Fun at the podium. One day i hope to be a real speaker at the event.

Fun at the podium. One day I hope to be a real speaker at the event.

I hadn’t been to the Southern California Writers Conference in a few years and I’d forgotten just how valuable it is. The direction I received from the Southern California Writers Conference’s led to me finishing my memoir and self-publishing it in April of 2013. I couldn’t have done it without them and the information and guidance I acquired at the conferences was worth much more than the cost.

Trying to describe the wonderful camaraderie at the conferences is difficult, even for a writer. It’s a wonderful thing any time a group of like-minded people gather to learn and grow, but the Southern California Writers Conference offers a feeling that I have not experienced at other conferences. It’s more like gathering with family.

Organizers Michael Steven Gregory and Wes Albers are blessed with wonderful helpers in Cricket, Rick, Melanie, Jeremy and Chrissie. Every agent and editor who joins forces for the conference does it, not for the money, but for the sheer pleasure of helping other writers bring their dreams to fruition. Their contribution to the conference experience is immeasurable. They are all approachable and friendly. You can even ask them dumb questions without being made to feel dumb.

After a long day of workshops, panels, special events and guest speakers, my friend Linda and I went to the lounge for cocktails. Conference organizers as well as workshop teachers pulled tables together so that we could sit with them. Despite having just met some of them, it was like joining old friends at the local tavern, comfortable and serene.

We enjoyed three days filled with numerous classes for every level of writer, in every genre and publishing niche. I didn’t hang out for the Rouge Read and Critiques this time around, but I won’t miss it the next time. Delirious people stay up until the wee hours of the morning reading and critiquing each other’s prose, and it can only be categorized as an unbridled romp with comrades.

I opted for a $50.00 critique of my work in progress with Jean Jenkins who has been with SCWC for many years. I’m so glad that I did. She gave me direction and clarity that will improve my novel on every level. I will very likely seek out her editing services when I get done with my twenty-fifth rewrite. I found in writing my memoir Miracles and Grace in an Unlikely Place that I am never truly satisfied with my finished product. I eventually hit the wall and said, “I can’t bear to read this one more time,” and sent it off to my editor Marla Miller.

I met Marla at my first Southern California Writers Conference about six years ago. She was teaching a class called, “Do You Have a Story?” She thought that I did and we stayed connected. When I finished my book I asked her to edit it for me. I paid for her professional services and she gave my story the polish it needed by cutting 70,000 words. It was painful, but I took all of her advice and now have a wonderful and professional looking book to show for it. I’ve sold almost 500 copies and have received numerous great reviews.

I took the Pitch Witches workshop at this year’s conference and Marla and her teaching partner Jennifer Silva Redmond were very helpful. There were many pitches given for books in every genre, and the girls offered critiques that sent every attendee out with a clear idea of what was needed to write an inspiring pitch for the work they treasured.

I learned through workshops given by Bethany Lopez and Laura Taylor that I haven’t even begun to promote my first self-published book. They opened my eyes to many avenues that I haven’t taken advantage of. With the knowledge I obtained from their workshops I’m sure that I will sell more of my books through online distribution.

There were too many great people and experiences to write about in one post. My hope is that in sharing what the Southern California Writers Conference did for me I will encourage other aspiring writers to join their family so that they too can bring their writing dreams to fruition.

Showing 4 comments
  • Bethany Lopez

    It was great to meet you.I’m so happy that you gained something from my workshop, and had a wonderful SCWC experience!

    • charisse

      I hope to see you again. you are a great addition to SCWC.

  • Laura Taylor

    Applauding you, Cat! 🙂 Thank you! LT

    • charisse

      Thank you and I’m grateful for your introduction to Kristine Cayne. She is going to be a God send to my career.

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