The above picture is of my writing group The Inklings. The conference is a great place to network with other writers and make new friends.
The Sheraton Reed Center in Midwest City is our new home. The fact that the May 3 tornado obliterated the original conference center did not deter us from moving there the same weekend. Storm chasers weren't disappointed. The first night of the conference was interrupted by tornado sirens. Community members as well as conference attendees congregated in the enormous tornado shelter. Marcia Preston, our 2008-2009 president, didn't let a little wind and hail deter her, though. She continued her session in the shelter!
Here is my mom holding some of the hail after it had melted a bit. Most of the hail was golf ball sized. However, at one point they released us to go outside when the sirens went off again. For a brief period of time the hail was enormous. As my mom commented as she retreated to the shelter again, "I'm going inside! It's the size of snowballs!" A lot of cars were damaged.
The final night is always a favorite for our group. Not only does the conference offer opportunities to network with agents, editors and authors, but it also provides the opportunity for us to make a little cashola. For only $20, a person can enter each of the 33 categories. Good deal, right? The Inklings were able to shake our Hallelujah basket (filled with jingle bells) several times and wear our celebratory tiaras at Saturday night's banquet. Here's a pic of me with one of my awards.
I miss friends and family in Oklahoma, but the weather is truly awful. My allergies went nuts while there. No wonder. This article from Forbes.com lists Tulsa, OK as the #1 worst place for spring allergy sufferers. Oklahoma City ranks 15. Anyone who has ever been around me during a tornado threat knows that I'm a complete wimp. Returning to NJ was a bit of a relief since the hubby told me that they announced on the news that Oklahoma is the most dangerous state to live in for natural disasters. Eek.