Southern California Writer’s Conference Recap

Last weekend I attended the Southern California Writer’s Conference in San Diego. I’ve been going for the past six or seven years and this is my favorite conference ever. Okay, so it’s the only conference I’ve been to, but still…

Sheri with her bestselling children's book 'The Little Rose'

I was so happy to see my friend Sheri Fink at the conference. You might remember I spotlighted her on my blog back in November. For those who missed it, you can read the interview here.  Well, this woman is on FIRE! She started an Author’s Academy where she mentors other authors and she’s also got a new book coming out, The Little Gnome. There is way too much to say about Sheri in this post, so I’m going to have her over again for a long visit. You’ll be amazed at her business skills and how she makes self-publishing work for her (and how it can work for you, as well).

One of the highlights of the conference was hanging out with my friend Gayle Carline. We went on a little field trip Friday night and, well, I’ll have to post about that next Monday. Suffice it to say, if I ever need to hide a body, I’m calling Gayle. That woman can hook a girl up!

I love my gal pal Gayle!

She’s hilarious too, which is probably why she writes humor. Being multi-talented as she is, she also writes mysteries. I’m having her over for a visit soon and we’ll talk about her penchant for horses, murder, and Erma Bombeck.

Hanging out with friends is great, but I was also there to learn. And learn I did at the many workshops I attended ~ ranging in scope from, ‘Your Book as a Business’ by Charmaine Hammond to query letter critiques by the amazing Marla Miller. She also had a session called ‘Pitch Witches’ with Jennifer Silva Redmond where I learned my pitch sucked. Okay, to be fair I wrote it in about a minute, so yeah, it should’ve sucked. The great thing about this conference is that later, when Jennifer was hanging out waiting for the banquet to begin, I was able to approach her and ask what would make it stronger. She’s a publisher, people! How often can you do that?

I also chatted with Lynn Gard Price, another publisher, but not in my genre. She has amazing style and we both wore our glitter Tom’s (if you aren’t familiar with Tom’s, they are shoes that look like espadrilles and are super comfy). I don’t have a picture for you, so just trust me that we were adorable. Check out her blog, she has awesome information for writers.

Other workshops I attended covered social media (for once I was ahead of the game on this one. Thank you, Kristen Lamb!), how to bring microtension to your story, how to make sex scenes sexier, oh a whole bunch! Check out the SCWC website for all the fab workshops they had and then sign up for the September conference in Newport.

Two of my friends had new books coming out soon and were able to offer them at the conference, special just for us. Of course I bought both! Jessica Theirrien has a fab YA book, Oppression and Wes Albers, one of the directors of the conference, published a thriller based on his work as a cop ~ it’s called Black and White. I’m so thrilled for both of them and cannot wait to read their books.

As you can tell, the conference is one big love fest for me. I get to hang out with other writers and make new friends. They aren’t just ‘networks’ to me, they are a part of my writing community and therefore, they are family.

Wes is like, seven feet tall and the sweetest guy you'll ever meet. Just don't ask him about crock pot man. Trust me.

If you’ve never been to a conference, GO! It’s an amazing thing to be surrounded by hundreds of people who think like you, live in their heads like you, and totally get what it’s like to be a writer.

Because, really, that’s what we all are. Maybe we don’t want to call ourselves Authors yet, but we’re all writers. Like it says on the SCWC website,

A writer is a writer before, as well as after, publication.

It couldn’t be any plainer than that.

So in closing, I would like to thank Michael Steven Gregory, Wes Albers, Cricket Abbott, Chrissie Barnett, Rick Ochocki and all the SCWC staff for their amazing work in putting together a conference that is all about the writer. From workshops on honing our craft, to keynote speakers who have been where we all are and want to share their knowledge. Thank you.

Tell me, what conferences are your favorites? Would you stay up all night for a rogue read and critique? Is it your dream to be the keynote speaker someday?

I’ll leave you with a few more shots from the conference. These are a few of the folks who I’ve become friends with through this conference and who have made a difference in my life just by being themselves. Which means, fabulous!

Indy Quillen and Andrew Peterson

Lind and Rick Ochocki. If I'd know it was formal, I'd have brought my tiara.

Devan Crable and Gayle Carline
Linda and Rick Ochocki. If I’d know it was formal, I’d have brought my tiara.

62 thoughts on “Southern California Writer’s Conference Recap

  1. Great wrap-up of events,Tameri! I’ve been to writing workshops where the focus is on critique or generating new work. Would be way fun to go to one and network then attend marketing, craft, author speeches.

    • Thanks, Barbara! I like to go to workshops throughout the year, but this is a whole new ball game. An entire weekend of intensive writer awesomeness. You should come out! We’d get into so much trouble (in a good way!).

    • I adore this conference and since I don’t have anything to compare it to, I have to say it’s the best. I have a friend who goes to the Santa Barbara conference each year and she thinks this is just as good. Whoohooo! Next year I’m going to the Dallas conference, so we’ll see how that goes.

    • I hope you can find a good conference to attend. If not, come on out to San Diego. One lady took a train from New York! She had a blast on the train and said she got lots of character research done. I hope that’s a good thing. 😉

      • I live in Ireland so it would be a long plane trip to San Diego :). Character research on a train sounds great! I’d love to attend some writing workshops. I’d say for me Dublin would be the place to look first.

      • Okay, then I’ll come to Ireland! I’ve never been to that island and maybe it’s time I change that. Long plane trips kind of suck, but if you get in business class it’s not so bad. First class would be even better, but I’ve never been that lucky. Bummer.

        So, when’s a conference in Dublin? 😉

  2. Aw, Tameri, you are beautiful! I loved seeing these pictures of you.

    The conference sounds amazing and so informative. Usually I get swallowed by nervousness when meeting new people that I have trouble concentrating on the real material. Isn’t that crazy? Anyway, I’m going to learn from you here. My all-time fav conferences are SCWBI because at some point, someone is going to read you a picture book. And even I can’t be nervous after listening to a rhyming book. 🙂

    • Aww, thanks Bridgette! I finally remembered to take pictures this year. I was like that the first year ~ I was so shy! Me? Yep. Everyone else was a ‘real’ writer and I felt like such a fake. Not anymore.

      What’s SCWBI? That’s so cute about the picture books and I totally know what you mean.

  3. It sounds like you had an absolutely FABULOUS time! I really hope some day Rebekah and I can meet you at a conference somewhere. =) Oh the havoc we will wreak together if that ever happens!

    Right now the only conference we’ve ever been to has been Ozark Creative Writers and we’re going back this year. We both have plans to attend Nimrod this year as well. Rebekah’s hoping to attend Oklahoma Writers’ Federation this year (gonna have to hold off til next year for me) and I also hope to attend the Oklahoma SCBWI spring conference next year too. Lots of saving and planning in advance! (Why do conferences have to cost so much? lol)

      • I’m checking the mail obsessively, I applied for a scholarship for the OWFI conference, and I’m supposed to hear back by March 1st, I just don’t know HOW they’re actually going to contact me. Email? Snail mail? So much suspense!

        DFW next year might be a possibility, will definitely have to start saving now though, lol! At least Lissa and I can carpool . . . though we’ll just have to see how gas prices and such go :D. The thought of flying is sublime . . .

  4. Oh Tameri,
    YOu make me feel like I was at the conference. You met so many nice people and it sounds like you learn bunches but when you said one of the best things was bing with people like you who live in their head it struck a chord with me. Just now I realized that I’ve done that my whole life. I finally mustered up enough courage and made the decision to write fiction in January. I feel at home with writers but it wasn’t until this post that I understood why. Thank you and I’m so happy the conference was a success for you.

    • Aw, I’m so happy that this resonated with you! Being around other writers is like nothing I’ve experienced before. I hope someday you’ll go to a conference, too. If for nothing more than the camaraderie you feel with your peers. Thanks for stopping in and I’m glad you finally alerted me to where you were hiding. I’ll make sure I check there often from now on!

  5. I love our picture! And I’ll definitely help you hide the body.. if you need to, that is. It was a great conference for me, as well. Each year I think, well, maybe I’ve gotten all I can out of this conference, and then it JUST GETS BETTER.

    Okay, I’m supposed to be walking the dog, but I’m reading (and blathering) instead. Talk to you soon, I hope!

    • I know exactly what you mean! I was telling the Hubs something to that effect ~ maybe I don’t need to go, blah, blah, blah, but there’s something about it that I can’t leave. That one year I couldn’t go because I had foot surgery, I missed all my friends so much. From now on, I’m planning all major surgeries around the conference (hopefully there won’t be any more).

      It’s pouring here, hope the weather held for you and the Dufmeister.

  6. I’m so happy you had such a great experience at your very first writer’s conference! You’ll be on a writer’s high for at least a week, maybe more. Even though the pitch didn’t work out you get major kudos from me for a) admitting it so we can all learn b) approaching the editor to see what could have been better so you could learn from your experience
    In my book, this means you get to wear a tiara for the remainder of the week.

    I love writer’s conferences for the friends new and old and the inspiration. It’s so nice to hang out with people who understand my deep desire for office supplies and writing utensils. I would love to do a workshop at a conference some time as a way of giving back to all the great writers I have learned from.

    Thanks for sharing, I would have loved to have been there with you!

    • Well, it wasn’t my first… I worded that really weird. I think I’ve fixed it. 😉

      Usually I’m on a writer’s high for a week before and a week after and then I get all kerfluffled with everything I’ve learned and need to implement.

      What kind of workshop would you do? I could mention something to the guys who put on this conference ~ that would be amazing to have you out here running a workshop!

      Ah… office supplies. Aren’t we all so funny with our love of pens and paper? I get all tingly just thinking of them.

  7. Looks like you had fun!! I went to a couple last year–there is so much opportunity! I wasn’t ready to do anything but take copious notes. I hope to go again one day when I am armed and ready 🙂

    • Yep, I had a blast. That’s what I did for a few years – took notes and kept my head down, not drawing any attention to myself. I’m so over that. 😉

      Come with me, my friend and you’ll be more than armed and ready. Ooh, we’d have so much fun!

  8. Sounds like so much fun! I haven’t been to one and all the conferences near me would be in New York City. They seem to all happen in the beginning of the year…so I’ll try to do one of them next year.

    • New York City? Let’s go! Beginning of the year? That sounds cold, looks like I need to do some shopping as well. In NYC!

      I love that city, can you tell? There was actually a workshop on researching historical fiction and I kept thinking of you the whole time. He had some good nuggets of information, but I can’t find my notes from that workshop. When I do, I’ll pass them along to you.

  9. Aw… Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us, Tameri! I’ve attended SCWC and have to say—one heck of an awesome, personable bunch. It was the first time I walked into rooms FULL of writers (and not just screenwriters :)). Sounds like you had a total blast. Good for you for getting out there and rockin’ it! I’m such a fan of conferences for professional AND emotional reasons. Such a fun dose of one here.

    • I was wondering if you’d be there this year ~ you went to the LA one, right? I think I’ll be there in September if you happen to go, let’s hang out!

      Some people don’t get it, but I love MSG and Wes. Maybe because I’m a bit nuts like them. 😉

    • I might be going to that one, Jennifer. If not attending it, then I’m definitely driving up there to hang out with all you fabulous RWA people! My friend Rick (he’s wearing the crown up there in the pic) is a member of the Los Angeles RWA and is going to help me join. How fun is that?!?

      Carrie Spencer will be there, too? Awesome!

  10. To be honest, Tameri, I was shocked to hear you didn’t have a tiara with you! Really … I thought you never left home without one! Never mind! You are so right about writers’ conferences – they are THE best!

  11. That really sounds awesome Tameri! Oh, and I soo need to work on my pitch before I go to any! I should look into the L.A. one. I’m also looking into the RWA Convention in July. Are you going to that one?

    • Ah, pitches. I still get shivers when I think about them. Why are they so hard to write?

      I’m definitely going to hang out afterwards for RWA, but not sure if I’m going to the conference itself. I need to see when it is and make sure it doesn’t compete with Comic-Con, now that I think of it. I totally want to go, though.

      And next year – Dallas!

  12. I love going to writers conferences. They are so full of motivation and creative energy. Also, because my longstanding critique group is spread out around the country, it’s a great chance for us to get together. It’s a big ol’ girls’ trip. We have a blast.

  13. Tameri,

    I keep thinking I’m gonna get down there for this one year. I hear the best things about this conference. And I think it every time I see you, so I might as well post what we’re all thinking:


    There. The thoughts has stopped flying around my head and gone into yours. (And don’t argue with me. I’m right on this. 🙂 )

  14. Aloha Tameri,

    I can’t believe you “blogjacked” (love that word, gurl 🙂 Jenny’s site, but glad you did!! Finding this post brought back some wonderful memories of last week, although you’re a RockStar when it comes to hanging out with the cool peeps, (and yes, people, those shoe thingies WERE sparkly:)

    You have a new follower 🙂

    • Aloha Mark! It was so great to see you at the conference and now you’re stopping by my place to say hello? Well howdy doody! Thank you so much for following, too. You’re so awesome.

      You know me, I’m all about the sparkly.

      Thanks for coming by, I checked out your post and loved it!

  15. Wow, Tameri, it looks like you had a lot of fun! Conferences are always so inspiring and energizing. I wish I had the time and resources to attend more.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures.

    And now I also know who to call if I need to get rid of a body. Thanks for that tip.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  16. Fantastic time for you, my friend. So glad you got to go. Someday I will attend one. Who knows, maybe I’ll be in So Cal in August. Look forward to checking out some of the writers you listed. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Pingback: You Don’t Need a Tiara to Attend a Conference | Tameri Etherton

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