Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 Tony Hillerman Writing Conference

Note: The Tony Hillerman Writing Conference is also called “Wordharvest."

Three years running I’ve climbed into the car over my birthday and driven across the desert to Santa Fe to hang out with authors. It’s an expensive trip but one that I dearly love. Returning now is like a reunion.

For me The Tony Hillerman conference is one my favorite getaways. I love the drive across the desert. I love taking an annual pilgrimage with my wife. I love the desert. I love my wife. I love writing. I love the Tony Hillerman Conference.

Thanking David Morrell
There are always new folks to meet, new classes to take, new info to absorb and always new celebration as the Tony Hillerman Writing Prize is announced and some lucky sucker gets their first book published by St. Martin’s Press. It’s always a soup of envy and pride. There are writers of all levels from Sena, who’s not started (though I don’t believe her), to David Morrell who walks the halls with a veteran confidence of a long esteemed career. You meet and talk to them all. Writers are good people.

Every year I take away new insight into the craft and business of being an author. This year’s primary lesson caught me early and made me smile. It is this: the people who keep coming to these things, who I recognize every year, are really making progress in their careers.

Selfie with Steve Havill
I’m the poster child perhaps. My first Wordharvest saw me arrive hopeful, fall into utter “I’m quitting this stupid writing idea” despair halfway through but then get excited and ultimately returned me home rejuvenated with a plan. Year two, I had a book out, BEATRYSEL. Year three I could call myself a best-selling author thanks to ELEANOR. That’s me. Wordharvest is a lap pole for me, a pit stop to refuel and realign. Good stuff.

But I’m not the only one who has this. Anne Hillerman herself, lovely Anne, was just starting her fiction career when I first met her. Last year she had her launch and this year she has three more signed and one on the way. She’s rocking it.

Goofing with Anne Hillerman
There are dozens of others, Betsy and John, Mike and Steve all great folks working their dreams, sharpening their saws and having drinks and dinner in the desert for art’s sake. Each one is improving and growing. And each one has new achievements each year to share.

Cause and effect. Chicken and egg. Wordharvest and writing success. It’s a loop. Those people who are serious about the craft will have success and attend conferences like Wordharvest. People who come to Wordharvest learn how to be successful and serious about their craft. It’s a wonderful cycle.

I look forward to returning and if you're in the area next November drop by and meet the gang. Big shout out to Jean Schaumberg who I didn't get a picture with this year. She makes the conference great!

Here are some pics from this year's trip.

Betsy Randolph and I

Hugging an agent - Liz Trupin-Pulli

Chillin' with John Sandford

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