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Friday, 20 October 2017

With the NebraskaWriters Guild

A rather splendid work by Helen Frankenthaler, 'Red Frame' - one of many treasures I saw while visiting the Sheldon Art Gallery in Lincoln

This was the busy week that was causing me worry, and after all it's turning out rather well. Phew. The audience in Kearney Library, Monday evening, wasn't the biggest, but seemed to enjoy my talk about becoming a debutant novelist in my dotage. I had young writers asking me for advice. Quite a responsibility.

At Omaha the Visit Nebraska people put me up in a superb hotel and turned out in numbers to hear me talk about why I am constantly returning to the Cornhusker state. I was embraced warmly by my sponsor afterwards, and I distinctly heard the word 'Wonderful!' escape her lips. At dinner I spent some time in conversation with V J Smith, who wrote The Richest Man In The World and lectures on Gratitude. Met too a few wine growers, a handful of brewers, as well as various other entrepreneurs promoting their tourism products. All very friendly, and the grub at the banquet, lubricated with five different local wines, was just excellent.

As to my reading at the Bookworm, well, it put me in mind of a well-known poet I once interviewed, who showed up to read at Cambridge and was confronted with an audience of one - a little old lady who stood up as he got started and said, 'Sorry, I'm at the wrong event.' My audience was in single figures - and four of them were personal friends or acquaintances. However, the bookstore bought a bunch of my wares, and one of my friends invited me to lunch the next day. Moral: you take the rough with the smooth. (or, in modern parlance, 'Get used to it.')

Yesterday I spent time in town, making myself known at the scene of Saturday night's reading, Francie & Finch, and checking out the Great Plains Art Gallery and the Sheldon - which was just fabulous.

An old favourite - Edward Hopper's Room In New York

... so fabulous that I need to put up one more picture:

Georgia O'Keeffe, painted when she was living in NYC with Alfred Stieglitz

I stayed at a super B&B on the edge of town last night. West Field, out on 27th Street NW used to be the poor farm, but has been running as a guest house for about 12 years. Highly recommended for its antique fittings, homely feel and original breakfasts. I left about 11 and drove slowly west along Hwy 34 (rather than the freeway) to Aurora. Have to mention the Bulldog Roadhouse in Bradshaw (turn off the highway to the Business District - hell, just point the car at the elevator) where I stopped for an excellent BLT.

So far, at the NWG Conference, I have attended a talk on The Building Blocks of Romance ('How to make a heart-stopping romantic novel'), and a second on creating audio books using ACX. At the first, a fellow guest turned and told me she'd read my CV and thought I was a writer in the mould of Louis L'Amour. I'll take that: I used to teach Hondo to my second-year students at Hull University. He had nearly as many jobs as I've had.

Okay, time to socialise - then an early night: I am on at 0845 tomorrow.

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