First Day

NOTE: I wasn’t willing to pay $10/day for internet at the hotel, so I wrote my entries in a word processor to be uploaded later. This is what I wrote Friday, September 17:

Airplanes more often than not offer an opportunity to meet new people. It’s especially nice when the person you end up sitting with is in the mood to chat.

My seat-mate was a young lady named Kathleen. She’s one of the directors for the new sister college to Bismarck’s University of Mary being set up in Rome. She’s taking Rome’s directors (a priest and two nuns) on a tour, first of North Dakota and Washington D.C.

She also gave me the opportunity to pitch my novel. I was able to describe it in a few sentences, and she seemed pretty excited about it. Even though science fiction is not her chosen genre. Kathleen did, however, express interest in buying my book once it’s published so she could give it as a gift to her mom who loves science fiction.

Did I just make my first sale? Either way, I gave her my card. I hope she emails me, because her story is an interesting one. Come September 28th of this year she’ll be living in Rome most of the year to set up the new college. It’d be nice to “see” Rome through someone else’s eyes since I doubt I’ll ever see it myself.

Her brother is also a writer, although his chosen genre is historical fiction, specifically North and South Dakota history. He and their father are putting together a documentary about the politics of global warming, how it’s driving most of the fear and “need to go green,” and not necessarily hard scientific facts. It should be out next summer, so I’m going to keep an eye out for it. They plan on submitting it to the yearly Fargo Independent Film festival.

Talking to her made the flight – pardon the pun – fly by. The hour and 15 minute flight seemed more like 15 minutes.

The best part is when she promised to pray for me at the conference. Wasn’t that sweet? I will also do the same, because she has a lot of work ahead of her. She and the other directors are the pioneers in setting up a new school in a foreign country, so they can only guess at the obstacles awaiting them. But it’s also exciting, and I’m sure it will be quite rewarding.

The flight to Indianapolis ended up a stark contrast to the first plane. No one sat next to me. In fact it was the only empty seat on the plane. As my husband surmised, my deodorant had given out by then.

Finding the bus stop was a simple matter, but what should have been a quick fifteen minute ride ended up almost an hour. The first driver stopped not one block from the hotel and waited for her relief driver. He never showed, so ten minutes later we continued on. After a few more blocks and another stop the other driver took over. Again we went around and around, this time because he was new and didn’t know his way around. Three others who also are attending the conference and I decided about two blocks from the hotel to be dropped off right there.

Heck, we might still be on that bus if we hadn’t said something.

Because the bus ride took so long, we ended up missing the first timer’s orientation. Oh well, the amount of information given in our packets was enough for me. And most conferences are similar, so I knew what to expect over all.

I grabbed my packet which included a nice shoulder bag, conference brochure and name tag with two ribbons, that say “First Timer” and “Finalist” (for the Genesis contest). I then went to a different table to find out which editor and agent I will meet with along with the time for each. Turns out, I got both my first choices! Woohoo!

Next came the opening session where we were given more information. There was also worship where the song leader kept us standing way too long through six songs. I kept thinking, “come on, most people here are older and can’t stand for too long. Give us a break.”

As much as I love to sing and worship, I was glad when it was over.

Author Tim Downs gave the keynote address where he talked about how much of the Old Testament is in story form. And in the New Testament, Jesus preached by way of parables – he told stories.

Tim’s overall point (when we weren’t laughing ourselves to tears with some of the stories he told), was that people respond better to a story – fiction – than a lecture. Our responsibilities as writers is not only to entertain, but to encourage people to think and draw them closer to Christ.

When supper time rolled around I said, “God, you choose the chair for me to sit at.” When I felt the draw to a particular seat in an empty table, I promptly sat my patootie down. After a few minutes when people kept passing my table by, I wondered if my deodorant indeed died on me.

But no, I just needed to be a little patient. The table filled up, and we all introduced ourselves. Guess who ended up at my table? Steve Laube, the agent I wanted to, and will be meeting with.

I didn’t tell him that, though. I played silent (mostly) sponge and listened to him give advice on how to pitch our stories to agents/editors.

That’s not to say I’ll walk away with a contract or even any interest by the time it’s all said and done. I learned a lot in that one hour, and that’s what counts. Perhaps I won’t be nearly as nervous once I meet with him.

Will keep you apprised.

Right now, I’m sleepy. I’ve been up since 4:15am and it’s time for bed. Tomorrow will be another busy day.

4 thoughts on “First Day

  1. Wow. You are a perfect example of the actively interested Networker I’m not certain I want to aspire to become (that’s a compliment, in case it isn’t clear). Looking forward to reading the rest of the story!

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  2. What a great start, Andra! I’m a tad jealous about your seat mate’s 6 months in Rome. Oh, it’s gorgeous. And her brother’s documentary sounds interesting, as well.

    Congrats on getting both of your first picks and I look forward to hearing the rest. 🙂

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  3. Hi Robynn,

    Being a natural introvert (as most writers are), it takes work to put myself out there. What helps, though, is that I’m selling my stories, not me. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that if I want my books to sell, I need to go out and sell it. Plus this is my sixth writer’s conference (although my first ACFW conference), so I wasn’t near as nervous as the first time.

    To answer your question, Loraine, yes it was the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. It was a great experience talking with her. And it’s nice to know I can make people jealous once in a while 😉

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