So now, I will share many of the highlights in random order as they come to me. I'm sure I'll probably forget something, but maybe some of the authors will remind me in the comments.
My own travel plans changed at the last minute due to the two tornadoes and some major family issues that still are not resolved. Tim stayed home to deal with some of it, and I rode to ICRS with Fay Lamb – we met for the first time at Catch the Wave last year where we both taught workshops, and both friendship and professional relationship developed. I’m honored to be publishing several of Fay’s books, and thrilled we had the opportunity to spend more time together during ICRS. Fay is hilarious, fun, curious, courageous, passionate, creative, intelligent, has a heart made of gold, and loves the Lord with all her might. (She’s all that, and I didn’t even have to tell you she considers herself a klutz, too!)
There were 10 of us representing Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing: Fay Lamb, Vicki Tiede, Peggy Cunningham and her husband Chuck, Dianne E. Butts and her husband Hal, Marie Wells Coutu and her husband Ed, volunteer assistant Suzy Moore, and myself.
|Peggy Cunningham and Marie Wells Coutu |
at Bailey's Range - what a fun place!
Hearing Peggy Cunningham’s voice for the first time. Peggy and Chuck are missionaries in Bolivia so our contract negotiations all took place by e-mail. From looking at her headshot, and reading her words, my brain thought she had a soft, Southern, genteel voice – and I was so WRONG! Peggy’s voice is bold with a Pennsylvania accent – and every word she speaks is filled with such fun I’m sitting here smiling at the memory of it.
|Dianne E. Butts during her booksigning|
|Storms outside St. Louis, just before we arrived.|
|Marie Wells Coutu during her booksigning|
Hanging with Vicki Tiede twice in the same year! What a blessing. But I keep wondering if she set any records with the number of media interviews she had? Wow! And she never lost her voice at all! (Keep an eye out – we’ll be sharing some of those interviews in the coming days and weeks.)
|Vicki Tiede and Shaun Tabatt|
Meeting in person for the first time several precious prayer warriors I’ve known online for years: Pam Meyers, Laura Hilton, Martha Rogers, Bonnie Calhoun. These precious ladies have been a blessing to me for years, and meeting them in person was an honor and a heart blessing.
Visiting with Cecil Murphey for the second time this year, and FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY meeting the incredible Twila Belk.
Discovering how special the husbands truly are – Chuck Cunningham, Hal Butts, Ed Coutu – supported, participated, assisted, encouraged, prayed. The ones who weren’t – Marc Lamb, Mike Tiede, Tim Ruckman, Lanny Moore – held down the forts at home, at times managing some pretty difficult situations yet also provided support, encouragement, and prayers for all of us in our absence. (Marc and Fay lost a beloved pet during our trip, Tim dealt with all the storm mess I left behind, and Mike dealt with a houseful of kids – in addition to all their regular responsibilities.) The support and love I witnessed between all the couples just brings me to tears as I write this. What a blessing.
|Left side, front to back: Hal and Dianne E. Butts, Vicki Tiede, Suzy Moore. |
Right side, front to back: Chuck Cunningham, Hal Coutu,
Marie Wells Coutu, Peggy Cunningham, and Tracy Ruckman. Fay Lamb is behind the camera.
Suzy Moore. My goodness. I only met Suzy online a few weeks ago, through Dianne. Suzy lives in the St. Louis area, and volunteered her services to assist us any way we needed while we were in town. She is incredible – and such fun. She fit right in with all of us, and instantly became part of the WIP/PNP family. Suzy, thank you for all you did – you went above and beyond every step of the way, and we all appreciate you so much.
Our book signings were brisk and fun, and we met book buyers from Nigeria, Finland, Scotland, Australia, New
Zealand (Debbie Roome, you’ll be proud to know I recognized their accents!), the UK, Canada, Mexico, and all over the United States. A representative from one of the large publishing houses told one of our authors that the only way we’d give out all of our books was if we offered chocolate – but we didn’t need to do that! One of our authors gave away 65 books in 28 minutes! Talk about a fast signing! We averaged about 40 minutes for each of the signings – what a blessing.
Teamwork. I’ve never experienced a group of people acting as a team as much as this group at ICRS – and it wasn’t even intentionally done. We all seemed to operate in sync – and it was so remarkable I know it was truly God’s hand directing us. At one point, several of us were walking down one of the aisles – surrounded by the big guys like Zondervan and Harper Collins. I heard someone we passed say, “There goes Write Integrity.” Only God could have made that happen!!
A special, public thank you to all those who contributed to the FaithFunder campaign. None of this would have happened without you – we’re truly grateful to you for making the book signings possible. You’ll be hearing from me in the next couple of weeks!
When I returned home, I had a check waiting to replace the computer that was fried. It arrived just moments ago. The check came from a friend who believes in our mission, believes in our company, and wanted to bless us in a tangible way. I’m grateful beyond words.
Hopefully, from this massive list, you’ll see why my heart is so full – overflowing, actually – with God’s goodness and mercy. I am encouraged by our authors and challenged anew to publish, support, encourage, and promote their books with my whole being – and I encourage YOU to support and encourage them too. How? Buy their books for yourself and to give as gifts. Leave reviews. Visit their websites and blogs – leave comments. Send notes. Invite them to your church or local bookstore, writer’s group, civic group, for a book signing, reading, or even a Skype session. Talk about their books with your family and friends. Pray for them. Our books are our mission field, and the more people we encounter, the larger our field – and potential to impact more lives – grows.
A grateful heart, indeed.