Another Writers Conference Horror Story

Author Penny Warner writes in the Contra Costa Times today about her experience at the California Writer’s Club conference in L. A.  last weekend… which I also attended. The event was held at a convent in San Fernando and many of the attendees actually spent the weekend there (and had to remember to return their towels to one of the club volunteers, who brought them  from home). Here are some of my favorite excerpts from her column, which was in the form of a diary…

3 p.m. — Check itinerary. Hotel not open until five. Try sightseeing, see only
strip malls, graffiti walls, bail bonds, Taco Bell, Arby’s, IHOP….

4 p.m. — Give up sightseeing, go to hotel, pray they will let us in early
for nap before conference. Discover "hotel" is actually a convent, with
religious statues, tolling bells, and nuns on wheels (golf carts?). Mother
Superior, who runs the office, is firm about check-in time, which is now 6 p.m.
instead of 5. Am I being punished?

4:30 p.m. — Search neighborhood for place to take nap in rental car. Not
possible in L.A. Return to convent and park in shady spot near Jesus statue. Nun
shows up to check if we’re vagrants. Swear on Bible we aren’t. Tom naps. I keep
an eye out for more nuns on wheels.

8 p.m. — Sneak out before "Senior Poetry Slam." Go to room. No key required.
Doors have no locks. So much for romantic interlude. Turn on single light bulb
and remove lampshade to read in semi-darkness. Drift to sleep hoping for
contagious disease so can go home.

That was day one. On day two, when I happened to be present…

Noon — Lunch cooked and served by nuns. Plain chicken, plain rice, plain
veggies, plain salad. No dessert. (Being punished?). Dig out Reese’s Peanut
Butter Cups from purse. Wolf them.

2 p.m. — Give another talk on mystery writing with Tom Sawyer ("Murder She
Wrote") and Lee Goldberg ("Diagnosis Murder"). Twelve people attend.

The volunteers were nice, and their intentions were good, but it was a poorly organized and sparsely attended event. I have to say that, after being disappointed with the last few conferences/events I’ve participated in,  I’ve decided I am going to be a lot more selective about accepting speaking invitations in the future.

7 thoughts on “Another Writers Conference Horror Story”

  1. I don’t know what’s more horrific, Nuns on Wheels or Senior Poetry Slam.
    Neither, JD, neither.
    It’s definitely lunch: “Plain chicken, plain rice, plain veggies, plain salad. No dessert.”
    I like simple food as much as the next Southern belle, but ye gods! The horror!

  2. Do you know what section of the paper it was in? I looked through the Datebook, the front page, and the sports section (well, that was mostly to find out what was going on with Durazo’s elbow), but I couldn’t find it.


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