Due to some unforeseen technical difficulties, registration for the 2010 SCWW Conference will open on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 12:01am.

We deeply regret that we have to delay until then, but in the interest of fairness to all our attendees, we have no other choice. If there are any updates, I will paste them here. Rest assured, no one---and I mean NO ONE---will be permitted to register before the official opening. Faculty appointments will all open at the same time to allow for fairness.

Thanks for understanding and we can't wait to start seeing your names as you register.

BTW, please read the blog post below mine. Kim Blum-Hyclak had the floor today and she's posted a great piece.

2010 Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards

This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the South Carolina Writers' Workshop. The literary awards associated with our annual conference, is named in honor of one of the founding members, Carrie Allen McCray.

Born in 1913 in Lynchburg, VA, Carrie was seven when she moved with her family and settled in New Jersey. Her mother, Mary Rice Hayes Allen, was a well-known leader in the fight against segregation and Carrie grew up surrounded by the founders of the NAACP. Those early influences led her to earn a degree in social work and she spent most of her life as a social worker and a teacher. Her poems and essays were widely published during that time, and her pieces were written not only from her experiences as a woman facing the challenges of the 1950's, but also as a black woman whose hurdles were even higher. She thought of herself as an activist, never a writer.

Ms. McCray was in her seventies when she decided to take her writing seriously and began recording her mother's story. Carrie had this to say about writing:

". . . write for the joy of writing. Don't be anxious about publishing. That will come. Accept constructive criticism from seasoned authors. It helped me to develop my writing. Don't let anyone discourage you."

I believe it was in this spirit Ms. McCray envisioned the South Carolina Writers' Workshop, twenty years ago. Ms. McCray was an active member of the Columbia Chapter and thanked them and fellow SCWW founding member Scott Reagan in her book, Freedom's Child: The Life of a Confederate General's Black Daughter. The book about Mary Rice Hayes Allen was published in 1998, when Ms. McCray was eighty-five years old. In writing that story, she finally felt validated as a writer.

Carrie Allen McCray passed away just a few years ago and left both words of wisdom and an example.
1. Look to your own life for inspiration - for both nonfiction and fiction.
2. Look to your non-writing life for fodder for your writing life.
3. Become involved with a writing community.
4. It is never too late and we are never too old to become the writers of the stories we are meant to tell.

Submissions are now being accepted for the 2010 Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards. Complete guidelines and a cover sheet are available at our website at

Memorial Day Weekend: Keeping the Past in Our Hearts

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my dad, called RaRa for a long and complicated reason--in other words, that's a whole different blog post--- passed away this month. He was a fighter pilot who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He flew everything from P-57s to F-4s to F-100s. He was the first test pilot for the Sabreliner jet. The original plane now hangs in the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. We've always celebrated the holiday by being together, listening to RaRa's stories, mixing tall tales of South Asia and North Africa with the scents of good old American Barbeque and frozen lemonade. This year, Memorial Day has a whole new meaning to me.

Whatever your political viewpoint, take today to consider the awesome contributions made by military personnel throughout our history. If you don't know a veteran, get to know one. In the writing business, the story is everything and our veterans are the storykeepers of some of the most important moments in our nation's history.

If you'd like to contribute to an organization that supports veterans and their families, check out the links below. Supporting veterans is not all about money. There are lots of ways to help:  donate your time, expertise, or energy to preserving our nation's history in the first person.

Here's to our veterans.

***Disclaimer:  Always check out a charity BEFORE you donate. Make sure your dollars are going to support the mission you intend to support. SCWW does not endorse any of the above charities.

New opportunities at the 2010 SCWW Conference

Registration for the 2010 SCWW Conference opens on Tuesday, June 1!

We've got a great faculty and we've added a new, exciting critique opportunity. This year, for the VERY FIRST TIME, we'll be offering REAL-TIME QUERY. This is a one-on-one meeting with a faculty member. Here's how it will work:

1. When you register for the conference, add REAL-TIME QUERY as one of your line items. These appointments will cost $25.
2. Polish your query letter. Make it zing and sing. We'll spend lots of time on the blog talking about query letters. There may even be a contest or two.
3.  Bring a hard-copy of your one page query letter with you to the conference.
4. When you check-in at the registration desk, you will be given your appointment time. (Same process as regular critiques or pitch times.)
5. Meet your faculty member at the appointed time and place. You'll hand over your fabulous query letter.
6. The faculty member, who will have had no prior introduction to your work, will read the query letter and offer feedback.
7. You will have the opportunity to interface with the faculty member and figure out how to improve your query letter before you begin the submissions process.

Lots of faculty members will be offering REAL-TIME QUERY appointments so be sure to check out the bios at

Find the perfect person to help you iron out the wrinkles and snag an agent.

Query letters are an important part of the journey to becomming a published author. What better way to learn how to perfect the irksome query letter?

Can I Get A Witness?

Okay, so I really needed a laugh today and I decided to do my blog rounds to find one.

Found this on George RR Martin's Not A Blog.

I don't know this guy, but I'm on the way to buy one of his books. You gotta give this dude some credit.

The Terrible Path to A New Beginning

My father passed away last Sunday. He'd been ill for some time and I'd convinced myself I was READY. PREPARED. Guess what? I wasn't. At all. Emotions and memories surfaced from the oldest, deepest part of my subconcious mind. Softball in the front yard, flying in the cockpit with him and learning what all the buttons controlled, pranks he pulled, wounds he helped to heal. My father taught me a lot of important lessons about life and the importance of living every second of it. His death taught me something very important about my writing.

In one of my dusty novels---stored in the deepest desk drawer of the house---my protagonist, Miss Thing,  learns of her father's overwhelming financial debt after his death. In order to save the farm generations of her family have called home, she must find a way to pay off the bank. In my novel, the death of her father is nothing more than a device to get the action rolling. Miss Thing doesn't cry much and seems to be completely over dear old Dad by chapter four or five. She's too busy being a STRONG WOMAN who OVERCOMES the OBSTACLES placed in front of her to TRIUMPH and GET HER MAN to grieve her father.

I see the problem with this now. Until last Saturday, I didn't. In the real world---which fiction should mirror--she'd likely be a wreck for weeks. Lots of crying, sobbing, maybe even a few pulls on the old whiskey bottle. Because I didn't understand what she would likely be feeling, I didn't craft a character that came off the page. Now that I know what Miss Thing might feel, I plan to go back and start all over. Add another element to her character, some depth, some maturity. Instead of grasping the real OBSTACLE--namely dealing with her grief over the loss of her father---I merely created one, inserted it and hoped it would work. Now it seems fake, fake, FAKE.

Sometimes we have to experience the feeling in real life before we can understand the emotion enough to write about it. It takes some pain and suffering to get at the real emotions that make us tick.

I didn't need to create a new obstacle. I already had a big one written into her character. I just didn't know how to express it properly so that others could identify with it. And until readers IDENTIFY with some elements of your story, it's not a very good story.

Angi Morgan: Dream Agents and Editors

Hello again SCWW and thanks for having me another week. With copy edits and final edits behind me, I’m in a holding pattern waiting to see if the next proposal is accepted or if I have to plot again. So I thought I’d touch on a subject that seems to be a favorite question on every loop or blog: how do you find your dream agent or editor?

What makes a specific agent your DREAM agent? You can research agencies, but you need to discover how that agency works and what the individual agent that connects to your work expects. The best method I’ve found is networking with other authors. Word of mouth. Experience from other writers. Reputations, not gossip.

It’s seems to be as hard to find an agent to represent your work as it is to find an editor to publish your work. And in today’s market, it’s difficult to find a publishing house that will look at un-agented material (with the exception of contest finalists). So writers query. I have to admit that I was one of the lucky ones to get my “dream agency” without the query process. In fact, I’ve been fortunate to have representation offered twice without real solicitation on my part. I won contests or had requests which had my work in front of editors each time. My focus was to catch editors and agents eyes through contests.

Why do you even want an agent?

Leslie, my friend and published author, summed up why she needs an agent: “I want an agent for several reasons. They know who is looking for what type of story. They help me get my foot in the door at some houses that only take agented submissions. They know how to negotiate contracts. And I want someone on my side who is not responsible for paying me for the work. The differences in agents is the very personality and style of the person involved. I wanted someone who would be a cheerleader, who would feel comfortable communicating with me when I needed it, and who would encourage me to do more. My previous agent was very methodical and submitted, but only to a few editors at a time and would wait months to check in with them, then seemed annoyed when I would ask the status. My new agent, seems to be more enthusiastic. She has said I can call or email whenever. And, in fact, has called me several times to discuss something I emailed her about. She is excited to meet me in person for lunch. I don't think my first agent was a BAD agent. I just think her style didn't suit my needs.” ~~Leslie Dicken <>

I too have my second agent. My first agent and I had a good relationship. It was my life that interfered with my lack of writing (graduating two girls in consecutive years from high school) which caused us to part, but we remain friends. In fact she sent me congratulations when I sold HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP.

In 2009, I began concentrating on my career again and really paid attention to the talk about agents from my fellow writers. My “research” had more to do with the relationships writers had instead of a track record of sales. After ten years in this business, I knew that I needed someone to be in my corner, to fight for me, but also to have someone who would give me their opinion on what might be wrong with my story. In other words, I wanted someone who didn’t mind giving their opinion on if the story was ready for submission.

Of course I’m never confident in my work. I am a writer, after all.

As much as I love the aspect of having an extra opinion of my work, there are authors who prefer the opposite. Here’s what friend and author Kathleen Long says about her agent: “I trust her. She's intelligent, knows the market, is well-respected and doesn't try to edit me. We both agree that's what your editor is for. I spent a little time with another agent who believed in line editing. That changed the work and my voice. Lesson learned. Not for me!” ~~Kathleen Long <>

I plan on writing for Harlequin/Silhouette. I like their distribution. I like the built-in book club sales. I like the advance and payout. And I like their foreign sales. It’s a basic boiler-plate contract, so why did *I* need an agent? Honestly, I didn’t. But my friend and Blaze author Tawny Webber summed it up beautifully: “I believe having an agent in your corner is a smart career move. An agent is a go-between, is the person who nudges an editor when contracts are late, money isn’t released, things are sagging. I also knew that as much as I love writing for Blaze, at some point I’d want an agent to shop single title for me. Someone who knew me, my writing and my strengths and would be able to help me make career choices as well as the best sell for my story.” ~~Tawny Weber

When I sold my manuscript in November, my husband was quick to point out that most writers don’t sell a second book because writing becomes a business. It’s as life their muse leaves and an accountant sits on their shoulder instead. It’s all about making money, instead of sharing your stories. Well, an agent is the person who handles all the business for me. As much as I love talking with my editor, I hate dealing with the business. I freeze up, have to read a script (not kidding), and just babble. I really enjoy having an agent.

My fellow Golden Heart finalist stated she chose her dream agent “because of her wonderful mix of professionalism, experience, enthusiasm, and compassion. She's a hands-on agent who puts her years as an editor with top houses and big name authors to work for her clients. And she's one happening force in the publishing world. She had four deals hit Publishers Marketplace last week and has several more that will appear in the next few weeks.” ~~Keli Gwyn <>

The most important part of finding an agent an editor is what Sharon, another fellow Golden Heart finalist, stated what she looked for: An agent “is experienced and has a recognized/respected name, but is still responsive and attentive to every client. More important than that: They must love my writing and my project.” ~~Sharon Fisher

In a nutshell, network with other authors, discover the pros and cons of the type of agent you think you want, and make certain the agent LOVES your writing. If they love it, they’ll want to build you a career--not just sell your book.

The simple answer to finding your DREAM EDITOR? It’s the editor who relates to your work and offers to purchase your manuscript.

‘Til next time,


Some upcoming topics of discussion:
-An On-Going Behind the Scene Look at Getting Ready for Publication
(promotion, character sheets, log-lines, bios, etc.)
-My Hero Has Brown Hair?
-Targeting Your Book & Choosing Your Market
-Seeing Your Cover For The First Time