After spending most of last week in Oregon at the wonderful Oregon Christian Writers Conference, it seems fitting to suspend normal posts for a few days here on the blog and instead share the blessing this conference was for me. =)
I left here with my hubby (after dropping the kids off at my parents') at about noon last Sunday, on my birthday. I was armed with my two carry-on bags, all my information and boarding passes printed out, and belly full of nerves. Now, I am in general a laid-back, easy-going gal. But this past year I've started a list of things that will get me anxious. Tornadoes made the list this spring--and I had to add extended travel to the list this week.
Now, I'm not afraid of flying--I was cool as a cucumber on the plane. It's the preparation. The nerves of getting to the airport on time, and then through security. I couldn't eat much for days beforehand, and my stomach was just all twisted up. But the moment I arrived at my gate, I was fine. And soon better than fine, as I looked down at my phone and realized my best friend had called to wish me a happy birthday while I was in the little shuttle train. I called her back, and we had an awesome time chatting until boarding began.
Oh yeah, had I mentioned this was on my birthday? Not exactly my favorite way to spend the day, but all went well. =) I touched down at 9:04ish local time and then called home and read while waiting for the next shuttle at 10:45. Now, I'm not a night owl, and I expected to be beyond exhausted, since this was midnight already my time. But I wasn't, surprisingly. I held out just fine until I got on the shuttle, then slept through the hour of transport to Salem, Oregon. I got into my room a little after midnight local time, 3 a.m. according to my internal clock. Which worked out perfectly, since I was so exhausted that I slept until 6 PST, which effectively put me in the right time zone. =)
I was extremely blessed to have been paired with a fabulous roommate. Joanna works with one of Focus on the Family's kids' magazines and is only a couple years older than me. We're both morning people, have similar senses of humor, and basically just got along swimmingly. At breakfast Monday morning (a time reserved for faculty and staff orientation), I got to sit with a fun bunch of folks that ranged from some ladies I know pretty well from previous conferences and the blogosphere to a couple hilarious editors.
My next stop was saying hello to my agent, the awesome Karen Ball. And I gotta tell you, I had a real wow moment when she slung an arm around my shoulders, turned me to an editor, and said, "This is Roseanna. She's mine." I knew God had blessed me in amazing ways by leading me to sign with Karen--but meeting her in person, at a conference, hammered it home. She is a truly amazing woman, and a real force in the Christian publishing industry. I am blessed beyond words to have the privilege of working with her.
There were a few other moments in the day that made it awesome on a personal scale--words of encouragement for my writing. I also got to hear my first pitch of the conference, from a lovely woman who was so very excited about her story that I couldn't help but get excited too.
The only conferences I've been to before are ACFW conferences, which are wonderful. But I quickly discovered that OCW is something different--it's more relaxed, much smaller, and has a laid-back feel. But what was the same was the feeling of community, and the Spirit that came each time we all gathered together.
Monday included an agent and magazine/article editor panel, which was fun to listen to, the first keynote address by the fun and funny Mindy Starns Clark, who spoke about "The Dream" of publishing and her path to publication, and then a Night Owl session by Karen Ball on how to make a good first impression with your manuscript.
Take-away from Karen's session: you only have 10-15 seconds to grab an agent or editor's attention--make it count! And 95% of proposals they receive shouldn't have been sent out yet and need more work.Don't send a manuscript out before its time!!
Monday I also video-called home with Skype, which was a big mistake. Made my baby cry. =( Apparently seeing Mama but being unable to be with me was just too much for Xoe. (Rowyn didn't seem to mind, LOL.) So we didn't try that again!
I had a really great start to the conference. Met some great people and knew that the next day would be even better. Which I shall tell you about tomorrow. =)