I have so many stories from ICRS to share, I am not sure that I will have the time to write it all out. Many of the photos in the previous post have stories behind them, in fact. I love to tell stories, just ask my husband!
Monday at ICRS was not a busy day for me, so I got to just walk around and check out the newest releases from all the publishers and just visit with people I bumped into that I know. In my two days at ICRS, I got to visit with authors Leanna Ellis, Sharon Hinck, Ginger Plowman, and Mary DeMuth. I also got to see some of the folks at Money Matters: Howard Dayton and Chuck Thompson.
Most of all, I hung out with the P31 girls and laughed and got books signed.
Friends and free books-- you can't beat that!
One of the highlights of Monday was walking around with my friend Micca Campbell. She is a funny, funny girl and just keeps me laughing with her antics. We ran into her friend Dave, who also happens to be Gwen's producer. (More about Gwen later.) Since Dave works in the music business, he showed us around over in the music section and we even got a cd from a new group called Austin's Bridge that is supposed to sound like Rascal Flatts. Dave is a very humble man and won't talk about what he does, but Micca whispered to me that he had written 25 number ones-- but she couldn't remember any of the names of them. The next day she told me that one of them is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, "A Strange Way To Save The World." Dave was already gone back to Nashville by then, so I couldn't say anything to him about it-- which is probably how he wanted it. But I was wowed by having gotten to spend time with such a musical genius. He would shake his head if he heard me say that, I know.
That night we had planned to meet the people from my online writer's group for dinner, but right in the middle of the gathering I got a call from my husband telling me that his job had been eliminated and that he was most likely going to be offered another job, but was understably shaken up. We talked for a long while, then I told the coordinator that I couldn't do dinner after all. My friend Rachel Olsen and I decided to just walk over to the food court in the CNN center and get something fast. But first we popped into the personality party and got a few books signed there. That was fun and I was glad we got in.
My "prize" of the night was a signed copy of Voddie Baucham's new book. I made a fool out of myself telling him how much I like him and how we visited his church in Houston, TX while we were there. He nodded patiently but was not real impressed. The funny thing is, I ran into his wife and two sons on the floor the next day and did the same thing. And they were equally unimpressed. Oh well.
Tuesday was a bit different in that I had a few meetings to go to and less leisure time. I sat in on a marketing meeting and had a proposal meeting with the new women's brand manager from Moody. She was great! We had a great meeting and whether they publish me or not, I was impressed with her and her vision.
Other than my meetings, I also squeezed in some time for more book signings. I got a signed cd from Third Day for my husband so that was cool. He has been a fan of theirs for quite some time. I ran into my friend Gwen in the line to get a cd from new teen Christian singer, Britt Nicole. She and I ended up walking around together for awhile.
At one point her friend Sean Smith was signing cds and she made me play a terrible joke on him. Since he is a new artist, she told me to go up and lay it on thick that I am his biggest fan. Though I felt bad, Gwen can be very convincing, so I did it. He was clearly confused as I walked up to him and said, "Are you Sean Smith? The Sean Smith?" He nodded. "I just love your work," I said. "You are the whole reason I came to ICRS-- in hopes of just getting to meet you." The look on his face was priceless and I just couldn't keep it up. "I am a friend of Gwen Smith's and she made me do this!" He was like, "WHERE IS SHE??" And so, that is why in the photo I am holding up my finger saying I am his number one fan.
But seriously, he gave me a cd and it is good, good, good. And so, to make amends, I hope that many of you will go to his site and order one. The link is below his photo!
Gwen had just had a disappointment of her own, as she was supposed to have a song on Mandisa's new cd called "Broken Into Beautiful." Gwen is also writing a book based on this song that will be released with Harvest House publishers. Just before she came to ICRS she found out that for whatever reason, the song will not be on Mandisa's cd after all. This was really hard for her. And so, that is why she is not posing with the real Mandisa, just the picture of her. I told her to do it just for kicks. She is a nut and was a total blast to hang out and walk the floor with.
Gwen has no idea how much she helped me as we walked around. We talked about the contract that she drew up with her husband to keep her priorities in focus as she goes out singing and ministering to women. She said that to deny what she was created to do, and what God has called her to do would be wrong-- but to spend too much time away from her first priority as a wife and a mom would be even more wrong. And so she and her husband sat down and decided what was fair to them both. They decided that she should be gone only 25% of the weekends during the year, with the other 75% being family time. They took 52 weekends and divided that by one fourth and got 18. Then they drew up a contract and signed it. And so, as she gets inquiries, she knows that she can only be gone 18 weekends out of a year. No more.
As I wrote about in my post about struggling at She Speaks, I have been really searching for a happy medium and some balance in my calling of ministry and motherhood. This conversation with Gwen was truly perspective changing for me. I found someone who "got it" and had not only struggled with it, but come up with a workable solution. She may never know how much her sharing that helped me. I feel very blessed.
All in all, ICRS was great. I am so glad I went and am hoping to make it to next year's in Orlando, FL. The Orlando one was the very first one I ever went to, so that location holds sentimental value. I am thankful for what I have learned about the business of Christian publishing in the years since then, and I am thankful that what was once so foreign is now somehow familiar. I am thankful for the many friends and faces I see year after year there, and the commitment we all share to make Jesus' name famous, all manifested in different ways.