SCWW’s Partnership with the South Carolina Book Festival

Jim McFarlaneJim McFarlane
SCWW Treasurer

The partnership between SCWW and the South Carolina Book Festival (SCBF) was an outstanding success. We had no idea what to expect on Sunday afternoon. SCBF assigned us a standard-size room with 40-45 chairs. There was standing room only (75+ attendees) for the first three lecture and panel sessions and 20-25 people for the first-page slush fest. Even the slush fest was a success, because we reviewed all but two submissions in the allotted time and the audience requested we stay late to review the final two. I think next time we should mix in two excellent starting paragraph to demonstrate what we critiquers are looking for. In media res seems to be a novel concept for our slush-fest attendees.

T.J. Wallace, director of SCBF, has invited us back next year and promised a bigger room. Eventually SCBF will provide attendee feedback on our sessions. That feedback should help direct our plans for next year. I think the format worked well—two speakers sharing a 45-50 minute time period and three panelists discussing publishing options. One speaker did complain that most of her lectures were geared to 45-50 minutes and cutting it in half was difficult.

One topic I would like for next year is a dozen or so “Dos” and an equal number of “Don’ts” and explanations of why. For example, Do begin your novel in the middle of things and Don’t interrupt the story with information dumps.  Perhaps you can suggest your favorite “Dos” and “Don’ts.”

A bigger room next year would allow our speakers to sell and sign books in the room for ten minutes before adjourning to the Author Signing Area. I fear many of the audience didn’t realize the faculty had books to sell. And didn’t want to leave for danger of losing their chair.

If you are an SCWW member, expect to release a new novel between January and May 2016 and have no fear of public speaking, perhaps you would like to participate in next year’s SCWW/SCBF partnership.


2016 Conference Plans

The strong attendance of strangers at the SCWW/SCBF presentation attests to the continuing interest in writing among South Carolina residents. Which brings up the question of a 2016 SCWW conference.

The presence of several New York agents and editors served our Myrtle Beach conference well for a few years. Transportation, hotel rooms and food for those agents and editors were huge expenses and required 400 paying attendees. I fear that time has passed—thwarted by the recession and by the rise of self-publishing.

The default for 2016 is a one-day conference in Columbia at the Metropolitan Conference Center, unless someone can generate a better idea and volunteer to implement it. The Columbia plan worked well in 2013 thanks to the hard work of Kia Goins. Hopefully in 2016 a committee will share that hard work.

Here’s an idea for what I call a “40/40” conference. I believe that several of the speakers at a 2016 Columbia conference would be willing to repeat their lectures a few weeks later at a mini-conference in another city. Suppose the Aiken or Charleston or Spartanburg chapters wanted to host a fall mini-conference, like Rock Hill does each spring. Think of the logistics. “Borrow” a couple of speakers from the Columbia conference plus a few locals, rent a church basement, create a web page and make arrangements with a local sandwich shop. Could you get forty local people to pay forty dollars for a nine-to-four local conference including lunch? I know Rock Hill only charges $25 but that leaves little room for error and Rock Hill has several successful years of experience.
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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