Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blue Ridge in 2013

Have you dreamed of writing to publish but didn’t know where to begin?  My journey began in 2006 by reading about the craft of writing.   The internet is a great resource of information.  I researched and found endless websites about writing, books on writing and blogs about writing from writers or those in the publishing industry.  Besides reading about the craft you can join national and local writing associations.  My interest was writing Christian Fiction so I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). And I highly recommend ACFW as it is inexpensive and an invaluable resource.

Through ACFW and conversation with author, Susan May Warren it became apparent the next step was to attend a writer’s conference.  I was thankful to find there was a great conference right in my own state.  I attended Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in 2010.  I read information about what to expect at writing conferences and how to prepare.  Who would have thought there were etiquette rules to attending a writing conference?  For example, don’t pitch your novel idea to an agent who has retreated to the rest room.  I would assume that is just plain good manners but apparently some anxious writers have been so bold!
Last year’s conference was special because my favorite author and mentor Susan May Warren traveled from the midwest to teach at the conference. So fast forward four years to my third Blue Ridge Conference experience which was in May. I blogged about the conference last year but will recap a few things.  You arrive on Sunday and check in.  For newbies they offer a tour of the facility which helps you to get acclimated to your surroundings.  And because it is in the mountains you want to wear comfortable shoes.  I probably put in a few miles that week walking between the classes, meals and our residence.
You have sessions as a group that include introduction of the faculty, announcements, worship time and speakers ending the week with a banquet where awards are given for submitted works. The hardest decision is which classes to attend. They have about 25 classes going on at one time and they are repeated throughout the week.  There are also continuing classes where you attend each day at the same time with the same instructor. There could be anywhere from 5-25 students in a class.  Depending on where you are in your writing career may determine what classes you want to take.  The conference also covers many genres of writing.  Some attend to learn how to write articles, devotionals, Sunday School curriculum, homeschool curriculum, fiction, non-fiction, poetry or screen writing. 
The first year on the spur of the moment I took two classes on writing articles which led to me writing feature stories for my local newspaper when they accepted my first story.  So you never know where your writing journey will take you.  This year I found that I was more comfortable and less intimated with my conference experience.  I felt more focused and gleaned a lot of information to pour over until next year’s conference. 
It was great to connect with friends that I met previously and make new acquaintances.  It’s also rewarding to see how others have progressed through their writing journey to publication.  It’s an encouragement to see others grow and to celebrate with them.  One such person was Lisa Carter, who I met in 2010. She has two books coming out this year. Check out the book trailer for “Carolina Reckoning” at LisaCarterAuthor.com  which debuts this month. Lisa also has several events in the area; Barnes & Noble (Cary Commons), Tues. Aug. 20 @ 7 PM in Cary, NC and at the Lifeway Store on Capital Blvd. in Raleigh, NC on Aug. 31 from 11-1 PM.
Another friend Cynthia Howerter, I met at the conference in 2010 co-wrote with La Tan Murphy “God's Provision in Tough Times” 25 True Stories of God’s Provision During Unemployment and Financial Despair which was just released. The stories are written by several people I’ve met at Blue Ridge of which some are faculty. My long-time friend and writing buddy Felicia Bridges also contributed her own story in this book. The book is available at Amazon and CBD.  I will post a review soon.
May you find Words that Inspire!
(The photo above was taken at the banquet with Dr. Dennis Hensley of Taylor University. I had the privilege of attending his classes.  He’s a prolific writer, teacher, awesome speaker and an Army Veteran who served his country in Vietnam.)