Woodstock Writers Festival 2015—Top Ten Highlights
This was my second year attending the Woodstock Writers Festival and it felt a bit like coming home, but with even more new and exciting people to meet and learn from!
These are my Top Ten Highlights, in chronological order:
1. Having dinner with Lauree Ostrofsky of Simply Leap on Thursday night at Joshua’s Café was a great start! I met Lauree at the first cocktail party of last year’s festival, and we have kept in touch through Twitter and email ever since, and we’ve become real friends. She doesn’t call herself the “Chief Hugger” at Simply Leap for nothing either! A great hug, interesting and inspiring conversation, and great food and drinks at Joshua’s and the hours flew by! (Though I had missed most of the “Story Slam,” the opening event of the festival, I did catch the end and saw some familiar faces from last year.)
2. Friday’s workshop with Beverly Donofrio was excellent! It was an amazing group of women in the home of John Holland, who was a gracious host and offered us a lovely space to work in. We wrote our hearts out with engaging prompts and encouragement from Bev, who also gave us some fantastic advice and tips on how to improve our writing. I got a lot of good writing done that day, and I’m still working with some of the material.
3. Friday night’s cocktail party was a hit at the new venue, the Commune Saloon. I had a great time, talked with Martha Frankel and her husband, Steve Heller—telling them the story of how I discovered WAY LATE that they were married to each other! I also met Benoit-Denizet Lewis and Christina Haag. I spent some time with some of the women from my workshop—and Bev joined us for a bit—graciously saying she has never had a workshop where ALL of the students were such good writers. Aw, shucks! ☺
4. Saturday was one great panel after another at the Festival. This was such a great day of content and networking. I met Stacy from Inkubate which seems to be on the cutting edge. Check it out! Thanks to them for sponsoring, for the great chocolate, and the “Golden Ticket” giveaways I also got some much needed help on my website from none other than Nan Tepper of Nan Tepper Design. What a blessing!
5. Saturday night cocktail party was amazing! Ann Hutton, who was in my Friday workshop both years, offered to introduce me to Mary Anne Erickson, whose work I had admired. She has a great website called Vanishing Roadside. Soon we will be pairing some of our work—her paintings with my writing—on each of our websites. Thanks SO much to Ann for making that connection. I also talked with Mary Anne’s husband Richard, not knowing until I put it together later on Twitter that he was her husband and proprietor of Bistro to Go. (Reminiscent of my experience with Martha and Steve from last year!)
6. The Joe Donohue interview with Abigail Thomas was excellent. I was lucky enough to be seated in the front row and right next to Abby’s son Ralph, who she had introduced me to on Friday. Though I could have gotten my copy of her book signed right after, I couldn’t wait to start reading it, so I walked right back to my room to begin. I finished it the next day. Wow. I did get one signed several days later, when I went to see Abby do a reading at McNally Jackson bookstore in the city (with Elissa Schappell). Fun fact: the photo on the back of the book is the work of photoshop! There is no way those dogs would all behave and pose like that—I know—I’ve met them and spent the day with them last year at the workshop at Abby’s house. **Another thanks to Ann Hutton for recommending KGB Bar to me--known as the most literary bar in NYC and I visited right after Abby's signing and LOVED it. More on that in the NYC blog--coming up!
7. As I walked into Joshua’s Café for the breakfast w/James Kuntsler, Martha Frankel herself asked me to join her table. We had a nice group and Bev Donofrio came and sat with us too. It was nice talking with her some more, and I’m hoping to attend one of her monastery writing retreats sometime in the future. She also asked me to share the picture we had taken together and she put it up on her Facebook page! Genuine smiles make for good pictures. ☺
8. I enjoyed ALL of the panels and all of the guests, but Memoir a Go-Go was a real highlight. I had to miss it last year to make my flight home, and I was very happy to attend this year. It was amazing and I bought books from every one of the authors.
9. Sunday night I returned to the Red Onion for dinner and my waitress was Maia Macek, a local writer and life coach. We are now following each other on Twitter and I’m hoping I talked her into attending the Woodstock Writers Festival next year!
10. The loot! Here is a list of all the books I bought at the festival or since then:
I’m Scared and Doing it Anyway by Lauree Ostrofsky
Looking for Mary by Beverly Donofrio
Travels with Casey by Benoit-Denizet Lewis
Unrequited by Lisa Phillips
What Comes Next and How to Like It by Abigail Thomas
Come to the Edge by Christina Haag
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
The Reluctant Psychic by Suzan Saxman
Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
Use Me by Elissa Schappell
To sum up it all up, this is the best writing workshop/conference/festival out there! Hope to see you there next year—as Martha Frankel says, “Come Along for the Read!”