Santa Barbara Writers Conference: A look at what I’ll be missing

Words in a brochure that I received this week called out to me: “Please Join Us For the 40th Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference, June 9-14 at the Hyatt Santa Barbara.”

Okay. I’m listening.

The cover shows a beautiful hotel, the gorgeous Santa Ynez mountains in the background, and a pink-and-blue sunset. Inside, a photo of Monte Schulz, son of the beloved Charles “Charlie Brown” Schulz and owner of the Conference, shows a smile of invitation. An expansive view of downtown Santa Barbara with its red-tiled buildings, streets lined with palm trees, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean shows that this city is the perfect place for inspiration.

Calgon, take me away. (For those of you over 50.)

Attending the conference offers you a “magical week of intensive work focused on story, voice, craft, marketing, and networking with fellow writers and publishing professionals.”

Sign me up.

The list of evening speakers includes authors Christopher Buckley, Miles Corwin, and Fannie Flagg.

Hey, those are big names!

For only $625 (hotel and most meals not included) …

Only? Oh, well. End of dream.

The Santa Barbara Writers Conference (SBWC) will not have me as an attendee this year. Next year, when I have a finished manuscript and some spare change, I will think seriously about attending.

If you read my post on best books for writers, you’ll note my alternative to these costly conferences: books about the craft. The main draw for a conference, though, is the presence of agents and publishers who may give you the chance to be a living query letter and present your manuscript on the spot. That’s a unique opportunity for which you need to pay big bucks.

And then you have the workshops. The SBWC attendees can choose between morning and afternoon workshops, daily panels, evening speakers, and writing all-nighters. Here are the offerings at this year’s Santa Barbara Writers Conference:

  • Narrative Techniques in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction
  • Travel Writing
  • The First Four Pages – How to Start Your Story
  • The Craft and Soul of Writing
  • Historical Fiction
  • Reaching Kids Living in the Land of Techno-Wizardry
  • Rewriting is Writing – Discovering Your Inner Editor
  • Poetry
  • Nonfiction with a Fiction Twist
  • Screenwriting
  • From Notebook to Memoir
  • Finding Your Secret Story
  • Mystery Writing
  • Putting the Truth in Fiction
  • How to Write and Publish Magazine Articles
  • Story Structure for All Genres
  • Discovering the Mind of Your Story
  • Marketing the Muse
  • Phantastic Fiction
  • How to Give Your Stories Depth, Interest, and Intrigue
  • Voice and Style
  • Read & Critique of Works in Progress
  • Basic Fiction
  • The Craft of Humor Writing

Which classes would you choose? I’d be acting like a kid in an Apple store as I tried to fill out my registration form. If you’ve attended a writers conference, do these SBWC workshops look like the typical fare?

Image from Click to visit the site

But, alas, not this year. I do plan to attend one of the panels that are open to the public — most likely Fannie Flagg’s discussion — just to get a taste of the conference and see if it’s something I’d like to pursue for next year. It helps that I live here. Otherwise I’d have to factor in the $200 per night for the Hyatt. Plus the restaurant hopping and State Street shopping.

Maybe, during one of those conference days in June, I’ll take my copies of On Writing and Plot & Structure, lunch, a blanket, and my laptop to a nice spot on the sand across the street from the Hyatt hotel.

And dream on.

Have you ever attended a writers conference? What about it affected your writing life the most?


10 thoughts on “Santa Barbara Writers Conference: A look at what I’ll be missing

  1. Hi Darla,

    Gosh, I would lurve to go to that! I went to the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC, Jan. 2011, and it was only 2 1/2 days long–the entire trip with hotel, food, transportation, conference cost me over $2,000. Calculating what people would have to shell out for the SB conference, and it comes out about the same when you factor in hotel, etc. It’s ridiculous to make these things so expensive. I spend that much on a vacation!

    Many of those workshops sound glorious. I’d sign up for anything to do with fiction, esp. How to Start Your Story and Marketing the Muse.

    Oh well. I guess it’s the kind of thing you just have to save up for!


    1. And we have to look at them as investments in our writing careers. Yet, I’d rather be saving up for a lovely MacBook Air right now than a writers conference. I did contact the SBWC about scholarships, which I believe they’d offered in the past. If they’re offered this year, she will let me know. Now, that would be a treat!


      1. I have a Dell powerhouse PC that I use as my workhorse, but my old Mac iBook G4 that I use for writing is starting to slow down (2005). I love it, but I can’t upgrade the system. So, I’m thinking about the Air. I walked around with one the other day and it was like carrying a file folder. Yep, that’s next.


  2. I feel your pain! That was me last year at this time, longing to go to the Orange County Christian Writers Conference.

    But this year, I get to go! It’ll be in Newport Beach, May 18-20.

    There is an option to purchase half the conference for $285, which is what I can afford this year. Mind you, I’m going to have to drive an hour each way to get there (to save on lodging), but it’ll be worth it. So dang jazzed. πŸ™‚

    Is Newport Beach too far for you?


    1. Thanks for the info, Natalie. Be sure to let me know how it goes at the conference. That’s some driving commitment! I have a feeling next year will be the time for me to attend, and I’m thinking about the Mt. Hermon writers conference, too. My friend who gave me the author interview, Katie Cushman, offered to take me along to this year’s conference. We shall see what next year brings.


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