Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Writers Conference and a Readers Contest

Yes, it's here--the Southern California Writers Conference begins tomorrow, up in Newport Beach. So, I'm finishing up my advance reads and polishing up my class notes. Packing can wait...And I've been reading SUCH fun stuff! Not only the advance reads--though a couple were VERY good--but also a book of essays and other nonfiction musings by a good friend who is also a fine writer (Can't say who, for now, as the manuscript is still being submitted to agents and editors, and so is still technically "under wraps.")
Nothing cheers me more than great non-fiction writing, which is why one of my workshops this weekend is "How to Write and Sell Gripping Nonfiction." (See my last post for info on the other SCWC class I'm co-teaching.) I think that too many new writers think that nonfiction is somehow the domain of doddering academics and dust-covered biographers. And it just ain't so! Some of the best books I've ever read have been nonfiction: "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"; "Under the Tuscan Sun"; The Log From the Sea of Cortez"; and "John Adams," to name a few exceptional works in different categories.
Speaking of my reading list, "Wolf Solent" is moving slowly and has been set aside for now--I may or may not return to it when I'm less swamped with "to do" reading lists. However, I am very much enjoying reading a new-to-me classic "The Way we Live Now" by Anthony Trollope, on Kindle.
And now, on to a contest...Readers Digest is sponsoring a "Life Story" contest where the entries must be under 150 words. (Winner gets $25,000) I think one must be on Facebook to enter, read, and vote for the best story; here is the link to my contest page. For those who have not yet succumbed to the relentless pressure and joined Facebook, here is my entry, which I called "Always/Siempre":
Married just six months, we took off for Mexico on a 26 foot sailboat. My grandfather once said “If you want to get to know someone, take a long trip in a small boat.” Suffice to say, we got to know each other. In the Sea of Cortez, the unspoiled beauty and the warmth of the people were the perfect backdrop to our honeymoon. Perhaps more importantly, we were in love and full of romance, so we found love and romance wherever we went. One day in an Immigration office (not known for either sentiment) I met a not-so-newlywed officer who talked about his beloved wife of ten years. He taught me the words “luna de miel” (honeymoon) and “siempre” (always) so he could admonish us to remain “siempre luna de miel.” We’ve
never forgotten his advice; it’s been twenty-two years, and we’re still on our honeymoon.

That's it--now you try writing a story in 150 words--it's great writing practice. And if you love the results, submit it--you might win $25k!
hasta pronto!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

End of Summer--New Beginnings

Ah...Summer has flown by, and this weekend marks the un-official "end of summer" though school has been back in session for weeks, for most teachers and students. The end of summer brings me back to San Diego, which is always a pleasant place to be--and where summer lingers far longer than in most other cities.
I'm looking forward--as always--to the Southern California Writers Conference at the end of the month. The Los Angeles Conference is held up in Newport Beach, Sept 23-25th; for those who haven't heard me on the subject yet, check out previous posts, and see their great site (full of book, agent, and author news, videos, and info) here. Of course, you can also find them on Facebook, "meet" some of their staff there, and follow their fearless leader's always-entertaining blog.
I'll be doing a couple of "pitch" talks at SCWC with my good friend, writer and editor Marla Miller, of "Marketing the Muse." Check out her site here.
My reading last month was mostly non-fiction--a history of the "Mexican War" and quite a few essays and articles written about the current immigration situation.
Crossing with the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail
A great friend who lives in Tucson gave me Crossing With the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail which was hard to put down. The true stories are full of interest to me, since it sheds light on the subject our film, "El Camino" deals with. No reading on this sad subject can be anything but depressing, but it is heartening to read how many people are working to help the thousands of unfortunate souls forced to cross borders illegally.
I just found a used copy of Wolf Solent by John Cowper Pwys, a book I've wanted to read for years; the author is often compared to Austen and Hardy, both favorites of mine. (No one who's read this blog can be in doubt of my favorite of those two being Austen, but Hardy has his gifts--description and character--that offset his bleak outlook). I'll start the book today, and will comment on it soon.
Hasta pronto!