“Leave sunscreen fingerprints on your manuscript pages. Analyze the telling detail with sand in your ears. The story ‘actually starts’ on page three? Nope. The story actually starts on 30A.” – Snowden Wright, author of American Pop and Play Pretty Blues

The time has come to spill the beans on one of 30A’s best-kept secrets. And to all you creative writers out there – aspiring or otherwise – this one’s for you. 

Since 2013, the Longleaf Writers Conference (formerly Seaside Writers Conference) has been the ultimate creative gateway to the Gulf Coast, bringing together nationally recognized and award-winning authors, emerging talent, and book lovers of all kinds.

Established “by writers for writers,” the conference takes place every year in the second week of May and offers the opportunity for beginners, intermediate, and advanced writers to celebrate writing, network with fellow writers, and hone their craft. 

And with a full week of intensive writing workshops and seminars, school outreach programs, readings, bonfires, shrimp boils, 30A sunsets and more, what better way to do so?

Ask any past attendee and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you that Longleaf is the perfect balance of laidback fun, ravenous learning, and boundless inspiration. As for the folks behind it, including directors Seth Tucker and Matt Bondurant, it’s their favorite labor of love. 

“We started the Longleaf Writers Conference in May 2013 with four core principles,” said Tucker and Bondurant. “To bring to the Gulf Coast a unique opportunity for writers of all backgrounds to meet and learn and grow alongside contemporary literary masters of genre and form. To not only provide financial aid for emerging writers, veterans and under-represented writers but to be a springboard for their careers. To create an outreach program that sends those fellows and scholars to local underserved schools in order to expose students to the value of literature and writing. And to make this conference an exemplum of what a small conference should look like by creating a community of writers and poets without any sense of hierarchy or professional competition.”

At the heart of the conference is their “Writers in the Classrooms” outreach program. Each year they bring young published authors into underserved local schools for a series of workshops and discussions about writing and creativity to help foster early exposure to the arts. As the conference grows, they hope to expand their efforts to spread literacy and creative practices to more underserved schools throughout the Florida Panhandle area.

In the meantime, they couldn’t do it without the help of local support, including that of this year’s sponsors Sundog Books, Cultural Arts Alliance, Grayton Seafood, Black Bear, Chiringo, Big Wheel Pizza, Distillery 98, Grayton Beer, Bud & Alley’s, Macho Taco and more.   

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