Like any good jambalaya recipe, the 11th annual Jambalaya Writers Conference in Houma, LA began with basic ingredients and added a variety of spices to result in a perfect helping of learning and laughing together. Presented by the Terrebonne Parish Library, the conference welcomed more than 175 conferees to a day packed with information and networking. A wide selection of speakers and subject matter assured every attendee a chance to grow as an author. There were more than thirty sessions available. Here are a few of the highlights.
Keynote speaker Adriana Trigiani
Conference keynote speaker Adriana Trigiani brought her experience as a scriptwriter and New York Times bestselling author to share a presentation entitled “The Wonderful World of Writing and You: Unlocking Your Creativity in the New Millennium.” She drew an audience so large that seats had to be added to the already densely packed meeting room where she spoke. She also offered an afternoon workshop on “Your Writing Life.”
A world of wonder with David M. Schwartz
Author David M. Schwartz shared his sense of wonder at the amazing contents of the world in “Distant Stars and Hopping Frogs: Turning Your Childhood Musings into Published Books” in the morning and “Math + Literature + Learning + Fun” in the afternoon. His popular sessions led attendees to new ways to look at writing children’s books.
Roxanne St. Clair shares the power of revisions
Roxanne St. Clair, New York Times bestselling author, led a two-session workshop on the power of revisions. Her “From Sleeper to Keeper: Revisions that Revitalize Your Story” class showed the power of working with a weak first draft to turn it into a successful story. She assured attendees that a rough first draft is intended to be a framework upon which to hang the finished product and not an insurmountable problem.
Exuberant Cherry Adair sweeps away boring writing
“Luminous Dialogue” and “Choreography of Action” sessions presented by New York Times bestselling author Cherry Adair shared tips for powerful dialogue and appropriate action in novel writing. Her enthusiastic presentation left attendees primed to write better-than-ever scenes in their books.
Southern lady Christa Allan
New Orleans author Christa Allan taught a session on journaling as a way to overcome writer’s block with “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do.” Her ideas and exercises encouraged writers to look at journaling as a resource rather than a chore.
The American Idol of Opening Pages panel
“The American Idol of Opening Pages!” session featured (l. to r.) New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham, literary agent Rachel Eckstrom, St. Martin editor Holly Ingraham, NYT bestselling author Cherry Adair and Molly Bolden, co-owner of Bent Pages Bookstore and a major force behind the conference. The five women provided pointed critiques of opening pages submitted by attendees. The audience learned ways that problem pages could be improved and made more marketable through commentary from these experts.
One side of the Book Fair area
The presenters and other area authors shared networking time in the Book Fair hosted by Bent Pages Bookstore of Houma. Tables included offerings in all genres and even a publishing house with a Louisiana focus. The beautiful library facility provided a stunning backdrop for the day of writers and writing in the heart of Louisiana’s wetlands.