A Rainy Conference

I had intended on posting from the conference this weekend, but as it turned out I couldn’t get on the internet at my hotel. One of the nice surprises of the experience was that the university put me up in a nearby hotel for Friday and Saturday nights. I would have been willing to drive home and back, but it was nice that I didn’t have to!

On Friday I gave up on finding the one pair of shoes that I can kind of pretend are “dressy” and threw my ten-year-old clogs in the car instead before heading off to the conference in pouring rain. By then I knew I could barely make it in time for the afternoon classes.

I was sorry to be in such a rush, because when I huffed and puffed up the hill in the rain to register, the student who took care of me was a girl I know! We used to go to church with her family and she and Mercy were good friends, so it would have been fun to catch up with her. Instead I had to turn around and dash through the rain to another building. Well, “dash” might be exaggerating a little bit.

At any rate, I made it to the classroom for the workshop, only to find that I was the first and only student! The class was about how to take your book (or any book) and condense the plot into a two-sentence summary. This is a hard thing to do, and it’s much harder if the plot is complex. After about 15 minutes another student arrived, and a third one joined us for the second hour. We all agreed to forgo the scheduled break so we could get out earlier and have more time to prepare for the banquet.

I had a little less than an hour to drive to my hotel, check in, and change for dinner. The hotel was farther away than I thought, so by the time I checked in and lugged my suitcase up the stairs, I had all of ten minutes to change clothes and head back out again. Despite my efforts, I was still a few minutes late to the dinner.

I sat with a table full of complete strangers, several of whom were graduates of East Texas Baptist University, which is also where Lina went. My teacher from the afternoon provided entertainment in the form of a chalk drawing, and there was also a gospel singer. Unfortunately I was not able to stay for the keynote address, which I’m sure was excellent. By then my back and knees were hurting so much I knew I needed to leave while I could still walk!

Back at the hotel, I made tea and turned on the TV, which is something I rarely do even when I have access to TV, because it really gets on my nerves. However, on this occasion what came on was an interview about Scientology, and since religion is one aspect of world building in speculative fiction, I watched it with great interest.

After a very fitful night of sleep, I was up early and getting ready for the day. The hotel’s breakfast was not very helpful for a gluten-free diabetic, but I did get a banana. Then I happily left for the conference but forgot to take my insulin. No time to turn back.

I dropped some copies of my book off at the bookstore (where once again, not a single copy sold) and then had a rather awkward meeting with one of my table mates from the night before. Somehow we were scheduled to meet with each other, even though neither one of us had requested it!

Then it was off to my first class of the day, which was all about pet peeves of agents and editors. Almost all of the pet peeves boiled down to one thing: failing to read the submission guidelines. At least my conscience is clear on that one.

The second class was on how to impress an editor, and had some good information. I had to leave early so I could bolt right into the classroom where I’d be teaching the next period. The class before mine went a little late, so I had no “lead time” at all to figure out how to get my PowerPoint presentation up on the screen. Fortunately, it was simple enough that even I could figure it out!

I had been praying hard that I would have at least two students in each of my classes. I hated for someone to be there alone and for me to have only one person to stare at! So you can imagine my delight when I ended up having 4 students. I had so much information and we really had to gallop through it, but they really seemed to be engaged with the material and afterwards they all thanked me–and in fact I specifically was complimented on my PowerPoint!

Instead of eating in the college cafeteria, as I had intended, I had to go back to my hotel to take my insulin, so I stopped at got some fast food on the way and had lunch in my room before heading back to teach my second class. This time I was in a different room, a computer lab up in the peak of the four-story building. Once again, I prayed for at least two students and this time I had three. I felt very intimidated, though, when I found out one of the students was a multi-published science fiction and fantasy author. I reminded him that this was a class for beginners, and he insisted on staying. Then I was kind of sorry I had asked!

As a result, I felt a lot more pressure during this second class than I had the first time. I was so worried I’d say something the expert disagreed with! He was very polite and considerate, however. When the class ended, I heaved a huge sigh of relief and headed downstairs to attend my final class of the conference–on advanced poetic techniques.  I wrote a full report on that class over on my writer’s blog, so if you’re interested, look for it here.

It was a wonderful conference and I felt that both of my classes went well. I would love to have a chance to teach again next year.

After packing my stuff into the car, I headed for the hotel. Spencer dropped off Walter a few minutes later so we could have a mini-getaway. Why waste a free hotel room? We went out to eat and had a wonderful meal. This morning we slept in really late and I was so thankful for the extra hour from the time change. The last couple of weeks have been so stressful for us both and I think we really needed the extra sleep.

After checking out, we drove to our own town and then stopped for brunch. It was raining again. We had a really fun and amusing waiter which made our meal more enjoyable. Then it was a short drive home in the rain and a welcome from Lucy. It is good to be home.



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