I have come to the lobby of the Hilton Hawaiian Village to reflect on the first day of the Spellbinders Conference in Hawaii.

Gary Braver.

For me, it began with Gary Braver’s presentation on writing genre fiction, a truly excellent one. I had wanted to attend his presentation at the final Hawaii Writers’ Conference, but it filled quickly and this Boston-based college professor and author shared much useful information.
That was followed by a panel with Jon Land (author of the Caitlin Strong series), the author of the Batman graphic novels (I’m down here without my program, so forgive me for being vague), F. Paul Wilson and Gary Braver, again. This was truly a good panel.

Jon Land,author of the Caitlin Strong novel series.





Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of “The Descendants.”

The young woman you see being interviewed during the lunch break (lunch was great!) hit the jackpot with her very first novel, which was made into the film “The Descendants,” starring George Clooney. Kaui Hart Hemmings is currently working on a novel set in Breckenridge, Colorado.
The lunch program said that Tia Carrere was to be interviewed during that period of time. Instead, here is James Strauss interviewing a movie director. Nobody at my table caught the movie director’s name, but that’s immaterial and secondary to the fact that he definitely is not Tia Carrere.


Author Jane Smiley, winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for her Novel “1,000 Acres” and me at lunch in Honolulu at Spellbinders Conference.

My lunch table included Jane Smiley and Jack Canning, who met when he was contacted to do some work at her house in Carmel. At the time, Ms. Smiley was going through a divorce. Enter Jack. Later, I attended her panel discussion and she shared some passages from her book “13 Ways of Looking at the Novel” in which she read bezillion great works of literature and analyzed them for such things as, “How much of the novel is taken up by exposition?” (A:  10%). “At what point should the denouement begin?” (A:  90% of the way in.) It was a very interesting and informative panel, and I was glad I was an English major in college, with PhDconcentration, or you could definitely be left in the dust very quickly.

After lunch, the panel on which I presented–all of us basically the “lesser lights.” (It was not well attended)

“Women Who Can Do It All” panel in Hawaii at the Spellbinders Writers’ Conference.






After Ms. Smileys panel, F. Paul Wilson spoke about characterization and point-of-view in genre writing. Author of the Repairman Jack novels, after 15 years of writing the series, he is ending it. I gave him a copy of “Hellfire & Damnation II,” but I fear he will find it lacking. From what comments he made, he is an exacting taskmaster and will be pickiest on those things I do most poorly. Nevertheless, he is in possession of a copy of my newest short story collection, and perhaps he will take pity on a rookie like me. Although I wrote 3 volumes of “Ghostly Tales of Route 66,” they were works for hire and I had little leeway in including language not

F. Paul Wilson.

suitable for a 10-year-old. Plus, I had to lay out the book, which is asking for trouble. Nevertheless, I drove the route in 10 days, wrote each 18,000 page book in a week, and did the best I could under the most adverse circumstances.  “Hellfire & Damnation,” the original short story collection, was damaged by an unscrupulous sort who stole 3 of my short stories at the moment of truth, putting them in his own collection without any permission to do so. I had to quickly run in some of the “G-rated” ghost stories, and the collection suffered. “Hellfire & Damnation II” is a better collection, plus it has pictures, although I do admit to liking a few of the original collection’s stories, such as “Confessions of an Apotemnophile.” (Apparently, the Berkeley Fiction Review liked that one, too.)
Next came the luau, which was quite festive. The fire baton twirler deserves kudos. The drinks for the event, however, were outrageous, at $6.50 for 2 Diet Cokes and $22 for one white wine (in a plastic cup) and one beer. It did not appear that the bartender was doing much business, as a result. A light sprinkling of moisture ended the night for most of us, with another full day tomorrow.
It is also the celebration of the Queen’s birthday and Iolani Palace will be open.

The luau crowd watches in amazement.

You can never have enough pictures of a fire dancer.

Fire dancer at Spellbinders’ luau.

What else—? Hula dancers at the luau.