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Story driven 

Writers, agents, and publishers will coalesce on the Central Coast to celebrate taking pen to paper

click to enlarge JOURNALIST TURNED NOVELIST :  Christian Moerk’s books include The Council of Ten and Darling Jim; Moerk will speak on Oct. 2 and lead two workshops. Info: - IMAGE COURTESY OF LES KANER
  • JOURNALIST TURNED NOVELIST : Christian Moerk’s books include The Council of Ten and Darling Jim; Moerk will speak on Oct. 2 and lead two workshops. Info:
I look at it as: If I were going to a conference, what would I want?” Central Coast Writers’ Conference Director Cathe Olson reflects. Olson is the author of Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love.


And what she wants, she gets: incredible writers and teachers who will lead more than 30 workshops at the writers’ conference. happening Oct. 2-3 at Cuesta College in SLO. Moreover, this 25th anniversary conference has attracted the most agents and publishers to date. “I want this year to be special and the best ever,” Olson said, which means more bang for the writer’s buck.


Four additional workshops have been added to the two-day schedule in which all writing genres will be represented including memoirs, poetry, and screenplays. Manuscript-critiquing services will be available.


Olson advises perusing and clicking on “Suggested Conference Tracks” for in-depth explanations about conference courses. She encourages writers to take workshops in as many different disciplines as possible.


Keynote speaker Christian Moerk’s speech will not be for the faint of heart. The international bestseller will talk about how publishing a novel may seem like a pipe dream, but it’s not.


As a journalist for many years, Moerk unwittingly learned techniques for fiction writing, and became a full-time novelist almost a decade ago. Though Moerk never attended a writers’ conference or even a creative writing class, he has sage advice to impart. “You can’t teach anyone to write. All I can do is give examples of what good writing is.” Moerk isn’t known for sugar coating cold, hard facts.


He will confront writers with the question “Who do you write for?” and advise, “It’s important to write for an audience, and not for yourself. Publishers aren’t interested in your feelings, they’re interested in your work. Are you telling a story?” Moerk will describe practical tactics for resolving writing issues and getting published.


Other workshops will focus on preteens and teens, packaging stories for Hollywood, working with dialogue, and publishing short fiction. A complete list can be found at


Literary agent Amy Burkhardt said the Central Coast Writers’ Conference is a great opportunity for writers to commune and helps agents to connect faces with the names of prospective clients.


Writer Heather Mendel has attended the conference three times. What attracted her was knowing she had a story to tell but inexperience about the craft. Mendel emphasizes she’s gained valuable insights not only from conference speakers and but also from fellow writers who’ve attended. Dancing in the Footsteps of Eve, will be published in November.


Charlotte Cook, president of KOMENAR Publishing, who will present a workshop regarding point of narration versus point of view, specializes in the works of unrepresented, first-time authors, unlike most publishers. Her best advice: “Writers need to be patient.” Don’t set a time limit for publication. “What drives this nation,” Cook said, “is a love of story.”


Fees start at $40. All writers are welcome, from beginners to seasoned professionals. Info: or 546-3132.


Fast facts


Help advocate better lives for people who have brain disorders, by joining the Beautiful Minds Walk on behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), at Laguna Lake Park in SLO on Saturday, Oct. 3. The walk will publicize support services in the county for mental health and will raise funds for the local NAMI chapter, which is staffed entirely by volunteers who provide referrals and education for families and individuals who seek help with relatives afflicted with mental conditions. For information and to register call 226-8087 or log onto


Help keep harmful electronic waste out of landfills by dropping off your unwanted computers, televisions, and other electronics at the Exploration Station at 867 Ramona Avenue in Grover Beach from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. For more information call the Station at 473-1421 …


Community involvement means having fun and making a difference at the same time. The Young Professionals Networking Group (YPNG) of SLO County facilitates philanthropy and volunteerism by matching young professionals with volunteer opportunities. For involvement opportunities or to submit activity ideas, e-mail [email protected] or visit .


Calendar Editor Christy Heron and Intern Matt Fountain compiled Strokes&Plugs this week.
Send your business and nonprofit news to [email protected].

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