May 10, 2012

Witches and Writers

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." - Stephen King

Passersby may have questioned the black witches' hats circling the Dessert Bar in the hotel lobby. But then again, maybe not, for it was all part of the opening night festivities of a recent writer's conference held in Salem, Massachusetts.

Mention Salem and most people immediately think of the infamous witch trials of 1692. But this was the site of my first writer's conference, the 18th Annual Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference, April 27th & 28th, 2012.

Salem Witch Museum - Salem, MA

The first highlight of the conference was the opening session with Michael Hauge, a story consultant, author and lecturer who works with screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, executives and film agencies around the world. He has provided his coaching expertise on projects for stars like Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts and Will Smith, and in the short time I have been writing, Hauge's name has quickly become familiar as his lectures come highly recommended in writing circles.

Hauge spoke about using a Six Stage Plot Structure to outline your Protagonist's and Hero's Inner and Outer Journeys, and the importance of defining a character's Identity and Essence to determine their character arc. He is an articulate and entertaining speaker, and I highly recommend his lectures to all aspiring writers. His next appearances are in Calgary, AB on May 12 and in Anaheim, CA on July 27.

The second highlight was Breakfast with New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins, a speaker who is as charming and witty as her books. She shared her journey to writing success, including the goals she first set out for herself years ago (one of which was to be a speaker at this conference - cross off another one, Kristan!) She also encouraged each of us to create our own list of goals. (Goal #1 on my list - finish my novel.)

Later in the day, Kristan teamed up with Michael Hauge to discuss the characters in her novel Until There Was You (see the trailer). This session further clarified the concepts Hauge set out earlier and gave insight into Kristan's writing process.

And I must mention the conference venue, the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, a truly charming historic hotel just steps away from the Salem Witch Museum. The staff here is friendly and helpful, my room was clean and comfortable, and the food was delicious. I loved the cozy New England ambience of the hotel's oak-paneled Tavern with its fireplace, sunny windows and big comfy chairs. And on my last night in Salem, I enjoyed a shrimp and scallop dinner cooked to perfection at Nathaniel's. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Hawthorne Hotel to anyone planning a visit to Salem.

Finally, kudos to the organizers of the Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference for a well-run event, and thank you to the members of the New England Chapter of RWA who offered such a warm welcome to this first-time attendee. (Goal #2 - RWA 2013 National Conference in Atlanta)

More Information

Hawthorne Hotel:
Michael Hauge:
Kristan Higgins:

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