The Conference that Almost Didn’t Happen
At last year’s Orange County Christian Writers’ Conference in Southern California, I was officially announced as the new director. I’d been arranging for faculty the past couple of years, and we had a good team of people doing everything else. I looked forward to taking a bit more of an active role in the planning. Little did I know …
In September, as I was putting the final touches on my list of faculty members I wanted to invite, I got the news that we’d lost our venue. The church that had hosted us the previous two years apparently decided to do some remodeling in the spring and could not accommodate us. I asked a few people to help me make phone calls to find a new location. After weeks of getting one “no” after another, I was sure we’d have to cancel. But we finally found an available venue (EV Free Church in Fullerton).
So in October, I contacted the person who’d taken care of our website, marketing, and registrations. I told her we desperately needed to get the website updated and the promotion going right away since we were behind schedule. She didn’t respond. After weeks of e-mails to her, I found out she’d decided she was too busy to help with the conference.
Again, I seriously considered canceling. Oh, I was familiar enough with WordPress that I could make the website updates. But I was way too busy to do that and set up the registrations and do all the marketing … and put together the program, the faculty, and the workshops … and keep up with my editing business. Especially with less than six months before the conference—one of those months being December.
But God started giving me ideas for how the conference could be run that would take less time to put together than our usual program. And it would cost less, which was important since, with less time to promote, we might have a much smaller turnout than usual.
In November, when we went to update the website, we discovered that it had been hacked and filled with viruses, and therefore shut down. We had to create an entirely new website from scratch. And the new one wasn’t set up in WordPress.
Again, I was really tempted to cancel. But I didn’t feel a peace about that. After all, God had provided the venue. And I really wanted to try out the ideas He’d given me for the new format.
I spent the next several weeks putting together the new program, contacting faculty members, creating the website, doing a search for volunteers. Oh … and celebrating Christmas with my family.
In January, everything seemed to be in place. The website was up and running. We had volunteers helping in several areas. We were getting the word out. But by mid-month, we had only one paid registration! Then I heard from someone who’d tried to register that the Buy Now buttons on the website weren’t working. Yikes! I went onto the website, and sure enough, only one of the eight payment buttons worked right. No wonder we only had one paid registration!
We’re now near the end of January. We still need a few more volunteers. And we’ve got some other details we need to take care of … in less than three months! But we have, in my opinion, an absolutely incredible program. All-day mentoring tracks on each day, Friday and Saturday (April 15-16): beginning, intermediate, and advanced fiction and nonfiction, plus a YA and a teen track. And a Resource Room where attendees can meet one-on-one with industry professionals, in prescheduled appointments or as walk-ins.
On Friday evening, attendees can meet with mentoring track leaders and industry professionals at our meet-and-greet in the Resource Room. Or just mingle and network and fellowship with one another.
And faculty? Wow! God has provided an amazing line-up. Top-notch writers teaching the mentoring tracks—including CBA and New York Times best-selling authors. And industry professionals from a variety of fields: writers, editors, speakers, blog specialists, magazine publishers, a literary agent, a publishing consultant, a typographer, a business planner, and a small-business CPA.
We even have four contests for paid registrants. You could win a six-month certificate for the Christian Manuscript Submissions service, publication in The Upper Room, a book contract with Elk Lake Publishing, or two hours of editing from a professional freelance editor (me).
It will still be a miracle if we get enough paid registrations to cover our costs! But you know what? God provided a venue. The program. The faculty. The volunteers (well, most of them). And all those things were miracles. So I’m excited to see what He does next. I don’t know how many attendees we’ll have. But I know the people who do attend will be the ones He wants to be there so He can bless them in this way. And that’s what really counts.
What miracle are you praying for? What miracles has God already performed for you? Focus on what He’s done in the past and draw strength from that to bolster your faith that He will provide your every need. And when He does, give Him the glory!
January 25, 2016 @ 2:28 pm
How many times did I say to myself, I won’t get enough registrations!!! As a conference director, it’s a risk every year to get the numbers you need to make expenses. My experience showed me that the majority of attendees wait until the last minute to register. Take heart…it will probably turn our that you have just enough and more! Blessing on the conference.
January 25, 2016 @ 11:03 pm
Thanks so much for your empathetic words, my friend! Really appreciate them.
January 25, 2016 @ 2:38 pm
God is so far ahead of us answering our problems, we get surprised when He does. It is difficult to remember His provisions sometimes when life gets in the way.
January 25, 2016 @ 11:04 pm
Amen, Joan! And thanks so much.
January 25, 2016 @ 2:49 pm
Oh my… You don’t have a conference committee with assigned duties? The few times I’ve been over our conference we’ve had catastrophes till the last minute.Thank God for my helpers! I always think it’s a miracle we pull it off!
January 25, 2016 @ 11:07 pm
I have a wonderful conference committee … now. But the volunteer who did the website, marketing/promotion, social media, and printing the programs for the past three years apparently decided she was too busy to do it this year … although she didn’t tell me that until just a couple of months ago. Thank the Lord, He has provided several people to take on some of those jobs. But there are still some positions we need to fill. I’m really glad God is in charge of bringing them our way!
January 25, 2016 @ 3:21 pm
Awesome! Amen! 🙂
January 25, 2016 @ 4:15 pm
I do hope you have more than enough registrations. I attended an OCCWC event several years back and found it was a great learning experience and met a number of individuals who were committed to improving their writing skills.. I also enjoyed the break-out sessions and meeting best-selling and new authors.
January 25, 2016 @ 11:08 pm
Thanks for the glowing words, Christine. I love the OCCWC … have since long before I was the director. And we have a FANTASTIC program with INCREDIBLE faculty this year! I know if people heard about the conference, they’d really want to come.
January 25, 2016 @ 7:22 pm
Great write-up of an event that almost didn’t take place. Isn’t it great how God always comes through in His timing and in His way? Blessings to you and your team for a wonderful event, Kathy!
January 25, 2016 @ 11:09 pm
Amen, Doris! I’m looking forward to seeing what God does with this conference! If the Enemy is working this hard to stop it, God must have some amazing things in store for our conferees!
January 26, 2016 @ 11:44 pm
The people and faculty will be blessed and good will come from the conference. The format looks interesting for attendees. Lots of opportunities for feedback and mentoring. I pray for the right people to attend.
January 27, 2016 @ 3:16 am
Thanks, John! I appreciate that.