1. Dinner in Manchester, Vermont at a lovely little Thai restaurant, followed by a rapturous hour at Northshire Bookstore. Check it out.
2. Stories From Touring, as told by Becca Fitzpatrick. As the only one of us who has toured thus far, her stories didn't have a lot of competition. But even if they had, I'm pretty sure entries re. Toronto and/or St. Louis would have won hands down. ("Do you want a hit?") In a related note, I'm not feeling confident of my chances to avoid humiliation when I'm forced to appear in public with my books.
3. Walking around Emerald Lake while Becca took photos of places to stash dead bodies. Usually I'm the morbid one, so it was a nice change of pace.
4. Bear damage. As in the sign at the entrance to the lake: "If bear damage occurs, call authorities." Seriously? People in Vermont have to be told to report--what? Being mauled by a bear? I know New Englanders are tough and self-reliant, but that's taking it a bit far.
5. Blissful hours of uninterrupted writing, broken only by the occasional question. "Does this make my character sound like a slut?" "If she's seeing ghosts, does she have to be seeing how they died or can they just stand still and be spooky?" "What do you think of the name Skinny Bill for a bad guy?" "I'm eating ice cream now--anyone want some?"
6. Days with friends who I only rarely see in person. The kind of friends who instinctively understand you so there's no awkward feeling-each-other-out phase or excessive politeness. It was all very cozy and comfortable.
7. Crossing a river without my pants. I'm not sure it's exactly a highlight, but it will be long remembered. Fortunately there is no photographic proof.
8. Fresh apples and Vermont sharp cheddar cheese.
9. Rain on a day when the demands on us were limited to deciding if we wanted to go out to eat.
10. The only downside? It was over too soon, and we weren't all there. (Curse responsibility and chickens! Next year we demand you free Suzanne or we'll just have to kidnap her and hold her to ransom!)