Conference 2015-Style


Jim McFarlane


By Jim McFarlane
SCWW Treasurer

No five-minute walks on Myrtle Beach between conference classes in 2015. SCWW is rebuilding its finances after shedding (shredding?) the hotel contract.

This year, we’re doing something new—partnering with South Carolina Book Festival. SCBF is providing SCWW with the “Carolina A” lecture room at the Metropolitan Conference Center in Columbia on Sunday afternoon, May 17, and SCWW has contacted some of its members and/or former conference faculty to teach several introductory classes in the art of novel writing to the general public. And it’s all free for SCWW, its faculty, its members and the public. Because “free” fits our 2015 budget.

The Sunday presentations in the Carolina A room are:

12:30 pm – 1:20 pm How to Get Started by Kim Boykin and Brenda Remmes

1:40 pm – 2:30 pm Plot and Character Development within a Novel by Barbara Evers and  Kasie Whitener

2:50 pm – 3:40 pm Publishing Options by Susan M. Boyer,  David Burnsworth and  Mike Long

4:00 pm – 4:50 pm Slush Fest

The SCWW Board hopes this reaching out to the public will accomplish several good things for our organization:

  • Increase public awareness of South Carolina Writers Workshop and its mission
  • Recruit new members
  • Deliver a free mini-conference to our members

We hope you can join us in Columbia on Sunday, May 17, for an afternoon of education and camaraderie. I feel fairly certain this will become an annual event for us.

Speaking of conferences/seminars and considering the future…

At the wonderful (and inexpensive) Rock Hill Intensive seminar last week, people asked me if SCWW would have another Myrtle Beach Conference in October 2016. The answer is, I don’t know. But the question triggered more questions.

Is the main purpose to expose our members to New York agents and editors? That is a worthy goal but expensive because of airfare, hotel lodgings and food.

People suggested our former Myrtle Beach locales of Ocean Creek and the Landmark Hotel, which are certainly cheaper for both food and rooms. We outgrew those facilities years ago but maybe we have shrunk enough to fit again.

Someone else suggested the lovely, rural Palm Key, advertised as Nature’s Paradise in the South Carolina Lowcountry (about five miles from Exit #28 on I-95 and free of distracting televisions and phones), which can accommodate about 150 people.

Do we repeat the one-day Columbia convention of 2014? It was successful and made a little money.

Is Myrtle Beach an attraction or a hindrance because of its non-central location?

Does an expensive hotel price out many of our members?

Do we focus on agents/editors, writing craft or both?

Can we afford classes on poetry and screen-writing, both of which have low attendance? Should we have a separate, smaller conference for them?

Instead of a big conference, should we have mini-conferences scattered around the state, such as Rock Hill’s?

Like most of life—many questions and opportunities with few clear answers.


Jim McFarlane, father of four grown-up and dispersed children, lives in Greer with his wife and Jack Russell terrier in the house he mostly built himself after retirement. His hobbies include genealogy, writing novels about interesting ancestors, and taming his acre of wilderness.

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4 Responses to Conference 2015-Style

  1. Also much like life – growing, changing and always becoming something new. Excited to see what the future holds for SCWW. Great post Jim.

  2. Steve Gordy says:

    I personally find the exposure to the wider world of publishing beneficial, but the expense is too much for a lot of people. The association with the SC Book Festival will be very helpful; it’s something I would like to see continue.

  3. Wilma Reitz says:

    I stumbled onto your site too late to be timely but wanted to comment. You may remember that I was a member of SCWW for many years and attended a number of conferences. I loved the Ocean Creek conferences. I attended only the very first conference held at the “big hotel.” I had the feeling we were trying to be world-class and it just didn’t feel comfortable for me. Just as important, the cost of attending was more than I wanted to pay.

    Another consideration is that I went from writing short stories and essays and one novel to writing historical non-fiction, a project on which I am still working. Workshops usually do not have offerings for my kind of writing.

    Thanks for your friendly discussion.

  4. Earl G. Fisher says:

    Dear Jim–It was good to finally see something about the SCWW Myrtle Beach Writers Conference in print. My wife, Linda, and I are published writers, living in Prattville, Alabama, and we loved the South Carolina Writers Conferences with a passion. We attended at least six times, and I must admit that we enjoyed the Ocean Creek ones more than the “big” (expensive) hotel ones. I loved those wooden bungalows. We have missed the SCWW Conference.
    My wife and I attend writers conferences for two reasons–to pitch to agents and to be around other writers. We conference-goers are members of a tribe–writers–and though it is by no means an exclusive club, I can’t walk down the streets of my hometown and meet many writers. They are here, of course,–we are members of a writers’ group–but to rejoice in a conference-sized crowd of fellow rejectees, to be among men and women who will not give up, who continue to write and submit, no matter what the odds of success may be, is different. For one thing, writers conferences have been our only vacations for about 20 years. To attend conferences similar to the ones you wonderful people gave us, was like being in heaven. To be among those who understood what it was like to be rejected over and over, or to get an agent hit in the midst of other members of our tribe, made life worth living.
    So–even though I’m not a native South Carolinian (although, my sister lives in Lexington and my parents retired in Beaufort), I miss the SCWW Conference more than I can explain. I miss telling everyone I know that come October, I might get lucky and find an agent for my latest book. And even if I don’t, I’m going to be around other writers–I’m going to beat the war drums with my tribal kin.
    I also think I’m running out of space here, and perhaps jabbering a little too much.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas on your blog.
    I hope to see you at a South Carolina Writers Conference one day. May our tribe live long, and may it continue to inspire, instruct, and be a beacon of hope for all who wish to join.
    Earl G. Fisher.

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