Sunday, November 6, 2011

SCWW Conference, October 21-23, 2011

By Laura P. Valtorta

Every year the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop Conference has been rewarding, but this year it was particularly friendly and fun. The writers and the agents seemed more relaxed and more willing to talk than usual. The highlights of this conference were the dinners -- Friday and Saturday night -- because Bonnie and I sat with agents who were wiling to talk: Jessica Regel from the Jean V. Naggar agency) and Mollie Glick (Foundry Literary + Media).

Jessica lives in Florida and works on-line for her New York agency; as a teenager, she worked as a fashion model. Mollie’s husband works for an ad agency and they travel a lot. These insights into the agents’ lives showed whether or not we might like to work with them, and what sorts of things interest them. Bonnie enjoyed quizzing everyone about the new, tough world of publishing where e-books are only this year becoming less horrifying. Last year, every agent grew pop-eyed at the mention of electronic publishing. Not so much this year, because the prices have gone up.

When I described my water-rights fight, each agent responded “Erin Brokovich.” It was like a word-association exercise. Agents need catch phrases and quick ideas that spell “money.” What amazes me, always, is that these young people, who haven’t worked in the industry for very long, can, in about 30 seconds, describe what they want from a story: what they believe will sell.

Thanks to Carrie McCullough, Ginny Padgett, and their team, the setting was marvelous, and the food was conference-quality. I can’t imagine a prettier setting than a South Carolina beach in October. On Saturday at noon I walked to the pier and back. It was a perfect beach day. Forget the writing; I wanted to become a photographer.

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