Monday, May 3, 2010

Crested Butte Conference is Coming!

Joining us today is Theresa Rizzo, fellow scribe and coordinator for the Crested Butte Writers Conference in Crested Butte, Colorado. I’ve been to many, many conferences throughout my writing career, but none as unique as this conference.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t traveled as much as some of you (which could be very true), and I have heard Desert Dreams and Maui offer extraordinary experiences beyond the conferences revolving around the same old format: conference hotel, conference food, conference program and networking (yay! on that last one).
The CB conference does feed you and they do offer accommodations and yes, there are speakers, but the entire experience…well, let’s just let Theresa tell you about it : ) Welcome, Theresa!

What is the history of the CBWC. How did it begin and why?

The conference grew out of a one-day reader and author day called the Reader in the Rockies, started by Crested Butte author, Barbara Crawford. Curious readers were invited to have lunch with famous authors and listen to them talk about their writing process. Then while Barbara went to the expense to bring these authors in, she got them to give a half-day writing workshop to the writers in the area.

I first met Barbara at the 2006 RIR. She and I had both been to the Maui Writers Conference and admired the event. Barbara confided that she aspired to turn the Crested Butte event into a mini-Maui, but needed more money and help to grow the conference. I suggested, and offered to run a contest for unpublished authors, The Sandy, as a fundraiser to help pay to bring in agents, editors, and speakers. We quickly discovered that Barbara and I share a similar vision and work quite well together. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Why attend this out of the way conference as opposed to something central like Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers?

Barbara and I admired the beauty and specialness of the Hawaiian island local, the quality of the workshops, the high caliber of the agents, editors, and speakers, and the friendly supportive ambiance that distinguished the Maui conference. We hoped not to just duplicate those qualities, but to surpass the excellence of that whole experience—and the beauty and magic of the Crested Butte Valley gives us the perfect home to achieve such a goal.

Our conference is much harder to get to than more centrally located venues and because it’s nestled deep in the Elk Mountains, it will take more time, effort and expense to get there—but it is SO worth it. It may sound fanciful, but there’s a creative magic in the mountains—in the very air of the valley. It’s simply comforting and inspiring. Every time I drive into the valley, a peace settles over me and my soul sighs.
I’ve yet to meet a person who has attended that hasn’t felt the magic of Crested Butte and been charmed not just by the spectacular mountain vistas, but by the friendly people who call it home. You’re more at peace there, inspired and focused—which translates into the perfect writing environment. Ask any writer who has been to CB and I’d be willing to bet they’ve written far more and solved more plot issues by walking through those mountains, than any other writing place.

Simply put—it’s worth the trip. But just to make sure writers give us a chance, we stack the deck in our favor by inviting outstanding speakers and quality agents and editors and offering the best, most efficient conference experience we can conceive. We’re constantly trying inventive things to improve it.

How do you pull in the big names as keynote speakers for being a small, intimate conference?

This year we have the incomparable, best-selling James Scott Bell as our keynote speaker, as well as a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, H. W. Brands, Ms. Holly Payne, and such local talent of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s own Janet Lane and Jeanne Stein. And then as a final treat . . . we have our own Crested Butte Writer’s pride and Joy—Ms. Kaki Warner to close the show!

We’ve never had trouble getting speakers, agents, and editors to come to our conference for several reasons. The first and foremost reason is the lure of Crested Butte. Just send them a picture of the area—and that’s all it takes. If they can fit us into their schedule, they do. It doesn’t hurt that we pay for their travel and lodging expenses. But just to make sure, we make an effort not work them too hard—making sure they have a little time off to explore the area.

So what’s unique about this conference?

The Crested Butte Writer Conference has many unique features that really help distinguish us as an up-and-coming premier writing conference.

As I said, we strive to do things a little better, more efficiently, friendlier than other writing events from things as simple as name tags (everybody’s name tags—even our agents, editors, and speakers) with your first name written in HUGE letters to encourage that personal, informal connection to the efficient way we do our agent/editor appointments, to our brand new website)—packed with every bit of information a person could want to know.

A few points to highlight our uniqueness:
· Pie in the Sky Book signing
· Pitch and Pages
· Group Discounts
· Reader Day
· Sandy Finalists honored on panel & invited to evening reading at Trackers bar
· Gourmet Meals

To be honest, another goal we hope to accomplish with our conference is to help the resort area. Scheduling the conference at the opening of the summer season allows us to book our venue at a discounted rate we can afford to help keep the conference fees down for our writers. We work hard with local lodging to make it affordable for people to stay in the resort town. The local restaurants and stores are excited about welcoming our guests—not just because it’s their natures to be so friendly and open, but they also appreciate the income generated by visitors to help sustain them through the 4 months a year off seasons when the town empties out.

Come visit us and see for yourselves!

Thank you Theresa for the exciting glimpse into one of my favorite conferences. Like Theresa mentioned, Crested Butte offers a getaway for your mind, body and soul.

Keep the date open -- June 18 - 20, 2010. It's a weekend you won't forget!

And...just a little tidbit of inside info. After visiting Crested Butte the first time, I knew I just had to write a book set in this unique area that offers snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, a quaint town and a challenging ski area. Rocky Mountain Hero, my debut book, January 2011 Steeple Hill Love Inspired, reflects the beauty and grandeur of the Crested Butte area, under the pseudonym of Hawk Ridge, of course.


kakiwarner said...

Congratulations on your upcoming debut, Audra! I'll be looking for it. And I'm hoping to get the same inspiration you did when you were in CO--I'm setting my next series in the Rockies, so I'm thrilled to be able to check it out while I'm at the conference. And even more thrilled to meet the CB Writers who have been such champions of all the writers in their group. It sounds like a wonderful conference--and not just because of the "pride and joy" part. LOL

kakiwarner said...

Oops...forgot to mention your great post, Theresa. If I wasn't already coming to CB, I certainly would be now. You do an absolutely wonderful job with the contest, so I'm sure the conference will be fabulous! I don't know what you did to get all those outstanding "real" speakers to sign on, but for me...thanks for the new car!

Theresa said...

I never say things I don't mean--Okay, very rarely say things I don't mean. Before you sold, you judged The Sandy for me and were so nice that I had to hang on your coat tails and claim you as our Pride and Joy .

I'm telling you, it's Crested Butte that is the attraction. I've never met a visitor who hasn't fallen in love with it, we just provide the perfect excuse to visit. The perfect excuse to combine a writers love of writing with their love of nature and appreciation of beauty. We try to make it an irresistible weekend.

Looking forward to being entertained and inspired by you, friend. As for the car . . . that was our secret. What kind again, was it?

Audra Harders said...

Hi Kaki!
Thanks for the congratulations : ) I'm so excited to be a Steeple Hill author, I can't begin to tell you, LOL!

The first time I visited CB with Theresa, I knew I had to set a book there. Unfortunately at the time, I was writing British historicals.

NOW, I'm back to writing cowboy stories : ) CB fits right in : )

So glad to hear you're coming to the conference. What a great weekend!

Leslie Ann said...

Hi T and Audra,

Yep, CB really does settle the soul. There is peaceful quality to the valley that I've only found in Hawaii on a secluded beach on the other side of Honolulu.

Anyway, it has always sounded like a great conference and is only getting better and better. I've heard all the stories and I want to come. Next year...for screenwriting maybe?????

Again congrats on the sale! Hawk Ridge, aka CB, is a fab place with great characters, can't wait for Rocky Mountain Hero to be on the shelves.


Audra Harders said...

LOL, Leslie. I can't wait for it hit the shelves either : )

Next year, I can sign at the CB conference and tell how Crested Butte inspired my creativity.

Hey, maybe T will ask me to keynote!!

Only kidding! Really!

Donnell said...

I think Audra would make an excellent keynote speaker.... She could tell the story about Montana and ;) What everybody else said about Crested Butte. I'm bringing my walking shoes!