Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Epic Journey // What I Learned + Photo Dump

In case you missed it, I went on vacation!! By myself. For my birthday. It included attending the Oregon Christian Writers conference and meeting Ivy Rose and Emily McConnell. In short it. was. amazing.



I'll begin with some takeaways from the OCW conference, but then prepare yourselves for an photo dump :P The only other conference I've attended to compare to was a teeny tiny Texas one from last year (post here). But I think I can still confidently say that the OCW conference was one of the best ever.

Conference Lessons


1 // Age makes no difference. Just like the other teency conference I went to, there was basically no one else my age! (Except for the awesome 3 girls that I went with this time.) There were only a handful of people under 40, and most were over 50. Which is actually really cool if you think about it. Lots of them are just as new to writing as I am. How neat is that? Your age doesn't make any difference. It's never too late to start.

2 // Even famous people are people. Yep. They still get excited to hear you've read their books. They still need coffee to survive a four day conference. And they still get nervous and make mistakes. They're human! Which I find super comforting. Were famous people like Jill Williamson and Frank Peretti really cool in person?? Of course! BUT they don't live on a pedestal; we put them there.

3 // Writers are never alone. We may do most of our work alone, and even prefer being alone sometimes (most of us are introverts, okay?). But we really aren't alone. There were so many people that I brushed shoulders with at the conference who were genuinely interested in what I was doing. Quite a few of them were even doing something similar. Don't underestimate the power of community.

4 // Christian is more than a label. I admit that I wasn't sure I wanted to go to a "Christian" conference. What does that even mean, anyway? No one will be selling erotica? That's a bonus, but let's just say, I wanted to go to the best. And if the best wasn't exclusively Christian, then I was okay with that. BUT NO. This conference was so much more than Christian. It was godly. It was like church where you learn about writing. I'm not kidding. It was more than the Sunday School rhetoric, because everyone there was pursuing God and representing Him in their writing. Can there really be a greater calling?

5 // Writing starts with us. You're thinking "duh." Hear me out on this one. Something that really came home to me when taking Tessa Afshar's class called "Weaving Spiritual Themes into Your Book," was that I can't write what I know until I know something. If our goal as Christian writers is to connect people with truth and show them a glimpse of God, then shouldn't we be able to perceive that in ourselves first? The emotional connection people make to stories is often because it identifies something inside of them that they can't identify. Until I get to know the way I work, I won't be able to lay a finger on how anyone else works.

6 // God has to be for it. Something else I realized while at the conference was that if I'm writing for God, I'd better be including Him in the process. And I mean really including Him. I think the reason Martin Hospitality has been as successful as it has been is because God was behind it. That's why I was able to finish it and somehow get the messages I wanted to share (and even some I had nothing to do with) into that book. That is not happening with it's sequel. At all. The only thing I can conclude after several months of plodding along and literally getting nowhere is that God is not for it right now. He will be eventually, I hope. But for now, I'm going to set Martin Crossroads aside.

Obviously, my head is still swimming with everything I learned at the conference. It was an overall phenomenal experience, and I am definitely interested in attending again, even if it is in Portland.

Famous People


I met some famous people at the conference!!




Not pictured: Jeff Gerke, Traci Hilton, + April McGowan

All these people were so awesome and fun to talk to!! Like I said, they were surprisingly normal and easy to talk to ... not to mention eager to make new friends! So fun ^.^

Travel Photos




Nothing about the conference or all the traveling it took me to get there would have been half as fun without the young ladies I went with! Forget about going back to Washington and Oregon for the conference! I'm going back just to see them again!! :D

((all photos with people in them were taken by Ivy))

Mountains on the way to Spokane
Driving to Portland -- our most energetic morning for sure
Mountains. Mountains everywhere :D
One of the first things we did? Skip out on the agents' panel
Taking notes in Tessa's coaching class
Ivy joined my morning class ;)
The hotel had really good coffee!!
Lunch at IKEA
Gotta love the trees headed west
Lincoln City Beach with Emily
Literally the only seaweed on the entire beach
So windy and SO COLD
Starbucks for the drive home of course
Happy birthday to Megan!
No trip is complete without a bookstore
Name inspiration at a cemetery with Ivy!

Unpictured Adventures


  • eating mango on the back of a car
  • eating waaay too much candy
  • trying Chicharrones and Mountain Dew
  • watching the eclipse with Ivy's family
  • watching the 2008 BBC Sense and Sensibility with Ivy
  • staying up late in the Bakers' alcove
  • cooler weather!!!!
  • successfully surviving airports by myself
  • having mothers matchmake -_-
  • TALKING TO AN AGENT
  • mentor session with April McGowan
  • brainstorming with Ivy
  • praying together every morning as we got in the car
  • and every moment in between :)
Does that not look like an amazing trip?! What writer conferences have you enjoyed? Have you met any of your writing friends or famous authors?



43 comments:

  1. I really like your fifth point, that we can't write what we don't know. One reason I think it's so important for us as writers to keep learning and studying!
    Looks like ya'll had a lot of fun. I haven't been to a writing conference yet, but it's something I'd like to do soon.

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    1. Thanks :) Yes, I don't think we ever should (or really can) stop learning, and I definitely took a lot away from this conference. Finding the right one is the tricky part ... but they're worth doing! The connections you can make are the added layer that book-studying can't give you ;)

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  2. This looks like it was super fun! Congrats, and I'm sorry to hear that Martin Crossroads won't be coming for a while. But I definitely understand!

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    1. Oh my goodness, it was! I know, I feel really bad throwing it under the bus D: It just really isn't coming together, which I kept blaming on me. But I finally understand that it's not meant to be right now. Someday though, hopefully before too long! :)

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  3. This looks like such an amazing experience!!! I definitely want to go to a writing conference one day. :)

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    1. It was phenomenal! Yes, you must! If you can find a good one, they are SO worth it. Connections, learning, new friends ... it's pretty great!

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  4. Abi it was such a pleasure to meet you. I have enjoyed your books and look forward to many more from you. You are an amazing young woman who obviously loves her God. I so look forward to visiting with you again. May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family. Ya-Yah

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    1. Aw, thank you! I really enjoyed meeting you as well. I had a fantastic time, so hopefully I'll be back before too long! :) And I love hearing from people who have enjoyed my books in person, so thank you so much for sharing your enthusiasm with me! God bless you as well! <3

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  5. Love all of your pictures! Glad that our had a good time. =D

    And.. YOU MET FRANK PERETTI. *faints*

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    1. I KNOW!!! It was kind of surreal, and he had the craziest, most easy-to-talk-to personality ever xP Now I need to finish one of his books!

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  6. I really wanted to go to this conference! Hopefully I can make it next year. I've been to the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference, and I've always left with lots and lots of notes and new friendships.

    I may be slightly jealous that you got to meet Frank Peretti. :)

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    1. It's definitely a keeper! I don't know how much the speakers appeal to me, so I may skip a year before going again. Or it may be absolutely awesome, even still! I'll have to wait and see what other workshops line up. I'm glad to hear of another good conference the SoCal and ACFW ones interest me as well. It just wasn't good timing for those this year ;)

      Yeeeaahh, he was awesome, and I haven't even finished one of his books yet. Such a character xD

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  7. It looks like you had so much fun! So glad that God blessed you through it.

    ~ Abby {novelsdragonsandwardrobedoors.blogspot.com}

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  8. This looks like such a fun trip. I'm glad you learned so many wonderful things, and thanks for taking the time to share them with us. ;)

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    1. Also, my friend let me borrow her copy of Martin Hospitality and I LOVE IT!!

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    2. Of course!! It was one of those things that's so amazing you can't stop talking about it XP

      OH MY GOSH YAY!!!!! And the fact that one of your friends would own it? That's like ... so cool. You must leave me a review on Amazon once you're finished!!! ^.^

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    3. Haha, the friend is Eliza. ^.^ I finished it and I think Martin Hospitality made me squeal more than any other book I've read this year. It was AMAZING AND OMG THE SHIPPING UGHHHHH. <3<3<3 I don't know if I'll leave a review on Amazon, but I'll be sure to flail about it and spread it to all my friends on my private blog. ;)

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  9. The matchmaking mothers....yasssss. I almost forgot about that. *dies*

    I'm totally stealing your "what I learned" section. You made that all co clear and concise and said what I'm thinking.

    I love this post so much and can't wait until we do it again!! *hugs*

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    1. Hahaha XD It was like awkward but so amusing at the same time because they were both DEAD SERIOUS. Thank goodness for the announcement that interrupted them though xD

      Ha, go for it <3 Although I think you kept yours even MORE concise. I'm such a rambler XD

      I KNOW!!!! ^.^ :DD

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  10. It was so fun getting to meet, and hang out you! :D
    You girls are all fantastic. <3
    Glad you had a safe trip home! I don't think I'm brave enough to fly by myself... ;)

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    1. You too! And how cool is it that we both had our birthdays during the conference as well? That was an added bonus :D Yes, me too. It wasn't quite as scary as I thought it might be, but still felt pretty adventurous for me XP

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  11. That looks amazingly fun, yes! :) Thanks for sharing! Maybe one day I'll get to go to a writer's conference!

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  12. P.S. Why do all the writer's conferences seem to be on the west coast?!

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    1. That's a good question! I know there's an Ohio and Colorado Christian one, but otherwise I guess most of them are that way! Then there's Realm Makers that moves around, but that's not my genre ;) Don't worry, you'll find a good one eventually!! :D

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  13. Wowwowwow this looks way too fun! I loved seeing all the pictures!

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    1. I'm so glad! It was a complete blast, but I think the company I was with had a lot to do with that :D I can only weather so many new people by myself, so I'm so thankful I connected with the crew I was travelling with ;)

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  14. I might be jealous that you met Ivy. Just a little bit. =) Your pictures are the sweetest!

    The trip sounds amazing in more ways than one! I can tell that God touched your life during your few weeks away...wow. Although it's sad to hear that you're setting aside Martin Crossroads, I know He has much bigger plans for you. Thanks for sharing a tiny portion of your life with us, Abi. =)

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    1. I know! It's still so surreal to me that it worked out XD

      Yes, He certainly did. It was amazing how much I learned about myself ... I was NOT expecting that! I know, I feel so bad for all my readers setting the sequel aside. But you're right :) Following God is the most important thing and enjoying writing again (aka not doing it all by myself) is so amazing!

      Well of course! I'm so glad you enjoy hearing about it :)

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  15. Hi, Abigayle! Your trip looks so fabulous! I'm interested in whether you might read and blog about my book, Mister B: Living with a 98-Year-Old Rocket Scientist? I'm trying to get the college-aged readers on board. It's delightfully funny, but also achiningly real, and it emphasizes that God makes no mistakes when He asks us to Honor our parents.

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    1. I would love to read it :) I can't promise a particular time frame, as I have several other books I have agreed to eventually read and review. I also can't guarantee that everything I say will be positive, of course. But that's a favor I'm always willing to do, especially if you'll provide me with a copy. Electronic is certainly fine! Feel free to contact me further through my email: abiclaire98 at gmail dot com :) The theme of t

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    2. Ha, hadn't quite finished. I was GOING to say the theme sounds excellent! :D

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  16. Hi Abigayle, I'm a publishing partner. I found you on Clean Indie Christian Writers. Your vacation looks like a launching point for a career, girl! I'd like to introduce you to one of my best new writers, Tonya Jewel Blessing, who has just finished her second edition on an incredible book called, The Whispering of the Willows. It is getting fabulous reviews, and we are hoping that you might also take a gander to read it and include it in a blog post too? Wishing you all the best!

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    1. Thank you :) It's good to know I'm being found through that group! I read some of Amazon's sample of the book, and while it is well-written, the content is something I would have a hard time getting through, I'm afraid. Not because it couldn't be beautiful and redemptive in the end ... but I think I'd rather not commit to leaving a blog post on when I don't know how positive I could be. I hate giving bad press! D: But I promise that if I ever do read it, I will leave it an Amazon and Goodreads review :)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and thinking of me! Best of success to Tonya :)

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  17. I really enjoyed reading your post, Abi, and it was so much fun to meet you and join you on this trip. :) I had such a blast with you girls and more importantly, I felt really blessed and safe with both of you. So thank you so much for joining us and coming, and for all the amazing memories! Blessings to you!

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    1. Yay! It was great to meet you as well. I'm so thrilled that we all got on as well as we did!! I mean, I was hoping we would, but you just really never know. And I don't think I've ever connected with girls so deeply that quickly. I'm sure knowing each other online first had something to do with it, but still! It was even more than I had hoped and prayed for :) I'm so glad you felt the same way!

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  18. AHH so fun!! I'm glad you had a great time!

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    1. Thanks!! I need to hop onto your blog, because I want to hear about YOUR trip!!!

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  19. WOW! FABULOUS! AND YOU MET FRANK PERETTI!!! *jealous* after all, some of you are meeting Ted Dekker, some are meeting Frank Peretti! I LOVE THESE AUTHORS! So happy for you though <3 <3

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    1. I know!! You'll be among us getting famous and meeting the famous before long, just wait and see! <3

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  20. AHHHH SO COOL. I met Jill Williamson and James Rubart at Realm Makers- Jill taught the teen track so I got to hang out with her a lot and she's SO FUN AND NICE. :D But I actually only met James Rubart because I bumped into him on the elevator so *awkward cough* xD

    Also, I TOTALLY RELATE to having to set books aside. I had to do that with my first novel- I started a rewrite of it and eventually I would need a sequel (it's like a cliffhanger ending lol) but that just wasn't where God had me. Someday, I'll open that doc up again though! SO YEAH IT'S A BITTERSWEET THING I GUESS. Because you know you're doing what's right and you have more time to explore new ideas but leaving the brainchild behind can be hard. :D

    And: YOU TALKED TO AN AGENT? WHAT WHAT WHAT.

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    1. FUN! They were both really awesome peeps. I always took the stairs so no awkward elevator meetings for me XD That is going to make the BEST story for the rest of your life. Just wait and see XDD

      Phew, I'm so glad I'm not the first one to do this to their poor readers :P I mean, no one's blaming me for following God (yet) but STILL! I feel bad about walking away from it D: Yes bittersweet is the word exactly! Honestly I'm hardly sorry to say farewell to the excuse of a sequel I was conjuring up, so that fact makes me feel even worse for all the expectant happy little readers. XP But geez do you want a quality book or not, right? ;)

      YES THE AGENT. Uh ... he accidentally convinced me that I shouldn't be writing my sequel XP I went out on a limb and pitched a mere idea. And we had a nice chat (which he was late to, so that made me feel really insecure and then like "oh look he's human"). Anyhow, that convo ended with SHOOT ME THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS when you can and I'll let you know. O_O I don't know what I expected ... maybe they say that to everyone? But I left that 15 minute meeting and went on to brainstorm the story with Ivy. (Yeah I pitched something with half a plot. Yay me!) And things began falling into place. That's when I was like WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?! So now I'm writing something totally different and God's on board and I'm on board and the poor firstborn child series is now off the immediate to-write list :P And it feels SO good!!

      Thanks so much for sharing everything you did, cause it feels SO much better to know I'm not alone in this. So crazy how often we forget that God's plans might not be ours or even the most logical next step like ... a sequel XP

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