SCWC … San Diego, baby!

Writers: Ever have those dry spells, when the words just won’t come? Okay, okay. Of course you do. And, yes, I’ve been experiencing one of those periods of late, but I’m not worried. On the one hand, these things usually resolve themselves as long as we don’t give up. To the other, though, I’m heading down to San Diego for the Southern California Writers’ Conference over the Presidents’ Day Weekend.

And, hey, there’s nothing like a long weekend getaway to refresh your senses. Hanging out with fellow writers, getting advice from established writers, agents, and publishers, and immersing yourself in a literary vibe doesn’t hurt either.

It’s one of those fun events where a good time is had by all. The professionals are accessible and genuine, your fellow conferees enthusiastic. And, well, there’s always a little bit of time for mischief, like the time I got drunk and fell down an embankment beside the road and lost my glasses. Stumbling into the hotel, what did I find but a cadre of fellow writers working and drinking well into the night. Naturally, I joined them and finished the job of getting properly smashed.

That was my first time at SCWC, though, and I was in a celebratory mood. Not everything there is drunken debauchery. It’s not even a prerequisite. Indeed, you’ll find it something of an aberration, but I mention it because, well, it was fun, and it’s not like anyone down there holds me in contempt for that episode. Well, who knows, maybe the couple of writers I ended up babbling to for an hour or so might have wondered who the hell the drunk guy was, but nobody told me to never come back. Indeed, the next time ’round, it made for a charming story, since it didn’t involve any actual crimes.

So beyond one moron’s night on the town, what wonders await you at SCWC?

Well, retired psychologist and mystery—ah, excuse me … crime fiction—author Michael Thompkins, brings his particular insights into character development with “Shrinking Fiction”. Pulitzer Prize nominee Caitlin Rother presents “The Art of Interviewing”. Laurel Corona, a professor of English and Humanities and the widely-acclaimed author of The Four Seasons and Until Our Last Breath offers a workshop on “Writing Fiction About Real People”. Columnist, poet, and excellent drinking partner Edwin Decker is on hand for one of his excellent “poetry crams”, this one entitled, “On the Page and In Your Face”. Val McDermid, Matt Pallamary, Andrew Peterson, Judy Reeves … the list goes on. The full list is available at the SCWC main website, with a few more tantalizing details expected at the SCWC blog over the next week or so. After all, time’s a-tickin’ away, and they’re behind on that. Okay, I’m behind.

And that’s an important point. Before you accuse me of shilling for the conference, well, yeah, I am. Because while I attend these conferences for my own education and rejuvenation, I’m also part of the blog team. And, yeah, I’m just as inconsistent for them as I am here for myself.

But, really, this is something I should have done a while ago.

And bring your manuscripts. Or, at least, a manuscript. There’s still time to register for the conference, and there’s a good list of professionals available to read your manuscript and give their best advice.

And don’t let the fact that you’re not from southern California put you off. Of course, if I’d posted this weeks ago, travel plans wouldn’t be so … er, I mean, yeah. Still, though, if you wonder how someone like me, squirreled away in the Pacific Northwest, ended up with this crew down in southern California, well, come to the conference and ask me. I’ll be happy to tell you. In the meantime, I’m hardly the most remote attendee. You’ll find fellows from all across the country and even a few from overseas. That’s right, we’re world famous. Or nearly.

So how about some links, then?

And it’s also worth mentioning that members of writers’ groups—including San Diego Writers Ink, Southern California Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, Palm Springs Writers Guild, Pen, WGA, and others—get a $50 discount on their attendance registration. If you want to make sure your writers’ group qualifies, go ahead and email Michael Steven Gregory to inquire. You can tell him I told you to do so. And you can tell him I said he should say yes.

Really, we want to see you there. San Diego, baby. February 13-16, 2009.

Random thought for the day: Toothbrushes

Okay, here’s one: Electric toothbrushes.

Presently I have a Sonicare something or another, and before that one of those Crest things with AA batteries. And for some reason, I can’t help but keep noticing—even though I’ve noticed so many times before—that the automatic motion of these things is inadequate to clear the excess water. That is, you might think you can simply rinse it out, and then run the thing for a couple of seconds to spin or vibrate out the excess water, but no, I still have to shake the damn thing like an old-school toothbrush to get the water out.

Random enough for you?