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Registration deadline nears for 11th Annual Eckerd College Writers Conference: Writers in Paradise

By Tom Scherberger
Published December 8, 2014
Categories: Public Events

The 11th Annual Eckerd College Writers’ Conference: Writers in Paradise, featuring award-winning and bestselling authors in a range of workshops and public readings, will be held Jan. 17-25. The registration deadline for the workshops is Dec. 17.

The conference, founded by two Eckerd alumni — best-selling author and Eckerd College graduate Dennis Lehane and Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing and novelist Sterling Watson, features panel discussions on publishing, a faculty of successful authors who critique participants’ manuscripts in intimate workshops, lectures on craft, evening readings, book signings and cocktail receptions. The conference provides a supportive community for established and aspiring authors with a passion for writing.

Attendees have gone on to publish successful novels, including Lori Roy of Tierra Verde, who won the 2012 Edgar Award for best first novel. Roy, an Edgar Award finalist this year for her second novel, returns as a faculty member for the 2015 conference.

Other faculty for 2015 include Andre Dubus III, author of New York Times bestsellers House of Sand and Fog, Garden of Last DaysTownie, and his latest, Dirty Love; Ann Hood, author of 10 novels, including The Knitting Circle, which will be made into an HBO film starring Katherine Heigel; and Laura Lippman, whose last six novels were all New York Times best sellers. John Searles, acclaimed novelist and book critic for NBC’s Today Show, will debut as a faculty member. Celebrated authors Les Standiford, David Yoo, and co-founder and conference director Sterling Watson round out the all-star faculty.

The keynote speaker will be Edgar Award winner Jess Walter, author of eight books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Beautiful Ruins. Walter was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for journalism and the PEN/USA Literary Prize in both fiction and non-fiction.

The Evening Reading Series begins Jan. 17 with Jess Walter. Other speakers include Jacquelyn Mitchard, bestselling author of 20 books, including the Oprah Winfrey Book Club inaugural selection The Deep End of the Ocean; St. Petersburg poet laureate Peter Meinke; Florida writer Patricia Engel; and Eckerd College Assistant Professor of Creative Writer K.C. Wolfe. Literary agents and MFA representatives also will host events.

The Evening Reading Series begins Jan. 17 with Jess Walter and ends Jan. 24 with Laura Lippman and Jacquelyn Mitchard. A reception is held before each reading and book sales and signings follow the readings. The 8 p.m. readings are free and open to the public at the Eckerd College Miller Auditorium.

The conference, which takes place at various venues at the Eckerd College waterfront campus, will also feature a staged reading of The Farnsworth Invention presented by A Simple Theatre, in residence at Eckerd, and a boat ride on Boca Ciega Bay.

The conference costs $700. Scholarships are available. Discounted rates at the nearby Magnuson Hotel are also available. For more details or to apply online, visit For questions call 727-864-7994 or email The application process is selective and all acceptances and scholarships will be announced by December 24th.

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