Day three of the conference was again interesting. I arrived at 9am for the very first session, knowing that it might be a shitshow – Dr. Anna was on another panel. And she did not disappoint. Within 45 minutes otherwise polite and reserved panelists were arguing with her, calling her out as a liar, getting very heated. Even the audience took her on. She is either a master-class troll or she really believes her BS and has zero people skills. Either way, she’s a troubled person. I suspect the conference won’t invite her back.
My second session was a class in scene development, and we had to write a scene based on a given scenario, right on the spot. It was fun, and helped me realize that I can hang with all the MFAs (people with Masters of Fine Arts degrees, who seem to take a lot of pride in that credential) and be creative on demand.
For what it’s worth, here’s my on-demand scene. The scenario I was given was “…something unexpected happens at an ATM…”. I wrote this in 25 minutes, so don’t be judgy.
The ATM kiosk outside the bank was poorly lit and filled with trash. Agnes had to step around questionable piles just to enter. She scrunched her nose – at least one of the piles had to contain human waste.
Shit. Literally, shit. Just what I wanted, a visit to the dump on my way home. But I promised the money first thing in the morning.
Agnes took a quick look around and saw nothing but her broken down car and an otherwise empty parking lot. Fumbling for her card, she managed to find it and present it to the machine. Hunching over the tiny counter, she saw her pitiful balance show up in bright green: $221.00. She hung her head as she punched in the numbers that would get $200 into her hands.
As the machine spit out her cash a voice behind her said, “Don’t move. Hand over the cash.”
Agnes stood perfectly still. “Please. You don’t understand. This money is for drugs, for medication. My son is sick.”
The thief looked stricken, then adopted a more hardened expression. “Sure. You’re just saying that.”
Agnes turned to see a slight man holding a gun with one hand. “No, really. You have to believe me. I owe the pharmacy over a thousand, and they won’t fill another prescription unless I pay it down some. This is all I have. Please!”
The thief took a step back and muttered, “What are the odds?”
Agnes turned to face her robber. “What do you mean?”
He lowered the gun a bit. “I’ve never done this before, but I have a sick kid too. She’ll die if I don’t get the money to get her a transplant.”
They looked at each other in suspicion.
He’s not really a thief. Still trembling, Agnes said, “My name is Agnes. What’s your daughter’s name?”
“Joe. Josephine, actually, but she goes by Joe.”
“I like that. What’s wrong with Joe? It sounds serious.”
“Her liver is failing, and we don’t have insurance. Her only hope is a black market liver.”
The silence between them stretched on until Agnes broke it. “My son has allergies, bad ones. He’s allergic to everything. But it’s not going to kill him.”
The thief’s arm was now completely lowered. He looked broken. “Allergies can be awful.” He turned away to leave.
Agnes shouted, “Wait!”
“You need the money more than me. Take it.”
“I can’t. This was a terrible idea.”
“Yes you can. Please. I get paid again in two weeks. My son will be OK. And your Joe sounds like a wonderful girl.”
The thief hunched over and wept.
My third session of the day was a disappointment. I went to a worldbuilding class, and the guy leading the group was at the head of the table in a smallish room. The only seat left was right next to him. He was masked, and I recognized him as the guy who showed up on Friday and announced to his friends that he had just gotten out of COVID quarantine. He coughed once or twice as soon as I sat down, and I made a quick exit.
I then went to my second choice seminar, a session on urban fantasy. I walked in, bigger room with only a few people. But as soon as I sat down the session leader, a woman who looked like she had the flu (red face, kind of a pained expression) started coughing with a nasty wet cough. I made an even quicker exit and decided that the conference was over for me.
All-in-all, it exceeded my expectations. Some good content, a lot of inspiration, opportunity to meet a great bunch of authors, editors and small press publishers. I am re-motivated and ready to write – mission accomplished.