Jodie
I really need to get going on this, before I forget everything that happened, or I jumble it all up into one big memory!

Monday at Ridgecrest started early. I didn't fall asleep until after one, but I woke up at 6:15. Can y'all say, "Yay." Yuck. Got up, had me some God time, gave the day to Him, and headed to breakfast, where I ate with a lovely group of women (I also ate way too much bacon, but please, never set bacon out in front of me unless you want me to eat it. 'Nuff said.), then headed to the morning Group Meeting. Eva Marie Everson gave our first devotional, and she started with Psalm 37:4 (NIV), Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." But, wait! Are you chasing the desire of GOD'S heart for you? Or are you chasing YOUR heart's desire for you? I won't duplicate all that she said here, but the ultimate story boiled down to the parable of the talents. Read it and note that the master referred to all of the money as his money. All that God gives us is HIS. It is not ours. Our writing? His. Our words? His. Our money? His. Everything? His.

Then Cec Murphy gave the keynote. WWHT: Who Would Have Thought? Ultimately, folks, we have no idea what God has planned for us. And one day, we'll look back and say, "Who would have thought?" The biggest take-away for me from this, his first of two keynotes, was the fact that God may use my books to change millions of people's lives. Or He may use it to change just one person's life: mine. Either way... WWHT? :-) There was more than that, but that will have to be another blog, or we'll be here all day talking about Cec Murphy's talk.

Went to the bookstore, where I only browsed (this time), then went to Angela Hunt's class, "The Sophisticated Novelist."

WOW! In just shy of an hour and a half, I had seven pages of notes. Seven. On everything from what a novel is to language to scenery to evaluating my story idea to what makes a novel a Christian novel to genre... And then she gave us HOMEWORK! Wonderful, wonderful class!

Had my crit meeting with Eva Marie Everson. YAY! Wonderful lady, if you ever get the chance to meet her. She walked me through my submission and gave me great advice and we chatted a bit, then it was off to lunch.

I ate with Donn Taylor and his wife. Such sweet people, and he has such a passion for poetry! I actually got to talk about the poets I read and loved in college, something I haven't gotten to do, well, since college! Yay!

Went up to Eva Marie's class. WOW! Pages and pages of notes on self-editing and critiquing, then critique groups. I had a great group of women! We learned so much from each other. I won't even try to put it all here, since this is already running long.

My meeting with Chip MacGregor was at 4:30. I showed up at 4:15. His 4:15 had failed to show up, so he sat down with me early. I'd asked him for help with proposals (since I've read so much that I'm getting lost now!) and he walked me through mine, showed me what was strong and what was weak and what to keep and what to change. Finally helped me understand things that were confusing me. I was taking notes on everything he said when my pen d-i-e-d. I reached into my bag to grab another one, it got away from me, and that pen flew threw the air and maybe missed his face by an inch.

He called for security. :-)

So, yeah, I threw a pen at Chip MacGregor. He'll probably remember me forever.

Or not.

Dinner and then off to the evening session, where Steven James spoke on the story of God. The Bible is a story, folks, and we reduce it to an "outline." We take out the passion and the violence and the love and the emotion and turn it into a cliche'. And, y'all would do well to remember the Steven James Ceiling Fan Principle: You do not have a story until something goes wrong. (If you want to know why it's called the Ceiling Fan Principle, you'll have to remind me to tell you later. I'm running long, here.) Ultimately, a Christian book will tell the truth about the world--including the evil in the world. (I read one of his books. Yep, there's some real, bone-shivering, evil.) We should not be afraid to talk about the pain or about the grace. And, folks, the man has a Master's in storytelling. If you've never heard him speak, make it a point to hear him speak. You'll be richer for it.

Headed off to my room and to sleep. Long days at Blue Ridge! Next up: Tuesday and the day Cec Murphy quit writing. (Thank heaven, that day didn't stick to him, huh?

JB
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