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summer 2006

Howdy folks,

Shirl recently went to a bizarre conference in Phoenix. It was bizarre because you wonder who would organize a conference at the end of June in Arizona? That’s like hosting a barbeque in Hell…serving ribs basted in jalapeno sauce! If these same people had done our logistics and planning for WWII, we’d all be speaking German right now.

The conference was weird for another reason. Shirl’s Phoenix hotel was actually the site of three conferences going on simultaneously. The one Shirl attended was the International Thriller Writers’ Association. The conferees attended seminars on sex and perversion, torture, and white slavery. The second conference, in the same hotel mind you, was for an international revivalist group, which offered its conferees workshops on spiritual ecstasy, flagellation, and salvation. The third conference, in the same hotel, was some sort of meeting of a national sorority. Shirl didn’t know the name of the outfit, but from her description of them, I can guess who they were. These women always wore high heels and long white dresses, decorated with blood red sashes. Obvious! They were the descendents of the Vestal Virgins and a very, very lucky group of women whose ancestors were no doubt watching over them. If any of these Vestals had fallen into the hands of the other two conferring groups, they either would have been converted or perverted, flagellated or eviscerated, saved or enslaved. Come to think about it, if either the revivalists or the thriller writers had fallen into the hands of the Vestals, they would have ended up as temple sacrifices.

One of the most enlightening events at the thriller writers’ conference for my wife was an informal bull session she had with three other writers. All of the writers had been romance writers and were bemoaning what they saw as current decline of the genre. However, according to Shirl, one of the gals had plans to capitalize on that decline. After an extensive analysis of market trends, she was drafting a romance that would be plotless, since plot gets in the way of characterization and interpersonal relationships. Her book will focus on a group of nymphomaniacs who are making it with fairies who are having affairs with Scottish vampires who have relatives in St. Charles, Missouri, who in turn have amorously hostile neighbors who are werewolves who have cousins who are shape-shifting rednecks who suck the marrow out of carp bones.

If I could reach the woman, I would tell her that the idea is ridiculous. There is no marrow in carp bones.


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