written by lauren d. h. miertschin

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Southern California Writers’ Conference – L.A. 2010

My second year attending the LA SCWC, it was again not held in Los Angeles, or even in L.A. County for that matter.  The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach – quite fortunate for me because I didn’t have to pay the exorbitant room rates.  I live close enough that I commuted all three days. 

Day One, Friday September 23
I attended the first seminar, “Getting the Most from the Conference", not feeling very excited or hopeful about attending the conference in general.  It began with lots of smiling faces.  It also began slowly.  I felt that I would have been better off not attending that first meeting.  The speaker didn’t even seem to be happy to be there herself.  She came across tired, not at all excited.

The first workshop I attended was “Finding Your Voice and Approach in Nonfiction,” lead by Georgia Hughes.  Georgia Hughes is an editorial director at New World Library.  What a contrast from that first hour!  I found her witty, friendly, and her workshop quite worthwhile.  I met lots of interesting authors with unique nonfiction projects.

Workshop #2, I chose “Your Journal, Your Goldmine,” lead by Robert Yehling (author of seven books).  His workshop really inspired me to get back to journaling (which I put down years ago).  We did writing exercises on pace.  For quick pace, I wrote about running the trail and trying to get back in time to pick up my kindergartner from school.  For slow pace, I wrote about visiting my grandfather in the hospital just before he died.  I nearly cried during that exercise.  (Later I purchased Yehling’s book:  The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life)

I mingled about the terrace for Mixer then met up with Charisse Tyson (owner of Johnny’s Bar & Grill in Hollister), whom I met at last year’s meeting.  We dined together, then adjourned to a hilarious Welcome/Introduction Seminar and evening speaker (Ellen Bryson, author of Transformation of Barthololomew Furtuno). 

Having one car in the family nowadays, my husband and boys picked me up at 9:00 PM.  I arrived home dead-dog-tired and went straight to bed.

Day Two, September 24.

I took the bus to the seminar on day two, something I haven’t done since I was 17 years old.  $1.50 got me there – what a deal!  (I was a bit nervous, not knowing exactly when to pull the cord, so I chatted nervously with other bus riders to learn the “ropes.”)

Workshop #1, I attended a Read & Critique, lead by Jeff Sherrat (author of Guilty or Else and other crime novels) and Gayle Carline (comedy columnist and author of Freezer Burn).  I read from my novel, “One of Us,” and received very positive feedback.  But I tend to receive positive feedbacks at Read & Critiques, and though it’s a spirit lifter, I don’t let it get me too high, because where it really counts, I see many rejections.

I had lunch with Gayle Carline, then rushed off with my first agent one-on-one, which I will write on at a later date.  Quickly though, I’ll say that I left the first feeling the same ole’ thing and the second quite surprised and happy, not to mention impressed with the agent’s magnetic personality.

After the workshops and one-on-one’s, I had the pleasure to attend an agent panel, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The night ended with my husband meeting me for the banquet.  The food was okay, the desserts were wonderful, the company even more wonderful, having met and re-met (from last year) even more writers attending the conference.

The evening ended with another humorous talk from the conference directors, Michael Gregory and Wes Albers.  The evening speaker was author, Gregg Hurwitz, a man much, much too young for so many accomplishments.  (Maybe he just looked young, but I was so tempted during question and answer time to ask him his age – Just how old are you Doogie?  Hint of a little jealousy here – not of his age, but so many accomplishments for being so young : )  I enjoyed his talk.

Day Three, September 26

I was up bright and early.  Drove myself to the conference to find the morning seminar virtually empty.  I am so glad I made it, as the speaker Ernessa T. Carter, author of 32 Candles was interesting and inspiring.  I purchased her HARDBOUND book directly afterward, not because I found the topic of the book particularly gripping, but because I found her so, so gripping.   

Workshop #1, I attended Carline’s “Funny How?  How to Write Funny.”  And though I will probably never right funny, I found her workshop thoroughly funny.  The entire room was laughing at some point.  In the writing exercise though, I wrote so long in my set-up that I didn’t get a chance to get to the comedic situation that she set-up for us.  That’s funny. (I also bought in my copy of Freezer Burn for Gayle’s signature).

Workshop #2, I attended “What I wish I knew Before Being Published” lead by Darlene Quinn (author of Webs of Power).  I don’t mean to sound cocky, because I am not at all!  But there wasn’t anything she spoke of that I didn’t know.  Had I stayed the entire workshop, perhaps I would have learned something.  I left after about an hour and mingled on the terrace with other writers, like myself, working on getting published.

Finally I attended the Awards and Farewell.  And while waiting at the table with another woman, I started crying when she mentioned she had to get back to her animals.  I really missed my family, PLUS her mention of animals, brought on my sadness of my Daisy Dog’s recent death. 

At Michael’s Gregory’s last (of course, vibrant and humorous) words, I flew out that door, practically ran down to my car, and took that half hour drive home.

Overall, I call this conference great success.  Loved the workshops, meeting new people and connecting with others from last year.  Before I forget, there is one other author I neglected to mention because he didn’t run any workshops.  Charles Redner, publisher of the Hummingbird Review and author of Down But Never Out.  He had a stand out on the terrace with some materials for sale.  We spoke at length as well about his book and the Hummingbird Review.  I bought the review, but not the book, as I had already purchased too many books.

Anyway . . .

The Southern California Writers’ Conference / LA 2010 this year gets an “A”.