As promised yesterday, I am itching to share my adventure at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. Where to start? So much to say that I can’t quite think straight–how’s that for an enticing lead-in? I am not quite sure how something can be wonderful, fascinating, challenging, fun, invigorating, overwhelming, terrifying, and exciting all at the same time, but that pretty much covers the emotional landscape. From the first session for newbies, “How to Get the Most Out of Your Conference,” I knew the learning curve was going to be steep…in a good way. By the end of the first day, I wasn’t quite sure if I was really in North Carolina at all…it seemed that I had entered a Brave New World. This new world is one where writers, editors, publishers, agents, and learners all co-mingle for four days of non-stop learning, sharing, net-working, cheering, and of course…eating.
Each day was filled with a mind-boggling choice of classes to attend. Fiction, non-fiction, devotionals, marketing, how-to’s on query letters, great pitches, writing proposals, magazines, gift books, speaking, blogging, media and movies…they covered it all. It is a helpful thing to listen to an agent or editor give a class on how-to and what-not-to-do, even if it seems like there are rules upon rules. I was definitely a poster child for what not to do, and yet there is a certain grace extended to newbies.
This conference is about people first and writing second. Where else can you sign up for one-on-one appointment with editors, agents, and writers who normally wouldn’t have time to listen to a newbie stumble through a pitch? One of the great things about a conference like this is the access it provides–access to folks who share the same passion to write for the King of Kings. My first appointment was with editor Kim Bangs of Regal books. As I got started, somehow I forgot my nerves and began to enjoy the opportunity to share my vision. Although Kim was not in the market for devotional books, she had great advice and was very encouraging about my project. Later that day, I met with an agent and enjoyed sharing several ideas. Though I was still a little nervous, I was also starting to have fun with the process. It is kind of like a treasure hunt, you look in lots of places and learn something new with each try. You never know when you are going to discover the right fit. It was a good session with the agent, and I was excited when I heard the words, “Send me a proposal.” Yes! That is the first step through a door to the next round.
Mealtimes at the conference are the best times to meet folks and learn about their writing projects. The various faculty members each host a table and you can sit with anyone you like, as long as there is room at the table. Conversations at the table are always interesting, and no two projects are the same. I loved hearing the variety of what God has inspired people to write about. Think about it, over four hundred folks at the conference and each one has a different vision for reflecting the love of God through written words. Multiply that creative vision by the numbers of people who will eventually be influenced by these writers. Not every project will reach publication, but each one of us will touch the people God has ordained for us to influence, whether through blogs, articles, or books, or through other avenues such as speaking, teaching, parenting, friending, or working. God gives each one of us opportunity and a circle of influence–large or small. I am filled with appreciation at a new glimpse of how God uses people to do His work!
Well, that is enough for today. Come back tomorrow for more exciting adventures from my Brave New World.