I'm home from one of the most amazing trips I've ever taken. But there is no let-down in returning to "real life" this week. I'm happy to have the snuggles of my kids, my old-fashioned percolator to brew my coffee, and all the gems of friendship and information and experiences from my weekend to sit and ponder.
First, I made new friends. Amazing, incredible friends. Friends of my heart.
My roommate was Jaye Bright, who happens to live 40 minutes from me, and we laughed until we cried every single night. Somehow, the guards were down and our true selves just flowed out.
We also met Dana Romanin--and laughed and talked even more. It's already decided: Dana will be the face you see (in a wig) if I ever receive an award in front of 600 people. Or 50 people. (If she bails, I'll have a huge, frilly fan to hide my blushing face behind.)
The friendships just melded in a natural way. These women filled me up. My heart was on high. God knew who to put in my path. Along with one other woman I have not met, we've formed a critique group--one of those things I'd asked the Lord about and He promptly arranged. (I'm always awed by those instant confirmations that I'm in the direction He wants me to go.)
I met so many other people as well, authors and pre-published novelists (like myself). The atmosphere was encouraging and welcoming everywhere I turned. They are the most down to earth, loving group I've experienced in a long time.
We had classes that expounded on all that I've been learning, and I'm glad I have the notes to look back on for some of those.
Two agent appointments were assigned to me (I expected only one). The first was nerve-wracking, which was no surprise (I couldn't really see it like a job interview as someone suggested). The second was much more comfortable, such a relief. In between the two, I had a mentor appointment. Those are offered for easing anxiety, practicing pitches, answering questions, commenting on writing. I chose a lady who would do any of that, but also said she loved "organic" appointments, so I went with that attitude. We talked without pause for the entire 15 minutes. When I was supposed to get up and walk out (very strict appointment times!), she stopped me and prayed. I came away feeling so blessed, so much that I was following God's heart with this dream to write.
And I met my favorite author of all time: Robin Jones Gunn. Her books have whispered to my heart through different stages of my life for 20 years. It was such a sweet honor to meet her and hug this lovely lady. The fragrance of Christ is all around her. That moment alone would have been enough to call my conference complete.
Yet, I came away with so much more. My dreams are richer, my confidence is stronger, my heart is overflowing. And I'm ready to dive into my next story with reckless abandon.
If I met you at the conference, too...please say hello!