The writers conference in Jackson Hole is in full swing, and as usual, there are interesting things going on. Both in sessions and panels, and out and about. So here are few I’ve gleaned so far.
1) Margaret Coel and her husband George are here, having had to “pre-evacuate” their home in Boulder due to fire danger. All seems well in that department at the mo. Margaret told me she wants to retire from writing! Shocking, I told her: can’t you keep writing until you’re in the grave?! John Harvey told me the same thing when I had lunch with him in London a few weeks back. Thankfully Margaret also said she had signed contracts for two more books, plus a short story collection. So never fear a lack of Margaret’s wonderful Wyoming mysteries.
2) Brandon Mull, author of YA fantasies and other stuff I am just becoming aware of (so out of that realm!!), has a lovely tribe of kids — but he is not the guy who went on the wine walk with us yesterday. For some reason I mixed him up with somebody else. Sorry!
3) Craig Johnson’s Longmire series on A&E has been picked up for another season after only 4 episodes. Way to go!
4) Tim Sandlin had everything in such great control he had no idea what to do with himself. But his luscious locks still flew around as he kept all the plates in the air.
5) Wednesday is Night Rodeo night in JH. And a bit loud for those of us in Cowboy Village. But, hey, don’t you wish you were ensconced in a wee log cabin in Jackson Hole during these dog days of summer? PS: They have air conditioning!
6) They shortened up the conference a little, made it tighter, leaner, and — well, not meaner. We have fired everyone who made people cry at critique sessions. Except maybe that one guy. You know who you are.
7) Amazing young writers here! Debby and I had two 21-year-olds at our novel writing workshop. Both had been writing for *years.* Go Zane and Kiefer! Also the Sandlin’s adorable Leila, now 11, attended the conference. Oh, to be so young and so committed!
8) After a low-ish turnout last year, the attendance is up again. Since doing a panel on Digital Publishing with Jeremy Schmidt, I have a feeling this increase is due to the many new avenues and options for writers today. Independent publishing is a viable alternative, without the negative connotations of the past. Especially true for older writers who don’t want to wait years for publication.
9) In the It’s Always Something Department, a woman is here shopping her memoir idea. She is blind, has borne 12 children, and is (or was at the time, according to her) the oldest woman in America to have born a child at 63. And has a devoted husband at her side constantly. Keep a look-out for that memoir.
10) Last but not least, the Anita Diamant mystery is solved. Anita is here, author of The Red Tent, very personable and friendly. So I asked her “Isn’t there another Anita Diamant?” Because my very first agent in about 1990 was named Anita Diamant. At the time I worked with an assistant and never met anyone from the agency, but heard that Anita was “older than God.” Turns out the author of The Red Tent is completely unrelated to the now-deceased agent. But the older Anita sent the younger one a letter once and asked in an agitated fashion why younger was using her name. Younger Anita apparently explained — it’s her real name — and never heard another word. Well, that mystery is solved and I feel so much better now.
A shout-out to Redroom.com for featuring our workshop, Truly Richly Deeply: Structure and Depth in the Novel, on it’s front page on Wednesday! It went very well, was full, and we got lots of great feedback. Thanks all (and especially Deborah Turrell Atkinson, my fellow conspirator.)