The conference got off to a fabulous start with the early bird sessions. Allen Arnold (Thomas Nelson Fiction Publisher), Jennifer Deshler (Thomas Nelson Marketing Director) and David Uttely led the professional early bird. The discussion revolved around creating a brand through marketing, packaging, and knowing who we are and what we write. It was a lively session!
Then, over 100 writers came in for the general early bird session with Margie Lawson. Her Creating Character Emotion was packed with published and unpublished authors who left with all kinds of tools, tips, and ideas for kicking their writing up another level.
At 3:30, the opening session started with worship. If you haven't experienced it, just know that I would come for the worship alone. It is such a time to pull away and focus on God and His heart. That was followed by a crazy skit that introduced the operating board and advisory board. The actors nailed us! And had the audience laughing at their portrayals.
After a quick break, we launched into the agent and editor panels. New this year, look for video bites from them on the website. We'll update you as they are posted. The agents and editors are clamoring for stories that will move them. That are well written. And that have passion in them.
Then we had a sit-down dinner followed by James Scott Bell's opening keynote. He challenged us to 1) write books that are about something, 2) write from our passion, and 3) know our craft. The world is in need of authors who are writing about the reality of our world, but with that reality filtered through our passions. Think of the fellowship of the burning hearts. Our hearts should so burn with the passion that God has planted in each of us that it overflows into our writing.
The late night chats tonight were hosted by the different houses and agents. There's so much going on!