This post is going to be a collection of little events and moments that I really enjoyed. I mostly went there just to hang out, and meet people that I only knew online. So I'm treating a lot of what went on as confidential. There were one or two panels I went two that were just plain fun, and I'll write up later.
The CWG conference was in Sumerset, NJ. While this is usually a problem for me-- like most New Yorkers, I believe Woody Allen's old line that "If Jersey's the punchline, you don't need the rest of the joke"--so I decided to go for one day. Less time in Jersey, and, well, $40 cheaper. Did I mention I was a cheapsake? (Actually, I"m a writer in NYC, with these taxes, Donald Trump probably counts pennies here)
What surprised me was showing up at the registration counter, and having someone identify me by sight.
"Do you know who I am?" she asked. And, even if I didn't know my favorite Sherlock Holmes author offhand, I could clearly see her nametag. Ann Margaret Lewis, author of Murder in the Vatican.
One of my favorite authors could identify me immediately. Squee!
I covered the exhibit hall in about five to fifteen minutes on the first round (later rounds would find the author of the Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living, which I enjoyed quite a bit), then went to the CWG opening meeting. Most of it consisted of what the Guild does, and how it operates, and how their Seal of Approval happens.
However, the panel consisted of three people I know / knew of-- Ellen Gable Hrkach (more on her later), Ann Lewis, and Karina Fabian. In fact, at one point, before the meeting started, it was interesting. Karina Fabian was handing out slips for her free Kindle Download of Greater Treasures. She went through the room, handing them out.
She was about to hand me one, when I told her, "I read it."
"Great! Now you can review it."
I flashed her my business card. "I already did."
"John! You came!" And she hugged me.
Come to think of it, I think she hugged me about 3-5 times that day. I could be wrong.
After that meeting, there was coffee. I hung around the coffee machine, planting flyers (because I'm stealthy like that), and taking them back when Karina Fabian handed them to me (she's better), and talking with a friend of hers, Arthur Powers, and someone else (I forget who). When I mention my Anti-DaVinci Code, A Pius Man, I had positive reactions (which consisted of "Thank you, God! When are you published?"), Mr. Powers said, "I think I know that title. I handle all of them at CatholicFiction.net."
I didn't know my books were that memorable.
Oh, a random event.
Passerby: "Where's the CWG booth?"
Me: "Just go past Pope Francis and go straight up the middle."
Passerby: "Pope Francis is here?"
Me: "The cardboard cutout."
Later, in the exhibition hall, I chatted up the representative from the Chesterton Society, Richard Aleman. I later found out he was one of their authors. I told him about my book, and my historian background, and promptly suggested I take a job with the Chesterton Academy, out in Minnesota. I was then informed that an editor from Chesterton Press (different organization) was looking for me, which was strange, because I had said hello to him that morning, making certain that my badge was at eye level the whole time.
So, I hung around the CWG booth, awaiting his return.
As I wander, meek and wary, I was approached by a youthful middle aged woman (when her hair is going slightly pale, and she has the energy of Stan Lee on a sugar rush, that is youthful middle age) who was about 4'11", maybe 5'. She saw that my tag was CWG, and asked about what I wrote.
"I write under Declan Finn. I wrote a book called A Pius Man."
Her face lit up like a child on Christmas morning, and she shoot my hand vigorously, exclaiming "It's an honor to meet you. I loved your book. I know the review that I gave you wasn't a perfect review but it was an honest review, and that's important. And you really should keep writing, no matter what anyone says because you're a great writer. Are you coming to my presentation later? Your book is on kindle, right? I'm doing a presentation on how to sell your kindle book, and you should come to it."
As you can tell, I paid attention to every word she said, but I was stuck at "You're honored to meet me?" [Blink, blink, blink.]
I think it was one of the happier moments of my life. I had fans. Who knew?
Oh, and "this one" is Ellen Gable Hrkach, the President of the Catholic Writer's Guild.
I told you we'd be getting back to her.
At the end of the day, it was a pleasure to finally meet all the folks who I've talked to for years. They are great, enthusiastic people, and I loved every one of them. It was a great opportunity, and I look forward to doing it again. (Yes, again. I have family doing something in Chicago next year, at the same time as the CWG conference is going on. I look forward to doing this again. If they're looking for a fighting and writing panel, they have my number. Hint, hint. :)