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RF couple will lead seminars at Mexican writers' conference Feb. 16-22

The San Miguel Writers' Conference is one of the world's most appealing literary gatherings. Audiences are drawn by its well-chosen roster of writers, editors and publishers, not to mention the spectacular setting for the whole affair.

That's what John Berendt, author of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," had to say after he was on the faculty of that workshop a few years ago.

So Dave and Ruth Wood of River Falls were pleased when they were invited to join the faculty for this year's conference in the Mexican city, home to thousands of Americans.

"Ruth was an attendee last year, when prize-winning author Barbara Kingsolver was the conference's headliner," said Dave Wood. "At the conference we were invited to apply for spots on the faculty, so we did and they hired us.

"We're not headliners, of course. That falls to novelist Sandra Cisneros. But Ruth and I will be conducting seminars on editing and polishing."

Both the Woods have experience in that area.

Ruth, an author in her own right, recently retired after many years as editor of the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English Journal. She was also an English professor at UW-River Falls.

"As a teacher of English for forty years, Ruth has read more than her share of manuscripts," quipped her husband, Dave.

She has also edited several books by scholars, while she was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

Dave Wood served for many years as editor of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune book review section and was editor of the Quarterly Journal of the National Book Critics Circle for four years.

He has worked as a writing consultant to Dayton Hudson Corporation and several major American newspapers. He now writes two columns per week for the River Falls Journal and other upper Midwestern publications.

The San Miguel Conference features 37 speakers who are published writers and who will speak on diverse topics, like feature writing, memoir writing, poetry writing and travel writing.

Besides the Woods, another writer from the region will be on the program, Gary Gilson, former host of MPR's Almanac and longtime director of the Minnesota News Council.

There'll be hands-on sessions in which attendees can have their own works critiqued.

The Woods welcome Journal and Herald readers with an interest in writing to join in. Dates of the conference are Feb. 16-22.

There are several options available to attendees. For instance for $375 a subscriber could attend seven featured speaker sessions, six 90-minute workshops, an award-winning play, open-mike sessions, author readings, book signings, three lunches, three breakfasts, a Mexican fiesta and guided excursions of the town, of which author Tom Robbins said, "If Dante had had the San Miguel experience, he may have written more about heaven and less about hell."

For complete information, Google "San Miguel Writers' Conference."