Big Thanks leading to a Big Break . . .


The conference would not have been possible without our great faculty, our terrific attendees, and our tireless volunteers. A big thank you also goes to the Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and productive time. I hope the conference inspired you!

Carrie and I will be taking the month of November off and then we'll be back to planning for 2010. If you have suggestions, please email them to us. We want to know what we did right and what needs improvement. Please be as honest as you can. We can take it.

I will be taking a break from the blog until December 1. But then, I'll be back along with some terrific guest bloggers and more craft and market info. Again, I'm open to suggestions. If you'd like to see someone guest blog, send me their name and stats and I'll see what I can do.

I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to meet you all in person. Your compliments made us feel like a million bucks. I learned so much from you guys! And I made some great friends.

I wish you all the very, very best!

If anyone gets "the call" as a result of the conference and wants to share it with the world, email me and I'll have you as a guest blogger and you can plug yourself shamelessly!

See you in December!

Blog Sticker Big Winner!

Sorry I didn't have time to post the name yesterday. I've been busy at the conference!

Our winner is

Danielle Dahl

Congrats! And thanks for being a faithful reader.

A Most Impartial Judge

First of all, a big, heart-felt thank you to all of you who've read the blog! I appreciate all the emails and calls I've gotten. I hope the blog has helped you understand the publishing business. I also hope it's made you laugh.

Earlier in the summer, I announced a contest for those of you who read faithfully. If you placed a sticker on your critique submission, I put your name in a hat, actually it was a shoebox, and my three-year-old son drew the winner. (See photo at top of post.) I tried to take a photo of the selection process, but it was just a blurry image of a boy, some dogs, and lots of tiny pieces of paper.
But, just to let you know I didn't forget, the winner was drawn on October 18, 2009 at approximately 7:00pm ET and it was completely random. (No dogs or children were injured, though my left eye is still hurting a bit as it was slightly damaged ---though not permanently --- in the excitement, or shall I say melee.)

I'll post the winner on Thursday night. Your prize will be at the registration desk with your name on it in case you miss the blog.

Thanks again and I look forward to meeting each and every one of you in a few days!

Weather, Dress Code and Other Tidbits

The conference is almost here! Carrie and I are looking forward to meeting each and every one of you! We've been planning since November 2008 and we're ready to start the actual event.

Here's a link to the weather:

It looks like we're going to have great weather, so be sure to bring warm-weather clothes as it's supposed to be near eighty!

As for the attendee dress code, during class time its business casual. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing; but you want to make sure you're presentable. Please refrain from anything inappropriate, as in halter tops, ratty t-shirts, stained sweat pants, skirts that don't clear the upper thigh. If there's a question as to whether it's appropriate, consider wearing something else.

At dinner, we step it up a notch. Don't feel compelled to pack your cummerbund and tails or your cocktail shimmery dress, but please wear something appropriate for a nice dinner. For the guys, slacks and a button-down is fine. For the ladies, dresses or slacks.

When considering what to wear to your critique or pitch, consider this: Our faculty members buy and sell books for a living. They want clients who also see publishing as a business. You want to put your best foot forward. Don't overdo it --- no one expects you to show up in a three-piece suit complete with watch chain. But make sure to look your business casual best. Faculty members are looking for new authors. Don't let your appearance stand in the way of an offer.

Last item: Silent Auction. Our annual silent auction is one of our greatest sources of income. We're a non-profit. There are no paid employees, board members, or conference staffers. So, please, PLEASE be generous at the Silent Auction. The baskets, crafts, and critiques are all donated items. Your generosity keeps the conference affordable for everyone. All the proceeds go directly to next year's budget and insure the continuation of the SCWW Conference.

If you have any questions, or last minute emergencies, please call or email us and we'll do our best to help!

Authorship and Egotism: Mutually Exclusive?

A note of caution for the conference: Check your ego at the door.

Writers spend a lot of time, and blood, and sweat, and tears to craft a story. It's easy when you've put in the effort to think of yourself as the best of the best. And while it's good to have confidence in your work, you need to make sure it doesn't go too far. When you're overconfident, it can easily come across to others as EGOTISTICAL and HIGH-MAINTENANCE.

Our faculty members are here to help you. They've agreed to provide instruction, feedback, and face-time to aspiring authors. They are not well-paid for this. Trust me. The last thing you want is to give the impression that you think you're the best thing since oatmeal. Instead you want to give the impression that you're open to discussion, eager to learn, and willing to accept the publishing business for what it is.

You very well may be the next Nora Roberts. Maybe James Patterson has nothing on you. But you want others to discover this about you on their own.

Being a writer should come with a thick skin, but usually it's something you have to cultivate. Listen. Learn. Evolve and grow.

Be a joy to the faculty and attendees. Make friends.

You never know where good manners and a sunny disposition might take you. If you've already got the writing down pat, make sure you cultivate the personality to make you sucessful.

How Do I Decide?

Conferences are exciting. And overwhelming. When you look at the list of classes and offerings, it can be difficult to decide what you'd most like to attend at a given time.

First of all, unfortunately, unless you're a master of quantum physics, you can't be everywhere and you can't attend every class. But that's okay. Sometimes too much information is worse than not enough. You don't want to overwhelm you body and your brain. You want to get your money's worth.

Here's my suggestion: Be honest with yourself about where you are in your writing path. Then select your classes accordingly.

Here are some examples:
---Ms. Rookie is still working on drafting her first novel. She hopes to finish it sometime in 2010.
***Ms. Rookie should consider taking classes on character development, plot and editing.

---Mr. Hadsome Sucess is polishing his second novel. It's nearly finished and he wants to start querying next month. He's freelanced for several regional magazines and he wants to move into the fiction market.
***Hadsome should considersessions on query letters, synopses and social networking. He should also be sure to attend any panels or Slush Fest sessions that match his genre.

----Ms. Got An Idea loves to read and she has a great idea for a novel. She's scribbled some notes but hasn't actually written anything yet. She loves the idea of being a novelist but she's not sure where to start.
****Ms. Idea should likely take a mix of classes: some on craft and some on the business side of things. Since she's not sure this is the business for her, it might help to hear a little about the money-making side of things. She should be sure to attend the Chapter and Genre mixers. This would give her a chance to meet other writers, in her genre and geographical area.

We all want to be multi-published, sucessful writers, but you have to start somewhere. By being totally honest with yourself about what you need to be successful you can make better choices. It's okay to be in the first leg of the race. Don't put the cart before the horse and try to force yourself to write a query letter when you're not even finished with your book. In order to produce a good book, you have to complete each step. There are no shortcuts, so don't kid yourself.

The Count is Full or The Last Word on Pitches

Pitches will no longer be available after Wednesday, October 14 at Midnight Eastern.

If you want to sign up for a pitch, make sure to do it before then.

See you at the conference!

I Don't Wanna

Today was one of those days where nothing seems to get done. On top of that, I just didn't feel like writing. Have you ever had one of those days? Not a writer's block day, but a day where the thought of putting your words down on paper or on a computer screen just isn't appealing.

I've actually spent a week with this feeling. Autumn is my favorite season, and the outside world is calling.

I'm counting on the fact that many of you know what I'm talking about. So, in the spirit of my mood, I'm going to share some tips on how to write on those days where the world, people, or things are easy distractions.

1. BIC - In case you've never seen this acronym, it stands for Butt in Chair. The best way to handle this mood is to just park it and start working. This is easier said than done. The majority of working people in the world do this every single day ... because there is someone that they must answer to. As writers, we don't have that special someone to track our actions, but we can behave like a boss is watching. Set yourself a regular schedule and follow it every day. Research indicates that it takes an average of 21 days to make something a habit, so if you do this for at least 3 weeks, you should be able to overcome the "I don't feel like it" mood.

2. Review - If you can't bring yourself to write, then print out what you've been working on and read over it. Take your favorite red (or blue, or green, or purple) pen and mark it up.

3. Revise - Look at your last few pages and start revising. Odds are, you will end up writing once you get beyond those pages. The key is to not get stuck in revision mode. Some people start revising and months later haven't written anything new. So exercise this tip with caution.

4. Research - Pick a topic from your manuscript and dig deeper. This will help you give your work flavor. Google it, go to the library or the bookstore, visit a museum, or talk to an expert. New information can inspire you and drive you back to the keyboard.

5. Rejuvenate - Sometimes on days that we don't feel like writing, we need to relax. Go somewhere where you can soak up the environment, people watch, or just be.

6. Read - This is like research, but from a different angle. Read books in your genre focusing on how the author handles issues that you may be dealing with.

Well, there it is. I didn't plan it, but it spells "Brrrrr." I guess that's because if we don't write, then our work will never see the light of day.

What ways do you fight the "I don't wanna" days?

Friday Intensives: What We Have to Offer

If you're free on the Friday before the conference, you should really consider coming to the pre-conference intensive sessions. For a nominal fee, you can attend an intensive session with a publishing professional. If you purchase both sessions --- morning and afternoon --- you'll also have the opportunity to eat lunch with faculty. We have lots of sessions to choose from but here are a couple that really caught my eye.

On Friday morning, Jackie Cooper will be teaching "It's All About Me: Crafting a Memorable Memoir". Jackie has had a lot of success with his memoirs and he can help you figure out how to distill your life, or a section of it, into book form. This class is also great for those of you who're writing novels. Remember --- Character is Character. Whether it's fact or fiction, writing dynamic, believable characters is pivotal to your sucess as a writer and Jackie knows just how to do it.

In the afternoon, Scott Eagan is teaching "Get it While it's Hot: Marketing your Book to Agents and Editors". In a tough year for the publishing industry, this class will help you market your bookto agents and editors. You want your packaging --- query letter, synopsis, and partial --- to be well-written, well-presented, and eye-catching. In this tight market, it's imperative! Spend a couple of hours with Scott Eagan and learn how to make your manuscript irresistible to agents and editors.

We have lots of other great classes, too. These two just caught my eye and made me wish I was an attendee. Check out the list of intensives at

It's not too late to add the pre-conference intensives to your registration. Call or email if you'd like to add and we'll save you a seat!

And if you hear someone trying to sneak into a class, rather than managing the conference like she's supposed to, it's probably me.

Guest Blogger: Allia Zobel Nolan

How I Do the Things I Do….Creating Books That Sparkle and Pop

Explaining what I do is really the hardest thing I have to do, which is why I don’t do it that very often. I’m not one who keeps to a strict routine. I have no set formula. I can’t account for the fact that at times, I can write a book or article lickety-split; other times, filled with sturm und drang, I sweat and struggle for weeks. What’s more, I’m definitely not one of those authors who sit down every day and the words just pour out. Ye gads! Wouldn’t that be wonderful! Yet, I’ve managed to survive (with help from an understanding husband) as a writer, and have over 170 children’s and adult books, not to mention the odd blog and on-line article, to my name.

And now that I’ve thought about my process (which is really as simple as “work like a dog when you have a deadline and work like you have a deadline when you want to walk the dog”), I’m amazed at how much info I have that I didn’t think I had that I can write up and share so other writers can do what I do as well as I can, but hopefully not so well as to put me out of business, so I can continue to do what I do well and share how I do it with others.

So, I am hoping and praying that, since I’ve finally gotten all of this good stuff (20 years accumulation) out of my brain and into seminar form….that those interested in writing your average kids’ book, inspirational titles, Bible Storybooks for kids, or novelty books for kids that slide, pop, sparkle and squeak, (or those looking for a good guffaw, some neat handouts, and free LOL cat books) will mosey on down (or up or whatever) to the Myrtle Beach Hilton this October 23-25 for this tres kewl conference.

Not interested in Kids’ or Inspirational? Not to worry—there are many other
really neat workshops on all kinds of writing with wonderful authors, plus open mic sessions, meetings with agents and publishers (I’m first, though), work critiques, the sun, the sand, the surf…. Well, but if you’re on this website, you probably already know the whole scoop. If not, check it out.

Meantime, I must get back to my piece on helping writers deal with distractions,
which I’ve been working on for a month now because I keep getting all these silly emergency tweets from my friends, not to mention a ton of Facebook fan page offers, and well, the cats’ nails need to be polished, and I have to write these blogs for the SCWW and…. See you in October.
By Allia Zobel Nolan

Allia Zobel Nolan is an internationally published, award-winning author specializing in children’s trade and religious books and adult humorous books. She has written over 150 titles, and has over 2 ½ million books in print. For the past nine years, Ms. Zobel Nolan worked for Reader’s Digest Children’s Books as a Senior Editor. She became a free-agent as of April 07, and is now at work on several religious children’s books.
New titles pubbing in 08 include: One Special Me: A Book Celebrating How God Made Me from Tommy Nelson; Smelly Feet Sandwiches and Other Silly Poems by Tiger Tales, and Purr More, Hiss Less: Heavenly Lessons I Learned From My Cat from Health Communications, Inc. And there will be lots more in 09.
Ms. Zobel Nolan has been published by Workman, Andrews & McMeel, Reader’s Digest Children’s Publishing, Barnes & Noble, Adams Media, Broadman & Holman, Zondervan, Cook, Scholastic (Veggie Tales), Concordia, Kregel, Standard Publishing, and Tommy Nelson. She has won several book awards, among them, the 2005 Mom’s Choice Award for the Most Outstanding Children’s Book for Preschoolers, an iParenting Award for Greatest Product of 2005, and the 2007 Teacher’s Choice Award. She has won countless awards for her writing.