The 28th annual Central Coast Writers' Conference was held at Cuesta College recently and I was lucky enough to attend. We had beautiful weather, wonderful faculty and interesting sessions.
This year's keynote speaker was poet Jack Grapes. It's the first time a poet has been the keynote speaker in the conference's 28 year history. He was really good - very inspirational, gave really good advice, and read some of his wonderful poetry as well.
For my first session I chose to learn about creating suspense in mystery or thriller novels with faculty member Jeff Carlson. This guy was a great speaker - lots of great information about plotting and pace, and lots of energy as well, which is important at the end of a long day! Last year I took a session about writing suspense, but didn't walk away with half the information and inspiration as I did with this guy.
The first session was about the various sub-genres within the fantasy genre. Our faculty member for this session was Barbara Hodges. It was nice because it was a really small group - only about 7 or 8 people total! - and we had a lovely discussion about different types of fantasy stories, what we're writing, marketing with regards to fantasy and much more.
My next session was with Jeff Carlson again; this time talking about worldbuilding in fantasy and sci-fi stories. He repeated some of the same information as the night before, but it was still interesting.
My last session of the day was developing the character arc in your novel with Rachel Herron. She was a great speaker - I think my favourite of the weekend - and I was lucky enough to win one of her novels in the raffle!
At the end of the afternoon we had a final session with a panel moderated by Catherine Ryan Hyde that included book bloggers Amy Riley and Danielle Smith and literary agent Pam van Hylckama. Together they discussed the importance of marketing yourself to book bloggers for reviews and exposure. While I am not familiar with any of these ladies, I do read a lot of other book blogs, and have been introduced to several really great books and authors by reading their reviews.
Overall this was one of the best conferences I've been to. The faculty were great. They provided interesting and usable information, and controlled their rooms effectively (unlike some past conferences where the instructors totally lost control of the folks in their sessions and it became a total free-for-all). It was also nice to have some different session topics to choose from, too, as the past few years, I've been taking a lot of the same stuff, mostly because I'm not ready for the marketing/query stuff and also because I'm not interested in writing children's/picture books. Anyway, it was a great weekend, and I really do recommend this writers' conference to any and all my writing friends. Cheers!