Best part of the conference for me: once again, seeing God's mercy in the prayer room. I saw Him lead prayers to target people's specific emotional, spiritual and physical issues. It was particularly gratifying to meet with folks with whom I'd prayed a year or more ago--and see how far they'd come in healing.
As to the rest of the conference, it was terrific. And lots of people! Total end count was somewhere around 517. I know the faces in the photo below are too small to see, but this is the editor panel. Look at how many! And this wasn't all editors in attendance. Numerous houses had more than one editor. We put only one per house on the panel, just so they'd fit on the stage. Participating in the panel: Allan Arnold, Beth Adams, Karen Ball, Sue Brower, Andrea Doering, Miranda Gardner, Rebecca Germany, Dave Lambert, Dave Long, Andy McGuire, Kim Moore, Emily Rodmell, Barbara Scott, Karen Watson, and Christine Whitaker.
Angie Hunt did a fabulous job as keynote speaker. It was so great to have her for the weekend.
The Mall of American signing was huge and loud, and a wonderful testament to Christian fiction. Panels onstage went continuously in two different rotundas. Photos of the authors looped on the huge jumbotrons. I served on a suspense panel with Angie Hunt, Karen Ball, and Jim Bell. That was the first panel, running half an hour, followed by many more representing other genres.
While I was standing at my table at the MOA signing, a young man walked by--didn't look much older than my son. He had hair down to his shoulders, with a floppy hat. He was browsing and picking up bookmarks. I said, "Hey, I love your hair. Come here, let me feel it." (I've always wished my own son would grow his hair long, but oh, no. He has to buzz his.) The young man smiled and obliged. I touched his hair and said, "Yeah, that's great hair." He smiled again. "Glad you like it." He stuck out his hand. "Nice to meet you. I'm Steve Mclellan. I own Shoutlife."
My eyes rounded. I turned into a total groupie. "You own Shoutlife? How way cool! Come around here, lemme get a picture with you."
We talked about Shoutlife some. What a heart for God this young man has. He mentioned that staff chooses an artist or author they'll feature on the site each month. (You can also pay for advertising.) I gave him a look. "I liked your hair before I knew who you were."
Turns out he, indeed, is going to feature me on the author's home page in October. I, in turn, want to help him reach new potential users for Shoutlife. He says the site now has 130,000 members. They've just added easy access for videos on your page. And they've had a new service for awhile now in which you can post where you are appearing--book signing, whatever--and that info is sent to people within a certain radius of the event. Nice feature. If you're not on Shoutlife (the Christian community/answer to Facebook), go to www.shoutlife.com and put up your page. You can join as a writer or musician, etc. or simply a person.
One more story, and I'll stop for the day. Sunday afternoon after the conference, I was whisked away to an absolutely beautiful Northwestern Christian bookstore for a personal signing. The gal who set it up had put out my books for days and done a nice poster. Twice she'd had to restock my books because they kept selling before the signing. She wanted me to have at least some to sell on that day. And she figured people who'd already bought would bring their books around to be signed. So there I was, standing behind my table, and a woman comes up with a bag full of books. "Oh, I just love your books! I've read everything you've written. I've brought a bunch for you to sign!" She reached in her bag and pulled out--a stack of Terri Blackstock titles.
Ah, me, gotta laugh. As it turned out, she'd actually read everything of mine, too, going all the way back to Cast a Road Before Me. But--wrong stack of books. "I thought you looked different," she said.
God has His ways of keeping us humble.