Once again, Heather Graham renews her commitment to help the New Orleans economy by bringing writers, readers and others together for education, entertainment and just a plain old New Orleans good time. Debbie Richardson offered to be Cub Reporter for the event.
When Heather asked me to write up a piece about her Writers for New Orleans Conference, which was held this past weekend, I couldn’t help but wish she would have asked me before it started so I might have taken notes. This would have helped keep details straight before lack of sleep, Hurricanes and Hand Grenades fogged my brain. But, truth be told, nothing could dull my memories of this always enjoyable conference.
The 4th and a Half Annual Conference (Barbara can remind you all of her experience at our half year), began on Friday with Registration and 2 opening day panels. One of the weekends most innovative panels came when five editors and an agent were set up to judge Louisiana Idol. Conference goers were encouraged to submit two pages of their writing which were read by Heather, Mary Stella and myself in front of the group and then critiqued by the esteemed panel. It was an interesting peek into the mind of those who can buy your work.
And oh, the parties! Kathy Love has hosted the Welcome Party every year and, as her usual partner in crime – Erin McCartney – was unable to attend this year, fan favorite F. Paul Wilson stepped in as co-host. After tossing beads and bubbles from the balcony of the local haunt where the party was held, attendees were able to experience a step into the past at the World War II museum for a Hollywood/USO style party (complete with corn dogs, sliders, milk shakes, and popcorn). The party, hosted by Helen Rosburg, included entertainment by Scott Perry and Karaoke. Saturday’s Breakfast had attendees in stitches as Kayla Perrin, Leslie (L.A.) Banks, Joe Konrath and Sarah Wendell shared stories of where they are and how they got there.
While much information is shared throughout the numerous panel discussions, this conference was begun to help rebuild New Orleans economy, so Heather makes sure we do our part, giving plenty of breaks to hit the streets for dining and shopping.
Saturday night the Slush Pile Players strike again as, during a phenomenal dinner, they perform in Masquerade. The highlight of this evening came as each table wrote and performed a tribute to one of the many authors or editors in attendance.
Sunday’s tea was a touching experience as Alice Duffy was there to present the Duffy (aka Du-fay) Award named after her daughter the much beloved Kate Duffy.
And if all this wasn’t enough, those who stayed after the conference on Sunday were given the opportunity to attend a Vampire Tour around New Orleans Sunday night. I’m certain there were stories shared that night that will turn up in someone’s book in the near future.
Wow! I guess the effects from Bourbon Street weren’t as bad as I thought. As usual, Heather and her team provided a thoroughly satisfying time away to learn, catch up with old friends and make some new ones. If you’ve been before, I’ll see you next year! If you haven’t, start saving now and block off Labor Day weekend 2011. You won’t be sorry!
Bottom Line: I hate missing this one because I love New Orleans….and Heather Graham!