Tuesday, September 9, 2008

East of Eden Writers Conference - Wrap Up

This past weekend I was in Steinbeck Country and attended the East of Eden Writers Conference that was organized by the South Bay Writers branch of the California Writers Club.

I find going to writers conferences to be invigorating since I am surrounded by creative minds who are just as obsessed with the written word as I am.

It is also a great opportunity to meet, schmooze and network with other writers. That is only the first part. The follow through after the conference is over is just as important.

For example, four years ago at the East of Eden Conference, I met Lee Lofland. He's a retired detective with over twenty years experience in law enforcement. He is now the proud author of the Macavity nominated book Police Procedure and Investigation: A guide for writers.

We chatted, I made a few networking suggestions for him and we exchanged business cards. He followed up later with an email to me and we have kept in contact ever since.

Whenever I see something that reminds me of what one of my friends is working on, I pass that information on in the hopes of helping them.

With that in mind, a few months back I saw a post about agent Verna Dreisbach on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. All I needed to see was a mention of Verna having a background in law enforcement for me to immediately forward that post to Lee. I knew Lee should get in contact with Verna. She might not become his literary agent, but I was certain they could work together in some capacity.

They are.

Both will be participants in the upcoming Police Writers Academy to be held in April 2009. Lee has the details of that conference on his blog.

So at the East of Eden Conference, Lee returned the favor and introduced me to Verna. He then told her that I was the one responsible for him knowing about her.

After talking with Verna I discovered that she worked in the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department and lived in the town where I now work. 'Tis a small world indeed.

At the first workshop session, I attended Hallie Ephron's discussion about POV and different ways it can be done.

I wound up making a comment in that venue which she liked. Later I ran into her in the hall and she saw me and said, "you seem to know what you are doing." That comment thrilled me as it meant that a published author thought I made a cogent point. Yay, me!

We exchanged business cards and later on, I tried to introduce Lee to Hallie. I did not realize that they were friends already. They both live in the Boston area, and have been friends for awhile.

After dinner and keynote speakers there were late night sessions held at a nearby hotel. I attended one about mystery writing. Lee and Hallie were on a panel with David Corbett and Terri Thayer.

One aspect that I love about the California Writers Club is that we are open to writers of all genres. That means we interact and learn from writers who are working on different styles and conventions of writing. I look at it as cross-pollination of ideas and as the lines of genres blur, I think it is even more important to learn whatever we can from other creative people.

So even though I do not currently write mysteries, I enjoyed hearing this panel of speakers.

Left to right: Terri Thayer, David Corbett, Hallie Ephron, Lee Lofland.

I had a great time listening to the panelists and their freewheeling style. It was informative and entertaining.

David Corbett has a wicked sense of humor and I look forward to reading his book Blood of Paradise which has been nominated for the following awards:

The Edgar

I wish him well and hope that he wins at least one of those awards. David was cracking so many jokes that after the session ended when I had a chance to talk with him, he got a little friendly with me. While Ana Manwaring was trying to figure out how to work my camera, David was grabbing my side. Hence the huge grin on my face.

Here is Ana Manwaring and David "watch his hands" Corbett.

David gave a wonderful and rousing speech the next morning as a keynote speaker about the importance of respecting the genre.

The next morning my new friend Molly Dwyer and I started chatting with people who sat down at our table for breakfast. We soon realized they were "techies" and the conversation was soon on the topic of using the internet to publicize yourself and your writing.

Left to right: Matilda Butler, Martha Alderson, Molly Dwyer and Kendra Bonnett.

And here is Kendra Bonnett explaining about why she Twitters.

At lunch Hallie Ephron spoke about what it was like to have grown up in a family of writers and how that impacted her own confidence in writing.

Now just some pictures of writing friends. Here is Jana McBurney-Lin author of My Half of the Sky.

Here is Dionne Obeso and Charlotte Cook of KOMENAR Publishing.

Here I am with Jordan Rosenfeld. This was her first major literary event for Jordan since she became a mother in June.

Then at the gala banquet that night I schmoozed with Martha Alderson.

Hallie Ephron then came over to share with us how giddy she was to have met the banquet's keynote speaker Jane Smiley. It is nice to know that everyone can become giddy at meeting someone they admire.

Then here is Hallie posing with me and my "peeps" from my writers club.

Left to right: Me, Hallie Ephron, Ana Manwaring, Kerry Granshaw.

Hallie Ephron and Lee Lofland

Here are the conference organizers as well as keynote speakers.

from left to right: Karen Joy Fowler, Edie Mathews, Kelly Harrison, Jane Smiley, Hallie Ephron

I will leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the conference. It is of me and Lee.

Write on!
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