Wednesday, September 10, 2014

CONFERENCE CPR!

Hi, Julie here, and I'm sorry, but whenever the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference rolls around, I can't help but think about the very first time I ever attended a conference, and trust me — it wasn't pretty. So if you're going to ACFW later this month, loaded for bear with hopes, dreams, one-sheets, pitches, and confidence galore  then maybe you don't need the lesson God taught me in 2003.

On the other hand, if you have blood in your veins and breathe air, maybe you do. Because the truth is we're all painfully human, and the lesson God imparted to me then will most likely speak to you now, whether you're a writer, reader, or starry-eyed hopeful like I was back then, desperate to soak up everything I could from workshops, sessions, and people in the know. Whatever your story, here's mine the year I learned the most important lesson of all.

CONFERENCE CPR

“Are you okay?” Someone shook me hard. I lay there, unable to speak, eyes welded closed.

“Are you okay” the voice came again, louder this time, more insistent. No answer. I felt the press of fingers to my pulse followed by a quick sweep of my mouth, clearing all obstructions. With a pinch of my nose, someone began to breathe life into me while a gentle hand compressed against my chest, finger on my heart …

Okay, just for the record—I did not choke on a piece of chicken at an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference nor ever had to be resuscitated in any way.

Uh … that is …  not physically.

But emotionally and spiritually? Oh, yeah,  I was a goner. Cried enough tears for the housekeeping staff to think I was heisting Kleenex. But something amazing happened to me at the very first ACFW conference I ever attended—I received CPR in a very unlikely manner, and I gotta tell ya, folks—it saved my life.

So I thought since ACFW is right around the corner,  it might behoove me to repeat a past Seeker blog about this life-saving experience I received when the Holy Spirit administered a heavy dose of truly miraculous CPR—Cry, Pray, Repent.

Oh, how I wish someone had told me what I’m about to tell you before I went to my very first writers’ conference in Houston, Texas in 2003. It was the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, only back then, it was ACRW, American Christian Romance Writers. I went by myself without knowing a soul, which is a hard thing to do, as so many of you are aware. Up until that point, I had done everything I could to put me on the path to publication—took fiction-writing courses at the community college, attended small writing seminars and local RWA chapter meetings, queried publishers until I was blue in the face, and entered contests until I was in hock over binder clips.

I knew in my gut that the time had come for me to venture far from home and interface with other writers of my ilk. I mean how difficult could this be? Although by nature I am a recluse of sorts, I like to joke that I have the misfortune of having an outgoing personality, so the word “shy” isn’t part of my vocabulary. So I smiled and mixed and mingled until my teeth ached and made a lot of acquaintances, but no real “friend” to connect with. Everything felt surface to me, and it seemed like everybody I spoke to was either published, had an agent, a contract in the works, or fulls requested.

That night I cried on the phone to my husband, and I’m talking major sobbing! I told him I felt lonely and jealous and like publication would never happen for me. He comforted me and prayed with me and told me everything would all right.

But it wasn’t. The next day I would attend a seminar, then go up to my room and cry, clean my face and go back down to smile some more. That went on all day as the loneliness and jealousy seemed to grow, and that night my poor husband got another earful of long-distance weeping. God love him, he prayed for me and encouraged me and told me to put my hope in God. Yeah, right, I thought to myself, and how is that going to change these waterworks? That night I cried myself to sleep, rivers of tears seeping into my pillow.

What happened next is nothing short of supernatural. The next morning, even before my eyelids peeled open, my brain was pelted with hope Scriptures in rapid-fire succession:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:12-14

And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. -
Romans 5:4-6

No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame. -
Psalm 25:2-4

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. -
Psalm 62:4-6

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. -
Psalm 71:13-15


Now, first of all, I wasn’t aware that I even knew that many hope Scriptures. In fact, they shocked me so much, my eyes popped open and I lunged for the Gideon Bible inside the nightstand drawer. I flipped it open to the first few pages where they list Scriptures by subject and scanned the list for “Hope.” It wasn’t there, so I settled on the scripture for “Fear.” There were only two, mind you, and I quickly paged to the first one: Hebrews 13:5.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.


Come again? What does fear or lack of hope have to do with covetousness and ingratitude? Give me a break—the Gideons have TONS of Scriptures from which to choose and they choose this????

I blinked several times … and then the Holy Spirit nailed my butt to the wall.

I had spent the last two days of this expensive conference doing NOTHING but coveting other writers’ success and complaining that it would never happen for me. My husband had forked over $800 bucks (airfare, hotel room, conference fee) so I could fly to Houston and instead of being grateful, I was utterly lonely and jealous. Talk about a one-two punch!

I immediately fell to my knees and sobbed again, only this time my tears were tears of repentance. I told God I was sorry for being such a brat, and I prayed for every woman that I had been jealous of, that God would bless the socks off of them. I asked Him to change my attitude and give me hope and help me not to be lonely the rest of the conference.

For the umpteenth time that weekend, I cleaned up my face, put on my name badge, and squared my shoulders to go downstairs. The elevator opened, and I flashed a smile to the couple in the back, then turned to face the door. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. "You’re from St. Louis?" The woman's eyes were glowing with warmth, gaze flitting from my name badge to my face with a joyous smile. "I live in Illinois, just twenty minutes across the river.”

I will NEVER forget the look of kindness and warmth in that woman’s face—like an angel sent from God. She was an ACFW author named Diana Brandmeyer (now a Tyndale, Barbour, and Concordia Publishing hybrid author), so be sure to check out her website and her wonderful books at Diana Brandmeyer. Anyway, she invited me to sit with her and her husband for breakfast, and as God is my witness, conference food never tasted so good!

Later that day, there was a contest for book giveaways. You simply had to write about someone who had positively affected you at the conference so far, and if the ACFW Master of Ceremonies (Brandilyn, of course!) picked your comment out of the hat, the person you wrote about won a free book. My eyes smarted with tears as I dashed a quick note about the kind woman in the elevator “whose eyes radiated love and warmth"—Diana Brandmeyer.

If you can believe it, out of over 350 women and like 2 men, Brandilyn picked a handful of notes to read, and one of them was the note I had written about Diana, which referred to her “eyes full of love and warmth.” My heart jumped with excitement … until Brandilyn read my name instead of Diana’s.

My heart froze when I realized I'd written my name down by mistake, thus winning a book for myself rather than for Diana.

Brandilyn called me up, and I was too embarrassed to tell her the truth, so I intended to return the book after the function was over. Imagine my shock when a few moments later, Brandilyn read another note about a woman “whose eyes radiated love and warmth,” only this one was the note I had written about Diana!

Yes, you guessed it—two women who broke the yoke of loneliness off of each other in an elevator wrote almost exactly the same thing about the other. Go ahead, tell me that’s not a God thing!

That conference turned out to be a pivotal time in my career, not only because of the amazing friendship/critique partnership that Diana and I still share today, or even the very encouraging paid critique I received from author Tracey Bateman later on that day. Nope, the main reason was the invaluable lesson that the Holy Spirit taught me from the pages of a hotel-room Gideon Bible.

Yes, contests, writing classes, and writers conferences are all important tools in traveling the road to publication. But the most important tools needed are spiritual—to keep your heart clean of jealousy by praying for those who incite it, to praise and thank God wherever you are in your journey instead of complaining, and to renew your mind with hope Scriptures instead of despair. Because the bottom line is, “hope never fails” … and neither does He.

GIVEAWAY:
I would love to hear your own conference CPR stories—I know you all have them (uh, especially Mary Connealy and Melanie Dickerson!), and there are a lot of first-time conference attendees that could use the encouragement. For everyone that leaves a comment, I’ll toss your name in the hat for a chance to win a signed copy of your choice of any of my books, including my upcoming release, Surprised by Love.

So goood luck … and take a deep breath!

Hugs,
Julie

ABOUT JULIE:
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com.



144 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Loved your post, and love your novels, Julia! YOU RAWK and ROCK! That part about fear? Hit me, too!

Terri said...

Julie - this is an awesome post. I'm headed to St. Louis and while I want, ok, yearn, for my agent and editor appointments to go well, my main objective is to have a great time. There are so many amazing people in ACFW. I'm trusting the Lord to use this experience to help me grow in Him.

Hope I get the chance to see you in person.

Mark Abel said...

Hi Julie, Thanks for the message of encouragement and hope. I will be attending my first writers conference in Missouri this month and will remember what the Lord spoke to you. I will remember to rest in His calling for all of us together as writers for His Glory !

God bless you sister. Mark

Sally said...

Love that story about you and Diana, Julie! So cool!

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

My first conference was at Crested Butte and the first morning we all went to breakfast and sat at tables that could seat five to six people. I sat down with five women and one asked me right away what I wrote and was working on. I explained about my book on “Characters in a Romance” and how it was a meta-romance and she and the others seemed to be fascinated by what I had to say. Each of us had a little to say about what kind of fiction we wrote. The women were so nice and encouraging that I just assumed they were unpublished writers hoping to improve their skills just as I was. I can still remember the friendliest woman who instigated the conversations.

Then at the welcoming session people were asked to stand up and give their name and tell something about themselves. All five women who had sat at my breakfast table were multi published authors!


Now here’s the God thing. Before I left Tulsa for the conference I picked up a library book in large print to read at the conference. I chose it for the cover. I did not even know who the author was.

That book was written by Kiki Warner and I had it with me in my briefcase at that breakfast table.

My take on CPR was this:

Courage, Praise, Rejoice!

Have the courage to complete your work.

Praise the Lord for the gifts He’s given you.

Rejoice in the freedom to follow your dreams.

I did not cry a single tear but then my wife came with me for moral support.

Vince

The Artist Librarian said...

Such an awesome "God-moment" story! Thanks for sharing *Ms.* Julie (and also Vince and Terri)!

And um, is that a hint? I really want to hear from Mary Connealy and Melanie Dickerson now ... =)

Mary Hicks said...

Ohhhhh, I like that! As you said , Julie, if we breath air and have blood in our veins—we are subject to doubt, crowd fear, tears and yes, jealousy.

But with Gods help and a brave, smiling face we can step forward and make new friends and have a good time when we are gathered with like spirits.

I love conferences. :-)

Jackie said...

Julie, you've got me crying now.

This will be my third ACFW conference, and I'll never forget how nervous I was. And then I got sick.

There were a few ladies who stand out as being extra kind to me, and I'll never forget them.

I never imagined somebody as amazing as you would have 1st conference stress.

Thanks for sharing. Last year I tried to look for 1st year attendees, but I'll look extra hard this year after hearing your story!

Julie Lessman said...

Good morning, everyone--HAPPY WEDNESDAY!!

Since this is a piece about a conference experience, I thought it would be fun to have a special conference buffet set up by the Ritz-Carlton, so dive in!

Fruit-Filled Danishes, Chocolate and Butter Croissants, Muffins
Fresh-Baked Breads and Bagels, Preserves and Whipped Butter

Fresh to Order
Waffles, Omelets, Eggs

Cold Selections
Dried-Fruit Granola, Cereals, Fruit Yogurt, Fresh-Cut Seasonal Fruits and Berries

Hot Selections
Ritz-Carlton Eggs Benedict, Farm Fresh Scrambled Eggs, Griddle Specialties with Maple Syrup
Breakfast Potatoes, Sausage, Pecan Wood Smoked Bacon and Oatmeal

Served with Juice and Brewed Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee or Specialty Hot Teas

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARIANNE ... thanks, my friend, you RAWK too!!

And, man alive, that nasty fear thing gets everybody, doesn't it?
Thank God -- LITERALLY -- that we have miraculous recourse, eh?

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, TERRI, I hope we get the chance to meet, too, and we should if you come by the lobby bar after 9:00 PM on Thursday or Friday when all the Seekers hang out, so I look forward to it, my friend -- hugs coming your way!!

And I'm saying one RIGHT NOW that you have a FABULOUS time, girl! I think the Internet has changed everything for conferences, allowing us to make TONS of friends online before we go, so I think that would have made a HUGE difference for me back then.

Hugs!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

This is a message that needs to be heard again. I smiled as I read it.

Thanks, Julie.

DebH said...

Never been to a conference. Not close to being ready to go to one. I'm still trying to figure out the writing part. But I will take this to heart and remember to be greatful for the awesome gifts from the people who are helping me grow in my skills. *cough*Seekerville*cough*

Presently clueless, hoping to acquire a couple of clues to get to a conference some day. In the meantime, I will commiserate and learn from the experience of others here. (I, too, really want to hear from Mary and Melanie...)

Kav said...

I'm heading straight for the danish...I need comfort food just stressing over the possiblity of going to a conference. I'd have to carry around a defibrillaltor with me 24/7. Between the thrill of meeting favourtie authors to the fear of talking about writing to anyone, I'd be a basket case.

Love your conference story...talk about a God moment...well moments really. I'm looking forward to hearing other stories as well. I'll keep popping back to read more. :-)

Julie Lessman said...

MARK, you are more than welcome, my friend, and your very first conference? EVER? Or just in Missouri? Either way, like I mentioned to Terri above, the Internet has made a HUGE difference in attending conferences today because I'm sure you have some online writer friends that you will hang with to make it easier.

AND, of course, you MUST come by the lobby bar after 9:00 PM when all the Seekers hang out to chat and have fun, so we can meet you!! Saying one for your conference experience, Mark, that God blesses it richly!

Hugs,
Julie

DebH said...

p.s.
thanks Julie, for sharing the Holy Spirit given lesson. A nice good smack upside the head for me as a reminder to listen to Him. (I tend to be hard headed, hence the smack)

Julie Lessman said...

SALLY, me too, sweetie, because it shows that even though we may attend a conference by our lonesome, we are NEVER alone with God in our lives! :)

Good luck in the contest, my friend, and HUGS!

JULIE

Dawn Janis said...

I've never been to a writer's conference. It sounds like fun. My own conference experience comes from Mary Kay events. This past summer, I answered the question to myself "If they can do it, then why not me?" Of course it took a long time for me to get to that point of being willing to work to get to where I want to be.

I'd love to be entered into the drawing for your new book.

dawn(dot)janis(at)gmail(dot)com

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE -- what a GREAT story, my friend, and leave it to you to have another take on CPR, and a far happier one at that! :)

LOVE the "Courage, Praise, Rejoice!" take on things and SO glad that your first conference experience was a very positive one -- how fun! Of course, being a lone handsome male in a sea of women doesn't hurt, though, I'm thinkin', especially when you're as cute and personable as you! :)

I'll tell you what, I sure wouldn't wish the first part of my "Kleenex" conference on anyone because it takes its toll on the old complexion, you know? Although mine was A LOT younger back then than now (age 52), but even so, it's best to keep one's powder dry. :)

Hugs!

Julie Lessman said...

ARTIST LIBRARIAN, I soooooo agree, and just knowing God is so intimately involved in everything we do is SUCH a good feeling, isn't it?

Hopefully Mary and Melanie will hear their names used in vain and come by to explain. If not, I will. :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "But with God's help and a brave, smiling face we can step forward and make new friends and have a good time when we are gathered with like spirits. I love conferences. :-)"

I can see why people love conferences more today than I did back then because as I mentioned above, the Internet makes it possible to make friends ahead of time, which absolutely helps to make a conference SO fun!!

AND, you sound like an outgoing and friendly person, Mary, who would have NO problem meeting new friends, so that's important too. :)

It doesn't sound like you will be at ACFW this year, but if you are, PLEASE come by the lobby after 9:00 PM so I can give you a hug!

Hugs,
Julie


Julie Lessman said...

Aw, JACKIE, didn't mean to make you cry, although I do, too, every time I read this post because it's so personal to me.

You said: "I never imagined somebody as amazing as you would have 1st conference stress."

LOL ... I'm going to tell you something that will shock you even more -- not only did I cry the first conference, but the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on, all but the last two I attended.

Apparently I have a deep insecurity when it comes to large groups which borders on a phobia, partially because I feel so lonely in large groups, and partially because I worry someone else is feeling alone, and I want to help them.

I'm really more of a one-on-one gal rather than a group gal, and although I have a lot of friends I can talk to, large crowds still intimidate me.

I suspect it has something to do with switching to a new school in the 2nd grade. The stress was SO awful for me, I broke out in psoriasis all over my body and had to wear sweaters and knee socks in the warm weather to hide it. Of course, it didn't help to have an ancient nun ask me in front of the class if I was sure it wasn't leprosy? It seems from that point on, large crowds have bothered me, I guess because I was so ridiculed by them in grades 2-4, that it's left a scar. :(

Okay, I'll get up off the couch now, Doc, and you can just send send me your bill ... ;)

You also said: "Last year I tried to look for 1st year attendees, but I'll look extra hard this year after hearing your story!"

BLESS YOU, you sweet woman, you -- where were you in 2003??? ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

TINA SAID: "This is a message that needs to be heard again. I smiled as I read it."

Thanks, Tina, I feel exactly the same way, which is why I decided to repeat it this year. It's one of my most personal blogs I've written, and every year at conference, I think about it, so I figured it bore repeating for those 1st-time conference attendees in the group and, really, for everyone. ESPECIALLY moi! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H, you've never been to a conference??? Well, girl, where the heck do you live? I think the experience would be both enlightening and motivating, so I encourage you to pray about it next year, and I'm saying one for you right now as well.

If it's a money issue, there are ways to curb the expense -- sharing hotel rooms with friends, applying for the ACFW scholarship program (I believe Ms. Melanie Dickerson attended that way in the very beginning, I think), driving or flying SW to a conference that is not too far away.

Anyway, I sure hope we get to see you at one soon, my friend, because hugs are LONG overdue! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

KAV SAID: "I'd have to carry around a defibrillaltor with me 24/7. Between the thrill of meeting favourtie authors to the fear of talking about writing to anyone, I'd be a basket case."

LOL, girl, move over!! We'll be basket cases together! ;)

Somehow, I don't believe that, Kav, because not only are you one of the SWEETEST people I know, but kindest and gentlest, too, so you would be a balm to SO many!!

I'm praying you will go one of these years, my friend, and when you do, get ready for some MAJOR Seeker hugs all around!!

Hugs,
Julie

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh my goodness!! What an amazing story and yep, you have a great husband. I love that he prayed with you and think it's so cool you guys wrote the same kind of note.
I'm going to ACFW this year and am so excited. I will try to remember all this! lol

Thank you!

Julie Lessman said...

DEB H SAID: "Thanks Julie, for sharing the Holy Spirit given lesson. A nice good smack upside the head for me as a reminder to listen to Him. (I tend to be hard headed, hence the smack)"

LOL ... take it from a head smackee from WAY back, I relate!! And, yeah, we all need those reminders, don't we? :)

Hugs (not a smack!),
Julie

Wilani Wahl said...

Julie, If at some time I ever get to attend a conference, I would want to meet you and the other awesome authors from Seekerville. You all are such an encouragement.

Julie Lessman said...

DAWN SAID: "I've never been to a writer's conference. It sounds like fun. My own conference experience comes from Mary Kay events. This past summer, I answered the question to myself "If they can do it, then why not me?"

YES, why NOT you??? Sounds like you have a LOT healthier outlook than I did, my friend, so you go, girl! And I would think a MK conference would be just as stressful for a newbie as a writer's conference, although everyone knows how insecure writers can be ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Rachel Hauck said...

Great post Julie! I was at that conference!!

Julie Lessman said...

JESSICA!!! SO glad you get to go this year, my sweet friend, so mega hugs coming your way!

I am not actually attending the conference, but plan to hang out in the lobby/Starbucks since I live in St. Loo, so I hope we run into each other. Keep in mind that the Seekers meet in the lobby bar after 9:00 PM, okay?

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, LANI, we would definitely want to meet you, too, my friend, ESPECIALLY me since you and I have forged a special relationship! Let's shoot for next year or the year after (which I think is Nashville, and I will definitely be there for that one), okay?

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RACHEL!!! Were you leading worship that year? I can't remember that far back, but I do know you've led/been involved in worship for most of the ACFW years, right?

I've said it before, my friend, but I'll say it again -- the worship you lead is absolutely my FAVORITE part of each conference because it is SO heavily anointed. :)

I'm not actually attending the conference this year, but will be hanging out in the lobby since I live in St. Loo, so I will DESPERATELY miss the worship. Although I am toying with standing out in the hall ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Cindy Regnier said...

Oh Julie - what a sweet and touching story. What strikes me most about your story is your bravery to attend the conference in the first place. I've never been to ACFW though I would dearly love to go. I cannot go again this year as it comes at a very difficult time for my 'real job' (which I am blessed to have btw). But when my time does come, I hope I can face it with the courage you had in 2003 - just to finally do it in spite of all the fears.

Carol Moncado said...

JULIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't wait to see you, friend!!!!!

And yes, we need to hear from Mary and Melanie :D.

I wasn't a newbie, but in Dallas two years ago, I ended up doing something stupid. Looking back, it really was fine and the editor probably doesn't even remember it, but...

I was sitting at dinner a few minutes later and struggling not to cry. Kristy Cambron - a dear friend and roomie that year - took me to the bathroom and let me bawl like a baby before giving me a huge hug and helping me be okay.

Have I mentioned you RAWK? Julie - you do!

An anti-CPR moment? When the FIRST THING SOMEONE /cough/Ruthy/cough/ says to you is "You're so much bigger than your picture!!!"

;)

Good thing I heart that gal too :D.

Jackie Smith said...

Yes, Happy Wednesday...and even happier since this is a Julie day at Seekerville!!!
Loved your post, Julie...thanks for sharing your heart..and encouraging us in life!
Hope all enjoy the conference..keep safe.
Count me in for your book, please.

Emily said...

Your stories always inspire me, Julie! Praise God for blessings like that. I could imagine myself in a similar position...I think we're very much alike in that aspect. I can only pray that God can work in my heart as much as I believe He has in yours. You're such an encouragement to me. I hope you are doing well these days....you're always in my thoughts and prayers!

Emreilly303(at)gmail(dot)com

Janka H. said...

I am just an avid reader, so no writer´s conference experience here:) But I Do think that this post is something anyone can relate to - sure it apply for me and my work environment. I can choose everyday if I meet my colleagues with heart full of insecurities, or just with a broad smile on my face and in my eyes. Thanks for a valuable lesson!

AND HUGS :)

Savanna said...

Hi Julie! Thanks for the great encouragement this morning. This will be my first conference. Pray for me? ;)

I loved the verses you shared. That's one thing I'm taking with me - I've written down all the verses God has used to direct me or strengthen me for ACFW. I know I will need to re-read those uplifting words many times that weekend. :) I hope I get to see you there!

Mary Connealy said...

Julie that is such a beautiful story.

I've got conference stories of course.

The year I was mentor. I'm the only mentor to ever have my mentee hauled out of the conference on a stretch (sorry about that Melanie)

The year I got my first ever contract from Barbour Publishing and went up in front of 350 clapping woman (and 2 men) to receive it from Tracy Peterson.

I remember I was somewhere once, probably my second conference, hiding. I have such a knee jerk withdrawal reflex, and Ruthy came and found me and just dragged me out into the middle of a crowd. She knew exactly what I was doing and was saving me from my reclusive self.

Pam Hillman said...

Love this, Julie! And, yes, Diana B rocks. :)

It's so easy to feel alone in a crowd, especially when you don't know anyone. I try so hard to turn that feeling on its head and reach out to others these days. I've met the most amazing people that way.

Mindy Obenhaus said...

Julie, I so love this post. Very timely, indeed. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own conference expectations that we forget to let God have His way with our lives, hearts and minds. What a reminder to gird myself with prayer as I head off to St. Louis. Because the last thing I want is for the Holy Spirit to nail my butt to the wall. :P

Rebecca said...

Wow, that was a beautiful story and lesson. I don't have any conference stories as of yet, but maybe someday I'll have a few to share.

Mary Connealy said...

Vince, I never cried either, but then, I'm not a crier. I did sort of cry when I got that first contract. Not like sobbing, but my eyes just sort of leaked for the rest of the night.

One of the finest moments of my life.

Mary Connealy said...

I also remember you Julie, from my very first conference in Denver, before we were the Seekers.

You and I were in an Ami McConnell session and you were talking about your target audience based on your hair dresser and you were so passionate and fun. And obviously memorable. :)

Jill Kemerer said...

I can sooo relate to this, Julie!! It's terrible when you're already feeling hopeless and then you go to ACFW and listen to all the wonderful things happening to everyone else. Ugh! But God didn't give us a spirit of fear. We can be assured His timing is perfect. Love this post!!

Janet Dean said...

Julie, I love how God nails us upon occasion with Scripture or quiet thoughts He plants in our heads. We all have struggles, fears, longings yet we must be willing to accept God's will. That's not easy but when we do, He's going to bless us.

I've felt overwhelmed at a few conferences but had a friend or two and that helped tremendously. I've met so many wonderful women at conferences. At the top of the list are the Seekers. This blog has brought numerous wonderful people into my life. I'm so grateful. Writing in a vacuum isn't fun.

Janet

Vince said...

Hi Julie:

I wouldn’t take for your waterworks. It’s those drops of salty nourishment that feed your one-of-a-kind passionate writing. It is obvious that you can feel what you are writing. To write such passion you have to be able to feel such passion. Never change!

I wrote my post very late at night and should have said that the woman at breakfast that was so nice to everyone was Kiki Warner. I had picked up her book and one by Susan May Warren from the library large print display. I could not read regular size type and that was before Kindle. I chose Kiki’s book because the cover had a mountain scene that I thought looked like the Crested Butte area.

Also that was a minor conference and I was not trying to promote a manuscript. I had no expectation that many published authors would be there. I was so happy to see that so many published authors were just regular folks. If they could do it, I thought I could do it. All I had to do is put in all the work these writers had. That’s what made me so hopeful. You had your friend, Diana, help you and I look to Kiki Warner in the same way. You never know when a little kindness can change a life!

Kiki Warner would make an ideal Seeker!

Vince

Sandy Smith said...

I loved the "coincidence" of you and Diana writing the same thing about each other and having both of them chosen. Of course, we know it was really God at work. Please enter me into the drawing.

Vince said...

Hi Mary:

Those who write comedy rarely cry. They turn tears into comedy before a single drop can fall. It’s their defense mechanism of which they often have had a lifetime to exercise. High IQ outsiders often make the best comedians. Passion turns on the waterworks, comedy dries them up. : )

Myra Johnson said...

Julie, every time I hear this story, it still gets me. I was at that Houston conference, too, and going through many of those same emotions. Wish we had connected back then!

My conference CPR story actually occurred at the 2007 ACRW conference. This was AFTER the Golden Heart, when you and so many of my writer friends were getting contracts right and left. I had never been so discouraged. I remember Debby prayed with me, and later a couple of complete strangers, who had no idea what I was going through, also offered to pray with me. I was stunned.

This was the same weekend God gave me an incredibly vivid dream, basically telling me that if I gave up writing, I'd be turning my back on the person He created me to be.

So I clung to the hope that He would bring everything to fruition in His perfect timing, and ONE YEAR LATER I had my first book contract! Today I have 11 books in print, 4 more under contract, AND a novella in the Seeker Christmas collection coming this fall! God is amazing if we just leave the plan to Him!

Sherida Stewart said...

Julie, your post is so REAL! I felt every tear! And the story of the matching comments is so sweet....a God thing!

The first romance conference I attended was my DIL's RWA chapter's conference, so that made it easier. I believe villager Mary Curry advised...maybe God's plan for us is to be there for someone else, so I tried to be the encouraging smile for others. I made new friends using that plan.

Great post! Thanks, Julie!

Jeanne T said...

Julie, you made me cry happy tears. :) I love the story about you and Diana. It's such a poignant reminder to be always on the lookout for those I can encourage when I attend ACFW. And, I've battled the jealousy dragon in the past. You prompted me to pray for God's perspective and that my heart would be focused on Him rather than on me.

LOVED THIS!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Julie, What memories. My first conference was so long ago, I can't remember. But I do remember my first ACFW conference in Denver. It was at that conference that I met my dear beloved Seekers in person. That was sure a special time.

I don't want to talk about conference anymore as I am really going to miss seeing all of you. Have fun.

Lyndee H said...

Beautiful post, Julie. Such a blessing to have scripture flow when you need it.

Crystal @ Serving Joyfully said...

Wow! So much to love about this! First of all. It is oddly comforting to know that so many of you who have "arrived" suffered through those feelings of discouragement and even envy. Especially since I know that wasn't the end of your story ;)

Secondly, what an awesome thing that both of your comments were chosen out of all of those comments, and that they were so similar. I tend to be a sappy person, but have to admit I totally cried when I read that.

What an awesome way for God to move to encourage you.

I haven't done a lot to pursue publishing, because I have allowed fear to hold me back. But it's time to stop that, so in a couple of weeks I'll be heading to St. Louis for my first ever ACFW conference, and I am going by myself and don't know anyone there. Definitely intimidating for an introvert who keeps to herself, and out of my comfort zone, but I am excited to be "going for it"

Julie Lessman said...

CINDY SAID: "What strikes me most about your story is your bravery to attend the conference in the first place."

You know what, Cindy? I've never really thought of that before, but you're right, so thanks for that valuable insight. I always thought I was such a wimp, but to fly that far by myself not knowing one solitary soul DOES take courage ... either that or unadulterated stupidity, of which there was plenty as well. ;)

I have NO doubt that when you do go to ACFW (which I am praying is Nashville in 2016 so I can meet you), you will have all the courage you need with God's help, the help of the Seekers, and friends you've met online. :)

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CAROL!!! Can't wait to see you, too, girlfriend, with or without cookies!! ;)

Kristy Cambron sounds like a WONDERFUL person -- it seems like I've heard good things about her from other people too ...

YOU SAID: "An anti-CPR moment? When the FIRST THING SOMEONE /cough/Ruthy/cough/ says to you is "You're so much bigger than your picture!!!"

LOL ... did you take your cookies away, I hope? ;) I'm sure she meant "taller" because Ruthy is such a squirt.

Can't wait to hug you again, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JACKIE!!! Always good to see you, my friend, and here's to a win because we have to get Megan's story in your hot, little hands! :)

Hugs and GOOD LUCK!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Aw, EM, you always bring tears to my eyes with your sweet encouragement, my friend, and yes, I do think we are a lot of like, which is why we have such a deep connection, for which I'm most grateful. It's reader friends like you that have made any struggles in this whole writing journey worth it.

Hugs and more hugs, and I'm back in the saddle come October with the release of SBL, so see you then, I hope!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JANKA!!! Yes, it IS a lesson for life, no matter what that life may be -- as a reader, a writer, or another occupation. True success in this life comes from living FOR Him in everything we do, something I learn a little bit more everyday. :)

Love you!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SAVANNA!!! Oh, I am SOOOO excited you will at ACFW this year -- GOOD GIRL!! And those Scriptures will be lifeblood to you, as you know, so good for you.

I would absolutely LOVE to meet you, my friend, so I hope you come by the lobby bar after 9:00 PM on Thursday and/or Friday (and Saturday for the other Seekers, but I won't be there that night), just to hang and visit, okay?

Hugs coming your way!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Gosh, MARE, I will NEVER forget either of your CPR moments at ACFW because I didn't even know you, I don't think, but I sure do remember BOTH of this incidents. ;)

ONLY you, my friend, only you!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

PAMMY SAID: "It's so easy to feel alone in a crowd, especially when you don't know anyone. I try so hard to turn that feeling on its head and reach out to others these days. I've met the most amazing people that way."

YES, it IS easy to feel alone in a crowd, for some more than others (like me, apparently). I like the idea of turning that feeling on its head, my friend, and I try to do that too because there's always somebody who needs your smile. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MINDY SAID: "What a reminder to gird myself with prayer as I head off to St. Louis. Because the last thing I want is for the Holy Spirit to nail my butt to the wall. :P"

LOL ... yeah, I know the feeling and have the nail marks in my butt to prove it ... or maybe those are cellulite ... can never tell! ;)

I'll be cheering you on, my sweet friend, and am SO very excited for you -- couldn't happen to a nicer person. :)

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

REBECCA SAID: "I don't have any conference stories as of yet, but maybe someday I'll have a few to share."

When you do, girlfriend, I hope they are good ones, and they probably will be because ACFW is truly THE nicest and most ENCOURAGING conference out there, so I hope you get to go someday. :)

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "Vince, I never cried either, but then, I'm not a crier. I did sort of cry when I got that first contract. Not like sobbing, but my eyes just sort of leaked for the rest of the night. One of the finest moments of my life."

That's okay, Mare and Vince -- I cry enough for the both of you! And, yes, Mary, that was one of the most special moments I've ever experienced at ACFW, and heck, it didn't even happen to me! :)

Oh, wait -- I take that back. I did win the prize basket of books for the most rejections in a year ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "You and I were in an Ami McConnell session and you were talking about your target audience based on your hair dresser and you were so passionate and fun."

PASSIONATE??? ME??? You must have me mixed up with somebody else. ;)

And I'm sitting here trying to remember WHAT IN THE HECK I said about my hairdresser. Dear Lord, PLEASE tell me it wasn't something to the effect of her reading my book and thinking it was wonderful ... although she did, so I might have. :| But at that stage of the game (closing in on 46 rejections), you gotta get your positive feedback where you can, you know?

Hugs,
Julie

K. L. Bridgewater said...

Julie, thanks for the encouragement. As a pre-published author, I attended the ACFW conference for the first time last year. I met Deb Kasper on the first day, and we shared lunch at Subway. She shared how the rains were rising back in home in Colorado, and she was worried. So I offered to pray for her. What I didn't know was that as I prayed for God to watch over her family and her home and bring Deb comfort that God would bring me comfort about the conference. I felt better about being there and a great time. I can't wait to go in two weeks again. I really hope I run into you, Julie.

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, JILL, and YES, His timing IS perfect ... it's just our patience that needs a little work ... ;)

And thanks for commiserating with me, Jill -- glad to know I am not alone, but I'm also sad you've experienced something similar too. Thank God we have God, eh?

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JANET SAID: "Writing in a vacuum isn't fun."

AMEN TO THAT, my friend, and I'll even go a step farther and say, vacuuming isn't fun either.

Sorry ... I'm a little slap happy right now, so I'm being silly. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Jan Drexler said...

Julie! What an awesome post!

And I WILL be in St. Louis this year, and I'm so looking forward to seeing you!

My CPR moment came very, very early at my first conference - two years ago in Dallas. I had just arrived at the airport, trying to figure out the shuttle system, feeling very lost and alone. And scared stiff.

Then the shuttle came along (I was hoping beyond hope that it was the right one), and even before the doors opened I heard someone yell, "Is that Jan Drexler?"

You have no idea what a God moment that was.

And the person who recognized me? Mary Connealy. The first people I met at conference were Mary, her cowboy, and Rose Zediker.

The rest of the conference was fabulous, but I'll never forget that first encouraging moment :)

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "You never know when a little kindness can change a life!"

Oh, WOW ... powerful words that are SO very true. We all have the ability to change lives on a regular basis with a simple smile or a kind word. Why would choose to do it any other way???

YOU ALSO SAID: "It’s those drops of salty nourishment that feed your one-of-a-kind passionate writing."

Aw, thanks, Vince ... I'll try to remember that the next time I'm sobbing my eyes out, remembering that it's good for something ... ;)

And I LOVE your Kiki story!!

HUGS,
Julie

CatMom said...

Oh Julie - - this post is AMAZING and gave me tears. I firmly believe God was in the midst of this, and I'm so glad you've shared it with us.

At my very first conference (ACFW 2008) I too went without knowing a soul there. But ahead of time, I'd hoped and prayed that I would be able to meet 2 of my favorite authors in person. After becoming a wee bit ill on the plane, feeling super nervous at the start of conference, AND losing an earring (I'd only brought one pair--not smart), I was beginning to question myself as to WHY I even was there. As I timidly located an empty chair at a table filled with strangers, I sat down for the first meal, looked across my table, and there sat the 2 authors I'd prayed about meeting! I hopped up from my chair as I called over to them, and they kindly got up to step around and meet me. I immediately burst into tears, telling them about being sick, losing an earring, and also being thrilled at meeting them. Instead of looking at me as though I was a nutcase, they both hugged me, smiled and reassured me, and then one of the authors (sweet Tamera Alexander) offered a pair of HER earrings for me to borrow! I knew the Lord was looking out for me with these wonderful ladies (I ended up buying earrings at the gift shop, then finding my missing earring the LAST night of conference---another story in itself!). I had a delightful time, made precious new friends, and learned so much, and now attending ACFW is a major highlight of my year. :)
Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hey Julie,

I love reading that story. I can so relate about attending alone and being scared silly. That was me last year - totally solo. I got to my hotel room and had to force myself-nausea and all-to leave that room!
But I did and I'm so glad, because I ran into a friend I'd made at the first conference I attended in 2011 and we reconnected! She's now one of my critique partners and we're going to meet up again this year!
My advice to anyone going for the first time is to use the prayer room if you're feeling overwhelmed. There is something magical in that room - a sense of divine peace just comes over you in there and you know everything is happening as it should!
I too will look for first timers and offer a word of encouragement. Feel free to tap me on the shoulder if you recognize me! A smile is worth millions!
Can't wait to see everyone!

Cheers,
Sue

Janet Dean said...

LOL, Julie! Slaphappy is fun and you're so right, vacuuming isn't!

You know, you had me frowning early in this post when I thought you were lying on the floor being given CPR. And wondered how I'd forgotten that. You stinker! But then you gave me a happy ending when both you and Diana wrote almost the exact same words about each other. As you say, a God thing!

Janet

Sherri Wilson Johnson said...

I haven't attended an ACFW YET, but two years ago at an Atlanta conference, I had such a God moment. I had won a scholarship to the conference and mainly wanted to be there to hang out with some of my friends. While there, a few of them convinced me to make an agent appointment. The agent, Les Stobbe, was available for appointments the following day, but I was too terrified to make an appointment with him. My friends literally forced me to do it. I went home that night and basically stalked Les to see what he required for proposals. The next day, I returned with everything I needed. When I sat down at his table, we chatted for a moment and realized that we had some mutual friends. When I slid my proposal across the table, he decided to read the entire thing while I sat there. He looked up and said, "I want to represent you." That was a huge God moment in my life!

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

I have never been to a writer's conference YET, with the exception go going to the night of 'book signings' a couple years ago. I was heading to Atlanta with my husband for one of our MANY trips for his work, & a friend of mine who lives in the Atlanta area, asked me if I wanted to join her at the book signing event. A friend of hers had recently had her first book published, & had also been nominated for an award as a debut author & she was going, to help support her friend. Of course I quickly said yes, and I had so much fun meeting many authors & having photo op's with them. This was before I had diligently began my own writing journey (still at the point of thinking about it yet, not knowing which direction to go). I looked into the price of attending the conference, since I was going to be in Atlanta during that time anyway, but was surprised at the cost & it wasn't in my budget. (Budget? What budget? Ha, ha)
I'm glad you shared about the scholarships--I definitely need to check into that option--and then pray that one of our trips once again coincides with the location of a conference.
Vicki

Mary Connealy said...

Vince, do you think so?

I thought maybe I just had mutant tear ducts.

Carol Moncado said...

Another CPR moment...

I was SO NAUSEATED at breakfast last year - I had the second meeting of the day with an editor, but I wasn't THAT nervous. HONEST!

I ran into Mary and made her pray with me. I FINALLY got my chance to sit between Mary and Julie [I've been wanting that spot for YEARS you know ;)] and it was all I could do to not puke. I even went to dry heave a bit.

But after Mary prayed with me I DID feel better and realized the whole thing was because I have a medication that can make me sick if I don't eat quickly enough. That made it A LOT easier to push through because it normally doesn't last TOO long when it does happen. It DID last through that appointment that still went well. Full request [though later rejected]. And half an hour after that, a meeting with Tamela Hancock Murray.

It, too, went well despite the lingering nausea and that request led to signing with her in March :D.

So because of Mary praying with me and that realization, I didn't decide to forgo my appointments and go back to my room sick. But that meal was probably my worst one at conference. I don't remember much of my long awaited breakfast with the two of you - or the egglike creation on the plate ;).

Mary Connealy said...

Julie you said your hair stylist was your target audience.

Only maybe it wasn't your hair stylist. But you were talking about women who trusted God in many aspects of their life but still were sexually active outside marriage and didn't want to read Christian fiction even though they were Christians.

Or something like that.

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

Someone made the comment about God speaking to her about considering to stop her writing and God told her "NO!" I would like to share a similar story that I recently discovered by an aunt who was an aspiring writer. This aunt passed away last December, and a couple years ago, as my mom was going through her MANY books (she was also an avid reader), and they found some books about writing amongst them, and passed them on to me. Imagine the thrill I felt when just skimming through a couple of them, I found many passages highlighted and several 'notes' handwritten in the margins. One which I found especially touching & encouraging. She said she had come to a point where she was considering stopping her writing, because after all, she had received nothing but rejections--maybe she wasn't a 'real' writer' after all. Then God spoke to her & told her it was better to receive rejections than to not have tried at all--so she continued. Very soon after this (I think the next submission after this incident), one of her short stories was accepted for a Llama magazine (they also raised Llama's). So, feeling much encouraged, she decided to submit another 'story' to this same editor, which was returned with MANY 'suggestions' (basically, pretty much rewritten). She said "Boy, did I learn a LOT...and then got mad." LOL. I can't wait to read more of these books & find these hidden gems written by my beloved aunts--yes, Shhh--she's my favorite aunt! ;-)
Vicki

Mary Connealy said...

Carol, I remember that, you sweet girl.

Tough breakfast for you. I was so delighted to get to pray for you.

Debby Giusti said...

I always love reading about your debut ACFW conference. Isn't God amazing!

Thanks for sharing it again. It's a story that needs to be told!

Jennifer Smith said...

Oh my goodness, what an awesome story! Thanks for sharing...I'm sure many of us can relate. I would LOVE to go to an ACFW conference (I will someday!). Several summers ago I went to a writers conference hosted by Highlights in Chautauqua, NY, and I felt pretty lonely. It would have been better if I'd forced myself to be more outgoing. It was still good though, and I wouldn't take back the experience. :)

S. Trietsch said...

I have not been to a conference yet...I am hoping to be in attendance in 2015! God's SO cool!

Cara Lynn James said...

Julie, 2003 was my first ACRW conference, too. It was so small compared to now! Too bad I didn't meet you because I felt exactly like you did.

Meghan Carver said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Julie, for this encouraging post today! This year will be my second ACFW conference, but it feels like my first because many of the people I met last year aren't going this year.

And Crystal @ Serving Joyfully does know someone going....me! We've not met in real life, but we've communicated plenty in the blogging world. See you there, Crystal!

Mark Abel said...

Hi Julie, me again. Yes, my very first writers conference. Looking forward to it and thanks for the invite, will seek out the Seekers !

Pat W said...

Julie, thanks for posting your CPR experience. I haven't gone to ACFW conference as of yet because I've been too scared to go lol. I wouldn't know a soul and I HATE crowds. Just last week I ask Santa, I mean hubby, if he would mind if I spent the money to go next year. Looks like next year at this time, I'll be scared out of my mind :)) Praying for God to pour out a spirit of calm to all the attendees.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Oh Julie,
Your post got me teary eyed remembering my first ACFW. 2005 Nashville. I didn't know a soul, but I came thinking I'd take the publishing world by storm. Half of day one was awesome, I was so excited and starstruck seeing publishers and agents in person. But by that evening, I was convinced that everyone there was either published or fixing to be. Everybody but me. Thankfully, my husband was there, so I blubbered on his shoulder. He mopped me up, encouraged me, and sent me on my way for day two. I pasted my smile and Lenora Worth was my sweet smile and kind eyes who asked if she could sit by me for breakfast. I'd read her books and was starstruck and suddenly had a famous friend. My next conference, Dallas 2006, I discovered the prayer room. Awesome place.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Computer problems kept me late for the party, but oh, what a wonderful story this is, Julie! And you guys will have so much fun in ST. Louis!!!!!

My best conference experiences were meeting Seekers and villagers.... And learning to discern who's who and what's what in Christian fiction... and then going to a class taught by Natasha Kern that was aimed at me personally, I'm sure!!!! I was always a little intimidated by her frank manner, (which is silly because I intimidate others for the same reason, but she's SMART!!!! I'm just loud!) And going to that class, meeting Natasha and listening to her, changed my career, and so much of what I'm doing now.... So yes, even though I'm not big on spending money for the conferences themselves, I love the fellowship of writers and editors and agents. That makes me smile and wish I was going to be there annoyin' youse!

You'll have a blast!

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer said...

Oh my Julie! That brought back memories. We were both lost sheep. When I saw you were from my home state I knew you were put there by God.
Diana

Julie Lessman said...

SANDY, I know!! It was SUCH a God thing at the time that I STILL get goose bumps over it! :)

Consider yourself entered and GOOD LUCK!!

HUGS,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE SAID: "Passion turns on the waterworks, comedy dries them up. : )"

LOL ... I'll attest to that ... ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, MYRA, how I wish we had met then too, my friend -- both of our conferences would have been that much richer, but at least we met through the GH, and what a BLESSING that turned out to be, eh?

You said: "This was the same weekend God gave me an incredibly vivid dream, basically telling me that if I gave up writing, I'd be turning my back on the person He created me to be."

Oh, WOW!!! I remember you telling us about that dream, and it is SO cool to see what God has done in your life since -- so many books and you STILL keep winning the award, you little brat! ;)

Love you!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHERIDA SAID: "Julie, your post is so REAL! I felt every tear! And the story of the matching comments is so sweet....a God thing!"

SUCH a God thing for sure, my friend, which is why you felt every tear in my post ... because I was crying them as I wrote it AND as I proofed it again for this post. :)

And you have SUCH a sweet face, girl, that I'm pretty darn sure your smiles lifted many a heart!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

JEANNE T SAID: "Julie, you made me cry happy tears. :)"

LOL ... I am SO glad because happy tears are such a joy and cleansing of the soul, aren't they, my friend?

You also said: "And, I've battled the jealousy dragon in the past. You prompted me to pray for God's perspective and that my heart would be focused on Him rather than on me."

AMEN AND AMEN!! Then my work here is finished ... uh, except for the rest of the comments I have to respond to, which really isn't work. :)

And you know what, Jeanne? One of the fringe benefits of praying for those we are jealous of is by doing so, we stomp on the devil's head -- I just LOVE doing that, don't you? ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SANDRA!!! Oh, how I remember that Denver conference too -- it's the one that all of the Seekers attended, right, and we had a FAB time with dinner at Tina's place. Gosh, that is my ALL-TIME favorite conference, although I will admit -- I cried at that one too. ;) But I mostly had fun.

Will SOOOO miss you too, my friend, but there's always Nashville 2016 ... which is the next year I will attending, so PLEASE come to that if you can. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Starlight Starbright said...

This was so encouraging to read and I love your books :) i experienced a CPR moment when I moved to a new church after problems with my previous one. This new church has become my family and everyone is friendly :)

Julie Lessman said...

LYNDEE SAID: "Such a blessing to have scripture flow when you need it

OH, AMEN, my friend, and SUCH a blessing to have a God like we do!!

Hugs and Good Luck!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LYNDEE SAID: "Such a blessing to have scripture flow when you need it

OH, AMEN, my friend, and SUCH a blessing to have a God like we do!!

Hugs and Good Luck!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CRYSTAL SAID: "It is oddly comforting to know that so many of you who have "arrived" suffered through those feelings of discouragement and even envy."

Oh, Crystal, absolutely -- this why posts like this are soooo important to me, to let you and everyone else know that you are NOT alone and to share the comfort God gave each of us during the rough times. And STILL gives to each of us when we need it, published or non, because the truth is we will ALWAYS need it because we will ALWAYS need him.

And, WHOO-HOO, girl, I am soooo glad you are taking the leap of faith and attending this year. I am going to pray for you RIGHT NOW that you have the time of your life and meet friends that you will have for the rest of your life.

And what do you mean you don't know anyone??? You know us, right? So you MUST come down to the lobby bar after 9:00 PM because the Seekers and our Seeker friends (of which you are one!) always meet and chat and hang out. I will be there Thurs. and Fri., and the other Seekers will be there Sat. as well, so do come by and introduce yourself, okay?

And if you have ANY moments of loneliness or despair any time during the conference, I will be writing/meeting with friends in the lobby or Starbucks at various times on Thursday and Friday, so check out my pic on this blog and look for me, okay? I'll pray with you and introduce you to people, capiche?

Repeat after me -- you are NOT alone on this trip -- you have God and you have us. :)

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

K.L.!!! What a great story, my friend, and I predict (and pray) that there will be ever greater stories for you this conference, okay?

And what do you mean you hope you run into me -- OF COURSE you WILL run into me if you come to the lobby bar after 9:00 PM on Thursday or Friday and hang out with me and all the other Seekers and Seeker friends, so DO come by and introduce yourself, okay?

Hugs and Happy Conference!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, JAN -- LOVE your God moment, my friend because honestly, is there any better combination than God and Mary Connealy??? Who, actually, is a wee bit like God around Seekerville with the all books she's turned out, and Ruthy is hot on her heels, so we'll make her St. Peter ... ;)

And I am SOOO looking forward to seeing you, too, my friend, so PLEASE look for me after 9:00 PM in the lobby bar when all the Seekers meet because I want to hear an update on you know what! ;) But try to make it either Thurs. or Fri. as I won't be there on Sat. night when Tina wins a Carol. :(

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

OH. MY. GOODNESS, PATTI JO!!! I gotta tell you that YOUR story gave ME tears, my friend!! I swear YOU get the prize for the best God story so far, so do you have a Kindle and have you read A Light in the Window and the the Daughters of Boston series yet? Because if you haven't, I will buy you one of those ebooks, okay?

And I have to jump on the bandwagon and say that Tamera Alexander is one of the sweetest and classiest ladies I have ever met in this line of work -- a true gem!

And PLEASE tell me you will be at ACFW this year, too, my friend, because I SO want to give you a hug!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, SUZI-Q ... LOVE your CPR story, too, and I'm thrilled to hear how God brought SO much good out of it -- that's so like Him, isn't it???

And, YES, the prayer room is SUCH a blessing, so I highly encourage a visit there as well -- GREAT suggestion, Sue!!

And, gosh, I just hope I recognize you this year, Sue! I remember one year (was it last year or the year before?) where I met you but didn't recognize you because you looked SO much younger than your picture to me, which doesn't look old, trust me, but you just looked so much younger!! :) So, YES, I will be looking for you, but I hope you do come by the lobby bar to hang out with the Seekers after 9:00 PM, okay?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, JANET -- yeah, I can be a stinker, BIG SURPRISE, eh??

One thing I will promise you, Janet -- I will ALWAYS give you a happy ending, no matter what because frankly, I think there are enough tears and sadness in the world, you know?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHERRI!!! WOW, girlfriend, that was a God moment for sure because that doesn't usually happen without a little Holy Spirit oil greasing the fast track, you know??

It doesn't sound like you are going to ACFW this year, but if you are, PLEASE come by the lobby bar to say high after 9:00 PM on Thurs. or Fri. so I can give you a hug, okay?

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VICKI, YES!!! DO check into the scholarships because they give out several, I believe, so why not take advantage, right? Then if God wants you to go, YOU WILL get that scholarship, girl, or He will provide some other way. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. :)

Hugs and hope to see you at ACFW one of these years, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

CAROL SAID: "I FINALLY got my chance to sit between Mary and Julie [I've been wanting that spot for YEARS you know ;)] and it was all I could do to not puke. I even went to dry heave a bit."

Mmm ... now why does this make me feel bad, like sitting with Mary and me made you puke ... ??? ;)

I am SOOOOO freakin' thrilled for you, CAROL, signing with Tamela -- you go, girl!!

Can't wait to see you!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MARY SAID: "Julie you said your hair stylist was your target audience.

Only maybe it wasn't your hair stylist. But you were talking about women who trusted God in many aspects of their life but still were sexually active outside marriage and didn't want to read Christian fiction even though they were Christians."

Oh, THANK GOD!! I was worried I said something embarrassing, which I'm prone to do. :) But, yes, that was the market I was shooting for. Problem is ... they don't generally shop in the Inspy section, I've discovered. ;)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

VICKI!!! Love that story about your beloved aunt -- thank you SO much for sharing it with us, my friend.

Especially love the part that said: "Then God spoke to her & told her it was better to receive rejections than to not have tried at all--so she continued. Very soon after this (I think the next submission after this incident), one of her short stories was accepted for a Llama magazine."

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!! Your aunt sounds like she was a wonderful lady, and I can't imagine all the fun things she has yet to say to you in the margins! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, Deb! Somehow I always feel compelled to retell it every time ACFW rolls around again. :) Probably because it's such a great memory for me.

Hugs!!
Julie

Missy Tippens said...

Julie, that is such a sweet story that brought tears to my eyes once again. I'm so glad you shared it again.

Nashville (was it 2005, someone said?) was my first conference, and I was a nervous wreck. But I'm pretty sure I met Mary and Cara for the first time at that conference. And maybe others?? The conferences have blurred together from that long ago. :)

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, JENNIFER, I'm so proud of you for appreciating the Highlights conference despite your feelings of loneliness -- you were way ahead of me there, girlfriend. :)

Here's hoping I get to see you (and give you a hug) at a future ACFW conference!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

S. TRIETSCH ... that's the spirit, girl -- planning for the future! Good job and here's hoping I get to see you at one of those ACFW future conferences, okay?

Hugs till then ...
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Gosh, CARA, I do think I remember you saying that you were there, too, and GOSH, how I wish I had met you back then (and Myra too!). But at least we met, so PRAISE GOD for that, right?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MEGHAN, you are MORE than welcome, my friend, and HOW FUN that you and Crystal can plan to meet now and do meals together -- that ROCKS!!

And then, of course, you BOTH need to come to the lobby bar after 9:00 PM to hang out with the Seekers and other Seeker friends, okay?

Hugs and see you there!

Julie

Julie Lessman said...

YAY, MARK!! Soooo glad you are going to "seek" us out, my friend -- we have a lot of fun hanging out together. :)

And you know what, there are A LOT more guys who go than there used to be, and they tend to stick together, so you should have a built-in circle of friends in no time!

See you there!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

PAT!!! I am SO proud of you for asking Santa (how cute is that!!) to bring you a conference, and YAY ... you will have a blast, I promise. ESPECIALLY if you connect ahead of time (like now) with friends you know who are going. Arranging for a support team onsite really helps, and then, of course, the Seekers will be there, too, in the lobby bar after 9:00 PM. So you have NO excuse to be alone or be scared, got it? ;)

I won't be going next year, but I hope you'll also shoot to go to Nashville in 2016, because I WILL be going to that one.

Till then ... HUGS!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

SHANNON!!! WOW, our stories are SO similar, my friend -- gives me goosebumps! And I'm smiling at the idea of taking the publishing world by storm. That must go with the territory, I guess, because I felt that way, too (more after I got published instead of before, but same rude awakenings! ;)

And, YES, the Prayer Room IS a fabulous place, and Brandilyn is a true prayer warrior.

I would love to meet you, Shannon, if you are going to be at ACFW this year, so I hope you come by the lobby bar after 9:00 PM on Thurs. or Friday to hang out with the Seekers if you get a chance, okay?

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

RUTHY, we are SOOO going to miss you this year, my friend, but we have plenty of years left to hang in the lobby, I hope!

And, LOL, I do remember how NK intimidated you, but she's something special, isn't she? The best agent a gal could have, so we are BLESSED big time!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

DIANA!!! Oh, AMEN to that, my sweet friend. Your sweet smile, kind eyes, and tender personality was JUST what I needed, and I will be forever grateful to God for what He did that year in bringing us together.

And I presume you are going this year, I hope? If so, we need to meet, okay?

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

STARLIGHT, STAR BRIGHT!!! Sooooo great to see you again, girl, and I am THRILLED to hear what a blessing your new church is -- God is SOOO good, isn't He???

Hugs!!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

MISSY ... some of our best memories are meeting the Seekers for the first time, aren't they? Soooo glad we ALL got together in Denver -- that was THE BEST!!

Hugs,
Julie

Walt Mussell said...

One of my favorite conference memories involves an editor I met. The editor knew that I had nothing for her and knew that I realized that as well. So, before my meeting, she came over to me and allowed me to rehearse my pitch with her, just to help me.

I saw the editor again at Nationals last year. This is the only editor that's ever hugged me.

bonton said...

Julie - I loved hearing this story again, and I also enjoyed reading the experiences of other ACFW attendees. Although I'm not a writer - the moral of your story, for me, is to trust God for guidance - then don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to others. He is the Master at unexpected story endings that only He could write. Reaching out to others blesses both the giver and receiver - one may never know the heartache behind another's smile.

I've never been to ACFW, but feel there is much truth in your comment that social media has improved the comfort level for many first time ACFW attendees. Every Christian fiction author/writer I have met, both online, and in person, has been so incredibly loving, sincere, down-to-earth, and inspiring to me as a reader. I feel sure meeting them at ACFW would be just as memorable/enjoyable. I am so thankful for the blessings I've received from the reading of Christian fiction - your experiences at ACFW, Julie, are an example of the humbleness God uses in Christian fiction authors to bleed through the pages of their books to inspire their readers.

Two comments in this post spoke volumes to me - (1) Vince's comment: "to write such passion you have to be able to feel such passion". Amen!! Julie, that passion is not only your passion for writing but your passion for God and it shines so brightly!! (2) Your comment:"True success in life comes from living for Him in everything we do". If we're living for Him, we have assurance that we're in the place we need to be at the time we need to be there, and God writes the happy ending for each experience - even loneliness and nervousness at ACFW.

Julie - thank you for your transparency, love and encouragement to others, and the God-given gift of your beautifully inspiring books!!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, WALT, that is such a great story, and what a great editor! Come to think of it, no editor has ever hugged me, except my own, and that's probably because I'm a huggy type, so I bear-hugged her first, so what could she do?? Mmmm ... come to think of it, I think my edits were particularly bad after that ... ;)

Would love to meet you someday, Walt, so give some thought to ACFW one of these years, okay?

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

BONNIE!!! Oh, girl, you have SUCH a gift for encouragement, my friend AND for writing, as evident from these sentences, for example: "He is the Master at unexpected story endings that only He could write. Reaching out to others blesses both the giver and receiver - one may never know the heartache behind another's smile."

I honestly don't think you are aware of just how good you are at communication, Bonnie, and I continue to encourage you to give it a shot. Be it a journal, an article (like the one you did for that blog) or a short story, you are just too good to waste, my friend. :)

Love you!
Julie

Mary Preston said...

Very interesting thank you.

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks, MARY, for coming by! Here's hoping it nets you a win, my friend!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, SHERRI, that definitely IS a God moment, my friend, because it usually doesn't happen that fast and easy, so there had to be some Holy Spirit oil greasing that fast track, girl! ;)

It doesn't sound like you are going to ACFW this year, but if you are, PLEASE come to the lobby bar after 9:00 PM either Thursday or Friday so I can meet you and give you a hug, okay?

Hugs!
Julie

CatMom said...

Awww....THANK YOU, sweet Julie!
YES!! I will be at ACFW and will be ready to give you a big southern hug! ;)
Sadly, I do not have a Kindle (or any e-reader---guess I'm old-fashioned, LOL) but what a kind thought---thank you anyway!
Looking forward to seeing you and other Seekers and Villagers SOON!
Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Patti Jo, well then you can have your choice of A Love Surrendered (audio or paperback) or Dare to Love Again, because those are the books I have extras of, and I will be happy to bring you one at ACFW, so let me know, okay?

Hugs!!
Julie

bonton said...

Thank you, Julie - beautiful compliments from one whose writing I love and respect so highly!! Love you!!

Micaela Wood said...

What a sweet story, Julie! I've never been to a writer's conference before,, but I hope to someday soon, and reading through these comments has been so encouraging....great advice here :)

~Micaela

www.micaela419.wordpress.com

Janka H. said...

Julie, love you right back !

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, BONNIE, right back at you, my friend. :)

And you did get my email with the novella, right?

Hugs!
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

HEY, MICAELA, I sure hope you do, my friend, because you will love it. And ACFW is absolutely one of the best, if not THE BEST out there! :)

Hugs and good luck!
Julie

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Wow, Julie. Thanks so much for sharing. I loved your story... It made me tear up. :)

I don't have any conference stories, but I just registered for my first writer's conference (Gulf Coast Writer's Conference) that takes place on September 20th. I'm excited to learn all that I can, but a little nervous. And my hubby, God bless him, is coming with me to keep me company, take notes, etc. :)

Linnette R Mullin said...

Wow, Julie! Isn't God awesome?!!!

I attended a conference last February (Bootcamp) totally unsure of why I was going. I needed something, but I didn't know what. God showed me through many encounters with various writers that we most often receive by giving to others. God allowed me to minister to others at the conference which in turn ministered to me. I had reached a point to where I felt pretty useless. God showed me that though he doesn't need me, he wants to use me.

He also gave me new friends who I am so grateful to have met!!! One being Edie Melson who talked me into entering the SELAH awards and low and behold I won for Fiction Suspense!!! Crazy, right??? And then there's the beautifully sweet Ann Tatlock who celebrated with me in a way that will be embedded on my heart forever! Cindy Sproles and her prayers! I could name so many more, but I'm so thankful that God sent me to Bootcamp to show me that he does want to use me. It was truly a healing weekend for me. Or at least the start of healing. God is so awesome!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, ANNA, I am sooooo excited for you, especially since your hubby will be going with you -- smart move!!

You will have a blast, my friend, and hopefully you have friends who are going, yes? With the way we all connect online today, it really helps, which is something I didn't have back in 2003.

I'm saying one RIGHT NOW that you have the time of your life and God blesses you abundantly!!

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, LINNETTE, I am sooooo thrilled for you -- what a total blessing that boot camp turned out to be!! When God knits us together with like-minded friends who are also prayer warriors, that is THE BEST!!

Looking forward to giving you a giant hug at ACFW, so see you after 9:00 PM, okay?

Hugs!!
Julie