Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Introvert's Guide to Having a Great Conference Experience with Guests Mary Curry and Julie Hilton Steele

Today we're going to bring you our version of how to turn pre-conference jitters into a memorable (in a good way) experience.  We're hoping our shared experiences can help quell those nerves and make your next conference painless and productive. And maybe even fun.

But first, we want you to know where we're coming from:

Julie: I am more of an extroverted introvert. I need to be around people, know how to work a room and, if I don’t know someone, I will get to know them.

But extroverted introverts (EIs) also have their challenges at conferences. Mainly because everyone else thinks EIs know everyone or aren’t insecure.  Or worse, they don’t get the alone time they desperately need to be extroverted the rest of the time.

Mary and I were great roomies at RWA #13 Atlanta because we were always in our room at different times. We had the quiet time we needed without hiding in a dark corner in the lobby.

Mary: I'm your classic introvert.  I sign up for conference in a burst of enthusiasm, and then as the time draws near, I wonder what I was thinking, why I ever made the plans in the first place. In 2011, I even cancelled my reservations and stayed home from ACFW. That was a mistake because I missed the chance to accept my Genesis Award. I hope you can learn from my mistake. I did.

This year, when I headed to RWA, I was determined to overcome my introvert tendencies. I found two ways to do it. First, rooming with Julie. In the past, I always stayed by myself, but that just reinforced my introvert tendencies. Having a roomie forced me to be with other people, but it made it easy too because it's always easier to meet new people when you have a friend to fall back on.

The other trick I played on myself was using my iPad camera as a way to meet people. It was fun to introduce myself under the guise of "taking photos for Tina and Seekerville." Not only do I have great videos and photos of conference memories, but I had the chance to speak with so many people I otherwise would have missed.

It’s Conference Time

Whether the conference be RWA, ACFW, or a smaller regional event, in the weeks leading up to CONFERENCE, social media is abuzz with people making plans, tweeting about appointments, Facebook friends posting about meeting face-to-face, roomies who are excited to catch up again after a year, friends planning who will bring/share the chocolate, news about publisher events, luncheon or dinner plans, etc. You get the drift. You've likely seen the posts. Maybe you're even one of the enthusiastic ones posting and sharing your plans.

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement, but it's also possible that you're feeling overwhelmed, left out, the proverbial wallflower watching as the others plan fun times. If the nerves get too bad, you might even decide to stay home rather than venture into a world outside your comfort zone (writer's cave).  

That’s before you even get there.  

But what happens if you overcome those nerves and actually go to a conference?

Our nerves were calmed almost instantly when we arrived. Not only did we have each other but we were blessed to have a ready-made welcoming committee, our friends from Seekerville. Even though they had their own workshop to prep, agents and editors to see, parties to attend, these wonderful folks embraced us, offered encouragement and kept us informed of opportunities. Just like the Seeker blog but in 3D! And all the friends of Seekerville who attended were just as marvelous.  

We weren’t alone. We knew people.  Still there was the niggling question that plagues every conference attendee at one time or another:

Why am I here?   

Finding the answer is part of what makes a good conference experience. 

We've come up with what we consider prime conference attendance rules to help you find those answers, have fun and come home energized. The good thing is, we think these "rules" apply whether you're an introvert, an extrovert or a happy mix.

Our conference rules:

 Pray -

What a great thing to have Debby Giusti grab each of us and pray over us!  If someone needed prayer, she was there!  And we felt those prayers. 

Debby wasn't the only one praying, of course. Our FH&L chapter members and all of our Seeker friends were a great source of prayer support and inspiration.

Remember to pray in the first place. Don’t be shy about asking folks to pray for you. Whether you are a seasoned published author or a newbie just diving into the conference pool, you need prayers. And there’s no shame in saying you’re nervous or struggling.

Listen -

Keep your heart open. Allow room for the Holy Spirit to work.  You may start to hear something relevant to your book over and over again. Or run into an agent in unexpected places.  Sometimes it may be hearing things about your manuscript or career path you’d rather not hear but need to know.  

Sure conference is a great place to chat and catch up with friends, but take time to listen. You need to be quiet and grounded to start catching those Godincidences.

Trust -

Julie: I attended my first conference not planning on pitching. I just wanted to savor the workshops and networking without the stress. But two of my friends who shall remain nameless, okay, Piper and Mary, convinced me to sign up for pitch appointments freed by cancellations.  To be honest, Piper walked me downstairs so I’d actually do it! Mary helped me review what a pitch contains. I ran into Winnie Griggs and Renee Ryan in a hallway, and they gave me tips.

I stood in line to go into my pitch session and all I remembered thinking was, “I’m not nervous. WHY am I not nervous? This is weird.” Bottom line, I trusted God was working, sat down and just talked with two editors.  I got through it AND brought home a request for a full and another for a synopsis. 

Mary: So, the introvert may go about it differently. I went down by myself and snagged an extra editor appointment, but I didn't mention it to anyone until it was over. That's just my way. But the point is that trust was precious for me as well. I trusted that the appointment had become available to me at that moment for a reason, so I went into it confident that I was supposed to be there. Not only did I come away with a request, but I had a chance to brainstorm my story with an editor for ten minutes. That was fun! Even for an introvert.

 Manage Expectations-

It’s hard not to go to a conference expecting the sky to open if you just meet the right agent, or if your one-sheet bowls everyone over, or you win an award.  Call this syndrome The "If" Plague.  Those expectations creep in. 

We each had different expectations for the conference, with one of us being an old hand and the other a newbie. But both of us set the bar pretty low.  The newbie didn't expect to pitch, knew she wouldn't get to attend every workshop, and wasn't up for an award.  But she came home with requests. The old hand at conference cancelling went, turned into the Seekerville reporter on the spot, and met people she wouldn't have otherwise.

Why we are there, the untold story 

We also realized pretty quickly, we are not at conferences for ourselves alone.  We are there to be the encouragement for someone who is practicing their pitch as we walk by or to provide a sympathetic ear when things don’t go well. We are there to tell another writer how much their book meant to us.  Even multi-published authors love to hear that their efforts are appreciated. We may be standing in line next to someone and have to explain why we write inspirational romance. Yep, personal witness time and it happened more often than not! We may be there for the person sitting alone at a luncheon or in a workshop.  

So, if you are nervous about going to conference, remember, you may be going for someone else.

Most of all, remember, that God doesn't care if you're an introvert or an extrovert. He's got you covered. All you have to do is follow His plan and know that it will fall into place at His command when His time is right. 

Because when it comes right down to it, if we're writing for His glory, then our fears have no place. When you think of it that way, being an introvert isn't such a hard thing to overcome.

Out of gratitude for all the Seekers and Villagers have generously shared with us, we are offering two chances for a prize. One person has the chance to win a $10 gift card to your choice of either Amazon or B&N. 

A second winner will get a download of the Seeker's RWA13 workshop plus one of the leis that were given away to attendees.  Please just let us know if you'd like to be included in the drawing.

Julie Hilton Steele

A former microbiologist, church educator and pastor, Julie discovered romance eight years ago when an unexpected loss led her to look for books with guaranteed HEAs. She glommed every type of romance and discovered  the inspirational genre. As a former writer of devotional non-fiction for Upper Room magazines, Julie is navigating the transition to fictional works set in WWII Washington DC, the city of her birth.  The medical side of history and the inspirational side of romance are her passions. 
Julie can be found on the following : Facebook     Julie Hilton Steele – Writer  

Group Blog  Yankee-Belle Café – food, fun and inspirational fiction writers 

Twitter    @SisSteele          
Mary Curry

Mary is a teacher, mother, wife and writer.  And a lifelong reader. That passion for reading transformed over time into a compulsion to create stories of her own. She’s been writing  and contesting for many years and along the way has garnered a few writing credits including being a three time Golden Heart finalist and the 2011 Genesis winner for Contemporary Romance. She has recently won Duel on the Delta, Touched by Love, and the Laurie.

Mary can be found on Facebook:  M.M.Curry

Twitter:  @maryc2010

Her own blog is under construction and will be relaunching soon. Stay tuned. 


  1. Julie and Mary, you were such a great team at RWA. It was so fun spending time with you. In that huge hotel with all those folks we kept finding each other and I was as lost as you were, maybe more. It was always so nice to see a familiar face. (even a face hiding behind an iPad!!!)

  2. How exciting to see you two hosting Seekerville. Was everything to your specifications in the Green Room? Perrier, chocolate, Henry Cavill?

    Mary, I am frightened at how much you are like me. I have gone to a lot of conferences. But I have cancelled a lot of them too. That first blush of excitement that leads to utter panic.

    Once at an RWA conference when they used to have Meet and Greet night, with food even- I got off the elevator (this was in Anaheim), looked at the crowd. Got back on the elevator. I went to my room and ordered a hot fudge sundae and stayed put for the night.

  3. Hand raised for the introvert team. Handy to have? A phone number for a loved one. I almost always call my husband at least once bawling in some hidden dark corner. "What am I doing here, there are so many people!! I just want to go home" I'm like the camper that forget to bring along her blankie, he's my blankie. Now does that just reek of sap or what? Naomi? Did you come by and read that. That was total sap!

    Tina, I did that in Dallas. I put myself out there asking people maybe 5 times on the free day to eat where you actually had to venture off in a bus, and after being told they had plans with someone else 5 times, I couldn't take it anymore and ordered room service and hid in my room...probably called my blankie and cried.

    I find it best just to sit in the crowd and tell yourself it's fine to be alone and pray or think because eventually someone sits by you who is less introverted and talks.

    And of course, the more times you go, and the more involved you get in the community, the more familiar faces show up so you become more comfortable for more of the time.

    And I've yet to make it through one without crying. I'm just too high on the introvert scale to probably never get overwhelmed by being surrounded by people and having to talk to them. :)

  4. Oh, and put me in the drawing please. I always forget that.

  5. Julie and Mary, you ladies were angels to me at RWA this past July. It was wonderful meeting you, and it amazed me how right away I felt as if I'd known you both for ages! (are you SURE you both don't want to move to Georgia?!) Seriously, you have no idea how thrilled I was to have someone to sit with at the RITA awards (in fact, one time when I got separated from ya'll before it started, I looked at Piper in a panic and said "Where are they? They're my security!" Thankfully Julie found me right after that, LOL).
    You're both wonderful, and meeting you was a highlight of my conference experience at my first RWA!! Hugs, Patti Jo

  6. Love the post, haven't heard a lot about the conference this year except from about 4 or 5 excited Aussies who are going to be there (and I know one who wants to meet y'all)

    Mary I think I identify with what you said about doing things then telling after its over. That is me with some things I do but at other times I will tell some cos I need the support and prayer.

    Tina, Melissa, I did similar in Spokane and there was only 12 of us. The others had all meet and I arrived and it was like being a fish in a fish tank with everyone watching and taking photos of me and listening to what they say was an accent I beg to differ and then when we sat down and I was chatting to one girl the others were all staring and when someone said I have to go to wallmart I was ME TOO. I felt bad that I ran off but I just couldn't handle being the centre of attention. Never could.

    I do like meeting people but I tend to be the one in the corner on my own at time or in the kitchen helping big crowds overwhelm me.

    Mary what you said about the nerves until you get there and they are gone is just like Last week when I saw my dr. I had to get a referral and talk about a few things I was doubting myself so badly that I didn't sleep the night before (partly due to others putting those doubts there) But once I got in to see her I was fine and she was amazing. I have my referral and see the specialist next week. I also know the notes I sent to some to prayer helped me through.
    Would love to be entered for the gift voucher.

  7. Mary, I felt the same about seeing you very early in the morning.

    Early birds, Mary Cowboy (to differentiate from Mary Curry) is up at the crack of dawn!

    And I still want your cowhide roller bag!

    Peace, Julie

  8. Tina, you would never know that Mary Curry had an insecure bone in her body. She kept me sane as a first time national conference attendee.

    Melissa, Mary Curry WAS my blankie. But I found myself doing just what you suggest. Even though I am the talker, the thought of not having anyone to sit with freaked me out. I learned a lot by being open to being placed by the right person.

    Patti Jo, the same to you. Folks, one of the great things about meeting people at a conference is they are even more wonderful in 3D and Patti Jo was definitely that.

    Peace, Julie

  9. Jenny, I am sure Mary will chime in about running off to the room but we both were doing that and would have done it more except for the elevators up to our room on the 34th floor.

    The glass, high speed elevators.

    The ones that gave us vertigo.

    So glad your trip to the doctor worked out.

    Healing thoughts to you.

    Peace, Julie

  10. Julie 34th floor glass elevator I would be running for the hills. I have major issues with elevators and the higher up the worse cos they land on so many floors. They affect my balance and make me really dizzy and Heaven help the people in them if they ever got stuck!
    Last time I was in the city this dad, mum and little child were in the lift, mum and child jumping and I almost hit the next floor to get out. They stopped when they could see I was probably going green.

  11. Isn't that strange, Melissa J. You and I both pretend to be normal so well.

  12. Oh, this post is chock full of great stuff from two of my buds, and aren't they stinkin' adorable together???? That's like the best "BOGO" ever!!!!

    And do you see how crisp and clear and professional the new template and blog look together???? Oh my stars, I'm over the top loving this so much!!!

    Ladies, it's a pleasure reading this, because while we all know I'm about as extroverted as they come, I live with introverts who do not:

    Burst into song and dance routines at the mere mention of a word

    Go up to random strangers and see if they need help

    Strike up life-changing convos on airplanes with perfect strangers

    Strike up non-life-changing convos on planes with hungover drunks from a Buffalo-area business...

    Pet strange dogs

    So while I have my own unique way of annoying folks, I've had to learn that there's more than one way to skin a cat. (Wait, it's okay to skin cats, right???? Hmmm....)

    I think you two provided the perfect balance. When Tina, Mary and I were in Tulsa, it was so much fun, we had a ball and it didn't matter that we were so stinkin' different. Viva la difference!

    I think Mary had the right approach with the iPod thingamabobbie. If you use a guise, it's easier to approach people. This is a basic tenet of good sales. It works. And it worked great for RWA, oh my stars, youse guys sent us back awesome stuff to put on Seekerville!!!! And it all looked like so much fun!

    I'm staring at the last comment above mine, and seeing Tina compliment Melissa on pretending to be normal.... And I'm laughing, but I won't allude to their pretense.

    I won't.

    I won't!!!! :)

  13. I've got to add, God bless the introverts among us. Mary thinks she's one, but she's not, she totally lacks the overt sensitivity to be one, but we let her pretend....

    But you know, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Bronte, J.D. Salinger, T.S. Elliot... The world would miss their work if it didn't encourage introverts to recluse away and write.

    I'm going to bet J.K. Rowling is not an introvert... first she was a waitress, and that's a tough gig for an introvert... second, her work doesn't read like an introvert, it reads like "Conquer the world, Harry!" from the beginning. Now Harry was an introvert to begin with, so maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

    The good thing is that there is room for all in the many chambers!!!!

    And I love the subtle differences our lives and perceptions bring to our work.

    And introverts are naturally more quiet, leaving me room to TALK MORE.

    I'll hush up now.


  14. Good morning, Seekerville!

    I'm so excited to be here today with my buddy, Julie.

    I'm even more excited to be here on Day 2 of the beautiful new Seekerville. I just want to sit in that boat and drift away somewhere far from the crowds.

    Okay, that's introverted me. Seekerville-loving me is happy to be here to chat from the safe distance of my computer because none of us have to be introverts in cyberspace.

    Mary Connealy, once I got over being starstruck, it was so fun to run into you so often and have a friendly face to cling to. Hope I didn't leave claw marks. ;)
    I'm still trying to figure out how to get that video to your cowboy!

  15. Great job here, Julie and Mary! It was awesome meeting you at National, especially since that mega book signing was pretty intimidating. Seeing some familiar faces from Seekerville helped a lot :) I'm another introvert who rooms with one of the most outgoing people I've ever met. On purpose! We each do our own thing, and when we connect throughout the day, we always have plenty to talk about.

    Wishing everyone in Seekerville the chance to spread your wings sometime soon!

  16. Tina, everything was lovely. I skipped right over the green room to hang in the sailboat before the morning crew arrived. *brushes sand from hair*

    I'm amazed by your story of Anaheim because I'd never have guessed. Every time I ran into you in NYC, you seemed to be having the time of your life. Honestly, hot fudge sounds much better to me than a meet and greet though. Next time we can share one together!

  17. Melissa, another cyber friend I'd never have taken for an introvert. Isn't this amazingly revealing???

    I'm a great believer in room service.
    I'm so sorry you had that experience in Dallas. I do remember feeling similarly when I was at RWA in New Orleans and everyone was going out to all these great restaurants and I had no one to go with. Okay, so most of them were going to publisher parties at those great restaurants, but still!

  18. CatMom, Patti Jo, You still think we rescued you, but it was really the other way around! I'm so glad we got to share the RITA/GH ceremony together. Just wish you'd brought peach cobbler for the dessert table.
    Honestly, meeting you was a highlight of the conference.

  19. Jenny, I'm so impressed that you traveled all the way over here last year and met with people. That takes huge nerves.

    Praying all goes well with the specialist for you.

  20. Julie!

    Good morning. See, up before me as usual. :)

    You had to go and remind me of those elevator. Just when my brain is starting to recover.

    Seriously, the most valuable lesson we learned is to stay on a lower floor. Those elevators were really hard on everyone.

    By the end of conference, every time you got on, people were mumbling about it. I kid you not, the first night when I went to bed, I closed my eyes and had visions of elevators going up and down and up and down. I think it was because they were glass and open, but who knows.

  21. Ruthy,one of my conference regrets is that you weren't there to talk to us. I guarantee, there's nothing an introvert loves more than sitting down with a friend who loves to chat and fills all t hat scary dead air space.

    Funny thing is, speaking to large crowds doesn't bother me in the least. I can easily teach a seminar (or a class of ten year olds), it's all that darn small talk that sends me running for the hills. *shudder*

  22. Mia, I'm so glad you were happy to see me, because honestly, sometimes I felt like a stalker.

    Meeting you was such fun!

  23. Off to work for me. I'll check in during the day as I have free time.

    Have fun everyone.

  24. Okay, so Melissa might be an introvert at conference or when she's actually around people, but she's totally NOT a cyber introvert. I, on the other hand, could probably win awards for cyber-introvert-ness.

    Yes, such a condition actually exists. I'm living proof.

    And so, when you put Melissa and I together (whether at conference or in cyberspace) we usually make a pretty good team because we can cover for each other.

    And Melissa, if I'd been at conference with you last year, I totally would have ditched my publisher dinner to hang out. Because hanging out with friends is so much more fun than sitting at a stuffy table in a crammed restaurant waiting an hour for food while trying to talk to authors you've never me who have a zillion more books out than you do and pretending you're not all competing for the same few open publishing slots.

    I swear writing conferences can be a more deceptively vicious than the characters on Desperate Housewives. (Not that I'v ever watched Desperate Housewives. I'm just going by the general sense I get when I see ads and so forth.)

  25. Naomi, you bring up a great point. At least half of conference is hanging out with people who are friends.

    I met all the GRWA ladies and Walt at last year's stellar Moonlight and Magnolias conference. That eased me in for sure because here I was, back in Atlanta.

    Last year,Piper and I hit it off so it was great to see her again.

    Piper, how many times did we say conference was as much about networking and supporting each other as it was about workshops and pitch sessions?

    You aren't an introvert at all, are you, Piper? ;-)

    Peace, Julie

  26. Mia, it was great to see you too. The most mind boggling thing for me was the literacy signing and it was great to go up and down rows and see folks.

    Peace, Julie

  27. Ruthy, I can talk anyone's ear off and look good doing it. But I am quaking inside until I see someone I know.

    It was funny how Mary and I kept looking around for you and Tina. You were definitely there in spirit.

    Peace, Julie

  28. Oh, no! I realized I forgot refreshments. Mary is teaching and I am off to get my hair done and get grandkidlets.

    I am leaving out a Brown Mountain cake made 'specially for the occasion. Make sure to cut it small. It's rich.

    Sausage biscuits and gravy or country ham. Egg white omelets, grits, and pan-fried apples. Nothing like breakfast in the South, in honor of us being in Hotlanta!

    It's a cyber-Southern breakfast. No cholesterol.

    And Tina, thanks for stocking the Green Room with REAL ice tea like my grandmother made. Nothing like being able to stand a spoon up in it thanks to the two cups of sugar.

    Back in a bit, Julie

  29. Julie and Mary,

    Love that you girls are finding your way around and having such a good time.

    Going to conferences has been a major challenge for me, but one I've thoroughly enjoyed. For some strange reason, I find it easier to meet and talk to people at those big get-togethers than posting on social media.

    In preparation for the ACFW conference, I have been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier for the past several days. Trying to get my internal clock adjusted. :)

    Today is packing day. I hit the road in the morning, heading for Springfield. Yeah, I know it's not a direct route to Indy. But this way I get to spend the night at my daughter's--and road trip with the MozArk gang.

    Looking forward to seeing lots of Seekers and Villagers!

  30. Oh what a great post! I'm cramming lots into my last couple days before heading out for ACFW. I especially like your Rules. They are perfect. In the hurrying to finish up last minute things, I've not been as purposeful in praying over this conference as I should have been.

    I'm probably more of an extrovert than introvert, but I've got introvert tendencies in new situations.

    Loved your pictures, ladies!

  31. Kudos, ladies, on a great blog!

    Julie, I may be an extrovert introvert too. I do need my quiet time...but then I also need people. In the Briggs Meyer inventory, I'm close to the middle line between intro and extro but on the extro side.

    I see you as a poised extrovert. :)

    And Mary C...no need to hide behind your iPad. You are always gracious and lovely whether taking pics or making new friends.

    I admire anyone who can attend a conference alone. I need a friend for support...and a roommate. :)

    I totally agree with your comment about praying before a conference. I've covered ACFW a number of times and will continue to ask the Lord to walk ahead of me and direct my steps throughout the weekend. I don't want to miss anything or anyone He wants in my life.

    Can't wait to see everyone! Whoo-hoo!!!

  32. Mary and Julie, I just loved your post! I have attended tons of conferences but each time I'm still nervous.

    Julie, I love the handle Extroverted Introvert. I didn't have a name for it, but that's me. Everyone thinks I'm an extrovert. I thought you were too. Just shows we're complex beings.

    Mary, you may have been hiding behind your iPad but you were a fabulous ambassador for Seekerville.

    The power of your smiles could light a room!

    I love that you said: ...remember, you may be going for someone else.
    I need to be alert to those women God wants me to encounter. I've experienced this and know the blessings involved.

    I cannot thank you and the other Seekervillagers enough for supporting our workshop at RWA. What a blessing you all were to show up at that early hour.

    Can't wait to see everyone at ACFW!


  33. MARY AND JULIE, thanks. What a lot of great stuff. I'm not going this year but have my sights set on next year's conference. I'm a veteran of several conferences and have made every possible mistake, including being too aggressive and having my own agenda instead of God's. We do learn, but at a price. If I had known then what I do now...
    I'm an introvert at heart. I don't dislike people, far from it, but I can be by myself longer than most people. My husband, one of eight children, is the opposite. Most of my shyness has been knocked out of my through the newspaper career. You can't call up a town official suspected of embezzling and be shy about it. I faked it till I made it. Curiously, I never had a "shy" problem at conferences. It helps to have a buddy from home or a great roommate, but I've found that at least at Christian conferences, people go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Maybe it's just the ones I've been to.
    I still have trouble making small talk. Maybe I'll hang with RUTHY some time and let her fill in the gaps. Or make friends with a ventriloquist...
    I love JANET'S comment, "I need to be alert to those women God wants me to encounter."
    Kathy Bailey
    Pre-pubbed in New Hampshire

  34. But extroverted introverts (EIs) also have their challenges at conferences. Mainly because everyone else thinks EIs know everyone or aren’t insecure. Or worse, they don’t get the alone time they desperately need to be extroverted the rest of the time.


    This is me.

    I could go on.

    But I won't.

    Dear sweet [and spicy] Pepper Basham invited me to share a room at my first ACFW conference [after being basically a wallflower at my first conference ever]. That was huge for me. By then, of course, I already knew lots of peeps from hanging out here and being a part of ACFW for a year, but having Pepper, and Casey, and Mary Vee was perfect.

    I've never called hubby [yet] bawling, but I have had major breakdowns at all three of the conferences I've gone to. Last year, at least it was on the first night rather than right before gala ;).

    Almost ready. Finishing printing off stuff today. Bags [mostly] packed. Tried out the new 'do this morning. House cleaning and cookie making left to go.

    I'm usually okay sitting by myself, depending on the situation, but generally.

    But there's too many hugs to get to do that for too long ;).

    I could also be perfectly okay never leaving my house [except for the annual conference or two] as long as someone brings groceries and firewood.


  35. I would soooo love to go to the conference this year. But I'm not trying to pitch anything so I need a better reason to spend the $$$.
    I will be join all the seekers one day.

  36. Helen, I love your tip about resetting your body clock to prep for conference. We stayed up way later than I am used to and I got up at the regular time.

    Jeanne, the rules really rose to the surface while we were conferencing and then when we were writing the post. Mary did a great job with PicMonkey to create the illustrations. Love me some PicMonkey.

    Debbie, thank you for calling me poised. What a blessing your prayers were to us and I know they will be at ACFW as well.

    As far as roommates, I am so glad Mary didn't chicken out on me. No telling how many hot fudge sundaes I might have eaten in my room with a roomie.

    Janet, we love you too and the Seekerville workshop was a true blessing. It's funny how that extrovert and introvert can battle in a person depending on time of day and blood sugar levels.

    Being there for someone else has always been a huge thing for me. And every single time I've found are people there for me. Nice how God arranges that.

  37. And I'm totally in for the drawings.


  38. "I could also be perfectly okay never leaving my house [except for the annual conference or two] as long as someone brings groceries and firewood."

    There you go. The life of a writer.

    Wifi and a cabin in the woods.

  39. Ruthy is so correct. Connealy THINKS she's an introvert. Hello. NOT.

    She's like the jump on the table and dance person..after drinking WATER.

  40. KayBee, "I faked it till I made it."
    Me too. And so true about agendas needing to be God's not our own. Having trouble making small talk can be a blessing in disguise. Folks love a good listener.

    Carol, glad EI resonated with you. What a blessing to have a support system in place. People who let you be you. I know you will have a great conference. I am praying on it.

    Connie, I wasn't planning on pitching and did so I guess I made even better use of my money. I am an auditory learner so going to conference and getting all the recorded workshops was a blessing I couldn't have gotten otherwise.

    But I know what you mean about $$$. I could only afford one conference a year and even that was iffy with all our major appliances dying. Now that I've survived, I am starting a savings fund for writing conferences and other expenses like contests.

  41. Mary and Julie, you put it all in perspective for me when you wrote "remember, you may be going for someone else." What a super way to look at the experience!

    I already have a room-mate for RWA in San Antonio next year. She's a great photographer, so I know I'll have marvelous pix of the time and won't even need to tote a camera. How cool is that? We've made the commitment to each other ... and neither of us likes to disappoint the other. Hmm. That sounds like each of us may be going for someone else ...

    Great post, ladies!

    Nancy C

  42. P.S. Please enter me in the giveaway for the gift card. So many Seeker books ...

    Nancy C

  43. My best conference experiences are when I schedule every minute of my time, including down time.

    If you don't schedule to meet with people it simply doesn't happen. So I schedule breakfast meetings each day and lunch meetings. Then plan out the workshops I am going to and my "down/nap/do nothing" time.

    I also maintain my same schedule of up early and bed early.

    And I do a hotel walk through since I am direction challenged to find the location of all workshops.

    Then I always:

    1. Look like I am going somewhere and am moving with purpose.

    2. Avoid confusion.

    3. Plan downtime so I don't have meltdown time.

    4. Feel somewhat rested and focused.

    Last year at ACFW I was totally not doing most the above, so I was eternally grateful to have Debby Juice Tea the Queen of Tranquility as a roomie.

    When in doubt pick your roomates carefully.

    I have had some doozies.

  44. What fun, what fun!!!! Great post, ladies!!! It was wonderful getting to know you at RWA! Mary, you and your iPad interviews were DA BOMB!

    Okay, I doubt it will surprise anyone here when I say I am the consummate introvert. I am so introverted (besides being a restless sleeper AND the world's worst bathroom hog) that I can't even do a roommate unless it's hubby. And he can't go to ACFW this year--boo hoo!

    My conference (or any big group) survival technique is to hang out with someone who's much better at talking to people. So I can smile and nod and through in the occasional bon mot and look like I'm just SO comfortable being social.


  45. THROUGH in???

    That should be THROW in.

    Sheesh. (Glad Grammar Queen wasn't looking.)

  46. Nancy C, now that is planning ahead! I will be there too.

    All righty, raise your hand if you are going to San Antonio because it's, well, San Antonio! Sometimes it takes the location to get you there and the rest will follow.

    Tina, I knew what I wanted to sit in on Piper's moderation of family sagas with Brenda Jackson and Beverly Jenkins, The Seekerville panel and some others.

    When I ended up signing up for the pitch sessions, I went to the early morning CDC panel on writing epidemics, former microbiologist that I am. I needed to pass the time with something fun before I had to leave for my pitch. And Debby Juice T was there and prayed for me. Blessed timing.

    And I now know how to write a convincing zombie apocalypse.

  47. I've only gone to one conference, but the thing that made it fabulous for this EI were the Seekers and Seekervillagers.

    Everywhere I went, I saw someone I knew. Someone who would talk to me. Someone who wouldn't let me sit in a corner alone.

    Thanks guys.

    I'm not going to Indy this year, but I hope to see everyone at a conference some time - next year in St. Louis? Maybe :)

  48. Meant to say I also left myself open to opportunities I didn't plan on. Sometimes you miss a blessing by doing what you think you should, going to every workshop to get your money's worth, instead of spending an hour talking to someone about your career path or making connections.

  49. Oh, I forgot to mention - please enter me in the drawing!

  50. Thinking seriously about San Antonio, Julie, if finances permit. It's a beautiful city, lots of history, lots to see and do.

    But be warned--July can be HOT and HUMID in SA! Hubby grew up there, and after we got married, we had a couple of stints in SA via his phone company transfers.

  51. Myra, I was totally in awe of you at conference. So great we are in the same state but where do I finally meet you in the flesh? In Atlanta!

    Jan, one of the things we kept saying to each other as we attended conference and talked about this post was the blessing of the Seekers. Some of the most generous, giving, wise, compassionate people in the business.

    Not everyone can get to conferences. Whether they are once in a blue moon or every year, the point is that you come back home and write!

    A conference is a few days but writing is forever!

  52. I went to the early morning CDC panel on writing epidemics...I needed to pass the time with something fun before I had to leave for my pitch.




  53. What a great photo of you two ladies! Great tips.

    My boots don't fit and I'm anxious about choosing between valet parking or parking lot parking and about driving to Indy by myself.

    The conference will be the easy part.

  54. Yeah! There's some Brown Mountain cake left!

    Well, Julie and Mary, I feel that I am an introvert, but given what is being put forward here (as well as the chatty award I won at work a few months ago), I guess I'm not.

    My whole perspective about being alone is paraphased from Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. If you want to come and hang out with me fine. If not, you are the one who is missing the opportunity!

    Hmm..neither one of those ladies were introverts and I don't think introverts feel that way. Nor do they "escourt" people into the pitching room....Well, move me over to the extrovert column along with Mary Connealy. We can pretend together.

    M&M was helpful, Julie. I so agree. RWA would have been different without that run up.

    But with Mary Curry, I just talked to her as if I've known her for always. She's very, very nice. If I had known you in 2011 Mary, I would have "escourted" you to ACFW to get your Genesis award!

    My DS tends to be introverted--not an easy thing for a six foot child. I'm always trying to get him out of his shell, because well, it's a big shell he's in. And he hated the elevators as well....

    The signing with Mia was such a good time. I got to see CatMom at the last--I had been looking for her the whole time! And praying with Debby was the highlight of the conference for me. It gave me such a boost. I'm so looking forward to M&M to help me through this recent rough patch.

  55. Mary Curry's picture with the iPad over her face is THEE!! Picture of her from the conference. At first I thought it was just me but then I realized it was HER!!! She was deliberately HIDING.

    Blaming it all on Tina, too. And it worked pretty well, because, of course, "Tina told me to." Is an incredibly powerful tool and will make almost anyone back off!

  56. Lyndee, I know the trouble of ill-fitting boots. Hope you can stretch them or stuff them depending.

    Lyndee was another person I was thrilled to meet at conference. Nothing like being about to ask each other how things were going. Just being able to ask the question and getting a companionable answer was great.

    Piper! Yep, I can see you and Mary Cowboy in the same wagon train.

    I love your quote, "My whole perspective about being alone is paraphased from Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. If you want to come and hang out with me fine. If not, you are the one who is missing the opportunity!" That helps tremendously! And here's to getting through the rough patches with the help of friends, whether they are intro or extroverts!

  57. The morning Julie found me in the lobby checking email I'd been up since about 4 am. It was MADNESS. And it's not like 4 a.m. rolled around and I leapt from my bed to get on with the day.
    OH NO!
    I tried to sleep a long time before I gave up, got dressed and sneaked out of the room, leaving My Cowboy sleeping. THIS NEVER HAPPENS!!!
    This is about the THIRD TIME in our 37 year marriage this has happened! Me getting up before him.

  58. Here is a brown mountain cake recipe less complicated than my Southern Living one, Piper.


  59. Mary Cowboy, you were a Godsend that morning. I think God woke you up on purpose!

    Peace and thanks, Julie

  60. Sweet Piper, I hope you know we're all praying for you! My arms are open and hugs ready when I see you at M&M.

  61. Carol, you got to see Julie gown in hazardous protective gear. She looked adorable, of course!

  62. Tina...dear roomie from ACFW last year...you were fabulous, always arranging to meet with someone, to do lunch, to hang out, to snap a photo. You had me fooled about the introvert thing...you seem to walk on both sides of the line. Sometimes intro, sometimes extro. You're probably close to middle. No wonder we got along so nicely! :)

  63. Thank you, Mary and Julie! Again...Seekerville's PERFECT timing....I'm going to my first romance conference in October--the Emerald City Writers Conference in Seattle. EXCITED---but what was I thinking?! I signed up to pitch to the only person who mentioned "inspirational"--an agent. Prayers for me that I don't cancel the pitch are very appreciated! I planned to be more prepared, but my husband retired earlier than expected...good news, but the bad news is that I haven't had much writing time---but lots of playing...YAY!

    I'm an introverted introvert...so this is way out of my comfort zone, but I'm going with my lovely daughter-in-law who is a conference pro. (Plus I get to see our grandchildren!!!)

    I like all your suggestions, but especially the one that I may be there to be an "encourager" to others. At this point, I'm thinking I may never be an author, but will always be a writer. God's plan for me may be to encourage and pray for others along this journey.

    Thanks again and please put me in the drawing.

  64. I am just a reader, but love to hear about the conferences you writers attend...and also seeing the pictures!
    Please count me in for the gift card drawing!

  65. Oh my gosh, I thought I was getting a jump on the comment. 9 AM and 64 comments??? I should have popped in at midnight!!

    This is my sort of conference post. I think I might be a Julie type of introvert. I want to meet everyone... and then I want to go hide... Or maybe that's because I managed to step on everybody's toes in the ten minutes I opened my mouth.

    This is a great post and loved see you two here in Seekerville!

  66. Ruthy- that comment gave me pause....

    Can you imagine if Emily Bronte had been forced to go to a conference???


  67. "Wifi and a cabin in the woods."

    Tina, I read this as "wife and a cabin in the woods".

    I thought, "Yeah, with a wife I'd get so much more done!"

    OH. WIFI. Gotcha.

  68. Thanks for the recipe, Julie!

    Thank you for the reminder, Debby and I look forward to seeing you soon.

    Sherida, I've heard that Emerald City is a great conference and if you need pitch help (or escort services) on-line, let me know.

    I hope everyone has a great time at ACFW and good luck to the nominees and participants.

  69. And by escort services I mean help and support at the pitch. Yikes, that didn't come out right at all....

  70. LOL, I sign on at lunch only to find Piper offering escort services.


    Julie will attest that Piper is VERY persuasive when she's escorting. Julie came back with two appointments - both of which she aced!

  71. Julie - No stretching will help my boots. My foot changed after hip surgery. I know that sounds weird, but I walk differently on that side now, and I also can't tolerate much of a heel. I liked those old things...

    Was wondering if there's a list of who's going to ACFW, just because I don't want to miss anyone like I did at my high school reunion last week! Discovered on facebook that I'd missed one of my dear pals and yet we spent four hours in the same room, probably next to each other at some point!

  72. Naomi, I learned something from you and Helen today. I may be an introvert in real life, but I tend to be an internet extrovert, I had no idea there was such a thing as an Internet introvert. How intriguing. ;)

    Mary Connealy, this reminds me of something you said during the workshop. Does this apply to you?

    I apologize in advance if I miss responding to anyone just now. I'm checking in at lunch on my trusty iPad, but I haven't figured a way to do multiple windows open to respond to you all at once.

  73. Virginia, I read that as wife and a cabin too.

    Julie and I wanted to tuck Virginia in one of our suitcases, (okay, introverted me was probably trying to get her to take MY place), but she was being too good about staying home and really writing rather than playing at conference

  74. Mary Cowboy, I was really only hiding from having my picture taken. I loathe having my picture taken!

    Carol, one of my earliest memories of ACFW is hearing about your cookies. In a way, they were sort of like me taking movies/photos. They provide a great excuse to talk to people. Not that you need an excuse, but I sure do!

    So not only did I miss my Genesis moment by my cowardice, I missed your cookies too!

  75. LOL. Piper. Crack me up. First the bar and now an escort service.

  76. I believe I read that Carol is baking cookies this year.

    Did I read correctly, Carol?

    Thank you in advance.

    Sweet Patti Jo, anything peachy in your suitcase?

  77. Sherida!!! Wow, so proud of you!!! Go get 'em!!!

  78. Lyndee, I'll be at ACFW. Can't wait to see you!

  79. Okay, wifi, wife and cabin in the woods. But no doubt someone will start a flame war over that. LOL.

  80. Sherida, I bet God wants you to be both a writer and an author...

    Sending conference prayers your way.

  81. Sounds like the start of a romance novel, Tina.

    May I add suspense with Piper's escort service and a dead body?

  82. Virginia, you are on notice that San Antonio is midway between the West Coast and the East Coast. So there.

    Yup, Mary and I are bound and determine to get Virginia with us. And toe-stepping? We expect you to lead a workshop on how to do that!

    Sherida said, "At this point, I'm thinking I may never be an author, but will always be a writer. God's plan for me may be to encourage and pray for others along this journey."

    You and me both. But it is a wonderful thing to be an encourager. And this grandmother is thrilled you get to see the grandchildren, have a great companion in Seattle. But never underestimate what will be done at conference. I wasn't even expecting to pitch, let alone come home with a request.

  83. Piper's Escort Service rocked for me. What an encourager. But yeah, the name needs work.

  84. Debby, is that dead body as in "over my" or a real dead body? That's what a lot of introverts say about conferences, you know.

  85. Piper: Thanks for the offer of your escort services....I understand you are very motivating. I'll take you up on your offer and have you read my pitch one of these days. :)

    Tina: I know! I'm going with your "JUST DO IT" advice! Hard to believe I'm attending.....but can't cancel now or I wouldn't see my grandkids in October. They are great motivation.

    Debby: Thank you SO much for your prayers!

    Julie: Thank you for the Brown Mountain cake recipe....I've been craving something sweet since Piper mentioned caramel cake yesterday in #1K1HR!

    Mary: I admire you being able to request pictures....I'd have trouble asking. But I'm glad you did...the photos from RWA13 made it feel like I was in on the excitement! Thanks!

  86. Oh Lordy, just reading this got my stomach in knots! LOL.

    Feel better though reading Tina's and Melissa's comments. That is so me. And this year I'm going solo. The temptation to hide in my room will be HUGE. The temptation to skip any appointments will be HUGE.

    I did a similar thing as Tina at my first conference. I was going to go down to the bar to hang with the Seeker ladies. So, knees knocking, I went down to the lobby and looked in the bar area. Couldn't see one familiar person. Maybe it was because every face jumbled together in my mind from nerves. (Maybe I should've had a drink first!) It felt like every person was staring at me, so I turned around, went back up the escalator and into my room, and crawled into bed. No tears though!

    Other times, whenever I was alone, I'd hide in the bookstore (Spent WAY too much money!) But this year there is no bookstore!

    I may be hanging out in the prayer room a lot!

    Praying for peace and calm nerves!

    Looking forward to seeing everyone there - but if I'm a little 'deer in the headlights' that's why! Nothing personal!


  87. Introvert here, but I had the same experience with my first pitch session at RWA13. I walked up to the editor and I wasn't nervous AT ALL. WHY wasn't I nervous?! I performed my pitch better than any of the times I'd practiced with my roommate. It must've been God's grace, there's no other way I would've been able to sit there, smile and speak like a normal person :)

    Thank you for today's post and I'd love to be entered in your drawing!

  88. Am I an introvert? You bet.

    This is just what I needed. I've been lecturing myself for days now not to get stressed.

    I've told God, "Thy Will Be Done."

    Hopefully this year I won't feel as awkward as last year.

    I'm driving with a friend, and last year I flew by myself not knowing anybody but Brandilyn. Bless her, every time I saw her she'd smile and wave or take time to speak to me.

    I also met a lot of wonderful people. So I'm headed to Indy for my 2nd ACFW.

    I hope to see you all there.

    p.s.(I'd love to have my name tossed in the hat.)

  89. Oh yes.

    There will be cookies.

    Lots of them.

  90. Tina said I was correct.

    Tina said I was correct.


    I'm done now.

  91. Apparently the silent auction is in it's own room [but it's not big enough for a bookstore]. Cara Putman's mother will be in there [she's usually in the bookstore - crying over Cara's sister Janna not making it this year :(]. Anyway, Cara posted somewhere recently that her mom is always will to pray with someone so that might be another good spot to pop in if you're feeling overwhelmed.

  92. Kaybee, I'll hang with you anytime! I'll come hang out at one of the conferences coming up, not to attend...

    I'd rather buy that quilt I've been waiting for!!!!!

    But we can tempt folks away from classes and have fun.

    Now that's my kind of conference, LOL!

  93. Nah, I don't cry either, Susan. What's to cry about when you have room service?

  94. Gosh you all are very impressive. Congratulations to all the RWA #13 brave ones and those brave enough to go to Indy!!

  95. What a great post though I'm laughing over all the introverts in your audience. Makes me wonder how a writer's conference ever gets organized. Instead of bouncers keeping riffraff out of an event, y'all need one to keep writers at an event!

    I confess that the whole idea of attending a conference scares me witless. Glad to see that I'm in good company. I applaud all you brave souls who venture forth and pitch!

  96. Sue, I like the idea of hiding in the prayer room. Of course, I have figured out God can find us anywhere and often uses the most unlikely locations to accomplish God's purposes.

    Annie, what a fabulous experience you had. God's grace is amazing. It's all about knowing why we do what we do.

    Jackie, I wouldn't have pegged you for an introvert. With your smile and love of turquoise, no way. But there you go. Have a wonderful time.

    Kav, LOL!!!! You pointed out what I had just begun to realize. How do introverts get anything done anywhere in public? And you may not be an extrovert but you sure are brave. After all, you launched May on your own!

  97. Carol, you are going to have to do a post on these infamous conference cookies on Yankee Belle. They sound legendary.

  98. Hello again. I'm hooooome. :)

    Hi Connie,
    I totally understand. I read a really interesting post last week that Trish Milburn linked on Facebook. It was a male writer defending the money he spent and time he took "away from family" to attend Dragon Con.

    He wrote a really good defense. http://writewrotewritten.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/dragoncon-2013-no-apologies/

    But it's different when you feel you're not ready. I had the same feeling when I headed to RWA this year. I promised myself I'd make it work somehow though since I'd already registered.

    Looking forward to meeting you one of these years at one of these conferences.

    Or maybe Tina just needs to organize the Seekerville conference. I think Nebraska's big enough, isn't it, MaryC?

  99. I'm so afraid I'm going to miss responding to someone. :(

    Janet, it was so lovely to spend time with you (even if I did have to stand next to you and your beautiful dress in our group picture).

    Helen, I'm in awe that you can actually try going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. My conference prep usually looks like me trying to cram 4 weeks worth of stuff into the last few days and getting next to no sleep. Organizer, I am not.


  100. Julie, dear roomie, I've never even heard of brown mountain cake. Sounds a bit scary.

    Annie, that sounds wonderful about your pitch. Sounds so similar to Julie's experience.

  101. kaybee, if you can handle newspaper reporting, you can handle conference with no problem.

    "fake it til you make it" works pretty well at conference too, but the thing is, mostly everyone there is so friendly and we all want the same thing, so there's almost always someone you can find to meet.
    But hanging with Ruthy works too.

    Which reminds me, do I understand that we need a moment of silence or something because Tina said Ruthy was CORRECT?

    Must have missed that. ;)

  102. Piper and Debby, I'm humbled by your kind words. Coming from such gracious ladies, they mean a lot.

    Piper, I agree. I felt like we must have known each other for ages.

    And Debby - I'll just say, anyone needing prayers or comfort, seek out Debby because she has such an amazing way of praying with and for you.

  103. Jackie, never just a reader. A reader is what I am first, best and always. Thank you for stopping by. We're happy to throw your name in the hat.

    Sherida, I'm so glad you made the decision to go. You just never know what can happen and even if nothing unusual does, it's another experience to add to this whole writing thing.
    Personally, I love to focus on others. It always helps to think that whatever you are feeling, others have their doubts and needs to, no matter how strong or brave - or extroverted. Maybe that extrovert just needs the chance for a peaceful cup of tea and some quiet conversation rather than the hustle and bustle.

  104. Chill N, I'm so glad you're going to San Antonio. I really hope to be there. ACFW is always a problem for me because it happens just as school is starting up so I can't really take time off, but RWA is during my summer vacation. Hope to see lots of you in hot San Anton in 2014.

    I have to say - hot as it might be - this year I was dreading Hotlanta. Turned out NYC was 10+ degrees hotter all the days I was in Atlanta. Plus hotels are freezing.

  105. Jeanne! I keep wanting to go to some conference you'll be at just so we can meet in person. One of these days. You have been on fire with your writing so I hope you have a wonderful time at ACFW.

    Susan - no fears. I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to venture into the horde at the bar. That's when I put on my purposeful stride and look like I'm searching for the person I'm supposed to be meeting. LOL But please take the time to find the Seekers and the Villagers. I promise you won't regret it!

    Lyndee - chatting with you was another one of my conference blessings. Hope you have a wonderful time this conference. I'll miss seeing you.

    Jackie, year 2 has got to be so much better just because of meeting so many people last year. Now you've got me wishing I were going to hang out with you all this weekend. Have a blast!

  106. Kav, in some ways it doesn't surprise me. I may be an introvert but I handle it by acting like a Martha. I'm best w hen I'm organizing and running around doing things. That's one reason I always try to volunteer at conference.

    I forgot to include that but all conferences need volunteers and that's a great way to meet people.

  107. Great post ladies! I'd never heard the phrase extroverted introvert - I think I may be more of an introverted extrovert

    Julie, being able to meet you face-to-face at RWA was one of the highlights of the event for me!! Mary, I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to meet, but maybe we'll have that opportunity at another conference soon?

  108. I can't wait to go to conference and meet my long lost sister Julie.
    I can go to a conference and be happy to not speak to a soul or I can chat like an extroverted extrovert so I guess that makes me an extroverted introvert. The truth is I am also very courageous so if my introverted friends are uncomfortable I will lead the social charge (and then go home and be sick for a week, but that's neither here nor there, right?)

    And I'm not sure about this 'introverts are sensitive' stuff. hmmm.

    but I'm sending people over for a pep talk ladies. I know two people who are doing the last minute WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR CONFERENCE thing right now...

    You two did an amazing job with this post! I don't feel socially drained by reading it either!

  109. Hi JULIE AND MARY, Oh I am so going to miss seeing you at ACFW. That makes me more thankful I was able to meet you at RWA in Atlanta.

    MARY you did a FANTASTIC job with the videos and photos for Tina. I hope you will do that again. smile

    Have fun girls.

  110. Winnie, same here. It's like meeting your penpal!

    Debra, I could only afford one conference this year so I won't be there but I really do believe we are sisters. I came home from conference and laid around for a week solid!

    I know Tina and Ruthy are drafting capable reporters even as we type. It is going to be such fun to be on the other end of the computer watching the happenings.

    Mary Curry is a great reporter because she lures people in with that soft voice, kind of like a nurse that says, "now this won't hurt a bit." And after your shot, you realize it wasn't that bad.

  111. Sandra, it was great to see you. We WILL meet again!

  112. I'm brain dead after two days of intense emotions with my son leaving for boot camp this morning (still waiting for that phone call in the wee hours tonight to let us know he arrived safely). I came home this afternoon after seeing him off, to learn two editors said no to my proposal and I ask myself why I signed up to pitch or even attend the conference later this week. What was I thinking?

  113. Digging, I am praying for you. What an intense few days you've had.

    I was at a low point before RWA, having just been hospitalized and find out I had had a stroke in the past I didn't know about and am at risk for more. Mary was worried she was going to be going solo.

    But I went, not knowing how much I would be able to do or even if I would last through the week.

    I took care of myself but discovered others were watching out for me too. I sat in discussions where we shared about the pain of rejection and also getting up the nerve to continue writing.

    God knows your needs, knew this week would be intense for you. I am trusting you will be wrapped in God's grace at conference. Lean on others. They have been there in one way or fashion.

    There will be something there for you, a kind word, encouragement. It's not always about a successful pitch. Sometimes it is being reassured by others that you are not alone.

    And we will be praying for you and all those who feel like you do.

  114. Thanks, Julie. I appreciate your sweet words and prayers.

  115. This has been a fun post, thanks Mary and Julie! All this talk is getting me excited about next year! But nervous too. I have a room-mate for RWA . She's very organized, ( and a good photographer too ) which will help me keep on track. :-)

    Oh Nancy, are you scared? :-/

    I feel better hearing you guys talk of being nervous and hiding out in your rooms and behind ipads. I've done that a time or two at conventions.

    My room-mate warned me that she wasn't a party girl. With relief II said 'good deal'. I love my jommies and bedtime!

  116. Just thinking about it, got me stuttering... 'II said... :-D

  117. Digging, I'm praying for your son and you.

    I understand how life can throw things at you. I cam home from conference ready to throw myself into my writing only to have my daughter hospitalized. That kind of put pitching in perspective.

    I hope you'll find distraction and renewal at ACFW along with friends and support. I'm looking forward to hearing your report.

  118. Hi Mary, I'm excited for you to be going next year. Sure conference can be overwhelming, but one thing we didn't mention was how the setup of the hotel can help. This year things were spread out over a wide area so there was never a huge crush of people (other than the literacy signing, luncheons, and award ceremonies). I think that helped keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

    That and be sure to stay hydrated. Coconut water is a much better pick me up than coffee!

  119. Winnie, I hope we do get to meet. I attended your workshops and really got a lot out of them. Thanks for taking the time to prepare them!

    Debra, so close and yet so far. One of these days we'll meet.

  120. Myra, I think somehow I missed your comment before.

    You said, "My conference (or any big group) survival technique is to hang out with someone who's much better at talking to people. So I can smile and nod and through in the occasional bon mot and look like I'm just SO comfortable being social."

    That was my plan with Julie, but something funny happened along the way. I actually got started talking to people. It's so much easier when you have something you are passionate about - like writing - in common.

  121. I tried to quote this earlier.
    Juie said,

    Meant to say I also left myself open to opportunities I didn't plan on. Sometimes you miss a blessing by doing what you think you should, going to every workshop to get your money's worth, instead of spending an hour talking to someone about your career path or making connections."

    For my first conferences I made the mistake of trying to go to every workshop, but I missed so much else. I really recommend checking which ones interest you that aren't being recorded and make sure to hit them, but otherwise, invest in the recordings. It frees up SO much of your time and really, you can concentrate much better later - when you're not sleep-deprived.

    Oh - and the vegetarian meal option is a great way to avoid the perennial conference chicken. I'm not really a vegetarian, but I loved my meals a whole lot more than that nasty chicken.

  122. <3 LOVE the new Seekerville blog look! <3

    Prayers for safe travels and best wishes for manuscript requests to everyone going to conferences! :)

  123. Mary and Julie, this was fabulous!!

    I am an introvert, and I have to work very hard to step out. So, I can relate to wanting to hide behind an ipad. ;) Conferences can be nerve racking, but I find if I lead with a smile, all is well.

    Katy Lee

  124. NATALIE!!

    Love the profile pix!!

  125. I agree with Tina, Natalie. That profile picture is absolutely lovely.

    Hi Katy Lee,

    Julie and I were discussing how opening the conference with our FH & L meeting was such a good way to put us in touch with friendly faces. Then, when we met up again throughout conference, it was easy to reconnect.

  126. Oops. Was logged into my teacher account for the last comment.

    Hi Sandra, I'm so glad I had the chance to meet you at RWA. Hope we meet up again at another conference.

  127. A wonderful post thank you.

    Please include me in the drawing for the Amazon.

  128. Great tips, ladies! I LOVED going to conference last year, and had such a wonderful time meeting the Seekers, meeting my roommates (who I'd only met online before the conference!) and other folks. I admit, I'm not shy, but I relate to the "extroverted introverts". If I don't get that scheduled "me time," I'm not a fun person to meet!

    I hope everyone at conference has a fabulous, God-filled weekend, and blessings on your pitches. I hope to join you again next year!

  129. Thanks, Tina!
    Thanks, Mary!
    I'd had the old one for, I don't know,maybe a year. So I felt the need for a change. :)

  130. I cannot BELIEVE I am late to this post, but pre-conference week is my excuse, so PLEASE forgive me Julie and Mary!!

    OH MY. This post says a MOUTHFUL, and is an EARFUL of what people need to hear, so THANK YOU, JULIE AND MARY, for giving us a peek into your experiences.

    I'm with Julie that I, too, am an "extroverted introvert," only I didn't know the term. I always tell people I am a recluse who has the misfortune of having an outgoing personality because given the choice, I would stay home on my deck. But ... mingling and mixing with fellow Chritian writers is CRUCIAL to us, so like Mary, I push myself to go to conferences. And like Mary, once I get there, I have a lot of fun and meet a lot of people.

    BUT ... the key thing you said in this blog about why we should go is the following:
    "We are there to be the encouragement for someone who is practicing their pitch as we walk by or to provide a sympathetic ear when things don’t go well."

    Oh, AMEN AND AMEN!!! I feel like God laid on my heart that the only reason to go this year is to encourage others, remembering how painful it was for me at my first conference and how discouraging it can be to get those 45 rejections. Encourage, lift up, pray for those precious women (and a few men like Walt and Vince) who are going through the fire right now, wondering if they will ever be good enough to get pubbed, doubting there is a place for them in Christian fiction.

    That's why I am excited to go this year -- that and to see my Seeker sisters and other friend to hug on them and let them know just how much they have added to my life.

    Hugs and Happy Conference!

  131. Please enter me in the drawing, but just for the gift card.