By Rose A. Valenta
Last month, I attended the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) Conference in Macon, Georgia. The theme of the event was “Macon Whoopee.” Every year, the NSNC holds its three-day Conference at a different city in the United States. A local Conference Chair is elected, and attendees get to see the most interesting places in the vicinity. It is a gathering of members: bloggers, book authors, magazine writers, newspaper columnists and contributors, poets, and newbies. The format is usually the same. We have workshops, panel discussions, keynote speakers, visits from local politicians, contest awards, and scholarship awards.
To raise scholarship funds, there is a silent auction on the last night of the annual event. Everyone contributes something to the cause and can bid on items of interest. We received books, jewelry, framed prints, and autographed memorabilia.
This year, we got a surprise donation. Macon native, Nancy Grace, of HLN spoke at our event. When she heard about our fund raiser, she upped the ante. It was to be a live auction after dinner. She donated a few minutes of airtime on the Nancy Grace Show for the winner to plug a book, column, blog, or whatever the writer is crafting; plus a studio tour and one-on-one lunch with her. Additionally, the winner gets a link on Nancy’s website. You would have thought someone hit the Mega Millions.
And then the fight started…
The bidding war began in the Johnston-Felton-Hay House, where we were having a light dinner, amongst the Monets and Van Goghs. It was between our senior Southern humorist, Cappy Hall Rearick, and our creative hypnotherapist and NSNC Past President, Suzette Martinez Standring.
"Do I hear $1,100?"
I quickly called my bank to see if I had that much in my debit card account. No such luck. After buying gas in eight states and staying at two five-star hotels for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop 2012 in Ohio, and the NSNC Conference in Georgia, I was down to $845. I had also been binging on cheese grits and shrimp in the hotel dining room. It was a new food group introduced to me, at my own risk, by the chef at the Macon Marriott City Center. There were no allergic reactions, but wow! It is habit forming.
"Argghhh!" I muttered into my Galaxy Tab. Then I called my bookie to bet $200 on I'll Have Another (15-1) in the Kentucky Derby.
"Can I use my credit card?" I asked.
"No! Bring the check book."
"I have $1,150; do I hear $1,200?"
I wrestled with incontinence. This was no time to make a bee-line to the bathroom. Besides, I was drinking wine and might hurt myself on one of the trompe-l’oeils at Hay House. It figures, I thought. Nancy Grace would donate airtime towards the auction and NSNC Scholarship Program when I'm on a down-slide. I can see it all now, high-profile murderer in the first segment on HLN ends up sitting on cold porcelain at the end. Although, I think Nancy was relieved that she didn't have to show the cartoon cover of my humor book (Sitting on Cold Porcelain) with the Limbaugh headline and me being deep-sixed in the commode - imagine my book being discussed on the same show as the Spray Tan Defense, or worse - Whitey Bulger.
"I have $1,250; do I hear $1,300?"
Maybe if Suzette wins, she can hypnotize Nancy to lighten up, I thought. She was an emotional train wreck all morning.
“$1,300 going once…going twice…the winner is Cappy Hall Rearick!”
I can't wait to see her on HLN.
Cappy has written five books, most of them humor. Her most recent novel, however, is The Road to Hell is Seldom Seen, a story about love, hate, murder, and redemption. It is her first foray into mystery writing. I’m sure it will be a success and appropriate for the show. Her blog is Simply Cappy .
Just last week, the NSNC ( www.columnists.com) announced that it will be honoring humorist, Dave Barry, with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Conference in Hartford, CT. I plan to attend and most of our humor writers will be champing at the bit to meet him. If Nancy Grace has set a precedent with her generous donation to the NSNC Scholarship Program, can you see my mischievous grin?
Photos of Nancy Grace and Cappy Hall Rearick © NSNC taken by NSNC Conference photographer, Larry Largion Najera of www.najeradesign.com. Used with permission (Except that I screwed them up trying to resize for the blog, sorry Larry).
© 2012, Valenta, All rights reserved.
To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here