Archive for September, 2008


LA6: Clothing Optional

September 30, 2008
Sally van Haitsma, Stacey O'Brien, Rick Ochaki, Kathleen Gilligan and Andrew Peterson

From L to R: Sally van Haitsma, Stacey O'Brien, Rick Ochaki, Kathleen Gilligan and Andrew Peterson

In a noble effort to keep it real at our Irvine event, agent Sally van Haitsma, editor Kathleen Gilligan and authors Stacey O’Brien and Andrew Peterson join conferee Rick Ochaki for a late-night Rogue read & critique session in the hotel sauna where, as is clearly posted on the rules board, it’s “Clothing Optional.”

We may just implement this new rule in all Rogues at San Diego, come February. Whutcha think?



SCWC*LA6 Award recipients

September 29, 2008

Those writers whose work was cited by a consensus of staff authors, agents and editors as being exceptional to the point of warranting special recognition:

from Los Angeles, CA for Molly Ringwald Ending
from Marina Del Ray, CA for King’s X
from Laguna Hills, CA for To Hunt a Sub
• OUTSTANDING NONFICTION >> Catherine Claxton Dong
from Corona, CA for Predicting History
• TOPIC >> Alice Hayward
from Los Angeles, CA for Betrayed by a Stray (read here)

More soon on what all else went on at this past weekend’s stellar event in Irvine.



Know Your Workshop Leaders: Lynn Price

September 26, 2008

Okay, a confession. The first time I saw the phrase “IPPY Award Winner”, I chuckled. IPPY. It sounds cute, doesn’t it? But the 2007 Independent Publisher Book Award is no joke, and that’s exactly what Lynn Price won for her novel Donavan’s Paradigm.

As the editorial director of Behler Publications, Ms. Price is particularly, impressively, and even uniquely (if I don’t beat that word into the ground) qualified presenter, bringing us two workshops “How to Avoid the Maalox Moment with a Publisher“, and “I’ve Written ‘The End’, Now What?“, slated for Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning respectively.

Check out her website to learn more about Ms. Price and her books, or her blog to learn more about her mind.

(A note for Ms. Price: In truth, I still have my old Sanyo I-don’t-know-what-model-it-is phone that came with my original Sprint contract. I checked out the Rumor earlier this year, and, well, did you ever see the interior of a Yugo? The plastic was so thin, and you could see how thin it was just by looking at it. I confess, that’s the same feeling I got when I first picked up the Rumor. So I put it down and kept my old phone. And despite its journeys to the bottom of a swimming pool and my laundry machine, Hell-baking temperatures and frigid winter nights in my car, indeed, it still works. Please let us know if you find one that doesn’t … uh … suck stale Twinkie cream.)

(Really? That stuff goes stale? The notion is one of those that makes me wish I had religion, so I could say, “God help us.”)



Know Your Workshop Leaders: Laurel Corona

September 25, 2008

Laurel Corona come on down … or step on up, such as it is. Ms. Corona will present two session at LA6, “Fact and Storytelling in Nonfiction” and “Ethics in Nonfiction Writing“. A professor at San Diego City College, Dr. Corona is the author of, most recently, Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi’s Venice (Hyperion), and Until Our Last Breath (St. Martin’s), the story of Jewish partisans in Vilna, Lithuania.

But it doesn’t stop there. A trip to her website reveals that she has also freelanced twenty or so young adult stories for Lucent.

The phrase “whip-smart” comes to mind, although I still don’t know where it comes from. (Anyone? Anyone?) Writers of non-fiction and fiction alike … well, I would say you shouldn’t miss her Saturday workshops, except I’m not going to set our presenters against one another. Diverse reasons abound for people to be here, there, or somewhere else, but if you’re wondering if maybe these are workshops you might attend, stop wondering and just go, already.



Know Your Workshop Leaders: Steven M. Thomas

September 25, 2008

What can I possibly tell you about Steven M. Thomas that you don’t already know from reading his staff bio at the SCWC main website? Then again, what can I tell you about anyone else, either?

Okay, okay, I promise to do my homework next time. (I’ll harp on this point if I can, because one way to defeat embarrassment is to beat everyone to the obvious punch. Oh, wait, this isn’t about me ….)

(Ahem.) So … what can I tell you? Well, to review, Mr. Thomas will be presenting a workshop on The Power of Perception as well as taking center stage as Saturday morning’s featured speaker. And if you’ve read the newsletter or the aforementioned staff bio, you already know that Mr. Thomas is an award-winning author, diversely published, and enjoying the recent release of his first novel, Criminal Paradise.

But I can also tell you that he has a website, was not an Eagle Scout, and did not sing in the boys’ choir. Of course, you would know these things, too, if you happened to have found his website.

But I promise you, these profiles are not exercises in futility. Think of how cool it will be next time when I get them posted … well, early enough to be of some use to you all.

And speaking of early next year, keep an eye out for his forthcoming novel, Spiritual Criminals, via Ballantine.

Welcome, Steven. Please excuse not only my tardiness, but also my grotesque ignorance.



Know Your Workshop Leaders: Iota Publishing

September 25, 2008

Iota Publishing is a regional company, located in Irvine, specializing in fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and suspense; they have a keen interest in authors from the southwestern United States and books set in or associated with the region. It is our honor to be able to name them as part of the SCWC community, and this year brings us a fantastic delegation.

Terry R. Cooper is Iota’s president, who has declared before that “Iota’s mission is about finding new authors”, and we hope they find among our conference attendees a rich harvest to consider. In truth, however, I know very little about Mr. Cooper. What I do know is that he is willing to brave the slings and arrows of internet discussion boards in order to answer people’s questions about his company, and he has won the loyalty of his authors. This is no small feat. We expect good things of Iota’s roundtable workshop on Friday afternoon.

And on the company’s behalf, I can only say good things about editor Kimberly Cole, who I have, indeed, had the honor of meeting. At last year’s conference in Irvine, Ms. Cole reviewed my manuscript and managed at once to give sound advice about character and plot development while showing great respect for my artistic ambitions. I hope that you, too, will find her perspective and advice as helpful as I have.

Nor would their presence be complete without Lorelei Armstrong (In the Face, sched. October, 2008), the aforementioned loyal author, and Raymond Obstfeld (Anatomy Lesson), an Edgar Award nominee and best-seller according to both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. His second title with Iota, Borrowed Lives is due in bookstores next month. Make sure you’re awake early on Sunday, as he is the morning speaker.

Iota is in a unique position as a young and ambitious company bringing new talent to the market, an ideal fit for the SCWC. You can find them online at their website, blog and … that’s right … MySpace page.



I hear rumors ….

September 22, 2008

Okay, a rumor.

While some might consider it inappropriate to be rumor-mongering about future gatherings of the Southern California Writers’ Conference in the week before LA6, I have heard a whisper about a possible discussion of facts, legends, and stereotypes about cops in crime fiction that might take place as early as SD23 in February.

To the other, maybe now is a good time to mention it, because if it seems like a good idea, you might want to drop a hint to MSG and Wes in Irvine this weekend.

For my part, I think it’s an excellent idea. First, we do have some police-related talent in SCWC circles, and no small talent at that. Additionally, while I, personally, have yet to dabble in crime fiction, I recently received notes and a partial outline, as well as a blessing to run with the project—I’m trying to encourage its creator to take on the challenge himself—that is, indeed, tempting. And, well, even setting that aside, it would probably do me some good to clear up a few of the myths. (Don’t ever get me started on the police when I’ve had a couple of drinks; it just isn’t nice, and it certainly isn’t fair.)

I’ve been promised updates on the rumor as it develops—hopefully into fact, else I will look somewhat foolish—and will most certainly share them as they come in.



Know Your Workshop Leaders: Katie Gilligan

September 22, 2008

Ms. Katie Gilligan, once upon a time, was the “dork on the back of the school bus“, and now works as an associate editor at Thomas Dunne Books.

I know less about her than … well, okay, just work with me here.

But her firm seems to be on a strong run, including David Lynn Golemon’s “Events Group” books (Legend listed in the debuted on the NYT mass-market in July), Liam Durcan’s Garcia’s Heart (which won the prestigious Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel), Steve Hamilton’s Night Work (grabbed a nomination for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award) … John Hart (Down River, Barry Award nominee), Thomas B. Cavanagh and Michael Koryta (Head Games and A Welcome Grave respectively, both nominated for the Shamus Award for Best Hardcover Novel), Namita Devidayal (The Music Room, shortlisted for the Shakti Batt Prize) ….

Thomas Dunne Books is a division of St. Martin’s Press that covers a diverse array of subjects and genres. We are, of course, thrilled to have such prestige gracing our humble … oh, right, it’s MSG. Anyway, yes, we are thrilled.

In other words, come and see—and hear—a charismatic and successful editor share her knowledge and perspectives on … um … did I mention I haven’t been paying attention lately? At any rate, the tentative workshop schedule is available online, and is also included in the newsletter you may or may not have received (which is, in fact, the aforementioned online source).

My apologies to Ms. Gilligan; if she has a personal website or blog, I seem to have missed it.



Know Your Workshop Leaders: Andrea Portes

September 22, 2008

Any number of sentences might go here. Apologies, sheepish attempts at justification, maybe even some random and empty fortune-cookie philosophy. You know, like, “Soon you will make an important journey“.

Well, duh. Of course you are. To Irvine. At the end of the week. And here I am, yet to start on the one and only thing I wanted to make sure I got done between SD22 and LA6: Know Your Workshop Leaders.

So where to start, then? It seems perversely portentous—and only slightly pretentious—to start by recalling the one profile I finished for this year’s San Diego conference: the inimitably delightful Andrea Portes.

Damn it, I used “inimitable” last time. Anyway ….

In addition to the lavish acclaim drenching Ms. Portes’ debut novel, Hick, the story has also been optioned for screenplay by Steven Siebert (The Lighthouse EMG) and Christian Taylor (Taylor Lane Productions, where Hick currently appears on the front page).

Ms. Portes is exactly the sort of hip young talent with razor wit and daring boundaries (or some might accuse, lack thereof) that can help her fellow writers learn to transcend their own challenges and follow the path to fame and glory untold, or, at least, and perhaps for the better, literary merit. Additionally, for those who need to know, she is into such cool sounds as The White Stripes, Grandaddy, and Radiohead, enjoys stories told in all forms, including silver-screen presentations of Harold & Maude, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, and Lolita among others, and, apparently, is a vodka tonic.

What’s her sign? In truth, I don’t know. I didn’t find the answer at her website, although it’s entirely possible I overlooked it.

And, frankly, having taken myself out of the loop these last couple months, I have no idea most of our workshop leaders intend to present. Ms. Portes will be bringing us “Kill Your Ego” and “Writing in Bed“, and “All for Naughty: Tackling Taboo Subjects“.

Enlightening, entertaining, and perhaps a few other things that would be impolite to suggest, Ms. Portes brings to SCWC damn near everything you could ask. We’re so happy to have her onboard.


(Update: Out of the loop, indeed. My bad. Really. Hell, if I’d stopped to read through the recent entries here, I would have known to include the excellent news that, as MSG so aptly put it, “Hick‘s hot“. Make sure to pay close attention to whatever she says, so then someday you can say you knew her when she was only kind of famous, instead of mega-super-mondo famous.)


A NY Times bestseller!

September 17, 2008

Just got a call. Simon & Schuster reports that LA6 Saturday evening speaker Stacey O’Brien’s Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl will debut on The New York Times‘ nonfiction bestseller list this Sunday. No. 13, I believe.

I’m thinkin’ we got some celebrating to do in Irvine. Whoever brings the champagne, know that I’m showering Sally in it!