A HippoCamp Pre-Orientation Part 1

elane johnson and veronica parkHippoCamp 2016 is just around the corner! We’re looking forward to making lots of new friends at this year’s conference and also looking forward to seeing some familiar faces from last year’s inaugural event.

We reached out to some HippoCamp returnees who are eager to return for the 2016 edition. We were overwhelmed with their responses and we hope you will be just as enlivened by their comments as we were.

Consider this a HippoCamp Pre-Orientation by the fellow writers who helped us create such a wonderful environment last summer. Here are their comments about what HippoCamp 2015 meant to them, what they’re looking forward to most this year, and advice for conference newcomers.


Robin White

I have been looking forward to HippoCamp 2016 immensely.

I was thrilled to take part in HippoCamp’s debut in 2015. One aspect that I appreciated most was the conversation that buzzed around the tables of writers – it was energizing. I met both local and not-so-local writers and got to hear about their challenges, triumphs, and inspiration. I was pleased with the diversity of session offerings, which allowed me to customize my experience based on my interests.

As for HippoCamp 2016, I am beyond excited to get to hear Mary Karr. She is a huge influence in the genre of memoir, and The Liar’s Club has inspired and challenged me as a writer.

My best advice to attendees is to come well-rested and with a ready, open mind because you will encounter something that challenges you, exhilarates you, affirms you. It’s a whirlwind of a weekend but one that you will reflect on for months to come.


Lisa Cottrell

Last year was a fantastic experience! I originally heard about Hippocampus Magazine through a friend. I checked it out and learned about the conference via the website.

I was very intrigued at the idea of going to an inaugural conference–getting in on the “ground floor,” so to speak, and the fact that the conference was all geared toward memoir was a HUGE draw.

Donna and her crew put on such an amazing conference that I would never have guessed it was a first; there was nothing “ground floor” about it. I enjoyed every moment. The programming was diverse enough but not overwhelming, the overall venue was fun and interesting, facilities were top notch, and the food and drinks were superb!

I made friends that I’ve seen since and kept in touch with, and I value the friendships and connections that I made with people at the magazine and related to last year’s conference. I’m happy to say that I started teaching memoir classes to adults this year, and now two of my students are attending HippoCamp this year on my recommendation.

What I’m looking forward to most is the camaraderie among those of us who attended last year and joining together to welcome all the new folks this year. In its first year, HippoCamp was a jovial, welcoming, supportive environment and I know it’s only going to get better!

I would suggest to first-timers to go to as much of the conference as they can and talk to as many people as they can–make connections and enjoy sharing stories and learning from one another.


Elane Johnson

The day that HippoCamp ’15 ended, my husband and I, all sated and fat from the intellectual and emotional feast of being surrounded by a bunch of other folks who spend a lot of time isolated in their own heads, gaped at each other and said, “When’s the next one?!”

From the workshops, panels and speakers to the mashed potato martinis and shoo-fly pie to the comfortable, convenient venue, the inaugural HippoCamp exploded my notion of writers’ conferences; I’d experienced the bloated, impersonal kind. Bleh. But, HC – so incredibly well planned by the indefatigable Donna Talarico-Beerman – felt like family. I met writers who continue to inspire me because HC made us lifelong friends, and I was lucky enough to find the Earth’s best agent, Veronica Park, at the Agents and Editors Panel. HC ’15 ranks as one of the best weekends of my life, and I’ve had five honeymoons, so. Yeah.

This year, I’m most excited to see my fellow H.Campers again (squeeeeeee) and to laugh and cry at the Open Mic and to pick myself up after the genius Keynote and Closing speakers floor me again with their brilliance. Tip for ensuring this is the best writers’ conference you’ll ever attend: Go to as many events as possible, especially Open Mic and all other networking opportunities. Hippocamp ’16 cannot get here soon enough!


Excited about HippoCamp 2016? Whether you’re a seasoned HippoCamp’er or you’re attending for the first time, we want to hear from you! Connect with us on social media using the hashtag #hippocamp2016.

Most importantly, register today to join us at HippoCamp 2016. The conference is just days away, so don’t wait any longer!