Connecticut…the state where there’s a gazebo in every town. Like, EVERY town. I stopped taking pictures after the fifth one I spotted. Now, you may be wondering what a Canuck like me was doing in a place like Connecticut. That’s an excellent question and I’m glad you asked. Firstly, to visit Washington Depot–the town that inspired Stars Hollow, the setting for my beloved Gilmore Girls.
Here are a few Gilmore-esque shots I snapped in the adorable town:
But if you think my only purpose for being in CT was to visit Washington Depot, you are oh-so mistaken, my friends, for there was an even greater purpose: Fiction Fest! Also, it was a perfect reason for me to take a road trip in my new SUV, Mr. Bubba Gump. I’m only 7.5 hours away from Norwalk, CT, where the FF writing conference was held, or 8 hours if you include the stops for gas and PayDay bars.
Let’s talk for a bit about Fiction Fest, shall we? It. Was. AWESOME! And, ya know, I kinda knew it would be, but it WAY surpassed my expectations. I arrived at the conference hotel late Thursday evening, slept there till Friday, but then I had to relocate to the overflow hotel for the remainder of the conference. I was kinda bummed about that, initially…until I stepped foot inside Even Hotel. OMG, you guys. It was a Phys. Ed. teacher’s dream come true! Lime and ginger infused water stations, exercise balls, resistance bands, and a yoga corner in every room. A mood light! A white board! A weight room with state of the art equipment, bikes you could ride off-property, and a games room with a ping-pong table that I may or may not have caused to collapse on top of my foot (but that’s another story for another time). I’m so glad I had all these things to keep me occupied, because I was nervous as heck all day Friday. Why, you ask? Because Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author, queen of romantic comedy, and all-around lovely lady invited me to dinner that night.
I somehow charmed her last year when she joined my Ottawa Romance Writers of America group for our 25th anniversary celebration. I think it was my Ellen dancing story that sealed the deal, or possibly the tale I shared about the fancy pair of underwear I owned that disappeared during an airport security check, and how I was flattered by that. Ahem. And since that glorious day, Kristan has become one of my dearest friends. She’s helped me through a lot of rough patches this year, and I’m eternally grateful to her for that alone. But talking on the internets and talking face-to-face are two very different kinds of talky-talking, hence my nervousness.
Truthfully, I had nothing to worry about.
Kristan is the type of person who I can sit down with and never run out of things to say. In fact, we talked for so long that I ended up getting a parking ticket (Bubba’s first! So proud!). She also helped me to parallel park him for the first time, too. I won’t say how many attempts it took. It’s harder with an audience….
Regrettably, we parted ways that night, but I was comforted knowing I’d see her again the next day, and the one after that.
Saturday was my busy day at the conference. I’d registered for a critique with an agent, as well as a round-table session with an editor, and planned to attend several workshops, too. The critique went amazingly well! I totally hit it off with the agent I was paired with. She gave me tremendous feedback, and she insisted I keep in touch with her and use the subject line ‘Gilmore Girls’ in my email. Why, yes, we did get to talking about GG. *whistles*
The round-table experience was really cool. I was seated at a table with six other participants, an author/reader, and an editor. The author/reader read the first page of each of our manuscripts, including the tagline of the story, the genre, and word count, and then the editor provided feedback. It was meant to be an anonymous thing, but as soon as she started reading mine, and everyone leaned in closer, I wanted them all to know it was mine, damn it! I was thrilled when everyone at the table kept asking me questions about it, all of them wanting to know more. What an awesome feeling! 🙂
I can’t say enough about the workshops I attended. They were all fabulous and so informative! Of course, I snagged a front row seat in Kristan’s workshop about bringing characters to life, a la the Frankenstein method. It was just a great day all around, that turned even greater when Kristan asked if I wanted to join her, Damon Suede, and Geoff Symon for dinner that night. Um…YES! When the time came, we all met in the lobby and headed to a place called The Spread. *nods* For reals. Here’s proof:
I had such a blast with these guys! We decided to share all kinds of appetizer-y things, and Geoff convinced Kristan and I that we had to try the beef tongue. After all, we were in Spread…Let the dirty jokes commence! So here we are, tonguing in Spread:
Was it good for you, Kristan? 😉
I felt like the coolest person on the planet getting to hang out with these beautiful, wonderful, creative people. When can we do it again? I’ll gas up Bubba and be there in a jiffy! Oh, and Ottawa is lovely in the fall. Just putting that out there….
Breakfast and lunch were included in the conference registration, and during each of these meals, on both days, I was able to meet and eat with some kick-ass people. Conferences are a terrific way to make new friends.
On Sunday, I attended three more workshops, enjoyed one last lunch, and then it was time for me to hit the road, but not before I squeezed Kristan a few more times. During my drive back to Ottawa, I kept thinking how lucky I was to get to experience all this. I’m so inspired, invigorated, ready to write like the wind! Thank you again to Kristan, Damon, Geoff, and all the other amazing people I met who made this conference the best one I’ve ever been to! Connecticut, I will most definitely be back! 🙂