The Santa Barbara Writers Conference was an outstanding experience. I took the Pacific Coast Starlight down to the conference. Salinas to Santa Barbara. Good solitary writing time in the observation car. Interesting characters on the train. Beautiful landscapes, never seen from the highway.
One of the highlights for me was getting to work in a small group critique session with Gar Haywood and Sue Grafton. Gar is an accomplished mystery writer, an excellent critique facilitator, and a friend of Grafton. I was amazed by how just plain nice both writers are. No arrogance or games. Just real people, genuinely interested in writing and writers, and in sharing knowledge about their craft. All of the critique workshops yielded valuable insights.
The Pirates, from 9pm to after midnight every night with author and editor John Reed proved to be particularly bloody. (Kill your darlings.)
Still sifting through the fertile seeds gleaned at the conference.