Nothing about the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation International 2014 annual (May 1-3) conference was anything but good. Attendance was excellent. I haven’t heard a final count, but there must have been four or five hundred people there over the weekend. The facilities were great, the organizers were as efficient and competent as could be, I had lots of enthusiastic people attend my talks. And most of all, everyone was beyond kind and welcoming. My “shepherd” (the woman assigned to be my guide and amanuensis for the duration), the lovely Linda Basinger, was perfect. She made sure everything was ready for me, showed me where to go, acted as my hostess, introduced me to some wonderful people. I wish I had taken her picture, but as usual my camera died before I got the chance.
Yes, I am so old fashioned that I still use a battery-powered camera.
So I can’t say anything bad about the conference itself. However, I did have some…let us say, odd moments both before and after the festivities. Before, Don got me to the airport in Phoenix in plenty of time to do the check-in routine. In fact, we thought we had enough time to have a cup of coffee before I went through security. It was an hour and a half before take off when I got into the security line. Big mistake. The line was long, but I’ve been in long security lines before and gotten through in forty minutes at most. This time, there were only two agents doing the i.d. check, and it took most of my hour and a half just to reach the head of the line.
Then something set off the x-ray scanner when I went through. I got a cursory pat down at the gate, and the agent swabbed my hands. Son of a gun, when she put the swab into the machine, it lit up red. I was flabbergasted. What could it have been? I hadn’t been doing target practice or setting off fireworks. My herbal hand lotion? Who knows. Anyway, they took me off to a little room and two very kind young ladies patted me down again. Nothing too intrusive, fortunately. I knew they weren’t going to find anything, but I was very worried that I was going to miss the plane. After they decided that I wasn’t a threat, one of the young agents flagged down a golf cart shuttle for me, and the driver zipped me through the airport right to the gate with ten minutes to spare before scheduled departure. As it turned out, the plane was an hour late taking off. Which gave me enough time to bring my heart rate back to normal.
After an uneventful flight to OKC, I got to the hotel in time for the faculty dinner, and from that moment everything went fabulously until the conference was over and everyone had gone home. Except for me. Since I will always opt for a direct flight if I can get it, I wasn’t leaving OKC for Phoenix until seven in the evening. I was able to arrange a late check out, which was very nice. Better to hang out at the hotel than at the airport for seven hours.
At about 11:30 a.m. I think to myself, Donis, it would do you good to have a nice walk and get some exercise. So outside I go for a brisk constitutional. Just as I’m getting back to the hotel, I hang a toe in the parking lot and fall flat on my face. I did get my hands down on the pavement before I did too much damage, but ironically, the curb happened to be in just the right place to catch me right under the nose. I scrambled up, more humiliated than anything else, and a guy in a white pickup drove up beside me to ask if I was all right. I assured him I was, but before he drove off, he pointed to his nose and told me I was bleeding.
I didn’t feel all that hurt, but I did scrape the hell out of my hands and knees, and skinned a good hunk off of my upper lip. I got back to the room and managed to clean myself up. The heels of my hands are red and ugly as raw meat. Knees are black and blue. I have a wound that resembles Hitler’s mustache under my nose, and I have a fat lip. I look a bit like Daffy Duck. Don said that now I know what I’d look like if I had buck teeth. So for a while, I’ll be putting makeup on my face with a trowel, which lightens the skinned places enough that people don’t gasp when they see me. But until the swelling goes down I fear I will just have to resign myself to having an upper lip like Mortimer Snerd’s.*
I’m lucky, though. I look funny, but I didn’t break my nose or knock out my front teeth. That would have made me very sad, because I love my big ol’ teeth. All’s well that end’s well. I got to the OKC airport in plenty of time, and the flight home was smooth as glass.
Back to business–only three weeks until the release of the seventh Alafair Tucker Mystery, Hell With The Lid Blown Off. Keep your eyes on this site for a new book page and an excerpt.
*five points to you if you know who Mortimer Snerd is.