When the Midwesterner Met the Canadian

red car hood in front of dirt road lined by trees and then grass

Take the side road, they said. It will be scenic, they said. Okay, it IS scenic, and it’s in pretty good shape for a dirt road.

I took the back road out of Calgary, Alberta (where I was for When Words Collide) by recommendation for a more scenic route, as if you’ve seen Alberta Highway 2 once, you’ve really seen all there is to see. My route took me pretty far west into distinctly rural territory. As I was driving further and further from civilization and my streaming radio failed, I mused that I’d better not flatten a tire or anything, as I didn’t know if I’d be able to reach help.

Just a moment later, I came around a turn and saw a car sitting only partly off the road, and occupied. I passed, stopped, and reversed to pull alongside, putting down my passenger window so I could call to the driver.

He beat me to the greeting. “Are you lost?”

I answered, “No. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I just saw your license plate [Indiana] and thought you must be lost.”

“No, I’m fine. I just saw your car sitting and thought you might need some help.”

“No, I’m just looking at the pond.”

“That’s a good thing to do. You have a good day!”

“You too!”

red car hood, open plains with hills on horizon

The hills were much more fun to stare at than AB-2.

That’s what happens when you put a Midwesterner and a Canadian together, each trying to out-help the other, I guess. (I do think maybe you could get all the way off the road if you want to sit and look at the pond, but I guess he didn’t figure on much passing traffic.)

Yes, I drove from Indiana to Calgary for the conference. I had to re-route on the way east, as Glacier National Park is burning, and my previous route is closed and my EV charging station (the historic Lake MacDonald Lodge) evacuated.

When Words Collide went very well! I was absurdly overbooked; I’d listed my areas of relevance and said to put me wherever needed, which meant I ended up on 10 panels and presenting 3 solo sessions. (Memo to self: phrase that differently next time.) But I thrive on talking, and I had a great time and got to catch up with some fabulous writers and readers, and to meet new friends. I realize after the fact that I took very few photos, though.

Laura smiling at the camera, a row of seated authorsI did have the presence of mind to take a shot during one of the readings at the launch of Fire, which sold completely out and which we heard good things about.

I also asked to take a panel selfie, just once. This is (R-L) Peter V. Brett, Fonda Lee, Erin Lindsey, and me, just before starting the “Agency for Women in Fantasy/Feminism in Fantasy” panel, which I think went pretty well with some good discussion.

Laura VanArendonk Baugh, Erin Lindsey, Fonda Lee, Peter V. Brett

Now I’m at a hotel, charging my car more slowly than planned but well away from fire (but for the author copy I picked up the day of launch). I took the chance to catch up on grading homework and to read a story. Hurray for making the best of things!

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  1. We do try to be helpful. I’m kinda sorry you didn’t get a picture of this pond though. Seeing you again at WWC was a blast and your workshops/panels rocked.

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