I made it through those first moments of anxiety before opening the door to the building where the conference was being held! When I was about to get out of the car,Lynnasked if I was okay, I said “No, I think I’m gonna cry, I’m scared!” Of what, I wasn’t sure. But he prayed for me and I could breathe normally again. As I walked in, I took my sister’s advice and channeled her and Mom’s outgoing-easy-to-meet-people- personalities and I didn’t frown at everyone I came in contact with or remain speechless. Now I won’t say I shook hands and passed out business cards to every poor soul that walked past me or sat near me. I can’t even say that I initiated most of the conversations. The part of me that likes to sit and size people up first still was strong. But, I didn’t answer with just a yes or no, when asked questions. I smiled a lot, because quite honestly I was thrilled to actually be at a writer’s conference.
Exciting moments: Gilbert Morris spoke. He’s nearly 80 and has written around 270 historical Christian novels, amusing in itself that an 80 year old man is the author of novels about swooning females and handsom leading men who save the day, but his sense of humor stole the show…he was a hoot! I took Angela Hunt’s class….awesome! And the biggest moment was having a one-on-one conversation with Bucky Rosenbaum (Rick Warren and Beth Moore’s agent…yeah, I was freaking out on the inside).
I gleaned as much wisdom I could during the short conference, but most importantly I learned that I’m not so strange after all! I met some strange little people among the writer-wanna-be’s that weekend. People who really haven’t written all that much, don’t know if they really want to write, and quite honestly had some unusual things they had dreamed up to write about. I sat in on a “break out group” the last night that was supposed to be a chat group on writing children’s books. There were five of us in the room, given no format or idea of what we were supposed to be doing. It was 9:15pm at this point. Next to me sat a pretty young college student fromAuburn. She was 19-ish, perhaps 20 (who knows! they look so young these days!! :)) Across from me, engrossed in a conversation were two older ladies and then another red-neck (and I say this in the kindest way) looking lady to my right. We were sort of spread out, a little awkward, just waiting. The college student asked me if I wanted to write children’s books. I nodded yes and gave her an awkward smimle. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, be a journalist, an English teacher or an astronaut. Actually she didn’t say that, but she was a little giggly and scattered with her thoughts. The ladies that had been engrossed in their own conversation, suddenly stopped and decided to initiate our “break out” group (at least I thought that was their thought process). The first women, in her late fifties I’m guessing, suddenly said she had the answer to Hello Kitty. I looked at her, trying very hard not to let my face show what I was thinking and trying hard not to laugh at her comment. I said “Really, Hello Kitty. cool.” She never really made much sense after that, she rambled about finding this kitten coming out of the drain outside her house and that he was her baby, because once you feed a kitty with a bottle, they are like your own baby. It seems she has written about this “kitty” and his many adventures. Then she suddenly switched gears and began randomly talking about her horse and going out one morning and finding a tooth lodged in his neck. The horse was okay, but she had the vet come out and remove the tooth. It was canine. (Just in case you were wondering). She and the lady next to her began discussing whether it was coyote or wolf. I’m smiling, and cutting my eyes to my left and right at the redneck lady and the college student, wondering if they are feeling a little awkward. They’re both nodding and smiling, as if they are totally into her conversation. While I’m not paying attention, I realize the kitty lady is asking me a question. “Have you written anything?” I said “Oh, me, well, yes,” I realize at this point all eyes are on me, “Um, well, I’ve been writing curriculum for Lifeway for the last year and I’ve written a children’s book that I’m trying to get published.” The lady over to my right spoke up in a sort of loud, husky voice. The kind that evokes the visual picture of a newscaster interviewing neighbors who live next to the house where a drug bust has just occurred and they look straight into the camera wearing an old t-shirt that says “Hell Yeah” on the front and never have all their teeth. She tells me, “Well I haven’t written a lick in ten years pro’ly, but I think I got what it takes to write a kids book, I’ve raised 5 of the little rug rats!! I figure I can get some idears and write a book and use the contacts I get while I’m here. Whats your kiddy book about? You been writin’ long?” At this point I pulled my cell out of my pocket, innocently checking the time and praying Lynn will return my call so I can tell him to get his bootie to the conference and pick me up! I am quite certain I have entered some other dimension and do not want to get lost in it! I am sure I was losing ground on controlling my facial expressions and I could still feel the others staring at me waiting for me to continue. So, I have to confess, I pretended that my phone vibrated and answered it “Yes, okay, I’ll be waiting out front”. I gathered my things, but sat for a minute or two so as not to be rude. I looked at the four faces staring intently at me, and as I tend to do when I’m nervous, I began to ramble “Yes ma’am, I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. I was able to be on the school newspaper and magazine, as well as the yearbook staff despite our constant moving as I was growing up. However, after failing English twice when I started college, I dropped out and decided that writing was not my career choice. However, last year God opened the door for me to begin writing for Lifeway and I have written a children’s book that I am working on getting published. It is about an 11 yr old girl named Hannah, who is inspired after hearing The Good Samaritan story one Sunday morning. She decides to form her own club that helps people “no matter what the cost” and calls it The Good Samaritan Club. It is basically about the forming of the club and then the search for their first mission.” You could have heard a pin drop. Then the kitty lady speaks up and says, “I’ve written about a rooster that gets kicked into another dimension by my horse and has all kinds of adventures.” It was time for me to escape! I said “Well my husband is probably downstairs waiting for me. Good luck with your writing, nice to meet you” And I ran for my life!