Sometimes you feel like a rock star. Last weekend in Montana was my turn.
Thanks to the lobbying efforts of a former student—writing instructor and novelist Dennis Foley—I was invited to speak at the Flathead River Writers Conference (FRWC) in Kalispell, near Glacier National Park.
This was the first time I’d been paid to attend a conference, rather than just having part of my registration fee comped. I was flown in, fed, given my own hotel room, and gifted with treats.
It was non-stop fun the whole weekend.
Shortly after arriving, I was joined by literary agent Paige Wheeler and novelist William (Bill) Haywood Henderson, and we were whisked away for a trip up the Going-to-the-Sun Road that leads to the top of Logan Pass in Glacier.
The views were fabulous, though the top of the mountain was bitterly cold and windy. The three of us bonded over scary drop-offs, frozen toes and fingers, and knock-you-down wind. On our descent we stopped for several short scenic walks and a tour of the lodge.
Then we were off to dinner to meet up with some of the other presenters, and members of the Authors of the Flathead.
On Saturday, after a full day of fabulous presentations by Bill, Paige, agent Liz Kracht, and several local authors, I spoke for an entire hour—my longest ever non-teaching speech—about how I (try to) fit in writing, training, family time, travel, and exercise. I was nervous about this one. How to give tips without sounding like I think I’m fabulous or perfect? Based on feedback, I *believe* I managed to find a good balance.
FRWC is one cool conference. You might be surprised how many successful and aspiring authors live in sparsely populated northern Montana. I was. With only 100 attendees, the conference is cozy and welcoming, and everyone is friendly, yet the lineup is on par with any first-class conference. (If I do say so myself. )
I couldn’t believe how many people thanked me for my speech and for coming to the conference. We all need to feel special now and then, and this weekend, I did.
On Sunday, during my Scrivener workshop, I mentioned that the bookstore had about ten copies of Scrivener For Dummies still in stock and that I’d be happy to sign for anyone who bought it. Several people stepped out immediately and then approached me after the workshop. And the bookstore sold out!
That night, one of the local authors hosted a potluck at her house in nearby Whitefish. Good food, good conversation, and a packed house full of friendly faces.
I almost didn’t want to leave.
At FRWC, I learned new things, made new friends (and met some I’d only known online), and explored the local area on our tour and my Monday morning run. All in all, a great time.
If you’re looking for a well run, casual, and welcoming general writing conference, you can’t beat Flathead River Writers.
Many thanks to the Authors of the Flathead for making me feel like a rock star in Montana!
More pics (click for slideshow)…