha Mystery Series. She’ll be joining international thriller writer Dennis Bowen—The Blackstone Perfection is his latest—in the third installment of author/editor Laura Taylor’s popular Indie Excellence workshops: “Do I Really Want to Sell My Books?”
Ever-versatile hybrid-author and workshop leader Michele Scott, taking a deserved break from this year’s winter event, has Dark Harmony, book two in her Fairmont Riding Academy Mystery Series, launching May 20. . . And David Putnam, another SCWCer, retired sheriff’s deputy, has his debut novel, The Disposables, coming out in hardcover from Oceanview on May 6. T. Jefferson Parker (The Jaguar) calls it, “a dark and disturbing insider’s novel that may not make you feel safer on the mean streets of L.A.”
That’s quite a gob of good “muse.” Still there’s more: venerable veteran author/workshop leader Matthew J. Pallamary just released the audio edition of his award-winning memoir, Spirit Matters. Discussing the book’s themes during a recent 2-hour Inner Journey radio program, the podcast unexpectedly went viral resulting in some 10,500 podcast downloads in 12 hours. In addition to his regular workshops at SD28 Matt will introduce a new one, “Using Audio as an Income Stream.” (As audio book sales are soaring, this is sure to be a popular session.)
Finally, in another unexpected coup, author/workshop leader Gayle Carline, whose latest, seventh book, From the Horse’s Mouth: One Lucky Memoir, the story of her horse Snoopy as told from his perspective, is bound to get a bump real soon. The America’s Horse magazine editor-in-chief recently interviewed Gayle about the book, and the magazine goes out to every member of the American Quarter Horse Association in the world. Gayle will be conducting two workshops at SD28: “Self-Publishing Savvy: Why, How, Where, What You Need to Know” and “Storytelling is Murder, She Wrote.”
What with the site rollover to the new format and other tech gremlins of late, am not embarrassed to say it’s been a tough conference to wrangle together this time around as so many important aspects of the industry need to be authoritatively addressed, from the inevitably essential issues of quality craft execution and the practical aspects of navigating current business modalities of self-, indie-, traditional publishing to the philosophical pugilism being waged from all four corners of the ring about the legitimacy & benefits of self-publishing vs. going legacy. There is no right or wrong in this fight. In fact, there shouldn’t even be a fight. There are only options and wise—or not—choices to be made. The big knuckle in the mitt is what it ultimately drills down to, individual author by individual author.
That said, now that the schedule has been posted our hope is that by weekend’s end every individual writer attending will be able to determine what the best, most ideal path to pursue publication success is right for them. As usual, we’ll likely throw in some ad-hoc sessions based on expressed interest during conference weekend.
Check back for more soon, and don’t forget to join the conversation on the SCWC Facebook page.
Now go forth and write well. More importantly, have something worthy to say. (Or at least tell a whoopingly entertaining, snot-snorting good story!)
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
There is no single right way to write a great book, only an infinite number of wrong ways. Today the same holds true for publishing a great book. Of the countless decisions the modern author must make during the crafting of her book, both creative and practical, tiny and great, perhaps none carry more weight than that of choosing to pursue a traditional print publisher or electing to self-publish. “Publishing” an e-book seems so easy, so fast, so affordable that anybody can do it. And it seems like almost everybody has.
For the traditionally established author with a backlist whose rights have reverted perhaps the choice is obvious. But for the emerging author, unknown in an ever-increasingly competitive marketplace already saturated with titles, the decision often is not. Crafting a great story, writing a great book, is hard enough. Self-publishing a great book, regardless of how well written? Well, more and more writers suffering from premature e-publication are discovering just how hard it is. Next month we’ll deal a lot with the challenges of self-publishing in effort to enable those considering doing so to make an informed decision. After all, as with your craft, you should settle only for excellence in your publication.
The latest iteration of WritersConference.com is here and you’re looking right at it! Faster, more streamlined, easier to navigate on tablets and smartphones, we’d love to get your feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and what more you’d like to see on the site. While there’s still some tweaks to make, one of the coolest additions in functionality has to do with the conference schedule page. There, once the workshops and events are plugged in, you’ll be able to select individual sessions you’re interested in attending and add them to your own, personalized SD28 program for printing prior to the conference. You can thank Jeremy Lee James for that.
Advance Submissions . . . The deadline for getting Advance Submission material to us is January 14. Given the unprecedented ten weeks of technical meltdowns—both main SCWC computers died, total database corruption, answering service inaccessible, email accounts down and most all correspondence from early October to the first week of December lost—please be mindful of the deadline as some of the readers got hit pretty hard without our knowing it.
“Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress 1 & 2” . . . Jean Jenkins’ popular genre-crafting workshop is limited to 12 participants only and requires pre-registration, along with written materials, by February 1. Notify the conference by email if you’ve already registered and would like to get in.
Discounted hotel lodging . . . Crowne Plaza San Diego resort is the site of the conference. The deadline for SCWC conferees to receive discounted lodging rates is January 26th. For online hotel booking click here, or call the hotel at (619) 297-1101 (and mention the SCWC).
We still have plenty of workshops to add and the schedule to fill out. Check back regularly for updates, and don’t forget to join the WritersConference.COMmunity discussion on our SCWC Facebook page.
In the meanwhile . . . go forth, write well, and Happy New Year!
Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
First off, congratulations to SCWCer Amanda LaPera. Having attended both our San Diego and Newport Beach events, this past week saw the launch of her compelling Losing Dad, Paranoid Schizophrenia: A Family’s Search for Hope (Adamo Press). A passionate mental health advocate, Amanda’s debut title broke into the top 100 in mental illness in both paperback (#90) and e-book (#59) format on Amazon, as well as #42,951 out of all paperbacks (over 8 million) and #67,130 out of all e-books the day after its release. Of it Xavier Amador, Ph.D. (I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!) declares, “Beautifully woven between the facts are the feelings. [Amanda] shows that behind every severe mental illness there is a human being.” Great job and utterly fascinating story. But wait! There’s yet another recent conference success to report:
LA11 conferee Sandra Montanino. Not only did she score an Outstanding Fiction Award for her historical family saga Of Brick and Salt at this past September’s conference, but two attending agents subsequently offered to represent her. A good, albeit stressful, spot to be in, after protracted deliberation Sandra has finally made her choice and signed on with Babette Sparr of Sparr Literary. It’s a powerful manuscript. Much success to both.
The fourth Special Guest Speaker to be announced is none other than Janis Thomas. A regular SCWC workshop leader, this past September Janis offered up one of the most singularly meatiest workshop morsels that I’ve heard in years. Janis has had a very busy year and a bit, what with the release of her laugh-out-loud debut novel, Something New, in 2012, followed by Sweet Nothings this past summer (“A breezy read,” declared Publishers Weekly), both by Berkely Books. Now, eschewing legacy publication for her latest, a departure from the chick-lit genre she’s known for, Janis is releasing a crime thriller called Murder in A-minor, A Sam Wedlock Musical Murder Mystery, under a pen name. She’ll explain the logic behind the decision at SD28, as well as why telling a woman you like her pants can speak volumes to writers.
Agents-wise, on board so far is Terri Baranowski of Gateway Literary (joining us in an official capacity for the first time so she doesn’t have to lurk undercover in read & critique workshops like so many reps and acquisitions folk sometimes do), Anne Bomke of Bomke Literary, Clelia Gore, who’s heading the newly-launched children’s/YA branch of Martin Literary & Media, Linda Langton of Langtons International Agency, and van Haitsma Literary’s own ever-intrepid founder Sally van Haitsma.
Conducting a workshop both staffers and conferees have emphatically expressed an interest in, Ara Grigorian will address the why’s and how-to’s of using Scrivener, the immensely powerful content-generation software for writers… Richard Craig Anderson is back with a new real-world scenario law enforcement role playing workshop after a couple-year hiatus. His latest novel is Cobra Clearance, a contender for best new thriller of the year…
In a surprising move, given how work-intensive it is, Jean Jenkins will be conducting her wildly popular 2-part “Best Foot Forward: Editing for Success.” Limited to only 12 participants, if you’re writing genre fiction, you do not want to miss this. Along with Drusilla Campbell’s “NovelCram: Building the Better Book,” BFF requires advance sign-up.
As always, several other friends familiar and new will be joining us as we hone in on what specific issues, beyond craft, are most in need to be addressed. As we’ve long observed, between each SCWC event a whole strata of changes in the rapidly morphing publishing world require constant adjustments in thinking and approach. We’ll again be devoting a “Do Yourself Independence” (DYI, not DIY) track specifically geared to bringing all up to speed on the latest strategies and tactics. What we will not be doing is declaring any writer with a Twitter feed or Facebook account an authority on the time suck for most that is social media just because they have one. Speaking of which…
2014 marks the 10th anniversary of our “Storytelling and the Future of Content” event that was SCWC*LA4. Our one and only event held in Manhattan Beach, it’s where we accurately identified the forthcoming technological trends, conceits and opportunities lying just a smidge ahead for writers of the time; introduced them to the concept of transmedia storytelling, of it’s intrinsic value and virtually limitless possibilities. Then we drilled in deeper to explore what then-available tools and strategies could be called upon to better forge the way to success.
We did it long before it became trendy among writers’ conferences. We continued to when it did, but always with our eye on the outer edge of the envelope; the telling crest of the incoming tide.
Several conferees’ first published books came out of that conference, and while preparing to introduce a new iteration of the WritersConference.com website (coming soon), we came across the following copy written for it. An excerpt from our archives, I believed it when I wrote it then. I believe as I read it today. My hope is that you do too.
The world has changed. Or have we changed the world? As writers, change is the very fabric of our existence. As storytellers, our charge is to engage the audience with tales of characters overcoming obstacles that result in purposeful change. Regardless of genre, from international thrillers to intimate portraits of personal transformation, our stories offer visceral validation of who we are, or who we are not, or who we most aspire to be.
Transformational media and the newly modern storyteller is what the [SCWC] is about. The elevated awareness of conscious creativity, coupled by an exponentially expanding transmedia marketplace — from movies and interactive entertainment to graphic novels and print on demand — has afforded writers and media makers today more opportunities to reach the audience of their choice than at any other time. For the committed author whose will is to positively impact lives, to entertain and inspire, to evoke and enthrall with words, these are indeed the best of times…
Taisen Deshimaru once said that:
“Time is not a line, but a series of now points.”
Well the time is now… Now is the time for you to write!
That was back in 2004. Thankfully, how some things never change. Craft matters.
Early “Bard” Discount Registration on Full Conference or NovelCram/Conference attendance is now open. Remember that the SCWC is limited in size to ensure maximum accessibility to staff and attention paid to attending writers.
Still plenty more to announce, including our fifth Special Guest Speaker. Be sure to join the conversation on our SCWC Community Facebook page. Also, enjoy this preview below of the stage adaptation of author/workshop leader Matthew J. Pallamary novel, Land Without Evil, documented by PBS’ “Art in Context” TV show, the episode of which was recently nominated for a Lone Star Emmy Award.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Boo! We’re back. Despite considerable technical challenges (addressed below the jump), SD28 is shaping up nicely. Our latest Special Guest Speaker to announce is Laurence O’Bryan, winner of the SCWC*SD21 Outstanding Fiction Award for the manuscript that became his debut international conspiracy thriller, The Istanbul Puzzle, the first in a multi-book deal with HarperCollins UK. The Jerusalem Puzzle followed and now the third in the series, The Manhattan Puzzle, has just been released, along with a special e-book edition that includes interactive links that allow readers to further explore the story beyond its pages. Larry is traveling all the way from his home in Northern Ireland to join us again, and we’re happy to welcome him back.
It’s fitting that this update falls on Halloween. What we thought would be a fairly routine move of the SCWC’s physical offices following September’s LA11 event has turned out to be pretty much a nightmare. For well over a month now we’ve been besieged by ghosts in the machine and gremlins on our wing, all as a result of the move. Picture pretty much every technical problem imaginable and we’ve been tackling it.
While we’re almost fully back online today, only email addressed directly to SCWC directors Wes Albers and Chrissie Barnett is reliable and secure. Michael’s address remains un-functional, though will likely be fixed by next week. Also next week, should all go well, our phone answering system will be properly ported and operational. If you’ve called and left any messages over the past month, there’s a very strong likelihood that we haven’t and cannot retrieve them.
The SCWC prides itself on good communication. We apologize for the breakdown and all frustration it’s causing. Please be patient.
There’s lots more staff announcements to come, along with the opening up of the Advance Submission Readers and posting of the preliminary schedule. In the meantime, be sure to visit us on the SCWC Community Facebook page to keep up to speed and join the conversation.