Over the weekend, I managed to make several new friends. The speculative fiction table at the Thursday night workshop had a brilliant group writers gathered together. It was my job to act as “mentor” for the table, but these folks certainly didn’t need me to guide them. My thanks go out to the following people for making it so much fun: Dustin Thompson, Tamara Thompson, Christine Walter, and Sean.
Then there were the friends that I made during lunch and dinner. Matt Peterson, DeAnn Huff, Kathy Cowley, and Chanda Simper. What many of you may not know is that I’m a shy person and it is difficult for me to put out the energy to meet new people in a social setting. However, at this event lunchtime became an enjoyable opportunity to make new friends because everyone was so kind and approachable.
Last year I attended the ANWA gala and left early. Not because it was boring or the people made fun of me, but because that sort of environment is my kryptonite. Lots of people I don’t know, in costumes that I do a horrible job of guessing correctly, and having conversations that I hesitate to interrupt. Also, all of the background noise makes it difficult for me to hear what people are saying and I feel stupid when I’m not sure how to respond. But this year the friends I mentioned above made the event enjoyable for me. That includes the part where I didn’t recognize Kathy Cowley and she totally dismissed my gaff as inconsequential. Thanks, Kathy.
The wonderful Janette Rallison introduced me to Brad McBride and my life is already better for it because of a discussion we had while waiting in line for dinner. Then there are the wonderful ladies who were an integral part of the conference who we all get to meet and know better as they do their job; Nan Marie Swapp, Deb Eaton, Bonnie Harris, Melinda Sanchez, Kari Pike, Lisa Crandall, and Nikki Wilson.
Before any of you have a chance to accuse me of name-dropping because I know all of these super cool writers, let me say that I had fun presenting the classes I presented and learned helpful tips on how to improve my craft in the classes I attended. More importantly though, the conference as a whole put together several pieces of a puzzle that has given me direction in my writing career. The keynote speech from Jeff Savage, my lunch conversation with Chanda Simper, and a combination of what Brad McBride taught in his class and the subsequent discussion I had with him about it all came together in a powerful way.
My thanks go out to everyone I mentioned. In one way or another you have helped me along my path as a writer. And for those of you who didn’t attend the Time Out For Writers event—I hope to see you there next year.