Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Post Conference Aftermath

I am home. Phew!
I had thought I would trickle into the blog posts some of the things I learned during the past week, but now I think I should just put them down here ASAP before all the wonderful things trickle out of this Teflon Colander I call my memory.
First things first. My crit partners are every bit as fun and amazing in person as they are on line. We gelled as a group. I can't wait to get back to critting with new depth to our relationships, more specific things to pray for, and some new 'inside jokes' to refer to.
Some amazing things God taught me this week:
You do not know who has been praying. I ran into the woman who eventually won the Genesis Award for Historical Fiction, and she wrapped her arms around me like we were long lost sisters and said she had been praying for me since the finalist list came out. I am confident that if I had won, she would have been cheering the loudest. So when her name was called as the winner, I was so thrilled for her my hands hurt from clapping and my cheeks ached from grinning. Congratulations, Carla Stewart. I am so happy for you!
You do not know who might be watching. I saw things, both good and bad, that I am sure the people who were performing the act of kindness or the eye roll of disdain didn't know I saw. I saw people leading the blind, pushing wheelchairs, picking up dropped articles, carrying parcels, praying with and for those in need, running errands, and being servants in amazing and creative ways. Not for public applause or accolade, but because it was the right thing to do. I also saw some frail human behavior in small doses that made me wince for the person. People are watching, evaluating, wondering. But more importantly, God is watching and knows the heart. God took me to task for a rather shoddy attitude I had toward one particular part of the conference, His Spirit saddened by my lack of willingness to give grace to fellow sisters in Christ. For two days I smoldered over this thing, certain I was RIGHT, and they were being foolish. I even found a few people who shared my discontent, and we simmered together. But God spoke Grace over me, reminding me of how hurtful this judgemental attitude was, toward the people in charge of this aspect of the conference, to my own outlook daily, and to the people I was carping with. Which leads me to the third thing I learned.
You do not know who may be listening. As you walk through busy halls, the crowded lobby, the bustling classrooms, you catch snippets of conversations, snatches of dialogue, wisps of words. I had to wonder if anyone happened by my own conversation, would the bits they heard edify them? Would they smile as they passed on and think, "Gracious words."?
God's hand was moving during this conference, whether it was orchestrating some 'divine appointments' (Which He did for three women that I know of...they just 'happened' to be at the conference appointment desk looking for a meeting with an editor who was booked solid at the same time a conferee who wanted to cancel their appointment with the same editor 'happened' to be there. God is so good.) or putting us at a table with someone we didn't know we needed to meet, or showing us that we needed some attitude adjustment or needed to be able to speak the truth to someone we cared about, even if that truth wasn't what they wanted to hear.
At the beginning of the conference, Rachel Hauck, the worship leader, told us that somewhere in the next few days we were going to have the opportunity to have our feelings hurt, our way thwarted, and our beliefs challenged. When that happened, she urged us to say "Grace, Grace" upon the person who offended, thwarted, or challenged us. It took me a couple of days, but I finally got the hang of it. I pray those I might have offended will do the same for me.
Exciting things that happened at the conference:
My crit partner Georgiana Daniels finished second in her category in the Genesis. You GO GIRL! And also got the go ahead to send a FULL MANUSCRIPT to one of the best agents in the business as soon as it is finished. I stand ready to do all I can to help her in whatever way I can to get that 'baby' birthed and on the way.
My crit partner Kaye Dacus (whose name I have been mispronouncing for pretty much as long as I've known her {it's Day-kuss not Dock-us}) had the happy news that editors were actually looking for Jane Austin type historicals. Ransome will be snapped up soon! Kaye stands on the verge of great things.
Friends, new and old, are a wonderful thing. The double common bond of Jesus Christ and a passion for words made instant friends of complete strangers.
I received requests for proposals from both the editors I met with. And Karen Schurrer is one gracious lady. She overlooked a faux pas on my pitch sheet with kindness.
Dinner with my agent was delightful. He's such a good storyteller, and having been in the industry for 50+ years, has met everyone and seen just about everything. And the six other clients who dined with us were terrific ladies that you'll be hearing from soon. I can't wait to read "The Pickle Lady"'s story. I laughed aloud just reading the pitch.
There were so many more wonderful things that happened at the conference. I took some terrific classes, learned things I want to try, learned about some things that I KNOW won't work for me (I can't seem to use a spreadsheet when I am writing a novel.) and got validation for some things I'm already doing.
Now I'm off to write thank you notes to the folks I met. And I'm fired up to get back to work. It's good to be home.


  1. Yay for great reports!! =) Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. You are right on SO MANY LEVELS! Rachel's word on grace resonated with me during the conference, and even after I got home. We just don't know what others are going through! So many wonderful experiences--thanks for sharing!

    PS. I thought I was the only one mispronouncing Kaye's last name, LOL!

  3. Welcome home! You sound so ready to try out everything you learned. How exciting!

  4. Honey, everyone mispronounces my name--including people I worked with for ten years at the newspaper!

    Isn't it amazing how God can work on us together even when we're apart? I too pray that anyone who might have been offended by my negative comments about the part of the conference I didn't like will forgive me.

    Do you know--I still haven't even unpacked! My suitcase is sprawled out on the bedroom floor and I'm just taking things out as I need them. I've decided that it doesn't actually have to be done before this coming weekend. But tonight, I do have to dig out all those business cards I got from editors and write thank-you notes so I can get them out in the mail tomorrow.

    So much to do!

    I'm already praying for next year's conference--for my own participation in it as well as for the planning committee and everyone involved in it.

  5. I'm so glad you had a wonderful conference. Good things will happen to you too, and all your hard work will pay off.

    Your lessons were an eyeopener. Not only lessons to remember while at a conference, but life lessons. Thanks for teaching this Heathen, even if I mangled the expression

  6. It was a great conference, wasn't it? Too bad we have to wait a whole year for the next one.

  7. Sounds like everyone had a great time and got some good news! That's always nice to hear. You didn't mention what proposals you were going to send?

    New look for the blog, huh? I thought I was in the wrong place at first! I feel so first grade with my non-updated blog -- sigh -- not that I'm willing to work harder or anything on it. :)