The sales of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot has slowed considerably the first half of this year. I expected as much. After exhausting invitations to read excerpts at the churches of the pastors in the book, I knew I would not have many options. Sales rise when I am able to speak, so I did two things to remedy the problem. I joined Toastmasters to improve my speaking skills. Having done all that was in my power to do, I prayed God would do what I could not do – open doors for me to speak.
The Southern Christian Writers Conference (SCWC) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama allows conference attendees to sale their books during the conference. I mailed my registration and talked to several friends about going as a group. Marlaine and Sandra already had plans to attend and invited me to go with them. Toni, decided to join us.
Four days before we left for the conference, God answered my prayer. I received an email from the SCWC with an invitation to give an inspirational ten minute speech about my experience as a writer. I immediately replied “Yes” and thanked God that I had joined Toastmasters. With some minor tweaking to fit the audience, the Ice Breaker I had given at Toastmasters was perfect for the conference.
God not only answered my prayer for speaking opportunities, he gave me some sweet experiences. I live an hour away from most of the Guild members. My socializing with them is done monthly in the few minutes before and after the Guild meeting. The four and a half hour trip to Tuscaloosa enabled me to form a stronger friendship with Marlaine, Sandra and Toni. Sweet!
We arrived at the conference early, so I could set up my books in the author room. Much to my surprise, a check was waiting for me at the registration desk; payment for my inspirational ten minute speech. Most of what I do is gratis. Getting paid is sweet!
I noticed that the signup sheet for dinner with Bruce Barbour had slots available. Two years earlier, a friend had signed me and herself up for the coveted dinner with Mr. Barbour, literary agent and founder of Literary Management Group, Inc. His family has published Christian material for four generations. He was full of interesting stories, and I regretted that I did not have my camera to record them. I signed up for dinner and hoped Mr. Barbour would give me permission to film him.
Of the three writers invited to give inspirational speeches during the opening session, I was scheduled to speak last. Marlaine said, “Teena, you must have the desert.” After listening to the two gifted speakers who preceded me, I wasn’t sure I had anything at all. I squared my shoulders and delivered my message, praying at least one person would be inspired. When I returned to the table Marlaine handed me a written note; “I was wrong – that was the appetizer, the meal and dessert. Wonderful!” If no one else was inspired, I was by that note. Sweet!
The rest of the day, I received positive comments from the conference attendees about my ten minutes of inspiration. The most encouraging comments came from one of the organizers of the conference and Bruce Barbour who said, “Thanks for sharing. That was great.” I seized that moment to ask Mr. Barbour for permission to video some of his exploits in publishing. He not only gave me permission to video his comments during dinner, he agreed to tell me his salvation story. Double sweet!! (Keep an eye on NOLA.com’s faith blog for that story.)
After the conference, Marlaine, Sandra, Toni and I went to a restaurant. Toni who had bathed us in prayer from the moment we left for the conference announced we should ask the waitress if she had any needs she wanted us to pray about. I thought that was a novel idea and wondered how the waitress would react. The waitress burst into tears. She was greatly distress that her bank account was overdrawn. We prayed for her. She left to place our orders. We took up a collection. She returned and burst into tears when we handed her enough money to get her bank account in the black. The perfect end to a sweet day.