Friday, November 14, 2014

A Great Little Writing Conference

by J.E.S. Hays

I'm doing something a little different this month. I'm in Santa Fe, NM for the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference, so I thought I'd share a bit about this great little event.

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the conference, founded by Tony's daughter Anne Hillerman and by Jean Schaumberg. This is a three-day workshop offering "how-to advice on writing techniques and the business of writing. Session topics range from publishing e-books to writing fiction and non-fiction. The conference provides an intimate environment to get feedback and critiques about your writing, network with literary agents and editors, and find writing inspiration." (from their website) 

Our workshops this year range from the craft (The Art of the Rewrite, Designing Compelling Stories, Tricks from the Screen Trade, To Outline or Not to Outline, and The Serious Subject of Writing Humor) to the business of writing (The Art of Blogging, Contacts and Copyrights for Writers, The Writer's Business Plan, and Best Advice from an Editor). There's a chance for a critique session, and a humorous roast of (voluntary) first pages. Presenters are writers you'd recognize (this year we have Sandi Ault, C.B. McKenzie, and John Sandford), with the occasional editor or agent joining in.

Among the many stars who have joined the Wordharvest faculty over the years for past conferences are: Tony Hillerman, of course (from 2004-2007), Louis Bayard, Steve Brewer, Suzy McKee Charnas, Rebecca Eaton (of PBS Mystery), Kirk Ellis, Steve Havil, Anne Hillerman, J.A. Jance, Craig Johnson, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, Sarah Lovett, Jo-Ann Mapson, Michael McGarrity, David Morrell, Bill O'Hanlon, Michael Ordenduff, Douglas Preston, Hampton Sides, Wes Studi (actor), Shirley Raye Redmond, and Valerie Plame Wilson.

The conference is held at the Santa Fe Hilton on Sandoval Street. It's a lovely old hotel, refurbished from the home of the Ortiz family. There are any number of quiet nooks where writers can gather to chat and share what they've learned.

If you've never been to the Hillerman Conference, I urge you to save up your spare change and take the time to join us next year. You'll have a great time, meet an awful lot of other writers, make new friends, and above all, learn more about the craft and business of writing.

And after all, as Tony Hillerman himself put it, "I imagine that I will keep on writing as long as anyone wants to keep reading."


  1. Santa Fe is a magical place anyway; that looks like a particularly wonderful place to recharge and reconnect with fellow writers. Sounds like a well-rounded itinerary.

  2. Now if you want a really great writing conference, tune in next October at the WF conference in St. Charles MO. (But the Hillerman conference sounds fine too.)

  3. I'm looking forward to our conference, Frank! Be nice to put some faces to the names I've grown to care about

  4. Is the Hillerman conference always in Santa Fe? I could be easily tempted.

  5. Can anyone go? Do you have to be a writer? Can you just be a wannabe?

  6. This sounds like so much fun, JES! I would love to do this. Thanks for bringing it to our attention--I didn't even know it existed. Sounds like a wonderful conference to attend.

  7. This conference has been on my radar for about two years, but time and finance have kept me away, but it's on my list. Now, more than ever, it is a must do. Thanks. Doris

  8. Anne Hillerman's book is fabulous and deserved the Spur Award for Best First Novel. I'm sure the conference was great, too!