Sunday, November 1, 2009

SCWW 2009 Conference

By Bonnie Stanard

At the SCWW Conference at Myrtle Beach last weekend I woke up each morning to sweeping views of the Atlantic. Breakfast was with writers talking about writing. Lunch and dinner I sat at tables of writers talking about writing. In the evening more talk about writing. Does it get any better than this?

There were four sessions on Saturday and one on Sunday. As many as nine different topics were offered for a single session. Generally speaking, you could choose from topics on craftsmanship, genres, and/or the publishing business. There were also different formats to choose from--lectures, panels, and slush fests. I don’t have the patience for panels and slush fests, but if I were a beginning writer, this is a great way to get started.

Of the faculty that I saw in action, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe (on synopses) and Nikki Poppen (on point of view) were especially well prepared. Rochelle Bailey (on revisions) and Janet Reid (on query letters) were also good. As with any conference, some presenters were interested in meeting writers and others had variant interests.

Dinner each night gave us an opportunity to meet faculty members, all of whom sat at different tables. On Friday I sat at the table with David Weber. Noise was a problem, not just at my table but in the entire room, which made conversation across the table virtually impossible. On Saturday night I sat beside Jenny Bent and the noise wasn’t the problem. Steve Berry gave us a rousing stick-with-it speech, not too long, not self-congratulatory, but genuine encouragement.

I hope that next year the presenters will use microphones. Some of us writers don’t like to sit on the front row, and unfortunately the sound in almost every conference room echoed, and often I couldn’t understand what was said. This also affected questions and answers, especially if a question was asked from the front of the room.

Good news from the critiques and pitches with agents! Several Columbia II writers including Ilmars, Laura, Lisa, and Suzanne had positive feedback and/or requests for sample copies. Though I struck out with my pitch, I was consoled by winning second place in the Carrie McCray poetry competition.

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