Last week was spent in beautiful mountains of North Carolina at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest. Since I wrote in my last blog about why I go to a conference I thought it might be interesting to run those four points against last week’s experience.
This was answered with a resounding yes! I taught three elective classes (on what an agent does, on contracts, and on trends). It was also fun to teach a fourth class with Tamela Hancock Murray on “developing a thick skin” aka “how to deal with criticism in your writing career.” Each class was well attended and those who came were engaging and asked great questions.
The class on contracts created quite a stir when we touched on the issue of rights and permissions. What was intended as a quick five-minute segment turned into a rousing discussion as nearly a third of the class had a specific question relating to their own project. “You mean I have to get permission to quote from that source in my book? I can’t just cite it in the footnotes?”
It was gratifying to also help answer individual questions outside the classroom setting. It’s fun to see the light go on when realization becomes clear in that person’s mind of what they can do with their writing to make it stronger or where it can be most effective.
I enjoyed listening to a number of great keynote speeches. But I also learned from conferees who attended. A bit about taxidermy, about the pain of losing two siblings, about being an Arabic Christian, about Hollywood screenwriting from a screenwriter, about the amazing religious history of Newark, NJ, about the life of living in a RV full-time, etc. After 28 one-on-one appointments and meeting an additional 50 writers who joined me at the lunch and dinner tables, the sheer variety of conversations was breathtaking. I suspect I heard more than 100 book ideas when you add in the hallway conversations too.
Always good to see friends in the industry. Even short five minute conversations are incredibly valuable. Taking a pulse of what is happening with both authors and publishers can be quite enlightening.
But the highlight was Monday night when I was able to participate in honoring Les Stobbe with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been in the Christian publishing business in some capacity for 61 years! To hear a dozen testimonies, including some pre-recorded video comments from luminaries like Dennis Rainey, John Maxwell, and Jerry Jenkins was thrilling. And to be able to add my words from the stage to honor my friend was a privilege.
When you have a chance, read the 22 blog posts Les wrote about “God Moments in Christian Publishing.” He has seen some amazing things over the last six decades in our industry.
A Successful Business
Having Tamela at the conference gave us a chance to spend a couple hours on the last morning chatting about our agency and our plans and strategies. I also was able to spend some valuable time with a couple clients. But also to talk with a number of Tamela’s clients who were in attendance.
At the same time there is that hope that one or two of the writers I met will sent a proposal or manuscript that will deliver the promise of the pitch I heard.
I think it is easy to say that the Blue Ridge conference was a success on many different levels. Congratulations to Edie Melson, Alycia Morales, Bethany Jett, and Eva Marie Everson for putting together a great conference.
What was the one, most important, thing you learned at a conference that you didn’t know before you went?