Day One at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference

Alton Gansky drawing names for prizes. 
I'm doing a little something different this week. This is my first time attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers' Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. So, this week, I'm posting about my perception of the conference as a new attendee.

The conference is held at the Ridgecrest Center which is on hilly terrain. I didn't arrive early enough yesterday to get one of the prime parking spots so I'm getting in lots of much-needed exercise!

The staff here is fantastic. There are people all over campus eager to help. Somehow I keep getting lost and can't find my way to different buildings. Yes, I have a map. But unless it sports a "You are Here" circle, I can't figure out where I am! Thankfully, I'm staying in the same building where the meals are served.

The workshops have been great. Some of the awesome classes I had today:
"4 Characteristics of Best-Selling Children's Books" by agent Sally Apokedak,

"Start Making Money Now" by author Michelle Medlock Adams
"Write From Your Life" by actor Torry Martin, who was also our keynote speaker tonight.

I have been gleaning from editors and agents all day. Writers can set up 15-minute appointments with them throughout the conference. These are golden opportunities for writers. Even if you do not have a project to pitch, you will always gain helpful and encouraging insights.

Today I met with one editor and one social media expert. The time was well spent. Tomorrow, I plan to meet with an agent and another editor.

Another great thing is conferees are allowed to sit at the tables with all these agents, editors, and published authors during meal times. Sometimes the conversation is business, but also we hear their personal life experiences. It helps reduce stress during interviews later when they've just shared helpful hints at the dinner table on how to bathe cats, or kids, or whatever.

Keynote speaker, Torry Martin, was terrific tonight. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak or watch him on YouTube, do it. He generously shares his knowledge as well as his heart for the Lord.

One of the most awesome things about this conference is the Christian atmosphere. While we're all unique (or as Torry puts it "uniquely weird!"), we all have a heart for Christ. It is amazing to see how God brings people together. No meeting is by chance.

I've met lots of new people today. I haven't met anyone I didn't like. In fact, I think I met a woman today who will be my friend for a lifetime.