Yesterday I attended the Orange County Christian Writers Conference for the first time. It was nice to meet up with current friends and make new ones.
I’m deeply indebted to my mentor, Aaron D Gansky, for inspiring me to attend the conference and for praying faithfully for my writing in the time we’ve been working together. His friendship, work ethic, example (not to mention his being married to my good friend) are all invaluable.
I surround myself on a daily basis with writers and the writing environment. Whether I’m reading craft books, novels, sending out texts or making phone calls, I connect as often as possible with others who understand why I see dragons in the trees and how my cats are really just very furry humans.
When I stepped into the auditorium yesterday morning, there was an added element. This is a Christian writers conference. Everyone there from the committees to the faculty to the volunteers to the attendees has prayed and been prayed for. Often. And for quite some time.
It was exhilarating to know that my teachers are filled with wanting the best for my writing career, and are willing to share their knowledge freely. They weren’t trying to sell me anything. Of course they had books and resources for sale. But they didn’t push it. Rather, they pushed their experiences and their journeys in such ways that it made us attendees want to take the same road.
The plethora of information I received, the affirmations, the you-can-do-it’s was overflowing. The schedule was parceled into workshops. Each workshop ran for an hour, and each hour presented several workshops to choose from. I was a little disappointed to learn that cloning capabilities haven’t been perfected yet, so instead of attending each and every session, I chose the ones I felt would most benefit my novel.
If I had a sidebar for this post, it would at this point read
“Kudos to Lindsay Reine for tagging me in several posts and keeping me connected to New Orleans.”
“Thanks Lisa for sharing a photo of your Cafe DuMonde goodies.”
I’m not sure if they knew how Kismet it was for me to be plotting out my book’s topic and receive a text about a cat playing with a crawfish. Or when I was learning how to supplement my current income with magazine and online articles, only to be tagged in a news story relating how traffic stops to let alligators cross the road . . . only in New Orleans. Those little nudges from and about the city I’m featuring were magical.
Yes, yesterday was not only about writing, it was about New Orleans. And being Christian. And finishing what I start. And sharing. So much sharing!
I was able to share the story of how I wrote The Unemployment Cookbook, why I still pick up pennies, and how I drew deeper to God through the Ten Commandments. [By the way, each of these books will be either on reduced price or free at Amazon over the next two weeks. Check out my Amazon Author Page for more information and to order your own copy!]
I was also overly blessed when, during one of my fifteen-minute consultations with a faculty member, I discovered the woman was the director of the conference! I had chosen to meet one-on-one with Kathy Ide, as I’d hoped to pick her brain on freelance editing jobs and other tidbits of go-get-’em-now encouragements. Within a very short time I knew her role was much bigger than a fifteen-minute mentor. Especially when she offered me the opportunity to work social media for the conference.
Several passing-in-the-hall conversations later, I was invited to draft a proposal to become a faculty member for next year, specializing in social media publicity. I share this not to blow my own horn, as Lisa says, but rather to encourage several simple truths:
- Stay the course. Whatever it takes to get you where you need to be, do it. Don’t give up. No matter how long it takes, if you know you’re on the right path, you know you need to persevere.
- Do what you can to gain experience and a good reputation. Volunteer. Learn. Network. Connect. Communicate. Don’t just go for the “bottom line”. Enjoy the journey!
- God will bless your attempts. When you say “yes”, it doesn’t always mean “now”. It just means you’re willing to let Him lead you. And He will honor your commitment.
Although large and busy, conferences are an intimately personal experience. It’s a chance to meet mentors, get your questions answered, socialize, find like-minded friends. At the least, it’s an opportunity to squirrel yourself away from the distractions of home and everyday life, and allow the day to be just about you and your writing.
You can sit on the steps and journal in quiet. You can join the lunch crowd and talk shop. Attend the different workshops. Whatever your writing goals are, I strongly recommend you meet regularly with other writers. Don’t know any? Check out local colleges and school groups. Put an ad on the local library bulletin board. Tack a card up in Starbucks.
If you’re serious about writing, attend a conference. If you’re serious about writing for God, attend a Christian conference.
If you have questions about conferences, how to sign up for #OCCWC, or social media publicity, please send me a message.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!