Taken longer than ever before, but we finally have a new home for our annual San Diego event: Marriott Mission Valley, located roughly three miles from where we’ve dug in for so many years. Given the number of workshops debuting in February, it’s only fitting a fresh environment was warranted to introduce them.
Also, our second Special Guest Speaker has been confirmed. Author of the debut novel First Second Coming, none other than SCWCer Jeff Pollak will join us Friday evening to discuss his raucous mash-up of romantic fantasy, suspense and theology. The first in a planned series, which tells the story of the New Testament God retiring after more than two thousand years of service, only to be replaced by a new deity who must decide the fate of humanity, the novel has already been acquired for development as a feature film by Voyage Media. We look forward to hearing all about it.
As usual with all things SCWC, the deeper into the literary weeds we go, the better writers we grow. In addition to our regular focus on craft-centric and troubleshooting workshops geared to elevate material to a level that distinguishes it from the writerly rabble, author Janis Thomas will introduce a stand-alone track, strictly limited in attendance. Consisting of six workshops that cover everything you need to write a novel, from story idea to completion, the Novel Boot Camp requires advance sign-up and ancillary participation. It’s been a while since we’ve done a track like this, and we can’t imagine anyone better than Janis to tackle it. >>Full details
The bulk of advance readers, agents, editors and workshop leaders have been announced on the Staff page. Advance submission readers are also now open for selection. Given the months-long lag on getting up to speed as a result of the hotel thing, everybody’s on a short timeline. Submission deadline is January 16, 2022. Now is the time to get your work the personal attention it deserves. Do it.
Tis the season, after all. So much to report after so long. Among the SCWCers with books recently out are Sandra Montanino’s coming-of-age The Weight of Salt: A Gripping Story of Love and Courage, which won Outstanding Historical Fiction way back at LA11. Kirkus Reviews called it “An engaging story set in an eventful era.” … Mikel J. Wison’s third in The Mourning Dove Mysteries, A Light to Kill By … Bethany Lopez’s Trophy Wife, The Jilted Wives Club, Book 2 … and Claudia Whitsitt’s Black Ice (Love and Loss Series, Book 1) …
From Eric Peterson, author of the sublime The Dining Car, its follow-up, Sunshine Chief (Book 2 in The Horace Button Series), which Midwest Book Review heralds as “[A] top recommendation for fiction collections looking for something different” … Dennis Crosby’s second Kassidy Simmons novel, the urban fantasy Death’s Debt … Dot Caffrey’s coming-of-age fantasy The Drageal War, the fourth in her World of Drejon series …
Winner of an Outstanding Fiction Award at SCWC*SD34, Shawn C. Butler’s Beasts of Sonara … Leslie Ferguson’s memoir When I Was Her Daughter …
On the future-front, David Putnam’s The Sinister (A Bruno Johnson Thriller Book 9) releases February 2022 … and Janis Thomas’ Finding Grace drops from Blackstone Publishing in April.
Best of success to all!
It’s been a slog for most all. We had a fantastic in-person conference at this past September’s conference, and we’re certain February in San Diego will be even better. Discounted pre-registration and lodging is open. Ring in the new year with us and WRITE! Here’s a taste …
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS
Joe Ide returns to the SCWC for San Diego 36 with his sixth novel, a departure from his critically–lauded, award-winning series tracking the life of private investigator Isaiah Quintabe, which includes IQ (New York Times Critics’ Best of the Year and winner of the Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus Awards), Righteous, Wrecked, Hi Five, and Smoke. Out February from Mulholland Books and set in Los Angeles, The Goodbye Coast: A Philip Marlowe Novel is a present-day re-imagining of Raymond Chandler’s iconic detective. Joe will also be conducting a new workshop, “Writing the Killer Crime Novel” and we’re looking forward to it.
Discounted Early “Bard” Pre-registration is now open. Do so by October 1 and save $150 on Full Conference attendance. Regular updates will begin in October. In the meanwhile, here’s what you need to know now…
SCWC*SD36 LOCATION: It’s likely we’ll be moving from our hotel home of 14 years. We’ve got our eye on venues near by, but it’s all in flux at the moment because of, you know, things.
SCWC*SD36 SCHEDULE: As usual, lots of craft- and business-centric sessions, read & critique workshops, one-on-one consultations and more will fill out our weekend. A needed new track will also debut. You can get an idea of the overall shape of the conference on the schedule page, which we’ll begin updating in a few months.
SCWC*SD36 STAFF: As always, authors, editors, agents, and other publishing professionals will be joining us. Check ’em out on the staff page beginning November, if not before.
Dates for our 36th annual San Diego event are Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 18-20, 2022. Discounted pre-registration is now open. You can also join us in Irvine this September. You’ve earned it. Be there!
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC/SWS
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