Bay to Ocean Writers Conference

Bay to Ocean – Another Successful Conference

Anny Williams BTO 2014

This is Anny Williams, BTO’s Official Greeter, and the first smiling face people see when they walk in the door of the Kent Building at Chesapeake College.

Last Saturday’s Bay to Ocean Writers Conference (a function of Eastern Shore Writers Association) enjoyed sunny weather in the low 50’s. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. We used to have the conference earlier in February, and weather was always a threat although in seventeen years we have never had to cancel. The BTO Weather Committee has job security.

A couple of years ago we moved the conference date to a Saturday after President’s Day weekend and that has given us a little weather breathing room. This year’s bizarre weather gave us some anxiety, but it was all good. Next year’s conference will be Saturday, February 28, 2015. We could have a snow or ice storm that late, but it’s unlikely. (I did this draft on Sunday. Now it’s snowing again and another storm is predicted for early next week. Go figure…)

We stuffed the conference tote bags the Wednesday before the conference. Fourteen people marched around and around the conference table at East Coast Flight Services (Laura’s business), where items for the bags were laid out. We had the bags stuffed, boxed and into people’s cars in an hour – a new record. A couple of times we stuffed the bags the morning of the conference at the college. That was just too stressful; people were arriving and we were still stuffing.

bags at BTO 2014

This year we were given items by CareFirst for the bags. We didn’t have quite enough for all 250 bags so I took one early. I wanted that little pink pig hand exerciser.

BTO pig

I love seeing the presenters as they arrive. As Speaker Liaison for the conference, I have been communicating with them for months. Some of our speakers are invited every year as they fill their rooms and get stellar marks from the attendees. I get to know them personally behind the scenes and it’s the part of the job I like best…keeping track of who has a new job, a promotion, a new child or grandchild, who has a new book, etc. These are incredibly generous people who share their time and talents with our attendees. Trust me; they aren’t doing it for the honorarium.

Again this year there were sessions I wanted to attend, but I didn’t even stick my nose into any of the rooms. Laura and I vegged at the check-in table. I’d been up since 4:30. I think she got up at 5. We were at the college by 6:30 and a couple of people beat us there. Check-in started at 7:30 and we were ready.

Mala day of conference

That’s me on the left with Anny and Laura is in the background. That fabulous “scarf” is a knitted and felted piece Laura found for me in Arizona. Georgeous morning glories. It’s really a work of art, and I got compliments all day long.

There were a few hiccups. A college person (who hadn’t been brought into the loop by the college) told Bonnie Feldstein (in charge of the Manuscript Reviews) that two of the rooms we had been told we could use were now off limits. Bonnie really had to scurry and it was a very stressful day for her. We are promised by the college’s Event Coordinator that that will never happen again. We might have tried to override the college guy who was throwing his weight around, but he was also one of the tech people there to help any presenters who had problems. We couldn’t piss him off, so Bonnie was the one who fell on her sword.

We have a post-conference lunch/2015 planning meeting on March 22. We had so many volunteers this year we’ve moved the venue to the Common Room at Third Haven Meeting House. We’ll bring in box lunches from Panera and pat ourselves on the back for pulling off another successful writing conference, before we get down to work and start planning for 2015.

Bay to Ocean Writers Conference 2014

The Bay to Ocean Writers Conference (BTO) will hold its 17th annual conference on February 22, 2014. The process takes a dedicated group of volunteers and Laura and I have been involved for many years. It’s one of the ways we give back to the writing community on the Delmarva Peninsula. Here’s a sneak peak of the cover of this year’s program.

BTO 2014 Cover

We have filled many roles at BTO although Laura’s have been more in the design arena than mine. We have both been involved in planning, coordinating, contacting faculty, sourcing hand-outs, stuffing tote bags, being at the facility at 6:30 in the morning to get ready for the eager attendees, and putting our brush fires during the day. We put up signs and colored tape on the hallway floors so people will know where to go. We always think we are going to attend some of the terrific sessions, but usually too tired. By the time the conference actually starts we’ve been up since 4:30 a.m. and are wrecked.

Laura designs the BTO program and coordinates the design with the tote bag. Tote bags are ordered months in advance and usually from close-out stock. We’ve had some really great totes over the years since Laura has been in charge of them. The cover of the program this year is a digitally altered photograph by Coleman Sellers VI.

In its seventeen year history, the conference has been held in several locations. The first conferences were sponsored by the Friends of Easton’s Library and were held in the Tidewater and the Avalon Theatre. Now the event is sponsored by the Eastern Shore Writers Association and held at the Chesapeake College which is a wonderful venue. All the classrooms are well equipped with all the digital equipment any presenter could want. It makes it easy for us to attract an excellent faculty. This year we again sold out a month before the conference and have a waiting list. For the fee, this one day conference is an incredible bargain. (Photo below is from a previous year. We are hoping for another no snow photo this year.)


One of our volunteers is Anny Williams. Anny is not a writer; she describes herself as an appreciator of writers. She also bakes cookies for our meetings. We love Anny! The first year Anny was involved in BTO she came wearing a bright yellow sweater and yellow gloves. She told us people like to be welcomed to an event, so she stood outside in the cold and greeted people as they came into the building. If somebody looked like they didn’t know where they were going she corralled them with a shout, “Are you looking for BTO?” Anny is now the Official Greeter of BTO, the first smiling face people see, and her yellow sweater and gloves are her trademark.

Laura and I are always glad when BTO is over, but the lull is brief. We’ll start planning for BTO 2015 in March.

Santa Diaries’ Playbook

We thought you might be interested in seeing what a revision page of the movie script we’re working on looks like. Maybe it somehow made its way into the Denver Bronco’s playbook and resulted in their spectacular defeat.

script notations

Figuring out how to make your work better is the hard part of writing…and football.