Tuesday, August 05, 2008


I had an incredible weekend! It was—finally!—time for the Willamette Writers’ Conference. I was looking forward to this for months, building it up in my mind, getting so excited I had trouble sleeping Thursday night. By Friday morning, on my way to the conference, I had to keep reminding myself to keep breathing and keep an open mind and remember that things don’t live up our imaginations. But this conference did!

It was excellent in all respects. The workshops I attended (list to follow) were so good—interesting and useful and motivating. In between workshops we were kept well fed and well hydrated—the brilliant people had coffee, hot water and tea bags, and ice water on tables outside each classroom area. They had a full breakfast buffet every day with actual food, not just muffins and juice. The organizers also cleverly scheduled thirty minute breaks between the two morning and two afternoon workshop times, and they schedule ninety-minute lunch breaks complete with guest speakers. Oh! And during the afternoon breaks? Cookies. Perfect. They had things set up so I felt really taken care of and a bit pampered so I could just relax and focus on soaking in all the information.

Now, the workshops…There were twelve time slots, and I took workshops during each one.

Friday—Fiction’s Balancing Act with Jessica Morrell (she has some really good writing books!); Confessions of an Eavesdropper with Pamela Smith Hill; Revising You Novel’s Query, Synopsis and 2 Pages with Elizabeth Lyon; Invite the Reader to the Party with Mary Rosenblum

Saturday—Fiction Manuscript Makeover I and II with Elizabeth Lyon (the first session was on style and wordsmithing and the second was on character); Setting is NOT Character, Character is Setting with Eric Witchey; Beat the Demons also with Eric Witchey (this was about overcoming procrastination)

Sunday—Creating Compelling Villains with Mark Schorr; Fantasy, Myth and the Reluctant Hero with Maureen Doyle McQuerry; Write a Short Story Now with Eric Witchey; Mythic Power from Your Life also with Eric Witchey.

They were all good. Of course I had favorites. Eric Witchey is a highly engaging speaker, does wonderful handouts and just piles on loads of useful information and techniques. I especially enjoyed Maureen McQuerry’s workshop since it was on my favorite genre, and I am planning to read her YA books because they look really good. I think Elizabeth Lyon’s information was probably the most useful, especially the info on writing queries.

There’s so much more—it was such a full weekend. My brain was so tired by the time I got home Sunday evening. But the rest of it is just in my head. It was wonderful. If you are a writer and you get the chance, go to this conference. Come out next year! I will definitely be there…

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