Posts Tagged ‘karen syed’


Claudia says: Or, why you should register for SCWC LA9

August 31, 2011

Claudia WhitsittYes, friends, there is still time to register for the Ninth Annual Southern California Writers’ Conference, Los Angeles edition, a.k.a. LA9. And if our friend Claudia Whitsitt doesn’t mind, I would like to borrow a little of this and a pinch of that, and perhaps a dash of something else in order to explain to you just why you should be signing up for “the best writers’ conference EVER!

(Isn’t that sweet? Thank you so much, Claudia. I’m certain MSG is smiling. And if not, we’ll try the stapler.)

Why, you ask? The first time I attended this conference, I was scared to death. My knees rattled, my breathing arrested, my heart clutched inside my chest. I was a newbie. What the hell did I know about writing? But then, at the opening session, Michael Steven Gregory, the head of the conference, spoke in his loud announcer-like voice, reassuring me and the rest of the writers in the room that we would SUCK LESS at writing after having attended this conference. His humor and his honesty relaxed us all. And we remained hopeful, that as we tread in these unventured waters, we’d learn how to swim.

He encouraged us to network, and challenged us to introduce ourselves to someone new. He told us that the best networking happens in the bar. I took his advice and found that he was right. While it’s true that I might spend a little more time there now than I should, I’ve also made some of the best connections, cultivated some of the best friendships and met some of the most talented people I could ever hope to meet.

I should also mention that this is where I met my publisher, Karen Syed of Echelon Press, and where I entered my essay in the SCWC/Hummingbird Review contest and … WON! I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, just share with you the wonderful things that can happen at SCWC.

I mean, really. I don’t think if we were to throw together a late-night infomercial that I could script a testimony like that.

So come on. What have you got to lose? I mean, who doesn’t want to suck less?

SCWC LA9 is slated for September 23-25, in Newport Beach. Be there. Really. Or I’ll have to send Claudia with the stapler.

(Claudia Whitsitt is the author of The Wrong Guy, published by Echelon Press.)



Echelon lands three more books at SCWC

November 5, 2009

Another three SCWC conferees have scored book deals with Echelon Press. Barbara DeShong, who’s been with us several times, is now the proud author of her debut novel Too Rich & Too Thin: Not an Autobiography, a comedic mystery out this past September. SD23 conferee Nick Valentino’s steampunk adventure, Thomas Riley, will be published February. And we just got word that Jennifer Hilborne’s Madness and Murder is due third quarter of 2010.

This makes for at least five first-time novelists being discovered by Echelon publisher Karen Syed at the SCWC in the past two years. Given her success rate with us, rest assured that she’ll be joining us again in February, as will many other familiar faces and new. Pop over to to see who all’s already aboard.



KYSL SD23: The Agents and Editors Panel

February 12, 2009

And now, for something completely different.

Introducing our Agents and Editors, who will enlighten and entertain you with insightful discussions with a regular feature of SCWC, the Agents and Editors Panels. There are two of these talks slated, one each on Saturday and Sunday, and if I’m not especially embarrassed that I’ve somehow managed to miss these events at the conferences I’ve attended before (only two!) it’s because I have plenty to be embarrassed about, and at least I’ll survive this.

But, as word gets around, these are very good talks, and I’m just an idiot for having skipped them before. (I’ll spare you the story.)

Thus, some people I really ought to be paying attention to:

  • Claire Gerus packaged her experience as editor-in-chief for two major publishing houses, and from years working for seven other major publishers into a literary agency. During her time in publishing, she oversaw the editing of the first biography of former First Lady Laura Bush, and was recently ranked among the nation’s best literary deal-makers.
  • Kathleen Gilligan works as an editor for Thomas Dunne Books, and has worked with many non-fiction writers on titles including Susan Konig’s Why Animals Sleep So Close, Senator Arlen Specter‘s best-selling portrait of live with cancer, Never Give In. In addition, she has a keen interest in women’s fiction, and to borrow a quote, “Particularly with curious, genuine narrators whose quirks resonate with my own, moving literary fiction, or nonfiction projects that inspire me to cook delicious food!”
  • Jacqueline S. Hackett is an attorney and member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives. She is also the founder of Literary Works, a full-service boutique literary agency. She brings a solid track record to our panel, with recent titles including Michael Schacker’s A Spring Without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply and Rachel Vassel’s Daughters of Men: Portraits of African-American Women and Their Fathers.
  • Jeff Moores represents writers for Dunow, Carlson & Lerner, a Manhattan literary agency with a diverse roster. Equally diverse are his interest, which include literary fiction, voice-driven sci-fi and urban fantasy, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, politics, current affairs, journalism, graphic novels, gay & lesbian, popular culture and popular science.
  • You’ve already met Lynn Price, although I’m sure there’s plenty to add. So let’s hear another round of applause for Lynn, eh? You’re wonderful. All of you.
  • Jennifer Silva Redmond is also adding the panel to her list of things to do. I don’t know, can I beg more applause?
  • Adrienne Rosado is making the trip out from New York, where she works for PMA Literary and Film Agency, a firm with a diverse roster including genre fiction, true crime, world history, even politics (including Vincent Bugliosi’s The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder).
  • And then there’s the lovely Karen Syed. I’ll just hold up a cardboard sign that says Applause. Yeah. Just like that. Thank you.
  • Sally Van Haitsma is making the trip out from Del Mar, home of the Castiglia Literary Agency, a publishing house with broad interests including commercial, literary, and multicultural fiction, narrative non-fiction, investigative journalism, pop culture, parenting, gardening, architecture and interior design, biography, business, investing, finance, cookbooks, sports, and more. It really is an impressive list. And Sally’s in on a bunch of those. And we so adore her. Er, I mean … just like everyone else.
  • Natanya Wheeler comes cross-country from Lowenstein-Yost Associates, where she specializes in narrative nonfiction including memoirs, women’s issues, alternative energy and green living, politics, and apparently she really likes stuff about birds. And she’s working to build a fiction portfolio, focusing on literary fiction, women’s fiction, “edgy character-driven thrillers”, “moody mysteries”, young adult, and stand-alone graphic novels.

And … wait a minute. Let me double-check. Okay, I don’t think I left anyone off that list. (Just watch.) But I’m surprised, because, well, aren’t we just dripping with talent?

And you know what? It’s not over yet ….



KYSL SD23: Karen Syed

February 12, 2009

Know Your Session Leaders ….

Karen Syed is another who I have listed as “TBA”. You know, I’ll just say that’s me. But, more importantly, Karen is the owner of Echelon Press, a diverse genre house that includes the 2009 Eppie finalist Just a Memory, by Lois Carroll, and Toni LoTempio’s suspenseful Witch’s Pawn. In fact, if you look through their catalog, you’ll know better what I mean by diverse.

So keep an eye out for Karen, too.



“Crying on the Sidewalk, Talking to ‘Rome'”

October 2, 2008

A conferee from our San Diego 22 event, writer Rich Howard, just got his blog up and running and was kind enough to let us know. For both accomplished and emerging writers everywhere, there’s much to glean from Rich’s entry describing his experience at SD22. My favorite excerpt, however, regards an exchange he had with Echelon Press publisher Karen Syed, during their one-on-one conversation addressing his manuscript:

“I owe you an apology,” she said. I looked at her, baffled. “There may be corrections in these pages somewhere but I was so into what I was reading I forgot to edit.” We both laughed.

Why does that appeal to me? Simple. Distinctive voice and quality storytelling can often transcend the trivial issues found in the opening pages. Engage the reader fully and you can get away with damn near any split infinitive!

Read Rich’s entire post