This is not the short version. This isn't even the timely version. But I still felt I wanted to share this weekend outside of the official awards which you can read about here: Another Nomination On The Books.
Maybe this post will show you a different side of a writer's weekend at book awards. Maybe you'll go to Billings one day. Maybe you'll just look at these photos and smile.
Early Friday we hopped in our cars and headed south. It was a beautiful day for a drive.
One pause at the boarder and seven hours later we made it to Billings where "Big Todd" the front door guy at our hotel told me that I should fatten Kevin up and then he asked if I was one of those freaky murder mystery writers. "Why, yes I am." I never saw Big Todd after that initial meeting.
I took in my first swag bag ever.
We were happy to see an article about us.
Taking Big Todd's advice Kevin and I had a quick bite to eat at the Montana Brewing Company
We also enjoyed a glass of Custer's Last Stout and a Huckleberry Ale. Huckleberry is a thing in these parts.
When Dave and his family caught up to us we got ready...
And went to the Finalists Reception at the Billings Public Library. And, my goodness, what a beautiful space. I have no photos that do it justice but please click on the link to see this place. Thanks to Gavin Woltjer, director of the library, for his hospitality.
And thank you to the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild and the Writer's Guild of Alberta for a fantastic reception of food and drink.
We socialized, met the readers of our book, other writers, I dropped a chicken skewer on the ground (whoops), we met other Canadians and some very colorful individuals. As the reception slowly came to an end Corby Skinner invited us out to Doc Harper's Tavern.
For a martini or two.
From there Kevin and I made our way to the The Northern Hotel for one more beverage and some live music.
A coffee was necessary so we made our way to Rock Creek Coffee Roasters
My God! That cup looks huge!
At 11:00 am we were at the library for a book talk with David A. Poulsen. It was great getting to sit with another author in our category and chat about our process.
When that was done Kevin and I went on a walking beer tour of Billings. My sister joined us about half way through. I have to say that I was impressed with a) all the microbreweries and b) how cultural Billings is. To quote a cowboy I know "it was a mighty fine surprise."
Our first stop was Thirsty Street Brewing Company
We hit several others but it was too early in the day. They were still closed. Hey! Don't judge.
We found Trailhead Spirits
It was in a cool old heritage building.
With one of the most delicious Caesars I've had. I got to build my own Caesar from the rim, the spices, and the fixings. Yum!
My sis joined us here and we walked over to Uberbrew for another taste and a snack.
Our last stop was aptly named Last Chance Pub
The three of us wandered back to the hotel. David, my sister (his wife) their children and my date, Kevin all got our fancy clothes on and went to the awards. We found out very quickly that when the seating arrangements were made we were given the nick name The Wolfe Pack. I loved it!!
Although Counios and Gane did not win in our category we are still very happy to have been nominated.
We received our finalist plaque. We did not win but like I said we made it to the finals of seven states and three provinces and had an opportunity to meet more people in world of writing.
And eat some really delicious food.
The after party was at Corby Skinner's home, which looked like a castle. I am not exaggerating.
See? A castle!! He was incredibly hospitable and we had a great time!
Parallel to the walking beer tour, Billings offers a walking coffee tour. So we did that too although our choices were minimal as a lot of shops are closed Sunday morning.
We found Ebon Coffee Collective Judging by the way I'm clinging to the coffee cup and the container of Tylenol to the right the after party may have been a bit more than I bargained for. Not true, though. The picture is misleading. I promise.
And we also found The Fieldhouse/Annex
Which was interesting inside and out.
Back to the huckleberries. They had huckleberry doughnuts with lavender sprinkles. I was in! A snack for the road trip home. Yeah. The doughnut is square. Weird. I know. But still tasty.
One quick stop at the Yam a.k.a Yellowstone Art Museum
The cowboy art is what I expected but the super hero art is what I got. Hit the link and you'll see.
It was finally home time with a quick detour to Pompey's Pillar recommended by one of the "Lou's" at our table (two women both named Lou). Man! I can't make some of this stuff up!
We climbed to the top with very civilized steps but the wind was terrible.
The Yellowstone River.
The wind got more and more aggressive so we decided get back on the road.
The angry prairie wind got worse. There was lighting and tumbleweeds blowing across the road. The sky was dark and ominous.
They say never start a story with it was a dark and stormy night but how about ending with it?
Thanks everyone in Billings for the great weekend.
A final word: I apologize for the length of this blog. Please let me know if it was too much.