We arrived Thursday and spent most of the time exploring the corner of the quarter around our hotel since we hadn't been over there. It was far away from the madness of Bourbon Street. Quiet, beautiful, and had that funky/artsy neighborhood feeling.
(I love doorways, and New Orleans has some great ones, so you'll see plenty of pictures of them in my blog.)
Friday, I checked into the conference and was greeted warmly by Paul Willis who actually recognized me. With all this man does, that he took the time to do that was so sweet. After I
checked in, I hung around in the lobby. Met some people I didn't know before and caught up with friends. Then it was off to master classes. I was very sorry to hear that Jim Grimsley fell ill and couldn't teach his master class this year. I always get a lot out of his sessions. However, the one on characters was great, and I finally met Becky Cochran. I always joke that even when we're in the same room together, I somehow miss her. This time, she was sitting right in front of me, and I STILL would have missed that it was her if her writing partner, Timothy Lambert, hadn't pointed her out. I'm so glad that I met her, and him. They were incredibly generous with their time. This is why I love meeting other writers. I get so energized by our conversations.
Saints and Sinners is a huge task. The woman Paul Willis is with in this picture from the opening night cocktail party is his assistant Karissa (I hope I got her name right) I have a feeling he couldn't put this on without her, because she is non-stop energy and devotion. But
she will take time to sit and chat with people, and she's truly interested in who they are and what they're doing. Paul and Karissa are phenomenal people. And on top of it all they do this as volunteers. That's right - they work their butts off for no pay. Simply amazing. Oops - must also mention the volunteers from No AIDS Task Force. They work so hard that the weekend flows smoothly (or it seems to). Every person I met was helpful, nice, and seemed to really enjoy helping out.