Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Former Possum Queen, Miss Cow Patty Cotillion 2005, and a Writer Walk into the SWA Conference...

“But I’m due at the SWA writer’s conference in two days,” I whined in the E.R. as the evil nurse slapped a hospital bracelet on my wrist and kick-started my IV pole. Wouldn’t you know it? Struck down in my prime by a bowl of… coldhearted blackberry cobbler? 

That was last time. This year I’m happy to report I made it to St. Simon’s Island and came away with more than when I left home—gotta love that new Michelin radial. As the bonafide “Mistress of Mayhem” and budding humor writer, I rely heavily on personal experiences for inspiration. Predictably, the SWA Conference provided me with plenty of material—albeit at my own expense. For you newbies I recommend this wonderful workshop and have included some helpful items for your conference checklist. In addition to the usual arsenal of pens, notebooks, and IPad, I suggest the following: 

 A Spare Tire

This will come in handy when you have a blow-out five minutes into your conference adventure leaving you stranded on the highway like metallic road-kill. Don’t forget your phone, AAA card, and some kindling and matches for those smoke signals you’ll be sending while awaiting help. “I’m sitting underneath a big palm tree,” does little to help you out in Florida.

Your Best Karaoke Get-up

Hand gestures are also crucial, (sorry, no sock puppets) as are your talented back-up singers who must be able to read acronyms and groove in sync while belting out, Harper Valley P.T.A. And while the moves from the famed “chicken dance” are entertaining, they can scream, “America’s Got No Talent.” 


Nine pairs of “matching” shoes should do it – matching shoes. While considering swing dancing confident you’ve packed the perfect clodhoppers keep in mind, donning a stiletto with a stylish flip-flop, even if they’re the same color, won’t make you the conference twinkle toes.

Mr. Magoo Cheaters 

If a bout of “temporary vanity” strikes and you decide to insert your contacts before being suddenly called to read your writing masterpiece aloud, pandemonium will surely ensue. This is complicated when one lens goes loosey-goosey and the other gums up, gluing both eyelids together. You’re guaranteed to wander your hotel cockeyed and dependent upon the kindness of the first unfortunate stranger you can grab. Thank-you Linda Joyce for agreeing to channel your inner Annie Sullivan.

An Open Mind

While pitching your book to the literary god of the north, (the prospective agent) and she suggests you’re better suited for You Tube, bear in mind, “There’s no crying in writer’s conferences.”


These are essential while laughing yourself silly over lunch with your new BFFs following your fifth glass of sweet tea while pondering your upcoming YouTube debut.

Heading home with my first-place certificates proudly riding shotgun on the adjacent seat I realized I’d gained more than valuable writing skills and my awards, I’d acquired a wonderful support group whose motto truly is, “Writers Helping Writers.” Lord help them. Remember, when all else fails, just add humor. Until next year…

Mellie Justad writes humorous stories about everyday life. her work has appeared in anthologies, NYMB on Being a Mom, NYMB on Sex, The Storyteller, Smile, American Humor, Parenting Plus, New England Writers Journal, and online: Midlife Boulevard, Midlife Collage, Dew on the Kudzu, and Muscadine Lines. Please visit her at justadshumor.com 

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