Road Trip Adventures: Kentucky Writers Conference

(Cross-posted from Write Club)

Each spring, authors and bibliophiles descend on Bowling Green , Kentucky for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. The two day event hosts regional writers like Silas House, David Domine, and Lynwood Montell and best-selling authors, including  Nicholas Sparks, Jean Auel, and Teresa Medeiros.

This year, the Book Fest took place on Friday April 15 and Saturday April 16. Friday was the Kentucky Writers Conference, an all-day event with four sessions of three workshops each. Panels included “Everything You Need to Know About Agents,” “Writing in Another Voice,” and  “Writing for Children and Teens”.

After picking up Amy, a fellow writer and friend, we headed down I-65 South. The drive was uneventful, if one ignored the construction which, at one point, necessitated navigating one lane. There’s a joke that Kentucky has two seasons: winter and construction. (Feel free to substitute your state.)

Ninety minutes later, we arrived at the Carroll Knicely Conference Center, home of the book festival for the past two years. Unfortunately the delays caused me to arrive too late to attend the first session.

Inside the lobby, Amy and I commandeered a couch. She settled in to do some work on her laptop. I’d brought my computer but decided to return it to the car. (Less to carry.) Now it hadn’t been raining too badly when we arrived. But my luck never holds out. I got caught in a deluge with pouring rain and blustery winds. Yay for unpredictable April showers. Not.

Back in the conference center, and managing not to look too much like the proverbial drowned rat, I headed for my first workshop: Chuck Sambuchino’s “Everything You Need to Know about Agents”. Because the conference committee assumed this would be a popular panel, they scheduled it twice. I silently thanked them for their foresight.

Chuck’s presentation was insightful yet overshadowed with mystery. Who had purloined the first page of his notes? (I blame the garden gnomes.) During a question and answer session, he gave excellent advice on finding a literary agent. I’m only sorry I missed his presentation on Saturday.

The second workshop (third session) was “How to Write a Winning Query Letter” by Cavanaugh Lee, attorney-cum-author. Her enthusiasm and effervescent personality  invigorated the room. Good thing, too. Query letter rejections are a necessary evil in the writer’s world so a positive attitude is more likely to get you farther than a negative one.

In the session “What Everyone Can Learn from Mysteries”, presenter Leah Stewart explored the application of mystery writing to genre and literary writing. Different types of mysteries were examined, from the police procedural and hard-boiled crime novels of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler to the present-day detective. Citing examples by Margaret Atwood, Leah encouraged writers to look at how much mystery is needed and whether or not it balances with the payoff.

The conference finished, Amy and I headed to Barnes and Noble to write in the café before heading back to Louisville. There’s a reason I plot my stories. Sitting there, I had no idea what to write about, except it involved Bela Lugosi, vampires, and Tod Browning. Still, I managed to squeeze out a paltry 250 words. (Don’t ask.)

By the way, if you didn’t know, Tod Browning was a Louisville native and the director of the iconic Dracula. But that’s another blog post.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Book Fest:


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