What to Expect
“I loved working with the knowledgeable and generous faculty, making new friends and connections with writers from around the country, and exploring St. Augustine while I mulled over my craft. In her characteristic style, Connie May Fowler made sure the conference paired an intense writing focus with a celebration of life.”–Paul Haney, 2013 Participant
A Typical Day
We gather in the morning for what we call our Wake-up Discussions. Each morning a different faculty member reads briefly from a favored text, speaks about what they admire in the text, and then we have a lively discussion. These sessions are designed to awaken our literary minds as we prepare to go into our workshops.
It should be noted that we limit our conference to 24 attendees. The intimate nature of the St. Augustine Writers Conference means that participants get lots of attention and no one feels lost in the masses. Attendees will forge friendships and professional relationships that will last a lifetime.
Each workshop is limited to no more than eight participants. These are manuscript-driven workshops. Participants receive via email a work booklet that includes all the manuscripts for their particular workshop. Attendees read the material prior to coming to the conference and write thoughtful margin comments as well as an evaluative summary about each selection in the work booklet. This prepares participants for the workshops discussions. Participants give the evaluated manuscripts back to their writers, so each writer leaves the conference with a compilation of thoroughly evaluated manuscripts. The workshops are lively, thought-provoking, helpful, and nurturing. Writers learn as much from the general discussions as they do from the session devoted to their own work (an hour for each manuscript) .
Workshop Manuscript Submissions
Prose writers will submit no more than 30 pages of text (Microsoft Word, default margins, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font). If a participant sends more than 30 pages, the extra pages will not be included in the work booklet. We recommend that participants send work that is complete, in that the writer doesn’t delete large portions of important material in order to squeeze a larger work into 30 pages. Writers may send a one-page synopsis that is attached to the end of the manuscript. The synopsis will not count toward the page limit. Poets will submit no more than 8 pages of poetry. ALL MANUSCRIPTS MUST INCLUDE THE AUTHORS NAME, and THE GENRE. PROSE WRITERS MUST INDICATE IF THE PIECE IS AN ESSAY, SHORT STORY, NOVEL EXCERPT, OR MEMOIR EXCERPT.
Participants are free to enjoy the beach, go shopping , or explore St. Augustine’s abundant historical treasures. The nation’s oldest city boasts a myriad of art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and drinking establishments. On the first full-day of the conference, Connie May Fowler will host a Reading Your Work in Public clinic. This is not a mandatory session and is included in the tuition.
HAPPY HOUR WITH THE WRITERS
We gather together in the early evenings for panel discussions with the faculty. These sessions cover the ins-and-outs of publishing in literary journals, strategies and tips for finding agents, and insight and survival mechanism when leading a writer’s life, including thoughts about non-traditional publishing and branding. These sessions are included in the tuition and are not mandatory.
The evenings conclude with a reading by a different faculty member each night followed by five-minute readings from that faculty member’s workshop group. Participants are strongly urged to attend these readings. Participants are also encouraged to read from their work during their group readings but are not required to do so. After the readings, participants are free to once more explore beautiful St. Augustine. Dinner, dancing, strolling, hanging out as the sun sets . . . imagine.
Both the Film Adaptation and Take-Your-Characters-to-the-Shrink sessions are offered for minimal additional fees. They will take place in the afternoons. To learn more about these sessions and the talented people who teach them, please visit the Faculty and Fees pages.
EXTRACURRICULAR GROUP ACTIVITIES
During the 2013 conference, on the first night after our pizza party, those who were so inclined went on a history/get-your-bearings/ghost tour and pub crawl. On Sunday evening, most of us went on a sunset scenic cruise on The Victory III. Both events were smashing successes and we have every intention of reprising these gatherings for the 2014 conference. These are non-mandatory events. We secure low group rates so they are quite affordable. Spouses, friends, and partners are also welcome. In fact, spouses, friends, and partners are also welcome to attend Happy Hour with The Writers, the readings, and the opening and closing dinners (dinner fees apply for guests; tuition fee includes the welcome and farewell dinners for participants).
LODGING and LOCATION
The 2014 conference takes place on Vilano Beach in a large, multistory, gorgeous beach home with breathtaking views. Vilano Beach evokes Old Florida but has plenty of modern amenities, including restaurants, bars, a large grocery store, and plenty of lodging, much of it quite reasonably priced (far better prices than what you might pay in many of St. Augustine’s lovely downtown hotels). In addition to hotels, motels, and 1940s era motor courts, houses and condos are available. Vilano Beach is located on a barrier island just across the bridge from historic downtown St. Augustine. More information about lodging will be sent to participants well ahead of the conference date.