Day: March 21, 2019

This past weekend I attended my first ever writers’ conference. #MSCWC was a huge blast in Collierville, Tennessee.

Friday

I was a bundle of nerves at first–no surprise there–but I am so deeply glad I didn’t let that stop me. I drove down on Friday after dropping the kids off at school, which left me a few hours to relax in my hotel. I’d brought my laptop and everything I would need to do a little writing on the WIP, but I was too keyed up to focus. So instead, I flipped on the TV and painted my nails.

Tim and Al from ABC's "Home Improvement"

(Funny side note: I couldn’t figure out how to change the channel. The hotel was undergoing renovation and the floor must have just been opened back up for guests, because the remote was still in plastic packaging with no batteries. I didn’t want to call the front desk to send someone up to program the remote {because Stranger Danger… I mean, honestly. Doesn’t that sound like the beginning of a horrible story Keith Morrison would narrate?} and there only seemed to be a single power button. When I turned it on, it was tuned to CMT. So I watched two and a half hours of that old Tim the Tool-Man Taylor show. And then when I was leaving the room and trying to figure out how to turn the television back off, I discovered that the single button controlled volume and channel, too. Ay yi yi.)

The Friday evening event was a meet & greet, and the whole way there I prayed that I’d meet at least one other person who was new and nervous so we could help each other out. And isn’t God good? That’s exactly what happened. I sat with a table of ladies and as we chatted, I hit it off with a new friend who writes cozy mystery!

Cake displaying "God's Plan, My Pen" at MidSouth Christian Writers' Conference

If I go back next year, I’ll know not to eat dinner right before the meet & greet, because they had a lovely spread of food (including this beautiful cake, which had a screenprint of the theme artwork by one of the board members) and I was too stuffed to eat a bite. I’ll also try to remember to take more photos! Afterward, I went back to my hotel for that rare luxury in a busy mom’s life: peace and quiet and a full night’s sleep.

Speaking of sleep: this was so amazing. Is this everywhere now, and I just need to travel more? The hotel had a white noise machine built right in on the nightstand. Genius–especially since there was a train track right by the hotel than runs, apparently, at 5:15 a.m. daily.

Saturday

Saturday morning I had just one objective: to locate a decent cup of coffee. (Hotel coffee is just always a letdown. Isn’t it?) Google came through when I asked it for “good coffee near me” with a recommendation for the Donut Hutt.

Do you even really have to ask if I got a donut? The coffee was amazing–apparently, they have their own roaster who makes them a signature blend! And they had a huge case full of fancy donuts, but I tried an original glazed and a long john and can vouch: they were excellent. If you’re in the Memphis area, jonesing for a java fix, head over to Donut Hutt.

Bag of donuts and cup of coffee beside an Erin Condren Life Planner.


Caffeinated and sugared-up, I was ready for the day. The conference is run so well and with so much kindness. I can’t say enough about how wonderful my experience was.

I met up with my new friend from the meet & greet, and we lined up together to sign up for one-on-one appointment. There was a bit of free time to mingle and chat, and then we heard Bob Hostetler‘s first keynote.

He was SO encouraging. I wish I could bottle up the effervescent feeling of sitting in a room full of writers, hearing someone urge us on to keep working, keep striving, keep our eye on the ball. (There were some baseball metaphors. I’m not a sports person, but I managed to keep up!)

Bob Hostetler gives the keynote address behind a clear lectern at the MidSouth Christian Writers' Conference.

Following the keynote, there were three breakout sessions with four offerings in each time slot. I attended an editing class called “Cut the Fluff,” by Shannon Vannatter, an author website class by Linda Fulkerson, and a craft class on “Creating Characters with Personality & Pizzazz” with Patricia Bradley and Johnnie Alexander. All three sessions were so helpful! I came away with notes and handouts and email follow-ups. It was really exciting to start brainstorming how to put their excellent advice to use on my current manuscript.

The final keynote was followed by a Q&A panel discussion with two agents, two publishers, and an editor. Attendees were given paper to submit anonymous questions, and the experts each weighed in. It was really helpful (again, I took tons of notes) and it was also very heartening to see their interactions on stage. It felt like a tiny peek behind the curtain. Yes, these folks act as gatekeepers in the industry. Yes, they have exacting standards and it can feel like a LOT of work to meet the requirements. But they’re also really kind, genuine, normal people who love great books and are happy to meet writers… even newbies like me.

If you’re looking for a conference & you live in driving distance from Memphis, I wholeheartedly recommend the Mid-South Christian Writers’ Conference. You can visit their blog all year long to get great encouragement and information, and sign up to be the first to hear their plans for next year’s speakers and presenters.

If you’ve ever been to a writers’ conference, what surprised you the most about it? Or if you’ve never been–what worries you the most about going to one? Drop me a comment below!

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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