Hi there, emotionally and physically drained writers who may or may not just have gotten back from a huge conference in Philadelphia:
Yes so- conference was terrific. There are dozens and dozens of photos of the Pen Parentis booth, and my new favorite bar, Writer’s Block Rehab, and some fun author-meetings and chance encounters on my Facebook author page, if you’re curious. But this story happened the first night…..
First you have to understand that AWP conference hotels sell out fast. So when the hotel list was released, I instantly went on the site and booked the closest hotel—only 700 feet from the conference center, compared to half-miles, miles, etc?!! I was excited. Nice king-sized bed. Great.
On a map.
The actual hotel was indeed 700 feet from the conference center… but nowhere near any of its doors! That’s right—this hotel was on the Scientology side of the gargantuan building!
So that was what it was, but the second night, after our successful reception and a really great celebratory dinner out with friends who had come in from out of town and my writing colleagues at Pen Parentis, it was time to go back to our respective hotels.
All of them, of course, had booked brilliant hotels close to the action, on the lovely side of the convention center where there were fabulous populated streets! My maps app told me I had a 6 minute walk to my hotel. It seemed stupid to call a cab for a six minute walk.
I was encumbered with an umbrella, a lot of swag, and other equipment I had brought to the reception (the reception went really well, by the way, at least 75 people attended, most of them new faces, but some familiar and well beloved ones too!)
I had two bags of things as well as the umbrella and signage, and my phone. The street got creepier…
Until I got to the last minute of my walk - which, it turned out, was through a deserted tunnel under the convention center.
Well. Needs must.
I had walked about halfway down that block when a loud, tricked-out car pulled up beside me and swung open his door. A very friendly (and probably high) driver leaned out and looked at me. He said nothing. I (being me) turned to see what was going on (also to make sure he wasn’t armed or jumping out or anything), and (since I was obviously already looking) said “Oh, hi,” like I had just noticed that there was a car next to me, and I kept walking.
He looked incredibly confused. Like….really really really confused.
And then he said, in a hesitant and almost embarrassed tone: “Do you know where Vine Street is?”
In retrospect, this is obviously local code. At the time, being me, who was staring at Google Maps anyway to navigate to my 700-feet from-the-conference-center-why-is-it-so-far-away Hotel, it seemed like a reasonable question from some guy who was driving around in a deserted city.
“What?” I said.
“Do you know where Vine Street is?”
And I, being me, said, “I can probably figure it out.” And looked at my phone and said “Oh yeah, sure. Vine street is just a couple over. You’re right there. Have a great night.” And I pointed him in the right direction.
And he just….shook his head, completely baffled at this bag-encumbered random woman walking the lonely streets in the middle of the night in the rain, and cheerfully giving directions when what he wanted was a little more illegal, so he closed his car door, and was still shaking his head when he turned the corner on Vine Street.
By then, of course, I had reached my hotel. it was only 700 feet from the edge of the conference center after all.
I sold a short story! I’m so excited. NewMyths Magazine has bought “Spruce, Queen of Snakes” a reimagining of the most famous Lithuanian folk tale, Eglė Žalčiu Karalienė. It will be published in September 2022.
Patchwork Raven is creating an ambitious anthology and wants to include a story from every single country in the world. I got in! My story, “A Conspiracy of Doormen,” will represent Lithuania. I’m excited for you to see it. Do you travel the world in your writing? See if the country you most love is still on this list! There are quite a few countries left.
My essay about bilingual childrearing is still up in Mutha Magazine - have a look!
Also? I met with an agent who is now reading my full manuscript…