This was my room.
This was my view.
The captain’s house is set back on the bluff, away from Main Street. I stayed in the Pacific Suite. It meant I got no traffic noise from the village itself (my one complaint with staying in the Raku House across the street). I did, though, get traffic noise from Highway One and the river bridge. Car sounds would bounce off that smooth gleaming sheet of water and pitch themselves right at my windows. In spite of that, it was generally quiet.
The Alegria Inn serves a sit-down breakfast for people who stay in the Captain’s House complex, but it starts at 9:00 and the conference started at 9:00. The innkeepers brought me up warm scones Friday and Saturday mornings. Saturday, I swiped butter across my laptop keyboard because I was trying to eat a scrumptious apple-ginger scone and load photos at the same time.
From the lush garden a steep trail leads through a tall blackberry bramble down to the beach. The trail goes past a bee tree. The first two mornings I went down I thought the hive had been abandoned, but on Saturday I saw a double-handful of amber honeybees buzzing in and out of it.
The novel I brought to workshop has an artists collective in it called the Hive. The Hive is mentioned in the first chapter (which I brought for workshopping). Two readers wondered what it was. One person in my writers group thought it was mentioned too soon. Maybe they’re right.
The conference offers breakfast and lunch as part of the package cost. I browsed the breakfast offerings; they looked good. On Saturday I had lunch at the conference; fresh green salad and lasagna with home-made pasta noodles. It was very good. Usually, though, I wanted to leave the campus and go into the village during the afternoon. And I wanted to have lunch with friends.
The conference was at a new venue, a K-through-8 school on Little Lake Road, sparkling clean and newish. I liked the space. I felt bad for some workshoppers who were assigned a 4th grade classroom… with 4th grade desks/chairs.
The large multi-purpose room worked well for open mike readings, announcements, and several panels. It doubled as an indoor lunch/get-together venue.
I think College of the Redwoods/ Mendocino Community College has closed the Fort Bragg campus where the conference had been held. The place had sentimental value for me but I talked to a few board members and staff, and they were not sentimental. The space was becoming more restrictive each year. They liked the newish school.
Our workshop leader, Jody Gehrman, has an MA, an MFA and a MPW– Masters in Professional Writing. She has taught. She writes in several genres and for several demographics; YA, with a recent shift to psychological suspense. She’s also written screenplays and plays. Some have been produced in Ashland, Oregon (I assume but don’t know that it’s been at Oreshakes). That breadth of experience really helped given the array of works we had in the class. Jody lives in Mendocino County and teaches at the Mendocino Community College in Ukiah.
There is a group of people who are always on the beach in the early mornings. They look like they might be in their late twenties or early thirties. They sit around a small fire in the shelter of a big driftwood log. They have two dogs. The first morning a big, glossy boxer came running toward me. “Lulu! Lulu! Come back here, you bad dog!” a woman shouted after her. “It’s all right, it’s all right, she’s friendly! Lulu!” Lula was friendly. She sidled up, hindquarters wiggling, and let me stroke her chest and scratch her ears. She was wearing a harness and I held onto it (Lulu let me) until the woman came over. “She’s not supposed to do that,” the woman said. “You have a good walk.”
The title of my book has been, to put it artistically, elusive. I’ve settled for a working title. Jody made an offhanded comment about my main character’s name being “rich” because of Shakespearean references (she and her sister are named after Shakespearean heroines and that is not coincidental). Walking from my car up the banquet, it suddenly seemed obvious that the name for this book should come from The Tempest. Unfortunately, “Oh Brave New World” has been done.
Then there was the banquet. What I will say is this: I loved my tablemates, and the bar made a good Cosmopolitan. Michael Krazney’s keynote speech was excellent. Marlis Broadhead, the conference’s founding director who started things twenty-seven years ago, shared some inspiring observations.