I had the great good fortune to attend the Friday and Saturday sessions of the Write on the Sound writers’ conference in Edmonds, Washington, this weekend. The conference was held in the Frances Anderson Center, a converted school building that now serves as a community center. From the generous deck area we had a lovely view of the Sound and, on Saturday, of a sailboat race. I’d never been to Edmonds, but will return soon to explore the many artistic shops and restaurants down near the waterfront. What a cute town!
This was only my second writers’ conference; my first, in Seattle last February, was an event for new writers sponsored by Writers’ Digest, and was mind-blowingly informative. Write on the Sound does not offer pitch sessions with agents, focusing instead on the craft of writing. There were many interesting topics to choose from, and I only had one clunker. I paid $180 for six sessions of instruction over two days, so I feel that I got a pretty good value for my money.
The highlight for me was Eric Witchey’s half-day session on emotion-driven fiction. He taught this high-energy class with lots of group interaction and humor, and I left with many pages of notes and a thick packet of materials. His techniques would enrich the writing arsenal of any fiction writer, so do take one of his classes if you ever get the chance.
I also greatly enjoyed a session that was actually not my first choice for that time slot: a discussion of the many freelance helpers a writer might hire: publicist, lawyer, editor, website designer, social media consultant, etc. This class was taught by YA author Lin Kaymer and her publicist/editor Alice B. Acheson. These ladies really know their stuff and adroitly fielded questions from writers of all sorts. Excellent session!
I won’t tell you much about the clunker—I addressed that on my evaluation form. Let’s just say that this presenter didn’t seem to know much more than I do about her topic, and I’m a relative beginner, though I have made a point of reading everything I can find on this topic.
The chance to meet other writers and chat about their writing projects is what I especially enjoy about conferences like these. I met writers of memoir, short stories, science fiction, YA fiction, romance, crime fiction, historical fiction and nonfiction, and more. Especially lively was the discussion in my last session, a class on mystery/detective fiction basics. We crime fiction fans can be quite rabid in our enthusiasm. I now have a wonderful reading list to keep me warm throughout the long, dark winter. What’s better than a juicy murder story on a gloomy day?
The Pacific Northwest is fertile ground for writers’ conferences; I’m already signed up for Write in the Harbor, a smaller conference held in Gig Harbor on November 6 and 7. Just the thing to kick of National Novel Writing Month.