You really couldn’t ask for a more perfect conference. Exceptional writers were found every which way you wandered, the weather was beautiful, and we introduced a shockingly new “Take an Agent Home” session that just might have to become a fixture. Most uncanny? The awesome guy pictured below we discovered in the Hyatt’s sculpture garden, located just down from the bar where such discoveries are often posited, pondered and parlayed each evening. We prefer to think of it as a writer carrying the weight of a writer, or the writer’s responsibility, or some such. That may have changed by dawn.
Anyhow, on to the awards.
OUTSTANDING NONFICTION (Memoir)
from Sylmar, CA
OUTSTANDING NONFICTION (Memoir)
Christine Magnus Moore
from Silverado, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Historical)
from Provo, UT
OUTSTANDING FICTION (International Thriller)
from Apple Valley, CA
OUTSTANDING TOPIC STORY
Stephanie Lewis for English Language Gone Astray (read here)
from Carlsbad, CA
We’ll be back in Newport Beach next September. Thanks to our special guest speakers, Leslie Lehr, Marci Nault, Brett Battles, Sheri Fink, and Elana K. Arnold. Big shout out to all our SCWC workshop leaders, advance submission readers and hard working volunteers. And above all else, a robust and especially big spoon 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.
San Diego 28 is only five months away. We look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime, settle for exceptional, go forth, write well and suck less. More t-shirts are coming!
Celebrated author and SCWC workshop leader Darlene Quinn just scored another win. Unpredictable Webs, the fourth installment of her wildly popular suspense series set in the world of high-fashion intrigue, opulence and depravity, just won the International Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal in the General Fiction category (along with the National Beverly Hills Book Award). Its immediate predecessor, Webs of Fate, also claimed the honor at last year’s competition. A brand-spanking new trailer for the book premieres online today. You can be among the first to check it out below. As with the WOF trailer, SCWC executive director Michael Steven Gregory produced and directed.
Another big winner at this year’s International Readers’ Favorite, none other than SCWC alumni and Sunday morning speaker Sheri Fink. Sheri’s wildly popular The Little Gnome and Exploring the Garden with the Little Rose took the Gold Medal in both the Children’s Fable and Children’s Concept categories, respectively. Along with mystery writer Dean Koontz and historical writer Martin Dugard, Sheri was also recently named as one of the top local writers of Orange County by CBS.
Bethany Lopez, yet another SCWCer, nabbed the Bronze Medal in Contemporary Romance for her most recent novel, Trust in Me. A blog post she wrote after attending this past February’s conference in San Diego details the top self-publishing takeaway tips she gleaned from SD27 here.
That’s all for now. The working schedule is up. Still plenty of room to join us in Newport Beach. As always, it’s going to be a fantastic, brain-numbingly informative weekend. If you can’t make it this time around, remember that our winter conference takes place in San Diego, Presidents’ Day Weekend, Feb. 14-17, 2014. $100 Early “Bard” Discount off Full Conference is available now through September 15th.
Now let’s watch our latest book trailer…
How much good “muse” to report is too much? Recipient of our SCWC Outstanding Nonfiction Award for her manuscript How to Raise a Husband, Tonilyn Hornung recently signed the contract with Conari Press to publish her book. (That’s Tonilyn pictured holding the precious baby, along with an infant.) Literary rep Sally van Haitsma negotiated the deal after discovering Tonilyn at our LA8 event in Newport Beach. As usual, Sally’s got a good eye for talented writers and will be joining us again in September.
Literary agent Dana Newman, who sold conferee Marsha Aizumi’s Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son, and Their Journey to Love And Acceptance to Magnus (now Riverdale) after reading her SCWC submission, reports yet another deal. Her client–also met at the SCWC–author/workshop leader Robert Yehling signed with Houghton Mifflin to write Just Add Water, a biography of surfing great Clay Marzo and his life with Asperger’s Syndrome. Bob’s most recent collection of poetry and essays, Backroad Melodies, has recently been released.
Among other SCWCers with books now out? Orit Arfa’s politically relevant The Settler, edited by Jennifer Silva Redmond; the mystical adventure Crossing Jack by Jeffrey J. Michaels; and the special ops thriller Cobra Clearance by Richard Craig Anderson (who just returned from his first panel appearance at Thrillerfest). Congrats to all!
And this exceptional bit of good “muse” just in… Mr. Dave Putnam, longtime SCWC conferee from way back, just sold his first book to Ocean View Publishing. It’ll be out May 2014, but has no official title yet. Thing is, while it’s his first book to get published, it’s his 32nd book written. A true writer and retired San Bernardino County deputy, Dave got his second wind and is riding it out as he writes hard now on book 36. Good for you, Dave!
Rounding out our Special Guest Speakers is none other than international best-selling, award-winning children’s author, Sheri Fink. Sheri’s first children’s book, The Little Rose, an enchanting story about a rose growing in a weed bed who learns to accept and love herself despite her differences, was published in March 2011, remained a #1 best-seller on Amazon for over 60 weeks and was adapted for the stage. The Kindle edition became the #1 top-rated children’s eBook on Amazon and is also a best-seller. In 2012, The Little Rose won the gold medal for best children’s K-3rd fable in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards. The Little Gnome followed. And the latest in the series, The Little Firefly was just recently released.
We’re fine-tuning the schedule, which will include a fairly robust DYI (Do Yourself Independence) track alongside the vital read & critique and craft tracks. One particular thing we’ve been keeping close watch on is the use of crowdfunding by writers seeking to publish independently. Crowdfunding is tricky, offering results often wildly unpredictable, even saddening.Beyond the typical go-to platforms–Kickstarter and Indiegogo for most–there’s an intriguing new kid on the ether-block, specifically geared to writers of all ilk. The platform is called Pubslush and we’re having its passionate vice president, Amanda Barbara, come show you all the ins & outs of how it works. The platform really could be a boon for the entrepreneurial indie author.
Last bit of business for now is this… After going on a deserved hiatus, Jean Jenkins is returning with her brain-bursting two-part “Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress” (complete info here). The sessions are limited to 12 participants and require pre-conference participation. These workshops always fill up. If you’re serious about writing genre fiction and want in, get in quick. Jeanie will also be conducting her popular open attendance session, “Defining Genre: What Are You Really Writing?” on Friday.
Finally… The Newport Beach Hyatt, our OC home for the LA conference run from SD, saw fit to improve their Conference Center to ensure we writers have even more cause to enjoy the SCWC (pictured below). Waterslide, writers!
Remember that our LA11 event is more limited in attendance than our winter conference in San Diego. Discounted pre-registration is open. Folks are writing and sharing great writerly info and more on our Facebook wall (here). Do yourself a favor and join us.
Joining SCWC for the first time, author of the wildly popular Jonathan Quinn, Project Eden and Logan Harper series of thrillers, Brett Battles will be with us in Newport Beach. Nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel, The Cleaner, and winner of a Barry Award for its sequel, The Deceived, Brett’s gone on to achieve hybrid-author success like only a handful of others. He’ll be one of our special guest speakers, along with conducting workshops. The Enraged, 7th in his “The Cleaner” series, is out this summer. His most recent novel, written with bestselling novelist Robert Gregory Browne, is Poe, introducing readers to kick-ass female protagonist Alexandra Poe.
Speaking of AMPAS Nicholl award-winning, ITW Thriller Award nominated Robert Gregory Browne, also the author of the Amazon #1 bestselling legal thriller, Trial Junkies, Rob returns to the SCWC after a bit of a hiatus. With so many excellent novels behind him, his first, Kiss Her Goodbye, was just produced as a pilot for a CBS Television by Sony Pictures and Timberman/Beverly Productions (Justified). Fingers crossed on a series pickup.
While we’re still well over three months away from LA11, several terrific authors, editors and agents have already been added to the roster. There’s both familiar friends and new on board, including Janis Thomas, whose Sweet Nothings is out next month from Berkley Books, and Mary Vensel White, whose The Quality of Wood is also out July from HarperCollins imprint Authonomy.
Past SCWC conferees have been busy these past several weeks. . . SD27 award recipient for Outstanding Fiction, Levi Stack has elected to go full-on indie with the publication of The Silent Deal, the first in his “Card Game” YA series. . . Jide Familoni’s, Losing My Religion, his debut novel telling the poignant tale of a Nigerian immigrant’s quest to maintain his identity in the American South after fleeing imminent war back home, is out this week. . . And Ryka Aoki, reported in last month’s update to having just inked a deal for her He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song) with Topside Signature, has won the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction for her collection of poems, stories, and essays divided thematically into seasons, Seasonal Velocities. Best of success to all!
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. Discounted pre-registration is highly recommended.
Check back soon for all the latest. In the meantime, don’t forget…
Screenwriter and award-winning author of 66 Laps and Wife Goes On Leslie Lehr will be joining us for the first time come September. Her essays have appeared in the anthologies Mommy Wars, The Honeymoon’s Over and Arianna Huffington’s On Becoming Fearless. Her latest is What a Mother Knows, out next week from Sourcebooks Landmark. Heather Gudenkauf (New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away) proclaims the book, “A fast-paced and gripping exploration of a mother’s love. A powerful affecting novel.” Along with conducting at least one workshop, Leslie is the third of LA11 special guest speakers announced thus far.
Other new books out from SCWC staffers and alumni: NY Times bestselling NovelCram track instructor Drusilla Campbell’s When She Came Home and international award-winner Darlene Quinn’s Unpredictable Webs (which just picked up the Beverly Hills Book Award for Fiction.)
The second in her Samantha mystery series, Claudia Whitsitt’s Intimacy Issues was released last month by Blue Jay Media Group. And next month, we’ve got Richard Craig Anderson’s Cobra Clearance coming out from Hellgate Press, along with the follow-up to her wonderfully creepy debut novel Wuftoom, Mary G. Thompson’s Escape from the Pipe Men! (Clarion).
On the recent deals front, LA9 conferee Aline Ohanesian just signed with Algonquin. Her book, The Exile, is slated for 2014 publication. And Ryka Aoki, another SCWC*LAer, just got the contract from publisher Topside Signature for her He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song), also due out 2014. Congratulations to all.
While it’s true that the SCWC has long been the vanguard of foreseeing and addressing publishing industry trends, alerting and educating writers on how to navigate the ever-shifting tides of transmedia integration while not getting pulled down by its often unforgiving undercurrents, what’s also true is this: craft matters. The way in which a story unfolds, the deftness of its telling, the quality of its editing, the ability of the writer to effectively communicate the story in her mind to some stranger across a stark, simple page and ultimately fulfill what expectations were initially aroused in that reader–that remains the bed rock on which the SCWC was founded. It remains the foundation on which we continue to build each and every SCWC event.
Craft matters. Execution matters. Delivering on expectations roused in the reader matters.
There’s a lot of flotsam circulating out there at the moment. Everybody with a self-published e-book, anybody with a Twitter feed or Facebook page to like, Pinterest profile to ping, or any other one of a seemingly infinite variety of “vital” social media platforms that must allegedly be engaged to succeed, seems to be selling themselves as some kind of guru; an authority on how to succeed as a writer.
Problem is, too many of them are not the writers they need to be and too many are not the provably qualified authorities they claim to be.
It seems that now more than ever before conferences are sprouting up presenting lackluster or woefully uninformed information to attending writers, in particular, to those who now stand at the crossroads of whether to legacy-publish or self-publish.
It’s a racket. Writers must beware. Writers must do their due diligence. Get informed and do not discount information out of hand simply because you may not like it. The ridiculous furor over Barry Eisler’s recent comments at another conference and online are a testament to that. When Barry first joined the SCWC years ago he spoke to what he felt was imminent, of the choices writers would have to face with regards to publication. Nobody balked. We embraced, researched, anticipated and empowered writers with information.
Nobody in a professional capacity had the indecency to name-call and vent their fears of decreased relevance on Twitter to bolster their own self-perception of value to aspiring writers they might otherwise milk.
As usual, in September we’ll be dealing with the pertinent issues of Do Yourself Independence (DYI–not “DIY”), but be reminded that our first and foremost focus remains troubleshooting problematic storytelling in effort to further empower writers with the tools and understanding to allow their work to shine, regardless of their publication platform. And, as usual, we’ll devote ourselves to facilitating publication success of work that warrants being discovered.
Please do remember that the Newport Beach conference is more limited in size than San Diego. Reserve your spot by taking advantage of the Early “Bard” Discount. And don’t forget to join the conversation on our SCWC Facebook Wall.