Just when you think you can’t possibly have a better conference experience, then comes another SCWC that tops it. Irvine was that. Such a blast. Such great writers. Such terrific workshop leaders. And what about them guest speakers–Amy Meyerson (The Bookshop of Yesterdays), Henry Lien (Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword), Sara Gran (The Infinite Blacktop) and Demetra Brodsky (Dive Smack)? Wes, Chrissie and I thank all for making such a memorable weekend.
Now, on to the awards . . .
SCWC*LA/IRVINE Award Recipients
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Mainstream)
By Jasmin Hakes
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Historical)
They Call Her Billy the Kid
By Justin Treece
OUTSTANDING NONFICTION (Memoir)
What Became of Her
By Karen Hill Anton
Of course, each SCWC holds a contest in which all writers 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 one-word topic announced Friday night. The topic for LA16 was any iteration of “X.”
Funny thing about the winning entry, written by last year’s LA15 winner, is that he actually unintentionally won twice. Story is, what the judges had selected as the winning entry was actually page 15 from his work in progress, accidentally submitted for the contest. The “topic” entry was submitted after the mistake was discovered. Regardless, here are both because both are eXellent…
UNOFFICIAL OUTSTANDING TOPIC STORY
Page 15 from Work in Progress
of Mission Viejo, CA
From the Personal Journals of Philbert Einstein
March 4, 2030: Seven Years Ago
I love pet stores.
Not because I love animals, Good Lord no. They’re filthy, verminous, disease-ridden creatures, placed upon this Earth so that we can exploit them–for food, for clothing, for laboratory experimentation. Synthetic fur annoys me, because someone was too squeamish to kill the fox or mink or rabbit it should have come from. Get a clue, vegans! Fur coats are comfy and warm because the original fur-animal was well-insulated. Fake fur is like fake anything, it’s always second-best.
And don’t get me started on fake food. Like vegetarian hamburgers, made with shaped tofu because no one objects to killing soybeans. Give me genuine farm-raised beef, any time. So some cows get slaughtered, boo hoo. Have you seen cows? They’re dumber than my cousin Joey, they graze and fart and watch traffic. No big loss if those fat, juicy tenderloins are served up with some mushroom and grilled onions. Tell me they’re not begging for it.
So why do I love pet stores?
Because the pets are captive, in cages or tanks or enclosures. They’re not going anywhere. It’s the man-dumb-animal hierarchy, right there for all to see, our genetic superiority proudly on display. It fills me with exhilaration.
Especially if I can use them.
OFFICIAL OUTSTANDING TOPIC STORY
of Mission Viejo, CA
No one believes me.
We’re having a holiday fund-raiser at Medieval Times, this Arthurian-themed dinner club, where horsemen dressed as knights joust in a big, festival arena. And there’s a photo op where you can pose with a sword embedded in a stone, just like the original Excalibur.
So we’re laying out a feast for our holiday donors, there’s a dozen six-foot Italian cold cut sandwiches, laid out on trestle tables. But my friend R.T. isn’t doing his job, he’s obsessed with Excalibur.
“That sword was amazing,” he says. “You know how ammunition can be .38 or .45 caliber? That sword was so powerful it’s an unknown caliber–an X-caliber! Only the true king could pull it free.” I just ignore him, he’s an old guy with a gray beard, half-senile.
But there’s a problem.
The donors are due to arrive and we don’t have a knife to cut the sandwiches. The kitchen’s locked, the chef’s gone, we have no knives, not a bread knife, not a stake knife, nothing. We’re in trouble.
Then I hear this sound, CHOP! CHOP! And I rush back and those sandwiches have been perfectly sliced, and R.T.’s like, “Hey, problem solved, it’s fine.”
How’d he do that? Well, it got me thinking.
What if King Arthur–called Artie, or “R.T.”–has been wandering the Earth since antiquity, following that sword, keeping it secret, until the night he needed to cut up some sandwiches?
That would explain why I found Caesar dressing on Excalibur’s hilt!
Congratulations to all the award winners!
We’ll return to the O.C. next year with our 17th annual LA(ish) event. Dates will be September 20-22. Discounted pre-registration opens March 1, 2019. In the meantime, our 33rd annual San Diego conference take place Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 15-17, 2019. Limited to 175 writers, all the details can be found here.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS