Writing conferences are a good way for writers, publishers, agents, and other interested parties to network and pitch their stuff as well as become more known in the writing world, and I had been considering finding some of these and attending during the next year. Before I seriously looked into them though, I received a general public nomination, and I have no idea from whom or how, to evaluate students’ essays at a NAEP conference in St. Louis, MO. The acronym stands for National Assessment of Educational Progress. I’ll be looking over 4th, 8th, and 12th grade essays over the next week and seeing how they did. Then at the end, NAEP has willing panelists take the examination as well and they score it and we all go over it and see how we did and so forth. So it’s not a fiction writing conference, but an experience nonetheless, and it’s a good start to the year, as I can say I’m doing something that helps people that do what I love to do. That, and I when I’m an old man on his porch with a pen and paper staring off into the distance thinking about his words and his life, I’ll be able to say I left South Dakota once in a while.