In Your Write Mind 2015 recap

Now that I’ve been home a week and have pretended to catch up on sleep, I figured I should recap my experiences at Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind for 2015. I had a great time catching up with old friends, meeting new ones (both current students and new workshop attendees), and just generally being with my people.

I drove from Maryland to Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on Thursday morning. Four hours goes by pretty quickly with copious amounts of coffee and Pandora streaming music. Driving up the final hill to campus always takes my breath away, and it occurred to me that it had been 10 years since I’d made the drive for my first residency in June 2005. Then I promptly felt old and resolved not to think of such things.

Photo credit: U.S. News & World Report

Photo credit: U.S. News & World Report. I’ve never actually been on campus in the fall, so I’ve only ever seen those trees in full greenery or completely bare.

I gathered up the raffle basket I’d created in honor of STEEL VICTORY (didn’t want the chocolate to melt in the car) and headed toward registration. After a meandering path through the main Hogwarts-style building, a detour to an entirely different building based on bad information, and finally ending up where I’d intended to go first, I dropped off the basket, signed in, and collected my information packet and dorm key. (With one person, it was more cost-efficient to stay in the dorms on campus than get a hotel room. Plus, the dorms are more fun at 3 AM.)

Photo Credit: Deanna Sjolander. Included tawny port, port glasses, chocolate, a signed copy of SV, and a certificate for a free critique.

Photo Credit: Deanna Sjolander. Included tawny port, port glasses, chocolate, a signed copy of SV, and a certificate for a free critique.

I got my pilgrimage to Steak ‘n Shake out of the way early and met some friends there for lunch. Then we headed back to campus and I changed into more professional clothes for the panel I moderated on freelance editing (the image was slightly ruined when Deanna, Chris, and I walked on stage with beer bottles). (IYWM is only a real writing conference until you remember that it was established by a bunch of writers who basically just wanted an excuse to come back to SHU every summer. So we put on an awesome program while still retaining our sense of the ridiculous.) The panel was well-attended and well-received. Guests asked all the questions, and I didn’t even have to refer to the backup list I’d prepared in case the audience just stared at us!

The rest of the evening was spent on dinner and catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a year or longer. I went to bed relatively early (around 2 AM) (which is early compared with the rest of the weekend) and woke up to a ringing phone the next morning (my mom forgot that I wasn’t at work).

IT WAS HERE.

BOOK LAUNCH DAY.

CUE ALL THE PANIC.

There was not actually that much panicking, mostly because my friends are amazing and kept me on a relatively even keel. In the morning, I attended a workshop on book promotion by Jen Brooks and got a lot of great ideas (keep an eye out, because you’ll hear about them here first).

There was a teeny bit of emotional outburst because after this workshop I heard about the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling. I was thrilled to get the good news, and I loved the cosmic irony since one of the major critiques STEEL VICTORY had received so far was that it was too “on point” with current political events (which is hilarious because I wrote it almost 10 years ago).

I had a great lunch with all the folks associated with my publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press (you can see their recap and photos here). The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the beautiful campus and then getting ready for the mass book signing (my full recap of that is here).

My beautiful table!

My beautiful table!

Once again, the best part of the day was my parents driving from Dayton, Ohio, to surprise me. The also spent the night in Greensburg, so I met them for breakfast the next morning before they headed home. The rest of the day was spent setting up and decorating for the costume ball. This involved broken black lights, florescent paint splatters, and me wussing out to take a two hour nap in the afternoon (the dorm we stayed in was relatively new, and all the gunk still in the air system was destroying my sinuses).

I dressed up as Antonia Stark, genius billionaire sex goddess philanthropist, since the theme this year was comic books. Mostly my costume consisted of the cool light-up T-shirt that I found online and a wine glass labeled “A. Stark” (because it turns out alcohol is essential to the character). I found a current student who was dressed up as Pepper Potts and posed with her for a lot of pictures. To my surprise, we won the costume award for Dynamic Duo! (100% of the credit goes to my Pepper, who looked fantastic.)

Pepper and Toni.

Pepper and Toni.

I’d bought a bunch of Marvel toys earlier in the day, and as the evening progressed, I slowly turned into all of the Avengers at once.

I am worthy.

I am worthy.

After the ball came a midnight trip to Steak ‘n Shake for fries and ice cream, and bedtime was a rousing 5 AM.

I slept in the next day, attended the alumni luncheon to welcome the new graduates to our ranks, and then attended the graduation ceremony for the new class of SHU’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. I was especially happy to be there to support K. W. Taylor, who’s become a great friend over the past year, and Carrie Gessner, who has done a lot to support online promotion for STEEL VICTORY.

I drove home that evening, this time buoyed by coffee and a great traveling companion (a current student who needed a ride back to my neck of the woods in Maryland). It was a fantastic four days, and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

Alex-cat was happy for his mom to be home.

Alex-cat was happy for his mom to be home. (Also, I am bad at selfies.)

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