I learned a valuable lesson at the Western Writers of America Convention — write down a speech before getting to the podium to accept a prestigious award, because you get all giddy and flustered!
Albuquerque, NM, was hot and dry outside, but the A/C inside the Marriott was a bit chilly. I stepped into the hotel’s “Salon” room early Friday morning to see the podium with the banner “Literature of the West for the World” plus the very cool cowboy silhouette cut-outs.
Everyone was so friendly, and wearing my “winner” badge earned me more attention than I was used to at other conferences! I thanked everyone who offered congrats (at least I hope so!) and listened to the editor and agent panel that morning. I also enjoyed the Spur Award finalist luncheon on Friday at noon, where agent Cherry Weiner was awarded a special honor at lunch. I cheered for Terry Hinton and Stephen Smart when they received their Finalist awards in the Best First Novel category.
Later that afternoon, 75 authors gathered at the Barnes & Noble in an Albuquerque mall for the book signing. I had a wonderful time meeting people who wanted to buy Double Crossing, and even persuaded several to take a chance on reading a western historical mystery! One man preferred Dorothy Parker — and I told him about the cozy series written by J.J. Murphy, which he found on the shelf further back — and that led to a sale of my book as well! It’s always good to help people out, and since I’m an avid reader myself, knowing that sure came in handy!
Saturday was a whirlwind, with the Spur Winners and Finalists panel where we answered questions about our work. I mentioned getting my Masters degree at Seton Hill, and how I’d written the first draft of Double Crossing before starting the program — and that what I learned helped me revise it to the level necessary for publication and a major award! After a great lunch with other Women Writing the West members, we had more panels to hear such as on Marketing, Writing the Western Mystery, Writing Non-Fiction, etc.
Then came the banquet, where my husband Randy, daughter Amanda and cousin Shirley joined me along with Tammy Hinton and her husband Herb. We had a lovely (but too rare beef!) dinner, heard Jon Chandler’s haunting songs (also a Spur Winner!) and then I had to wait for my name to be called. Wes Studi — the fabulous actor from The Last of the Mohicans, Geronimo and Dances With Wolves — was announcing the awards. I must admit I’d watched all of his movies and loved his work — but didn’t expect how giddy I’d be when I heard my name and walked up to receive my Spur Award.
I’d planned out a brief “speech” to thank my husband, my daughter, my long-time CP Sharon Pisacreta, Astraea Press, the peeps at Seton Hill and of course, WWA and the judges — but after shaking Wes Studi’s hand, everything went right out of my head. I did remember to thank WWA, thank goodness!
So next time, if there ever is a next time, I promise to write down notes on an index card. I might even take a few speaking courses. I’m far better at writing than speaking in public (although I did fine on the panel) — so perhaps it was a bit of a “celebrity giddiness” that fuzzied my brain! The spur has two jingle bobs and a spinning rowel, so I had fun with that. Michigan native Loren Estleman received the Owen Wister award for Lifetime Achievement, which also was great — he had written his speech out, and it was fabulous.
Once the banquet ended, we took pictures with Wes Studi. Here’s a few:
I had a great time and really enjoyed the WWA convention — next year is in Las Vegas, and in 2014 they will have it in SACRAMENTO! I’m there with SPURS on, since Double Crossing and Double or Nothing both have that setting in parts of each novel. And I’ll have a speech ready, just in case one of my future novels beats out the talented, multiple-Spur-Award-winner Johnny Boggs!