The Method, The Market & The Muse: Part II - Go Your Own Way

The South Carolina Writers' Workshop 20th Annual Writers' Conference is just about upon us and I can't wait. Last year I was fortunate enough to work the registration desk and meet many of the attendees. One question I often heard, once they had their conference bag, "Where's my schedule?"

They weren't asking about their Friday Intensives or pitch or critique times, they wanted their schedule for the general sessions. While some conferences and workshops use a track system, SCWW does not.

When you register for the conference, we do ask that you check a session in each time slot. This information helps us in a number of ways. For example, we know the estimated attendance for sessions within a time slot, which helps us assign rooms. We can track trends in attendee interest which helps us plan future conferences. You are not locked in to the choices.

If you do plan to follow the sessions you checked, please bring your own copy of that itinerary. There will be a full conference schedule in your notebook, but we don't include individual schedules in the information packets.

We want you to enjoy the sessions that are most important to you and your work during that weekend - and those may be different than the ones you checked when you registered. Maybe one of your characters did something really unexpected and now you're looking at a POV change. Maybe you polished your manuscript sooner than expected and you're ready to start marketing. One year I had my plan of action for the conference . . .until I heard the keynote speaker. I couldn't wait to hear what else he had to say and rearranged my list at the last minute. The SCWW conference offers the flexibility to do what's right for you and your writing at that moment.

We understand the number of options can be daunting, especially for first-time attendees. Even we old-timers have to make tough choices. It often ends up there are time slots when I'm interested in more than one offering. How to choose?

There are several ways to design your path through the weekend. The first thing I do after registering is print off the schedule. I already have in my head what I hope to get out of the conference and the schedule gives me a visual of how each day is laid out and I can see the full weekend at a glance.

One way to limit your options is by looking at what you write. All time slots have genre-specific offerings. Eliminate those that are definitely not in your area of interest. I've been known to black out listings just to get them out of my vision. You can do a similar thing by highlighting those authors, editors and agents you don't want to miss.

Another strategy to follow is The Method, The Market & The Muse. Each 'M' focuses on a specific element of writing and you can choose to concentrate your time in one area or balance your time between two or three.

The Method is all about the 'How To' of writing. These sessions cover the nuts and bolts on craft.
The Market sessions offer insights and advice for getting your manuscript into the right hands - agents', editors' and readers'.
The Muse sessions tap into your creativity and get you in the right frame of mind for your writing.

The courses typically fit into one area better than another but there is definitely some overlap. The SCWW website has a detailed description of each class offered. Here are the sessions I think generally fit The Method. These will be especially helpful to those writers just starting out or those wanting to hone a specific skill. I didn't include the SlushFests since they are genre-specific. In future posts I'll look at The Market and The Muse.

Submission Success With An Independent Press
Secrets to Non-Fiction Proposals
Double-Dutch: The Ups and Downs of Writing in Two Genres
The Long Road to a Small Province: Crafting a Succinct, Selling Synopsis
Play By The (Grammar) Rules - And When Not To
Crafting Compelling Mystery and Suspense
Love My Life, But Will Everyone Else: How to Craft a Compelling Memoir
Tortuous Two: Query Letters and Synopses
So You Want to Write A Book: An Intro to Writing, Publishing and Promoting
The Polished (and Selling) Query
The Non-Fiction No Hitter: Perfecting Your Pitch
There's A Hole in the Bucket: Identifying and Avoiding Holes in Your Imaginary World

And sometimes you still end up having to choose between two sessions. If you're attending the conference with a friend, compare your choices. Instead of going together, divide and conquer, then share notes. If you aren't going with a friend, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet and compare notes with the other attendees. What better way to meet another writer and hear highlights of a presentation than to ask, "What sessions have you enjoyed?"

The Method, The Market & The Muse: Part I - Approaching the Conference

The Method, The Market & The Muse - a catchy slogan and one that encompasses the focus of the South Carolina Writers' Workshop's 20th Annual Writers' Conference. For some reason my mind wants to add 'The Madness' in the line-up as well . . .which would probably cover both the excitement in the industry and the frenzy in organizing this large event! But for my series of posts I'll stick to the official three: The Method, The Market & The Muse.

I admit I'm a sucker for surprises, spontaneity and serendipity, and I'll look for those moments at the conference - but those will be moments, not my approach to the weekend as a whole. Attending any conference without some kind of game plan can lead to disappointment and a sense the event was both a waste of time and a waste of money. That's not the feeling we want you to leave with in October. Even if you're the kind of person who 'goes with the flow,' do come with some idea of what you want to get out of the conference.

What do you want to get out of the conference? Here are some responses we've heard. I want to learn more about writing. I want to improve my writing. I want to meet Agent, Editor or Author X. I want to meet other writers. I want someone to notice my manuscript and sign me! These are good places to start, but digging a little deeper will put you in the right frame of mind for a successful workshop experience.

As you think about what you're looking for, make a list. This list will determine which sessions might be the most helpful for you at the moment. These suggestions aren't to stress you out but to help you form your own plan of action.

I want to learn more about writing. Do you mean the process or the business, or both? Do you want to know about some of the elements that go into a manuscript - the openings that grab readers, point of view, character voice, what makes a compelling story? Are you curious about the steps toward publishing - queries, pitches, submission guidelines?

I want to improve my writing. That's definitely a focus on process, so what needs improving? Do all your characters walk and talk alike? Do you need to know how to weave in backstory? Is your imaginary world too imaginary to believe?

I want to meet Agent, Editor or Author X. If you've selected a specific faculty member for a pitch or query, or one you just hope to meet during dinner, it must be because you're familiar with that person's work. Picking up on Kia's recent post, have you checked out faculty blogs and websites? Have you read first chapters of some of the books your selection has represented or written? This research not only gives you a leg up when discussing their business, it also helps you analyze and promote your own work.

I want someone to notice my manuscript and sign me! If you've signed up for pitches, are you practicing? Even if you didn't sign up for one and you happen to sit next to an agent during dinner and he asks, "What are you writing?" can you answer? If an agent or editor requests additional pages, could you have them ready and available within a short time, maybe as little as a week?

Now that you have your list, write a corresponding question or two. Faculty members do a great job of covering their topic, having your question in the forefront of your brain will help you catch the answer. If it's not answered, presenters usually leave time at the end of their session for questions - have one ready. Most agents, editors and authors will be around all weekend and want to talk with you. Have your questions ready if the opportunity presents itself.

The South Carolina Writers' Workshop 20th Annual Writers' Conference is only a few weeks away. The Board of Directors and conference volunteers are busy assembling attendee notebooks, stuffing conference bags and putting final touches on the event. Agents, editors and authors are reading and critiquing your manuscripts so they'll be ready to discuss your work. How are you approaching the conference?


Thanks once again for the opportunity to be a guest on SCWW. This has been a wonderful experience and a terrific place to meet new writer buddies. You guys and gals were my first blogging experience and it’s just been lovely.

It’s been a short ten months ladies and gents--very short from getting the call to my first book signing. And wow, I’m still gearing up for everything I need to know to be better prepared for the second book’s release in February.

To answer my title question: my answer has to be no. Are you surprised? Did I seem organized? Experienced? I’ve had ten years of preparation in this business. And let me tell you, ten months is a blink of an eye when you’re talking about catching up on every form of Social Media available to authors. Oh my goodness...just the words “social media” make my head hurt now.

My advice to you...if you want to publish your book, begin learning the different ways to publicize it now. Believe me -- I don’t even have a full-time job outside of writing and I can’t keep up with everything I need to do.

Okay Okay Okay... this is advice, not a complaint. My first book signing was amazing. My friends, family and local readers supported me beyond my dreams. I sold 43 out of 46 books. GREAT DAY !!!  (pictures available on my Facebook page)  It was fun, exciting, nerve-wracking before wondering if anyone would come, and simply amazing. (can’t tell you how many times I wanted to tear up)   On my release day, my best bud Kym Roberts took me around to area book stores to sign copies and leave bookmarks. What an experience!!  And sharing it with Kym and Marty (who joined us) made it even more special. (tearing up now just thinking about how it made me feel to see my book alongside the other Intrigue authors) Just handing out bookmarks (that my husband designed) gives me a shy thrill. And of course, the website looks fabulous with its new look...not quite what we wanted, but they’re always a work in progress. The blog tour during release week was supportive, but exhausting trying to keep up with everything else along with it. (note to self: blog the week prior to release dates) I was so happy to send free copies of the book to those that won on the different blogs. AND woo hoo, I entered RWA’s RITA competition for 2011 (gotta mail those books). I also began a very short, simple blog (available through my website) featuring A Picture A Day. (visit if you’d just like some daily inspiration--my first guest picture was SCWW’s Lateia Sandifer on Wednesday--don’t miss it)

Did you count how many things were associated with the release week of the book? How many are you prepared for: website (don’t forget the updates, and branding, and publicizing, and contests); blogging (where exactly will you be a guest, how many, will you have your own, will it be established to have readers); published competitions (there are many to choose from, where do you find them, when do you enter, what are the costs, how many books do they require); bookmarks (which printer do you use, who will design, do you have time to design, make certain the printer offers a color wheel, how fast is their turn-around, do you see a proof, how many do you order, what are you going to do with 1000 bookmarks, are there people who can take a hundred and pass to their friends); release day (take the opportunity to ENJOY and CELEBRATE your first release...spend it with friends, take the day off, look at your book, stand by the aisle--or at the store’s door taking your picture--and tell a stranger THAT’S MY BOOK); and your first book signing (enjoy it, see if friends can sign with you so you aren’t alone, look at the size of the table, find out what will fit, order AUTOGRAPHED BY AUTHOR stickers, get your bookmarks in time, publicize, publicize again, door prizes, freebies, maybe schedule a reader chat with coffee & desert, DECIDE what pen you’ll be signing with and don’t forget it!).

There are many many more things...and I didn’t touch on the social media like Facebook and Twitter to only name two out of the half dozen I’ve heard about. Like I gives me a headache to think how much I need to learn. And hey, what about READER communities? Heard of those? And RSS feeds? Is your head hurting yet? (LOL)

Seriously all you pre-published writers. The best advice I can give you is to learn about these things a little at a time, at your own pace, but start walking down the path. It’s an important path to the road to publication.

This week’s lesson Learned? I have to paraphrase what Cherry Adair ( told me when we spoke about my first sale: Don’t get caught up in the first sale and publicity dawhling (she’s a transplanted South African). Writers...write. Always remember that writers...write.  Great advice that I took to heart. So I might be a little behind in the social media/publicity world...but I made the sophomore sale and hope for a third soon.

Thanks again for having me...


Check out Angi’s new look on her website: and check out the prizes she has for her Debut Release: Hill Country Holdup. Just send her a picture of you holding the cover of HCH (that would be her HOLD UP THE COVER contest), register for her newsletter, and maybe win one of those prizes.

Guess Who's Guesting!

Meet me at Angi Morgan's Picture A Day Blog. I'll be hanging out there all day today!

Just click on BLOG at the top of the page.

And by the way, I'm tweeting now! Click on the link at the bottom of the page to follow me. All my tweets will be writing-related. I promise.

Happy Angi Morgan Day!

HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP hits shelves across the country today! Angi will be stopping by later today to say hello.

We'll have prizes throughout the day. Post a comment on the blog related to the topic in the designated time frame and I'll pick a winner. Your prize will arrive as soon as I can package it and send it out. I'll contact you via email to get your address. Please don't post it on the blog. You can only win one prize today so pick your slot accordingly. Here's the prize schedule:

1. 10:30 EDT -- SCWW Prize Pack
All blog comments between posting and 11:29 EDT will be eligible for this prize.
Tell us the most important thing you've learned by reading Angi's posts.

2.12:30 EDT --- Signed Romance Prize Pack
All blog comments between 11:29 and 12:29 will be eligible for this prize.
Post an alternate title for HILL COUNTRY HOLDUP.

3.  2:30 EDT --- SCWW Prize Pack #2
All blog comments posted between 12:30 and 2:29 will be eligible for this prize.
Tell us when and where you bought your copy.

4. 4:30 EDT --- Signed Romance Prize Pack #2
All blog comments posted between 2:30 and 4: 29 will be eligible for this prize.
Post the most important thing you learned about craft this year.

In addition to our celebration, be sure to follow Angi this week on other blogs. Here's her schedule:
1) Boxing the Octopus  First Sale Story
3) A Picture A Day @
4)    PRIZES
4)   Intrigue Authors Blog   Callie & Jane
5) San Antonio Stimulation --
6) A Picture A Day @
7) Riding With The Top Down
9)  A 10 Year Overnight Success Story 

10 & 11) A Picture a Day  @

11)  My Fast Year After THE CALL

Be sure to stop by her website or friend her on FB! Angi's got some contests of her own . . .

Planning your Conference Trip

You’re getting excited aren’t you? I’m getting excited. I can’t wait to meet all of you and to sit in on some of the great sessions we have planned for this our 20th Annual Writers’ Conference. Our faculty is diverse and well regarded. We are fortunate this year to be able to include, for the first time ever, a Saturday lunch speaker.

All our faculty members will host tables at the dinner meals. This presents another opportunity to spend time with the editors, agents and authors who will be presenting through the weekend. You will also have a chance to talk to other aspiring writers about writing and the craft of writing. We’re certainly looking forward to catching up with old friends and cementing new friendships over a few good meals.

As you plan your trip to the conference, you may be planning to bring along a family member or friend who wants to enjoy Myrtle Beach in October but doesn’t want to attend any conference sessions. If you have a friend or family member attending the conference with you, you may be interested in purchasing one of our food packages which will allow your guest to enjoy any or all of the three speakers we have lined up for Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and Saturday dinner.

James O. Born, an award winning author, will start things off for us on Friday night. Dan Poynter, known as Mr. Publishing, will address us at lunch on Saturday. And our keynote dinner speaker on Saturday evening is New York Times Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson.

A Spouse/Guest registration gives any guest over 18 access to all meals, mixers and Night Owl gatherings for $185, you can add on Friday breakfast, lunch and snacks for an additional $50. If you would rather purchase individual meal tickets for dinner on Friday and/or Saturday that will be $50 per ticket. Additional lunch tickets on Saturday are $25 per ticket.

While you’re making your plans to attend the conference and enjoy some of the terrific speakers we have lined up, you are probably wondering where to stay. On the SCWW website ( you will find a link for the Hilton, our host hotel. There is a price break if you mention code SWW when you call (843-449-5000) or insert SWW in the discount section of the website when you book online. There are lots of options, including multi-bedroom condos that afford all the amenities of home.

We’re looking forward to seeing you all there!

First Come, First Served and Its Application to Appointments with Faculty

We've gotten a couple of questions about how we schedule critiques.

While it's a somewhat complicated process, here's the bottom line:


When I download all the registrations, I sort them by the time they were submitted. Then I go down the list in strict order and assign the critiques, pitches and real-time queries. The earlier you register, the more likely you are to get your top choice.

It's the only fair way to handle things.

There's only one potential reason I would deviate from this process. If you classify your manuscript as something that the faculty member you've listed as your top choice does not accept, I will automatically move to the first choice that is appropriate for your manuscript.

Why, then, you ask, can I not confirm who your appointment is with and at what time before the conference begins?

There are several reasons:
1. The schedule shifts quite a bit from February to October.
2. Before I "concrete" the critique schedule, I have to make sure I recieve them at the proper time and in the proper format. Last year, a particular attendee signed up for one of our most requested faculty members. When, after dozens of phone calls and emails, the attendee never responded or sent materials, I assigned the slot to another person who ultimately got first-choice faculty instead of third-choice.
3. When I send the critique materials to the faculty members, I may get a call that he or she is not comfortable with the material, doesn't want that type of manuscript, etc. In that case, I'll move the manuscript to the next person on the list.

Rest assured, I put a lot of time in effort into making sure you get an appointment with the faculty member of your choice. I take this job very seriously and I want everyone to leave the conference feeling inspired, better educated on the publishing business, and ready to work on creating a masterpiece.

Early Bird Rates!

Early bird rates end today. Be sure to register for the conference before midnight and save a little dough!