Oakland hosts seventh annual Rochester Writers’ Conference

By Scott Davis

Michigan authors, speakers and educators presented what they know best at this past weekend’s Rochester Writers’ Conference in Oakland University.

The seventh annual Rochester Writers’ Conference took place Saturday, Oct. 4 in the Oakland Center. The event took up Gold Rooms A and B, along with the Lake Superior and Lake Michigan rooms to hold lectures, workshops and panel discussions on different areas of writing.

There were ten different topics presented in the nine-hour event, ranging from “Mirror, Not Movie Screen: Getting Personal Through Persona Poetry,” to “Beyond Freelancing Writing — Write out of the Box” and “Don’t Write What You Know.”

The presentations gave attendees the opportunity to get advice from writers, editors and educators who are successful in their field. Rebecca Repp, General Manager of American Road Magazine, said it is also great for presenters to meet writers who are interested in that field.

“It’s a great way to meet potential new talent and see what’s a good fit for our publication,” Repp said. “Also, people can learn a little more about what we need in a group setting, so I don’t have to take 30 phone calls.”

Awards were given to attendees who submitted their work before the event to be judged. One of the winners, Roberta Brown, who won for micro-fiction, said that it was a complete surprise that her work won. Titled “Hammertime,” it was about a construction worker who was thought to be building an object, but instead was building one of Beethoven’s most difficult music pieces.

“I am a musician,” Brown said. “I teach and play piano, oboe, and guitar, and in the past couple of years I have gotten into writing micro-fiction, so just combining my love and knowledge for music. And I was looking for that twist and that surprise ending. (It all) inspired me to write this.”

Along with the different presentations and awards, the event also had a keynote speaker. This year’s speaker was Lev Raphael, who is the author of 25 books. He said that his new book, “Assault with a Deadly Lie,” was the inspiration of his “Fiction Changed My Life” speech.

“It is a new kind of fiction for me, so it kind of made me look back at my whole career and assess different stages and what different fiction had been at different times in my career,” Raphael said.

Raphael also held a book signing after his speech where he was able to talk to attendees on a more personal level. His website, levraphael.com, has more information on all of his works.

The Rochester Writers will be holding a 2015 Winter Writing Contest where anyone can send in works of poetry, postcard fiction, flash fiction and first page works. Entry to the contest will begin Nov. 1 and the deadline is Feb. 28, 2015.

More information on the contest and upcoming Rochester Writers’ events can be found at their website, RochesterWriters.com.