Deb Porter looked around the crowded conference room as the excited group of writers made their way to their seats. Dear Lord, what am I thinking?
“Ok, can I have everyone’s attention?” Over 30 pairs of eyes turned to face Deb, their revered leader.
“I want to thank you all for coming. As you know, you’re here because you placed in the Editor’s Choice Spring 2006 quarter. My vision is for this group to collaborate on a writing project, preferably a book, with ten chapters. Unfortunately not everyone was able to make it. As you know, there was a terrible malfunction with the EC for the “Abundance and Life topics” so we weren’t able to get the winners from that category down here. Also, Christy Zinn, Karen Diekun, Karen Rice, Shannon Redmon and Kris St. James were unable to make the trip. I tried reaching them, but it seems that after their last wins, they stopped writing!”
A sudden noise from the back of the room distracted the group and all eyes turned to see…Anita Neuman!
“Oh, sorry everyone! I guess I’m kinda late, but better late than never!” Anita explained apologetically.
Deb smiled and nodded for Anita to take her seat.
“The first thing we need to do as a group is agree on a main topic.”
“How about something to do with grandmas.” Sandra Peterson piped up.
“I was hoping we could do a story with colors. Like colors of love for instance?” Lisa Smith replied.
“Before we decide what the topic is, shouldn’t we break into different classes? Upper or lower for instance?” A sly grin spread over Jim Clem’s face as he observed the responses to his request.
“NOOOOOOOO.” The group shouted while Deb let out an exasperated sigh.
“Thanks Jim, but that horse is DEAD!”
“I think the topic should be
at least to me
it could rhyme with sun.”
“You know Kenn, maybe you should lay of the rhymes for a while. That one kinda stunk.”
“You should talk Maxx. You’re the one dressed as a clown.”
The group turned to stare at Maxx. Whispers rang throughout the crowd as they realized the true identity of the man behind the clown costume.
“Yes, I am dressed as a clown. But only because all of you think I’m this twisted, scary person. I’m funny! Haven’t you ever read my comedic stories? I can write comedy!”
“ Maxx, maybe you should sit down. You look like you’re starting to hyperventilate.” Deb tried to calm the raging clown.
“I’m fine! To prove to you all that I am a funny guy, I brought some jokes…Ok, joke #1. What do you get when you cross a peanut with a bowl of soup?...PEA SOUP!”
The crowd looked at him, speechless.
“I’ll sit down now. “ Maxx took off his red Styrofoam nose as he sat down .
The uncomfortable silence was broken by the ring of someone’s cell phone. Ann Grover looked embarrassed as she reached into her purse.
“I’m sorry everyone. This should only take a minute…Hello?...Oh, Time Magazine?...Sure…Next Wednesday at 9 am?...Bring copies of my book…sounds good…thanks.” Ann slipped the phone into her purse as she sat back down.
“It’s nothing.” She replied to the dozens of envious, shocked faces around her.
“Like I was saying, a TOPIC!” Deb’s face was slowly becoming the shade of the red walls that stood behind her.
“I think we should do one on people that are paralyzed. I think we could…” Theresa Veach was interrupted by Emma Claire.
“That’s a great idea! We could start with the diagnosis of different individuals who have…”
“And we can have a chapter on a mother’s struggles on seeing her child go through such turmoil. The tears will be flowing!” Marita Vandertogt jumped in.
“Ok, this is not working. Where’s Pat?”
Pat Guy jumped from her seat. What would you like Deb?”
“Moderate the conversation. We’ll never get anywhere going like this. Ok, listen up everyone! I’m going to put you all into groups and then Pat will go around to each group and make sure you all stay on topic…”
“Deb? I have an idea to get everyone motivated. We can have a competition. Each group that comes up with the best ideas for the topic of the book wins.” Jessica Schmit smiled as she contemplated her new idea.
“Actually Jess, we’ll do that. I need a few people to volunteer to judge. Let’s see…Linda Germain, Debbie O’Connor, Beth Muehlhausen and myself will judge. These ladies are always helping with Faithwriters, and I know they’ll do a great job.
Deb maneuvered throughout the room, dividing the mass into groups.
Twenty minutes later everyone was busy brainstorming for ideas.
“Deb, can you please tell Teri to remove her golden retriever from the room. He peed on my leg!” Lynda Schab was pointing an accusing finger at Teri Wilson, while trying to stand in a way where her wet pant leg didn’t touch her skin.
“Teri, I’m sorry, but we really can’t have animals in this room.” Deb looked apologetically at Teri as Teri led her friend outside.
“I smell like pee!” Lynda shrieked.
“You should write Teri a letter. I’ve lost track of all the businesses, politicians and countries I’ve written expressing my opinion.” Corianne Smelker replied while examining Lynda’s’ pant leg.
Rita Garcia wondered over to examine the leg.
“Rita? Why do you keep wondering from group to group? Is there something wrong?” Deb asked while watching Rita chat with Cori.
“I’m fine, I just I like to be where the action is! I like to check everything out.”
“I see. Well, would you mind staying put for the next little while?”
“Oh, of course.”
Rita walked back to the insane poet group that she was a part of. Venice Kitchura was in the middle of debating topics with Purity Snowe.
“Purity, I don’t want the topic to be about something dark. Dark is fine, but I think the focus should be on God’s character.”
“It would be on God’s character. I always tie God into my poems. I knew it was a bad idea. I’m sorry.”
“Purity, it’s a great idea, but we need to find an idea we can all agree on.” Crista Darr commented, while trying to diffuse the situation.
“I think we should write a story about a woman who had to do jury duty for almost an entire year. It can center around her and how much she loves brownies and diet coke.”
Jan Ackerson grinned as she took a swig of her diet coke. “Does anyone want a brownie?” Jan offered.
“Excuse me! Can I have everyone’s attention? The judges have made their decisions. We have the results. Linda, do you want to make the announcement?”
“Of course Deb! I would be delighted! Ok, the winner of the best topic goes to, Rod Loche, Sharlyn Guthrie, Stephanie Bullard and Tim Chezum for their topic ‘A Day in the Life of a Faithwriter.’ Their idea is to share personal stories of their writing struggles, joys, defeats and most loved moments. Each person will contribute under a specific topic…Let’s all give them a round of applause.”
Applause burst throughout the room as Tim went to the front on behalf of his team to claim his prize-a real DAVEY award.
“Wow, I never dreamt I would stand here before you all with a DAVEY in my hand. I want to thank Stephanie, Rod and Sharlyn for all their hard work and creativity. They’re quiet at first, but man they have some pretty awesome ideas. I’d like to invite you all out to my buss at the end of the day for a party with all the peanuts you can eat! Thank you once again.”
Tim’s victory was interrupted by a sudden explosion in the adjoining room. Melanie Kerr rushed in, covered in white powder.
“I…was…attacked…by…students…help.” Melanie gasped while slamming the door behind her.
“Mel, what happened?” Lisa Smith asked while rushing over to assist the distressed teacher.
“Every year students …play practical jokes and they…followed me here…and set off…white flour bombs…”
“You’re kidding.” The room stared dumbfounded at the poor lady, while trying unsuccessfully to stifle their laughter.
“Um, Lisa why don’t you take Melanie to the washroom and help her get cleaned up...This has been quite the adventure. I wonder if…”
Another cell phone rang. Brenda Kerr motioned with her hand for the room to quiet down. “Hello?...Oh, hi Theresa…Yes, I can get that story ready for the column…No prob…Bye.” Brenda placed the phone in her briefcase before turning to the group. “EzraWeb.” She replied to the questioning stares.
“I think this is a great time for me to give you all your letters!” Sherry Welding said, excitement ran throughout her voice. “I appreciate you all so much!” Sherry pulled out a large plastic bag filled to the brim with envelopes. She began circulating the room, handing out cards with names on them. “I’ve brought encouragement cards for everyone!”
Maxx stared as his card for a moment before tearing it open. “Why does mine have a drawing of a gun on the cover?”
“Why Maxx, Don’t you see?
That card is for thee
You are scary, not hairy
A clown, with no frown”
“Really Kenn, you need to stop.” Linda Shultz replied. “By the way, has anyone seen my pen? I seem to be completely lost since moving back to Canada.”
“Linda, the pen’s behind your ear.”
“What? Oh, so it is. Thanks Anita!”
“No problem. And if anyone fins a new man that seems perfect for me, tell him to wait. I’ll be right there.” Anita grinned as she watched the puzzled faces shoot her questioning looks.
Sherry continued to hand out the encouragement notes as Deb tried, once again, to regain the focus of the chaotic group of writers.
“Ok, we have a beginning. We’re writing about us and our lives. The next step is to assign which group will take which chapter. Each chapter will be about an aspect of writing. Helen Paynter will be responsible to assign each chapter. She will also be critiquing your work. She does that anyways every week, so I figured she would be more than willing to do that here as well. Is that alright with you Helen?”
“Of course! I’d be delighted.” Helen replied as she readied her critiquing pen.
“Great! Thank you, you lovely lady. But before we begin, I need to go outside to get a breath of fresh air. Let’s take a ten minute break.”
This is dedicated to all the EC winners of Spring 2006 (well, all of them except the winners in the abundance and life categories.)
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