So many things could have gone wrong.
Thursday I woke up with a sore throat and aching body. I prayed, “God, if I should go to the conference, please help me feel better by tomorrow.”
Friday I woke up feeling fine. Not a hundred percent, but definitely well enough to attend the conference. I drove to Eldridge and arrived with the familiar nerves I get when meeting new people. I never know when I might do or say the wrong thing. I prayed, “God, if I should meet people here, please give me the right words.”
He did. He helped me remember the most obvious thing about writers’ conferences: everyone there writes. So all I had to do was ask, “What do you like to write?” Boom—instant conversation. And everyone was so friendly, I needn’t have worried in the first place.
Saturday evening when I left the conference, the roads were covered with snow and ice. Along the highway, a few cars had slid into the ditch. I prayed, “God, please keep me safe.”
I returned home without any trouble. All weekend I felt like God helped me, like he wanted me at that conference. So I’ll do my best to use everything I learned there. I now have several ideas for improving both my novels, as well as inklings for future projects. If anyone is curious, I took the following classes:
1. “Steps to Writing a Novel” by Susan May Warren. When Susan mentioned Sydney Bristow, Russia, Montana, and dance movies within the first hour, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. Plus she bombarded us with valuable information!
2. “Write for Children” by Kim Peterson. Kim shared many suggestions for breaking into the children’s market, several of which I had never considered before.
3. “The Joy of Self-Editing” by Cynthia Ruchti. I loved the handout from this class; the list of revision checkpoints appealed to my analytical side. And Cynthia was incredibly sweet; when I sat at her table Friday evening, she wrote down all our names and took our picture!
4. “Writing with Humor” by Jim Watkins. I laughed through most of this class, but I did manage to take a few notes. Jim made me feel better about using humor in serious situations.
5. “Relationships Every Great Writer Should Have” by Jennifer Schuchmann. Jennifer was energetic and a blast to listen to. She completely changed the way I view networking.
6. “How to Please an Editor” by Lin Johnson. I liked Lin’s blunt, upfront attitude. As an editor, she offered me new insight into the business of publishing and how to succeed in it.
Erin’s Top Ten List of What to Expect at the QCCWC:
Expect to …
1. Meet incredible people. Every person I met was beyond polite; they actually seemed thrilled to talk to me. Usually I can’t pay people to be that nice, but here they did it for free!
2. Choose from stacks of writing books. I love to read, and I love to write. Combine those two passions, and of course I can’t resist a book on the writing craft. I don’t know how many books they had available—maybe two hundred? I narrowed down my choices to about a hundred, which is how many I would’ve come home with if books were free. Still, it’s not very often that I get to browse so many fabulous writing books in one area.
3. Receive a MP3 CD of all classes. Each time slot offered six classes to choose from. Instead of trying to pick the best of the best, I could relax and know that all thirty-six classes would be sent to me on one CD. I can listen to them again and again until the information sinks in!
4. Talk to a faculty member in a personal appointment. I received a free appointment with Kim Peterson, who willingly read the beginning pages of EOL. She gave me her honest opinion, encouraging feedback, and stellar advice.
5. Laugh and learn in every class. All the faculty members were friendly and hilarious, providing useful information for fiction and nonfiction writers. It didn’t matter if you were a beginning, intermediate, or advanced writer; you left with the tools to become even better.
6. Network every possible minute. Even meals were perfect for networking. A faculty member sat at each table, so we got to visit and ask questions in the informal setting. The only downside: I kept forgetting to eat enough. I’d think I was full, and then an hour later I’d be hungry again. Luckily they offered snacks between meals, so I’d eat granola bars while walking to my next class. Unless I was shopping for books or talking to people!
7. Listen to inspiring keynote speakers. Cecil Murphey, Jim Watkins, and Frank Ball all gave motivational speeches. I learned how God has a plan for me (even if it’s not the plan I have), how I shouldn’t give up or feel insignificant, and so much more.
8. Return home overwhelmed. I paced my house a few times—I wanted to do so many things, I didn’t know where to start. Eventually I settled down and opted for one thing at a time. But no doubt I’ll be reeling from the happy energy for quite a while.
9. Thank everyone involved. My sincere thanks goes to Twila Belk, the faculty, and everyone else who helped make QCCWC a success. Thanks to all the writers for your words and enthusiasm. And thank you to those who made it possible for me to attend: Jill for taking good care of my son, Steph for the room and board, and Husband and Son for supporting my decision to go. Thank you, everyone!
10. Want to return next year. If at all possible, I’ll go back next year. And hopefully I can encourage other writers to attend as well!
If you have any questions about the conference, please let me know! And if you attended this year’s conference, feel free to drop me a line! I’d love to see pictures, if someone wants to email me one or two (or direct me to a website with pictures). Would anyone like to share their thoughts on QCCWC or other writers’ conferences?
Have a great week!