The conference, the pitches and home again: a recap
I was that girl, crying in the airport. It’s usually someone else, but this time it was me. As my brother toted our luggage over to the boarding pass printer, I was sniffling and wiping my eyes and wondering what everyone thought of me. Was I going to live with my dad after my parents had separated? Sneaking away from an abusive boyfriend? Attending an out-of-state funeral? Any of these would’ve been good guesses, but far from the truth. Sadly, I was just crying because I was nervous…and tired.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a cryer. I cry when I’m sad, happy, startled, embarrassed, overwhelmed or nervous. If I’m not crying, chances are I’m suppressing my tears.
On the short drive to the airport, the tears began to flow (not that they hadn’t already been flowing the night before) as I realized that there was no turning back. In what would seem like a moment’s time, I’d be sitting across from a publisher and they’d be asking me about my book. And I had no idea what I wanted to say.
Throughout the day, I began to feel better. I ate some peanut m&m’s, saw some cute kiddos, watched exquisite clouds float by the window as we flew off. We chewed a lot of gum, sent a lot of text messages to my mom, pulled our luggage a long way. Joey looked over on the first flight and asked how I was feeling. “Better.” Says I. “Better.”
When we arrived in Charlotte, the first thing I saw from the plane was a huge, bright rainbow looping over our heads. I saw it again from the airport window and then again from the rental car. Finally I realized that we were seeing several rainbows. The whole sky was scrolled with them. I felt like this was a good sign. Pulling out my pink point-n-shoot, I captured one of the arches. The picture turned out.
When we got to our hotel room, I was relieved that we were staying on the same side of the hotel as last year. I am a bit OCD when it comes to things like what side of a hotel I stay on or what side of the room I sit on or how said room is set up. It isn’t superstition, just a great need to be prepared ahead of time. I like to be accustomed to my surroundings. If I imagine that my hotel room is going to have the bed on the side of the door but it is on the opposite side of the room instead, well, it throws off my groove.
That night I unpacked and tried to get organized while my brother, being the kind and wonderful fellow that he is, ironed my conference clothes. (He did very well, even if he did call a skirt “they” as if it were a pair of pants…) We went out that night and ate at Cheddar’s. It was fun and the food was tasty, but as we sat down at our table, I looked at Joey and asked if he noticed anything. Looking around, he realized, as I had just done, that we were the only two caucasian people in the entire restaurant. And the restaurant was full. This gave us a good laugh. I wanted to stand up on my table and say, “Don’t worry! Half my family is black!” But I’m not sure how that would’ve gone over.
And besides, I had to pitch to Joey. We worked on my pitch all through dinner, visited with the waitress and went back to the hotel. After much more time spent working on the pitch, we finally went to bed.
The next day was wonderful, besides the fact that I still had to pitch my book to a complete stranger. I went upstairs (where the publisher appointments are held) and sat outside the room for twenty minutes or so, dead-scared I’d be late otherwise. I clung to the little cross my mom gave me on my birthday this year, prayed, tried to breathe and clutched my aching stomach. Apparently my stomach aches when I’m super nervous. I learn something new every day!
The first pitch went fine, besides the fact that I was visibly nervous and pulled the spine off of one of my folders with my trembling hands. I also stumbled over a couple of questions, but I think I faked it pretty well. This meeting was with an acquisitions editor from Harvest House and she was a very professional but courteous young woman. Very professional and courteous young women are wonderful, really. But they make me nervous. Ahem. However, I did like this lady and think she represents a wonderful publishing house, so I was delighted that she took my proposal.
After this, however, I was so relieved, I wasn’t nearly so nervous for my next meetings. The day continued in the usual fantastic She Speaks fashion. I heard scripture preached from the pulpit of incredible, Godly speakers. I took note after note in break out sessions on memoir writing, passion in writing, finding an agent, writing a book proposal etc. I threw my hands toward the ceiling and worshiped with 650+ sisters in Christ. I ate fancy meals on real table cloths and smiled at the women who were pacing in the bathroom, reciting their pitches. I got to meet up with some Facebook friends and some lovely faces from She Speaks, 2011.
The next day was just as wonderful, but I had two appointments that afternoon. The first appointment of the day was with a representative from Regal. As soon as I sat down, I felt comfortable. I gave my pitch and then she began talking. She seemed genuinely interested in my book. It was like sitting down to chat with a smart, funny aunt. This pitch went the best of all and it ended with her taking my proposal.
The last appointment was with another sweet, Christian lady from Tyndale. She did not take my proposal, but she gave me some good advice and interesting suggestions I’m still mulling over. It didn’t upset me at all that she didn’t take my proposal. I was glad that we were both mature enough to be honest about what we were looking for and, as I said to my SS peers that evening, “She didn’t take it, but she took it seriously.” That’s all an author really wants most days: to be taken seriously.
The rest of the conference was really excellent. Proverbs 31 Ministries doesn’t really advertise much, so I am going to do so here and now. The P31 Staff is made up of some of the humblest and, for lack of a better term, most “sold-out” Christians I’ve ever met. They are amazing writers, speakers and leaders and yet they constantly strive to put their family above their careers and ministries. They organize the conference excellently and make you feel loved and welcomed no matter where you come from or what experience you have. I’ve never been to anything like it, nor even heard of anything like it. If you are a woman who is a speaker or writer or ministry leader or think you might become one if you drop your baggage and say “yes” to God, I think you should start planning for She Speaks, 2013 today.
The conference ended on a bittersweet note as we were all so pumped up about all we had learned and ready to get home and apply it, yet sad to leave that place of constant encouragement and empowerment, sad to leave each other. I realized during the last session that check-out was happening while I was in the session, so I had to text Joey and have him start packing. He had nearly everything packed when I got upstairs. Besides crushing my blush tray and bending a belt, he did a fine job. Somehow, however, I had accumulated a lot of extra stuff. Either that, or my clothes expanded. I had won a copy of Lysa Terkeurst’s newest book, along with the DVD (super excited about this!) and then, for entering another competition received the participant’s guide. Then, for attending a certain session, received a free novel. Oh, and I had to buy Sarah Frances Martin’s book and have her sign it. Then there was the new Liz Curtis Higgs book that I got for Birdie, and all of the binders and notebooks and book samples that had been passed out. You get the idea.
(Liz Curtis Higgs, by the way, was amazing. During her talk, 650 women were laughing so hard they were crying. I’ve never seen someone have such a humorous effect on the entire audience. She is one of my new favorite people!)
Then it was back to the airport. There we finally had our Southern BBQ. While eating our pulled pork sandwiches, I saw around twelve or so She Speaks sistas in our terminal. We were taking over that place! If only we had planned a flashmob ahead of time…
Then it was the flight to DFW and the flight back home. Then it was waiting for luggage that had been checked by force. Then it was Mommy’s car pulling up and then it was home, sweet home.
And boy, is it good to be home! As much as I love the conferences, any conference is an introvert’s nightmare. Needless to say, I was quite pooped out and declared this week “hibernation.”
I am thrilled to be back on the “blog-wagon” and full of ideas and inspiration. I am thrilled with so much right now, it’s really been a season of blessing.
Thank you for ALL of the prayers and notes of encouragement over the past few months, particularly last weekend. They all meant so much to me and really helped in calming my spirit. I don’t know of anyone else who has the support that I have. I am greatly blessed and very grateful.