Thursday, March 15, 2012

Whidbey Island Writers Conference

In October, I spoke on Guam.

In mid-March, I was on Easter Island.

In between, I soaked up the lushness of the Pacific Northwest at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference on (you nailed it) Whidbey Island, about an hour’s drive and 15-minute ferry ride from Seattle.

In other words, Whidbey Island was my sandwich island (not to be confused with the Sandwich Islands).
And it was the middle of the sandwich not only in terms of chronology but also in square miles: Guam is 209, Whidbey 169, Easter a wee 63.

I like ferries because they are windy and wind makes it look like I have more hair than I do:

This writers' conference was perhaps the most intimate I've attended. For me, one of the selling points was the “fireside chat.”

All the presenters were divided into groups of three by category and dispatched to private homes for a cozy talk to attendees. (This was the first time since a summer presentation in a park five years ago that I’ve not worn a dress shirt to a speaking engagement.) Each of the three presenters had the stage (uh, mantel) for 45 minutes. My house category was Humor. And my house had no fire; technically, it was a fireplaceside chat.

Back at the main conference site, they put out a steady supply of my books throughout the weekend. One of the seven tales in
Vanished: True Stories of the Missing takes place in the Pacific Northwest, which I was sure to mention to anyone who would listen.

Driving around Whidbey Island, I saw (to my disappointment) no Bigfoot but several of these free-standing doors:

Others were adorned:

These roadside curiosities could be a metaphor for an aspiring writer attending a writers’ conference. There is a door—a “right” way—to enter the world of publishing, but there are no walls on either side of it. So if you want a more adventurous route to publication, by all means go around it.

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