Thursday, February 21, 2008

Southern California Writers Conference, San Diego, CA

For the second straight year I attended the Southern California Writers Conference (SCWC) in San Diego over President's Weekend. I'd have to admit that last year I was a little nervous and intimiated by the level of expertise all around me. This year though, I felt much more comfortable and allowed myself to relax, which made it much easier to connect with people and "have fun!"

I met some great new friends:
Tanya Miller, a teacher from Park Rapids, MN
Brian Frederick, a writer from Long Beach, CA
Charlie Redner, a writer from Laguna Woods, CA
Claudia Whitsitt, a teacher from Saline, MI
Kathryn Dionne, an artist from Fallbrook, CA
Christine Stenstrom, an artist from Poway, CA

As many of you know, writing is a unique bond that really draws people together. The Read & Critique sessions at the conference are a wonderful example of building up each other in our craft. After all, we're all there to learn and grow as writers. The real value of the conference comes in the professional writers and editors leading the workshops and seminars who are extremely helpful and open to questions.

During my one-on-one session with Judy Reeves, a writer and teacher from San Diego, she gave me a suggestion on how to weave in bits of critical flashback scenes into the opening chapter of my new book, Seeds of Salton. It's funny...sometimes I just need someone else to point out the obvious and then I "get it!" As soon as I got home I took her advice and divided up what I had written as one big chunk of a flashback scene and wove it into the first section in smaller pieces. I can already tell it moves the story along much better and builds the tension with a greater sense of urgency. It's advice like this that we hope to find at a conference and I'm thrilled to come home knowing I've learned something that will in fact improve my manscript.

I also spent time with author and screenwriter Susan Arnout Smith, the keynote speaker on Sunday morning. She has a brand new book out from St. Martin's Minotaur, The Timer Game. It's a fast-paced thriller that's "as riveting as a ticking bomb," an excellent read! Susan and I connected at last year's conference and she is interested in writing the screenplay for Hidden Heritage...the Story of Paul LaRoche. Susan is an absolute delight and I'm looking forward to working with her in the coming year.

Some of the other speakers and leaders that I found extremely helpful were author and screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff, editor Jean Jenkins, and authors Michael Thompkins, Mark Clements, and Amy Wallen. Of course there were many others on staff, but in a conference this size it's impossible to attend all the workshops.

And now that I'm home, I have work to do: I must write!


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