‘Writing is like breathing’ to Award-Winning 2015 SDSU Writers’ Conference Attendee Alana Albertson

Alana Albertson

Alana Albertson

The SDSU Writers’ Conference has a long history of launching careers by opening doors. This annual conference was among the first to pioneer 1:1 appointments with agents and editors, giving writers unprecedented access to top-tier publishing professionals — many of whom interact with unpublished authors only through conferences.

Among the more than 300 writing enthusiasts/aspiring authors who descended upon the 2015 SDSU Writers’ Conference was Alana Albertson, who came in search of feedback on her Young Adult paranormal romance, The Picture of Dulce Garcia. Among her scheduled appointments was an Advance Reading with Eileen Rothschild, an associate editor with St. Martin’s Press.

Advance Reading appointments require submitting the first 10 pages of your manuscript to be read prior to the conference. Attendees also have the option of scheduling a Consultation appointment, which is a Q&A opportunity to pitch your project as a whole and discuss its viability in the marketplace.

Every year, each editor and agent chooses their favorite project(s) for a Conference Choice Award, and Albertson’s was chosen by Rothschild. We trace Albertson’s SDSU Writers’ Conference experience, and where she is today on her journey to publication.

As you a writer by profession or is it an avocation?
I’m a full-time professional writer. My new adult romances are bestsellers and my latest book hit No. 3 in Amazon’s entire store and remained in the top 10 for a month. I’m a Kindle All-Star author as well.

Tell us about your novel.
My long-suffering Young Adult paranormal romance, The Picture of Dulce Garcia, is a Latina YA retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

How long have you been working on it?
Uh . . . six years.

Care to share the opening line or paragraph(s)?
A mist washes over my face, and I’m jolted from my slumber in my Paris apartment. I peer out at the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés; the eerie quiet of the morning contrasts with the rumbling in my heart.

It has happened.

My blood burns, my pulse quickens. I sense her presence. Where is she? More importantly, who is she?

One hundred years. Over one hundred years alone. On my own. With no one by my side. Lord, I sound like that melancholy song from that dreadful adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Oscar Wilde spoke of that miserable bastard, they’d been friends in Paris in the late 1800s. I was just a young lad back then, before Wilde had created me. Before he’d changed me. Before he’d immortalized me.

Could you tell that Eileen was pretty excited about your 10 pages or was it a complete surprise when you heard your name announced as a Conference Choice winner?
I did sense that Eileen really enjoyed the sample. I’m so thrilled.

Did she give you any suggestions on reworking the first 10 pages before sending her the complete manuscript?
No. She did say the voice was a little young – and I have since revised and made it a tad older.

What was her response to your complete manuscript?
Hold that question—I haven’t sent it yet! I know, but I want it to be perfect. I’m hard at work on a final revision now.

How did you hear about the SDSU Writers’ Conference?
I think I was googling writing conferences.

Was 2015 your first time at the conference or have you attended before?
I first attended in 2007!!!! I’ve been to most years since.

What do you think is one of the greatest strengths of the conference?
Definitely the advance reading appointments. I also loved the networking lunches.

Had you been querying agents and trying to get representation prior to the conference? If so, what has the response been?
No – I had an agent, but with my self-publishing success I have stayed indie for romance. I do however want to sell Dulce traditionally, since YA doesn’t do as well indie.

What’s the first book that spoke to you as a young reader?
A Little Princess
. I loved that book.

Who’s your favorite author (or top three if it’s hard to choose one)?
Wow. For young adult, I would say Tamora Pierce, Lois Lowry, and Lois Duncan.

What keeps you going in the pursuit of your writing goal?
I love to write; writing is like breathing to me.

Will we see you again at a future conference?
Yes!!!!

Anything you’d like to add?
I’m so thrilled to be chosen for the Conference Choice Award and I love the SDSU Writer’s Conference!

The 32nd Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference is Jan. 22-24, 2016 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley. Register now for three amazing days that could change your writing life.

For more information, visit neverstoplearning.net/writers, call (619) 594-0670 or email sdsuwritersconference@sdsu.edu.