OK, that’s a good sign.

Now that’s more like it.

Had a great time this past weekend at the San Francisco Writers Conference. 2015 marks my first appearance at said event, and in retrospect I have to wonder why. The sessions were overall useful, the staff friendly and helpful without exception and the hotel was top-notch. Best of all: Queen Calafia, goddess of California, lent a watchful eye to the proceedings from her perch in the Room of the Dons. Yes, the very same Calafia that made an appearance in my previous work, In Cahoots (as referenced in a previous post.) Even better, she was in position during the Agent Speed Dating session on Saturday. Bless the Goddess!

Right, the pitching. Without a doubt the best part of the conference was a pair of editorial consultations followed by several expressions of interest from said agents. The year is off to a rip roaring start. I’ll be busy shipping out words into the void and telling them not to come home without a request to send more.

This was one intense conference. I had the good fortune to meet up with Cath Schaff-Stump and Debbie Goelz, both of whom also had great success with pitches. (Cath has posted her own exceptional account of the goings-on at her own website.)  We scurried around town between sessions and helped each other refine our presentations. I can’t imagine attending one of these things without such stalwart support.

I’ll be posting more thoughts on this weekend soon. For now, let’s say it was well worth the time and effort and greenbacks to attend. And I’ll likely return next year.


Gods save the Queen

Queen CalafiaNo figure is more prominent in the origin of California than that of Queen Calafia, who was conceived within the pages of Spanish writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo‘s 1510 novel, Las sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián). Calafia is originally depicted as the queen of an island ruled by Amazon warriors: California, or “The Domain of Calafia.” She is said to have led her women warriors, along with an army of trained griffins, into battle in an effort to destroy all men. She is eventually coerced into joining forces with Muslims in retaking Constantinople from the Christians during the Crusades. Her griffins, however, are simply happy to be let loose on a throng of males, and begin shredding both Christians and Muslims alike.  Oops. Following a duel with the King, Calafia and her allies are taken prisoner, and she eventually converts to Christianity. Boo.

Decades later, explorer Hernán Cortés and his party discovered what they assumed to be a massive island off the Pacific coast of North America. Rumors spread that it was populated by Amazons (how do these stories get started?) and it seemed only natural to name this new discovery California. Of course, California is not actually an island — or at least won’t be until the Big One — but Calafia lingered in the imagination as a symbol of a land unspoiled by European intervention.

Today Calafia is often referenced by artists in murals and paintings. She even has her own mural at Disneyland!  No big-budget musical with singing animals yet, but who knows what the future holds? She is often described as the Spirit of California.

One imagines she would not be pleased by the transformation of her homeland at the hands of Europeans and Americans. And that’s in addition to the local Ohlone tribe’s male-only secret society in service of the supernatural spirit, Kuksu. But that’s for another post.

Research is fun!