Mississippi has a writers’ conference…and you should know about it!

This past October (14th-16th to be exact), the Gulf Coast Writers Association hosted their annual Southern Expressions GCWA Authors Conference, and I was honored to be one of their speakers. Held at the IP Casino, Resort and Spa in Biloxi, and the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs, the conference is a nice little gem waiting to be discovered.

I’ll admit that I’d never heard of the conference before, and as a Mississippian, I was a bit embarrassed. However, that embarrassment faded when I learned the conference was only in either the 3rd for 4th year. I made the drive down on Friday from my home in Oxford. I was starting a new job as part of the faculty at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida the following Monday, so I would just drive there from the conference on Sunday.

I arrived, checked in, and took my stash of books with me to the check-in conference room. Curtis Wilkie, author of The Fall of the House of Zeus, was the speaker for the night—he was asked the usual questions when it was done. I found it funny when I learned he also lives in Oxford and yet I’d never met him (or heard of him, to be honest). Just goes to show you I’m not running the “literary” circles in Oxpatch.

On Saturday morning they bussed the lot of us over to Ocean Springs and we began the daylong string of sessions in the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center. I met some interesting folks, both speakers and writers, and did my two presentations: one on suping up your protagonist and the other on shameless self-promotion.

The conference provided live entertainment on the grounds that night, but I caught a ride back to the hotel with some new writer friends I’d made (Charles Sasser and Peggy Webb—Webb, a Mississippian from Tupelo!). I had dinner in the casino where I stumbled upon Jeanie Pantelakis, (Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency) one of the agents in attendance…she joined me and we had a nice chat—mostly about movies and comic books!

Sunday morning was a very laid-back signing session by any and all comers. The public was invited and several people made their way from the slot machines to our room full of authors. Of course, most of them claimed to have just lost all their money and assured us they would have bought a book if they’d had any cash… It wasn’t a total loss, though. As many authors are fond of doing when possible, I managed to trade a few books and still come home with new reading material. Though I went knowing no single other person, I left with a handful of new friends. Not a bad trip, if I do say so myself.

(I meant to post this back in December…but neglected to do so. A slightly different version of this was printed in IMAGYRO, the magazine of IMAGICOPTER)

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