As I sit here at the airport waiting for my flight to San Francisco to arrive, I can feel the weight of responsibility slowly roll off my shoulders and go crashing to the ground. I admit, too in feeling guilty for leaving. For Mike stays behind to juggle for the first time the needs of all the cats, including medicating the few still sickly kittens, cleaning out all the litter pans, feeding the brood and seeing that horses and dogs stay fed and watered. He will soon discover how demanding and time-consuming these needs are.
Along with feelings of guilt, comes the gratefulness that I am going to get away. Away from medicating Trump and Charlie, breaking up fights between Matuse and Cole, spurred perhaps by the sudden inclusion of the kittens into the rest of the house, and away from all the needs caring for these kittens places on my shoulder daily. So I sit in the quiet of the airport, before the holiday madness hits, one of the advantages of flying out of Eugene instead of Portland and wait for what lies ahead.
I just imposed on a couple to take a photo of me for my parents. I had to laugh, before the woman took my picture, she fussed over my collar, adjusting it so it stood straight, much like my mother would do.
At the Crowne Plaza Hotel –
My roommates this year are Dusty Rainbolt and Nancy Peterson. Nancy and I get along famously. I find her delightful and funny and she is filled with all sorts of stories about her adventures. She even took time out to hear about my manuscript. She expressed a desire to read it when it is finished and if she agrees with what it says she has said she will write a foreward for it! Nancy works with the HSUS championing the causes of the feral cat. This is the first time I have actually really met her up close and personal.
Amy Shojai and Dusty Rainbolt invited me to have lunch with a group of other authors. The Japanese Restaurant inside the Crown Plaza makes wonderful food and a lot of it! The company at the table during meal time presented more color than the spread before us on the table!
Friday- Interview Day
I pitched my manuscript to three editors. All of them seemed genuinely interested in the concept and how the message was being delivered. We had a long, lovely talk finding commonality in the fact that all of us had stray kittens in our home. Using their strays as a topic, I was able to launch into a discussion of my manuscript. The interviews flowed, they didn’t stall. I will be interested to find out what they think about my sample chapters after the holidays are over.
I have met amazing and talented people here. Belonging to The Cat Writers’ Association inspires me daily. The group challenges me to be a responsible “eye witness” when I write. Every time one of them writes a new article, this raises the bar for me to be a better writer. The group creates new sources for my work, brings to light creative ideas and forms friendships that are true.
One gal I really clicked with is an artist and a writer. Bernadette and I got along from the very beginning and are planning some future projects together.
Another day of seemingly endless wonderful food and inspiring seminars; within the company of so many men and women excelling in their craft. We then had about three hours of free time and I just went upstairs to pack and instead fell asleep in the bathtub! I was so tired. My roommates are busy sleepers- but then I snore, so we are in good company!
It is interesting how three women can share a room with two double beds, one bathroom a table one dresser and a television. Mostly it means we are pretty good living out of a suitcase and not shy about running around in our birthday suits.
7:00 p.m. the bar is open and people have gathered to network, form friendships, hunt for projects or just relax. Joan Miller of CFA is here. I admire this woman so much. Her ability to retain information pertinent to cats, her love of reading and research and her passion for breed-specific cats and ferals makes her number one in my book! I first met her three years ago at the first conference I attended. I watched her in action at the International Cat Show and my respect for her widened. Our sponsors are here enjoying the day along with us. This is always such a glorious event.
I have met amazing, wonderful people; TE Watson, author of There’s a Dragon in my Mailbox, I Wanna Iguana and other children’s story. A delightful man, who is quick to laugh, he has a twinkle in his eye and told me he is currently working on eight books. This group inspires me to be a better writer while encouraging me to stay true to myself. Belonging to this organization motivates me to think outside the box. They supply me with endless article material simply by speaking about their own personal experiences.
The Awards Banquet starts in a few minutes. This year, there won’t be a main speaker for the event which is good, because it is always so long anyway.
Sunday 2:00 a.m.-
I can’t sleep and in a minute you will know why. As we were nearing the end of the awards banquet and I was trying not to fall asleep in the middle of my chocolate mousse, they were announcing the last three awards of the nights. As Amy was talking about the judge’s comment regarding the biggest award of the evening- the CFA’s President’s Award, one of the women near me whispered “Sounds like Cat Fancy…” Although, it did sound like Cat Fancy, there was something about the description that seemed familiar, but I just thought I was tired. The judge’s comment is below:
“My winner has a lovely layout, is easy to use and promotes the welfare of all cats – pedigreed, mixed-breeds, strays and ferals. There’s a wealth of information – from its quality articles on health and behavior to its fun photos and cat horoscopes – for the wannabe cat owner, the new cat owner and the experienced cat owner. CWA members are among the contributors to the website and a Muse Medallion won by the website’s creator proudly graces every page. I’m sure the website will display her President’s Award as well. It’s my pleasure to present the 2007 President’s Award to Mary Anne Miller for her excellent website, www.felinexpress.com!”
OMG! I heard my name and I think I screamed. I know I couldn’t move and I was crying. I am such a wuss but I was so surprised! OMG- I won this writing award. I still can’t wrap my mind around that concept at all! Everyone was clapping and Bernadette was pounding me on the knee and telling me to get up there. I don’t even remember climbing on the stage. I was presented with a dozen red roses, a beautiful plaque, and a check! Oh My Word! There was a flurry of photographs, I remember standing on stage with Nancy Peterson, Dusty Rainbolt, Kim Thornton, Amy Shojai, and then it blurs.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. For one brief moment in time, the pumpkin turned into Cinderella at the ball! Chung (my webmaster) is going to flip out and Deb is going to be so pleased. So many people were coming over to me; I have no clue what I said to any of them. What an honor! WOW!
So, I should be asleep (Nancy is) Dusty is down the street at BJ’s but I can’t sleep and I didn’t want to go out and drink to celebrate as my plane leaves early in just a few hours. The events of the night just keep whirling in my head along with all the memorable people I met this weekend; TE Watson, Rick Tillotson author of Cat Yoga Bernadette (who also snagged a special award for her article about senior cat care)- yeah Bern! Dusty, who embarrassed me during her seminar by holding up her brand new book Cat Wrangling Made Easy and announcing that “the book wouldn’t have been possible without Mary Anne Miller’s help! Oh my- the frog turned into a princess for just a bit and it was wonderful. Now I really have to try and sleep, and I hear Dusty at the door trying to get in. I think between all of us we must have 15 keys to this room! LOL So I better go let her in.