Don't you just love a good professional writing conference? Well, you would have loved this one, even if you aren't a writer.
The Southern Christian Writer's Conference in lovely Leeds, Alabama was like coming home. Like-minded folks gathered around tables and broke out into smaller work sessions to learn, encourage and cheer for one another, not compete or compare. When you get that many storytellers together, there's never a dull (or quiet) moment.
Sean Dietrich was the keynote speaker. Our NW Florida paths and writing careers have crossed many times — even at a Junior College in Niceville, FL, but this was the first time we've met face to face.
As great as Sean's writing is, you really need to hear him speak in person sometime. He's incredible and brought the house down with tears, laughter and sweet singing. Sean's wife Jamie is absolutely lovely and I enjoyed chatting with her before the event.
The photo on the left is from Tracy Riggs, the official photographer of the weekend. The display on the right is from my table I set up with my book and author information. We were given time to visit each other's tables to get to know everyone better.
The gift basket on my table was used for a drawing and contained four autographed books from New York Times Best Selling Author and Alabama native, Andy Andrews, as well as my two books and a few summer beach toys.
Not only did I find my "writing people," but I also found my "fashion people." This is Alexandria Cunningham who spoke on writing children's books. She could have also spoken on, "the power of a good outfit." Southern ladies know how to dazzle.
In the pink is Joanne Sloane, who along with her husband David, founded the conference 31 years ago. She's presenting the Encouragement of Writing award to Denise George. After I heard Denise speak and met her briefly, I couldn't wait to get to know more about her. It was a weekend of making great connections like this. Kindred spirits, joyful hearts and like minds.
And I know you can't stand it any longer! Who won the basket of summer reading fun?
The prize went to Dr. Mark Randall who grew up in Zimbabwe where he would assist his father with surgeries. He later attended Samford University (yay!) and UAB School of Medicine. He and his family have worked overseas as medical missionaries. His newest book, "The Bethlehem Midwife" imagines what the story of Jesus' birth would be like if retold through the eyes of a midwife.