September 27, 2011

ACFW Conference: Moses Moments & Can I Get Used To A Built-In Starbucks?

I attended the 2011 American Christian Writer’s Conference in St. Louis, MO last week and experienced five full days of workshops, appointments with publishers, worship & keynote sessions, friends, and the faithfulness of Jesus. I will list the highlights in a sec, and there were s-e-v-e-r-a-l, but topping this trip was a Moses-style reminder that I serve a faithful God who has a perfect plan and is in complete control of our lives, our futures, and our heart’s desires.

I had a Moses epiphany. Not a splitting the Red Sea or a talking, burning bush, but a moment much like when Moses questioned the Lord about choosing a d-d-d-dork like him to be His spokesman. Moses knew his own weaknesses, his limitations. Now, this knowledge may have come from listening to the negative whisperings of an enemy trying to thwart the mighty work God wanted to do through Moses—makes sense, I guess—or it could have been simply his self-depreciating honesty. Or a combo of both (which can be a bit tricky to decipher, trust me). Did God choose Moses because of his velvety-smooth radio voice and Justin Bieber charisma? Or did God have a plan that included using a weak vessel in order to show His people His provision, power and glory?

(Still working on that one? Hint: they didn’t actually have radios in ancient Egypt.)

If I were as polished and articulate on the spot as I’d like to be, I might quickly forget how utterly wretched and lost we truly are on our own, how completely we depend on the Spirit of God at work in us to do anything. Not just do it right, but great. For Him. Not just when we can’t quite handle the situation without some help, but every moment. He’s the Vine, I am the branch. Apart from Him I can do nothing. So it’s probably a good thing I’m not super cool and charismatic under pressure, because the Lord came through faithfully and answered many prayers to give me confidence and clarity of thought when I needed it most. I was reminded again that when He plants a vision in our heart and soul, He provides the strength, the means, and the ability to carry it out. Brandilyn encouraged me to lay it all down and tell the Lord: I am Yours. This was a priceless lesson reaffirmed, worth the entire trip if I took NOTHING else away from the conference.

And yet I took home so much more.

In spite of the full schedule, I connected with friends from all over the world (waving to my super sweet friend Karen in Australia), and made a few new ones. I was encouraged and prayed over (and I am very grateful to Brandilyn Collins for her prayers and wise words even though she totally screwed up my makeup before an editor appointment by making me cry—what is she, the Barbara Walters of Christendom?? Thanks to this challenging/freeing prayer session, I was so plumfuzzled I couldn't get my room key to let me in so I could fix my makeup until I finally figured out with the help of another writer lady that I'd actually gotten off the elevator on the wrong FLOOR.)

I was also able to encourage and pray for others. I shared my most recent book-in-progress with strangers and saw the spark of recognition in eyes and hands on hearts telling me they were touched by what they heard. I spent time talking with an editor who has read some of my work and who went to astonishing lengths to make sure I knew how exceptional she thinks it is. I gave her a hug for that, but I really wanted to put her in my pocket and take her home with me. That was one of those air-stealing compliments you can’t discount or dismiss as merely gracious courtesy no matter how hard you try.

I had a full-blown blast with my dearest (and farthest!) friends at a cute little New Orleans style seafood place in St Louis. What a rare treat! I am reminded that life may not offer us another chance like that for a long time . . . if ever . . . and am grateful for the time spent in the company of such good friends.

My flight to and from St Louis coincided, coincidentally, with my agent’s flight, allowing me to spend some extra quality time with the amazing, rockin Rachelle Gardner, who was named ACFW’s 2011 Agent of the Year at the conference. Hanging out with her was an unexpected bonus! It gave me a chance to be even more honored and inspired by knowing I have someone of Rachelle’s caliber in my corner.

I was also able to get books signed by two of my fav Christian authors whose stories and styles both entertain and inspire me, another sweet deal of a treat.

You’d think I had my fill of treats after all this, but I was also extremely blessed and honored to come to the conference as a Genesis finalist. One of the many benefits of being a finalist, for me, was the chance to make two new friends and prayer partners, my co-finalists Sally Bradley and Karen Shravemade. Sally was not able to attend, but she continued to serve the conference with her faithful prayers. I was thrilled when I learned Karen could attend all the way from Australia. She was just as lovely, kind-hearted and fun as I’d expected. We were both stunned and pleased to find that being a finalist at the conference increased our opportunities to discuss our work with publishers and we were both invited to submit our entries for a look at possible publication.
This contest taught me to hope someone might actually like my work. I came grateful for that and continued to pray my daily prayer that the final win would go to the finalist who needed it the most. I trust the Lord to know what’s best, to see farther down the road than we can, and to know which of His kids needs a little extra favor in their corner.

That kid, this time, was me. I am honored to have won the 2011 Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction, (I'm right about the 32 minute mark on this video) especially knowing the gracious, talented company I shared. I believe God knows best and sees all the bumps and turns in the publishing roads ahead for me, Sally, and Karen. He gave each of us the heart’s desire to write and get our words out there for others, words to bring glory and honor to Jesus. He will make a way for each of us to fulfill those dreams, I have no doubt.

Now, to finish the book so we can send it to the houses who said they’d like to see it. Prayers much appreciated!


Jessica Nelson said...

Wooohoo! I'm so excited for you, Camille, and it was wonderful being able to meet you. One of my highlights was definitely hearing your Kline French imitation.

carla stewart said...

And this post is exactly why you were in the winner's circle, Camille. Profound, humble, and gracious. I was so proud of you and for you. You've gone up the mountain, and I can't wait to see where God leads you next. I'll be beside the road clapping for you.

Ginny Jaques said...

I watched your acceptance speech electronically, and one of the things I noticed was that, when you paused in what you were saying, you were thinking, and what you said afterwards was right on. After reading your post, I understand what was behind that thoughtful confidence. “…the Lord came through faithfully. . . to give me confidence and clarity of thought when I needed it most.” It was neat, because I was able to see that happening on your face.

Again, I am so, so pleased for you. Let me know when I can buy a copy of your first novel!!!

Sally Bradley said...

Love the way you prayed for the right person to win it, Camille! And for sure God answered. Thanks for sharing the highlights of the conference.

Beth K. Vogt said...

One of my highlights at ACFW: Meeting you. And yes, you had the best name tag of all the conference attendees. I do believe you've started a "Starbucks order" name tag trend.
I loved how your award speech turned the spotlight on others...

Melanie Dobson said...

So excited for you, Camille!!

Ann Shorey said...

Wonderful post, Camille. So glad I got to meet you at ACFW, and congratulations again on your award!

Southern-fried Fiction said...

So thrilled for you, Camille. You've worked long and hard for this moment. ENJOY it girl!!!

Camille Eide said...

Jessie - I would've LOVED to watch that flick with you, if only we'd had the time... You were one of my highlights!!

Thank you, Carla. I think humble and gracious is what rubs off from wise, dear friends. :-)

Ginny - thank you! The spotlight is definitely not my place, that was waaay out of my comfort zone. But then, if we were always comfortable, we might forget we are wholly dependent on our gracious Father, eh?

Sally - I so wish you could have been there. Praying God keeps steering you closer to your dream every day!!

Beth - ditto on meeting you. You know, the first person who saw that on my nametag frowned and made a face and said, "um, why do you have your Starbucks order on your name tag?" Not-so-morning-types must make due best we can.

Melanie - DOUBLE CONGRATS!!!!! We missed you, and I want you to know I screamed BOTH times they named you a CAROL WINNER!!!!! So excited for you! Hope your trip was fruitful!

Ann - Ditto on meeting you!

Ane - I don't know anyone who has worked harder than you have. So glad the Lord knows the absolute perfect timing. Can't WAIT to read those books of yours....

Miralee Ferrell said...

I'm so proud of you, Camille! Can't wait to hear you share in person at our next ACFW meeting. Warm hugs and many congrats!!

Mesu Andrews said...

So excited for you, dear one! What a joy to watch you climb those stairs and receive that well-deserved award! You are a joy and an inspiration. I pray the blessings just keep on comin'!

Beth Goddard said...

Great post, Camille! So glad to finally meet you in person. Congratulations again for you Genesis win. Looking forward to reading your published works in the very near future!


Sparrow said...

Congrats, Camille! Sounds like it was a wonderful time.

Oh, and getting off on the wrong floor is nothing. The first year I MCed a writing conference I got lost on the right floor... couldn't find my room. I haven't lived that one down yet.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Camille.
The Northwest rocks!

Christina Tarabochia said...

If you ever have the chance to read the chat transcript, you'll see that I was overjoyed for you and immediately plugged your novella as the best I ever read. :P

Heather Diane Tipton said...

You had a fabulous weekend by the sound of it! Congratulations again on your win!

It was great to get to know you a little bit and be a witness to some of your cool giddy moments. =)

Deborah Raney said...

Camille, congrats again! I'm so thrilled for you! It was great to see you in St. Louis, even if time was WAY too short!

Kathy Harris said...

Camille, it was great to meet you at conference. I'm thrilled for your win. Congrats!

Lynda Lee Schab said...

Camille, It was an honor to sit at your table during the banquet. Congrats on your win!

I had a similar "elevator" experience. I was talking to another writer and accidentally got off on her floor. Following her down the hall, I'm thinking, "Wow. Her room must be right next to mine." When she held her keycard up to "my" door, I realized I had the wrong floor. But how weird is it that she had the exact same room, one floor down. LoL

Cara Putman said...

so excited for you, Camille! Can't wait to see the book in print :-)

Carrie Turansky said...

Congratulations, Camille! It was great to see you at ACFW! I hope you do finish up your award winning manuscript and it finds a publishing home soon!



I've published five novels and 2 novellas (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have six (going on seven) grandkiddos. Decent trade, really.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.