Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference

BRMCWC friends at the coffee shop at Ridgecrest Conference Center

This will be my third time attending the BRMCWC. This is the first place where I discovered I didn’t have a clue how to write fiction. For someone who made the Dean’s list in college, I didn’t take this revelation well, but alas, the truth hits us the hardest sometimes.

Anyway, I dug into the classes and began studying how to write fiction. Three years later and I finally, just now, feel like I’m understanding the process … some. The amount of information comes at you like one of those huge buckets at a waterpark emptying on your head. So what’s a first-time conference attendee to do to keep from being overwhelmed?

Try out these things below:

Bring author cards. These are little business type cards that give your information to other writers. When we all return home, we make tons of social media connections, check out people’s websites and read blog posts. The people I’ve connected with at conferences have become an army of friends, support and encouragement. Trust me, you’ll want to trade cards.

Talk to others. Some of the best-established authors, editors and agents attend this conference. This is where I met my agent, joined a writer’s group and discovered a tribe of other helpful authors rooting for all of our success. This is a very welcoming community and many are there to help along this new journey.

Be polite and kind. There is no worse way to make an impression than to chase an editor down the hall waving your manuscript at them. Thankfully, I’ve never seen this happen, but I’ve heard stories of editors and agents being approached in the restroom. Time to implement some common sense. Is that really how we want to be remembered by the one person who could make or break our writing career? Instead, let’s sign up for appointments, talk to them at the lunch or dinner tables or in the lounges and coffee shops when they are hanging out after hours. Better yet, play a game and ask them to join without any ulterior motive at all. Trust me, you have plenty of time to get your manuscript to them because this publishing journey is slow…which brings me to my next point.

Relax. I remember feeling overwhelmed the first time I came and thought I had to get my whole career secured in this one week. This journey is like an Atlanta Braves ball game tied in the ninth inning with no outs and rain clouds are moving overhead. There’s no need to rush the field. You’ve got plenty of time. Pick a few things to accomplish while there and enjoy the classes, the friendships, and the coffee.

Devote each day to God. This really should be the first point, but I wanted this to be the last thing to keep fresh in your mind. We need God’s graceful hand holding ours down the path to becoming an author. He’s the only One who can open doors, create divine appointments, provide encouragement and guidance beyond all we could ever ask, think or imagine. That’s the one thing I’m learning through all this … that I must put in the work and write the stories He gives, then release them to Him, for His will, not my own.

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