The 62nd Annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference took place on June 11, 12, and 13. Newsman Larry Kane entertained us in the opening session with his anecdotes about traveling with the Beatles in the 1960’s, including a story of how actress Jayne Mansfield made out with John Lennon in the back seat of a limousine with Larry sitting between them. Keep an eye out for Kane’s first novel, a thriller. He shared the beginning of the book with us and it was a grabber.
A workshop on the contemporary short story emphasized the need for a writer to be receptive to his or her surroundings since a good story may pop up at any time. As an example the instructor provided some quirky stories about his mother, who always had praise for her son, not because of his writing, but because he really knew how to pack a dishwasher.
Premiere Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham said that inspiration can come from one’s own life or news stories (which must then be researched). He said that writing about what makes a person angry can be a good springboard to a story. There was a workshop on flash fiction, which, when done effectively, can be amazing in the almost poetic distillation of character and action.
Recent Agatha winner Elena Santangelo was there giving good advice on mystery writing. She definitely reminded me about the importance of means, motive, and opportunity in a story. Since I did not attend the Saturday night banquet, she informed me Sunday morning that the first short story I had written in about twenty-five years had won an award. It was nice to finish up the conference on that encouraging note.