So, I Hosted a Conference #SRWCon2019

November 2018: Daniel Noyes says to me, “We should do a conference.”

I wasn’t so sure about it, but I got on board.

Slide 1

Right before we do this

April 23, 2019: I contracted Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret (which I can now spell without needing to check!) to attend our no-track-record conference. We agreed he would teach twice, once each day, and take 20 one-on-one appointments.

WElcome JIm Avatar.jpg

tweet from JIm

Between April and July 2019: Eleven instructors were hand-selected by myself and Daniel, and then I contacted them all, and invited them to come. They all said yes.

In the haze of it all: A website was built, registration happened, invoices were sent out, I did a lottery for the spots with Jim, I designed the logo and all the graphics for the conference, built a slideshow, emailed Jim a million times to cover logistics, emailed attendees with information, and so on and so on.  I can’t even begin to list it all.

I had help, of course. Daniel took care the hotel and Jim’s flight, and all the money. I frequently said, Daniel’s the money, I’m the time. You have to have both to do this sort of thing. It’s 100% true.

And people registered to come. Boy, was I glad they did. I was quite nervous no one would want to spend $80ish bucks on us. But they did.

Just days before the conference, I designed the name badges, individually creating each one for every guest. Some might call me crazy, but I watched TALL GIRL on Netflix and didn’t mind. There were less than 100, so it was fine.

Namebadges haha

con prep2

I think they turned out beautiful.

And I bought the snacks, and sorted out everything I’d need to take to the conference, including some decor and my printer and a first aid kit and Advil for anyone who might need anything, along with the printed materials, including the instructors class descriptions and feedback forms and the All-Mighty Schedule.

Con prep

I asked my close friends to be my helpers and Megan offered to be the “Runner” should I need one. Boy, did I ever need her. I needed them all!

Jim's Girls

Check in with the girlsThen, on Thursday, Sept 26th, around 9:30, after having dinner with Kyle, Dennis and Natalie Gaunt, who would be staying at my house, and Steven Bohls and Daniel, Daniel and I met Jim at the airport and got him settled in to his hotel.

Then, 48 hours later, the conference was over.

It went smashingly well, if I may say so myself. I didn’t shed a single tear of frustration or worry, but I did get emotional when I gave my closing remarks.

Without Serene Heiner, Megan Freeman Clements, and Jeigh Hardy Meredith we might have tanked, but they were there fetching Diet Cokes for Jim and bring me lunch and smiling at me at every turn, which boosted my spirits a lot. And those instructors I begged to come? They did an amazing job! Dennis Gaunt, Marion Jensen, Cory Anderson, Shauna Holyoak, Steven Bohls, Ali Cross, Shelly Brown, Chad Morris, Megan Clements, Jared Garrett, and Wendy Swore are ALL GOOD PEOPLE with the heart of a teacher and they presented their classes with such class! I was thrilled to have them, and I am beyond lucky to call them my friends.

And dang. I couldn’t have gotten any luckier in having Jim come. He took a chance on us, being a new and unheard-of conference. And I’m so glad he did. I’m glad he was wanting to check Idaho off his list, and that we just so happened to fit the bill.

Not to mention he happens to represent Richelle Mead, who wrote Vampire Academy, of which I am a slightly large fan.


Anyone like VA?


Can I get a little Rose Hathaway love?

And sometimes, if I was really, really lucky, he’d smile at me…I didn’t want to admit it to anyone—not to Lissa, not even to myself—but some days, I lived for those smiles.

I tried hard not to fan girl. Okay, I sort of tried. It was hard knowing Jim played a key role in that book.

Okay, I’ll move along, away from Vampire Academy and turn my attention back to the point of this whole post. (But if you haven’t read it and you like vampires at all, then this is a good one about love and redemption and friendships and family.)

Jim was so incredibly fabulous, too. Everyone LOVED him. Guests commented to me about how great he was, and described him as: effervescent, kind, personable, friendly, educational, honest, fun, and hilarious. I couldn’t agree more.

For me, Jim was the comic relief I didn’t know I needed, the voice of education and a sounding board for my efforts in running a small conference, and the warm soul that made me constantly smile.

The number one question I got was WILL I BE DOING IT NEXT YEAR. Honestly, since it’s only been a day, I’m not 100% ready to say yes, but I also can’t imagine saying no.

I had fun, and have been overwhelmed with the number of texts and FB messages where others have commented on how much they appreciated it because the NEEDED it. I would say it pushed me out of my comfort zone, hosting a conference, but it didn’t really. I just stretched me and familiarized me with new territory. Which is right up my alley.

Honestly, I’ve already thought of 3 people I want to ask to come next year. (Wouldn’t you love to know who!) So, chances are good.

Meanwhile, like everybody else, I’ll just keep plugging away. I’ll still post kissing gifs and find time to get away with Lisa.

I sent a query to Jim for SON OF PSYCHE and I am going do a quick search-and-destroy on LEVEL WITH ME, because it’s been selected for the Editing Class at BYU-I. (Nothing like a good Romeo and Juliet retelling right?)


The students are going to work it over as part of their grade, and I’ll have it back at the beginning of December. And while I wait for them to do that, or for an agent to pick up SoP, I’ll be going through THE VOTE and cleaning it up so that I can start querying that ASAP.


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