Spent most of this past week in beautiful Rosemary Beach, Florida, attending a stellar writers' conference masterminded by prolific south Florida novelist John Dufresne. Teaching master classes along with John were poet Michael Hettich, author/editor Lynne Barrett, and novelist Laura Lee Smith, plus a number of other writers (including myself) rounding out the faculty.
Although a small conference, I must say it was one of the best-run, most precisely organized conferences of this type I've taken part in. Excellent camaraderie, well-paced daily events, and inspirational surroundings: a combo hard to beat. Rosemary Beach is like a postcard from some vaguely European village. Sure, it's all faux Paris or Austria or Milan or Barcelona...or maybe all of those tossed into a blender, but somehow it works. And with the weather cooperating, it was a great place to spend 4 days. I managed to read through several manuscripts while sitting in a shady park serenaded by a troupe of little birds warbling their hearts out.
I think the high points of the conference for me were the late afternoon/evening readings that took place each day after all the classes and discussion panels were done. I heard some amazing literary voices in a wide range of styles, and came away energized and eager to get my own writing back in gear. Completed a flash fiction story and got a good start on my next novel. Also really enjoyed the one-on-one discussions with conference attendees, some published and some not. So many fun moments... not to mention the death-by-chocolate creme brulee that nearly did me in at the tapas bar on the block where my little pensione hotel was located.
So thanks, John and everybody who took part in the conference - it was just what I needed.