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I attended a wonderful writing conference over the weekend and didn’t have to go far to do it. Between the Pages Writers Conference was held at the Double Tree by Hilton in Springfield, Missouri last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I only live about an hour and a half from Springfield, so the drive wasn’t bad at all. More importantly, I only used half a tank of gas while I was gone.
BTP Writers Con was sponsored by Springfield Writers’ Guild, Ozarks Romance Authors, and Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers. I have the pleasure of holding memberships in Ozarks Romance Authors and Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers. I don’t belong to Springfield Writers’ Guild because I’m a longtime member of Joplin Writers’ Guild.
Bestselling Christian Thriller Author Steven James was our keynote speaker and led two sessions. He was an amazing speaker who left me wanting to corner him somewhere and pick his brain for hours. I didn’t do that, of course. I did have a great, albeit short, conversation with him in the hallway on the first night before any of the festivities began.
I knew who Steven was, but I’m happy to say that I did not gush like a fan girl all over the place when he commented on my shirt and introduced himself with a simple, “I’m Steve.” I calmly introduced myself in return and told him it was nice to meet him. Believe me, it was VERY nice to meet him! You probably already guessed that I came home with one of his autographed books.
One bestselling author in particular, Heather Burch, always has a smile and kind words for everyone. I’m honored to call her my friend. Her session was on writing high concepts, which I had never given a single thought before she began sharing her wisdom. Now, I can’t stop analyzing everything I read or see on TV. The woman is brilliant.
Bestselling Author Renee George proved to be extremely gracious when I nearly ruined her entire presentation. I was having a rough time with my coordination all weekend. (Trust me, you don’t want to know what all I dropped, spilled, and broke.) I entered Renee’s session through the wrong door, stepped on the cord connecting the laptop to the projector, thereby yanking it out with a pop. Even though we were able to reattach the cable, her presentation refused to reappear on the projector.
Two computer guys worked together and finally managed to bring Renee’s slides back to the screen, but she got a late start and was forced to rush through her presentation. The woman is a marketing genius, and our group peppered her with questions throughout our time. If she’d been able to begin when she should have, she probably could have answered at least a dozen more questions, educating us in the complicated (at least for me) world of marketing.
I apologized to her over and over again. Her book table was set up next to mine in the bookstore, so I took the opportunity to apologize again as I bought one of her books, which she was kind enough to autograph for me. She kept telling me it was fine, and her forgiveness means the world to me. I feel quite certain she will never forget me or the BTP conference. Renee wished me a good morning at breakfast on the last day, which solidified my opinion of her. She is a very nice person, and I will continue to purchase her books and smile every time I do.
J.C. Fields is another bestselling author who happens to have been one of the main movers and shakers of the conference. As president of Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers, one of the three groups sponsoring the conference, he worked himself silly planning and making preparations. He’s always on top of things and worked with the rest of the team to make the conference a great experience.
I attended J.C.’s presentation, which was a joint one with voice actor Paul McSorely and musical composer/engineer Nikki McSorely regarding audio books. I learned a lot, and J.C. shared industry numbers with us, which predict huge growth in audio books in the next few years. I told Paul after the session that if I ever write a male protagonist, I’d be honored to have him as my voice actor. He has an incredible voice.
I love writers conferences because I get to visit with bigtime authors who are there to share their wisdom. Such gatherings are also an opportunity to learn from other authors in various stages of their careers. We all bring something to the table.
In addition to hearing all of the great speakers and attending every session I could, I really enjoyed visiting with other writers. Hearing about what inspires them, how they juggle days jobs (like I have) with their writing careers, which publishers/agents/editors they’ve queried, why some chose to self-publish and others chose to go traditional, and everything else including the grammar programs of choice.
It wasn’t all about writing, though. I’m proud to say I was one of the actors in the murder mystery dinner play. I haven’t been in a play since 6th grade, and I had great fun with this one. My fellow actor (yes, just one guy amongst us gals) and actresses all did a wonderful job, and I think we had several people stumped. I absolutely loved it.
Of course, books are very important, and I had the honor of winning the basket of books donated by the Springfield Writers’ Guild, which is filled with many books that were on my wish list such as The History of Fort Leanard Wood Missouri by Paul W. Bass.
I know an enormous amount of work went into planning the BPT Conference. I’d like to extend my thanks for a job well done to Sharon Kizziah-Holmes, Shirley McCann, Nancy Dailey, J.C. Fields, Kathleen Garnsey, Candy Simonson, Holly Atkinson, Chris Keller, Monica Holcomb, Lois Curran, and everyone else involved in the planning and production of this fabulous conference.
I even sold a couple of my own books and did some networking. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend.
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