Keynote at the La Jolla Writer’s Conference 2014

La Jolla view

View from my room, early morning. This was the first year at the Hyatt, and they couldn’t have been nicer. Love getting a welcome tray of wine, water, fruit and trail mix when I arrive. Service was outstanding.


Writer Kimberly Unger, a long-time conference attendee, now blossoming into a wonderful writer, is here being my tech assistant for the two-hour query workshop. She does this for me every year and she’s grossly over-qualified for this as she’s a computer whiz by day. I look forward to seeing her every year because she has a great sense of humor.


In this two-hour workshop, every student learns how to write a query. Volunteers are invited to project theirs so all can chime in. Sometimes the fix is as simple as cutting an awkward attempt at a joke. Other times, we can show the writer how his concept is hidden or confusing. I love seeing them walk out with a much better written query, but it’s also satisfying when a student says they discovered what they need to do to make their manuscript better.

I taught two other classes there, and in each one I was impressed with how serious and motivated the students were.


My keynote address — my first one ever to adults — was made easier by the attentive audience. Thank you to each person who came up to me during the weekend to say it was inspiring.

Andrew Peterson

Author Andrew Peterson was interviewed by Jared Kuritz one night. Fascinating to hear his stories about his writing and publishing process for his thrillers. I found out he never lets a table of servicemen and women pay for their bill if he sees them in a restaurant.

ljwcfacultyOur last night together, some of the wild and wacky faculty members!

Inspired by something I heard over the weekend, I decided on the spur of the moment to mentor one of the students for a year. My first year there was also his first. He was in my group read and critique class where he bravely read his work for the first time ever. He came to my classes again this year and I was impressed with his dedication. Other faculty members later told me he was an extremely nice guy, so my instincts did not fail me.

There’s a moral to this story and it’s that being kind and nice really does pay off. I believe that. Go be nice to someone, don’t expect anything, just let it float.


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