April 19, 2016 was not the first time I attended a Texas Library Association Conference. I attended 5 years ago, with Brian, as a guest. That was when I met Amanda M. Thrasher. We did not know it, but we had a Divine appointment. In the Spring of 2011 I submitted numerous query letters with the requested chapters of my manuscript to several publishers. I finally signed a contract that stipulated I would complete the manuscript within a year. The publishing company suggested that I go to the conference in Austin to see what being a published author was all about. Their representative told me that they had a successful author that would be happy to show me around. Amanda and I connected over the phone and then met in person. I felt an instant connection. Imagine my amazement when I learned that she was adopted...it sparked a kinship. I enjoyed the conference, spending time with Amanda and meeting other authors. Well, the year went by and I did not get my draft written, I had a lot more emotional work to do about releasing my baby girl for adoption than I was ready to do and that was not where my priorities were at the time. Fortunately, that Divine appointment was not in our control or on our timetable. Amanda and I became fast friends and stayed in touch. (Since I get these questions sometimes, I will share for your information, both parties were released from the contract at the end of the year when the manuscript was not completed, & no money was ever exchanged.)
Flash forward to 2013...by this time Amanda and her friend and fellow Author, Jannifer Powelson, left their prior publisher and started their own publishing company! The company, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press is a publishing company owned by authors for authors. Amanda prompted me to let her know when I was ready to get my manuscript in order and encouraged me to submit it to the company according to the guidelines. Well, imagine my delight when they accepted the manuscript! That was just the beginning of a whirlwind process. They helped me with contracting services to complete the process of getting the book ready for printing! I met many wonderful folks and count myself truly blessed!
This year, I was not a guest of the conference. I was a published author, attending the Texas Library Conference with my publisher, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press and several other authors from our label. It was quite an experience. You see, this conference is not one where a solo author can just set up a booth or a table.
I was elated to meet so many people and share my book with them. The people that said, "Wow, I was adopted." Or the lady that said, "I want to thank you for making that decision", and showed me a picture of her 2 year old adopted son with tears in her eyes. Another priceless moment was turning around at the conference author book signing table to see a friend from years ago. Melanie Claybar and I worked together and I cared for her two beautiful baby girls in the NICU. They are in school now. We have stayed in touch , like so many, through social media. She knew that I would be there, but did not let me know she would be. What a treasured moment.
My book was published two years ago, but it was not until this event that I realized the magnitude of the task that is ahead. The opportunity that I have to tell meaningful stories is enormous. Life experience brings personal insight and weaves tales in my imagination, laced with some truth, some fiction, some humor & some heartbreak. Whenever someone asks me if I want to be a guest, either at a conference or on a seemingly silly game show for children I choose to say YES! God will open the doors. Our job is to just walk through.
"If the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise", I will share more stories!