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Anne BardsleyGet ready to rumble for the 2016 conference! This year was a blast! I roomed with two writer friends with an adjoining room to two other Facebook friends. Another friend was just two doors away. We jokingly referred to ourselves as “The Cool Kids!”

Arriving a day early was an added bonus that allowed us to get settled in, meet people and have time to scour the schedule.

All three of us in room 473 got chosen for the Stand Up Comedy Night. There were endless rehearsals, and I actually knew their routines by heart. I couldn’t keep my own routine straight in my head. This caused our relaxation period, complete with Jellyfish shots. Who knew they calmed the brain so well?

I sponged in so much from each presenter:

Cathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff: In the keynote luncheon, “If not now, when is the time to become the queen of your own life?” This will be a reference guide for my new woman’s group, The Solid Rock Sisters.

I wish the conference was an additional day. I missed their class, but I bought their book. I am working on my Queen-self currently. Their story is so honest and inspiring. I wish they were my neighbors. Their keynote at lunch was fabulous.

Alan Zwiebel: Be prepared when opportunity arises. If I ever need a talking horse, put syrup on their lips and they look like they’re actually speaking. (A reference to when Saturday Night Live interviewed Mrs. Ed after Mr. Ed died. Hilarious story!)

Katrina Kittle: Use vivid descriptions. Show the reader: She did not just drop her purse. “Her Dior purse spilled over and four tampons rolled onto the meeting floor.” Take the reader into the story.

Judy Carter: Everyday life is really funny. Your pain has a humorous side, as well.

Elaine Ambrose: Snag the reader with the first line and keep it rolling. Be aware that you might lose the reader if the first paragraph isn’t compelling.

My example from a story offering tips to moms with young kids, “Moms, the string from a pork roast should never be used for an at-home tubal ligation, even on your worst day.”

Make sure to laugh and sing every single day!

Wendy Liebman: Funny lady. Wish I learned more about her stage presence and her craft. I so love her style of humor.

Leighann Lord: She made me laugh and cry at her dinner speech. She was funny, tender and real. I love her even more now.

Pitchapalooza was great! With only one minute to sell your book, your words better be well chosen and interesting. Get them down, Anne!

My face was soaked watching Barbara Chisholm performing At Wit’s End. I was close enough to watch Erma’s family reactions. One tear from her daughter and I joined right in. What a lovely performance and a sweet tribute to Erma.

And from my roommates I learned things that I will carry with me for life. They transformed me with their talents, such as:

In Yiddish, schvitzing is sweating. Thank you, Parri Sontag. I’m now bilingual and can sweat like a Jewish gal.

The Oscar Meyer bologna song, Bob Dylan style, from Linda Roy. I sing it daily now.

How to hide under-eye circles, from our class president, Vikki Claflin. Priceless!

The magic of fishing panties and tequila from Kim Dalphres. I’m cool now!

Marsha Kester Doyle taught me to steal a half bottle of wine (okay 3/4). Bless her heart.

It was so much to learn in so little time, and the staff was so sweet and professional, as always.

This really is a sisterhood. There is so much sharing of ideas and contacts, without competition. It’s takes a village to make a writer.

Can’t wait until 2018. I will be 30 pounds thinner then. Oh, wait! Now that I am a queen, I love myself as I am. I will just show up as myself, wearing a majestically jeweled crown, with a big smile on my face! I’ll blend right in with all the other queens.


— Anne Bardsley

Anne Bardsley lives in St Petersburg, Fla., with her “wrinkle maker” of a husband and two spoiled cockatoos. She’s still recovering from raising five children. She is so happy she didn’t strangle them as teenagers as they’ve given her beautiful grandchildren. She is the author of How I Earned My Wrinkles: Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause. She blogs at

Reflections of Erma