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Wednesday, February 16, 2011


How about southern California for a change? The Southern California Writers' Conference hits Newport Beach in late September. Here are a few questions we had about the event that Executive Director, Michael Steven Gregory, was happy to answer for us.

1.) Why there? Why then? (What atmosphere can participants expect to experience? "Readings? Panels? Night Life? Extra-Curricular?")

Whether in San Diego in February, or Newport Beach come September, one of the things we've long prided ourselves in with the SCWC is fostering a greater sense of community, and making it first and foremost about the conferees -- addressing their immediate needs in a beautiful, spirited, highly accessible environment. As so many writers work in complete isolation, too often removed from empirically qualified on their work, we strive at each of our events to quickly bust through the rigid, overly-serious, pinched-brow atmosphere pervasive at many conferences, assuage the fears and trepidation many new writers carry when exposing their work for the first time, and simply have fun in our collective effort to help make their work suck less on the final day of the conference than it may have on the first. That's our motto: "I suck less at the Southern California Writers' Conference!"

Between the informational and troubleshooting sessions to our late-night read & critique workshops, which can go on anywhere from midnight 'til six in the morning, we have fun working hard to better empower the modern author.

As far as extra-curricular activities are concerned, an SCWC weekend is about the writers and writing, not Sea World or shopping, or even non-writing spouses. In fact, we're dedicated to getting as much work done in the bar as any given workshop. And we do.

2.) Walking away smiling? (What will participants gain from this conference i.e. what aspects of craft will be focused on? "Character,dialog, theme, structure, action, plotting, etc.etc.?")

Beyond the dozens of interactive troubleshooting, informational, and read & critique workshops addressing myriad aspects of story and execution, a great deal of time and attention is paid to current industry trends, author marketing strategies, platform building & branding, as well as new & future technologies that can aid authors of every ilk in launching or sustaining a successful career.

3.) "Amateur at best" or "The best, no amateurs?" (What level of writers will benefit the most from this conference?)

The SCWC has facilitated nearly $4 million worth of first-time author's book and screen deals over the past 24 years. It is geared for writers just starting out, as well as those accomplished professionals switching genres or simply uncertain whether or not their new material is working. In our estimations, the level of the writer is less important than our ability to provide the writer the needed information for her to achieve her publishing objectives, whether with book-length work or feature articles, poetry, screenplays or otherwise.

4.) Where can one hang one's hat? (What kind of accommodations are there for conference goers? "Participating Hotels, package deals? Transportation?")

Our San Diego event takes place every Presidents' Day Weekend in February at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located mere minutes from historic Old Town, the popular Gaslamp District, world famous San Diego Zoo, and Sea World. Our Newport Beach conference, the last weekend of September, takes place at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, a wonderful resort, only a short jaunt from John Wayne Airport in Irvine. Both hotels offer discounted lodging for SCWC conferees, so long as bookings are made before the respective deadlines, as well as shuttles to and from the nearby airport.

5.) Who are these people? (How and who gets selected for the privilege of leading/teaching these workshops?)

The SCWC features a large and growing roster of accomplished authors, editors, agents and other publishing professionals. On the agents front, specifically, we only allow aboard those who are actively seeking new clients. As literary agents find themselves becoming increasingly irrelevant within the industry, more are turning to writers' conferences as an easy means to spend free weekends in beautiful locales, without having any genuine intent of cultivating, let alone representing, fresh talent.

For the conference's official site click Here
For a look at other conferences highlighted on our blog click Here

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