Alice Hoff­man

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will bring a few hun­dred par­tic­i­pants.

DeMarchi, how­ever, has been care­ful to in­vite only “those who are pas­sion­ate about teach­ing writ­ing,” he says. To head­line the con­fer­ence and tease in­ter­est, he’ll in­clude best-sell­ing Florida writer Sue Monk Kidd, for in­stance, last year’s key­note whose novel The Se­cret

Life of Bees has been im­mensely suc­cess­ful. Writer Alice Hoff­man is this year’s fea­tured speaker. Her novel The

Rules of Magic is re­leased this fall. But those of us at­tend­ing the Sanibel Is­land Writ­ers Con­fer­ence also want in­sider tips and in­struc­tion, mostly from a trusted core that DeMarchi has long in­vited. For ex­am­ple, he says, “Lynne Bar­rett’s [plot work­shop] is al­ways packed and peo­ple al­ways say it’s one of the high­lights, if not the high­light, of the con­fer­ence.

“Steve Al­mond is in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar and very funny, in­cred­i­bly charis­matic and smart, and no mat­ter what topic he talks about, peo­ple rave about it every year; he can talk about cre­at­ing char­ac­ters, de­vel­op­ing nar­ra­tives, writ­ing sex scenes, or all kinds of stuff … and it’s al­ways pop­u­lar.”

Other head­lin­ers will in­clude the song­writer Dan Bern. His work­shops are a “com­pletely par­tic­i­pa­tory ex­pe­ri­ence,” DeMarchi says, “where ev­ery­one is singing to­gether at the end. He’s a guy I had to chase down and kind of beg to come to the con­fer­ence.”

From mu­si­cians to comedic writ­ers, DeMarchi con­tin­ues to add to the list of ex­tra­or­di­nary tal­ent in­vited to the Sanibel Is­land Writ­ers Con­fer­ence. Es­say­ist and best-sell­ing writer Sloane Crosley, for ex­am­ple, “is some­one who worked in pub­lish­ing as a pub­li­cist or an editor for a while, but she was also writ­ing while she was work­ing in the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try, and she was pub­lish­ing all these es­says that were hi­lar­i­ous and smart.”

Crosley, a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to such pub­li­ca­tions as Esquire, The New York Times and Van­ity Fair, will make a first ap­pear­ance in Novem­ber, her work­shop on writ­ing es­says.

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