Well, I prayed about the Greater Philly Writer’s Conference for two weeks after I found out I would be going. I wanted to go with God, allowing Him to lead me and show me why He had provided for me to go, and boy, did He!
We arrived last Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday evening I was feeling a bit discouraged. I’ve never been real strong on patience in certain areas of my life — namely the areas that have to do with things I want, and I hadn’t seen any sign of why God had led me to the conference by Thursday evening. At least I didn’t think I did.
However, I did feel a need for time with God Thursday evening because, as mentioned above, I had been spending time with Him daily for two weeks prior to this, and Wednesday and Thursday had been so busy I hadn’t taken the time to spend in prayer and waiting for Him to speak to me. (No, He doesn’t speak to me in an audible voice, but I do receive His messages within my spirit, and not every time I pray.) So before going to sleep Thursday night, I sat in my bed and prayed and listened. He reminded me to trust Him.
Friday, God made it crystal clear as to why He had led me to that conference — for more than I could have imagined. Prior to the conference, I had scheduled one-on-one appointments with just two people — a publisher and an editor. Thursday afternoon, I had asked about an appointment with an indie published author and was given one, so now I had three appointments scheduled for Friday.
First I met with the publisher; one sheet, synopsis of my novel, and first three chapters in my hand. I sat down and told her a bit about my story. (I still need a lot of work on giving a good pitch.) We talked about the fact that my main character is a Pony Express rider, but he’s twenty-five and Pony Express riders were preferred to be eighteen and under, and most were. I explained how my audience is adult women, therefore, my main character had to be over eighteen. She began to look at my chapters and noticed that I addressed the age issue right at the start, so she was satisfied with that.
As she continued to look through my paperwork, I became more nervous. Then she asked me if I had had an editor look at the story already. I told her I had not. Only my three critique groups had seen it and I had made changes based on many of their suggestions. She then told me that “my writing is good and clean, I use strong verbs, and I have no wasted words”. Now for the heartbreak — I told her the novel isn’t finished yet, and she said, “That’s a problem.” Bottom line: she would have taken my paperwork back to her boss if I had a completed manuscript, but since I don’t, she said her boss wouldn’t even look at it if he knew it wasn’t finished. I took a deep breath and asked if I could send it to her when it is finished. She pulled out a business card, handed it to me, and said, “Yes”. Just a few minutes later, I saw her in the bookstore and she patted my arm and said, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
A little while after that I met with an editor. I gave him my first chapter, told him I’d like him to look at it and then answer some questions I had about editing. He began reading my chapter, pen in hand. When he got to the first page break, three-and-a-half pages into the chapter, he stopped and had not made a single mark on the pages. He looked at me and asked, “Do you want me to read the whole chapter?” I replied, “Not if you don’t think you have to.”
He didn’t read any farther. Instead he said, “Your writing is good and clean. You captured my attention right from the start. I knew your character was going to lie about his age. I knew what time frame and where, in the world, I was. When I got to the page break, you had built enough tension that I wanted to keep reading, but not because I had to as an editor. I simply wanted to as a reader.”
Can I just say that now I was over the moon with happiness? Next I attended an agent panel, where agents introduced themselves and the agencies they represent. Then we could ask questions. At the end I approached one of them and asked about appointments. She said she was open at that very moment and took me to a little lobby sitting area. We sat down and, because I had been caught off guard that this meeting was happening immediately, I completely forgot to “pitch my story”. I simply handed her my paperwork and told her a publisher was already interested and that the book wasn’t finished. She gave me her business card and had me write specific directions on the back of it. Basically, she told me to go home, write a book proposal and send it to the agency.
My one-on-one with the indie published author was not as much fun. I sat down and told her I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to talk to her about. I told her I had come to the conference intending to indie publish, but that God had led me in a different direction. She was a bit rude, and when I told her a publisher and agent were interested in my work, she said, “If a publisher is interested in your work, that tells me you have something good.” She advised me to go home and finish the book and said if I have a traditional publisher interested, I should try that before going indie.
In addition, we had the most powerful keynote speakers throughout the three-and-a-half days. Several things I heard from these speakers were: Trust God, Be Courageous, Obey God — Say “Yes” to His assignment for me; follow His leading in my writing. These messages challenged, encouraged and inspired me.
So, I left the conference full of excitement, amazement, and encouragement — praising God for opening so many doors, even though I know none of them are guarantees, I am so much farther then when I left for the conference. I left the conference with some information and ideas for writing more than just novel length books, and how to market my book using social media and other things. I also left the conference with some new friends who are wonderful people whom I will be continuing to keep in contact with, thanks to the wonders of current technology. I also left the conference with the knowledge that seeking God and following His leading is something I don’t want to stop doing, and the most surprising thing I left the conference with, is the fact that my plan is not God’s plan, and instead of indie publishing, I will be trying traditional publishing first.
Now I need to write, write, write! So, now I pray that God gives me the time to write, in addition to schooling my last school age son and taking care of my household.
What journey are you on?