What a Weekend! Southern California Writers’ Conference Newport Beach

Here it is, Monday morning already and the Southern California Writers’ Conference is over, but the sweet touch of all things writerly lingers upon the mind and soul.

There is nothing quite like being immersed in a world where everyone around you Understands. They understand the loneliness of being a writer, the solitary pursuit of something so unique and elusive, that you are the only one that can create it. They understand that you are a writer even if you aren’t published. They understand that sometimes it’s better for you to hang out in the bar instead of going to a late night read and critique.

That last one I think they understand a little too much. Doesn’t matter. In the writer world, that’s called Networking and it’s a good thing.

Speaking of hanging out in the bar, Saturday night my gal pal and fellow writer Gayle Carline and I were chatting with our writer friends when Scott Sigler pulled up a chair.

Okay, true confession time. When SCWC posted on Facebook that Scott would be there, the wall lit up with, “OMG! Can’t Wait! Scott is a God!” and I remember thinking, “Who?”

So there we are sitting together in the bar, just talking about writer stuff when I decided to ask him, why in fact, he was such a big deal. It was one of those magical moments where the planets align and you just know that no topic is taboo. That, and he was just such a regular guy I wasn’t intimidated by him at all.

His answer, which was convoluted, somehow made sense to my muddled brain. Back in 2005, before his book was published, Scott came up with the fabulous idea to podcast his book in a 24 week serial. Much like they did in the 50’s on the radio. He would release a short snippet each week and people had to wait until the following week to find out what happened. By the time his book was published, he had a fan base ready to buy. Brilliant!

Scott’s a cool guy. He hung out with us and talked all night about publishing trends and just everyday stuff, like walking his dog.

My new friend Scott looking dapper at 8AM.

Besides hanging out in the bar, I met with Gordon Warnock, an agent with the Andrea Hurst Agency. Now, Gordon’s a super great guy, but he doesn’t actually handle fantasy. Bummer! There was a miscommunication about that and while I was super sad that I wasn’t going to get a contract for six figures from Gordon, what I got was worth almost as much.

Gordon not only read my submission (15 pages), he made extensive notes and gave them to me. What?!? I’ve always heard that an agent will tell you whether or not you’re a good fit for them and either take you on or not, but they don’t really critique the work.

Thank you, Gordon Warnock!

Not only did he give me amazing feedback, he let me stay and talk to him when the time slot after me was free. A half an hour with an agent one-on-one is priceless. Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit!

One of the coolest moments at the conference happened just before the banquet Saturday night. I was chatting with some friends and this handsome man says, ‘Hey, I follow you on Twitter. I’m @AraTHEwriter.’ Not only was it nice to meet a fellow writer/Twitterer, but to be recognized outside of social media was kinda sweet. Thank you, Kristen Lamb for convincing me to use my real name out there in social media land.

Newport Beach is smaller and more intimate than the San Diego Conference, but that doesn’t mean you get less from it. I left SCWC LA9 with a confirmed editor to work on my novel, extensive notes on how to improve my craft, and some ideas for writing that I never would have thought of on my own. Like writing for anthologies. What, me write a short story? Sure!

Writing is only part of the reason I go to the conferences. There is nothing like meeting other writers, established or super new, and getting to talk about what we do without any judgements or funny looks. At the conference when you say, ‘No, I’m not published’ no one thinks you’re a fraud, they think ‘Not yet’.

In just three days I made friendships that will last the rest of my life. That’s what makes these conferences so special for me. Do I wish I walked away with a six-figure book contract? Yep. Is the fact I didn’t going to stop me from reaching my dream? Not a bit.

I’m more committed now than ever in my goals and if you’ll excuse me, I have a work in progress that needs to be whipped into shape.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me. It’s a bit terrifying to put yourself out there and then realize you still have more work to do to be fabulous.

What do you do to keep up the fabulocity in your life? Are there conferences or events you go to so that you can connect with like-minded people?




35 thoughts on “What a Weekend! Southern California Writers’ Conference Newport Beach

    • Carrie,

      Yeah, this is my favorite conference (okay, so it’s the only conference I’ve been to, but still). I make such great connections/friends each year.

      I hope some day you can make it to a conference (hopefully the San Diego one!) – they are awesome.

    • Hey Jennifer,

      I’m more like ‘fluff body & brain’ today. Yikes, that was a wild weekend.

      I am on Google + and thanks for reminding me I forgot to post a link there this morning! Ooops. Fluff brain in action. Thanks for the +1.

      And the great weekend fun. ; )

  1. This post makes me even more excited for the Ozark Creative Writer’s Conference! It’s a week from Thursday and I’m going with several writer friends…and none of us have ever been to a conference. I can hardly contain my excitement! Just for the atmosphere alone, like you said. Gordon is going to be at OCW too, but none of us had time to prep submissions for him, at least this year. Still, you never know who you’ll meet and have conversations with at a conference!

    Glad to hear you had a wonderful time with lots of wonderful things to take away from it all!!

    • Lissa,

      Go to as many workshops as you can, but also just hang out with other writers. They tend to congregate in the bar, I don’t know why. : )

      Definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to everyone. Now, just so you are prepared, you’ll meet some writers who ‘have the greatest novel in the world’ and are above most of what the conference has to offer. Ignore them and don’t take what they say personally like I did at my first conference. Ouch, what a memory!

      Above all else, have fun. These conferences are for YOU, the writer.

      So glad you could stop by and comment. Please let us know how it goes and if you blog about it, definitely let me know and I’ll pingback to your post.

  2. Wait one second! Are you saying some handsome dude impersonated himslef as me? But I’m the real @araTHEwriter! The audacity of some people. 😀

    I have to agree with everything you said. Gordon, Scott, Gayle, all these amazing people who are down to earth and interested in helping.

    You are a blast of energy. Hope to see you again in future conferences.


    • Shocking! And here I thought you were so charming. Must’ve been that other guy.

      Thanks so much for the compliment – I’m blushing.

      Um, Ara, you need a pic of yourself for your profile. That book is handsome, but you know, not nearly as much as the real you.

  3. *pokes Lissa* She beat me!

    I’m one of the ones going to the Ozark Creative Writers Conference with Lissa. Like she said, Gordon Warnock is going to be there, and I was also bummed when I read in the program that he doesn’t handle fantasy. Excited to be going to a conference for the first time, regardless, though, and can’t wait to make all these connections with other writers that people keep going on and on about 😉

    • In addition to what I said to Lissa, try to go to a read and critique at least once. They are scary, but so good for you as a writer.

      Take business cards with you! Even just your name and Facebook/Twitter/webpage information scribbled on a slip of paper works fine.

      Enjoy yourself and also, if you blog about it, let me know. I would love to hear how your first experience goes for you.

      • I actually ordered my business cards and received them in the mail about two weeks ago!

        I’m sure I will be blogging about it, so I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for the advice!

    • Thanks Marion! On fire? Yeah, it’s being destroyed as we speak. When I told Gordon it’s at 290,000 words right now I think his blood flowed backward for a moment. Not a pretty sight.

      So, it’s rip and patch, rip and patch for me.

  4. Oh, I’m so glad you posted this Tameri! Next week I’m going to a conference that means a lot to me. (I’ve been to many small conferences, but this one is waaaay out of my comfort zone.)

    I *needed* to be reminded of all the positive things that happen when writers gather.
    Oh, much thanks!

  5. Your conference sounds like a blast!

    I’ve never been to a writer’s conference. I might attend the San Francisco writer’s shindig next year since it’s close to the house. I will go to the RWA conference in Anaheim next summer too. It would be a great opportunity to meet people I only know on-line.

    • I’ve heard the RWA conferences are amazing. Meeting folks that you know online is one of the best perks of going to a conference. I’ll have to check out the Anaheim RWA, since you know, it’s close to Disneyland and all that.

      We could meet up!

  6. So glad to hear about the fabulous time you had! I will really have to try and find kid care for future events. I have only gone to the small panels at Comic Con. Never a full writer’s convention. RWA Anaheim sounds rather interesting.

    Sorry to hear about the rip and patch work, but it will lend to a tighter story in the end and a happier author you will be as a result! I know your book will be amazing and end up on my shelf someday…because I LOVE fantasy!

    • I bet we’ve been in some panels together at Comic-Con and didn’t even know it. I love seeing the authors just relaxed and having fun.

      I hear great things about RWA, so if you go, I want to know what you think!

      And… I’m blushing. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. I can’t believe I missed you dang it!! I’m really bummed about it actually. Sounds like you had a wonderful time though 🙂 Maybe I’ll catch you at the next one. Good luck with your WIP!! You’re building quite a platform. I don’t think you’ll have any problem getting it out there. Then you’ll be famous 🙂

    • I know, I’m so sad!

      I think you’ll be famous before me – you’ve got a book coming out soon! I’m super excited for it and can’t wait to promote it here on my blog for you.

      Can I get your autograph? : )

  8. Congratulations Tameri – that sounds ahhhmazing!!! I am so super excited for you and proud of you! It takes a lot to put yourself out there but you do it with poise and grace and a great attitude! And it totally turned out beautifully for you! The connections you made for your writing career are uberlicious and the friends for life are worth their weight in gold – luv it! And to have so much one-on-one time with an agent who EDITED your work – wow – stupendous!
    Woot woot – you rock my world!!!!!

  9. These kind of conferences do wonders for our inspiration and motivation. You obviously gained a lot of great experience, advice and new contacts … it’s amazing what hanging out at the bar can do! I had a LOL moment at your comment to Marion about Gordon’s blood flowing backwards when you mentioned your word count! Rip and patch indeed! The pom poms are for you this time since you always have them ready for everyone else -{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Goooooooo Tameri!!!!!!!}}}}}}}}}}}

  10. Awww, thanks so much Patricia! You have the best pom poms!

    I’m in the process of ripping and patching and it isn’t pretty. Necessary, but not pretty. I keep telling myself it’s for the greater good. : )

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