The ability to accept the truth can mean the difference between success or failure for a writer. Hearing it at South Carolina Writers Association’s “Big Dream Conference” via a Pitch Session with one of the nine attending faculty members may change your life. The three-day event will kick off with the words of Peter Steinberg, Literary Agent with Foundry Literary + Media in New York City and our Keynote Speaker.

Mr. Steinberg was gracious enough to respond to some of our questions, giving us a chance to get to know him a little better.

When asked the best advice he can give, hands down, Mr. Steinberg answered, “To have empathy for others.”

If you are a writer, empathy means more than just understanding. It is the next level you seek after judgment. Hearing the honest opinion on the result of your endless hours of labor can be life changing.

The core of my writing is not art but truth.”  These words ring as true today, as when delivered more than thirty years ago by author Philip K. Dick (The Man In The High Castle, Paycheck, and Minority Report, to name a few**), who is one of Mr. Steinberg’s favorite authors and one he would choose to sit down to dinner with.

So, what is a work that moved Mr. Steinberg to tears?  A List of Cages by a first-time writer named Robin Roe and I couldn’t stop crying the first time I read it,” Peter told us. Published by Disney/Hyperion, the young adult novel was released earlier this year and focuses on the emotional bonds of secrets and friendship.

 “Read it,” Peter advised.

In addition to representing Robin Roe and at least three New York Times bestselling authors, Peter Steinberg works with clients who have been nominated for numerous literary awards including The Pulitzer Prize, Pen/Faulkner and The Paris Review Discovery Prize.*

Mr. Steinberg is a graduate of NYU film school and worked as a screenwriter before turning to his current profession where he currently accepts submissions by e-mail. He told us he reads “about three novels a month in their entirety and then about the first thirty to fifty pages of twenty or so more.”

Peter did not always plan on becoming a Literary Agent. “When I was young,” he stated, “I actually wanted to be a clown.”

Many of us dream in bright colors when we are young. Seeing the world in varying tones develops as we meet the challenges life puts before us.

Meet a new challenge when you register for the “Big Dream Conference“. Utilize the time, talent and truth of our keynote speaker and the other eight acclaimed literary professionals invited by SCWA to serve as the conference faculty. Prepare to know your own truth.

While Peter has already sold out of Pitch Sessions, other faculty members have available space. Of course, all attendees will be able to benefit from our Keynote Speaker’s words at the Welcome Reception Dinner on Friday, October 27th. We look forward to it, Mr. Peter Steinberg.

Our Faculty:

Kerry D’Agostino—Agent, Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Kate Gale—Editor, Red Hen Press

Timothy Green—Editor, Rattle Poetry Anthology

Jessica Handler—Author, Nonfiction

Annie Hwang—Agent, Folio Literary Agency

Michelle Johnson—Agent, Inkling Literary Agency

Emily Lavin Leverett—Author, Fiction

Peter Steinberg—Agent, Foundry Literary + Media

Luke Whisnant—Author, Fiction


Sue Cryer is a member of The SCWA Board of Directors and works as a Freelance Writer in Chapin, SC.  She is a former Newspaper Correspondent and Feature News Writer.









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As writers, judgement is par for the course. We sit at our desks pounding out words which will ultimately be judged by editors, agents, publishers, peers, readers and most harshly, by the voices in our own heads advising us to run for the hills. There will be no running encouraged this year for members of the South Carolina Writers Association (SCWA).  Opportunities abound, and judgement has already been constructively bestowed on the current edition of The Petigru Review (TPR), by a zenith in the country’s publishing industry. The Kirkus Reviews

If the name does not instantly ring a bell, just search a favorite read on your bookshelf or tablet, and read the reviews. Better yet, read TPR’s review at our website.

“Here it is! All good! I’m so proud to have had a part in it,” announced Torie Amarie Dale, one of the Associate Editors of TPR 2016/2017, upon notification of our assessment from Kirkus Reviews. “And now I (we) can prove it to the world and we can take TPR into the national spotlight.”

SCWA proudly accepts the judgment received by Kirkus Reviews, one of the pinnacles of success in the publication arena. The Petigru Review is considered with great pride by our members and the TPR editors, who faithfully hold its content up to the highest standards of excellence. Standards that began with founding board member and renowned author, Carrie Allen McCray.

So it is our turn. The Petigru Review is our baby and we beseech you to share our illustrious news. Like us on Facebook. Share us with your friends. Access our blogs and newsletter, The Quill, while visiting our website.

While there, take a look at our 2016 Pushcart Nominees in TPR, which include the award-winning words of Kasie Whitener, who won first place for her short story fiction, which seamlessly transforms the mind of a middle-aged tattoo repair seeking woman back to that of a reckless teen seeking adulthood. Her work is one of thirty-seven that fill The Petigru Review’s one hundred and forty-four pages. They represent some of the best and brightest submitted works of our membership with content ranging from poetry and flash fiction to the short short and novel first chapters.

Please take note of the word submitted. In order to succeed, we must take that chance. The chance to be judged. Risk is our key to success. Without submission and judgement, our stories would not be read, watched or listened to. We accept it as part of our craft and take umbrage in its innate meaning.

As members of the South Carolina Writers Association, we will receive new and unique opportunities to showcase our ability to be judged as 2017 continues to unfold.  The period to submit for the 2017/2018 issue of The Petigru Review begins April 1 and runs through May 31.

Registration is also available at our website for The 2017 ‘BIG DREAM’ Conference in Pawleys Island, where attendance will give you the opportunity to lay your manuscripts into the hands of agents, editors, and authors from across the country for review and critique. More information and updates will be shared in the days and weeks ahead.

These are giant opportunities for our membership. So get busy. Listen to the larger voice in your heads. The one that says keep going, keep going.

We cannot wait to be judged.


Sue Cryer is a member of The SCWA Board of Directors and works as a Freelance Writer in Chapin, SC.  She is a former Newspaper Correspondent and Feature News Writer.


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A Little Holiday Perspective

Lisa DunnBy Lisa Dunn
Rock Hill Chapter Co-Leader

Writing is a gift.

From the idea that forms unexpectedly in a writer’s mind to the words that flow onto the page to that feeling of knowing what you’ve written resonates with a reader, it’s a gift.

Like any good gift, writing should be thoroughly enjoyed. In the midst of holiday festivities and throughout the year, every day living, be sure to protect and cherish your writing time. Even if it’s just a few minutes, carve out some time for your craft. Especially if writing grounds you, allow yourself time to indulge in this gift. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels so much healthier and happier when I’ve gotten the right words on the page. Writing is a gift, one we’re meant to enjoy like a child enjoys a new toy on Christmas morning.

On the flip side, like any gift, writing can be indulged to an unhealthy extreme. Sometimes we run the risk of becoming so engrossed in our writing that we miss other gifts—the fellowship of family and friends, the laughter of a child, the mystery of the stranger in the checkout line in front of us. Resentment can creep in when our fingers haven’t hit the keyboard in days, because, as we all know, Writers write.

Every day, some would add.

The harsh reality is that sometimes life prohibits writing, and while writer’s block can keep a writer from producing words, writer’s guilt can keep a writer from fully enjoying life.

So I find the writing life all about balance. Some days, the words and the writing time come easy. Other days, I have time, but the words don’t come—or words, but no time. This, too, is a gift, this learning that life and writing coexist, that while writing grounds me, I am not defined by how much I write or how good it is.

As you head into the holidays, I hope you will find both time to write and perspective to enjoy life’s beautiful and varied gifts.

Lisa Dunn co-facilitates the Rock Hill Chapter of SCWW. When she isn’t homeschooling her children, she writes novels for Young Adults. Her first two books, Grit of Berth and Stone and Heir of Koradin were published by Anaiah Press in 2015. The final book in the Chasmaria series, Child of Thresh, will release in August 2016. Samples of her current work-in-progress, a contemporary Young Adult titled Commando Grace, won WRiTE CLUB 2016, an anonymous writing contest hosted by D.L. Hammons.  Lisa is on Facebook and Twitter, and blogs at

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Meet Michelle Buckman!

We’re thrilled to welcome Michelle Buckman to this year’s SCWA conference!  Born in New York, and raised in Canada, Michelle was eventually bounced down south to the Carolinas!  Along the way she only grew more affectionate for her craft, and has penned SIX novels!  We’re so excited that she gave us a little “pre-game” chat!   Check it out!

What did you wish you did better when you first began writing?

I wish I’d known more about the publishing business—how it worked, the different divisions, and how to define my audience more accurately.

One’s voice is as unique as a snowflake, how would you define yours?

I hope my voice is lyrical. (At least that’s my aim.)

Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer or an A-Z outliner?

I always know the beginning and ending of a story before I start writing, and I write those scenes first. Then I write whichever scenes are most clear to me at the time.

Whose works do you personally admire?

Maeve Binchy, and Anne Tyler

What’s your favorite book on writing?

Writing the Breakout Novel workbook by Donald Maass

When do you write best, and in what kind of setting is your ideal writing space?

Week-long writing retreats at the beach. Walking on the beach gets my creative ideas flowing. On a regular basis, I write early morning or late at night when the house is quiet.

Which character of your book(s)/poems have you dreamed about?

I have dreamt about all of my characters. Rachel, from Rachel’s Contrition, was with me night and day. David Rudder in Death Panels is one I tried to ignore, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. Carla, in A Piece of the Sky, strutted around with an attitude, not really wanting to tell me her story. Maggie and Dixie (Maggie Come Lately & My Beautiful Disaster) chattered to me all the time, just like my kids, though Maggie is definitely more reserved.

What percentage of your time is spent on the writing, and how much is spent on the editing?

I write and rewrite each scene until it is the best it can be before I move on to the next. My final revision involves cutting and pasting of scenes to proper placement more than editing. (Keep in mind that I am a professional editor, so editing is a natural part of my writing.)

What is your favorite part of the writing process… coming up with the idea, writing the story, or cleaning it up?

My favorite part of the process is getting to know the character and writing down what she tells me. (Writing)

What is your favorite book title (can be your own)?

My favorite of the books I’ve written is Rachel’s Contrition—my most recent publication.

How many books do you read a month, and what are you reading now?

If I include the books that I’m editing, I read 8 hours a day. For pleasure? A couple per month. Right now I’m reading American Gods (a present from a daughter).


Hands down, best advice you can give!?

Read 200 books in your genre. Study the craft. Attend conferences. Network. –In that order.


When did you realize you were a writer?

Was there a time I wasn’t a writer? I officially felt like a professional writer when I was published in Writer’s Digest, giving advice to other writers in one of the best-known writing magazines.

What’s one of your favorite literary quotes?

Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” 


How did your environment or background shape your writing?

Moving to the south at twelve allowed me to shape an outsider’s point-of-view about the south, and yet grow up intimately enough in this environment to write about it authentically.

What other writers, if any, would you compare your style with?

Funny question. Of course my favorite writers are those I try to emulate, which are the ones I most love.


Where are your ideas born? Do they just pop in? Does something normally inspire them?

I am usually inspired by a person I see or a new story, or by an issue with which a friend is suffering.

Give us a writing prompt!

Tonya lifts one nail-bitten hand up to shield her eyes from the morning sun as she stares across the road at the dilapidated garage in her best friend’s backyard, but it’s not the drooping eaves or the cracked window that has her attention.

If you could have dinner with two other writers, living or dead, who would they be? Why?

Maeve Binchy, partly because that would have meant lunch in Ireland. I was in Ireland three weeks before she died. I wish I’d attempted to see her.

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