by Felicia Bridges @FBridges272
Seven years ago, I stood in the check-in line in Pritchell Hall at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for the first time. My first writers conference, it was also the first time I took a step of faith to follow the calling God placed in my heart many years before.
I’ve returned as often as I could, attending as many workshops as I could squeeze in, signing up for critiques, and summoning every ounce of courage to enter contests. After five years, I took the leap of faith to hit “send” on a proposal I’d been working on for all those years.
This year, I’m returning to Blue Ridge for the first time as a published novelist. Those words still catch me off guard. Who, me? Yes. A published novelist with two books available now, and four more in the series under contract. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!
When it occurred to me that this will be my first Blue Ridge Conference after being published, I considered how it might be different this year. What are my goals for the conference? What might I do differently this year? Here are a few ideas for conferees who are now published:
- Remember that there is still more to learn! Just as with our sanctification, our journey as an author never ends. We don’t “arrive” and sit back and watch the royalties roll in. Instead, we continue to pursue the latest story that has captured our imagination, to improve our writing, to expand our vision, and to exercise our creativity.
- Remember all the folks who helped along the way! One of the most wonderful things I discovered in 2010 at Blue Ridge was the family of writers. From the Director to the faculty to the first-time attendee – there is an instant bond of common purpose: to use the gift God has given us to honor and glorify God. I am looking forward to extending a very heartfelt “thank you” to more people than I can count for the critical role they have played in my journey.
- Remember to pay it forward! Thinking of all those who encouraged, critiqued, prayed with and for me, held me accountable, listened to me babble over lunch…well, it reminds me that there will be a group of first-timers this year, and I get to be that welcoming smile, that patient ear, that encouraging voice. What a blessing it will be to pour out on others the love that so many poured out on me.
For those attending Blue Ridge for the first time or the tenth time who are still praying, hoping, and working toward their first contract, here are a few tips for moving from aspiring author to published author:
- Make the most of your time at conference! For many, especially those who are introverted, conference can be overwhelming. It can be tempting to retire to your room, go to bed early, or just spend the evening reviewing all that you’ve learned. Don’t. Spend every moment you can building relationships and absorbing the knowledge and experience of veterans.
- Apply the knowledge you gain at conference! When you get home, listen to the audio recording of the sessions you missed (you’re going to order the audio, right?), read through the notes you took in the workshops you attended, and review and edit your manuscript based on what you’ve learned. Set a deadline to do this to ensure the information is still fresh in mind.
- Join the 30%! You will hear the statistic that 70% of conferees never submit the manuscript, proposal, or article that was requested at conference. I know, because for five years, I was part of the 70%. If an agent, editor, or publisher asks you to see your work, they aren’t just being kind, they want to see it. You can’t get published if you don’t submit, so make those edits, pray over every step, and then hit send.
God’s Word tell us that He is able to “do far more abundantly than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). I can’t wait to see how He will accomplish this promise in your life. See you at Blue Ridge!
Felicia Bridges began her adventurous life as an Army brat, living in eight states and two foreign countries by the age of fifteen. Her nomadic childhood inspired novels which reflect God’s power in the lives of His children and inspire others to follow Christ with child-like abandon. Both CzechMate and BoliviaKnight in her International Mission Force series have won awards at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Felicia’s non-fiction short stories have been included in Then Along Came an Angel, Messengers of Deliverance and God’s Provision in Tough Times.
Felicia is the rare extroverted writer. She enjoys meeting new people and loves sharing stories of her adventures following God, whether it is with a new acquaintance in line at the grocery store or an audience of hundreds. Her passion for missions, parenting, and seeking God first are contagious.
You can reach her at FeliciaBowenBridges@gmail.com