Random Highlights From The Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference

Last week I hung out in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with fellow whackos in the publishing industry, so I thought I’d toss out a few random thoughts about the conference:

  • If you’re ever tempted to send a few e-mail zingers to the faculty e-mail list about how you’ll never get up on stage in front of the entire conference with a tiara on your head, trust me, don’t do it. (No, there are no photos.)
  • Alton Gansky and Edie Melson consistently put together one of the best faculties of any conference. I repeatedly found myself wishing I wasn’t teaching because I wanted to go to two or three other classes being taught while I was speaking.
  • If you have a 15 minute appointment with an agent, editor, or author, use the time wisely. During one of my appointments I had a talented and sweet lady tell me about her book for fifteen minutes. I kept waiting for her to stop and ask me a question or two, but time ran out.  It’s so easy to get talking about our story or project we miss the chance to pick the brain of the person we’ve set up our appointment with. Ask questions first, speak second.
  • Torry Martin (who writes for Adventures in Odyssey among his 3,492 other talents) pegs past the red line on the entertainment scale. (He keynoted on Wednesday night and slayed all of us with his stellar sense of humor.)
  • Cecil Stokes (producer of the ground-breaking movie October Baby) is persuasive when you’re kind of hungry at 12 midnight there’s a Denny’s close by:
    James L. Rubart, Dina Sleiman, Susie Warren, Cecil Stokes, and Steven James
    • About half an hour into our meal someone asked if author Tosca Lee would be at the Christy Awards in July. (Steven, Susie, and I are up for the award as well and were discussing who among us would be at the ceremony.) I said I’d text her and find out if she would be there. Someone commented that it was 12:30. I said, “Yeah, but it’s only 11:30pm where Tosca lives. She’ll be up.” She was. Tosca proceeded to demonstrate why she should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for her speed-of-light texting ability. She was simultaneously texting all of us and sent out her multiple messages–and working on a side project as well–in the the time it took each of us to send one. And her texts were more than a few words.
  • Authors Susie Warren and Steven James have RADICALLY different ideas on how to craft a novel. Definitely entertaining to hear them (passionately) explain the merits of their methods—and question the other’s techniques. Since both of them are award-winning, bestselling authors, it’s a great reminder that there’s more than one way to craft exceptional fiction.
  • There’s never enough time to hang out with all the people you want to spend with. There’s one person in particular I didn’t get time with—next year I’m going to see them first.
  • It was confirmed once again the biggest highlight of the Blue Ridge conference (and most writing conferences) is the new relationships formed and the deepening of existing ones. In other words I love my fellow crazies dearly, and hanging out with them is gold.

If you’ve been to a conference this year, tell us about a few of your highlights. Inquiring whackos want to know. (And yes, feel free to guess why we’re pointing in the photo above.)

James L. Rubart is the best-selling and award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and teenage sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. His next novel releases in October. More at www.jameslrubart.com