Just got back from a couple of jam-packed, exciting days in Atlanta (there’s a reason they call it Hotlanta! 105 degrees and just a wee bit humid) at the International Christian Retailer’s Show at the CNN Convention Center. I loved every minute of  it–meeting new friends, connecting with my publisher and the people who get those books into readers’ hands, getting acquainted with retailers, walking the floor and seeing the energy (the economy is starting to bloom, at least for the Christian book industry. Everything–seemed to be up by 20%.).

 The first night was the Baker Publishing Group dinner–I was completely starstruck! Wow…just to be in the same room as Pat Williams (whom I begged an autograph for my son. Shameless!), Beverly Lewis, Dale Cramer, Siri Mitchell, Melody Carlson, Steven James, on and on. Dazzling! (I would have loved to take pictures of everybody…but how obnoxious would that be?! Very.)

My one little mistake was that I wore brand new shoes–adorable shoes! But hoo-boy! Did I ever pay for that little piece of vanity! Huge blisters. At the start of the week!!! Grrrrr. (One week later and I’m still wearing band-aids and cringing when I put on my tennis shoes.)

Spent the next day trying not to look like I was limping along in pain. I had breakfast with blogger Mocha with Linda. Then…zoomed through the convention center. One of my favorite moments was meeting with an Old Order Amish fellow who had a booth at ICRS for his beautifully made picture frames! I hung around his booth when he didn’t have customers–we talked about friends we have in common, and I asked him about some sticky points of Amish theology. I left his booth feeling the way I always do after meeting with the Amish–this lovely sense of peace and calm in the midst.

That was nice–because at the CNN center, you get news blasted at you everywhere you turn. TV monitors were everywhere, with grim looking, handwringing anchors. The television in my hotel room had six channels of CNN news! (Grrr! No Food Network!)

That evening was the Christy Awards dinner at the Hyatt Regency. Wow wow wow. Talk about feeling starstruck again. Imagine all of your favorite authors, in one room, ‘putting on the ritz.’ Dazzling.

The banquet was emceed by New York Times best-selling author and Christy Award-winner, Liz Curtis Higgs. The keynote speaker was screenwriter, director, and New York Times best-selling author, Randall Wallace (screenwriter of Braveheart and Secretariat and Pearl Harbor). A-MA-Z-ING speaker. 

The Waiting was a finalist for the award, and I didn’t win, but I didn’t expect to. I truly didn’t. I felt so thrilled to be a part of the experience–being a finalist was more than enough. I already felt as if “my cup runneth over.” Not sure I could have handled much more excitement–plus, it’s nice to have goals to aspire to.

The next day, I attended a artist’s luncheon that was FABULOUS! Emceed by Phil Vischer of Veggie Tales (who is off-the-cuff, unscripted hilarious), Peter Furler and a handful of other terrific musicians. 

Then I had a book signing–first time ever that the line wove around the Baker booth and down the hall. Might have helped that the books were given away for free! But…still…

Last thing before heading to the airport was stopping by a press conference presented by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Randy Alcorn and DiAnn Mills spoke about the importance of story. And then…the finalists for the Carol Awards were announced. The Choice is a finalist for the Carol Award in the long contemporary category. 

Another cup runneth over feeling! 

All four of my (eligible for awards that year) books with Revell have been finalists for significant awards–ones that focus on the quality of the writing. That means so much to me.   

But here’s the funny part…moments after all of that razzle-dazzle, I was walking in the rain, alone, limping with blisters, schlepping my bags filled with free books from other authors, heading to the airport where my plane was endlessly delayed. 

What a picture of the writer’s life!

Brief, sparkling, magical moments…immersed in a whole lot of regular ol’ hard work.  

Tomorrow…more about the Christy Awards evening, including pix. Stay tuned!

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