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At some point into the Florida Writers Association Conference last weekend in Lake Mary, FL, I began to feel like a talent scout. That young man working on his mystery would be heard from. I was sure of it. A short story writer whose first publication is in the FWA collections book would soon break through that tough publishing wall. You just know it sometimes. The beautiful young woman I pegged in the parking lot on the first day as a writer made top ten in Collections. Later her elevator pitch to me of her first novel was concise and intriguing. An agent at the conference thought so, too, and asked for the manuscript.

One of my short stories made its way to “Slices of Life,” FWA’s collection book for 2010. I got to play like a real author and sign books for people. There are things you don’t know your first time. I soon learned my signature was not always enough. Some wanted something more personal. Here’s where quick thinking and creativity comes in handy even when in shock. I wonder if published authors go to their graves feeling like a fraud or will the feeling pass?

I will let you know soon when “Slices of Live” will be available for order for just $14.95 at www.amazon.com.   If you love short stories and real life characters you will treasure this book.

My friend Joan Levy and I were finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest. We met last year when I asked to sit by her at the awards banquet and felt like old friends by the time they called her name for a second prize tie in her category. This time both our stories were up for Creative Non-fiction Unpublished awards. I realized I would feel badly if I won and Joan didn’t and she felt the same. We held cold, shaky hands at times, rung our hands at others, praying for a tie between us at any level. The presenter had announced there were more ties than usual. We saw this as a good omen. We only talked of a tie. Someone must have heard us. We did come out even. Neither of us won. Relief came before our feelings of rejection, so I guess that’s good. There is always next year. Perhaps we’ll try for different categories, though, and we do have the satisfaction of knowing we both made it to the top layer.

The workshops were first class with lots of “take aways,” but for real value, meeting other people who relish sitting at a computer rearranging 26 characters into ideas and word pictures for hours is always the high point. I’ll never forget pausing at the door as I entered my first mini-conference a few years ago. I immediately stepped outside and called my husband to say, “There’s a room full of people just like me!”

My only regret was that I chose at one point to attend a serious, well-attended workshop in the huge ball room instead of “Let’s Talk About Sex” in a smaller venue with speaker Laura Parker Castoro I learned later she had them rolling in the aisles. No, not like that. She presented with humor. All in all, I’d rather have had Sex in the Orchid Room.

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