This is the first of many posts I hope to write covering the recent Missouri Writer's Guild 2011 Conference. This is only my second such conference and I must say it was well worth the time and money. I can't believe the value I received. In return for my $200 (that included a master class and banquet) I was able to pick the brain of writers, publishers, editors, and agents. How much is that worth? I think I got the better end of the bargain.
What's more, I got some free publicity by not only winning the impromptu writing contest, but making a memorable entrance.
First, the contest.
We were given and index card and five words and were charged with the task of writing a paragraph using all five words. Those words were lackluster, tropical, gargantuan, effective, and blanch. Those are five tough words to use in one paragraph. I gave it some thought and figured that if I were to win, I'd have to stand out. I also thought about blanch and could only think about it in terms of a blanched vegetable. Then the idea of a gargantuan salad with blanched green beans and tropical fruit entered my mind about the same time as a passage from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" - the one in which the whale turned into a petunia and thought "oh no, not again." And thus the basics of my paragraph were born.
So, I scribbled through a few rough drafts, struck something I liked, wrote it up on the postcard, and turned it in.
Second, the award presentation.
I didn't realize they were giving the award out during lunch. I had a great lunch and spent the time speaking with the director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum (I was in heaven!). As we wrapped up, the front table looked like they were about ready to get up and make announcements and I thought it would be a good time to duck out and use the little boys' room before the lunch speaker started talking. I figured they'd make a few announcements, but what would I miss?
Well, I take care of my business, come back, and as I walk into the banquet room (seating about 200 attendees and guests) they start applauding me! My first thought is that it was a set up - that they agreed to clap the first person who walked through the door. So I hammed it up a bit and found my seat. But my table mates were pointing me to the front podium and told me they wanted me up there. Well, everyone was still clapping and I STILL had no idea why! I went along with it and it wasn't until I got to the podium that I was told that I won the contest. Wow! How great was that! My first writing award. Granted it was for one paragraph, but it counts nonetheless. Then I read the paragraph, had the crowd laughing, and then left the limelight (I sure hope that wasn't my 15 minutes). A great warm-up act for the guest of honor. I also received a very nice paperweight.
I received a lot of congratulatory comments throughout the rest of the conference - and beyond. It's been a great rush and now I have a great "in" with some of the speakers I want to follow-up with. Even Elaine Viets commented about my entry!
Well, with that said, here is the award winning paragraph:
"Oh no, not again." Ralph's attempts to reincarnate into a higher lifeform obviously had not been effective. He remained an artichoke heart for the eighth time. He winked, trying to flush from his pores the citric acid dripping from the assorted tropical fruit accompanying him in the gargantuan picnic salad. He sensed the blanched green bean next to him writhe in agony. "Oh well," Ralph said in a lackluster tone, "maybe next time I'll be lucky enough to come back a mandarin orange."
I'd like to thank the Missouri Writer's Guild (MWG) for recognizing my work. What a shot in the arm!
So that's it for now. More, lots more, to follow!