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  • The Motivator: Summer Writing Conference Season Is Here!
The Motivator: Summer Writing Conference Season Is Here!
Written by
The Motivator
March 2010
Written by
The Motivator
March 2010
BK Loren's Summer Fun List I'm just recovering from four days at AWP in Denver. AWP kicks off the summer writing season. You've heard of summer reading lists? Here's your summer writing list, along with a brief description of what I know about the conferences. I heartily invite all of you to add to the list and share your experiences. I can't list every festival (not even close), but here's a sampling of this summer's fare: Iowa Summer Writing Festival. This conference is extremely well-run. It offers something for every level and genre of writer, and takes place in Iowa City, home of the renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop. Iowa City is alive with writers and writing. You know how Hollywood Boulevard has stars embedded in the streets? Well, Iowa City has bronze tributes to writers embedded along Iowa Ave. It's truly a Mecca of writing. Open admissions; no applications. Places to eat: One-Twenty-Six: Get anything, and have some wine from a great list. Givanni's: If you eat meat, get the steak. Devotay: A tapas sort of place. Linn Street Cafe A sweet place with great food Motley Cow: Local fare, organic, and delicious. Also don't miss the lunch places that serve everything from Ethiopian to noodles, and most are waaaaay better than your average quick-fare. Other attractions: -If you're there over July 4th, check out the the great jazz and culinary festival. -Don't miss the Elevenses, offered by the faculty of the ISWF. Also, get yourself down to Hickory Hill Park and how underrated Iowa's beauty is. Visit the black angel, if you're inclined at all to urban lore. Taos Summer Writing Conference: Like the Iowa Festival and the Tin House, the Taos Festival focuses on writing: not on selling or pitching ideas. I, myself, prefer this kind of conference for many reasons. Taos is a powerful, but less traditional gathering place for writers. D.H. Lawrence lived here briefly, and the Conference offers the D. H, Lawrence Fellowship to one attendee. Since Lawrence's time, Taos has drawn numerous artists and writers to its cozy community. While there, listen for the Taos hum. (Locals think this "hum" is simply the sound of silence, a rare thing to be sure.) Places to eat: The Burrito Wagon. If it's down home food you're looking for, check it out. For under $10, you can stuff your gills with great southwestern fare. A local's fave for decades. Lambert's (a collection of restaurants): for fancier fare, try these. Ogelvie's the food here is good; it's not inspired but it's decent. Don't miss breakfast at Michael's a local favorite. Things come and go in Taos, and something that stays this long has earned its place. You'll also get a taste of the local scene. The Farmer's Market on Saturday morning is fantastic. Music, food, fun. If you're going in hopes of eating at the Apple Tree, it's closed forever. A sad loss. Other attractions: Run the famous Box, a white water rafting trip you won't forget. Or float through Embudo if you want a quieter river experience. Even if you don't want to run a river, go to the gorge. It's eye candy of the natural kind. Finally, if you want to get in your daily Zazen, here's the place. And if you want to visit a famous church, this, which you might know from a Georgia O'Keefe painting, is in Taos. I lived in Iowa while in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and I lived in Taos just because; so I know these places better than the others. I'm counting on our She Writes Community, to fill in the blanks for the other conferences. I'll start the list with a few popular favorites: The Tin House Workshop: A competitive workshop that always receives shining student reviews. Once you're accepted, you can apply for a mentorship with one of the faculty members, a valuable process. Applications required. Competitive. Breadloaf Writers Conference: Home of the famous Bakeless Literary Prizes which start so many emerging writers on successful paths. Admission is competitive. (18% of applicants were accepted last year.) It takes place on the beautiful campus of Middlebury college. Wild Branch Writers' Workshop: A wonderful workshop specific to place-based writers. The faculty are the best in the field. Entrance is competitive. Set on the gorgeous campus of Sterling College. Saints and Sinner's Literary Festival: This probably the largest LGBTQ and allies conference in the world. Open doors admission, but it fills fast. They run a number of contests, too. And of course you arrive with your halo a little crooked: it takes place in New Orleans! That's my fifty cents worth, She Writers. Now it's your turn. We can't learn about the coolest writer's gatherings if we keep our best kept secrets to ourselves. Tell us your favorites. We're listening.

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  • The Motivator

    I'm going to check these out. Napa--near enough to home that I can go for sure. Thanks, all, for posting.

  • Lakin Khan

    The Napa Valley Writers Conference is, imho, the Best Little Writers Conference on the West Coast. Okay, I'm biased: I am the Fiction Director this year. But I'll bet there are some SheWriters who have attended who can add their testimonials.

    The day starts with a poetry lecture by one of the outstanding poets (Brenda Hillman,for example, this summer) then the workshops, followed by lunch prepared by the Culinary School on campus. (Let's just say, these folks know their cooking-stuff.) In the afternoon, fiction workshops, then time for dinner (St Helena, Rutherford, Napa, your choice) after which come the readings by a poet and prose writer, most at a selected Napa winery. The conference is small,four fiction and four poetry faculty, with plenty of opportunity for conversations with the faculty and fellow conferees. It's a gorgeous location, at the upper end of Napa Valley, always the last week in July. Hope to see some SW'ers apply/attend; applications open until May 1st!

  • Lauren Cerand

    I'll add the amazing-value NEBRASKA SUMMER WRITERS CONFERENCE, where I teach a weekend intro to Publishing/PR course with an agent, and the faculty is stunning: http://nebraskawriters.unl.edu/

    I'm also going to be at the Squam Art Workshops READERS RETREAT in New Hampshire, and it's a dream: http://squamartworkshops.com/sessions/session.php?id=12

  • Erica W. Jamieson

    I went to the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference in February. San Miguel is a small city located north of Mexico City up in the hills. The town is an artists haven, streets filled with painters and writers and jewelry makers. It's all cobblestone and very European feeling. The food is out of this world. We tried to stay out of any "tourist" restaurants, getting our recommendations from ex pats (there are many!) living in San Miguel. You can travel there for nothing else but the food! And in every public building there is a beautifully landscaped garden that doubles as a stage for late afternoon or evening culture. Music and readings, it was a feast for the soul. Many great inexpensive bed and breakfasts or little inns. We stayed in one that could have come out of a spanish speaking Jane Austin novel! Everyone morning the guests would gather for breakfast (Beatrice would make anything your heart desired!) at a large wooden table. Conversations would vary from who are you/where did you hail from to artistic endeavors and political debates. Casa Calderoni.

    The conference was wonderfully informative with many open discussions about the publishing business. I learned so much about what I should be doing along with my writing. Barbara Kingsolver was the keynote speaker and she discussed writing, her new book, life as a novelist. There was a book discussion on her novel with a panelist of writers and agents. Then there were two days of mini lecture workshops in a specific area of writing, fiction, memoir, travel, poetry. The conference offered numerous pricing packages. The daily lunch was out of this world, healthy and delicious. Best ever peanut butter cookies! Also includes different touring packages so you can really experience the town.

    The town unwittingly goes uphill in all directions (still trying to figure that one out!) Bring comfy shoes! If you are looking next winter for a break from snow and a great cultural writer's experience, this would be the one! www/sanmiguelwritersconference.org

  • Rachel Marsh

    For those in Britain (or just looking for an excuse to take a writing holiday abroad), this year the Dundee Literary Festival is hosting Festival School. The writing school is being run by Anna Day (Festival organiser) and Kirsty Gunn, and is a two day residential writing school located in an the estate mansion of Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, Scotland. This course is brand new, but I've been working with Kirsty Gunn at the University of Dundee for years, and I have also been involved with the Dundee Literary Festival since it began four years ago. These guys are full of energy and excitement, and the atmosphere at their events is electric. So, I'm quite excited for Festival School, plus I’ll be teaching one of the classes. (I’ve put a bit more info below for anyone who’s interested.)

    The Literary Festival Writing School: 22nd and 23rd June.

    Festival School offers two days of tuition, for just £125 including meals and accommodation. (£115 without accommodation) Writers will get time with experts to hone and develop their writing voice. Develop poetry style with Jim Stewart, learn how to write a short story with Rachel Marsh, or take part in writing masterclasses with award winning authors, Kirsty Gunn, Cynthia Rogerson and Alan Warner.

    The School will finish with a party for our publication, New Writing Dundee – meet the writers, discover how to submit your own work and take the chance to network with others. For more details, bios of the tutors or accommodation details please contact [email protected]. Places are limited to 20.

  • Deborah Siegel Writing

    How delicious this all looks! Thank you BK. Talk about MOTIVATING!