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Where aspiring writers go to learn the ropes

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The telephone on a book reviewer's desk rings frequently with calls from beginning authors who have questions like this one: ''I've written a children's book, and I want to find out how I can get it published?''

How to get published is apparently the question being asked by hundreds of writers these days. And many are turning to the numerous writers conferences being held throughout the United States to find out. (Literary Market Place: Directory of American Book Publishing, published annually by R.R. Bowker in New York, currently lists 41 such conferences.)

Writing conferences are conducted throughout the year, but in the summer they burst forth like wildflowers, and people often combine learning and vacation to attend. Some of the sessions are sponsored by colleges. Others are sponsored by independent writers organizations such as the national Society of Children's Book Writers and the local writer-organizers of the Cape Cod Writers' Conference.

Colleges may offer credits for those who complete requirements during or even after the conference, but many of the people who come want guidance and training , not credit.

Of course, writing conferences aren't all that new, but the sudden increase in the number is. The Bread Loaf Writer's Conference held at Vermont's Middlebury College is in its 57th year. The Chautauqua (N.Y.) Writers' Workshop is in its 36th year; the Cape Cod Writers' Conference in Craigville, Mass., held its 20th session Aug. 22-27. Simmons College, in Boston, recently hosted the 6 th annual New England Writers' Conference (previously called the Eastern Writers' Conference and held in Salem, Mass.). The University of California at San Diego held its second conference in July.

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