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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Random Highlights From The Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference


Last week I hung out in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with fellow whackos in the publishing industry, so I thought I’d toss out a few random thoughts about the conference:

  • If you’re ever tempted to send a few e-mail zingers to the faculty e-mail list about how you’ll never get up on stage in front of the entire conference with a tiara on your head, trust me, don't do it. (No, there are no photos.)
  • Alton Gansky and Edie Melson consistently put together one of the best faculties of any conference. I repeatedly found myself wishing I wasn’t teaching because I wanted to go to two or three other classes being taught while I was speaking.
  • If you have a 15 minute appointment with an agent, editor, or author, use the time wisely. During one of my appointments I had a talented and sweet lady tell me about her book for fifteen minutes. I kept waiting for her to stop and ask me a question or two, but time ran out.  It’s so easy to get talking about our story or project we miss the chance to pick the brain of the person we've set up our appointment with. Ask questions first, speak second.
  • Torry Martin (who writes for Adventures in Odyssey among his 3,492 other talents) pegs past the red line on the entertainment scale. (He keynoted on Wednesday night and slayed all of us with his stellar sense of humor.)
  • Cecil Stokes (producer of the ground-breaking movie October Baby) is persuasive when you’re kind of hungry at 12 midnight there’s a Denny’s close by:
    James L. Rubart, Dina Sleiman, Susie Warren, Cecil Stokes, and Steven James
    • About half an hour into our meal someone asked if author Tosca Lee would be at the Christy Awards in July. (Steven, Susie, and I are up for the award as well and were discussing who among us would be at the ceremony.) I said I’d text her and find out if she would be there. Someone commented that it was 12:30. I said, “Yeah, but it’s only 11:30pm where Tosca lives. She’ll be up.” She was. Tosca proceeded to demonstrate why she should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for her speed-of-light texting ability. She was simultaneously texting all of us and sent out her multiple messages--and working on a side project as well--in the the time it took each of us to send one. And her texts were more than a few words.
  • Authors Susie Warren and Steven James have RADICALLY different ideas on how to craft a novel. Definitely entertaining to hear them (passionately) explain the merits of their methods—and question the other’s techniques. Since both of them are award-winning, bestselling authors, it’s a great reminder that there’s more than one way to craft exceptional fiction.
  • There’s never enough time to hang out with all the people you want to spend with. There’s one person in particular I didn’t get time with—next year I’m going to see them first.
  • It was confirmed once again the biggest highlight of the Blue Ridge conference (and most writing conferences) is the new relationships formed and the deepening of existing ones. In other words I love my fellow crazies dearly, and hanging out with them is gold.

If you’ve been to a conference this year, tell us about a few of your highlights. Inquiring whackos want to know. (And yes, feel free to guess why we're pointing in the photo above.)


James L. Rubart is the best-selling and award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and teenage sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. His next novel releases in October. More at www.jameslrubart.com

33 comments:

Linda Yezak said...

Seriously jealous. I've been wanting to go to that conference for years! Maybe next year, God willing. I think all those pointed fingers are asking, "Why weren't *you* here?"

I hope to see everyone in Dallas in September!

Ane Mulligan said...

I really missed seeing all y'all! It's in such a fantastic venue in the heart of those gorgeous Blue Ridge mountains.

Beth K. Vogt said...

OK: Everyone's pointing because they're saying: You need to be at BRMCWC next year!
And, Jim, we're on the same wavelength! I posted over at my blog about the conference with a few photos of my own -- just didn't have a photo of you in pearls and a tiara. (And, yes, there are photos!)

Edie Melson said...

Every year I come away thinking this was the pinnacle year, and every year God tops it! It was an amazing week and I can hardly wait for next year. (If anyone wants to see the pictures I have them.) Thanks for your kind words, Blessings, E

Dina Sleiman said...

Oh, contraire mon frere. I believe there are tiara pictures out there somewhere :)

Gina Holmes said...

This conference was absolutely amazing. It is really nice to be at a place where you have no overwhelming agenda and can sit back and enjoy the God appointed moments, of which there were many for me. I so wish I could have been there with you all. I would have loved to hear the different story writing methods. So, who IS going to the Christys? I'm bringing my husband this year. I'll be at ICRS Monday for a 10am signing if anyone's around that day.

Gina Holmes said...

I want to see :) Edie, you did a fantastic job not only running the conference so smoothly (like butter) but also with your keynote. It was very inspiring and filled with truth and wisdom.

Gina Holmes said...

I'm all booked for Dallas :) You definitely need to try and get to Blue Ridge. It has such a distinct and family feeling. There's time for relationship building there that aren't always possible to the same degree at other busier conferences. Can't recommend Blue Ridge enough.

Gina Holmes said...

Ane, I missed you so much. I was late for everything. Got lost continually and so needed my right hand man. Jess and I together somehow managed but without our glue we were.... unglued. ha

Becky Jacoby said...

Ode to James...a conference filled with multiple amygdala-hijacking moments. My first time there, and the WOW of learning and connecting still has my head spinning. Thanks for the fun wrap-up. Gifted my hubby with ROOMS. He totally enjoyed THE CHAIR. Thinking about next year...THE BISHOP, CROSSING OCEANS and THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE. Who can add more hours in the day?

Becky Jacoby said...

Edie, you, Alton and Eva poured heart and soul into this conference and polished everything until it was more precious than silver. My thanks runneth over. (Gina, I was thrilled to meet you and have some time to speak with you.) It WAS difficult to choose among the classes. I wanted to be everywhere. Thanks to all the faculty.

Kirk Kraft said...

One of these years, I'm actually going to make the cross-country jaunt to attend the conference. Sounds like it was WAY too much fun, Jim. Did you actually work or just have fun?

Rionna Morgan said...

Sounds like fun! We are having a conference in Montana! We would love to see you there.

http://montanaromancewriters.blogspot.com/p/attend-montana-romance-writers.html

All the Best,
Rionna Morgan
Montana Romance Writers,
President

Jim Rubart said...

Steven, Tosca, and I will be there. Susie won't be able to make it. Must connect there for coffee, Gina! And I'll be at ICRS for a few days as well doing a signing and taking part in a panel discussion.

Jim Rubart said...

Just fun.

Marcia Chadwick Moston said...

What a terrific conference. I love the friendliness, warmth, generosity and willingness to help others along the trail.Edie and Al--a mega combo, and James, Gina, Suzie, among the other super stars,thanks.

Jim Rubart said...

Great to meet you, Marcia. And I told Ruthie you'd be calling her. :)

Gina Holmes said...

Thanks Jim. I'm going to try not to bore my husband to tears there which won't be easy. Where are these panels? I've never seen one so have no idea when/where they are. Participating would be fun. Cool that you were asked. I'm only at ICRS Monday. Are you doing a signing that day?
Thanks Marcia. The conference was so great because the attendees were so great.

Ane Mulligan said...

ROFLOL!!!! Glue????? ROFLOL!!!!!!

Ronie Kendig said...

Man, I wish I could've been there. So excited to live in the area next year and be a part of the insanity!!

Melissa Tagg said...

I loved the conference. It was my first time at Blue Ridge and it won't be my last. Currently trying to figure out ways to hack into my day job's HR system and give myself unlimited paid time off. :)

I'd add to the highlights Jim's class on marketing. So. Good. I walked away with ideas pinging.

And..are you pointing to say, "Only you can prevent forest fires?"

Gina Holmes said...

You'll fit right in Ronie. And that's mostly a compliment. Wink!

Joanne Chantelau said...

This was my first year at BRMCWC - or any writers conference. And WOW. You summed it up in your last point about the highlight being new relationships. Another highlight for me was talking with agents, publishers and writers at meal times, as well as during appointments--picking their brains. Questions answered, feedback on my book ideas and writing, and relevant, interesting conversation--I don't know what else I could have asked for. I gained much-needed and prayed-for hope, encouragement, vision and partnership. God answered every one of my prayers for the conference, and then some.

Jim Rubart said...

When you find out the person who knows how to do add those hours, let me know. :)

And I think your husband is fab,

Jim

Jim Rubart said...

I'm doing a signing at 10:30 on Monday morning, what time is yours? I must come to it.

Jim Rubart said...

Indeed!

Jim Rubart said...

Ah, you're 2 cool, Melissa. :)

Yes, I think that's what the pointing was for.

Jim Rubart said...

So good to hear that, Joanne!

Gina Holmes said...

I'm at 10 Monday at the Tyndale Booth. I'll try to swing by yours as well, Jim.

Jim Rubart said...

Those are of my evil twin.

Martha W. Rogers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha W. Rogers said...

One of these days I hope to make it to Blue Ridge. Hmm, guess I'd better hurry...I'm NOT getting any younger. Mount Hermon and ACFW have been my two favorite conferences. I directed the Texas Christian Writers Conference for years and never really got to enjoy it...to busy taking care of problems. Love the picture with two of my favorite people...James and Susie. Can't wait to see you in Dallas.

Dina Sleiman said...

Nice try.