On Friday after England painfully drew against Algeria, I drove south to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, in preparation for the workshop I was to present first thing on Saturday morning. The drive was pleasant enough. I missed most of the rush hour traffic in Chicago and slipped right in between two thunderstorms. Later I learned that the winds had been so bad that a few windows were blown out on the Sears Tower.
The hotel was a little...isolated. Had it not been a Ramada Inn, I would've been more in mind of a Bates Motel situation. One dude on call at the front desk. Two teenagers in pajamas playing games on the lobby's computer. Weird vibe. The Ramada was at the end of a long line of new hotels along an interstate, most of which had empty parking lots. It's as if they expected a boom-town need for tons of hotels and then realized, no, not that many people come to visit when the university's not in session. So I locked the door and settled in with The Thomas Crown Affair--well hello, Pierce!--as the rain pounded down.
But then it was time to work. My talk was for the Heart & Scroll chapter of RWA. Technically speaking I was to present my workshop on point of view, which is what took up the majority of our three hours together. But then we moved on to topics such as elevator pitches, in-person pitch sessions, general industry gossip, and Carina Press. I was a little worried about participation because only eleven people showed up, but as it was with HIFA a while back, this small group was comfortable together. They talked and shared in-class writing assignments and readily asked questions--no awkward silences. All good! Oh, and there were Krispy Kremes for breakfast. Can't beat that.
After the talk, the chapter took me out to lunch at a local restaurant near the Illinois State campus. I liked that, after I took off my instructor hat, it became just a bunch of gals having lunch. Everyone was in high spirits, very gracious and friendly. A few hours on the road and a few mochas later, I arrived back home with KFC in hand for the family. I took a nap--so worn out!
But the trip was a great success. I got paid, the chapter reimbursed me for the hotel stay, and they bought tons of books. I had lots of fun too. Thanks so much to Heart & Scroll for inviting me down!