Archive for August, 2011

According to Bilbo, you never know where the road migh take you.  My road last week took me to Muncie to a writers’ conference.  This was my second year attending so at least I knew my way there, except an accident caused me to miss my exit and take the long way around.  I got to see some small Indiana towns which look just as sleepy as small Ohio towns.

I pondered as I arrived why a motel across from Ball State University’s football stadium could be in such disrepair, but then I am a Buckeye.  The location of this particular motel would be considered prime proximity parking on fall Saturdays in Columbus.  I was checked in by the stereotypical Indian hotel manager, and dragged my bag upstairs (what are those ground floor rooms used for?  I’ve never seen the inside of one), to my room.  It reeked of cleaner and the ghosts of bedbugs past.  I launched the AC unit which sounded like a Saturn Five heading for the moon and tooled back down the main drag to have dinner at Panera.

By the way, I love Panera, I stop every Wednesday at 6:30 A.M. for coffee.  I’ve never been to a bad Panera–until now.  I played guess who is local versus conference attendees while I philosophized about how exactly does one get burnt globs of crunch stuck to the bottom of a sandwich which isn’t cooked?

Then it was back to the motel to do battle with the roaring AC unit until dawn.  I always think I’m going to do some fabulous writing alone in hotel rooms but I end up watching the same bad cable movies or the Weather Channel just like I would have at home.  I wondered why I hadn’t packed a Mich Ultra or two.

The next morning, I arrived early and watched people come in.  Actors have nothing on writers for the dramatic.  It is the Midwest, folks, but Aunt Bea prairie chic is not in even if you do write historicals about enterprising young widows that fight locusts, blizzards, and coyotes to save the homestead and eventually fall in love with the handsome, savage, yet educated son of Tecumseh.  (30 second pitch to the agent) I’d love to attend a conference in maybe New York where folks are really out there.  But even in the subdued Midwest, there was that mysterious bald man with the black eye patch.  He looked sort of like an evil Star Trek character and I wondered if he wrote thrillers or recited Shakespeare.

For those of you that have never been, at writers’ conferences the proper form of greeting (even before your name and where you’re from) is “What do you write?”

“Speculative fiction.”  They nod, some get that distant look of straining concentration (the same one my cat gets as he stands with his head out of the cat box door) as they work in their minds what that means.  Most decide it falls somewhere between a novel about Vegas gambling and slash.  “Science fiction and fantasy,”  I define the term.  The business cards come out.  (I learned last year that business cards were de rigour.)  I made mine up at Staples.com and have a whole slew of them.

This year my lesson is where’s your book?  It’s the age of self-publish and self-promotion, and I found everyone has a box of their books cooking like a meth lab in the trunk of their car, ready to be dealt like street drugs.

“Hey, man, want to buy a book?”

Read Full Post »