On The Road To A Writer’s Conference

I was in one of my favorite Texas cities recently (one of my favorites other than Houston, of course). The Writer’s League of Texas held their annual Agents & Editors Conference in Austin. Here is the handy cloth bag everyone was given during registration. Not sure where the idea for the bird came from, but we also received a nice pair of blue sunglasses in our welcome packet. This was my first state‐wide writer’s conference. It was everything I had hoped for and more.

The location for this event was the Hyatt Regency that overlooks Lady Bird Lake. Service was good, food was good, beds were comfy, and everything was in one place. Since this took place in June, you were never required to leave the hotel with the fully functioning air conditioning system. However, there was a hike and bike trail right outside the hotel and we were within a block of the Congress Street Bridge where one could view bats flying on a nightly basis. In between conference sessions I could watch as the kayaks and canoes floated down the river. This particular view was taken from the 17th floor outside of areas where the meetings took place with a large group of agents and editors. More about that later.

One of the many perks of this conference were the keynote speakers who distributed copies of their books. For the Saturday luncheon, we heard an inspiring talk by Naomi Shihab Nye and received her most recent book of poetry, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners.

There were also break out sections on the craft of writing; such as, Crafting Irresistible Opening Pages. Always a good skill for a writer. Then there were the sessions on what to expect from an agent, what questions to ask an agent, and self‐promotion for the indie writer. There were genre specific sessions on memoir, historical fiction, mystery/thriller, etc. I never knew there were so many writers in the Picture Book/Middle Grade/Young Adult genre. I met many authors who were working towards their first publication and those who have published many books.

During the opening reception I ran into Sean who works with Typewriter Rodeo. This means he sat behind a typewriter and I gave him the subject of a writer writing a book about Memphis and here is the custom poem he wrote:

Let me tell you a bit

About me—

I was raised

On the music‐streaming streets

Of Memphis

I’ve got rhythm and blues

In my blood

I have seen and heard things

That will inspire you

To sing

Will inspire you to get up and dance

And things that will also haunt you

To the drumbeat core

Want to know

All about it?

Well look for the greatest story

Soon to hit the shelves…

This is what my cat, Hannah, looked like when I got home and shared the poem with her. She’s a tough audience!

Finally, I met several agents while I was there and am pleased to report that three are interested in my book. Now I am writing myself silly, working on a book proposal, polishing and workshoping two chapters and finishing the whole first draft. That’s really good news and a heck of a lot of work to do. I better go get busy!

Until next week.….

On The Road With Scooters

Keep Austin Weird!

No, I am not being rude. Maybe you’ve seen the t‐shirts. Anyway, it’s an official slogan that was adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance.

And keeping Austin weird is fun. When I was there a couple of weeks ago for a book launch, I had the grand pleasure of staying at the Driskill Hotel. Yes, I have a weakness for historical and haunted hotels. Unfortunately I did not meet up with any ghosts while I was there, but I did spend a lot of time walking around downtown Austin. If you are familiar with the neighborhood, I walked up and down 6th Street, Congress, etc.

My Dear Friend and I walked carefully. To avoid all the scooters. Downtown was crawling with them. Apparently you only need the right app on your phone to rent one. Both citizens and tourists were riding them around the downtown area seeing what there was to see. Then when folks were done, the scooters were left on the sidewalk. There seemed to be an amazing lack of rules to this. Kinda like bumper cars except that half the folks were going 15 miles an hour on two wheels and the rest of us were walking on two legs.

Do you notice the nice gent in this picture driving his scooter down the street? Well, most scooter riders weren’t like this nice person. Most scooter aficionados traveled in packs. Sometimes they traveled on the streets and sometimes on the sidewalks. Sometimes they stopped for red lights and stop signs and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they went the wrong way down one way streets. They were wild boisterous packs of swarming scooter hordes.

In this picture it looks like the red scooters are taking aim with a cannon on a lone green scooter. Of course the statue helped by lighting the cannon. I wonder if the green scooter did some egregious act to rile the ire of the red scooters? I asked, but neither the scooters or statue would talk about it.

Many of the fun loving speedy scooter critters were young. I’m guessing a lot of students and recent alums from the University of Texas cruising the bar scene on 6th Street. But I also saw a lot of grey hair flying in the breeze as a gaggle would soar past. Was this part of a mid‐life crisis ritual? Go to Austin, ride a scooter, drink beer and bemoan a lost youth?

I only got almost hit once. According to the traffic light, I had the right of way to cross the street. I began walking, my Dear Friend tugged on my arm. I stopped just in time to see a woman careening around the corner.

And finally I leave you with this picture. Was this scooter on sale for $5? Was it free as long as it was adopted into a good home? Who can tell. Maybe there were rules to this sport that I just didn’t have time to learn.

Back in Houston we don’t have scooters flying around the streets of downtown. No one wants to keep Houston weird.

Until next week.….