Summers in Florida are always a busy time. The flora is lush and grows a foot-and-a-half an hour, and when you throw in rain a few weeks in a row, becomes Amazonian in no time. My back yard is overgrown with cheap electronics and 99¢ e-books.
But seriously, not to mix metaphors, I’ve been swamped. One night in May, after a particularly hectic day, I ordered dinner from Panda Express — an Orange Chicken, if memory serves — ate about half, had my fill, an hour later was hungry again, ate the rest, cracked open my fortune cookie and posted a picture on Facebook:
Little did I know (cue Twilight Zone music) that ten days later, my favorite writing website would be opening up reservations for their first-ever conference, or to put it more precisely — UnConference — coming in November!
The Uncommon Conference
As the Mamas at Writer Unboxed, host of the ‘UnConference’, explain: “It’s part symposium. Part networking affair. Part workshop. Part retreat.”
Unlike other conferences, the event will not focus on the business of writing (i.e., finding agents, building platforms, writing queries), but will instead rely on interactive craft sessions led by gurus such as Donald Maass and Lisa Cron, as well as authors Brunonia Barry and Meg Rosoff. These workshops will stretch your mind, allow for interaction with peers and group leaders, and provide that all-elusive time to write. It’s a limited-seat event, with already about ¾ sold, and promises to be just what the doctor ordered.
Because for me, the writing aspect is pure gravy. I need the vacation! I can’t help but believe my mom had a hand in this from the Great Beyond. For one thing, the location, Salem, Massachusetts, is about an hour away from my brother. I’ll fly up the weekend before the UnConference, which happens to be her birthday weekend (is the Twilight Zone music still playing?) and celebrate her memory fondly with family.
The event will be held November 3-7 at the Hawthorne Hotel, the same hotel featured in Bewitched, one of my favorite shows back in the day. We’ll also tour The House of the Seven Gables, made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and take our chances with any frisky, cursed bed-warmers that may follow us back to our rooms. For those who remain into the weekend, which includes Yours Truly, the Salem Literary Festival will be in full-swing, promising additional writerly fun and camaraderie! Man, I’ve been counting the days.
When I registered back in May, it was a half-year away. Now, it’s less than three months. Where has the time gone? If you’d like to learn more about the UnConference and join me and the rest of the group — and a fine group it’s shaping up to be — follow this link to the event page.
Writers Helping Writer(Mama)s
Which brings me to an independent aspect of the UnConference. How’d you like to do a good deed today? As many of you are aware, writing doesn’t pay the bills for most of us, especially those who are new to the the craft. Add to that, the rising cost of raising children. If that weren’t enough, imagine doing it as a single mother. Are you following me?
There is a handful of lovely, talented women from the Writer Unboxed community in exactly the situation I explained above: single mothers raising young children on a next-to-nothing income. Writing into the wee hours. Reading and learning and doing the things we all must do, yet without the support most of us take for granted. We are a close-knit community, relying on each other to pull us through the difficulties. They’d love to attend the conference, but are barely squeezing by as it is, and will also need childcare.
That’s where you can help, and in the process, get the warm fuzzies and a bundle of goodies!
Stepping outside the box in the style of the ‘UnConference’ they wish to attend, it’s a fundraiser that’s not a fundraiser. How can I call it a fundraiser when you get so much in return?
If you’re hesitant, let me entice you with a peek at what you’ll get:
The Successful Author’s Toolkit
- Lori Wilde’s Got High Concept?
- Mary Buckham’s Writing Active Setting boxed set
- Cathy Yardley’s Rock Your Writing complete set
With additional works and services by:
- Sean Platt and Johnny Truant
- Dan Blank
- Tim Grahl
- CJ Lyons and Joanna Penn
- Shelly Souza
- Donald Maass
$200 worth of merchandise at 50% off, with all proceeds going to WriterMamas. Help send a single mother to the UnConference. For more information, click the button below.
If you’re not a writer, don’t want the books, or simply wish to donate a different amount, click the button below. The WriterMamas appreciate any assistance you can provide.
Another way to help is by spreading the word. Press the Twitter, Facebook, Google+ buttons below and share, or if you’re a WordPress user, reblog the article. This is more than writers helping writer(mama)s, but friends helping friends, people helping people.
Anything you can do, however large or small, is greatly appreciated!
ML Swift is a writer of Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult fiction, although he dabbles in many genres.
An Alzheimer’s caregiver for the past ten years, he has published several articles on The Alzheimer’s Reading Room, the largest online website catering to that community, and plans to write a novel about his experience in caregiving.
He resides in Florida with his dogs, Rameses and Buster, attempting to reclaim his side of the bed