OMG, the Sierra Writers Conference Rocked!

A fountain pen on an open journal

I just got home from the Sierra Writers Conference, and I’m so pumped! It was an all-day event with so many fabulous speakers, including

  • Gary Noy
  • Dimitri Keriotis
  • Patricia Dove Miller
  • Sands Hall
  • Rachel Howard
  • Kim Culberson
  • And so many more!

I love writers conferences because they get you so excited about writing. Creative writing can be such a solitary affair, so it’s nice to have community and support.

Writing Conference Highlights

I wish I could have cloned myself for the day and made it to all of the breakout workshops. Alas, I am only mortal.

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the day:

Dimitri Keriotis: Building Interiority in Characters

Dimitri got me thinking about character building in a new way.

His workshop was all about how to integrate the physical description of a character into their psychological portrait while adding to the tension of the story.

We broke out into groups and did some free writing about characters we are currently working with. I was pleasantly surprised to discover and share some details about my character that emerged.

I happened to be in a group with Sands Hall, which was awesome. I’m really thankful for the feedback she gave me!

Sands Hall: Strategies for Strengthening Point of View (POV)

"Tools of the Writer's Craft" by Sands Hall

This is a great book on all things creative writing.

Sands was a pure powerhouse and had the packed room riveted for the full hour. She was all about how an author selects essential details that reveal the character to the reader.

We went in deep about how to capture a narrator’s, or character’s, voice through setting, the activity, and objects. Plus, how to use the vocab, sentence structure, and grammar that your character would use.

As an added bonus, she signed my book:) Yay!

Kim Culbertson: Publishing Fiction

My copy of Kim Culbertson's book "The Possibility of Now"

I’m obsessed with “The Possibility of Now” by Kim Culbertson. I actually keep it next to my self-help books instead of with fiction. Truth:) And yes, this is an autographed copy 🙂

And of course, I had to go to my annual pep talk with Kim. What I love about this workshop is I’ve gone to the same one with Kim three years in a row, and every time, I learn something new. It just goes deeper and deeper.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of agent finding and publishing, Kim gets you to ask the crucial questions. Why do you write? Why do you want to publish? Getting clear about your goals is the first step forward in the process.

Plus, she grounds out the whole publishing discussion. She reminds us that writing and publishing are two very different things that only sometimes overlap. 

Kim says that what’s important is to “keep a sacred space for your work” and remembering that you are a writer because you write—not necessarily because you publish.

Getting the Inspiration to Keep On Writing

The best part of these conferences, especially in my small town, is seeing all my writer friends and having some profound discussions. Sharing experiences is so meaningful and motivating. It’s so sweet to know that there is a whole community of writers in my town and beyond.

Big thanks to Sierra Writers for producing the event.

What about you? Are you a writers conference person? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences below.

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