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WRITE: Reflections on the Florida Christian Writers Conference

It is finished. The conference we worked for, waited for, and prayed for is now history—at least until next year. So in the wake of the conference and as I prepare to leave on another trip, I thought I’d share some highlights. Every good writers conference offers appointments with editors and agents as well as all sorts of workshops and continuing classes. I won’t take time to go over those except to say the FCWC shone with a glittering array of publishing stars. I heard so many comments about caring teachers, excellent handouts, and wonderful choices. Kudos to Directors Eva Marie Everson and Mark Hancock for putting it all together with the assistance of amazing manager Sarah Bulls. So what made the FCWC unique and extra-special?  Directors’ Banter (with an undertone of caring) between Eva Marie Everson and Mark Hancock. I knew both these people prior to their conference leadership, but never realized their potential in stand-up comedy. These two made even announcements fun.  Large-group worship under the leadership of Robert Gorini, lead singer of Nonparell. His sensitivity and passion set the tone for our times together.  Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center. I must give a shout-out to the location near my own central Florida home. The beauty of the grounds is matched by the excellence of the food (with gluten-free and other options available) and the warmth of the staff and volunteers. LYBCC offers plenty of room and technology in classrooms and in the worship center, with free wi-fi throughout. Some of the rooms have been updated while others await their makeovers, but overall, it’s a pleasant stay.  Shuttle Service: Instead of asking you to arrange your own transportation to and from the airport (1.5 hours away), the FCWC provides shuttle service for a reasonable fee. This removes the guesswork from conference travel planning and allowed for worry-free trips for faculty and conferees.  Weather: It’s Florida. And even when rain hits—as it did on the first day of the conference—it’s Florida. I caught several conferees sitting in the sun by a convenient fountain or otherwise enjoying His beautiful creation. After a winter like the one most parts of the country have endured, the FCWC makes a fantastic place to thaw out and improve your writing at the same time. I’ll add to my list later this week. And in the meantime, did you attend the FCWC? Do you have some additional comments? Or, if you couldn’t come, do you have something you’d like us to know? I’ll be sure to share your responses with Eva Marie and Mark, so let me know your...

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WRITE: The Introvert’s Guide to the Writers Conference

(Tomorrow, I’m headed to the Florida Christian Writers Conference, where I’ll teach, represent Sisterhood magazine, and serve as chaplain. This post originally appeared on their faculty blog, but I thought I’d repost it today in honor of the many introverts who will attend this or another writing conference now and in days to come.) It took me years to attend my first conference. And I do mean years. In fact, I’d already published three books with traditional publishers before I attended any writing-focused event. I didn’t intend to keep to myself. Not exactly. My career exploded from miniscule to much, and I was climbing a learning curve that seemed more like a mountain. I was far too busy. Or so I thought. And I may as well admit it: I’m the classic introvert. I love people, but I get my energy from my alone time. I prefer fewer, deeper relationships to a large number of shallow ones. My favorite writing time is late at night when the house is quiet. I can almost hear my spirit inhale as the ideas take shape. If I’ve just described you, welcome to our quiet club. I’d also like to welcome you to the conference world.  A conference offers us introverts the same benefits as other writers. But how can we maximize our time while minimizing the frustration and exhaustion that often accompany this type of public event? 1. Pre-select workshops and clinics.  You’ll feel more confident and comfortable without last-minute decisions. And this way, you can choose offerings that match your needs. At first, you may want to avoid interactive sessions. Give yourself permission to glean before you give. 2. Make a wise roommate choice or pay for a single. I learned this the hard way. A sweet-but-talkative roommate processed her days by telling me stories (and more stories–and more stories) each night. Another year, a more thoughtful choice allowed me to recharge in the quiet. 3. Take a break. Your conference fee doesn’t require you to attend every session. If you feel overloaded, skip a workshop and pay for the flash drive or CD. Plan your own free time if you need more than the general schedule allows. 4. Don’t try to process it all. Resolve to go through your notes later and content yourself with receiving even without full comprehension. Enjoy the sumptuous information buffet and ask God’s help to digest it afterward. 5. Treat your editor or agent appointment as a consultation, not a tryout. You attend a conference to hear from the experts. Instead of putting yourself in performance mode, consider your meeting a career consultation. Remember: the experts came to help you. 6. Take some risks. Speak to that author you’ve always admired. Attend the session that...

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WRITE: Florida Christian Writers Conference; Jerry B. Jenkins Reception

I mentioned in an earlier post that dyslexia has influenced my approach to writing and life. I’m not dyslexic, but one daughter and other friends are. I’ve learned a great deal from them and have found that the backwards approach provides unique perspective. Perhaps that’s why so much of my writing life has come about, well, backwards. I was writing when I could barely read. I was published before I knew anything about submissions (my teacher did it for me). I wrote book proposals and then books for authors and CBA publishers without following the typical steps of the publishing world. This Thursday through Sunday, I’ll complete a step I wish I’d taken long ago. I’m about to attend my first official writers’ conference! The Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC) is held annually at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center, less than thirty minutes from my home. I had planned to go last year but a book deadline (for the books mentioned in my previous post) kept me at my computer. I’ve planned to attend other conferences in other years and cancelled those as well. My husband and I decided I would attend the FCWC this year no matter what. I had planned to commute, but God and a generous friend provided a scholarship for room and board. I know my Father has great plans for me there. I look forward to the things he will teach me. I look forward to the relationships I’ll build. I look forward to hearing from old friends like Cec Murphey and Eva Marie Everson along with others I hope will be new friends like Angela Hunt, Nancy Rue, and Jerry Jenkins. I’m interested to hear from Jerry especially because he has spent much of his life doing what I do now—and much more. Word Weavers, the local Christian writers’ group to which I belong, will host Jerry at an afternoon reception this Sunday, March 7, after the FCWC ends. For details, see the attached flyer. Jerry will speak about the craft of writing and the work of the Christian Writers Guild. Word Weavers will offer door prizes along with a reception and book signing. Join us! And please pray for me as I attend the FCWC. I’ll be the one taking the backwards approach—and watching for God at...

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