The big news is that I'll be teaching at the Sunriver Writers' Summit in Oregon this Summer...The inaugural weekend is June 7-8. A great new extension of the SCWC conference brand, but an exclusive weekend intensive this time. More on that very soon!
As I said in my last post, I'm blogging at Social Publishing House
now. Also have lots of editing work to do (yay!) AND we're getting
ready to set sail for another northern-bound "work meets play" voyage on
the coast of California.
Here's my latest post on writing fan fiction, or just plain re-hashing successful stories. The site has some other great stuff on it, so look around—check out Rafael Gamboa's review for Divergent for example. And a free short-story writing competition is coming soon...
Yes, it's been awhile since I posted here...I'm (happily) quite busy, with five books in various states of editing on my "desk" at the moment. Yay!
But I'm also a professional blogger now, working at Social Publishing House. They are going to be hosting an ongoing series of writing competitions soon, and the first one will be free! More on that subject soon.
You can link directly to my latest blog posts, one about Drusilla Campbell's latest book here, and about writing good narration here. Another post is coming soon, so keep checking back!
That's all the news, now I'm going back to editing...(happy sigh)...
I've finished my first editing project of the year already, and getting ready to dive into my stack of advance submissions for the Southern California Writers Conference—I'm so excited—it's just over a week away now...
This conference is always a great time—not just because I get to see old friends, and meet new ones, but because I get to both learn and teach, which I love. And it inspires me to be at the top of my game, because everyone else there is!
For those who haven't heard about SCWC before, here's a short clip of SCWC's wonderful Director, Wes Albers, being interviewed about the writers conference, at the 2013 LA Times Festival of Books.
If you haven't been to a writers conference before, you're probably wondering, Why should I go? What will I get out of it?
The biggest reason I know is to connect with a community of writers—and readers (because all writers are readers, no?). Writing is a solitary pursuit and sometimes we need to meet and talk to others in our "tribe," to hear people talk about going through the same things we go through; to learn from their mistakes, and gain insight from their successes.
Of course, you'll also meet and get to chat with agents, editors, and publishers—not to mention people who are successful author-publishers.
The world of publishing is evolving fast, and it's important for aspiring and published authors to keep on top of the changes, and keep their strategies always shifting, in order to compensate. I think going to a writers conference like SCWC gives you the cutting-edge tools to do that. The panels and workshops include subjects that span the world of today's publishing. Check out the schedule here.
Hope to see you there...
I realize that all "best" lists are subjective. I can't tell you what books are "best" for you, any more than I can pick your favorite flavor of ice cream. All I can do is make a list of the new books I most enjoyed reading this year (all were published in 2013).
However, I am not putting on this list some 2013 books that I read and enjoyed, that I also worked on—like Marla Miller's heart-warming Deadly Little Secrets. One reason is because people might think I'm biased (I am) and two, because I've already talked about those books—see my previous post (December 3).
I'm also not including on my list the 2013 books that have been bestsellers—a couple of which I admired greatly, like Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters and TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, since they have been lauded plenty elsewhere.
So, here is a list of my five favorite books of 2013:
Hippy Homeschooling By Carlton Smith: One of the most memorable books of recent years—I frequently flash back to one of the many cinematic scenes from this California road trip novel, almost like it was part of my own memories. The author's brilliantly understated prose and compelling characters live on for me. See my review.
How to Thrive on a Tropical Deserted Island by Mike Riley: This nonfiction book is chock-full of fun facts and lessons—everything from how to build a grass hut to how to make liquor from almost anything. Not just for sailors, these clever tricks and treats are for beach bums, too. (The editor in me had a hard time overlooking the many typos in this e-book, but that's the way indie publishing often goes.)
Creating Adventures, Sharing Stories, by Robert Yehling. Many writers have turned collections of their blog posts into books, and the reading road is littered with the missteps that have been published along the way. Yehling focuses on entertaining subjects, including, but not limited to sports and music, as well as the many fascinating people he knows; taken together, it's addicting—heartwarming and eclectic.
Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff: This is not usually my genre, but Blood Moon is a crime thriller that has it all—a gripping plot, great California settings, and a kick-ass female "heroine" (of sorts). Actually, it's often hard to tell who the protagonist is—no worries, they are both great characters. And, yes, it is book 2 in a series. Sorry.
And last, but certainly not least:
When She Came Home by Drusilla Campbell: This book is heartbreakingly true-to-life, set in my own San Diego, and as current as today's front page. The many strands of the life of a wife and mother who is also a returning Iraq war veteran are interwoven expertly, with thoughtful restraint, by Campbell—a master of character and dialogue. This link will take you to a free preview of the first seven chapters for Kindle.
This year has been amazing. Not only have some of my favorite authors published new books in 2013, but some of them have been my clients, too. You've heard me talk about Gayle Carline's wonderful From the Horse's Mouth: One Lucky Memoirwhich was such fun for me to work on—being a grown-up "horse girl." Her next mystery (with horses this time!) is coming out early next year so stand by for more on that. Gayle's blog, "On the Edge of the Chair of Literature" is also great—witty, well-written, and often painfully candid—you can find a link to it on this page, since I follow it.
One of my other blogger-writer friends, Loraine Paige, continues to amaze me with her ongoing heartfelt "Dear Rita Mae Brown" series of letters (you can find her blog, "From Paige to Page" here). Loraine must be up late every night, and early each morning, writing her second novel as she does rewrites on the previous one (which I'm also editing), America. More on that series in future posts.
Another writer whose work I got to read before publication this year is Claudia Whitsett. Her latest contribution to the "Samantha Series" is called Intimacy Issues and it's every bit as funny and hard to put down as the previous book, Indentity Issues, was.
Now, to cap off this spectacular year, my inspiring "Pitch Witch" partner Marla Miller has gone the indie publisher route, too! Her e-novel Deadly Little Secrets officially came out on Dec 1, World AIDS Day, which was perfect in a number of ways.
First, the book is set in 1985, when AIDS was still something that the average person could largely ignore (sad but true) and which our own government was still ignoring (even sadder, but still true). Second, that health crisis turned out to be one of the most fatal epidemics in recorded history; we owe it to ourselves to know more about AIDS, and to not begin ignoring it, or simply "indicting" those affected by it, yet again. Lastly, the world lost a great playwright and I lost a dear friend, James Lee Hansen, two decades ago on World AIDS day, so this book coming out that day was serendipitous.
I'm also working with another writer who is starting his own online publishing business--Social Publishing House. I met Brian Gilb at SCWC in Newport and was struck by his enthusiasm and sincerity. The start-up business has already gained focus and support in 2013, and promises to develop in exciting ways in the new year, too.
My life is made so rich by knowing these amazing writers, who care so much about the world and their place in it, who give their time, daily—as writers, teachers, and entrepreneurs—to help illuminate the way for others coming up the path behind.
So glad I can be part of their projects and help them share them with the world.
I'm a writer, editor, and publishing consultant who lives aboard the sailboat "Watchfire," with first mate Russel. After more than a decade as Editor-in-chief of Sunbelt Publications, an award-winning small press based in San Diego, I am now a freelance editor and publishing consultant. I also co-founded and edited the "Sea of Cortez Review" and was prose editor of San Diego Writers, Ink's 2010 anthology "A Year in Ink, vol 3."