Why was I sitting in the Starbucks parking lot at O-God-Hundred on a Saturday morning, waiting for the doors to open? Because I needed a venti latte for the nearly two-hour drive to Rock Hill, of course. And why was I driving to Rock Hill? For a day of writerly inspiration and networking at the Rock Hill Intensive Workshop!
This was the eighth annual workshop hosted by the Rock Hill chapter of SCWW, and they had a full day of interesting classes scheduled. Everything from “Techniques to Improve, Enrich and Enhance Your Writing” to “Normal Literary Behavior.” The price was quite reasonable, especially if you’re already a SCWW member. We even got doughnuts and coffee in the morning and a tasty lunch from the local deli.
I arrived at the lovely Grace Lutheran Church at the appointed registration hour, to find everything set up and ready to begin. Those of you who’ve been to a lot of workshops will realize that this is a happy circumstance. Instead of standing in a long line, I got a second cup of coffee and started mingling. The Rock Hill chapter had even provided rental space for book displays and sales. Next year, I might take them up on that offer.
Promptly at 9:00am, our host, Ed Green, took the podium. Again, for those of you who’ve attended this sort of event, this is quite a positive sign. Ed told us all where to go (in the nicest way possible) and answered the all-important question: where are the bathrooms? Craig Faris then started the ball rolling with his keynote speech, where he explained the title of the workshop (“Writing and Other Disasters”) and got us all psyched up for the coming sessions.
We trooped downstairs (“into the dungeon,” as Ed Green put it), and the learning began. I hope that everyone got as much out of their sessions as I got out of mine. I spent most of the day with Craig Faris, talking about marketing our work, with one side-trip to the world of blogging with Ed Wilson (“The Scripting Guy”).
Craig is an interesting speaker. He seems to know almost everyone in the business, and his talks are always fun. He gave us a lot of little tips on networking and marketing, illustrated by his experiences with his own award-winning novel, The Spectrum Conspiracy. “You can’t be shy and sell books,” he said. Craig always talks to the guests at any conference, no matter how “big” they are. “What do you talk about? Whatever they want to,” he quipped.
Ed impressed me mostly with the fact that he updates his technical blog twice a day, every day. I’m doing good to post once a week. Ed suggested that you try posting one larger article on whatever schedule you choose, and then add smaller posts in between. He posts a “Power Tip” as one of his daily posts: a short bit of code that his multi-national readers might be interested in. He does request that you refrain from using his title for your own blog posts, “or I’ll sue the heck out of you!”
The other speakers included Anne Eisenstein, author of the Sean Gray, Junior Detective series for Young Adults. Anne spoke on writing for Young Adults and making your dialogue “snap, crackle and pop.” Rosemary C. Gray, illustrator and textile designer, provided information on the world of illustration. Ed R. Green, who is not only the chairman of the Rock Hill chapter, but the author of the Sapphire Prison fantasy series, helped writers learn to use their subconscious minds to spur creative thought. Barbara Kidd Lawing, poet and teacher, led two poetry workshops and explored the art of monologue.
I was quite impressed with our Rock Hill chapter. This was a well-planned and well-executed event that had obviously been designed to appeal to a broad spectrum of writers. I spotted Connie Miller several times throughout the day, dashing about to make certain everything was running smoothly — and the fact that everything did meant that the rest of the volunteers were just as diligent. Kudos to everyone involved!
If you’re looking for a quick weekend writing get-away, I highly recommend this workshop. You’ll have a good time, learn a lot, and meet some very nice authors. Just be sure to check the Starbucks’ hours before you drag yourself out of bed.
… is the author of the Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid stories, compiled into an anthology in 2013. She is currently working on a novel about the two rogues, and can also be found on Facebook at JESHaysBooks, and on Twitter @jes_hays. When not off in her own little world, she’s usually outside with a camera in one hand or supervising the Creative Writing categories on WikiAnswers.com.
Down the Owlhoot Trail (2013, JMS Books)