If you live in Northern California, this is an excellent annual writing conference to attend. Writers from several genres–stage, screen, poetry, fiction, children’s, memoir, travel, mystery–speak about their specialties. This year’s conference opened with Raymond Obstfeld, author of On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance–his most recent book.
I spoke at the conference with my writing buddy, Erin Dealey. Our topics included “So You Think You Want to Write for Children?” and “First Page Critiques.” The first of these one-hour sessions gave participants an overview children’s writing dos and don’ts. In the “First Page Critiques” session, we asked our audience to trust us and allow us to read the first page (the first 12 lines) of their manuscripts aloud. We critiqued the manuscripts on the spot according to a set of rules Erin and I have established for our own work.
Erin and I also conducted private critiques of participants’ manuscripts in one-on-one sessions designed to give writers more personalized attention.
One reason for writers to attend conferences is the fortuitous opportunities they bring your way. For instance, Erin and I sat down for dinner in a restaurant with the other speakers. We were discussing our “First Page Critiques” session, trying to determine what went well and what we’d change for the next time. Jane Friedman, the executive editor for Writer’s Digest Books, happened to be sitting across from us. She said, “That would make a great idea for the [Writer’s Digest] magazine.”
Needless to say we acted quickly. We submitted a proposal, which was accepted! The article publication date will be announced shortly! Good things come to those who attend (or speak at!) conferences.