I again had the pleasure of attending the Montgomery County Community College Writers Conference just outside of Philadelphia on November 7. The event has had many noteworthy keynote speakers in the past, including Norman Mailer, Edward Albee, and Michael Cunningham. This year there was a talk by Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Childhood Among Ghosts. The conference offers a bountiful continental breakfast and a tasty buffet lunch. There are many free samples of magazines and small press journals to fill up the free tote bags which the college provides. Only the writers who conduct the workshops are allowed to sell books, but, of course, I brought a large number of my bookmarks promoting my OTP book, A Lesson in Murder.
The workshop on memoirs emphasized using place as a character in the writing. The leader emphasized the use of smells, foods, religious and ethnic backgrounds, class structure, and topography. We did exercises on writing about visiting and leaving different locales.
The workshops on novels discussed the use of using alumni groups and ethnic bases for promotion, and soliciting endorsements from other writers. In the writing department, we dealt with the importance of developing character by the use of signature speech, actions, and appearance.
I always learn something at these conferences, and realize how I must work harder at my craft.
One more thing. I'd like to know how Mike Orenduff got Gov. Bill Richardson to review his book? That is so cool!