UW Writers Conference Madison

April 6th, 2014


The 25th Annual Writers’ Conference—Madison

Michael Perry, Nathan Bransford, Christine DeSmet and Kimberli Bindschatel were just a few of the fab writers that converged at the Concourse Hotel this past weekend. Writer’s descended on the city in droves and made it a match for the swarms of fans who came to cheer on the Badgers basketball team play in the Final Four.


The keynote speaker, Michael Perry started off the convention for me. Population 485 is one of my favorite books, so I had to see him speak. He was worth the early morning drive to Madison. Not only is he a terrific writer but his Wisconsin sense of humor had me belly laughing. I must be a sucker for cow and beer jokes. I get them. The proper way to say “manure” is ma-ner ( ner rhymes w/her), makes sense to me. When he mentioned the 12-pack of Hamm’s I was the one who laughed embarrassingly loud–a Wisconsin cackle. Not many people remember the long ago Hamm’s ad and now, most don’t know that it’s still brewed.

There were agents and editors that discussed the future of authorship. The room full of writers were more than content to listen to the good and the bad, because, we like to “mash words around” as Michael Perry had said. Jane Friedman tweeted the a panel’s discussion about the sales value of social media. A twitter feed ensued. Whether Facebook and/or Twitter helps to build your sales, I think, is still being discussed. Check out Jane Friedman’s handle.

Owners of a couple of book stores took the stage. They told us that they liked us. Yes, they love us writers. How’s that for an ego boost? They shared how they concocted new and exciting ways to sell our books off their shelves. I’m getting shivers just thinking about it. U-Rah for writers!

vintage NEW (Jan) cover

Joanne Berg, the owner of Mystery to Me bookstore is co-hosting a release party for Susan Gloss’ book, Vintage. Mystery to Me and the boutique down the street, Velvet Button are collaborating to celebrate with a book signing event on April 12th. Arcadia, a bookstore in Spring Green, plans to celebrate Susan’s book-birthday as well.

The workshops during the UW-Writers’ conference were a selection of tracks. The variety included editing, publishing and marketing.

Little Creek Press and designer/owner Kristin Mitchell spoke about her clients. She wants to design the best covers to show off the hard work writers put into storytelling. The words within the pages need a great cover. I might have heard wrong, but I think Kristin said, “Writers make her day!”

Kristin and Dana presented a workshop, Book Design. They explained the many important aspects of typeface selection, trim size, spines and branding.  Funny enough, Michael Perry had also talked about branding, but altogether a different beast.


YA author and photographer, Kimberli Bindschatel, taught a workshop on marketing. She entertained us with examples of “how to bond” with your readers. She bonded with me, when I had read her book  previously, but an emotional connection was sparked when Kimberli showed off the purse she had crafted and worn at the conference. The shape of the purse was in book fashion and the outside was the cover of her book, The Path to the Sun. A book purse! Now we’re talking. Books and purses are “simpatico”.  Unlike, as Michael Perry had mentioned, cheese curds paired with Budweiser in Wisconsin.

The weekend in Madison passed in a flurry of words and information. Usually, after returning home, I take a breather. Not this time. I went to my writer’s cave right away. My head was spinning with energy and new ideas for my latest WIP. I jumped into the ma-ner and got to work. After a weekend with booksellers, writers and instructors rooting for me, I couldn’t wait. Their cheers spurred me on.

When I’m excited about some bit of writerly news I usually express it with a SQUEE! But after this conference and Michael Perry, I’m going with SQUEAK!

Those in Wisconsin and in love will cheese curds will understand.

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