Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anita's Pictorical Adventure to Denver

Hello, Prairie Chicks! I'm down in Denver at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. I left Monday afternoon and arrived here this afternoon. I wanted to drive down to get a good visual representation for my books, otherwise known as a recon. It was late when I crossed the border so I didn't get a good look until I left Sidney, Montana Tues morning. This is dinosaur country and reminded me of the Alberta badlands.

Known as 'Big Sky Country', Montana is a land of contrasts from the badlands above to the river valley below.

From earth tones the likes of which I've never seen . . . probably even ones that inspired Charlie Russell himself . . . so vivid in real life I'll be hard pressed to portray an accurate, believable description in my books.

. . . to hills so pointy it looks like they've been trickled from the fist of God.

From pheasants who stand by the side of the road . . .

To antelope so numberous in Wyoming they're a dangerous nuisance on the highways, even with a high fence to keep them off.

Wyoming's landscape is right out of the old western movies. For my book, I can see Emma with her outlaw captors riding across this land . . .

Or like this . . . can't you just see a horses and riders climbing up and over these hills . . .

And then today driving down the interstate and seeing this land formation as if someone had built a fortress at the top of the butte:

Here are the Laramie Mountains to the west of the interstate I drove south on toward Denver. Unfortunately, the closer I got to Denver, the more haze and smog appeared so this was the best 'mountain' shot I got.

Also, the closer I got to Denver, the more lanes opened for the influx of traffic. In fact, from Fort Collins to Denver, it seemed like one community blended with the next.

My GPS is so accurate, it took me right downtown to the Merriot City Center. But it was the wrong Merriot. Back in the van, I punched in the address for Merriot South. The GPS took me to the vicinity, but for some reason, put me on the wrong side so I had to drive around and around through numerous streets and parking lots looking for the entrance. I finally got inside and the first person I saw was Cheryl Wyatt and then the rest of the Seekers. It was so nice after the long drive to see friendly faces.

I registered and received the editor and agent appointments I requested. One is on Friday and the other on Sat. I received my meal tickets and a very nice tote bag with a portfolio and other stuff inside. And I'm wearing my name tag with the 'Beyond the Borders' sticker to show my zone and I've attached my new Inkwell Inspirations pin. The name tag is in a pouch with a zipper at the back to hold your room key and meal tickets. Hanging from the bottom are horizontal ribbons you stick on to show what your job or designation. This year, my ribbons say, 'Registration', 'Volunteer', and 'Press'. The Press is because I'm a workshop reporter and have to write an article for the ACFW e-zine.

I helped at the registration desk tonight and I'm back on tomorrow morning at 7 am so I think I'll close off this post. I'll check in a couple times tomorrow though so ask any questions and I'll try to answer them. If you wish to follow me, I'll be blogging on my own blog as time permits.

Here's my questions to you: How far would you go to research a book? Have you ever been to Denver? Have you gone on an 'adventure'?


Karyn Good said...

Hi, Anita, way down there in Denver! It sounds like you've had a successful beginning to your 'adventure'. What wonderful pictures!

How far would I go? I'll have to ponder that question. I've not been on too many writing adventures but I think I need to start touring around and scoping some ideas out.

Have fun at the conference and bring back lots of great information.

Erika said...

I'm thinking that one day I may have to venture over to Scotland and Ireland to "research" a book. Yeah, that's a definite should happen.

I have been to Colorado, not to Denver though. My dad used to live in Woodland Park and it is a beautiful place until you get too close to the city. Like most places. I have never been to Montana though. I have read a couple books by Nicholas Evans that took place in Montana, it sure is pretty there. Thanks for sharing.

Helena said...

Hi, Anita. So glad to know you arrived safely. I guess I'm sounding like my mother. :)

I don't know if I can answer your question accurately. Here's why: I have been to locations that I subsequently want to write about, or use as settings. So, initial research is imbedded information from my earlier experiences. Then, I took another trip to that place, however, not necessarily because I had decided to write about it. I've done that twice, to Austria and to Scotland. Was I going for a nostalgic experience? Definitely. Was I on a recon trip as well? Probably. In the case of the Scotland trip, I also stopped off in the English city where I went to university in the fifties ... what do you know -- the novel I'm just starting is set in just such a place!

I think it's important to experience a location for your writing, if it's at all possible. I know research can do a lot, and movies and other books help with atmosphere, but there's nothing to match checking out the landscape, the cities and towns, the weather, etc. with your own five senses on alert. Even your sixth sense might swing into action.

As to your other questions, I think the trips I took on my own could be called adventures. Hiking in Austria and roaming the streets of Edinburgh and Aberdeen! But I've never been to Denver. In fact, I haven't been to many places in the U.S. at all. Future adventures beckoning?

Have a wonderful time at the conference, Anita.

Helena said...

Actually, Anita, I just misled you. I spent some time in the Denver airport while enroute home to the Cdn prairies from a family holiday in Maui. But I don't think that qualifies as being in Denver, tho I did see it from the sky!

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I was born and raised in Denver and wish so much I could be there for ACFW this year, I went trolling for info on the conference. Thanks so much for posting the pictures!

I look forward to reading your posts throughout the conference.


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Lovely pictures Anita, I hope you're having an excellent time.

How far would I go? I'm planning a trip to England next summer, mostly because I've always wanted to go, but also for the small details and research. Living in North America leaves me a little light on experiencing buildings with more than a meagre few-hundred year history, so I intend to take a lot of photos and references of little details in older buildings, castles, and cities to flesh out my writing. I also hope to do a lot of research on local folklore and superstitions, mostly on one of my favourite myths which appears in the wip, but also on whatever other stories I can glean and perhaps draw inspiration from later. The plan is to load up the digital camera whenever we go out, and then offload to the laptop that night to make room for more :)

Looking forward to hearing your post-conference details!

Ban said...

Sounds like a beautiful trip - have a wonderful time Anita !

Janet C. said...

Great pictures and, like Helena, I'm glad you got there safe and sound.

Good luck at the conference - looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back.

Deb H said...

hi Anita!
i'm so glad you made it to Denver. If you're at the Marriot South, you're in my mom's neighborhood. Driving from Ft Collins to Denver, you followed my two brother's daily commutes... well, sort of. My older brother is about 40 minutes north of Denver - but one can see his home from Interstate 25 (the route you were probably on). My younger brother is a truck driver who stays mostly local, so he's always driving along between Greeley and Denver to way down south to Colorado Springs.

i'm disappointed the haze and smog ruined your mountain view. i'm hoping a good windy day might clear the air some so you can enjoy the view.

As for locations to explore for book locations, I rely mostly on places I've already been - which has been quite a few "exotic" places: the Ukraine, southern Germany, Yugoslavia (back before they split it up), Greece, Israel, Egypt, and Honduras. I've noticed I prefer writing in mountain type locales, since I grew up in Colorado. Fortunately, my life has taken me to a lot of places that are stored in my memory banks for book locations as well. I would still love to travel to Austraila and New Zealand though. Maybe someday.

thanks for your pictoral updates. May the conference fulfill all your expectations.

p.s. don't worry about Guppy being referred to as "stuff" there's a ton of "stuff" to take care of with his impending arrival *grin*

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
Great pictures. Glad you had a safe and productive trip.

How far would I go to research? I'd love to go to Hawaii, preferably in January. It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it!

I agree that it's much easier to write a setting when you've actually been there. You just have a better feel for it.

Enjoy your trip and your conference. Take care.


Suzie Johnson said...

Hey Anita,

Great pictures. They reminded me of my first train trip across the country, which was my first glimpse of Montana. Hey, I have an adventurous spirit, but I'm scared to fly so I try to always go by train.

But then you ask how far we'd go to research a book...the one I'm working on is set in the South of France. And I'd give almost anything to go there. Yes, even get on an airplane.

Good luck with your editor/agent appointments. I'm so glad you got the ones you wanted.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Karyn, the thing is, it depends on the stage of your life, what's going on with your family and the stage of your writing. Also, to start small. Don't forget, I started by making the smaller excursions to North Dakota and the only reason I was able to come on this adventure was because of the conference. However, now that I'm here, I'm going to make the most of it.

Yes, I'll bring back lots of info. Not much to report on tonight as the opening ceremony was only at 5 tonight and the only workshop was the publishing houses. No surprise that I attended the Steeple Hill one. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Erika, one of the things I did learn today was from the keynote speaker, Debbie Macomber. She said it took her 5 yrs from the time she wrote her 1st novel until she sold it. Plus an editor used her manuscript to teach a workshop on what not to do. When she asked how she could rewrite it, the editor told her to throw it out. It's the same ms that another editor bought.

Debbie said she's a firm believer in writing down your wildest dreams because it tricks your mind into believing you believe it. And then it comes true. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Helena, I can feel your adventurous spirit whenever you talk about your travels. And any travel is a research trip, isn't it?

Thank you for sharing.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Becky, I'm sure glad you're enjoying the pics. I worked the reg'n most of today and met sooooo many people and although I wanted to whip out my camera and take their pic, I didn't. Mainly because I wanted to seem professional, but also because after hours of travel, most wouldn't have appreciated it. LOL

Thanks for the visit.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey there Hayley. The one thing about downloading to the computer every night to make room for more is that if your laptop goes, so does your pics.

I stopped off and bought 2 extra SD cards enroute and am using those. I have been downloading to the laptop but keeping them on the
SD card as well.

Every time you talk about your England trip I feel your excitement mounting. :)

Hope to see you soon.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Ban and Janet, thank you.

Deb, I'll try to get pics of the mtns on the way back. I never realized you were so well traveled. That's excellent! Think of all the things you can tell Guppy.

Suzie, I love trains! Hmmm, South of France, eh? Did you pick the location for the chance to visit someday? LOL

Thanks everyone for the compliments on the picks. Tomorrow will be a long day of workshops ending a 10 pm but keep checking my blog for updates.