Chronicling time during COVID-19 is a muddle without minutes, absent hours, smearing days and months into an unfathomable fog of baleful recollection. That is to say, what I’m certain occurred months ago, actually took place only weeks past, if not last Tuesday. The timeline skewed into a temporal sludge in which it’s often difficult to navigate purposefully with conviction or hope.
“Strange days, indeed,” John Lennon once wrote.
As writers, however, hope’s about all we got. The belief – strike that – the conviction that our observations, conveyed with mere words, can provide context, whether to inform or entertain, or perhaps slyly do both, is what we’re supposed to be about. But in this isolation, perhaps it’s now more vital than ever to ensure we’re writing at our best. Because I believe, at the end of this thing, the publishing industry is going to suffer a tsunami of writing seeking to say the same thing. What will ultimately distinguish one writer from another is perspective and excellence of execution. Who gets published successfully and who does not will be determined by craft and cunning, by luck and, frankly, lattitude.
Escapism. Truthism. Darwinism. Dumb. Pretty much sums up today’s world of publishing in willowing out conceived waste. Pandering to the pale. Now that we’ve notched down from Big Five to Big Four, it’ll likely get worse.
My suspicion is that we’ll be dealing a lot with this notion come February. As we’re going to be exclusively online, we’ve assembled workshop leaders and topics to do so deftly, while striving to emulate the best of the SCWC in-person experience.
That said, it maybe won’t be easy, but it could and should prove pivotal to your writing ambitions going forward. Your voice matters, so let’s hone it and get to it…
Given the rapidly changing landscape of today’s publishing world, we wanted to explore three distinct aspects of the writer’s journey with the selection of our three Special Guest Speakers. Friday evening, none other than one of our own Dennis K. Crosby, debut author of the riveting supernatural thriller, Death’s Legacy, will discuss bringing Reaper of Souls Kassidy Simmons to life, her fateful battle with the Angel of Death, and electing to publish via hybrid press (Acorn Publishing).
Saturday afternoon, Isla Morley, who first shared the tortuous path taken to traditionally birthing her debut, Come Sunday (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), into the world with us six years ago, returns to the SCWC. Her third novel, The Last Blue, an exquisite exploration of the Appalachia “Blue People” set in 1937, is published by top–drawer independent Pegasus Books.
Sunday afternoon Joy Lanzendorfer joins us. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Smithsonian, and elsewhere; fiction in Tin House, The Guardian, The LA Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and others. The historical family saga, Right Back Where We Started From, her debut novel, will be released May, 2021 from Blackstone Publishing, also one of the largest independent audiobook publishers in the U.S.
A Bit About Jean
As 2020 has yet to end, of course there’s still more sad news to report: Jean Jenkins, an SCWC fixture from our 1984 inaugural through every event since – San Diego, Palm Springs, Oxnard, Pasadena, Manhattan Beach, Irvine, Newport Beach, then back to Irvine – passed on in October. A trusted, treasured writing advocate, Jeanie enabled more writers to get published than any of us can recall. While she didn’t wear a cape, what power Jeanie wielded was writerly wisdom. For so many, her editing services were coveted. To them she was a superhero.
But what few know, is that Jeanie aspired to have her own stories published as well. Just wasn’t in the cards. She prioritized helping others over being an author herself because she was so gifted at doing so. She remains my dear friend. And she will be remembered.
Boxing Day Cyber Social
In England, the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. The second day of Christmastide, it’s generally considered the day you gather with the people you want to be with, not those one is traditionally forced to. Given the success of our recent Halloween Cyber Social Reading, the SCWC will be hosting our first Boxing Day Cyber Social Reading on Saturday, December 26th. Like most all things in life these days, it’ll be on Zoom. It’ll also be free. And it will be fun! (In fact, given the bio-technical difficulties that impaired my ability to read a new story on Halloween, I’ll likely try again.) All genre’s welcome.
Merry Good “Muse”
So many SCWCers with new books … Emily Heebner’s YA Seneca Lake explores forbidden love in 1944 … Marie Estorge’s stalker drama In the Middle of Otherwise … Karen Hill Anton’s memoir The View from Breast Pocket Mountain.
From Elisabetta Panzica, two more titles in her Wisdom’s Quest Series, Final Days, and Code Atlantis … And Mike Murphey’s second in his Physics, Lust and Greed Series, Wasting Time.
Geared for both adults and young adults, Annie Farris’ inspirational memoir, That One Person is now out … Matt Coyle’s latest Rick Cahill novel, Blind Vigil (Matt’s Lost Tomorrows won the 2020 Shamus Award for Best Private Eye Novel) … Teresa Burrell’s The Advocate’s Labrinth, twelfth in the series … Danielle Harrington’s follow up to The Diseased Ones, The Unseen Ones.
And coming out 2021, David Putnam’s The Ruthless (A Bruno Johnson Thriller, Book 8) … Christina Mai Fong’s Under the Lavender Moon (Nightingale Songs, Book 1), SCWC 2018 award-winner for “Outstanding Nonfiction: Memoir” … And Christa Yelich-Koth’s Spider’s Queen.
Good job, all. Best of success!
The working schedule is posted, advance submission readers open (with a few more likely to come), and deadlines have been extended because of the delay in rolling out our February event. Discounted pre-registration is now open. It’s been a long year. Kick off the new one write. Join us.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS