bay to ocean conference 2014

This past Saturday (February 22, 2014), I attended the 17th annual Bay to Ocean writers’ conference, held at Chesapeake College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  The weather was surprisingly spring-like (I rode the Black Widowmaker to and fro), there were a lot of attendees and seminars, the food was good, and I did NOT get sick this time  (to be clear, last year’s illness had nothing to do with the conference.  But still). 




Many writers go to this conference to fine-tune their craft, but I think I done write purty good.  I came for the marketing, and attended the following seminars:


  • A 5-Step Self-Publishing Strategy, taught by Ally Machate
  • Blogging 200: I Have a Blog, So Now What Do I Do, taught by Angela Render
  • How to Build Community Through Social Media, taught by Mindie Burgoyne


All excellent classes.  Top things I learned were:


  • People want more than just a story, they want to engage with the author;
  • Install “share this” widgets on blog posts and site pages (duh!);
  • Direct selling rarely works; indirect selling is the way to go;
  • What percentage of “friends” on Facebook see posts from your author page, why that is, how to increase that, and why one should pay to promote posts; and,
  • When hand-selling books, avoid book signings and festivals.  Go to events that tie in with your book.  So if your novel’s plot involves horses, go to horse-rescue fundraisers, horse races, horse shows, etc.  Similarly, engage people in those milieus: send your horse book to those people as beta-readers and potential customers


I gave up on Twitter a long time ago, but considered going to a seminar on it just in case I could learn something to change my mind.  At the last moment, I decided instead to attend Barbara Esstman’s workshop, where she urged us to improve our fiction by doing the following:


  • Focus on your topic;
  • Locate the real beginning and the real end of your story;
  • Sharpen all the edges to keep conflict and tension high;
  • Keep the tone consistent, and foreshadow; and,
  • Don’t confuse exposition and summary with true scenes.


I learned a thing or two from Ms. Esstman that I hadn’t even from J.R. Salamanca, the best creative writing teacher I’ve ever studied under.  So, yeah, I’m glad I don’t know more about tweeting.


It was an EXCELLENT time at the Bay to Ocean conference, and I didn’t even mention the cool writers I met and swapped notes with.  Bay to Ocean is sponsored by the Eastern Shore Writers Association, an outstanding outfit that I’m glad to be part of.


I will definitely go to next year’s, and if you are a writer anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic, I strongly urge you to attend, too.




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5 Responses to bay to ocean conference 2014

  1. Wilson Wyatt says:

    Thank you for posting your summary from BTO. Well done. I consistently find Barbara Esstman to be one of those exceptional teachers of fiction and memoir. She has the gift.

  2. Michelle Sebly says:

    I was really impressed by the 50/50 session content… half was craft oriented, and half was the business side of writing. Something for everyone. I need to work on my actual craft more at the moment, so I did Austin Comacho’s “Conflict and Suspense,” and Judy’s session on setting, description and using the five senses to incorporate them. Learned a lot, ready to edit (again) : )

  3. Michelle Sebly says:

    Oh I did 3 not 2. I forgot about Barbara’s! Hers was awesome!

  4. Teachers don’t always get a lot of feedback, but I LOVE knowing I was helpful to you!! Thanks so much!