Everybody Into the Pool

Writers' conferences basically print money, luring hopeful authors into slick hotel rooms to simultaneously fuel and smash their dreams, usually in the course of a single panel discussion. Our own, the San Francisco Writers Conference, is a classic example. It's headquartered in a plush hotel, it's stocked with editors you may have heard of and agents you probably haven't, and it's full of workshops with titles like "No plot? No problem!" It also costs $645. Zing! Still, you might be thinking: community of writers, industry buzz, the chance to press your manuscript into the hands of an embittered agent — let's sell the car. Do this instead: Spend $10 to attend one of the keynotes, which are open to the public this year in an inspired bit of community-minded thinking. Pick from among April Sinclair (Coffee Will Make You Black), the duo of Daisy Maryles (executive editor of Publishers Weekly) and Kevin Smokler (Bookmark Now!), Tess Gerritsen (The Bone Garden), and Clive Cussler (no specific book comes to mind, but hold your trap about "Cussler").

Sinclair speaks today at 12:30 p.m.
Feb. 15-17, 2008

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