The Santa Barbara Writers Conference (SBWC) should be in full tilt by now, after their opening party. I went to the conference for 14 years and loved it like I loved my favorite pet.
The first time I went, I had just gone to an advance writing class at UCLA, given by Phyllis Gebauer. I panicked during a 10-minute assignment to write a scene. The only thing going through my brain was white noise. I was sure I didn’t belong there. Later in the class, Phyllis picked several first three pages of our novels to read to the class, as examples of good or bad openings. The last one read was mine. I almost died when I heard the words I had written. When Phyllis finished reading, she held the pages up high and said, ‘Now that’s how you start a novel!
You can’t imagine the relief and pride I felt. I was an actual writer!
Phyllis told the class about SBWC and I decided then and there that I would go. It was a conference whose workshop leaders were published themselves, famous authors were going to attend and it was for aspiring writers and accomplished, published writers.
After Phyllis’ class I went out and made a business card that said, Lucy Llewellyn Byard, writer. I announced it!
Over the 14 years of attending SBWC, I fell in love a gazillion times – one was with Elmore ‘Dutch’ Leonard, who sat with me for 40 minutes and told me why he liked the opening chapter for my book. We wrote back and forth a couple of times and I just adored him.
Charles ‘Chuck’ Champlin, the fabulous interviewer and film critic, who spent lots of time with me, telling me stories of the Hollywood famous. We went to lunch together in Los Angeles and had a nice slow lunch and then he announced he had to go meet Greg – as in Gregory Peck. I so wanted to go with him!
Ray Bradbury – what’s not to love about Ray? He sent me a fax once congratulating me on getting an article published and signed it ‘Mad Love!’ He inspired me with his talks, his enthusiasm and his being. I called him The Cosmic Cheerleader. I miss him lots and lots of Mad Love!
This is the only photo I could find from one of the SBWCs.
Walter Halsey Davis, the Emmy-award winning screen writer
and my dearest friend on the right and Peter Clarke, a great
writer and funny, funny guy, who photo-bombed the picture of Walter and me!
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