Get Your Motor Runnin’ – It’s Travel and Conference Season!

Parents and GayleThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

As this post goes live, I am traveling. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and I’m visiting my parents in Montana. If the weather cooperates, I’ll be taking them on a spring-time drive through the heart of central Montana, stopping at sites along the Missouri River, having lunch in a quaint Montana town, and celebrating the special woman who is my mother. I’m looking forward to spending several days with my parents and to reminding my mom how important she is to me. Without her, I may not have become a writer.

As the author of several books, five Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, and numerous magazine and newspaper articles, my writing journey began EONS ago. I grew up an only child in Iowa, living on a small acreage outside of town, with a mother who didn’t drive a car and a father who worked nights at a factory. PICTURE THIS: RECLUSE, NO SOCIAL LIFE. But, we had farm animals, I had pets, I had TV, and I had an active imagination. PICTURE THIS: WRITING BEGINS AT YOUNG AGE. My writing began with crafting scripts for TV shows like “Bonanza” and “Starsky and Hutch.”

Or, if you prefer the Starsky/Hutch theme:

(Never sent a script in until I was about 30 — by then other shows were on, and though I thought I had a great idea to share with producers, the script was mailed back to me.)

Beartooth Mtns. RiverThen, I dabbled in poetry (our little property with nature all around was my inspiration). Then, I moved into short stories. Throughout the course of my writing infancy, with no formal training except junior high and high school English, my mother encouraged me. When I took journalism classes in college and wrote for the school paper as well as for the literary magazine, her smiles and compliments kept me focused and moving forward. After college, I submitted work to local magazines, became the editor of the West Yellowstone News, and continued dabbling in poetry and short stories. Again, Mom’s encouragement was not short in coming, and because of her support, my determination grew to where now, at more than 50 years of age, I am a published author as well as short story and magazine freelancer and newspaper features and column writer. Sharing my appreciation for mom through an in-person visit and going for a special drive and a special lunch is the least I can do for the woman who has been there for me since Day One and encouraged me to pursue the desire of becoming a writer. My mother truly is one of my greatest treasures and best blessings.

rckypark_elkmtnsA few days after I return from that Montana trip, I hit the road with fellow Casperite and Writing Wrangler Neva Bodin; we’re going to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference together. She and I have both attended this conference in years past but it’s been a few years for each of us. I’m looking forward to sharing time and experience with this lovely and talented lady, and I’m also looking forward to all I will learn during conference and then apply those lessons and knowledge to my writing life.

I enjoy traveling. I also enjoy conferences. Alas, the CCWC is likely the only writing conference I’ll attend this year. Wyoming Writers, Inc., has its annual conference in early June, but the non-profit for which I work part-time has a major fundraiser that same weekend, so I’m unable to attend that conference. Another conference I’ve gone to in years past, Get Published! which takes place in Bozeman, Montana, is that very same weekend as well (this is a time I could really benefit from being cloned, in order to take in each event!).

Gayle_Lea_Casey_Leah_booksigningOne learns so much at a writer’s conference: craft, marketing, indie publishing, new avenues and new genres to explore. And, we get to meet great people with whom we share a strong interest: other writers, editors, literary agents, speakers, publicity agents. And we all have something in common: the love of words. That commonality, that link, forges friendships and many of those fellow writers/friends become encouragers. We could very easily be competitors, but I find a majority of writers like to build one another up, and that’s a wonderful blessing!

My travels aren’t done after conference. My husband and I have tickets to see Celtic Woman at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado in mid-June, and I’ll be returning to that venue later in the summer to see Christian performers Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and others, and to also hear inspirational author and speaker Max Lucado. I’ve never been to Red Rocks although I live only five hours away, and this summer I get to go twice! I AM EXCITED to experience both events!

Grizzly_YNPMy husband and I also hope to visit his side of the family in the Carolinas sometime this summer (plans are still being formed), as well as take a trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world: Yellowstone National Park. Although I’ve lived away from that unique environment for nearly 20 years, it has never left me – I love visiting the Yellowstone area and I look forward to experiencing the vastness of the park, the beauty of the meadows, and the magnificence of the mountains again this year.

Then, of course, there are the jaunts to our cabin with weekend stays and weekday dinners. Our mountain hideaway is only 20 minutes from our house, so my husband and I can go at a moment’s notice and relax for several hours (or, in my case, write!) before returning home. In fact, we hope to host a belated birthday gathering for “the man” who turned the big 6-0 in April!

Cabin_Oct2014Travel, conferences, friends, family – I anticipate a great summer is in store, and I welcome it with thanksgiving.

What conferences and/or travel to you anticipate with excitement this summer?



Gayle_Cabin_Writing_smallerGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and nature. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from animals and the outdoors. Visit her website at

SageBigAdventureFront-small   SageLearnsShareFront-small  Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final  Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Walking_FrontCover_small


18 thoughts on “Get Your Motor Runnin’ – It’s Travel and Conference Season!

  1. Wow! Your summer seems so great, Gayle. It sounds like you’ll be visiting interesting places and writing venues and enjoying quiet time too. What a great combination. I can understand totally about your writing retreat. I have one also and it’s only ten miles from home at our summer camper on the lake. There’s something so serene there in the campground, the background noise of children laughing and playing in the lake, the red-winged blackbirds in the cattails, the sound of a woodpecker’s rat-a-tat-tat, watching the squirrels with their cheeks full of nuts store them up for winter, and most especially, our bird feeders that sit right in front of the deck. I love sitting on the deck where it’s calm and invigorating at the same time and it’s then I write some of my best stuff. Enjoy your summer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Linda, and WOW! your place sounds wonderful as well! I could picture each image!! I enjoyed my time in Montana with my parents this past weekend and I’m looking forward to spending conference time this week near Rocky Mountain National Park. And, then Memorial weekend at the cabin. Nature, yes, Noise and Distractions NO! Enjoy your summer, too!


  2. Gayle, great post and so glad you have the chance to spend time with your mother. Happy that she is close enough for a trip to see her. Mothers can and are some of our greatest supporters. Best to you as you continue your wonderful journey. Maybe see you soon. Doris


    1. Yes, Doris, I did enjoy visiting my parents — made this past weekend even more special to take that nature drive and then to take them out to lunch. I am blessed to have the mother I do, and to still have her when she’s 76 years old; I treasure the time we are together. I DO HOPE to see you later this summer! 🙂


  3. Great way to give your mom a blessing. And your dad’s along to enjoy her companionship with you. Have fun — both with your mom and with Neva when you participate in the writers’ conferences.


    1. Hi, Mike — yep, it was a GRAND weekend! And, I’m looking forward to the days shared with Neva at the writer’s conference in beautiful country near Rocky Mountain National Park! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  4. Your summer sounds like mine. On my agenda is a trip to North Carolina, Delaware, Vienna WV . Then I am heading to the West Virginia Writers Conference. This will be the only one for me this year. It is one I have attended in the past and look forward to. Conferences are a great way to learn, network, and meet up with old friends.
    Enjoy your travels

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do enjoy writers conferences — wish I had the funds to attend more! I look forward to learning, to sharing, and to implementing, and I truly look forward to the travels and writing time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, S.J.!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! I’m spending time with family for Mother’s Day too. And, like you, my mother was my big supporter–in writing and in everything I tried. In fact, I’m happy to say she still is.

    I wish I could go to the WV Writers Conference. It always coincides with a major event in my other life as a teacher that I just can’t get out of. Well, I can get out of it, but it pays really well and I’m not ready to make that leap of passing it by. I know I have to treat writing like a profession and not a hobby, but the reality right now is that extra pay in my teaching job is what makes me able to afford to keep being a writer. Maybe soon. I can’t wait to put faces to some of the names in this group and in WVW.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joe, there are many writers conferences throughout the year; perhaps you could attend one other than the WV Conference. Here’s a great link to be able to look up conference dates and places: I know what you mean about money, because these events aren’t cheap. But they certainly are valuable! One day I’m sure you’ll be able to take one or two in and your brain will never be the same! 🙂 And, yes, I am SO THANKFUL for my dear mother! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


  6. Inspirational post Gayle! Need to make some fun summer plans for us too! Right now though, I’m hoping you get back safely after what looks like about 8 inches of snow at our house which is rapidly melting as temp’s are in upper thirties right now. Hope your summer is as fabulous as planned and as your are. See you soon.


    1. You are a dear, Neva, and I am looking forward to our time together at the Colorado conference! I enjoyed my time in Montana, thankful I still have my parents with their loving, strong support, and grateful to friends in this group and beyond who encourage me every day. See you soon, my friend!


  7. Gayle you are an inspiration. I, and others in this group have really watched you branch out. Great way to visit with your parents. Congrats on all your writing endeavers. The only conference I’m going to is the same one Sue is going to. I’m going yo a Chrustian Women’s retreat this weekend. Too much going on with moving and two new great grandbabies. One of which I got last night. I’m headung home to see her now. Ttied to get home before she had her. Maddisyn Darlene. Cher’ley


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