UPDATE: May 2020
Like all of us a year ago, I could never have imagined today's world gripped by a pandemic that has majorly impacted all human life on this planet.
In spring 2020, we look forward to and imagine how it will be when we win the war against an insidious virus.
In the meantime, it's comforting to escape headlines for awhile. Please join me in looking back on my photo walk from last spring, when life was simpler, and we could travel and hug our families.
I hope you enjoy my adventures on the great American prairie and journey to a writer's dream-come-true event.
Be well * Stay Strong * Spread Kindness
I’ve been to bookish events before but never to a writing awards ceremony…until Sweet T and the Turtle Team scored gold for best children’s book, environment category, from the Literary Classics Book Awards.
Walking on air for months, here, dreaming about meeting other honorees and our weekend-long celebration in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Although I visited South Dakota as a child, hub JM had never been west of the Mississippi River. We decided to make the most of this literary opportunity AND experience the American West while celebrating our silver wedding anniversary.
Set your comfy chair in its upright and locked position, grab a brew, and join me for a photo walk of my journey to a red carpet weekend.
Getting to Rapid City
My North Carolina home is sunny and warm in May, with temps climbing to 90F/32C. I pack for my American West weekend with shorts, sandals, and sunscreen until I check the weather forecast.
Nope. Cold, rain and sleet at Denver Airport.
Toss summer gear from the suitcase.
Squash winter coat and boots inside instead.
After a long plane ride and safe landing at Denver International,
we are like excited kids
navigating back roads in a rented Jeep
to see more of the countryside.
Dodging sleet and rain during the 6-hour drive
across Nebraska and north to Rapid City ...
... we oooh and ahhh over unending stretches of prairie and grazing cattle.
Easy to imagine wagon trains and cowboys once crossing here, too.
Getting to Know You
Rapid City is a bustling center in northwest South Dakota.
It's nestled between two magnificent natural wonders,
the Badlands and Black Hills.
Wow, Rapid City is decked out to greet us!
The Literary Classics Team makes us feel right at home, too.
How to break the ice
with a group of mostly introverted authors,
who don’t know each other beyond the CLC’s private group Facebook page?
Wine tasting downtown at Firehouse Wine Cellar!
After wine, it's a get-to-know-you scavenger hunt.
Cool, fun questions:
How many books have you written?
Do you have an agent?
Is this your first time in Rapid City?
We are all old friends
by the time we leave the winery -:D
Author Roundtable, Writers' Conference
Friday morning is all about sharing ideas at a 90-minute author roundtable to kick off the writers’ conference. Such incredible talent in the room!
I come away with tons of ideas for authoring and motivation for my writerly life.
After lunch, JM and I dash away
on a 30-minute jaunt
Mt. Rushmore National Monument.
Book Fair and Bison
Despite 37F/2.8C temps, our tables are ready to go by 9 a.m. for GABfest, the Great American Book Festival, in Rapid City’s outdoor Main Street Square
High wind warnings that morning are no joke. The 50-mph/81-kph gusts knock down displays and threaten tents covering us. Then cue the hail and rain! Not to mention me spilling hot coffee all over my books and the once-pristine white tablecloth under them <rolls eyes and smacks head here>.
A few readers brave the elements.
But it is soooo cold and sooooo windy!
Later in the day,
we discover bison
in nearby Custer State Park
don't mind inclement weather one bit!
And bison mamas can birth 2 calves?
SUNDAY - AFTERNOON
Choo-chooing away butterflies
The BIG DAY of the Award Ceremony is finally here!
I’ve never been on the red carpet before, and to be honest,
I fight butterflies in my stomach.
I’m way more comfortable behind the scenes instead of in front of them.
But we are free until the event that evening. No time to fret. So......
...on a perfect Sunday afternoon,
my sweet Trainiac Hub and I
motor a short distance
for grown-up play time in Hill City, SD.
than a happy hubby
enjoying bison burger for lunch (apologies to vegetarians)
in an historic, century-old log cabin
next to a train depot ....
... unless it's
chugging along on an old-timey steam train ride
through the South Dakota Black Hills.
Wow! I also have my first fan recognition!
As I wait at the depot,
an attendee from the author roundtable discussion
She walks up to say hello and ask about my books.
My grateful heart does the happy dance -:D.
SUNDAY - EVENING
Reception and Award Ceremony
The event begins
with a happy hour and photos on the Red Carpet.
Then comes the moment we've been waiting for:
The Literary Classics team calls my name.
I walk to the stage.
Face beaming, Pulse pounding.
I receive my medal for
Sweet T and the Turtle Team.
We clap and cheer the night away
for every awesome author
recognized for his or her brilliant achievement -:D!
And just like that,
We linger as long as we can.
Then we slip into the night.
Go our separate ways.
Back to earth
It's been a month
since my Literary Classics weekend.
Have I come down to earth?
I still feel the excitement.
Cherish connections made there
Best, I retain a huge dose of confidence
to brave the hard road
and keep writing.
Writing is hard.
It's just plain lonely.
And I’m beyond grateful to
for recognizing my work and reaffirming I am on the right track.
And as always,
I'm grateful to
for following my writing journey.
Here's to more happy tales ahead!
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