The Santa Barbara Writers Conference (SBWC) began exactly 40 years ago at Cate School, where in its first year it drew 37 participants. Since 1972, SBWC has grown to become a nationally recognized conference attracting more than 200 writers, agents, and publishers from around the country each year. In 2009 and 2010, economic challenges forced SBWC to take a two-year hiatus, but now, under the ownership of Monte Schulz, SBWC is back in action at the Hyatt Santa Barbara (1111 E. Cabrillo Blvd.). The fun begins this Saturday, June 9, and runs through Thursday, June 14. For the full conference schedule, call (805) 568-1516 or visit Advance registration is recommended. Below you’ll find our top three reasons to attend.

1. Hone Your Craft: Every day, the conference offers more than 20 instructional workshops on topics ranging from fiction to poetry, travel writing to children’s lit, screenplays to science fiction. Participants are encouraged to bring along manuscripts, so dust off that memoir and get ready for feedback. You’ll find advice on dealing with story structure, narrative techniques, revision, and marketing. And for those who just can’t get enough, “pirate workshops” begin at 9 p.m. each evening. By the end of the week, you’ll have a whole new set of writerly tools.

2. Schmooze: Writers may work alone, but writing can’t thrive in a vacuum. That’s why SBWC makes time for networking. In addition to meeting agents and publishers, this is a chance to connect with fellow writers from Santa Barbara and beyond. Stop by the wine and cheese party, go to lunch with your workshop-mates, or attend the agents panel, where you’ll get a chance to hear from industry pros about what it takes to get published (or at least how to get your foot in the door). Whether you yearn to be read by millions or just want to form a writers’ group, it pays to know people.

3. Let Inspiration Strike: Just like writer’s block, inspiration can hit at any moment. You may find it in the evenings, when successful authors will share their reflections on the writing life. Among this year’s guest speakers are Christopher Buckley, author of Thank You for Smoking; Fannie Flagg, author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café; and Miles Corwin, former crime writer for the L.A. Times and author of The Killing Season. Maybe an idea will strike you while you listen to the pros discuss their work.


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