Archive for January, 2008


New magazine paying writers

January 16, 2008

This just in: Upstart men’s lifestyle magazine, Simply Stag, is looking for writers that have experience in fashion, health, grooming, travel, finance, Q&A and How To. Claiming they’re creating a publication “like nothing else on the market,” editor-in-chief Mark Gilbert stresses that, in addition to seeking an editor, they’re looking for freelancers. And they pay.

Contact info at More info at their MySpace page.



Shapiro makes semi-finals

January 16, 2008

Our own Julie Ann Shapiro (Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries) has made made the semi-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest with her second novel, Three Drop Pennies. Kind’ve like American Idol for the literary-like, you can read an excerpt of the competing novel, post a review and vie for prizes of your own right here. Good luck, Julie!



Advance readers still available

January 15, 2008

A heads up to all those interested in submitting material to a reader prior to the conference, followed by one-on-one consultation at the event, but who missed the deadline. Through the end of January, several of the advance readers will be accepting submissions on a first come, first served basis, including Echelon Press publisher Karen Syed (suspense, mystery, cutting-edge fiction), Night Shade Books editor-in-chief Jeremy Lassen (sci-fi, fantasy, horror), Sunbelt Publications editor-in-chief Jennifer Redmond (regional and literary fiction, nonfiction), agents Kelly Skillen, Kelly Sonnack, Elaine Spencer, Sally van Haitsma and Natanya Wheeler, as well as many of our staff authors.

With regards to the agents and editors, most will sell out within the next week so be sure to indicate an alternate reader (second choice). Check for further updates.



New Staff Member

January 11, 2008

Hello, Ed Decker here. I just wanted to introduce myself as the newest addition to the Southern California Writer’s Conference team. How did I get so lucky? Well, I weaseled my way in by letting the Executive Director (MSG) beat me in disc golf and by laughing at his mostly annoying jokes.

But I kid the Executive Director.

I am dropping a line to tell you a little about what I’ll be doing for the conference, what my street creds are and how you can contact me.

Read the rest of this entry ?


No pressure … (yeah, right)

January 11, 2008

Deadline! Today’s the day! Well, okay, technically, tomorrow is the day your advance submission critique manuscript is due. But if you’re not driving the thing into San Diego yourself, today is the day to send it off. Manuscripts must be received by January 12, and since today is the eleventh …?

No pressure. (Tick … tick … tick ….)

Yeah, right.

Good luck, good writing, and we look forward to seeing you next month.


A personal recommendation

January 9, 2008

Avid readers in the San Diego area ought to take notice that Robin Hobb is coming to Mysterious Galaxy. The coincidence is bittersweet, though, since I won’t be in town.

Nonetheless, I wanted to post a note, since Ms. Hobb is one of my favorite and most respected authors despite the fact that I am, literally, years behind in my reading. The thing is that, with only a couple of exceptions, I don’t read much serial fantasy. It has just never been my thing. But Ms. Hobb’s stories are richly-textured, intricately-woven tales worthy of myriad excessive adjectives. Once upon a time I had the good fortune to spend some time chatting with her at the now-defunct Northwest Bookfest in Seattle, and I picked up a copy of Ship of Magic, the first book of the Liveship trilogy. She kindly signed the book for me, and it went straight onto my shelf, unread, where it languished, literally, for years; I brought it down once to amuse some co-workers who were familiar with some of the fishing vessels named in the book’s dedication. And, yes, I’m so embarrassed to admit to this. But serial fantasy, as I noted, has just never been my thing.

One day, though, for reasons not clear to me, I finally brought the book down and actually read it. And, truly, it made me feel stupid. No, that shouldn’t be taken as a bad thing. I just couldn’t believe I had waited eight years to read it.

And still, I haven’t managed to catch up on Robin Hobb’s stories. Of four trilogies I’ve managed a whole three titles over the years. Because, well, you know … serial fantasy just … er … yeah.

I have no excuse. And neither, having read this, will you. Haul yourself on over to Mysterious Galaxy on Sunday, January 13. Renegade’s Magic, the third title in Robin Hobb’s Soldier Son trilogy, hit the shelves just yesterday. Check the link above for the necessary details, and enjoy.


Bookstores, tourism, and a shameless plug for some friends

January 9, 2008

File under T, for Travel: Beth J. Harpaz brings us, via the Associated Press, thoughts on the “destination bookstore”. Or, as the question has it, “When is a bookstore worth a tourist’s time?

Some bookstores offer literary touchstones, like the wooden chairs signed by writers who’ve visited That Bookstore in Blytheville, an Arkansas institution frequented by native son John Grisham. City Lights in San Francisco, once a hangout for Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, draws tourists from around the world.

“Each one of these stores has a unique, distinct personality and approach,” said Meg Smith, chief marketing officer for the American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independent bookstores. “You really do see a snapshot of the town and the region in these kinds of fulsome independent bookstores.”

And while City Lights is the only California bookstore on the list, the article put me in mind of SCWC’s good friends over at Mysterious Galaxy, which happens to make its home in San Diego. (That’s right, San Diego …. What? What’s that? What’s so special about San Diego? Do I really need to remind you?)

Anyway, click the link and check ’em out. If you live in the San Diego area and haven’t made it down to browse their titles and fabulous offering of signed first editions … well … what’s your excuse?


Little things

January 9, 2008

It is amazing, sometimes—at least, if we stop to think about it—how much power we invest in what are otherwise described as “the little things”. Take the idea of blogging, for instance. There are many critiques of weblogs. Some are useful: the presentation is cluttered, the font too small; the sentences are jagged, or maybe the whole voice is too conversational and colloquial to make the point to any but those closely associated with the writer. Some of the criticisms exist solely for the satisfaction of the critic, who might feel superior for accusing hubris, or reminding of how crowded the blogosphere has become, and how insignificant any one voice might seem. These, especially, might seem familiar to writers of fiction; the next great storyteller will emerge from hostile soil, will blossom despite a cynical world that, more and more, wants its artists to simply shut up and pass out the brain candy.

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit overstated, but let’s face it: sexy fireballs sell, and there are many days on which we might look around and wonder if that’s all we have left. Make murder erotic, make suffering cool. The only upshot, it seems, is that villains should be trendy, which provides for ample condemnation of fad and fashion. Maybe it is too much to ask that the root of all evil should listen to Britney Spears, but still, there is plenty of room for indictment, and plenty of guilt to go around.

The challenges can often seem daunting, and after one too many seeming digressions about life, the universe, and everything one might be tempted to walk away, curl up with a good book, and leave the writing to the writers. Aside from that last, it’s actually good advice. Because you are a writer. We are writers.

One of the first things you see when you go to the website for the Southern California Writers’ Conference—okay, one of the first things you see after you click through the introductions—is one of the most important reminders you can ever take heed of: “A writer is a writer before, as well as after, publication.”

This is so important. How many times do we say things like, “I want to be a writer,” or, “I’m trying to be a writer”? Even as a blogger, that’s all I tend to call it. What am I doing these days? Oh, I’m blogging, working on the novel, trying to be a writer. How does that work out? I mean, somewhere in there, I know I’m sick and tired of the question, “Are you published?” What? It’s the inevitable question when people hear that we’re writers. So we say we’re trying to be writers. As if the only writers on the planet are those who get paid to write.

But we are writers. The vast majority of writers on the planet don’t get paid to do it.

Another phrase to bear in mind: “A writer writes, all the time.” I can’t recall where I picked it up, suffice to say it was a while ago, and most likely from a paid writer who was trying to make the point that he was not the only paid writer in the room. Or perhaps it comes from the advice that, “A writer reads, all the time.” But even from that perspective, the writer is still writing, of a sort. The most part of writing is a creative art. What distinguishes us from painters, for instance, is how we record our creations. The painter paints, the sculptor sculpts, and the writer writes. And while the practice of writing demands certain investments of time and discipline, the truth is that writers are about their business at all times. Creative transformation is a never-ending process. Our creative endeavors take place in the shower, or over lunch. Hours spent at day jobs are not immune. We practice our art even while reading other people’s writing. And, heaven help us, more than a few of us have been known to let our minds wander back to the stories we tell while tangled in our lovers’ arms.

We are writers. Always and forever. Before, as well as after publication. And despite our constant devotion to our art, it seems we need constant reminding of that fact.

Or maybe it’s just me.

But this all leads back to the little things, and the power they possess. Because, in blogging, every day I sit in front of my computer and, despite self-deprecating equivocation, yes, I write. And then, when I decide everything looks good enough—again, it’s just a little thing—I slide the mouse to highlight the button, and click on the word “Publish“.

Really, it’s a little thing. A daily reminder. And it has power.


Tick … tick … tick … (no pressure)

January 9, 2008

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines! Do you work better under pressure? Registered conferees face an upcoming deadline: Saturday, January 12, 2008. This is the date by which your advance critique submissions should be received for review:

Submissions must be in proper format and be received by no later than January 12, 2008. Advance Manuscript Critique is available only to registered conferees and will be returned at the conference. Appointments times for one-on-one sessions will be posted at the Registration Desk.

Address your manuscript to the appropriate Reader in care of the conference (SCWC), 1010 University Ave., #54, San Diego, CA 92103. You may register first then submit your material later, as long as material is received before deadline.

Or see the SCWC website for more information, including notes on manuscript format and reader selection. Time keeps on tickin’ ….

(Are you not a registered conferee? There’s only one solution to that: sign up for the 22nd Annual Southern California Writers’ Conference at San Diego!)


Know Your Session Leaders: Andrea Portes

January 3, 2008

It is time to get to know your session leaders and speakers at SCWC. First up, the inimitable Andrea Portes, who intends to teach you how to “Kill Your Ego” and give advice on “Writing in Bed”.Andrea’s debut novel, Hick hit the shelves last May, and straightaway hit the Los Angeles Times best-seller list. I hear she was very proud. And why not? Finding oneself amid company like Khaled Hosseini, Cormac McCarthy, Sara Gruen, and James Patterson, among others, is no easy task. And we at SCWC are proud to count her among our friends.

The reviews, of course, have been fantastic:

Guy Savage at Mostly Fiction includes Hick in good company as well, giving the book 4.5 stars out of 5:

If you enjoyed novels such as Where the Heart Is and She’s Come Undone, then there’s a good chance you’ll also enjoy Hick.

The Emerging Writers Network matches that four-and-a-half, and piles on the praise:

From the time Luli walks off her property through to the end of the novel, Portes gives us a combination of road novel with coming of age work. She blends the two seamlessly as Luli grows up in front of the reader, beginning to explore her own sexuality and the power that this entails, while at the same time, going through some of the traditional road trip scenarios – meeting new people, getting in troublesome situations, etc. The thing Portes does extremely well is give Luli this ability to survive, no matter what is thrown her way, and plenty is thrown her way – and frequently brought upon by her own actions, reminding the reader again and again that she is only 13. This is also where the writing of Portes shines. While only 13, Luli almost forces herself to step outside her body and simply be a witness to events that are occurring. Throughout, she holds onto a ‘this will pass’ sort of mantra, and it is entirely believable.

Portes has created a character that the reader cannot help but root for, even when knowing she is taking a mis-step or two (or more). The fact that Portes did so, while allowing said character to have a wit, and a nose for interesting situations, helps the pages fly by. It’s an exceptional debut effort and hopefully the beginning of a great career.

And Regis Schilken, author of The Oculi Incident and The Island Off Stony Point, strongly recommends Hick:

Hick is fast paced, it is original, it is an outstanding novel of perseverance and courage. Luli’s sometimes crude descriptions will make a reader howl but at the same time, root for her survival amidst all the foul play tugging at her heartstrings. She is out there, she is alone, but damn, she will survive. “I’m not looking back playing that same old song no more. I ain’t gonna spend my life staring at my socks, slouching to a chorus of mighta coulda shoulda woulda.”

I would recommend Hick to any reader looking for a fascinating story and is not offended by the “F” word. Luli has heard it from infancy. Her speech would sound unnatural without it considering the years of low-life she endured before taking off on her own.

I would sincerely hope that author Portes is planning a sequel to Hick so readers who fall in love with charismatic Luli like I did, can ultimately see her fate. I would personally like to congratulate Andrea Portes for writing Hick. One would never know it was a first novel.

The reviews are in. Many of them. And they’re all positive. We at SCWC hope to bring you the best, and we’re proud to present Miss Andrea Portes at our San Diego conference over the Presidents’ Day Weekend.

There is, indeed, still time to register. See the Southern California Writers’ Conference website for more information about speakers and session leaders, and how to sign up for this most excellent event.