Day Six – Monday, April 6

You guessed it. A huge (I mean, really, really GIGANTIC) spider is lurking in the shower at 5:45am, and since I’m first up, I get to dispatch it. Of course I don’t see it hiding behind my roommate’s shower puff until I’m ready to step IN the shower. Quick-dress-dash-out-grab-WMD (a cup of water and a shoe; I know what I’m doing here)-say-to-startled-roommate- “there’s-a-giant-spider-in-the-shower” -then-go-for-the-kill.

Why do I always miss on the first blow?

I dispose of the body. Shudder. I hate spiders.

With my adrenaline pumping from the kill, I decide not to linger over getting ready this morning. The weather has been perfect–cold nights, sunny days that warm enough to peel off the jacket by lunchtime, hardly a cloud in the sky. Remembering that I have a blog, and that photos are good things, and that this weather is supposed to change on us any time now, I kick it into gear and head out with my camera before the sun has quite topped the trees, and anyone who is up and about is either huddled in the warm Central Lounge with a laptop…

Central Lounge
… or hurrying back to their lodges with steaming cups of coffee. While my hands go gradually numb with the cold, I take photos of the beautiful spring grounds.

On to breakfast, then another great Morning Track class with Davis Bunn. Lunch. Duck into Hospitality to buy the class CDs. Two afternoon workshops (one in which we break down the success of three books/series: Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Shack). An editor panel. Then on to our final dinner of the conference.

At each lunch and dinner this week–have I mentioned this already?–each staff member (editor, agent, teacher) is assigned a table. The tables are round, and seat 8. This is a great time for talking with these folks, or pitching your project, whatever. I decide, because she’s witty and I think would make for a great dinner companion, to sit at Agent #5’s table. Turns out I’m right. And she’s a LOST fan, too. I’m in serious LOST withdrawal by now. Though I hadn’t planned on it, I also get a chance to mention Kindred, and am invited to submit a few chapters to her. I mean to mention the spider–since she had one in her room too–but totally forget as we break down the writing and story genius of LOST. Oh well. Spiders don’t make for great dinner conversation anyway.

Tonight, before Bill Butterworth’s keynote talk, is the awards ceremony. Writer of the Year is shared by two writers, Sharon Souza and Kathleen Popa, a very emotional moment, since I’m sitting near them and get to see their faces as they rise to receive their award. And winner of Zondervan’s First Novel Award is Susanne Lakin, who’s been a member of my Morning Track class, and says I look like Helen Hunt. Ha!

Congratulations, Sharon, Katy and Susanne! Also congratulations to Camille Eide, one of three finalist in the Zondervan contest. Huzzah! Huzzah!

Bill Butterworth talks about Being Balanced, and as an example uses a day in the life of Jesus, from Mark 6, in which he taught, interacted with people, and sought a time of privacy.

Tripod Principle for a balanced life:

1. tasks and attention — work the gifts God has given
2. connection — don’t neglect relationships; love one another
3. reflection — cultivate solitude with the Lord through scriptures and prayer

Gift + Diligence = Satisfaction

Day Seven, Tuesday, April 7

All good things must come to an end. The conference. The glorous weather, too. We awake to clouds, and by breakfast ’tis a wee saft rain falling, which turns to a downpour as I make my way to our final Morning Track class with Davis Bunn, in which we focus on Suspense and Tension and a balanced spiritual message (back to the classic storytelling vs. post modernism). I’m already looking forward to the CDs.

I’m a little sad to be leaving. The conference feels like family by now, but my brain is full. Can’t. Absorb. Any. More. Just. Now. And I have some revising to do on my first three chapters, before the following Monday, when I plan to send them to the agents who requested them.

I turn in my conference evaluation sheets (it’s all good), and head over to the Auditorium to sit with Marion Stroud for a closing keynote address by Bill Butterworth. Be Encouraged. Encouraging people dwell on internals over externals. Encouraging people dwell on grace over works. Encouraging people dwell on tomorrow over yesterday.


Afterward it’s back to our rooms to pack, since we four (me, Karen, Julee and Marion) are leaving before lunch, so we can drop Marion off at the San Francisco airport, for her flight back across “the pond.” It’s been delightful getting to know Marion, and she gifts me with one of her books in parting.

Then it’s me, Julee and Karen, off across the Golden Gate Bridge, toward Santa Rosa, to visit Francine Rivers for a couple of nights. We relax, watch movies, eat pizza (talk more writing of course), and recover enough to make the final long drive home to Oregon.

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