They came from New York, Wisconsin, Chicago, Ohio, Kentucky, from all over Indiana, and probably from a bunch of other places besides. Like at other writing conferences I’ve attended, they came burning with stories to tell, and questions about how to get those stories in print.
It was the Anderson University Faith and Writing Conference, an annual gathering of writers looking for many things: that unlikely big break with an agent or publisher, direction on how to publish their work, tips on marketing, inspiration from speakers, and lots of networking and sharing what works – and what doesn’t – with each other.
By far the best keynote speaker of the weekend was the songwriter Gloria Gaither (think classic hymns, southern gospel, and her lovely standard, Because He Lives). Gloria was inspiring with her message that it’s all His story, and we play a part in adding to that story with our writing and our lives. Gloria has also written numerous books and I got to meet her following her speech.
I debated with myself: Would it be silly to gift her a copy of my book and a biz card? Well, why not? I thought, and handed her both, adding that if there was ever anything I could do for her, let me know.
She perked up and asked if I had a B & B. Only on paper.
The best workshop I attended was on leveraging a social-media platform. I learned some things I need to change and tweak, especially before my marketing campaign gets under way for book number two next year.
Another workshop was an exercise in writing about scripture. The presenter, herself a poet, had us select a passage and then take five minutes to write about it using a personal-life application. I was a bit astounded with the result. This could be a great activity for a life group of Sunday school class.
Probably what I liked best about the weekend was the constant networking with those around me. Again and again, I asked the simple question, “What do you write?” and the answers were as varied as were the people there, and included, just from my sample pool: a Methodist pastor who writes about a character she calls Pastor Elle, with two books in this series in print; a high-energy Wisconsin mom there to pitch her young adult book; a woman from southern Indiana who wants to share her story of a troubled life now on the right path.
Another Hoosier had a compelling tale of how she began life rescued from a trash bin. A refined New York widow has written 83,000 words on her life growing up on an Illinois farm and wonders how she can get down her word count.
Yes, they are all a part of His story.
One woman I chatted with cringed over the idea of self-promotion. She wondered how to even start. I told her what I’ve done and she interrupted me to go put her coat in the car.
Another woman recognized me from a signing. “I have your book,” she said. And we became fast colleagues. She has a story-line regarding a tale of corruption based on a true story. I hope it sees print. Still another, from Winchester, used to have my pastor as her pastor!
I went home at the end of the two-day conference wiped out. So many ideas, people, and thoughts streaked across my mind, teamed with the need to work on a Bible Study Fellowship lesson I was behind on, not to mention normal household chores. So I did the only responsible thing: I went to bed. It was only 9. Or 8. Brian had already set our clocks back for the time change.
The next day was Sunday and I had an interesting surprise pop up on my Sweetland Facebook page. It was a message from the Pastor Elle author, Doris Aldrich Smith. She had gone home from the conference, downloaded my book, and had it read already. That, despite the fact she had run off bulletins and preached on Sunday.
I'm such a slacker.
I told her I plan to return the favor and so my next pleasure-reading Kindle book will be Pastor Elle in Wedding Stilettos.