How I spent my Summer Vacation, Part 1

So I recently posted about my upcoming trip to the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, and now that I’ve had a chance to recuperate from that week, and the following one in Hollywood (doing research on a new book), I can post about my adventures!

On my drive up from LAX, I headed up the coast on the 1, passing Thelma Todd’s old place (thanks to Scott Michaels for the great website,


I wanted to stop for a moment to really appreciate the look of the joint, but I was on a mission, and was actually pretty tired already.

I was booked around the corner from the Hyatt in SB, at a little inn called the Parkside (also owned by the Hyatt, and a little cheaper). I was prepared to be mightily disappointed, since I’d wanted to book at the Hyatt, but surprisingly the Parkside was comfy, and only a short walk down the street. For someone who’d been trapped inside during a long cold Edmonton winter, the walk past lush bougainvillea, jacaranda trees overflowing with lilac blossoms, and oleander trees dripping white fronds everywhere was totally worth it every morning.

The first night I ordered room service (thank God, the Hyatt delivered, even to the Parkside!) and crashed.

The next day, registration began around noon-ish, so I made a jaunt into town, found a Panera for breakfast, and did a little shopping. Didn’t buy much, because I knew the tsunami of spending that would follow!

The first night at dinner, I was delighted to find two more ladies from Edmonton at my table! We spent the rest of the week hanging out and getting to know each other. I’m convinced that Lesley and I were separated at birth.


New Edmonton friends Heidi and Lesley

I browsed around the hotel, tickled at its age. I have a scene in one of my WIPs where a writer has to come to Santa Barbara and speak to old Hollywood director Sidney Olcott and his wife, Valentine. This would be PERFECT. There were even some old photos that had been framed in the one common area of the hotel around 1930. I began framing the scene in my head and making notes about the interior.


Sidney and Val

After entering a low ebb with my writing, debating about self-publishing after racking up oodles and oodles of rejections (more than you can imagine. Seriously), I was pleasantly surprised to see the reactions to my readings during the workshops.

The speakers were delightful, the ones I saw. I had to miss Caitlin Rother and Maile Meloy, but I was really glad I got to see Jane Smiley, Mark Childress, and Laura Moriarty.


Jane Smiley


Laura Moriarty

More later, but I did want to begin sharing some of my impressions of my amazing experience.

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