Reflections on a Weekend

From Left to Right: Beth Terrell, Chester Campbell, J.B. Thompson, me, Bente Gallagher

How was your weekend? Did you and your spouse do anything interesting? Was it the same old routine? Or did you spend a nice, simple weekend together?

Wayne and I had sort of had a combo weekend. One the one hand it was sort of just nice and simple. But there was some excitement too.

Southern Festival of Books

This past weekend was the Southern Festival of Books, which is put on by Humanities Tennessee. It draws over 200 authors from around the U.S. who participate in panels, readings, and, of course, signings.

This year I was more than just a spectator. I was on a panel with four fellow Sisters in Crime Middle Tennessee Chapter authors: Chester Campbell, J.B. Thompson, Beth Terrell, and Bente Gallagher who writes as Jennie Bentley.

My panel was Sunday, but on Saturday night the Festival put on a thank you reception for the authors in the state capitol. I’d never been in there before. We had to go through security, then through a long tunnel to get to the elevators that took us to the floor where the party was. Wayne was the one who drew the observation first: It looked like a scene from the old Get Smart TV show. It was pretty neat.

Sadly, there could have been major authors circulating in the crowd at the party, and I would not have known. If they don’t have their book cover with them, I’m not going to recognize them.

Wayne and I munched on the food, and then, not seeing any fellow SinC members, we left.

A Story to Tell

But that’s when things got semi-exciting. We rode down the elevator with a funny guy joking about how painful it can be to be in a room full of writers when they get a drink or two in them. The gentleman asked me what my book was, so I told him, then asked about his.

Don’t Let My Mama Read This: A Southern-Fried Memoir. But I’ve also got a show on BET called Somebodies.”

Cool! I thought it’d been neat to see the C-SPAN bus parked out front but to meet someone from TV? I’ve lived in Nashville for three years and have never had a country star encounter (which almost everyone else I know has), but a random ride on an elevator produced a quasi-celebrity meet. Wayne and I thought that was pretty cool.

Bummin’ and Blue

Sunday was my panel. As I sat next to my accomplished mystery writer panelists, I had an epiphany, “What am I doing up here? I don’t really write mysteries. What have I been thinking these past few years?”

Interestingly, unbeknownst to me until we were on the way home, Wayne had the same thought.

“Not that you didn’t do a good job up there, babe, but why were you on that panel? The questions didn’t apply to your writing. You don’t write mysteries and your book really isn’t one.”

It would take too long to explain why I’ve thought these last four years (that’s how long my book’s been out) that it’s a mystery. It has mystery in it, but it’s technically not a mystery. It’s not really any genre. It’s a mix of them. The best I can say is I’ve been genre-blind, tried to label it as something because everyone always wants to know where it fits.

So I was a bit blue as we headed to lunch. I felt stupid that it’s taken me this long to realize something that should have been obvious many moons ago.

Nature: The Sure Cure for What’s Ailing You

Wayne knows how much I want to be a novelist. At lunch he could tell how much I was bumming about just now realizing what a misfit my book is and that I don’t have anything else out yet. (Not for lack of trying. Even though she had good interest, my agent wasn’t able to sell my last completed book. And because I had my hands full with first my mom, then our trip to Alaska, then dealing with Murphy’s paw, it’s only been the last couple of weeks I’ve had time to devote to finishing the other books I have started.)

“Come on. Let’s got to Radnor. I know you’ve been wanting to go there.”

I have. Radnor Lake is a beautiful state park fifteen minutes from our home. At any time of year it’s pretty, but at this time it’s especially magical with all the trees changing. I love hiking the trails now.

The leaves weren’t in full riot yet, but they were putting on a show nonetheless. We held hands and, while we swatted mosquitoes with our free ones, joked about who the skeeters found tastier. We spotted deer wading in the water across the lake, and when we looped around to catch the lake trail on the way back, we met them foraging for dinner just off the path.

A shot of Radnor and two of the deer (we saw seven in this spot) foraging by the lake

I felt restored. And grateful.

Wayne had salvaged a lot. My mood, the day, heck, the whole weekend. I fell asleep not bumming about my panel epiphany, but instead smiling and thinking of that Brad Paisley song lyric: “To the world you may be just another girl, but to me, Baby, you are the world.”

Because at the end of the weekend that’s how Wayne made me feel –when I needed to feel it most.

Courtney Mroch also writes in Pets and Marriage. For a full listing of her articles click here.

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