Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference for the first time. Accompanied by my trusty pal Sarah, I arrived armed with my partial manuscript, rose-colored glasses, and big dreams.

I tried to be realistic in my expectations. Honestly, I did. I told myself that nothing would happen, that I’d go, enjoy myself, and learn what I could. But secretly, in the deep places of my heart, I couldn’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, I would be “discovered” and begin a successful career as a published author. It’s been known to happen.

As you can imagine, God had other plans for my writing journey. I did enjoy myself, and I learned so much I thought my brain might explode. I made new friends and even got some interest from an agent. Not to mention the fact that I got to meet one of my favorite YA authors, Robin Jones Gunn. Sarah still teases me about my babbling, fangirl mode when I first saw Robin.

This was the year I met my sweet, dragon-loving friend Rosemary.

In spite of all of these wonderful things, I didn’t get an immediate yes from an agent, or a contract of any kind. What I did get was confirmation that I was on the right track and a treasure trove of writing knowledge to take back home with me.

Sarah and I were able to return to Mount Hermon last year for another great conference. Once again, we learned about writing, made new friends, reunited with old ones, and had a blast … between the typical Mount Hermon tears. They come at least once every year.

 

Perhaps my favorite part of Mount Hermon last year was participating in the Morning Mentoring class with the amazing Kathy Tyers Gillin (pictured above on the bottom left). Kathy is one of the most gracious people I’ve ever met, and is also a fantastic teacher. There were six of us blessed to be in her class, and we all connected in an incredible way as we shared our stories, critiqued, and brainstormed. Since we were all speculative fiction writers, we had many similar interests and had common themes in our writing. I felt like Anne of Green Gables in a roomful of “kindred spirits.”

Goofy kindred spirits. 😉

My other favorite part of last year was taking “Where’s Petal?” pictures of my Zelf for my Twitter account. I’m a toy collector and nerd who dabbles in photography, so I usually have a toy of some kind and a camera with me wherever I go. Finding unique places around Mount Hermon to take pictures of Petal was a fun way to remember the highlights of the conference.

For the first time in two years, I will not be attending Mount Hermon. While it was originally my plan to go again, the Lord closed that door for this year. The conference begins just two days from now, and I have to admit I’m feeling rather nostalgic and melancholy about it. It’s hard knowing that fellow authors will be gathering in the chapel, the classrooms, and the dining hall, but this time I won’t be joining them.

Thankfully, I’ll still be able to attend a writer’s conference this year. Realm Makers, a conference for Christian speculative fiction writers, is taking place in Reno this July, and I’ve already paid for my registration. Among this conference’s highlights are a cosplay dinner and a zombie apocalypse Nerf gun war. I’m excited about the cosplay. The zombie apocalypse? Not so much. Zombies aren’t really my thing. Even fake ones.

Some of the friends I made at Mount Hermon will be at Realm Makers, so I’ll have at least a partial reunion. It will be nice to see a few familiar faces. I’m so excited for this opportunity, and am working hard to prepare for the conference so I can make the most of it.

As I look back on the naive, bright-eyed young writer I was two years ago, I realize how good God is. He knew I had a lot of growing to do, both in my craft and in my walk with Him. I’ve seen Him work so incredibly every step of the way in this crazy writing adventure of mine. I know He has a plan for me. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I’m willing to trust Him with my hopes and dreams.

And trust that He’ll help me survive the zombie apocalypse. I wonder if I should finalize my will, just in case?