I’m late. Everyone else has already written reams about their conference experience. I haven’t for two reasons: 1) I don’t have reams to write because I slept much of the time, and 2) I’m still sleeping much of the time. Yep, still under the grips of the Crohn’s flare-up. No pain, fortunately, but since I’m not absorbing my nutrients well, I have very little strength and energy.
But that didn’t stop me from hugging my sweet cyberbuddies once I was able to find them: CathiLyn Dyck, Grace Bridges, Diane Graham, Ginger Takamiya, Kathleen Freeman (who won the Genesis in her category! Go girl!), Anne Baxter, Susan Muira, Marji Laine, Ane Mulligan, Janalyn Voigt, on and on I could go. I tell ya, it was all good medicine. I caught Brandilyn Collins at the elevators and rubbed elbows with her–a fellow redhead who is such a stunner, inside and out. Cara Putman took time out and prayed for me, as did many others, some of whom I didn’t even know. Having folks come to me and exclaim, “I read your book!” was incredible, just as it was to run into my own heroes with similar exclamations. Breaking bread with my agent and several other of his clients. The morning praise and worship services. Learning, always learning, about the craft and the industry. Meeting new people and feeding off the enthusiasm of the conference newbies. Even having my name bungled again at the awards gala was special. It didn’t matter, because I knew that many in the crowd of 700 were rooting for me, whether they could pronounce my name or not. And it didn’t matter that I didn’t walk away with the prize. What an honor it was to even be chosen!
It’s hard to determine what the actual highlight was. Being remembered is right up there. I was surprised, always am, when Jim Rubart remembered not only my name, but the title of my book. I was honored beyond belief when Ane Mulligan raved about The Cat Lady’s Secret to a small group of ACFW insiders, and Pam Meyers teased about bull riding because she’d read Give the Lady a Ride. It’s always fun to feel like a rock star, even a small one.
Equally special to everything listed above was the opportunity to sit in with my agent and boss, Terry Burns, as he accepted submissions and proposals during his author interviews. He had mentioned to me that I might make a good agent, but I balked about it. I love editing, and can’t imagine becoming an agent, but he does seem to be grooming me and I can’t help but to admit to being curious. I enjoyed meeting all the authors and listening as they presented the fruits of their labor. Authors of all ages and genres came one after the other and placed their hopes before us, and listened as Terry instructed and informed and encouraged. I think I like that part of the job.
But there’s so much more to it! Knowing what sells in the market, which publisher is interested in what genre, how to get in with that publisher. Wow. And contracts! Although I know a bit about contract law, I know nothing about literary contracts. So much to learn in this new fork in the road.
I’m amazed to have three roads open to me in this industry: author, editor, and now agent. And I can be passionate about all three. How but through the grace of God can a no-name housewife in small-town Texas have these opportunities? God has worked everything through such special people as the incomparable Katie Weiland, my critique partner extraordinaire, the controversial and lovable Chila Woychik, owner of Port Yonder Press, and the ever-patient, ever-supportive Terry Burns, agent-of-the-year in my book.
It’s humbling, amazing, and humbling, to be so blessed. So my heart is full even while my body is weak. I am so ready to get back to work!