On May 11 & 12th, The Loft Literary Center hosted its inaugural Wordplay literary conference in downtown Minneapolis. Billed as “Minnesota’s largest celebration of readers, writers, and good books”, the conference certainly lived up to its hype – hosting The Rock Bottom Remainders on Friday at the iconic First Avenue and featuring a megawatt list of authors throughout the weekend. I was in attendance in my capacity as a board member for the Mystery Writers of America – Midwest Chapter (MWA-Midwest).
I think that I’m recovered (think is the key word there) and just wanted to give a rundown of some of the high points from my weekend. I’m not even going to bury the lede: I freaking met Stephen King. *The* King. My childhood writing hero. And no mom, I didn’t pee my pants. And although I’m not sure – I think I was coherent?
So, meeting Stephen King (and getting him to sign my much loved copy of Salem’s Lot) was pretty freaking special, but I got to hang out with two other luminaries from the mystery world: Rachel Howzell Hall and Hank Phillipi Ryan. These ladies! They didn’t even bat an eye when I brushed about three years worth of Goldfish crumbs out of the backseat of my mommobile and drove them to their hotel later that night.
BOOK LOVE: I was incredibly proud of my friend (and local author) Meg Hafdahl. Meg was chosen by The Loft was one of the Exhibitors for the weekend and she KILLED it in book sales. I also got to crash with Meg and her writing partner Kelly Florence and will always be grateful for our solidarity and need for takeout, silence, and bad literary movie adaptations after Day 1 of the conference.
MERCH: The last day of the conference coincided with Mother’s Day, which kinda sucked? (I’m of a couple different minds – I don’t like the commercialization of it, I am mindful of my dear friends who have a hard time with this day, but damn do I love the preschool / homemade art crafts that my kidlets bring home to me! And the snuggles!) So, I took advantage of that “excuse” and a kind exhibitor’s discount from Odin & Osgar to get myself a couple book-related gifts. (See the Book Nerd t-shirt in the graphic above.) These guys are funny and local. (And size-inclusive … I’m a plus-sized lady, so it’s nice to get a shirt that actually fits me!)
SHENANIGANS: MWA-Midwest had a booth that was right in the shadow of the US Bank Stadium and almost adjacent to the stage where Stephen King gave Saturday morning’s keynote speech. Our booth neighbor to the left was South Dakota author Phyllis Cole-Dai. I do sincerely wish that our paths will cross again. It was great to meet her and Ruby R. Wilson (co-editor of their shared poetry book: Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems).
On Sunday, a group of MWA-MW’s authors participated in a panel on the Target Stage called “Mysterious Minnesota.” Luckily for me, our chapter president Heather Ash did all the work, I just got to hang out and take pictures of my friends and peers’ faces up on the big screen.
It was wonderful. It was a lot. I was glad to get home on Sunday night and have been drinking coffee by the pot since then in trying to regain some of my energy, but I was happy to be part of the experience.