Catholic Writer’s Guild LIVE! Conference REVIEW

I spent most of this past week in Arlington taking in the amazing Catholic Writer’s Guild Live! Conference, that took place in the same place as the Catholic New Media Conference, and the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show.  WOW!!!  It has taken me nearly three days of recovery to even begin to absorb all that I attended.

First, the good.  I loved meeting people whose blogs and books I have read, am reading, or would like to read. That was so very very FUN I can barely handle it yet.  Give me time.  I’m a mite slow in managing input but even if I never do manage to get faces and names to stick together, the whole process was a blast.

More good.  The talks at the conference were uplifting, edifying, enriching, and information packed. I feel as if this experience is bound to improve my work.  I could not go to half of what I wanted to attend.  The Writer’s Guild presentations took precedence for me, followed by the Catholic New Media blogging track presentations.  I wish I could have bi-located and gone to everything offered in both conferences.  I feel called to do pod-casts on my blog and no clue how to do them.  I also feel my blog needs some programming to make the width adjust for non-computer screen applications.

Still more good. The Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show was incredible. Every single major publisher had a booth. I got to see them in a single day, walking around, and thinking about my “serious” book and where it ought to be sent when I get it done.  As a new writer, I need to have the book written before I query simply because I NEED to write this book even if not one publisher wants it.  I’m impressed by the beauty of the art out there. I’m thrilled by the variety of books. I am also encouraged in my writing because what I do is unique enough to be worth sending out there.

More Trade Show good. I gained an awareness of what is currently available to Catholics in the way of films, art and services. There is a movie on St. Augustine coming out that sounds good. The art was so pretty, and I find I have rather expensive tastes. The parishes that get some of the pieces I saw will be very blessed.  I am drooling over the Logos Catholic packages. OH MY! I want it all. Then there was the service, Flocknote, that facilitates communications between parish and parishioners electronically.  I liked it, I could just see Fr. John sending regular phone messages to shut-ins so as to keep touching base with them even between his visits.  I also liked that it would do twitter and email and facebook, etc.  Very useful indeed.

Free books good! I enjoyed especially the booths were they handed me books for free. I loved that. I would have been content with a business card with their web sites, but the free stuff is welcome indeed!  I purchased some books from one booth, and they insisted on giving me a copy of their magazine. At another booth I ordered several books and they sent me on my way with a DVD on the priesthood. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be taking home a whole bag of books, most of which were given out free. I am going to be spending a lot of time reading so I can blog reviews!!

Book signings good. I enjoyed being able to get a couple of books signed by their authors. Especially Sarah Reinhard’s book because she signed one for me and one for someone else who shall go nameless since that person occasionally reads my blog. Some books were free and some I had to buy but it was all good. To my frustration I ran out of money and didn’t get one book I wanted to have signed but I can’t feel too bad when I am blessed with so much!

Good evening stuff too. I enjoyed the banquet. Wanted to stay for the whole thing. The presentation about was quite interesting. The music was marvelous during dinner with the harp players (I purchased their CD the next day). I cried as I always did during the country song after dinner. It is that beautiful one about a young couple in love, and they were to meet and run away together and he got to the place and she had left a letter asking him to wait because she had to finish her chores, and he said the same words back to her on her death bed.  It is just such a BEAUTIFUL song about love that is mature and solid.  I then had to run off to put the baby to bed but enjoyed what I did get to see. OH, and the food at the banquet was delicious!

Good Conference Center. The Facility was nice, very clean, well kept, well lit, and the staff were cheerful and competent and did their best to make the stay pleasant.  There was a convenient ATM, and the concession stand had healthy options.

Downside: the hotel was expensive even with the discount and unlike the basic Motel 6 they DID NOT HAVE FREE WIFI IN THE ROOMS.  To me, when every coffee shop and CHEAP hotel offers free WIFI in every room, there is NO excuse for charging extra to use your computer in your room.  NO, having it in the conference hall or in the lobby is NOT good enough.  I travel with babies and they do not take well to mommy sitting in a hallway somewhere in order to use her laptop when they need to nap.

SECOND DOWNSIDE: the food was expensive but not worth the cost.  The baby needed a nap, so I ordered  burger from room service (cost pretty much the same as in the restaurant downstairs) and this ritzy fancy expensive burger came: WITH THE SAME CHEAP PACKETS OF MUSTARD AND MAYO AS THE TRUCK STOPS AND GREASY SPOONS. I expect REAL mayo in a generous dollop on a plate and good mustard in a similar dollop on the same or a similar little plate. AND even more insulting, they forgot the pickles and even the CHEAPEST burger from a fast food joint comes with more onion.  OH and this travesty cost me $12.

Next time I attend a conference I will bring a cooler full of beverages and food so as to minimize the number of meals I pay for at the exorbitant prices. And perhaps by next time the expensive hotels will wise up and offer WIFI in every room as a basic service!

Dear Lord, thank You for this marvelous experience and bless the people whose work made it all possible. Bless the writers, the publishers, the artists, the merchants, the organizers of each conference and managers of the trade show. Thank You for all the marvelous people I met and those I did not get to meet. Bless everyone who attended and inspire their work for Your greater glory. Amen.

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