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notebook and tote bag

I spent the past weekend in a dorm at Brevard College in the North Carolina mountains. Fortunately, instead of a loud dorm full of college students, the building was not even half-full of quiet writers. I stayed in the dorm because I was accepted to the fiction workshop at the 2018 Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference. (The fiction group lecturer was Craig Johnson, the author of the novels that inspired the “Longmire” series on Netflix.)

college dorm room

The Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference celebrated its third year this spring. The theme was ‘sense of place.’ The conference organizer, Ken, shared at one of the readings that Brevard was/is regarded among the Cherokee tribe as a site of genesis, “where all life begins and ends.” In present day, Brevard is known as a site of white squirrels. With both of these random tidbits, you can easily understand how this place makes the perfect spot for writers to gather.

white squirrel

White squirrel of Brevard, NC.

Conferences for writers vary in their purpose. Some are for networking, meeting agents, booksellers, professional development, and others center on craft or workshops. LGRWC is based on a workshop format with a few readings and open mics sprinkled throughout.

writers in classroom

Craig Johnson’s fiction session. Photo courtesy of Brevard College.

If you’re looking for a conference that will connect you with other writers in your genre, one that offers a generous balance of free time, that has great food, and is located within walking distance of a cute downtown, add a reminder to your calendar to apply for LGRWC next year. Not only is the conference application free, but you can apply to more than one genre (which is what I did).

This conference is thoughtfully and meticulously organized. On one of the free afternoons, participants could sign up for a free van tour through Pisgah National Forest (which is what I did too). The tour travels to Looking Glass Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, and the conference’s namesake, Looking Glass Rock.

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls

I cannot say enough good things about the food. It was exceptionally prepared. There were a variety of options at each meal, everything was fresh, and there was a stocked snack table during the workshop sessions. The table rotated cookies, scones, pastries, lemonade, sweet tea, coffee and tea. I was impressed over and over again how the dining/catering staff went out of their way to prepare separate plates of gluten-free options, both on the snack table and at meals.

dessert table

Dessert reception after a reading.

It’s been almost a decade since the last time I attended a workshop-focused conference. I’m hoping I won’t wait as long again!