Isle themes color writers conference


POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

In its transition from the Maui Writers Conference to the Hawaii Writers Conference last year — which involved hopping from Maui to Oahu — the 17-year-old gathering of best-selling authors, Academy Award-winning screenwriters and unpublished newbies struggled to improve accessibility and re-establish its identity.

One year later: mission accomplished.


Grammy Award-winning recording artist Norah Jones will kick off the three-day affair with a performance at the first Writers Block Gala on Sept. 4 at the Sheraton Waikiki. Her appearance signals an impressive effort by conference organizers to raise funds to provide scholarships for Hawaii students, especially those on neighbor islands, to attend future conferences, and for teachers to take what they've learned back to their classrooms.

Another new addition this year is a track devoted to Voices of Hawaii. Conference co-founder Shannon Tullius thought the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood presented an ideal opportunity to incorporate Hawaiian culture through song, poetry and movement. Presenters and performers include slack-key master Makana, Na Hoku winner Kaumakaiwa and slam poetry artist Kealoha.

“;It's a big deal,”; Tullius said of the statehood anniversary, “;and I thought, why not celebrate all the great things about living in Hawaii?”;

She said she's always tried to share the culture in a meaningful way with attendees and presenters, but with her husband and co-founder, John Tullius, decided to go beyond the hula and chant that typically open the conference and delve into the latest creations from Hawaii's younger generation of artists and musicians. In addition, she will deliver her remarks in Hawaiian. “;It's just time; there's a rebirth and reformation of what's happening in Hawaii.”;

Beyond that, the conference retains the elements that have allowed it to endure and attract a list of major players in the publishing and filmmaking businesses (obviously, a tropical location never hurts).

Jackie Mitchard, who wrote “;Deep End of the Ocean,”; the first Oprah Book Club pick, returns again this year with “;Wicked”; author Gregory Maguire and Mitch Albom, who wrote “;Tuesdays with Morrie”; and “;Five People You Meet in Heaven.”;

Academy Award winners Bobby Moresco (”;Million Dollar Baby”; and “;Crash”;), Diana Ossana (”;Brokeback Mountain”;), Michael Arndt (”;Little Miss Sunshine”;) and “;House,”; “;Deadwood,”; and “;Entourage”; screenwriter James Strauss headline the screenwriting section. Young-adult and children's author Alice Hoffman (”;Practical Magic”; and “;Aquamarine”;) and “;Way of the Peaceful Warrior”; author Dan Millman also will be present.

In addition to sampling new workshops in niche markets such as children's and young-adult books, magazine writing, food and cookbook writing and poetry, attendees will have the opportunity to schedule one-on-one consultations and gain support from new contacts. As Tullius noted, “;There's nothing like networking at this thing!”;





        » When: Sept. 4-7

» Where: Royal Hawaiian and Sheraton Waikiki hotels


» Cost: $495 for kamaaina (inquire about special prices for teachers and full-time students); one-on-one consultations with editors and agents cost extra (The Hawaii Writers Retreat is sold out.)


» Schedule: www.hawaiiwriters.org