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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Southern California Writers' Conference Recap

Aloha,

Dear Writer, this post is for anyone who’s ever wanted to attend a Writers’ Conference but lacked the finances, time – or the nerve.

This past weekend I attended the 27th Southern California Writers’Conference, and how I wish you could see a picture of the pre-me (I was very small and malnourished) and the post-me (well actually, you can. Here’s a group shot:)
It's Serious Business During a Rogue Read & Critique...
 

 I arrived at the conference hotel Friday at about noon, but I was all down in the dumps because WIP#1 (a memoir) is finished and edits are well underway, but like that guy in the movie, Wayne's Globe, I suffered from a severe feeling of I'm-not-wordy.
Within several hours though, I was surrounded by hundreds of writers, many of whom had brought books that filled the mobile bookstore in the conference foyer.

Like Russell Crowe in that opening scene of Gladiator, I ambled the long table, my splayed fingers traced the front of the soft paperbacks and felt the sharp corners of the hard covers.
I looked around… these books were written by someone attending this conference. Wow…

Time to network!



Oz Monroe rests while Paul de Lancey talks :)
I arranged a small platoon of trusty business cards in my shirt pocket, and within minutes the first card had been swapped for another writers.
The fun had begun - and it didn’t end - for me - until 4 a.m. Monday morning. (Sleep is so over-rated at SCWC…)
The Read and Critique sessions are one of the main reasons why I attend SCWC... and the "Rogues" (so called because they begin at 9 p.m. and continue sometimes until 6:04 a.m.) are among the best ways I know to get real, honest live feedback from people who know what they're talking about.
 
 
 
 
All told, I participated in:
My Stash :)

·         Nine workshops

·         Attended a five-agent Q&A panel

·         Spoke with four agents, (none of whom had extra heads, flame-filled nostrils or gargoyle features)

 
·         Listened to three amazing speakers, Caitlin Rother, David Brin and Andrew E. Kaufman

·         Earned two rounds of applause at “read and critique” sessions

·         Won one award (2013 Southern California Writers’ Conference “Outstanding Memoir” Award.)
SCWC Director, Wes Albers, Me & SCWC Exec. Director, Michael Steven Gregory

Sure, I didn’t walk away with an agent or a publisher offering a bag of swag, but let me tell you… when I heard my name called out among the many at the annual awards ceremony – it was such a validation to know my hard work was recognized – by my peers.


My peers.


Read & Critique Sessions - where an encouraging word is only a seat away!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The same people who, after I begrudgingly read the final chapter of the memoir (I felt it wasn’t “right” but knew I needed the honest feedback) went quiet… before they gave me a round of applause.

My peers.
Letting our hair down - for those that had any :)

 So, Dear Writer, I don’t know where you are in your journey, but I’m right there beside you - and I've got your back if you need it.
Don’t lose the chance to meet some amazing people, build new working relationships and find yourself in a room with someone like Stacey O’Brien, who was rejected so many times she stopped counting - but who also spent two years educating herself by reading nothing but how-to books about writing books.

What’s stopping *you* from attending a Writers’ Conference? (SCWC has two – San Diego in February and Newport Beach in September. Why not plan a year out? Make attending a conference a family vacation – that’s what I do, and it works well for us.)

Seriously, if Caitlin, David, Andrew and Stacey (and the dozens of other authors I met over the weekend) can work hard, perservere, and never give up on their dreams to be a published and respected author – well then, neither will I.
And, more importantly:

Neither. Should. You.

 

44 comments:

Mark Means said...

Congrats Mark, sounds like a very fruitful event!

S.P. Bowers said...

Sounds amazing! Thanks for that. I'm one of the people that want to attend but can't at this phase of my life. Thanks or the details and the encouragement.

Congrats on the award and the conference!

Suzanne Furness said...

Sounds like a blast! Congratulations on the award.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You won Best Memoir - now you know you're on the right path. It will happen!

Miranda Hardy said...

Wow, congrats! That's awesome you won. Sounds like the conference was great.

Al Diaz said...

obviously you had a great time with this. And I bet you learned a lot too. That's great. Congratulations on your award! I'm sure all that effort will get its reward. :)

mauricem1972 said...

Congratulations Mark, conferences can always be nerve-wracking.
- Maurice Mitchell
The Geek Twins

David P. King said...

Dude! That's wonderful! A much deserved congratulations, sir. You're going to be picked up in no time. It's just a matter of time.

Too bad I couldn't make it there. Cali is my old stomp'n grounds. :)

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

That's wonderful, Mark! Congratulations!!

C. Lee McKenzie said...

Best? As in Blue Ribbon? Good grief you're half way to the Pulitzer. Can I say I knew you when? I love doing that.

Here's a serious Alligator Kudos to you.

Julie Luek said...

You know I'm just thrilled and doing an old-lady-embarrass-my-kids-happy-dance for you (throwing in a few 80s moves-- clap n' spin).

Johanna Garth said...

Pre-me...you made me laugh! Sounds like an amazing conference. I always find so much inspiration from my peer writers. The thing I love about writers is that, as a group, we're all so varied and different.

Rena said...

Great, now all i can think about are two headed, flame-filled nostrils to go along with all the agents on my list.


*sound of kneed clacking together*


Just kidding.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Congratulations on your win! There is nothing like a conference to get your writing motor charged up. With a win under your belt, you must be super-charged!

Nancy Thompson said...

Congrats on winning Best Memoir! That should tell you something. You are wordy...worthy!! I love writer conferences. Wish I had the time and money to attend more than one a year. The workshops and panels are incredible and the networking in essential. Maybe we'll meet in person at one of these someday! I am on the west coast after all.

Nicole said...

Great update and congrats on the memoir!!

DL Hammons said...

That's awesome Mark!! Congrats!! :)

Morgan said...

Love, love, LOVE!!!!!!!

Mark, I love the pictures! And I love that you shared this conference with us! And seriously sooooo cool about the award. Having read your amazing tale, I'm not surprised.

I love the high conferences bring---there's something about being with a big group of people who all "get" it. So neat. :D

Cortney Pearson said...

Looks like such a fun time, and it's so true--never give up!! :D

Michael Di Gesu said...

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Happy for you Mark!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would applaud, my fingers are frozen to the keyboard. LOL.... FREEEEEEEZING HERE!

Looks like you had an awesome time. I am pleased to see that your hard work WAS recognized. It's a joyous day indeed.

ALL THE BEST!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I told you the story was awesome!!!

You are so humble. You WON!!!

I'd have made that the headline. And then filled the whole post with...I'm a winner, I'm a winner, I'm a winner, I'm a winner...well, I think you get my point.

Way to go!!

Scarlett said...

"I wish I had a million dollars. Hot dog!"

SO cool to get that kind of recognition for your writing!!
So. Cool. You seriously ROCK! All those little ankle-biters calling you daddy... and you still made it to a writers conference!

Thought I'd R-U-N-N-O-F-T, didn't ya?

*crazy eyes fixed on your accomplishments*

I just can't seem to get my butt in gear and finish this doggone book!

Ah, Mark, it's good to be back in your neck of the... um, ocean.

Elise Fallson said...

CONGRATULATIONS! That is so awesome Mark and a great accomplishment. Can't wait to see your book come out in print so I can read it! :D

Laura said...

Congrats on your award- that's wonderful news. And after reading that, I can almost see a whole lot of writers out there in blog-land straightening their shoulders and dusting off the WIP that was hurled into the dark corner in despair !
Thanks !
Lxxx

Laura Eno said...

A huge congrats to you! That must have been awesome, hearing your name called out. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh, how frickin' cool! I'm so glad you went and got the award. That means it's a good read overall and that counts!

I have to say, I've learned so much when I've attended writer's conferences. Nothing like attending workshops/seminars by well known and many times, from best seller's lists. To have them read your work and see something good is an amazing feeling!

So, w00t and huzzah! Keep up the great work.

Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

Cynthia said...

I'm glad you got so much out of this event! Congratulations again. I'd like to go to a conference later this year. I just haven't decided which one yet...

Sabrina A. Fish said...

Well said, my friend! I love the support I feel when I go to conferences. How great to be with others who just get it.

Congrats on your win. Please tell me you did a happy dance when your name was called. Nevermind, don't tell me. I'll just picture it anyway and giggle...hehehehehe!

Yolanda Renee said...

Congratulations!

What an awesome experience, thanks for sharing!

Jessica Salyer said...

Wow, it sounds like you had a great time Mark. And congrats on your award, that's amazing! I went to my first conference in Oct and am going to another in May. It's definitely invaluable.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Never stop dreaming! So jealous yet happy for you Mark.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Never stop dreaming! So jealous yet happy for you Mark.

M. J. Joachim said...

Congratulations! Sounds like you had such a wonderful time. Kudos to you!

Barbara Garren said...

Okay, 2nd attempt!

Mark,I had the honor of reading for you at Saturday night's Rogue R&C - and I'm not surprised you received the award. Well Done!

Stay in touch - I'd be thrilled to share WIPs that need whipping, Quips that need snipping and Writerly worries that need whiskey!

Barbara

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

A wonderful post and congratulations! I'm sure you will keep in contact with many of the folks you've met. How fun. Have you posted the first page of your memoir?

I'm looking forward to the Christian Writers Seminar I'm going to next weekend. I'll try and throw off all the nerves, feelings of unworthiness, fear, dread, horror, nauseousness, and feelings of invisibility that may come up!

Carrie Butler said...

Congratulations, Mark! :) I've never been to a conference, but someday I'll be able to afford it!

Melissa said...

What an awesome experience!
Great post, Mark. :)

sydneyaaliyah.com said...

Sounds like a fun conference. You should add the read and critique sessions to the WRITE retreat. Congrats on the award as well. I am schedule to go to the DFW Writer's Conference in May. Not so scared after you post. Thanks.

Kirsten said...

I would have been applauding too! The story is an amazing one, and your telling of it is spot on.

Thanks for sharing the thrills and spills of your conference. There was a time even the thought of going through all that critique would have me curled up in a corner. But now ... part of me is whispering what a joy it would be to let another set of eyes and ears inside to shape the story into something stronger.
Though the flame-filled nostrils and gargoyle faces still give me pause ...
Congrats on the recognition! I know it won't be long before I'm congratulating you on your publishing contract! :D

Brinda said...

I love hearing about the experiences of authors at conferences. It lets me know what I could expect much more than a website schedule.Cool.

Misha Gericke said...

Hi Mark,

You've been nominated for Best Commenter in February's Paying Forward Awards.

Congrats!

Misha

Tammy Theriault said...

You had tooooo much fun! Would love to have been there

Bonnee Crawford said...

Thanks for sharing your experience at the writer's conference, Mark :) Sounds like a really great thing to be able to do. The main thing stopping me is that there aren't quite so many in Australia, plus time, plus money. But I'm moving closer to the city this year, so hopefully I'll be able to share some experiences similar to this one. Congrats on the rounds of applause you received; I've no doubt you deserved them :)

E.J. Wesley said...

Yes sir! Always about moving forward and challenging what you think you cannot do.

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