Write On!

Whether you’ve already written a novel, have aspirations to craft a story, or just love putting pen to paper and want to learn more about it, Kauai Writers Conference is an opportunity not to be missed. Mingle with best-selling authors, top literary agents and other local writers next month at Courtyard Marriott in Kapaa. For three days (May 1-3), attendees can learn from experts in the publishing field and practice mastering the craft.

“We want everybody to come,” says Dave Rosenberg, one of the founders of the conference.

The convention will include a series of interactive presentations on the art of writing, such as how to structure a story arc, as well as discussions about how to reach audiences and the best way to approach the publishing industry. It’s a chance for writers to learn everything they need to know in order to be successful in the business.

“They’re going to be taught by world-class, and I mean this with no exaggeration, absolutely world-class faculty,” notes Rosenberg.

The featured authors have published critically acclaimed books, and the literary agents and editors will represent some of the best firms in the country, including Kimberly Cameron and Associates.

Hiyaguha Cohen, Dave Rosenberg and Frank Reilly are on the voluntary committee that made Kauai Writers Conference possible. Here, they hold books written by the authors who will coach aspiring writers COCO ZICKOS PHOTO

Hiyaguha Cohen, Dave Rosenberg and Frank Reilly are on the voluntary committee that made Kauai Writers Conference possible. Here, they hold books written by the authors who will coach aspiring writers COCO ZICKOS PHOTO

Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers, Kristin Hannah, who wrote Firefly Lane, and Laura Moriarty, author of The Chaperone, are just a few coaches for aspiring writers.

“There is an amazing caliber of talent coming to the island for this,” says Frank Reilly, one of the conference organizers.

Priya Parmar, who splits her time between the island and London, also is joining the all-star lineup. She wrote the novel Vanessa and Her Sister, which has received much praise from esteemed critics, including The New York Times.

“Her book is now the darling of the literary world,” says Rosenberg.

Participants in last year's conference. In 2014, some 50 people attended. This year, 150 people are able to register

Participants in last year’s conference. In 2014, some 50 people attended. This year, 150 people are able to register

Participants also will have the option to meet one-on-one with a publishing professional, who will read 10-30 pages of their work for an extra $50 or $100 and provide honest feedback.

“If you’re a writer and you live on the island, you don’t get access to these people,” explains Rosenberg. “This is one of the only ways you’ll do it unless you travel very far and go to a major writer’s conference in a major city and spend a lot of money.”

Conference coordinators are even reaching out to high school and college students this year as part of their new “Student Writer Program,” in hope of helping them create a path in the business. Young writers are invited to attend and will receive a special session at the conference, tools to help guide them in writing and continued mentorship throughout the rest of the year.

“As writers, we all went through similar circumstances whe aspiration as youngsters, but we didn’t have the kind of support and encouragement we would have liked to have,” notes Reilly, who is in charge of the program. “We had to fumble our way through to finding our path as to how we’re going to express ourselves as writers.”

Dave Rosenberg speaks to audience members at last year's inaugural event

Dave Rosenberg speaks to audience members at last year’s inaugural event

Rosenberg wants to help kids with a desire to write create a life that supports that aspiration.

“I truly believe that books change lives — both reading them and writing them,” he says.

Writing changed the New York native’s life at a young age, when he was inspired to write about the “colorful characters” in his life.

“A lot of my family members were bigger than life,” he says.

It sparked his thoughts about how characters function in stories, and by the time he was in sixth grade, Rosenberg began writing stories that reflected these characters. His wife, Hiyaguha Cohen, his founding partner for the conference, also started writing as a child. She had her first poem published in third grade.

“To me, writing is very fulfilling and creative, and it helps me to think things through,” she says.

Composing words has been instrumental throughout Reilly’s life as well.

“It’s been less finding out why I’m motivated to write than coming to the realization that I have to,” admits Reilly, when he tries to describe why he writes. “It’s something you’ve got to do and how bad you’ll feel if you don’t do it.”

He is looking forward to not only perfecting his technique at next month’s conference, but also helping to provide an outlet for like-minded individuals to learn new skills.

“As writers, we operate in a vacuum too often,” admits Reilly. “It’s nice to get out of the vacuum.”

For more information about the conference, visit kauaiwritersconference.com.

Photos courtesy of KAUAI WRITERS CONFERENCE

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