Tonight's dinner and Diana Gabaldon's keynote speech were excellent, though the ballroom where the meals are served has the worst acoustics for conversation of any I've ever been in. The way sound echoes in there, you can barely converse with your neighbor, much less have any kind of general conversation at your table. That sounds like a petty complaint, but it really does limit your ability to make new friends or network, since a lot of that happens over meals.
The thing I found inspiring about Gabaldon's story is that she wrote Outlander before she'd ever been to Scotland. So many authors today stressed the importance of visiting the sites you write about, walking the battlefields, and so on. And believe me, I would if I could. But given my current finances and responsibilities, a weekend like this is enough of a splurge. I can't take off and spend a month in Europe scouting sites. And while I know Gabaldon's work isn't perfectly accurate, she did prove that it's possible to write a richly detailed, compelling story WITHOUT having personally walked the ground. And I needed to hear that tonight.