- by Delilah Devlin
Before we published, my sister Elle James and I attended every conference in our region that our finances would support. We loved the anticipation, the planning, and the shopping to get ready for them. One year, we sat down in January and began making our plans and noticed a gap in our calendar. To fill it, we found the River City Romance Writer’s “Duel on the Delta” conference in Memphis, Tennessee. The story I’m about to tell was a hard lesson learned, but I think still a vaild one.
I asked my husband for the use of his vehicle for the trip from San Antonio to Memphis. He wasn’t happy and laid down several “laws” that I had to promise to abide by. “Thou shalt not eat in this vehicle,” “Thou shalt leave no trash in this vehicle,” and the most important one, “Thou shalt not have an accident.” I couldn’t complain, his Ford Expedition was his pride and joy and spotlessly maintained.
Of course, any opportunity to travel is an opportunity to discover a new story. Memphis=Graceland=Elvis! Sis and I plotted a comedy centered around adventures at Graceland. Naturally, we needed to hit Graceland before the conference registration on Friday evening. Elvis’s home was everything we’d imagined—garish red velvet, green shag carpeting (even on the ceilings) and gilt furniture.
In the Graceland parking lot, I passed a man who was combing his hair–Elvis hair–in his truck mirror. It was oiled, long on top, and touched his collar in the back. An idea popped into my head for another story, and I had to get a picture. My sister was horrified, but I got my picture and a germ of a story (which I still haven’t written).
At last, we reached the conference hotel. Appointments with three agents and seven editors were offered. The workshops were wonderful, including my very first Deb Dixon GMC workshop. Well worth the price of the conference.
When sis and I started our trip back to San Antonio, we were feeling very pleased with ourselves. We’d come away with several requests for full manuscripts, story ideas, and received valuable education. We even got our first “fan moment” when a couple of ladies who’d read our entries in their contest stopped by to tell us how much they’d loved them. We preened on our success all the way back—until we were about 90 miles from home.
Disaster struck. I had a fleeting thought of “What the he—” as something black filled my windshield. A loud thump, a shower of glass, and I was instantly blinded and swerving into oncoming traffic. At sis’s shouts to go right, I swerved right and forced two other vehicles onto the shoulder.
Finally, I pulled off the road. After I shook out the glass from my hair and clothing as best I could, I glanced back to the road and saw an enormous turkey laying there with its feet in the air. Soon afterward, several police cars arrived.
The first officer got out of his patrol car, hitched up his britches, and walked over to us. With a stony expression, he asked, “Ma’am, do you have a license to hunt?”
Needless to say, hubby never let me drive his Expedition again. But sis and I learned a valuable lesson about false pride. Every time one of us gets a little boastful, we warn each other about the turkeys aimed our way.