|Me, Mark Wiederanders and Antoinette May|
For the last few years, I've attended the Gold Rush Writers Conference. Registration is now open for this year, and I want to let people know about what a laid-back, welcoming conference this is. Often, conferences can feel competitive or there's a sense of panic about those agent pitch sessions...this conference doesn't include agents, so that stressor is completely off the table. Gold Rush is a weekend of hanging out with sweet people who love to write and want to be with other writers. Period. I don't know how author Antoinette May has managed to create a veritable ambiance of kindness—but she has.
|Exterior of the Hotel Leger, showing entrance to its saloon|
Last year, I presented on poetry, including doing an "Exquisite Corpse" group-writing exercise and looking at Isabella Gardner's "Summers Ago" and did a separate presentation on historical fiction, I think. I just glanced back at my website events page to double-check, and all the events since 2011 have been deleted somehow. Sighhhhh. This year, I'm going to be talking about social media. The headliners this year are James Ragan and Donna Levin. Last year I was the brunch headliner and Mark Wiederanders was the after-dinner speaker.
|One of the sessions in the ballroom|
For each timeslot during the weekend, there are four or five options—and as is often the case, I want to attend more than one. For instance, here's Sunday morning's lineup:
- James Ragan - Celebrating the Writer and the Poem course description
- Lucy Sanna - Winning Strategies for Getting an Agent course description
- Antoinette May - The Novel You Were Born to Sell course description - limited
- Sally Kaplan - The Power of Filmic Technique in Fiction Writing - part 2 course description (limited to part 1 participants)
The conference is for screenwriters, poets and novelists. I've also run into memoirists and creative nonfiction writers at this conference before.
|My speech: this basically shows how small and intimate the conference is|
After 11 years of hosting the conference, Antoinette May has found success in linking people together. The Friday night picnic, hosted around her beautiful grotto pool in a Victorian garden, is always a wonderful evening of people reconnecting and greeting new attendees.
|My bedroom at the Hotel Leger|
|The second story balcony overlooking the main street in Mokelumne Hill|
The conference takes place in the Hotel Leger, dating to 1879 (but on the site of an 1851 hotel). The hotel itself is worth the drive to Mokelumne Hill: each bedroom has its own charming Victorian furnishings, and due to its vintage, some rooms have bathrooms while others require you to go down the hall. But that's okay! Everyone's nice and it gives you a taste of what it would've been like a hundred years ago when Mok Hill was a Gold Rush boomtown. The hotel has a wonderful restaurant onsite, the Whitewater Grill, which caters the conference. There's also an authentic old saloon with the long wooden bar and I once had a basil martini here that blew my mind. If all that isn't fantastic enough: the place is reputed to be haunted. Just ask Antoinette: she spent the night here alone once.
|Okay, yes, we stayed in Room #13. You get chills just looking at this, I know|
|I had youngsters in my room with me, nervous about the talk of ghosts. We put a strip|
of toilet paper at the door to stop ghosts in their tracks. It worked!
Hope to see you next month! Feel free to email me if you have questions about the conference or tweet me @ErikaMailman.
|Silliness in the saloon with, from left, Genevieve Beltran, Kathy Boyd Fellure and me.|
|We might've had a couple already|
The Gold Rush Writers Conference takes place this year May 5, 6, and 7 in Mokelumne Hill, a few hours easterly-southerly from Sacramento. The cost of $185 includes:
- Your selection of four workshops out of sixteen. Several are limited so register early (first-come, first-served).
- Informal supper in a Victorian garden Friday night
- Open mic poetry readings
- Sit-down dinner in an historic Gold Rush hotel with speaker Mark Wiederanders
- Sit-down pool-side brunch Sunday with speaker Erika Mailman
- Plus lectures, demonstrations
To learn more, visit the conference website at www.goldrushwriters.com.
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