The 12th Annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference

By Sandra Zunino

Time is running out to attend in the 12th Annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference scheduled for February 21 at Chesapeake College in the Kent Humanities Building.

Each year, the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference assembles regional and national writers, editors and agents to educate, inform, encourage and inspire writers from the Eastern Shore.

“For the first time the conference is only accepting advance registrations,” says Wilson Wyatt Jr., Conference Co-Chair and President of the Eastern Shore Writers Association (ESWA). Prior Bay to Ocean Conferences offered registration at the door. The ESWA is sponsoring the event.

“The last three conferences sold out in advance,” explains Wyatt. “There is a lot of time involved with registration at the door.” This year the Chesapeake College is handling the conference registration. Due to space restrictions, there are only 129 seats available.

“This conference is an extraordinary opportunity for writers in this area,” says Wyatt.
People who attend the conference are aspiring writers as well as experienced, well-published writers, according to Wyatt. A small percentage of attendees are students.

Headlining the event is Novelist and Hollywood Screenwriter Thomas B Sawyer. Sawyer was head writer for the popular CBS mystery series “Murder, She Wrote.” He also served as head writer or story editor on 15 other network TV series. Sawyer’s first mystery novel The Sixteenth Man became a best seller and he teaches writing at UCLA. He has also been nominated for an Edgar and an Emmy. Sawyer will discuss visual storytelling techniques to enhance any kind of writing.

Poet and Pulitzer Prize nominee, Sue Ellen Thompson will lead a discussion focusing on autobiographical poetry. Acclaimed Short Story Writer and Instructor, Kate Blackwell from The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, will conduct a workshop to help writers find their narrative voice. Literary Agent, Laura Strachen and publishing expert Greg Wilhelm will lead workshops offering guidance for freelance writers.

Newspaper journalist and pioneer in Internet news, Leslie Walker will lead a discussion on internet publishing. Walker is a currently a professor at the University of Maryland and a former columnist for the Washington Post. Angela Render, a professional Web developer and historical fiction writer will cover building a marketing platform for the Internet.

“This is the first time we’ve had sessions on the Internet,” says Wyatt. “Finding people to provide information is difficult because the Internet changes so rapidly.”

Other speakers include publishers from Chesapeake Bay, Delmarva Quarterly and Delaware Beach Life magazines as well as essayist George Merrill, children’s fiction author Jennifer Keats Curtis and more. In addition to the workshops, the conference includes a continental breakfast and a networking lunch.

While registration deadline is posted on the website as February 7, Wyatt says registration should stay open until the event is filled. Registration fees are $80 for the public and $55 for high school and college students. Taking into account the state of the economy, organizers decided to freeze the conference fees to last year’s prices.

For detailed descriptions of each workshop and biographies on the speakers, view the conference program at To register for the 12th Annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference, visit