Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference... Thinking of Coming?

This is a post from last year. I'll be teaching again this year. A continuing education class on getting everything ready even before you sell your novel so that you won't be scrambling to promote when the time comes. If you wait until your book is about to release, you've waited too long. There's SOOOO much that has to be done that you'll be pulling your hair out unless you get a lot of it done BEFORE you ever get your release date. Preferably, way before. I'll be blogging more about this conference but for now, here's a taste of last year. It truly is an amazing conference. I can't recommend it enough! (To check out this year's conference line up, click the Blue Ridge pic below.

And if you're waffling about whether or not to come, do yourself a favor and make the reservation. My first year I:

1. Attained my first professional mentors
2. Hooked up with my first critique partners, who are STILL my critique partners.
3. Made lifelong writing friends who went on to become editors, publishers, you name it. (Networking is so important in this business.)
4. Befriended the man who would become my agent.
5. Made friends with my future endorsers.
6. Ate some of the best food ever (and still managed to lose weight from all the walking).
7. Learned that worshipping God with other writers is wonderfully unique.
8. Had one of the best times of my life.
9. Learned information that would have taken me YEARS to pick up on my own.
10. Made connections that would lead to future teaching gigs at that very conference.

This year's conference is May 20-24th.

Tonight I lie in a soft, comfy bed, surrounded by nothing but the sound of crickets. My belly is full of delicious food, my mind whirling with ideas and inspiration, and my heart burdened once again to minister and write with boldness.

I'm at a sort of home away from home--the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, held about this time every year in Ridgecrest, NC.

Tonight we heard an amazing speaker, Major Jeff Struecker of Black Hawk Down fame. He's not one of the actors in the movie, he actually lived it. The man who once led a group of Special Op Rangers to what seemed like certain death now spends much of his time behind the pulpit. His message? Live with courage. He says this boldness is what will keep us running toward the gunfire to do what we know is right, even when it means terrifying our flesh. (Grossly paraphrased :)

Great keynote.

Besides great food and seeing old friends, like my first writing mentor, Alton Gansky, (now heading up the conference), Cindy Sprole & Eddie Jones,  (now published writers and publishers of other's dreams), and the woman who somehow God orchestrated to be intertwined with my writing journey from the beginning, the sweet and talented, Deborah Raney. Not only did she give me my first taste of criticism, she gave me my first helping of praise for a job well done, and would become the first interviewee in Novel Journey's history.

Tonight, I walked onto the stage to introduce the two classes I'd be teaching:

10 Things You Can Do Now to Promote the Novel You Haven't Even Sold Yet &The Making of a bestseller.  It hit me, that I was standing at the top of a mountain I'd begun climbing in 2005, when I sat in the audience, nervously jotting the names down of the faculty I wanted to meet.

I was so sure that year that I would sell my first novel and left in tears that things didn't go the way I'd hoped (ie. no contract).

God must have been shaking his head at me because almost everyone who would become important to my writing journey, I met in those four days. I just didn't know it at the time.

I met my mentor, Al Ganksy, my first Novel Journey interviewee, my two critique partners who are still red-penning me today, one of my dearest friends, Cindy Sproles, and the man who would become my literary agent.

. . . and I thought the trip was a bust. Ha!

Tonight I'm sitting here typing this, missing my kids, my husband, the two friends who are usually here with me, and I can almost feel sorry for myself, but I won't because I know that God is accomplishing great things. Sowing seeds He will harvest in the right season.

I pray I get to water a few of those seeds for others.

If you can get to this conference next year, do yourself a favor and try. It's grown in leaps and bounds and never have I wanted to take so many different classes. So much knowledge. So much talent. Sigh.

Tomorrow, I have to look forward to the annual talent show where the lovable Eva Marie Everson will have us doing the cupid shuffle. She apparently doesn't care how many left feet I have. 


Johnnie said...

Gina, your post is so encouraging. Thanks for sharing how important that first conference was to your career despite appearing otherwise. This path we're on is definitely a journey!

Have fun at the conference. (And if at all possible -- try to find time to rest!).

Pamela Meyers said...

Aw, I know you're missing that red-headed bundle of energy. I see her right there in the pic you posted. But you'll do great Gina. I've always wanted to attend that conference, and maybe someday my budget will let me do so.
Have a great week!

Ane Mulligan said...

I miss being there, too! Since 2004, I've only missed 1 BRMCWC. I know you'll do greta, Gina, and you're there alone for a reason. Now find it. ;)

Lori Benton said...

Ridgecrest is where my church youth group used to go for our summer retreats. I'd love to attend a conference there, and do some travel and research around the area too, since a lot of my stories are set in NC. Sounds like a great conference, Gina.

Michael Ehret said...

Gina, this may be the most encouraging thing I've read in a long time. From the heart. Have always wanted to attend Blue Ridge. One day, one day.

Cindy M Jones said...

Gina, Thank you for your post! This is a great conference that every aspiring writer should go to. Wished I were there this year. I've met some wonderful people there who gave me my start to.
Cindy Jones

Deborah Raney said...

Gina, what a joy it's been to watch you grow into an incredible writer! I'm so PROUD to be a tiny part of your story, and so impressed with what you've done with the gifts God gave you. Wonderful post. And you're so right: this conference is amazing!

Ane, Blue Ridge isn't the same without you!

Ane Mulligan said...

Thanks, Deb! Miss you, too!