|Bert - Christina - Caleb - Stephen|
The particular meeting that I'm about to tell you about has been anticipated for a very long time. We (me, Christina, Caleb Pirtle, and Stephen Woodfin) have been internet friends for over three years. We initially bonded with the mutual objective of discovering the secret of marketing our books. As we hacked away at the Indie Writer Mystery of Mysteries, we became good friends - as good as you can be when digital contact is your only connection.
We found each other through Triberr. Since those early days, we have corresponded regularly via email, joined up on weekly Google Hangouts, and Stephen and I are regular pen-and-ink pen pals, yet, we'd never met face-to-face, until last Friday. It isn't that we didn't want to meet sooner, it just never quite worked out, distance and schedules being the major obstacles.
Stephen and Caleb live in Texas. Christina and I live in Alabama. In addition to being writers, we each have "day jobs" that take a vast amount of our time, so until now we haven't been able to schedule a date that worked for each of us. With a time and date locked in place, we settled on a place - Rusty's Restaurant in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
It's 340 miles from Huntsville, Alabama to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Since Christina and I aren't morning people, we elected to travel to the rendezvous Thursday and spend the night in Vicksburg. We arrived a bit before 5 PM. By 5:30 we'd changed into running gear and were jogging in the Vicksburg National Cemetery, a Civil War Memorial of epic proportions, whose hills are about three time higher than any hill in Huntsville, Alabama.
We were scheduled to meet at 11 AM, so naturally we arrived at 10, strolled through town, then visited the Corp of Engineers Mississippi River exhibition which is located across the street from Rusty's. At 10:45 we left the exhibition, stepping out into the glare of August sunlight. As we paused at the curb, letting our eyes adjust to the light, a horn blew and the driver pointed out the window toward us, as the passenger shouted, "It's them." That was the beginning of the long-awaited meeting. A little over six hours later the meeting adjourned until next we meet - and you can be sure that we will.
So, what did four writers, who had never met before, do for six hours? We talked like twelve-year-old friends who have just shaken the confines of a long day at school. We talked in Rusty's until they closed at 2. Then we walked down the street to a coffee shop, got beverages, and sat outside talking until the sun peaked over the river and began falling toward Texas, blinding us in it's glare as it heated up the eastern side of Washington Street, which parallels the Mississippi River. We surrendered our position but didn't give up the meeting. We simply moved to the west side of the street, without losing our place in the conversation.
At that point, the meeting became mobile, as we meandered up and down the street, pausing often to gaze in windows and stare at old buildings while speculating on both. That's what writers do, you know? Did we come any closer to solving the mystery of mysteries? Only time will tell. However, there is one thing I can tell you about the meeting, it was joyous occasion - one that I'm already looking forward to repeating.