Patricia Beal took a bold step in the midst of tragedy while at a conference. I can’t even imagine the strength God gave her to reach her goal.
My grandmother died on the first night of my first ACFW conference, the one in St. Louis in 2014. My mom called me soon after the last spotlight session. It was almost midnight in Brazil, where I’m from and where it’d just happened. Back home people get buried fast, so I knew there was nothing I could do.
The following day my mom gave me the website of the funeral home, and in the afternoon, I would be watching the cremation ceremony online. I didn’t want to do conference anything—I was a mess. But I had a 10:15 editor appointment with Amanda Bostic, editorial director of fiction at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and my mom urged me to go. “It’s fifteen minutes,” she said.
So I got dressed, got my folder, and I went. I knew I looked like I’d cried all night, so I told her what had happened, but also said I was glad I’d got it together and that I was there—ready to pitch. I jumped right into pitch mode, and the pitch was good, praise God.
Amanda was so sweet and caring. She gave me her card and asked me to email the proposal to her after the conference. She urged me to meet as many agents as possible while in St. Louis, because even if she liked the proposal, she would need me to have an agent. Then she asked if she could pray with me. She reached for my hands and prayed for me and for my family. And I was so touched. And she was so touched. I will never forget that moment.
That afternoon, I watched my grandma’s funeral online from my hotel room. Not a good day. But with the conference worship events and the prayers sent my way, I woke up well on Saturday and booked tons of extra pitches, all with agents, like Amanda said I should. I just kept getting back in line and pitching to anyone who had an opening. I pitched to each of the four agents in Mills 9—it was pretty comical. I finished the day with five agents interested in seeing my proposal.
Two weeks after the conference, Les Stobbe offered to represent me.
Amanda ended up sending us a rejection, but I will always remember her compassion, and I credit her for the sweet blessing of having Les Stobbe in my life. I wouldn’t have an agent today if she hadn’t urged me to meet as many agents as possible while at the conference.
Something else happened because of St. Louis 2014. During a break in my Saturday agent-appointment marathon, I went to a class and sat next to a young woman with a weird dream. She’d just finished a masters in technical writing and was looking for a job editing fiction—her passion in life. Edit away! Have fun! We exchanged cards. A year and a half later, I got an email from her saying she’d been working for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and had just been promoted to managing editor of one of their newest imprints. She’d been following me on social media since we’d met, loved everything about my online presence, and was dying to see my proposal. Two weeks later she requested the full manuscript, and in four days my agent had an offer.
Praise God for orchestrating these meetings that comfort us and move us closer to His perfect will.
So, if your conference gets out of control, don’t sweat it. God’s still in control. Really 😉
Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, comes out on May 9, 2017 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). The pre-order link is up!
She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Now, after a 10-year break in service, she is an Army editor. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.
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What difficulties did you have to deal with on the home front while attending a conference?