What a weekend. Fully one year since our 2020 ground conference we transitioned to a cloud event and got to see so many invaluable members of our community, it was a bit overwhelming. By all accounts exceeding expectations that we could emulate our traditional events so successfully online, Wes, Rick, Linda and I could not be more grateful. With any luck, come September, we’ll not have to do another this way again. If so, however, at least we know we can.
Thank you to all those who placed their trust in the SCWC, our wonderful workshop leaders, and advance readers. Thank you to our excellent special guest speakers: Dennis K. Crosby (Death’s Legacy), Isla Morley (The Last Blue), and Joy Lazendorfer (Right Back Where We Started From). Good job. While their keynotes were open to the public, for those who missed them, click on the below images to view their talks, minus Q&A conversation which followed.
Lost in the excitement was our remembering to give out awards, other than for the Topic Award. With it 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 SD35 was “Doohickey.” Here’s the winning entry
OUTSTANDING TOPIC STORY
of Corona, CA
Dylan relaxed near the firepit of the roof-top gathering spot while scanning the area for potential company. His eyes settled on the voluptuous woman sitting at the bar, her long legs pretzeled around the stool upon which she perched. He sipped his cocktail while studying her appealing curves. As if his body had a mind of its own, he arose and sauntered toward the woman stopping directly behind her, close enough to catch a whiff of her perfume. He imagined running his fingers through the wavy tresses of her auburn hair and felt his long-neglected desire growing.
Lost in his twilight dream, he began to lean toward her. His body nearly touched her back but at the same time she leaned away from him into the surface of the wooden bar. He paused as she crooked her finger beckoning the bartender. Wiping the counter in front of her, he said, “What can Ah getchya?”
Dylan held his breath waiting for her to speak. “Hey, Darlin’. You’re a man. What’s that thingy called? You know that whatchamacallit in front of a man that kinda goes up and down?”
Dylan offered his assistance. “Could you mean this firm piece of muscular flesh pressing against your back?”
Without turning around, she said, “Goodness, no. Not that little thingy. I mean that doohickey that bobs up and down in a guy’s neck.”
“Oh, that would be the Adam’s Apple.” With that he returned to his seat. Deflated.
Dates for San Diego 36 are Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 18-20, 2022. Limited to 175 writers, discounted pre-registration opens August 1. Up next, our annual Fall event in Irvine takes place September 17-19, 2021. Discounted pre-registration opens March 1st. Limited to 150 writers, full details can be found here.
That’s all for this round. Until next time, have a good poke and be sure to get your vaccine.
—Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
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.
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.
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.
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
And we’re off! Off-site, that is. Given there’s zero evidence to suggest we can safely gather physically come February, our 35th annual San Diego event will be conducted online. We’ve researched our options and the consensus among staff is that we can emulate the best of our in-person SCWC experience with only minor tweaks to our regular schedule, and by limiting workshop attendance accordingly. The shape and emphasis of our Presidents’ Day Weekend event is now clear. Its aim remains the same: Getting you where you want to be with your writing. As always, craft is where it’s at.
Before moving on, I must impart sad news. It’s primarily why I’ve been lax on SD35 this past month. Chrissie Barnett, my partner and co-director of the conference for over 30 years, whom to many here was a friend adored, even cherished, has passed on. Other than that she is deeply missed, the vacuum left in her wake becoming an awful gulf for me to cross, I posted a story on our blog for those who knew her; maybe for those who never did. You can read it here.
Much to report on SCWCers … Kristi Pfeffer Fox (writing as K.A. Fox) sold the Italian rights to her Devil’s Own: Murphy’s Law, Book One, released November, 2019. The second, Judas Kiss, is her latest … Christa Yelich-Koth’s Spider’s Ring, the second in her Detective Trann Series is also now out …
From PJ Colando, The Jailbird’s Jackpot, sequel to The Winner’s Circle, which is a companion in her Faith, Family, Frenzy! Series, is now out … As is Kathryn Atkins’ My Piano Hands: A Flash Memoir Collection … And Russ Thompson’s YA novel, No Place to Hide.
Dropping soon, we’ve got David Reed’s Uphill & Into the Wind, out October. It’s a memoir about his 1973 cross-country odyssey that spans 5420 miles on bicycles … Dennis Crosby has Death’s Legacy out November … And Jerome (J.C.) Farmer’s Counterfeit Lover, out Nov. 2020. All from Acorn Publishing, by the way.
Congratulations, and best of success!
Discounted Early “Bard” Pre-registration opens October 1. Do so by November 1 and save a whopping $150 on Full Conference attendance. Regular updates will begin in October. In the meanwhile, here’s what you need to know now…
SCWC*SD35 LOCATION: The Cloud. Online. In the ether. Our virtual event will likely be conducted on Zoom, though there is another platform we’re considering.
SCWC*SD35 SCHEDULE: Lots of our regular emphasis on craft- and business-centric sessions, read & critique workshops, one-on-one consultations and more will pupulate our weekend. You can get an idea of the overall shape of the conference on the schedule page, which we’ll begin updating in a few weeks.
SCWC*SD35 STAFF: As always, authors, editors, agents, and other professionals will be joining us. Check ’em out on the staff page beginning in October.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our periodic updates to receive all the latest news in a timely fashion. You can also engage with our greater .COMmunity between events by joining our SCWC Facebook group, following us on Twitter, or view our feed on Instagram.
Till next time, be safe, be sensible, give yourself permission to write bad words (NaNoWriMo’s coming up), then join us. Aim for excellence. Settle only for exceptional.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS
“It is important,” the man in the grey suit interrupts. “Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsing souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that. There are many kinds of magic, after all.”
– Erin Morgenstern; The Night Circus
No truer words. And as we discovered yet again at SD34, making such magic out of mere words can be exhausting. The emotional reward, however, once such particularly vexing alchemy is made, its spell cast immutably upon the reader, is boundless. Which is why Saturday was punctuated by “Tiara Night,” where indeed we all were rulers of the word.
A hefty thank you to all the who placed their trust in the SCWC, along with Linda & Rick Ochocki on the front desk, our workshop leaders, agents, and advance readers. Thank you to our excellent guest speakers: Tori Eldridge (The Ninja Daughter), Adalyn Grace (All the Stars and Teeth), Holly Kammier (Lost Girl), and Nathan Makaryk (Nottingham). Good job. Now on to the rewards…
Black Unicorn Rampant
By Heather Carter of San Diego, CA
Black Hole Son
By Shawn Butler of Irvine, CA
Hashtags and Vampires
By John Goshorn of Anaheim, CA
By Jason Hook of Lancaster, NH
By William Haupricht of Detroit, MI
The Reinvention of Ink
By Lynne Friedman of Solana Beach, CA
Prison is No Place for Penny Loafers
By Dusty Thompson of Long Beach, CA
Oddly enough, given the talent in the room, there was no Topic Award. (Crappy topic, anyway.) Congratulations, all!
San Diego 35 will take place Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 12-14, 2021. Limited to 175 writers, discounted pre-registration opens August 1. Up next, our annual Fall event in Irvine takes place September 18-20, 2020. Discounted pre-registration opens March 1st. Limited to 150 writers, full details can be found here.
Until next time, from Wes, Chrissie and myself, be the writer you aspire to be. Aim for excellence. Settle only for exceptional.
– Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS
Of her latest release New York Times bestseller Caroline Mitchell raves, “Lost Girl is a compulsive thrill-ride that reads as if it’s been pulled straight from the headlines. Kammier’s journalism background brings undeniable authenticity to a novel that has it all—a love story, a murder mystery, and a real-life introduction into the distinctive world of television news.” “In a nutshell, 5-stars!” extols six-time Romantic Times award-winning author Laura Taylor. Its author, our own international best-selling author and co-founder of Acorn Publishing, Holly Kammier will round out San Diego 34’s Special Guest Speaker roster, replacing Anita Abriel due to unforeseen circumstances. A cross-over title overlapping characters and locations from her first two books, Kingston Court and Choosing Hope, Lost Girl is out January. We couldn’t be more delighted to hear all about her daring writer’s journey.
What better way to welcome 2020 than with the latest books from SCWCers? Out now: Solange Ritchie’s legal thriller Dying Declaratino … Gregory Fournier’s The Elusive Purple Gang: Detroit’s Kosher Nostra … and Wild in the Windy City Volume 3: New Year’s Eve Edition, an anthology featuring a story by the ever-prolific Bethany Lopez.
PJ Colando’s I am… a Character, a short story collection, drops January … February brings us Danielle Lizotte Harrington’s debut YA novel, The Diseased Ones … Come March, Jessica Therrien’s The Mercenary’s Daughter, co-authored with Joe Gazzam.
Plus this just in … Jan Steele’s Shoes on the Stairs (Acorn Publishing) is an award-winning finalist for both Best New Fiction and Women’s Fiction in the 2019 Best Book Awards, sponsored by American Book Fest … And SCWC*LA/Irvine16 Outstanding Fiction Award-winner Jasmin Lolani Hakes, recognized for her sweeping Hilo-set saga Hula, just sold the book at auction to Scribner.
Great job. Best of success to all!
The bulk of sessions slated for San Diego 34 are now available for review on the Workshops and Events page.
The deadline for submitting material to advance submission readers is January 12, 2020. Am sure a few of the readers — especially agents and editors — will begin selling out before then. Visit All About Advance Submissions to learn more.
The deadline for discounted lodging at the Crowne Plaza Hanalei San Diego, the longtime home of the conference, is January 13, 2020. Details here.
The 2-part “Best Foot Forward: Polishing to Impress” workshop, conducted by editor Jean Jenkins, is limited to the first 12 participants that sign up. Submission of required materials is due by no later than February 1, 2020. Complete details can be found here.
“The Publisher Is In: Your Post-Conference Publishing Plan,” a one-on-one time strategizing consultation with Acorn Publishing co-founder Holly Kammier, is also limited to 12 slots, available to conferees on a first come, first served basis. Details here.
Until next time, discounted pre-registration remains open. Do so now and save $75 on Full Conference participation. Writers from everywhere are welcome. Your work is worth it. Kick off the New Year – Write!
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS
One of the most highly anticipated young adult releases of 2020, of All the Stars and Teeth Entertainment Weekly declares, “This epic fantasy, which subverts gender stereotypes and expectations, has the potential to break out in the mold of [Tomi] Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, with its fresh take on themes on vengeance and coming-of-age.” #1 New York Times bestselling author Adeyemi herself hails it, “Fierce and unrelenting … Do yourself a favor and get lost in this beautiful book!” Macmillan acquired the two-book high seas adventure series in an aggressive pre-empt. Its debut author, Adalyn Grace, will join us as a Special Guest Speaker in February to discuss how it came to be. Welcome Adalyn!
With only a couple-three more likely to be added, the bulk of our Advance Submission Readers have been confirmed and are now open for selection. Along with the many authors and editors, literary agents accepting submissions:
For those signing up for a reader, or multiple readers, be aware that the deadline to submit material is January 20th, 2020. Many readers will sell out before then (and be noted as such on the Staff page). It is advisable to sign up for readers early, then submit your pages only when you’re absolutely certain they’re ready for review. Do not submit multiple versions of the same submission as we near the deadline. Here’s where to Learn All About Advance Submissions.
So many SCWCers working in so many genres. Those with new releases include Dennis Bowen’s seventh installment of his International Thriller Series, The Jasmine Negative … Ashlynn Cubbison’s Chasing Beverly, in which an “Olympic hopeful sacrifices her own aspirations in order to breathe life into her mother’s dreams” … Mike Murphey’s The Conman, a novel based on the life of former pro-ball pitcher Keith Comstock … And from Melissa Fischer, The Advocacy, a novel set in 1992 Ghana, drawn from her own experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer there.
On the creepy jeepers side of things, the second book in Pamela G. McCord’s Pekin Dewlap Mystery series, The Ghost on Firefly Lane, find the trio of best friends hired to help a sad spirit step into the light … And in audio book, Evan Ramspott’s (writing as Better Hero Army) Book 2 of his Plagued States of America series, Plagued: The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment, is now out. It’s narrated by our own Melanie Hooks, who is beginning to amass an impressive catalogue of audio work.
Coming up in 2020: Nikki Katz’s The King’s Questioner, “an epic YA fantasy featuring royal drama, dark magic, and a secret that could topple a kingdom” (January) … Suzanne Redfearn’s “thoughtful exploration of life, death, and the world in between,” In an Instant (March) … Robert Mitchell Evans’ space opera, Vulcan’s Forge (March). Best of success to all!
And speaking of working in genre fiction, be sure to watch this new doculogue from our recent Irvine event. Featuring Kali Wallace, August Norman, and Jonathan & Jynafer Yanez, it drills into the challenges and business of doing so.
Discounted pre-registration for our 34th annual winter event is open. Do so by December 1st and save $100 on Full Conference participation. The workshop slate will be posted shortly. Subscribe to our mailing list or join our Facebook community to stay up to date.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS