The FaithWriters' Conference , Livonia, MI 2007
by Shari Armstrong
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(A rambling reflection on the first FaithWriters' Writing Confernce, Livonia, 2007 - please forgive any typos, grammar and other boo boos.... :) )
For those who didn't get to the FaithWriters' Conference, please make plans to join us next year (in Tennessee - Aug 8-9th). You won't regret it!
I've been to conventions, national and regional things for groups in college, but NOTHING compares to the FW Conference. It was like a family reunion that also happens to be a tax write off (for those of us blessed to get paid for our writing). I have to admit to looking forward to this from the minute it was announced, paid my registration back in December and then started putting money back for my other expenses, when I could.
However, money was tight and I had to use most of what I'd set back on bills. I almost decided to not go, when Frank reminded me, "Aren't you giving someone a ride?" Yup -I sure was. I had made the offer to Wren to pick her up at the Akron/Canton airport (and a couple other people, but they already had tickets) to save her some money, and for me to have someone to make the three hour drive with me. So, I think it was God's way of making sure I didn't back out and trust Him. Long story short - God provided ALL my financial needs and then some in some surprising ways - having me near tears more than once.
Now, on to the writing portion of our show ..... The workshops were originally planned to be three sets of three, choosing one from each set. With the change in the set up, we were able to attend ALL the offered workshops (adjusted from the original schedule somewhat) as a group.
-We had Sally Stuart of "Christian Writers' Market Guide" and much more - she spoke on market trends and how to write the "Perfect Query Letter" in two sessions - such WONDERFUL information.... if you are serious about getting published as a Christian Writer -you MUST get her guide....
-Rev. James Snyder - he spoke on how to write humor (and had us near tears from laughter)
- FW's own Deb Porter flew all the way from Australia to be with us and was SUCH a blessing (to me personally, which I'll talk about further down) and spoke on "Are You Ready to be Published" and of course was so helpful and encouraging -as if we'd expect less from our dear Deb!
- Cori Smelker spoke on Freelancing (this woman is my hero -more than just in writing -she's an amazing blessing). She compared our promoting ourselves to hunting - the Fox vs the Spider -the Fox chases (and fails more often) and the Spider attracts (and has a higher success rate). I also felt like I was getting my own personal lecture when she began talking about avoiding business names like "On Eagles Wings" and having eagles on your site lol. Then she blew me away when she mentioned folks who had top hits with their names on Google -and mentioned mine!!! WOW!!!!! : )
- Dub made grammar fun -believe it or not LOL. His presentation about proper citation for scripture use was informative, and his slides of grammar boo boos were a riot. And we learned a little bit of history about the "Northern Aggression"
- David Ian - who would have thought that our "clown prince" ;) at FW could bring almost the entire room to tears talking about the heart and soul of FW -the forums. He really put it much better than I can retell, but it's true. If it weren't for the forums, FW wouldn't be the site that it is (and I wouldn't be writing). Then he made us all laugh during his presentation about Writing to be Performed" -just watch out for stray 2x4's :)
-Scott Lindsay -our "Founding Father" -it was so nice getting to know Scott. Even though I've e-mailed him about FW stuff now and then, never really got to know him.
What did all these have in common? All of these people are wonderfully talented writers, editors and more who give all the credit to God! It was mentioned that most writers write as an art... Christians write as a ministry. But we also have to hone our art... to present it in the best way possible.
Oh -and the sessions were recorded and it was a total God thing. Amy tells about it in her FW account... here... she tells it better than I... http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=67439
It was a total God thing!!!
FW has become such an important part of my life over the past two years, it's really hard to put into words.. ironic huh?
As was mentioned, it's like a family -and it is. I have brothers and sisters all over the world that connect through the FW forums. When many of us got to meet at the conference, it was an instant comfort level like I've never seen before (not counting when I met my husband LOL - which was also a total God thing.... anyway...)
When we weren't in workshops, we were sitting around talking and eating (especially Pup's fudge and Dub's cookies!) We had a pizza party. We sat around and talked more.... It was just such a great time of fellowship, love and laughter -and lots of pictures....
lots of which can be seen here: http://s186.photobucket.com/albums/x196/FW_Con_2007/
(if you took pictures at the Con and want to upload some, PM me and I'll get you the info)
But, there were times of tears as well -some from just heart touching moments of sharing during the sessions, sometimes from laughter. But, one time for me of personal heartache.
Before leaving for the conference, I had asked for prayer at the forums for my Dad's cousin, Carol, who'd had health problems and was in the hospital. When I left, things seemed hopeful, and she was improving. I found out Sunday morning, in the hotel lobby that Carol had gone Home (it was the first time all weekend I was able to actually access the internet for more than two seconds).
After asking the group for prayer, I tossed my keys to David I (I was giving him and another lady a ride to the airport later in the day) so I could go back to my room to cry and make some phone calls -as it was almost the end of check out time and the other friend hadn't arrived yet- but just did after I handed him the keys. I quickly told her what was going on and went back to my room. How many people do you "know" after a few days and just hand over your car keys? - thing is, I've known him for two years and he's a brother in Christ. THAT is what FW is - family.
I was able to call Grace, Carol's mother and talked with her awhile - Grace and her husband Earl (who's already Home) are adopted Grandparents for my sister and I -and they never had any biological grandchildren of their own. None of their three children had children. They shared their love with everyone they knew -the whole family - and the love of Jesus. While I was dealing with all of it, I heard a knock at the door - Deb had heard and came to pray with me. It was such a blessing and a help to have someone to just sit and pray for me, while I cried. By the time we were done, I was able to share some memories and laugh. I still was upset that I couldn't BE with my family, but God had family there to be their for me. Later, I was able to join the others, feeling a bit better and able to enjoy the rest of the weekend, before leaving the next morning.
And the Fun.... we had so much fun just hanging out, having fellowship. We had pizza, Pup's fudge, and Dub's cookies.... We had a movie party in our hotel room watching David Ian's video of Esther (which was AMAZING!!!! -even more so the 2nd time seeing it,with the writer/director in the room sharing behind the scenes tidbits).
We had time to just hang out with family, just realizing everyone was just as loving, caring and fun as they are on the forums.
IF you're not part of the FW family, consider checking us out :) If you are, and weren't at the Conference, consider joining us next year. You will be blessed in ways you can't even imagine... I'm still shaking my head in awe at all that God has done.
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Wow, reading this again... SO many typos LOL. Ugh! lol.
Loved your article, Shari. As a FW newbie, I found your pics of the conference great also. Feel like I know you all better. Glad to be part of the family.
You ALSO made me cry! What a family we have, eh? May have to do one of these myself in my copious free time. :)
Loved the blurbs about the workshops...and the whole thing! Can't wait until next year!!