I recently took part in a writer’s workshop hosted by Serious Writer inc., the parent company for Serious Writer Academy and Serious Tour Stop. The Tour happened to be in Wimberley, Texas, right outside of Austin, and I was invited to speak on children’s publishing. When our very own author Michelle Medlock Adams mentioned she was teaching also, it meant she’d be in Texas (she hails from Indiana) and it was the perfect opportunity to catch up after not seeing each other in almost a year. I jumped at the chance to attend, teach, and spend time with writers. Little did I know that I would be blessed as well by our guest writers as well as my colleagues.
The Wimberley Serious Writer Tour Stop was held at BellaVida Bed and Breakfast, and let me tell you, it was delightful. The location is a bit off the beaten path, but upon arrival you are immediately swept up in the rustic, rooster and antique-filled ambiance that immediately reminds you of hot summers spent on a porch swing at grandma’s while sipping an ice cold sweet tea. The purveyor of this lovely establishment is Belinda Smith and her husband Steve, and they have created BellaVida as a quiet respite from a busy world. It was so warm, inviting and friendly, and if you’re ever in the area, need an event location, or just need a vacation from the busyness of life, THIS is exactly the place to go (ask for Suite Roseanna-it was divine!).
I arrived on a Monday evening, which gave me a chance to tour the property, catch up with Michelle and fellow teacher Wendy Lanier, a former teacher who writes, teaches, and speaks about topics for both children and adults. We grabbed a bite with Belinda at a fun place called Ino’z (yummy nachos) after which we landed back at the bed and breakfast, where we gabbed as only long lost friends do about family, work, and the next day’s plans.
On Tuesday, everyone began arriving early, and while it’s safe to say none of us speakers were early birds, we inhaled our caffeine and then took the pulse of the room to see what topics most interested everyone. This allowed us to tailor our classes for the rest of the day. We had a variety of writing styles in the room and we quickly realized that, while both Wendy and I had much to offer in the way of children’s publishing, many had specific questions about their manuscripts. So, we decided to divide and conquer so no one person would miss out on any of the teachings.
To do this, we invited each attendee to come spend 15 minutes pitching their story idea to me. I couldn’t guarantee that they would be a fit for Little Lamb Books, but they could ask questions while I critiqued their pitch and spent a few moments brainstorming ways to revise, enhance, or find a home for their manuscript. This turned out to be an unexpected, but terrific treat not just for them, but for me. I just love the way God (Michelle and Wendy too) allowed our activities to adjust to the needs of our writers. I think this made the workshop personable and valuable in a way that you don’t always find at bigger conventions. While this took place throughout the day, we also covered an array of material ranging from writing proposals to building author platforms to writing freelance or non-fiction for kids to Twitter pitch parties in the sessions. Overall, I think everyone gleaned big and little tidbits that would move them forward with their goals.
At the end of the day, after saying our goodbyes, Wendy loaded us into her car and we found another local, outdoor eatery called The Back Porch, where we ate (hello Back Porch bacon cheeseburger!), saw deer (sooo many!), and reviewed our day while laughing over personal experiences as writers, teachers, and parents. It was relaxing, comfortable, and I felt surrounded by support that I often miss when I work for hours at a time alone in my office. Being an small business owner and entrepreneur, whose main contacts live all over the country, can be a bit isolating.
I think this is true for writers as well. I would encourage you to seek out writing events, retreats, workshops, and conferences where you can mingle with other writers, network with industry peers, brainstorm with critique partners, learn about the new and not-so-new techniques in the publishing industry. Whether you write for adults or kids, create curriculum or freelance for magazines, it is invigorating to find your tribe, join the discussions, and connect with those on a similar trajectory as you. You may be ages and faiths or from different states or walks of life, but when you speak about your passion, your calling, your writing, it brings you together and blesses you and those you meet.
My schedule leading up to the event was chaotic and busy, but I was and am so very thankful that I didn’t back out of the workshop, drove the few hours south to BellaVida, and joined the Serious Writer Tour Stop for a few days of fellowship with my peers. I would encourage you to check out Serious Writer, inc. and find out when their next event will be. You can also enjoy online classes and webinars through their Academy.
And, if you’re ever in Austin and want to get out of the city, give Belinda a call and see if she’s got a room available. The BellaVida beds are soft, the bathrooms luxurious, and the service beyond compare! You absolutely won’t be sorry!