While I definitely want to go again, it wasn't all roses. First, you have the fact that I am not social by nature. In fact, speaking to people I don't know makes my mouth dry out, and it gets a little hard to breathe - thus it's hard for people to understand me and I look like a complete idiot (not an intellectual author). This is why I prefer writing to speaking - it's easier for me. None the less, I made it through the conference only feeling like I might faint once, though I had to repeat myself several times to clarify what I was saying...
Due to a lack of available babysitter's, I missed quite a bit of the conference. But I enjoyed almost every single aspect of the parts that I was there for. Here's the recap:
- God really worked miracles. I walked in the front door of the conference hall to see the one and only person that I knew there - such a blessing! I don't know what I would have done without her kind and helpful spirit.
- My first workshop was the "Secret to Marketing Your Message" by Rob Eagar (great speaker by the way). I already knew quite a bit about book marketing - I'm actually writing a book about it right now - so mostly I just had what I already knew reaffirmed. But I still really enjoyed this workshop.
- Next I had signed up for "Writing Fiction Children Want to Read" with Tony Bonds - but it was changed to "Writing for Teens" with Amber Weigand-Buckley... I missed that announcement, but I do write for teens, so I went with it - though I wish I hadn't. Because it was a last minute switch, I don't think that Amber prepared at all. She spent the entire time talking about her, and what she does, what she has written. It wasn't helpful at all. Maybe if you want to be just like her - but I don't. In fact, I disagreed with a lot of the things she encouraged us to do to be just like her. Teens don't need another peer - they need role models who understand them.
- My continuing session was also by Rob Eagar, and was titled "Marketing for the Promotionally Challenged Author." Once again, I already know quite a bit about book marketing - but I was able to see what a truly promotionally challenged author was, which will help me update my book to be understandable by those authors.
- I missed Friday altogether. I was bummed.
- On Saturday my first workshop was "Drive 'Em to Your Site" with Megan Breedlove. It was my favorite workshop from the entire conference. Megan's website "Manna For Moms" has been the #1 Google search result for multiple categories for years. I can vouch for that because I found it several years ago when I was searching for devotions for Christian moms. I even had the opportunity to review her first book when it came out. Megan knows her stuff. I have been attempting to learn about SEO for months, but Megan explained it in a way that was relevant and easy to understand. I am now confident that I will be able to apply what I learned. My only complaint was that the workshop was so short. I'm hoping they give her a continuing session at next years conference!
- Megan took me to lunch after her fabulous workshop and introduced me to a few people. I didn't say much, but what I learned just listening to everyone else was amazing. Megan and one of the other women at the table spent a good 15-20 minutes talking about SEO, and it was fabulous! Did I mention that I would love to see a continuing session by Megan next year? This woman knows her stuff and has a heart for sharing that knowledge with others. She is such a blessing!
- My last workshop was "Silver or Dross" with Patricia Durgin. The goal was to learn to discover if ideas are from God. I really enjoyed this workshop - she walked us through several questions that we could ask to see where ideas are coming from. It was a very informal workshop, and she made each person part of it.
- The conference (for me) came to an end with the closing session in the auditorium. I talked briefly with another author who is interested in writing for teen girls. I passed on information about our devotional product and invited her to write devotions for us if she was interested.
- The closing session was centered in a wonderful blend of worship and prayer. The keynote speaker was Tim Shoemaker who shared his writing life testimony with more passion than I have ever seen from any public speaker. He was AMAZING. God is doing so much in and through him. I hope that I have the opportunity to hear him speak again.
The last day of the conference was quite a bit chilly and a heavy drizzle kept us all moist, but even the gloomy weather was unable to put a damper on what God was doing. My only regret was that I couldn't attend the entire conference, but I got so much out of what I was able to attend that I am eternally thankful. I'm praying that God will provide a way for me to attend the whole conference next year.