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.
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.
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.