After missing the connecting flight in Chicago (they changed the gate and I waited two hours in the wrong place) I arrived at St. Louis for the Realm Makers Conference, for Christian writers of Speculative Fiction, without a single scrap of information since I left it all behind at the Portland, OR airport and I hadn't bothered to memorize the info since I would have the paperwork with me. I did remember that I needed to take a train into the campus from the St. Louis airport. It took several people to decide which train to board, and then a couple passengers to figure out where I should get off. Good thing I'm not afraid to ask for directions. Ended up sitting next to someone who gave me a long, spitting lecture about Hitler and WWII. Kept wiping my face, but he never noticed.So once I got off in the gathering dusk I ran down a University of Missouri student and asked her to help me find the conference. She needed the name of a building which I couldn't give her. She called the campus police who had no idea what I was talking about, but fortunately the campus is small enough that there is only one place where visitors stay, and that is where the cop drove me, and stayed long enough to see that I was checked in.
The next morning I followed a batch of people to where the conference was being held. The lecturers were good, the atmosphere friendly. I bought a batch of books. Got to have short meetings with Jeff Gerke and Randy Streu. Tried to go back to cafeteria but could not recognize any landmarks when I left the bldg. A kind stranger drove me to the cafeteria, where all I could eat were the green beans. I had filled out the dietary restriction forms, but apparently my filling them out and whoever cooks reading them were not the same thing. Bonnie Lacy drove Kathy Tyers and me back to conference. And thereafter kind Bonnie drove me everywhere.
The costumes at the banquet were wonderful. I got a kick out of Graham (Tales of the Dim Knight) wearing a Superman outfit above his kilts. Becky Miner (The Curse Bearer) was a perfect elf. The book Starflower won the Clives Staples Award. I hope I catch when they open nominations for next year's award for I intend to nominate Quintessence by David Walton.
I bought some more books. Nathan Paul Williams (Ripper Grimm) said, during the panel on horror, that horror lets us talk about the things we don't otherwise talk about. Really? I need to think about that a bit.
I bought New Blood by Ferguson. Liked it, for the most part. Bought a few more books, including Son Of Truth, by Busse, which she signed.
I got overtired and had to skip the book signings.
And again, the university could not be bothered to feed me, even though I had paid for them to do so. Good thing I brought a big box of Lara bars.
Still tired and lost the next morning, I wandered into kind Bonnie who took me to the airport. I remembered that I had tried to put in enough time to go to church before going home, but without the tickets I could not remember how much time I had, so I opted to just go to the airport and find out how much time I had. So I checked in eight hours early, which was too early to check in my suitcase. So I looked around for some place to sit for a few hours, and there was NO place. But the check-in clerk felt sorry for me, so she gave me a new ticket for a much earlier flight. Then while I was waiting for my new flight, another clerk came over and told me to sit here(!) and gave me a pre-boarding pass and told everyone around me to talk slowly. I wanted to laugh, but, honestly, Talk Slowly is good. Who knew you could get a pre-boarding pass for being pathetic?
In Phoenix, I was bundled onto a motorized bench and whisked to my next gate. My goodness, the Phoenix terminal has a lot of long empty halls. Everyone was so kind to me on the plane I began to wonder just how bad-off I looked.
I was amazed at the quality of the itty-bitty conference and the size of the industry presence. I came back with another TBR pile. I'm glad I went.