Whither the Hawaii Writers Conference 2010?

20 May

So does ANYONE know what’s up with the 2010 Hawaii Writer’s Conference (formerly the Maui Writers Conference). I’ve been squirreling away at my novel, with the intent to have it ready to present to agents in time for this year’s conference. I’ve always wanted to go and now have enough frequent flier miles under my belt for a free ticket to Hawaii.

The conference is supposed to be held September 3rd through 6th, but the website’s certificate has expired, there’s no information on the conference and a Google and Twitter search found zilch, zip, nada. What’s up?

The Conference Facebook Page has had zero postings since the 2009 conference and the only thing I could find was a posting by president John Tullius stating that Norah Jones pulled out of a concert for last year’s event and kept the $50,000 deposit that the HWC had to pay to her agents at CAA. As a non profit this may have been the death knell for the HWC, but I can find no information anywhere.

Anyone have any clue as to what’s going on? I was so looking forward to attending but I fear that it’s not happening this year. What is odd, though, is that such a huge conference (not to mention their retreat) should have zero press on what is going on with them. I guess I could put in a phone call, but I fear I’ll just get a voice recording and I’m not yet ready to have my conference dream shattered.

Anyone up for some investigative sleuthing?


23 Responses to “Whither the Hawaii Writers Conference 2010?”

  1. Brian May 20, 2010 at +00:00ThuUTC #

    It appears to be defunct. I had prepaid for the 2010 conference and just a few days ago received a letter from the Honolulu law firm of Kessner Umebayashi Bain & Matsunaga, saying that “The directors of the Hawaii Writer’s Foundation regret that recent events and changes in the economy have forced them to make the unwelcome decision to terminate HWF and cancel both the Retreat and Conference scheduled for August 2010.” The letter does leave the door opened for possible refunds if “funds become available in the future.” Apparently the Nora Jones cancellation last year, and subsequent refusal to refund some $50K in deposit monies, is the main factor in the demise of the conference. Oh well!

    • bronte13 May 21, 2010 at +00:00FriUTC #

      Thanks so much for the heads up on this. How sad. It makes my blood boil when a non-profit works so hard – particularly in the arts, which are too often overlooked – only to be forced out of business by a huge conglomerate like CAA. Heartbreaking. I hope you get your money back. Time to look for another conference.

  2. Jenn, aka JeSais May 25, 2010 at +00:00TueUTC #

    I had dreamed of one day doing the Hawaii conference… very disappointing. I can recommend the Taos Summer Writers Conference in July. It’s sponsored by the University of New Mexico. I’ve attended twice as a paying attendee, and once as a graduate student intern– and will be an intern again this year.

    They have a fantastic faculty, including Pam Houston, and this year Dorothy Allison (both full for this year). Looks like the master class for fiction with John Dufresne is also full… but keep your eye on it for next year.

    • bronte13 May 25, 2010 at +00:00TueUTC #

      Thanks so much. Will definitely look into it.

      • Terry Rodgers June 9, 2010 at +00:00WedUTC #

        The NYC Thrillerfest (early July) has over 40 agents and another 40 plus authors. Many best selling authors like Steve Berry, Clive Cussler, Stephen Coots, William Bernhardt, Heather Graham, Kathleen Antrim, David Morrel, Douglas Preston. The list is endless. A Lot of craft workshops.

  3. Penny Weigel June 24, 2010 at +00:00ThuUTC #

    Aloha – you have Nora Jones to thank for ruining the Writers Conference for all of us. She cancelled last minute last year- for the Gala dinner. The dinner is to raise funds for the following year. As far as I know – she did not have an accpetable reason and did not return the deposit they paid her in advance. I vote we all boycott her music. It was an amazing experience and am sad that there wil not be a conference this year unless someone cares to sponsor it for one year to get it started again. I discovered Makana there – what an amazing musician – and also met an amazing agent who I hope to touch base with again soon.

  4. jacqui pirl July 1, 2010 at +00:00ThuUTC #

    So sad! It was such a great conference, but I wouldn’t blame Nora Jones. There is quite a bit more to the story. For the public scoop see Lee Cataluna’s brief article.


    • Aloha Gal July 23, 2010 at +00:00FriUTC #

      There’s a lot of blame to go around. The HWC initially advertised the tickets to Nora Jones’s show at $500 each, including dinner. As expected, there weren’t many takers. They then offered a cheaper rate, without the dinner but it was still too expensive for most. By the time they offered a reasonable cost for the concert, it was too late. So, they had to cancel. I can’t blame Nora Jones for keeping the money but it would have been nice of her to return it, considering the HWC was a non-profit. They aimed for the skies but fell into the ocean. It’s a shame.

      • bronte13 July 25, 2010 at +00:00SunUTC #

        I agree, Aloha Gal. Truly sad. Hope they manage to somehow get up and running again. I need a good excuse to go to Hawaii!

    • bronte13 July 25, 2010 at +00:00SunUTC #

      Thanks Jacqui. This really, truly, sucks.

  5. Christine Carr July 6, 2010 at +00:00TueUTC #

    I went to this conference in both 2005 and 2006. Both were wonderful experiences. I’ve stayed connected with my Maui writer friends, who I continue to go back and visit.
    Did anyone go to the conference after it moved to Honolulu? It unfortunate that Norah Jones pulled out, but a nonprofit should never be so dependent on a single event for its survival.

    • bronte13 July 25, 2010 at +00:00SunUTC #

      Such a shame. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hope it comes back eventually.

  6. Annette Leslie Williams August 1, 2010 at +00:00SunUTC #

    So if you/we know about Nora Jones causing this financial meltdown, then why hasn’t anyone publicized this so that she will get some bad pr until she returns the funds? Where can we get confirmation of exactly what happens so that, in our pursuit of justice and a refund of funds, no one gets hit with a lawsuit (i.e., defamation of character, libel, etc.)?

    • bronte13 August 4, 2010 at +00:00WedUTC #

      Hi Annette,

      I’m only going on what posters here have written. I’m not sure exactly who is at fault here but someone actually in Hawaii would probably be your best bet.

    • Aloha Gal August 4, 2010 at +00:00WedUTC #

      Try writing to Lee Cataluna at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser – lcataluna@staradvertiser.com. She wrote the article above and might know more. As I said in my post above, there is plenty of blame to go around. Nora Jones should not be the only scapegoat. The contract HWC signed with her called for her to keep $50,000 if the concert was canceled. Why should she return the money if the HWC was too greedy with their ticket prices and sales were low? She could have accepted another engagement for that day and time.

      • bronte13 August 4, 2010 at +00:00WedUTC #


  7. john smith October 11, 2010 at +00:00MonUTC #

    Norah Jones should be boycotted. She is rich and should have returned the money. It is evil to turn her back to all her fans. I hope she goes bankrupt one day. What would her dad say about it? Ravi Shankar should be very dissappointed how his daughter has taken peoples money from writers conference.

  8. UV Paint December 3, 2010 at +00:00FriUTC #

    last time, i joined a writing contests on the internet and i won a small price for writing a nice piece of writing ‘~~

  9. Carolyn January 22, 2011 at +00:00SatUTC #

    I don’t think anyone can blame Norah Jones. The organizers were stupid to sign such a contract. I was at that conferences and there was no interest in going to that concert. As writers, we went to the conference because we wanted to share our writing, learn about writing, and possibly selling some of our works. I don’t know why they booked Norah Jones in the first place…perhaps they should have spoken with previous attendees to get a feel for any interest (or lake of interest) in an overpriced Norah Jones performance. I’m very sad that the conference won’t be happening this year but I think it is due to poor management, not Norah Jones.

    • Florence Fetil November 21, 2011 at +00:00MonUTC #

      I went to the Maui Wrtier’s Conference for years, and there was nothing, seriously nothing anywhere that could come close. The combination of the island, the location, the peace and the feeling of really being able to leave everything behind- as well as the best teachers anywhere- made it superb. When it moved to Honolulu, I attended once. Once only. What a disappointment. The layout of the conference rooms, the utterly awful traffic and noise and feel that I may just as well be back home, for all the static around me, left me feeling they had made a big mistake. I think somewhere the organizers made some mistakes in judgment, and this sounds like another one.

  10. Mark December 21, 2011 at +00:00WedUTC #


    I just moved to Oahu and was trying to find out if there are any Writer’s Conferences… thanks for your original post, and what a shame this all happened….

    Best of luck in all your writing projects.

  11. Vicki Draeger June 5, 2012 at +00:00TueUTC #

    A Native Hawaiian non-profit is launching a national writers conference (The Aloha Writers Conference) January 18-21, 2013. Check out the website at http://www.alohawritersconference.com. Some great authors like Luanne Rice, John Lescroart, and Kaui Hemmings of The Descendants. Also Diane Lake so screenwriting too, AND poetry. They also have Hawaiian poets and practitioners. Great line-up. And at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, where the first Maui Writers Conference got its start.

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