Blue Ridge Conference update
Okay, I promised y’all an update as to how my experience at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference went. So here it is.
You can now go back to your boring lives.
Had you worried there for a second. Didn’t I?
This was the bestest conference I’ve been to, yet. This had the feel of some of the smaller conferences I’ve been to with the class offerings of the large one I attended. And the setting was UNBELIEVABLE.
When we sang the song “Shout to the Lord” and we got to the line about God moving mountains I couldn’t sing because of the effect being in real mountains had on me. It’s one thing to sing a song like that in the flat-lands of north Texas and quite another to sing it in that setting; a remarkable worship experience.
This old farm-boy-forced-to-live-in-a-city was breathing deeply of the clean air. My eyes stung from the city pollution before I ever got back to my apartment. It was then I realized they hadn’t done that the whole week I was gone. Save me a seat for next year.
I had two official appointments while I was there. The first one was with Eddie Jones with Lighthouse of the Carolinas Publishing. He asked me to develop my driving experiences into a devotional book. I told him I had some blog posts that I was thinking about doing just that with. Sounds like God is more than nudging me to get that done now. That’ll be a good book to start off with.
I also met with Jonathan Clements of Wheelhouse Literary agency. He’s most interested in my Christmas devotional book and my adult fiction book. I plan on getting those out soon.
One of the nice things about Blue Ridge is the accessibility of the faculty. I was able to get to know Sally Apokedak in person at a couple of meals. We’d been in touch online before the conference. It was great to get to speak with her in person in a relaxed setting. She’s working with me on getting my children’s book ready for publishers.
I shared another meal with Jeannie Crawford-Lee from Upper Room Books. She perked right up when I told her I had a Christmas and an Easter devotional book I wanted to get published because they’re looking to add to their offerings of those exact topics in their lineup of books. It pays to do a little research.
I hit it off with Vonda Skelton while I was there, too. She actually developed a two-day class on basic public speaking mostly from some emails I exchanged with her. The class was filled to over-the-limit the first day. Not so the second day since that’s when we had to actually speak in public. Go figure.
You’ll be happy to know I spent some time with a Harvard psychologist while I was there. Dr. Jeff Brown was in one of the tents at the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. He says Boston still needs our prayers to help them get back to normal. He worked with me on getting my personal pitch ready for an interview. We came up with: “Hi, my name is Wade Webster. I’m a truck driver turned writer. My writing drives people into a deeper relationship with Jesus.” If my humor begins to suffer we’ll blame my time with him. Agreed?
I even met Santa Claus while I was there. I have his business card to prove it. His real name is Joe, not Nick; and trust me, he ain’t no saint.
Some would say I sat at the lucky table at the awards banquet on Wednesday night. They held a drawing for a scholarship to next year’s conference. Someone at my table won that. Then, at the end they drew for a complete self-publishing package from Crossbooks. Santa won that one.
I sat through three of the categories I entered for unpublished writers without hearing my name called. Then, the category I most wanted to place in came up. “You Must Do First” by Wade Webster was called for third place for short story. That was a thrill to say the least.
There was a blind girl there. I was interested in hearing her story. But, I’m still too shy to approach pretty girls, apparently. Well, when I got home she sent me a friend request on Facebook. Of course I accepted, then, I spent some time on her page and found out she’s a high school senior from near the conference center. And, from all the pictures on her page from the conference that just ended, I’d say she’s nearing rock-star status. I know all those pictures weren’t taken for her benefit. Keep a lookout for the name Jamie Britt in a bookstore near you in the near future. I have a feeling God is going to use her in a mighty way. Now, if I can get over my shyness by next year.
I visited the prayer garden once. I had to leave after fifteen minutes before I fell asleep. Those two gurgling brooks running through it really set the mood, and I was standing up. Of course the pace of the conference didn’t help in the sleepy category.
One of the best things about going to a conference is getting to know other writers. God only knows where those relationships will lead. Too many to post here.
Being a professional truck driver I’ll probably drive the 1,000 miles to Ridgecrest Conference Center next year, too. It’s just too great of an experience to miss.
Keep smiling. Wade