Our fourth SD29 Special Guest Speaker to be announced is Kathy Aarons, yet another former conferee who got her game and gone on to great acclaim (it rhymes–spare me the grammar). Her debut novel, Death is Like a Box of Chocolates, released by Berkely Prime Crime this past September, is already a national bestseller. Introducing readers to her infectiously delectable Chocolate Covered Mystery series, the second installment, Truffled to Death, will be released June, 2015. Kathy’s joining us not only as a speaker, but also with fellow Denny’s Chicks critique group members Kelly Hayes and Barrie Summy (The Disappearance of Emily H., Delacorte Press/Random House, 2015)) to conduct a new workshop, “How to Revise and Live to Sell the Tale.” In it, the trio will share the revision strategies they’ve used to successfully get seven books traditionally published in eight years.
Speaking of workshop leaders, many friends familiar and new are already confirmed for February. Check out who all is currently aboard and what they’ve got in store for us by visiting the Staff or Workshops and Events pages (upper right navigation tabs). Meanwhile, let’s address the biggest book on the table …
To all writers who bulldozed their way through the month of November (“Snow-vember,” for many) and committed a sum of some 50,000 words to the page … Congratulations! Or as actor Christopher Walken would say, “Wo-ow.”
Seriously, how many people do you know manage to write a book in 30 days? Bask in that accomplishment now. It’ll fade fast tomorrow. Now comes the fun part: Acknowledging that somewhere in the heaping pile of fetid prose you just wrote lays buried a book worth being bought, a story that warrants being told, and that now the really hard work begins–rewriting ‘til it warrants publication. Consider this:
Got me thinking about the state of premature e-publication:
This is where the SCWC comes in. There’s a reason we’ve managed to facilitate over $4 million worth or first-time book & screen deals over the past 28 years: We still believe craft matters and that readers recognize and reward quality.
While true, many manuscripts that have come out of the SCWC were discovered by agents, the thing to know is that the overwhelming number of books that have gone on to publication success resulted from a non-agent SCWC staffer becoming a passionate advocate of another writer’s material; a passionate advocate who recognized and embraced another writer’s potential, then extended that faith into a relationship extending beyond any given conference weekend’s end in effort to find a book its home.
That is the beating heart of our SCWC community. It’s why we strictly limit the number of participants in effort to maximize discoverability opportunities and ensure conferees get the needed one-on-one attention their work warrants; to ensure writers have access to the vital contacts and conversations required to enable them to shine.
Regardless which path to publication you’re pursuing, don’t write a litget. Don’t get lost in the crowd. Your words deserve more. Join us in February.
SCWCer Elizabeth (Betsy) Marro’s Casualties just sold to Berkley. The novel tells the tale of a San Diego defense executive who, after her son returns from the Iraq war with severe PTSD, embarks with a stranger on a cross-country trip to her New Hampshire hometown to find the courage she needs to face her guilt and the decision she must make … We got three books coming out February, which should make Friday night’s mixer/author’s signing extra cool. T. Greenwood, who’ll be conducting a workshop or two, has her latest, The Forever Bridge dropping from Kensington … SD29 Special Guest Speaker & workshop leader David Putnam’s follow-up to his best-selling The Disposables, The Replacements is also out … as is E.V. Fairfall’s Sleeping Tom. And in May, Ara Grigorian, who’s conducting a new “Breaking Down the Story Beats” workshop, will see his debut novel, Game of Love, in stores near and far. Congratulations all!
Discounted Early “Bard” Discount registration is now open, as is the preliminary list of Advance Submission Readers. More are being added, so be sure to never miss an update by simply subscribing to “Join our .COMmunity” (located just below the right side navigation bar up above). And if you haven’t opted into the conversation on our SCWC Community Facebook wall, an invaluable source of vital writing/publishing information, don’t deny yourself. Likewise with our Twitter feed, where we’re always sharing cool stuff. Do it now. You’re words are worth it!
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Passion, perseverance, and an unyielding belief that a great story well told will one day find a home is what sustained our third Special Guest Speaker to be announced for SD29. Winner of the SCWC Outstanding Fiction Award at SD14, for the manuscript that he would ultimately non-novelize and not see published for another 14 years, Raymond M. Wong joins us with his enchanting memoir, I’m Not Chinese: The Journey from Resentment to Reverence. Released just this month, Ray will discuss just what a long, strange trip it’s been writing his first full-length book and ultimately finding it a home at Apprentice House Press. We look forward to hearing all about it. Congratulations, Raymond, and welcome back!
As always, the SCWC’s emphasis is to aim for excellence and settle only for exceptional—in storytelling, in craft, in conducting the business side of writing in an utterly informed, professional manner. To that end, staffers both familiar and new are joining us with plenty of fresh workshops specifically tailored to getting you, the writer, where you want to be with your work.
In addition to the regular tiers of read & critique, fiction and nonfiction craft & troubleshooting workshops, and business/alternative sessions running concurrently each day, our StoryCore: Building the Better Book track will make its debut. Geared for those writers revving to go, but not necessarily knowing where or how best to start crafting an exceptional story that’s commercially viable, StoryCore is for you. As is the goal of all SCWC tracks, it’ll not be panel-centric, “Writing 101” blather that fails to address your needs.
Check back soon for details. Meanwhile …
Among the SD29 workshop leaders with new books coming out: Celebrated journalist/true crime author Caitlin Rother’s Naked Addiction, her first novel, is out November … From author/writer provocateur Judy Reeves, her long-awaited Wild Women, Wild Voices (New World Library) drops April, 2015, along with Darlene Quinn’s latest installment in her multiple-award-winning Webs Series, Conflicted Webs.
And on the conferee front, also with an April publication date, finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction and Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers Aline Ohanesian’s exquisite debut novel, Orhan’s Inheritance, arrives in hardcover from Algonquin Books. Of it, Gayle Brandeis (Delta Girls) lauds, “From its first startling image, Orhan’s Inheritance will seep under your skin and leave an indelible mark upon your heart.”
Celebrated novelist, exceptional writers’ advocate, longtime SCWC colleague, founder & facilitator of NovelCram, and truly a valued friend, Drusilla Campbell passed away last week. She did so bravely and on her own terms, after a fierce battle with cancer. She lives on in her many novels and will not be forgotten.
Early “Bard” Discount off Full Conference registration is now open. We’ll be updating staff, readers, workshops & events for SD29 over the next weeks so check back often for all the latest. Be sure to never miss an update by simply subscribing to “Join our .COMmunity” (located just below the right side navigation bar up above). And if you haven’t opted into the conversation on our SCWC Community Facebook wall, an invaluable source of vital writing/publishing information, don’t deny yourself. Do it!
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Fresh off the LA12 weekend, we begin the countdown to our winter conference. Our second Special Guest Speaker to be announced is wildly prolific and popular indie novelist Bethany Lopez. A former conferee, Bethany’s gone on to become a multiple award-winning, best-selling author with a devoted fan base for her Friends & Lovers trilogy and Stories about Melissa series. A terrific writer savvy to all things indie, Bethany elected to pursue the author-as-publisher path in June of 2011 and hasn’t looked back. She returns to the SCWC with 42 Hours, book three in her Time for Love series, and has plenty of in-the-trenches perspective to share. Plus, she’ll be conducting some needed new workshops.
Speaking of workshops, many session leaders are already confirmed for SD29, including Frederick Ramsay. As usual about this time, Fred’s got another new one slated for release. The Wolf and the Lamb, the third in his Jerusalem Mysteries series, is out December from Poisoned Pen. Next update we’ll start listing what other familiar friends and new will be on staff, but right now…
Author/workshop leader Laura Taylor steams ahead with three new releases, Seduction, Surrender, and Sublime… NovelCram track guru Drusilla Campbell’s latest is In Doubt. Of it RT Book Reviews lauds, “Campbell draws the reader into an ugly world in her excellent take on the many lines between right and wrong.”
Launched at LA12’s Friday night mixer, author/workshop leader Matthew Pallamary’s latest is now available. Eye of the Predator, a phantasmical thriller, tells the story of a brilliant young zoologist thrust into the murky world of magical plants and ancient shamanic rituals, in effort to confront the enigmatic mystery of his past. Matt was joined on his official drop by SCWCer Doug Bornemann with his debut, The Demon of Histlewick Downs, the first in his Dreamweaver Chronicles fantasy series.
Other spanking new SCWCer releases include Andrew Peterson’s Ready To Kill (The Nathan McBride Series); Teresa Burrell’s The Advocate’s Felony; Levi Stack’s The Magic Trick (The Card Game, Book 2); and Tameri Etherton’s The Stones of Kaldaar. We have many more recent SCWC successes to report, but all in due time. Congratulations, everybody.
This photo on the left? That was taken at the offices of publisher Greenleaf Book Group and comes to us courtesy of author/workshop leader Darlene Quinn (the next installment in her Webs series is out next year). And those are just some of the self-published books that authors have submitted to the house for acquisition consideration and were rejected. Why rejected? Where to begin . . . How ‘bout at the conference come February!
Along with our formidable slate of craft, execution and troubleshooting workshops, at SD29 we’ll again be dealing with many of the latest and most vexing challenges writers face today. Whether to wait out legacy publishing odds, go with a boutique house, trust one of the predatory pay-as-you-print outfits that claim to have “standards” and are “selective” about what they’ll publish, or just assume full authorpreneurial control of your book(s), no matter which way you go, at the end of the day your success will ultimately boil down to one individual: You.
To that end, the SCWC community is here to inform and assist in accomplishing your publishing objectives. Expanding on our regular “Do Yourself Independence” sessions, real-world professionals currently walking the talk will address issues of premature ePublication, social media self-sabotage, marketing strategies, tactics, myths and more.
Advance Submission Reader selection will open up late October. With so much more to announce as we begin building the schedule, finalizing Special Guest Speakers and adding workshop leaders, agents, editors and other publishing professionals to the roster, do check back often, and be sure to join our extremely active SCWC Community Facebook wall to be a part of the conversation.
The $75 Early “Bard” Discount off Full Conference registration is now open. Pre-registrations are unexpectedly up more than usual this far out, so keep it in mind.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
The SCWC community has fostered author excellence since 1986. Fact is, little excites us more than welcoming back past conferees who’ve gone on to publication success because of achieving it. David Putnam is one such writer. Our first Special Guest Speaker to be announced for SD12, his The Disposables, now out from Oceanview, represents the quality of storytelling we want every writer to aspire to. Michael Connelly effuses, “I really loved The Disposables. It’s raw, powerful and eloquent…a gritty street poem recited by a voice unalterably committed to redemption and doing the right thing in a wrong world.” T. Jefferson Parker proclaims it, “Dark, disturbing and all too believable, this is the tale of one man’s quest for atonement in a world where innocence is a liability.” And from Booklist, “This novel gives off heat… [with] unique and startling plot twists. But what really recommends the book is the high octane presentation… [and] the sense of urgency and authenticity, the feeling that this is the real deal, set down by somebody who was there and still hasn’t gotten over it.” Welcome back, David.
While we’re a ways off from the winter conference in February (kind of a misnomer when you’re in San Diego), plenty of trusted, familiar friends are already aboard, along with many new to the fold that we’ll announce soon. As usual, we’ll be rife with read & critique workshops, advance submissions, interactive troubleshooting and craft-centric sessions, our popular DYI (Do Yourself Independence) track, agents, editors and more. If you haven’t, be sure to subscribe to our periodic .COMmunity updates and receive all the latest. (Or join the well-moderated conversation on our SCWC Facebook group.)
With an estimated 50,000-plus titles currently being released each month, it’s safe to say that a Day of Reckoning will sometime soon be upon us. Why? Because of premature e-publication. Good storytelling matters. Quality writing matters. Forgettable e-books that are written “good enough,” merely to game the ever-changing algorithms in pursuit of the quickest cash-in grift, suck. And in the end, discerning readers—agents, acquisition editors, book buyers–and the ruthlessly pragmatic, analytical profiteers behind the digital retail curtain will code a means of rewarding quality, not quantity, of material, no matter how slick the book cover; no matter what number of 5-star reviews. Generally, one brief “Look Inside” a book is all anybody needs to know about how seriously a writer regards her work, or, worse, how little she respects her reader.
Because of the numbers, writers everywhere are quickly moving into a market of diminishing returns. But there remains a fighting chance for those who stick to quality craft, business savvy and consistency of execution. Satisfying the expectations roused in one’s readership—rewarding your readers at every level, regardless of genre–is the starting point. And that’s where we’re starting as we begin building the SD29 schedule.
Early “Bard” Registration is now open. Do so by Sept. 15 and save $100 on Full Conference participation. Up next is our fall conference in Newport Beach. If we don’t see you there, we look forward to seeing you in San Diego come February.
In the meanwhile, aim for excellence and settle only for exceptional. “Good enough” is a concession made only by grifters.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
The Kool-Aid was tasty this time around as another fantastic bunch of writers drank from the conference well, to hone their craft and expand new opportunities. What with the current solar vortex hovering over San Diego, many were at risk of mild tanning exposure, but persevered late into the wee hours of nocturnal radiance to shine bright and write hard, all with ample SPC lotion, despite the broken bar. And when the local NBC news affiliate showed up at 1 a.m. to do a story on SCWC writers, they found them hard at work in Rogue workshops, reading & critiquing. (Appreciate your running with the story, Derek; we’ll post the segment soon.)
Thanks to all the staff authors, editors and agents who brought their A-game to our many tables, as usual. And big thanks to our Special Guest Speakers, Janis Thomas (notice the spelling), Suzanne Redfearn, Laurence O’Bryan and Bhava Ram. Also to Christopher John Chater and Andrew E. Kaufman, for sharing so much during Sunday’s “E-publication: First, Last or Best Choice for Emerging Authors?”
Biggest shout out of all goes to this year’s conferees. What a talented bunch of storytellers, albeit rather polite. Now let’s get to the awards…
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Historical)
Hatchepsut, First Queen of the World
by William Roberts of Poway, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (YA/Urban Fantasy)
Snowfall in the City of Dreams
by Carolyn Griffiths of Los Angeles, CA
OUTSTANDING FICTION (Erotic)
Return to Haven
by Marie Wade of Houston, TX
Dis(member)ed: A Mormon Mom’s Memoir
by Anne Sacson of Los Angeles, CA
by Michael R. Shevock of Portsmouth, NH
Congratulations to the honorees and to all staff who rocked SD28. Dates for SD29 are Presidents’ Day Weekend, Feb. 13-16, 2015. Between now and then, join us in Newport Beach for LA12, Sept. 19-21, 2014, and anytime on the SCWC community Facebook Page where there’s always good gab going on and gobs of pertinent information being exchanged.
Discounted pre-registration for LA12 (in Newport Beach) opens shortly. Be there or beware. In the meantime, go forth, write well, and settle only for exceptional.
And be sure to read Michael R. Shevock’s Topic Award-winning story, “Clout,” down below.
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC
Each year the SCWC*SD holds a writing contest in which all conferees 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 topic announced Friday night. The topic for the 28th annual San Diego conference was “Clout.” According to Merriam-Webster there are four full definitions to the noun clout: 1) <dialect chiefly British> a piece of cloth or leather; 2) a blow especially with the hand; also: a hard hit in baseball; 3) a white cloth on a stake or frame used as a target in archery; 4) pull, influence <political clout>. Michael R. Shevock of Portsmouth, NH is the writer of this year’s winning entry. Read it below or listen to it here.
Michael R. Shevock
YOU MAYBE DON’ KNOW, but de clouts is alive. You look up an you see big white clout, you say, “Ho boy! Dat pretty up dere!” But it is not just smoke in da sky. It is alive. It is full of little animals dat do majik tings dat make it rain. Oh yeah. You got blue sky, den you got no majik animals dat can make de rain.
You cannot hear de clouts, because dey are soft like de foam on top of beer, and de animals in clouts are quiet like de animals dat make bread. You call dem yeast. Not Yeats. I think he was a poet. De animals in clouts and bread can’t make a rhyme for shit, so dey never write noting.
Less than two weeks till SD28 and so much good “muse” to report. For starters, Tonilyn Hornung’s How to Raise a Husband: A Whole Bunch of Ways to Build a Strong and Happy Marriage—recipient of the SCWC*LA8 Outstanding Non-Fiction Award—is set for release April 1 from Conair Press. As you regulars might recall from this post last summer, the always keen-eyed-for-talent literary agent Sally van Haitsma scooped Tonilyn up at the time and went on, as usual, to find yet another precious baby a home. Congrats to both. Another book birthed!
Slated for April 15th, SCWCer Lynne Martin’s travel memoir, Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World, will be delivered by Sourcebooks. Our own Robert Yehling worked with Lynne to shepherd it to placement. Quite busy working on multiple projects, Bob himself has two titles dropping this year: Just Add Water: The Biography of Autistic Surfer Clay Marzo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and, just in time for our fall conference in Newport Beach, When We Were the Boys: Coming of Age on Rod Stewart’s Out of Order Tour, ghostwritten for musician Stevie Salas (Rowman Littlefield), out Sept. 4th. Always on point, Bob will be conducting a new workshop at SD28, “Co-, Ghost, With or And: Succeeding as a Collaborative Writer.”
Other SCWCers with new books: Claudia Whitsitt’s Internal Issues, third in her popular Samantha Mystery Series. She’ll be joining international thriller writer Dennis Bowen—The Blackstone Perfection is his latest—in the third installment of author/editor Laura Taylor’s popular Indie Excellence workshops: “Do I Really Want to Sell My Books?”
Ever-versatile hybrid-author and workshop leader Michele Scott, taking a deserved break from this year’s winter event, has Dark Harmony, book two in her Fairmont Riding Academy Mystery Series, launching May 20. . . And David Putnam, another SCWCer, retired sheriff’s deputy, has his debut novel, The Disposables, coming out in hardcover from Oceanview on May 6. T. Jefferson Parker (The Jaguar) calls it, “a dark and disturbing insider’s novel that may not make you feel safer on the mean streets of L.A.”
That’s quite a gob of good “muse.” Still there’s more: venerable veteran author/workshop leader Matthew J. Pallamary just released the audio edition of his award-winning memoir, Spirit Matters. Discussing the book’s themes during a recent 2-hour Inner Journey radio program, the podcast unexpectedly went viral resulting in some 10,500 podcast downloads in 12 hours. In addition to his regular workshops at SD28 Matt will introduce a new one, “Using Audio as an Income Stream.” (As audio book sales are soaring, this is sure to be a popular session.)
Finally, in another unexpected coup, author/workshop leader Gayle Carline, whose latest, seventh book, From the Horse’s Mouth: One Lucky Memoir, the story of her horse Snoopy as told from his perspective, is bound to get a bump real soon. The America’s Horse magazine editor-in-chief recently interviewed Gayle about the book, and the magazine goes out to every member of the American Quarter Horse Association in the world. Gayle will be conducting two workshops at SD28: “Self-Publishing Savvy: Why, How, Where, What You Need to Know” and “Storytelling is Murder, She Wrote.”
What with the site rollover to the new format and other tech gremlins of late, am not embarrassed to say it’s been a tough conference to wrangle together this time around as so many important aspects of the industry need to be authoritatively addressed, from the inevitably essential issues of quality craft execution and the practical aspects of navigating current business modalities of self-, indie-, traditional publishing to the philosophical pugilism being waged from all four corners of the ring about the legitimacy & benefits of self-publishing vs. going legacy. There is no right or wrong in this fight. In fact, there shouldn’t even be a fight. There are only options and wise—or not—choices to be made. The big knuckle in the mitt is what it ultimately drills down to, individual author by individual author.
That said, now that the schedule has been posted our hope is that by weekend’s end every individual writer attending will be able to determine what the best, most ideal path to pursue publication success is right for them. As usual, we’ll likely throw in some ad-hoc sessions based on expressed interest during conference weekend.
Check back for more soon, and don’t forget to join the conversation on the SCWC Facebook page.
Now go forth and write well. More importantly, have something worthy to say. (Or at least tell a whoopingly entertaining, snot-snorting good story!)
–Michael Steven Gregory
Executive Director, SCWC