On Friday afternoon, I picked up Nancy Pickard from the train station in Kirkwood. Oh, gosh, she’s just the loveliest, sweetest woman. Interested in everything. Smart and thoughtful. We ate a fabulous lunch at the William D. Alandale Brewing Co., 105 East Jefferson Avenue, Kirkwood (314-966-2739). I’m including ALL that contact information because if you’re ever in St. Louis, you’ll want to stop in and order their fabulous fish and chips. Nancy and I savored every bite.
My pal, Linda Hengerer, came up from Florida to attend. She, Nancy, my husband David, my son Michael, and I had dinner at my house. Then I drove Nancy to her hotel--after she signed a copy of her The Virgin of Small Plains for Michael. (He was thrilled.)
The next morning, folks started to stream in. Chesterfield Arts co-sponsored the event—and to our great joy, a lot of new faces were in the crowd along with our regular chapter members. Judy and the wonderful Alexandra Hull worked registration. Our chapter president Michelle Becker opened the event. Our own Eleanor Sullivan introduced the guest speakers.
Todd Stone began the conference with his Novelist’s Boot Camp, after the book of the same name. As usual, he kicked butt in the best possible way! His down-to-earth, nitty-gritty, honest and workable ideas had our group totally psyched. In fact, attendees complained of being SOOOO revved up, they could hardly sit still for wanting to get cracking on their writing!
Nancy Pickard took over in the afternoon. She taught more solid skills—picking up where Todd left off. She shared her fantastic CASTS system which made The Virgin of Small Plains such a fabulous book. Her gentle and honest advice about the ups-and-downs of writing gave people permission to move ahead with their dreams.
Vicki Erwin of Main Street Books of St. Charles (MO), and her pal Janet Heyer, sold books. After meeting Todd and Nancy, folks clamored to have autographed copies of their work. (Part of the $75 admission price was a copy of Todd’s Novelist’s Boot Camp and Nancy’s Seven Steps on a Writer’s Path. Oh, and breakfast, snacks and lunch.)
We took a break for dinner—that’s a photo of me with a mouth full as usual!--and returned to discuss How to Get Published. Judy moderated Donna, Nancy, Todd, Vicki and me. As a group we covered all the bases having written books for micro, major and medium-sized publishers; self published; written “for hire” or contract work; won a contest to be published; and authored e-books.
Certain scenes from this weekend will be forever part of my memory:
· Nancy’s train pulling into the station. (I love trains.)
· Nancy lifting my rescue dog onto her lap and lovingly cuddling him.
· Linda taking cookies out of my oven.
· Todd and his wife, Terri, giving me a Novelist’s Boot Camp tee-shirt.
· Todd answering, “What do you wear underneath your kilt?” with “Shoes and socks!”
· Attendees chatting, laughing, writing like crazy, and getting to know each other.
· Donna telling us about the writing contest she won.
· Judy cajoling folks into returning their lanyards.
I’m still really, really tired, but I loved this weekend. I feel like 50 people got the encouragement and skills they needed to move ahead with their careers. I’m blessed to know two super authors—Nancy and Todd—a little better. (Nancy gave me a new nickname: The Anomaly.) I found a new kindred spirit in Terri Stone. (You go, girl!) And I am ever more thankful for “my posse.”
And a Napoleonic Finish to the Weekend