I just got home from a trip to Orlando, Florida, where I attended two publishing events:
1. The ChiLibris retreat, where published novelists gather to talk, learn, and enjoy being surrounded by a host of others who are equally crazy
2. ICRS, the Internation Christian Retailers' Show, which is the trade show for the Christian market.
The ChiLibris retreat was, as always, informative and as fun as a barrel of Siberian husky pups! There were around 70 of us there. I flew out a day early, as I usually do when flying coast to coast. Good thing, too, since I ended up with TEN HOURS of delays. Rather than arriving at 4 p.m. as my itinerary stated, I finally got to the hotel at 4:30 a.m. AAHHHH! Happily, I was able to sleep in, since the retreat didn't start until dinner on Thursday.
My roomie, marvelous mystery writer Gayle Roper, showed up around 3 pm, and that gave us a chance to get caught up before the gang streamed in. I gotta tell you, when the hour approached for folks to arrive, I was wide awake and so excited to see friends I was almost dancing. There are few things I enjoy as much as this retreat, especially when everyone first arrives. It's such fun to see the hotel lobby crammed with published novelists--and believe me, the chatter meter went off the charts as more and more of us arrived. When Gayle and I arrived in the lobby, some of my first hugs came from Terri Blackstock, Angela Hunt, Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, and Susan May Warren (whose personality is so like mine that I've decided she must be my long-lost twin! Okay, a cuter, younger, slimmer twin...but still!) Before long we got more hugs as we were joined by Francine Rivers, Jane Kirkpatrick, Wanda Dyson, James Scott Bell, Brandilyn Collins, DiAnn Mills, Mindy Starns Clark, Randy Alcorn, Dave & Neta Jackson, Deb Raney, Tammy Alexander...and on and on the list goes.
Our retreat was a wonderful blend of singing, worship, and talking through all the crazy aspects of this publishing world and living a life of faith. We tackled tough issues (e.g., Why is it so much harder these days to get published?, What will happen if we lose the Christian retailers?, How can we keep creativity alive when faced with looming deadines?), and spent time just talking and laughing together. One evening Randy Alcorn, Susie Warren, Angie Hunt and I discussed the source of evil. As in, where does it come from. The depth of wisdom from those friends was invaluable, and helped me find an answer that finally made sense to this argumentative brain of mine.
Then there was the fun night on Friday, when we broke into teams and ran around the hotel taking creative pictures to represent the book titles of those attending. Can you guess what 6 out of the 9 teams came up with for my book title, What Lies Within? Little boats or toys or plastic people floating in the toilet. Siiiiggghhhh... Our team was more creative, thanks to Marlo Schalesky, who is pregnant. We all pointed at her belly! Now isn't that better than a paper boat floating in a toilet?
Anyway, it was a truly enjoyable few days, and the perfect prelude to the nonstop pace of ICRS, which I'll tell you about next time! And I'll post some pix for you to enjoy, too. As soon as I find my camera, which is still buried in the suitcase I haven't had time to unpack.