Michael and I returned yesterday from the West Virginia Writers' Conference. Celebrating 30 years of nurturing writers in the Appalachian Mountains, the conference drew poets, screenwriters, fiction and non-fiction writers from all walks of life. From beginners to the accomplished, well into their third and fourth books. An eclectic mix of men and women with a passion to put it down on paper.
I taught classes on Public Speaking and Voice. Each class was full to near over-flowing. Only having an hour and fifteen minutes, the session flew. By the time Q&A arrived, I felt as though we needed another hour. The writers were fabulous in their participation and interest. Michael's class, Marketing Your Book Before And After It's Written, simply blew me away. He'd not let me hear it beforehand. Michael is a natural teacher, showman, and a ham all rolled into one. He should be doing this full-time, in my opinion. He's GREAT at getting his points across and he has so much information on the subject of book marketing to share! Things we learned the hard way, believe me.
Accommodations were comfortable, but the food--Lord have mercy! West Virginians are some mighty fine cooks! I didn't anticipate the "cafeteria" food to taste this great. The salad bar drew vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Breakfast was killer. No disappointment in the chow line, I assure you.
Actually, the entire facility had a camp-like atmosphere. Relaxed and in the middle of God's half-acre, the Cedar Lakes facility in Ripley is clean and accommodating. The WV Writers held a silent auction. I lucked out by walking away with a critique package from a Charleston-based Literary Agency. Very cool. Also a few books on writing, and an oil painting.
Unfortunately, Michael and I didn't get to participate in any "front-porch" activities. We like our sleep too much, I suppose. But, hoo-boy, these mountaineers know how to party. Bon fires and good ole' mountain music into the night, sharing stories, and tipping a few ... well, let's just say they showed their dedication by making it to class the next morning. A talented bunch in every way, the entire weekend rocked!
New York Literary Agent, Scott Hoffman, arrived on Saturday and wowed us with his Q&A Session. I'm not quite sure of his connection to West Virginia, but Mike and I liked his approach and it was yet, another connection for me. I love those moments in networking.
I received so many warm comments of appreciation for my classes. Hopefully, every writer walked away with a new sense of how important it is to at least think about marketing their work through public speaking. And writers in West Virginia will now be more aware of their own voice in their stories, working to make them stronger.
I feel an unquestionable calling to give back to the state of my birth. So in some small way, I feel I did that this past weekend.
Blessings to you and yours.