Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alabama Writers' Conclave

     The Alabama Writers' Conclave was held in the quaint, artsy town of Fairhope last weekend, July 11-13. It hosted people from all over Alabama and some from Tennessee, Mississippi and other states. For the first time, I had the honor to attend.

     In her introduction, Jeanie Thompson, Founding Director, Alabama Writers Forum, pointed out that Alabama was twenty-third in funding for the arts. That's a good position. Other speakers included presentations on both prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction and play writing. All were impressive but one point that stuck with me was literary agent Katharine Sands' statement that all novels need a person, a place and a pivot. Having all three start with a "p" makes it easy to remember.

     Other speakers included the passionate Michael Martone, witty Jim Murphy, amusing T.K. Thorne and Linda Busby Parker, and Scott Wilkerson, Barry Marks, Terri French and Keynote Speaker Pulitzer Prize Winner Rick Bragg, Rob Gray, Susan Luther, P.T. Paul, all who gave eloquent and informative presentations.

     President Sue Walker and Vice President P.T. Paul made sure everything, including the food, was first class. If you didn't learn something from the experience, you weren't listening. One particular thing I learned would have justified attending. It was simple, it was obvious, but it took a new reader to spot an easy change that may make the difference in whether my mystery novel is accepted for publication. When I read the opening paragraph, the speaker suggested moving one sentence to the top and opening the novel with that line. I could then see that sentence as the grabber which would set the scene and the tone for the entire book.

Such conferences are truly worthwhile. As one speaker pointed out, you may not be told anything you don't already know, but we don't always do what we know we should. And we forget. Reminders serve us well. These events do, too. They also reinforce our belief that we can write and encourage us to write on and write right. We may have a message only we can give to the world.