Chapters, synopsis, one sheets, edited and printed. Folders organized. Business cards created. Outfits chosen and packed. Roommates found, and car loaded. I set off for Kokomo at 4 am to meet up with Abbey Downey for the drive to Nashville. I had my Bible, my water, my chocolate, my audiobook, and my expectations in the car with me as I set off into the dark Thursday morning.
My roommates and I had prayed peace for each other as we converged on the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for the four days of conference. I could feel those prayers as I drove. My heart was light and anticipating a wonderful experience. I looked forward to the contacts I might make, the accomplished authors I might meet, and the possibility of acquiring an agent, or at least finding industry professionals who would be interested in reading my words.
As Abbey and I drove the five hours to Tennessee, we practiced our pitches, discussed our work and our hopes for the next few days. We got to know each other and found we worked well together. Our styles of writing and genres are quite different, but our faith and love of writing combined with the goal of sharing God’s love and hope with our readers, brought common ground and understanding.
Abbey’s publishing experience was welcome, since I am so new to the industry. Ann Marie Stewart, another of my roommates, has also published a novel, and she was able to recount a different experience as we settled in to our room in the evenings to wind down and share. Heather Davis, like me, has yet to be discovered, but we all benefited from her deep love of the Lord and call to pray for us and our writing.
If you’ve never been to the Gaylord Opryland hotel, it is a small city beneath its skylight ceilings and beside its fantastically-landscaped gardens. Photos do not do it justice. It took us fifteen minutes to walk from the registration area to the Magnolia wing where our room was located. Amazing waterfalls, gorgeous flower, flowing rivers, and fabulous dining areas had our heads swiveling to take it all in.
Registration brought the long-anticipated wait to an end as we found out who our appointments were with. As first-time conferees, figuring out how the little ribbons were supposed to attach to our name badge was the first test we had to pass. Everything felt grand and bigger than life. Walking through the halls and meeting authors whose books we have read, gave us star-struck moments. Later, after we had eaten meals with those same authors, or agents, or editors, or attended sessions in which they presented and taught, and they waved and greeted us, we had even bigger “Wow” moments.
Beyond meeting the published and successful, connecting with those whom I had only met online through email, critiques, or novel track writing, was a joy. I felt close to many already whose names had no clear faces attached. Now I know them in person. Each meeting was thrilling—as if I were finding a long-lost relative or high school friend amidst the over 500 attendees. They are connections I want to continue far into the future. I met many whose names were completely new and, those too, were interesting and fun.
Each meal was an adventure. Who would sit at your table? Who would you sit down next to? What topic of conversation might arise? Not only that, but at home, I set a farmer’s table. Each meal I was confronted with way too many pieces of silverware. Many of us found ourselves watching the others to see which fork, spoon, or knife was the correct one for that part of the meal. Sometimes we just laughed and chose, right or not.
Read my next post to learn more about the classes, volunteering, and the dreaded agent and editor APPOINTMENT.
In the mean time, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please be sure to post them. I will get back to them as soon as I see them. (Sometimes that takes a few days, with everything I have going on, but I promise I will answer! Thanks for your patience.) I hope this was helpful. Also, please post prayer requests. I would love to pray for you.