Thursday, May 02, 2013
Back to Craft and Why Quality Counts; Good “Muse” Abounds
Screenwriter and award-winning author of 66 Laps and Wife Goes On Leslie Lehr will be joining us for the first time come September. Her essays have appeared in the anthologies Mommy Wars, The Honeymoon's Over and Arianna Huffington's On Becoming Fearless. Her latest is What a Mother Knows, out next week from Sourcebooks Landmark. Heather Gudenkauf (New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away) proclaims the book, "A fast-paced and gripping exploration of a mother's love. A powerful affecting novel." Along with conducting at least one workshop, Leslie is the third of LA11 special guest speakers announced thus far.
Other new books out from SCWC staffers and alumni: NY Times bestselling NovelCram track instructor Drusilla Campbell's When She Came Home and international award-winner Darlene Quinn's Unpredictable Webs (which just picked up the Beverly Hills Book Award for Fiction.)
The second in her Samantha mystery series, Claudia Whitsitt's Intimacy Issues was released last month by Blue Jay Media Group. And next month, we've got Richard Craig Anderson's Cobra Clearance coming out from Hellgate Press, along with the follow-up to her wonderfully creepy debut novel Wuftoom, Mary G. Thompson's Escape from the Pipe Men! (Clarion).
On the recent deals front, LA9 conferee Aline Ohanesian just signed with Algonquin. Her book, The Exile, is slated for 2014 publication. And Ryka Aoki, another SCWC*LAer, just got the contract from publisher Topside Signature for her He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song), also due out 2014. Congratulations to all.
Getting Back to Craft
While it's true that the SCWC has long been the vanguard of foreseeing and addressing publishing industry trends, alerting and educating writers on how to navigate the ever-shifting tides of transmedia integration while not getting pulled down by its often unforgiving undercurrents, what's also true is this: craft matters. The way in which a story unfolds, the deftness of its telling, the quality of its editing, the ability of the writer to effectively communicate the story in her mind to some stranger across a stark, simple page and ultimately fulfill what expectations were initially aroused in that reader--that remains the bed rock on which the SCWC was founded. It remains the foundation on which we continue to build each and every SCWC event.
Craft matters. Execution matters. Delivering on expectations roused in the reader matters.
There's a lot of flotsam circulating out there at the moment. Everybody with a self-published e-book, anybody with a Twitter feed or Facebook page to like, Pinterest profile to ping, or any other one of a seemingly infinite variety of "vital" social media platforms that must allegedly be engaged to succeed, seems to be selling themselves as some kind of guru; an authority on how to succeed as a writer.
Problem is, too many of them are not the writers they need to be and too many are not the provably qualified authorities they claim to be.
It seems that now more than ever before conferences are sprouting up presenting lackluster or woefully uninformed information to attending writers, in particular, to those who now stand at the crossroads of whether to legacy-publish or self-publish.
It's a racket. Writers must beware. Writers must do their due diligence. Get informed and do not discount information out of hand simply because you may not like it. The ridiculous furor over Barry Eisler's recent comments at another conference and online are a testament to that. When Barry first joined the SCWC years ago he spoke to what he felt was imminent, of the choices writers would have to face with regards to publication. Nobody balked. We embraced, researched, anticipated and empowered writers with information.
Nobody in a professional capacity had the indecency to name-call and vent their fears of decreased relevance on Twitter to bolster their own self-perception of value to aspiring writers they might otherwise milk.
As usual, in September we'll be dealing with the pertinent issues of Do Yourself Independence (DYI--not "DIY"), but be reminded that our first and foremost focus remains troubleshooting problematic storytelling in effort to further empower writers with the tools and understanding to allow their work to shine, regardless of their publication platform. And, as usual, we'll devote ourselves to facilitating publication success of work that warrants being discovered.
Please do remember that the Newport Beach conference is more limited in size than San Diego. Reserve your spot by taking advantage of the Early "Bard" Discount. And don't forget to join the conversation on our SCWC Facebook Wall.