Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Writers Conferences

I’m sitting at my desktop computer in the office I finally have (mostly) to myself, after writing at least three novels on a computer desk in our bedroom. What a mess that was. I should have been in a closet. And what a luxury to now have a spot of my own, though other members of the family “borrow” it from time to time.

This week, I’ve been ruminating about the writers’ conference I just attended in Jackson Hole. As you know, there are all kinds of writers’ conferences. Jackson Hole is one of the smaller ones. Tim Sandlin, screenwriter, novelist, terrific human being, and director of the JHWC, keeps it on the smallish side (150 attendees plus faculty). That way, all visiting faculty are approachable to attendees. In fact, there are cocktail parties and barbecues where everyone mingles, yaks, and compares writerly experiences.

Tim does an excellent job of rounding up notable authors of fiction and nonfiction, young and hungry New York agents, and grounded and instructive editors from well-known publishing houses. This year, for example, Julia Glass was a keynote fiction speaker. As you may remember, she won a National Book Award for Three Junes. She is approachable, articulate, and kind. In fact, Tim insists he requires nice over notable when he invites authors as faculty.

There are also one-on-one manuscript reviews with a published author, which cost an additional $30 for a short review (20+ minutes; I never can finish critiquing in 20 min), and $90 for an hour critique. Contrast this with the Hawaii Writers Conference, which charges $1195 for their Writers Retreat. Granted, this is 6 days with a published author, but it’s a group session.

There’s something for everyone, and I believe a good conference can be inspirational. I came home from Jackson Hole with lots of ideas on how to write better, which is one of my big goals right now (faster, too).

Some conferences are fan-based. For fan-based mystery conferences, I think of Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, and the upcoming Poisoned Pen Webcon (online, at ). Two good instructional mystery conferences are BookPassage, and the new Midwest Mystery Fest, (

Anyone have any other suggestions?


John Corrigan said...

The conference sounds great, and thanks for listing others. Helpful info.

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