Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Being Mentored: Thanks Brandilyn Collins, Cara Putman, Robin Caroll

Attending a conference with more than seven hundred conferees in a congested city (especially for country girls) can be intimidating.

Behind the scenes of any stellar organization stand gifted workers willing to help. Three fabulous authors set aside time to guide and instruct over 150 first timers through storms of doubt, earthquake nerves, and mountains of questions. 

A loop was created for this specific purpose. Emails from these ladies first popped into our inboxes in June, opening doors for questions and offering tidbits and trade secrets. Newbies felt the freedom to ask any question.

I present you these godly ladies
 who served as first timer mentors:

Robin Caroll was the ACFW conference director. I found her checking details and assisting anywhere needed. Robin never took the stage-you had to look to see her (you know the type-the one cooking in the kitchen or standing behind the camera--ever present, never seen).

All seven hundred some odd conferees had appointments with either agents, editors, or mentors. Robin kept the pace moving, which enable all of us to enter our appointments at our given time. Because of her efforts, we each had our "Moment" of opportunity.

Robin and her husband, Casey Miller (the poor soul who arranged our appointments) sat with Pepper, Casey and I at the Pizza party. We laughed, sang, and danced to 80's music.  What a fun couple!

Robin, you became a friend in a heartbeat, a tower of strength, and a source of help. Thank you.

Serving as conference MC, Brandilyn Collin's humor and her Zondervan stories from the past made us feel like we were at home with a group of friends who had always known each other.

We laughed with tears dripping down our cheeks to her dramatized stories as if we were all gathered in her living room following a tasty dinner for an hour of stories. 

Many of us noticed a special side of Brandilyn: her loving, caring, giving side. 

One time I walked into the lobby area of the ladies room. Off to the side of this large room sat Brandilyn and a conferee--alone, praying. 

Another time I saw her in the comfy sofa section of the open hall area sharing what she had learned in the writer's craft with a small group of conferees. 

One morning I had slipped out of my hotel room early to go to the prayer room and had forgotten my Bible. I found Brandilyn's laying open on the table in this special room, inviting anyone to use it. As I leafed through the pages for my quiet time, I saw her notes and comments next to passages on almost every page.

Brandilyn, you SHOWED your love for Christ to us.  Thank you

Cara Putman devoted hours upon hours to newbie questions in the months leading up to the conference--she even answered questions repeated several times! 

Cara translated rules, guidelines, and directions (a type of non fiction language not spoken by fiction writers) using her own experiences. She posted links to fun examples of how not to speak to an agent, samples of beautiful one sheets, even photos sites of St. Louis with lists of local restaurants and attractions. WE WERE PREPARED!

During the orientation, Cara's cell phone rang. We laughed. She laughed too. Did she set up the situation? Does it matter? In her uplifting way, she proved people make mistakes, handle the situation in an appropriate way, and then move on. A great lesson to remember prior to those special appointments.

Cara, you radiated a sparky, godly, helping spirit which enabled everyone to sense God's presence.  

Any first time experience needs a mentor/guide to bring about a smooth experience. Have you had someone help you through a first time experience?

Do you have any shout outs, kudos, memories or others comments for Robin, Brandilyn, or Cara?


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Mary, it was fun to read your post and see how you and other "newbies" were equipped for ACFW. I loved reading stories about women I've heard of and read. To see a heart willing to mentor speaks so much of their character.

In my writing journey (which I never thought I would embark on), I have had a dear friend come alongside me to help me figure out craft, to encourage me, to give me guidance. I wouldn't still be attempting this without her. :)

Thanks for upping my excitement for going to ACFW next year. :)

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I have to say I am LOVING the stories coming out of this conference...things I had no idea went on. It was all such a whirlwind for me and it's a joy to hear how God blessed others.
~ Wendy

Pepper said...

Wonderful post -and IMPORTANT to remember!!
Thanks, Mary.

Other fabulous gals like Allison Wilson, Pam Hillman, Cheryl Wyatt, and Michelle Mitchell were behind-the-scenes workers too. They are ALL fabulous!

Thanks for the reminder, Mary.

Cynthia Herron said...

This conference was so amazing, Mary! And the shout-outs you gave were perfect! (I was one of those souls who the beautiful Brandilyn prayed with. She truly is filled with the Holy Spirit!)

And a funny-ism about Casey Miller...I picked up an editor appt when this particular ed. had a cancellation. Casey passed me a sheet of paper and pencil. When I wrote down my own name, he said (grinning), "No, not YOUR name. The EDITOR'S name. So you won't forget."

I crossed out my name replacing it with the editor's, and then asked, "But how do you know MY name?"

Again, a big grin from Casey. Then he pointed to my name badge. :)
Big laughs all around.

Mary Vee Writer said...

How blessed you have been to have that dear friend. One great component to our networking age is those who live in country areas, with no writers around, can link with blessed friends as you have.
I'd think you have been a blessing back to her Jeanne :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

You touched may lives while there. I'm sooooo very happy I got to see you in person.

Thank you for adding names to the list today. So many wonderful people, all working to help each other be successful. This Christ like spirit can be seen everyday in our own little corners-not just ACFW. God has blessed.

Oh, thanks for sharing your story about Casey Miller! He knew how to make us laugh while meeting our needs.

patti.mallett_pp said...

What fun to see my new Facebook Friend writing this today. The conference sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing in such a way that those of us who didn't attend got a real taste for it. With many food allergies, as well as perfume, etc. sensitivities, I might not ever make it to one of these, so it's fun to experience it vicariously!

It is clear the attendees were greatly blessed by the love and care of those "at the top." Writers are some of the sweetest, most generous people!!!

Beth K. Vogt said...

Rachel Hauck and her team did a beautiful job turning our hearts to worship through music and praise. I so appreciated their ministry to the conference attendees.

Mary Vee Writer said...

The scent issue weighed strong (pun intended). The conference was scent free for the benefit of those who have allergies. Notices were sent frequently to attendees NOT to bring anything scented.
Oh, and conferees with special food needs were also accommodated. Maybe, just maybe you could come next year knowing this?

Mary Vee Writer said...

You are absolutely right. Rachel Hauck and her team stirred our hearts to praise. I really liked the new song she taught us. Just yesterday it flowed through my mind. We all were truly blessed with Rachel's ministry.

Cara Putman said...

Can I just say that I love working with first timers. It truly is something I enjoy, but there has been such an attitude of gratitude with this year's group -- you truly stand out! And boy do I look exhausted in that photo! LOL

Mary Vee Writer said...

We so appreciate and love you Cara:)

Joanne Sher said...

What a lovely, LOVELY post. Wish I'd been there.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Maybe we can see you next year? I hope so.

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Mary, what a kind and thoughtful post. Thank you.

I'm honored to have been a part of the conference and to have met all the first-timers.


Mary Vee Writer said...

We are glad you did, as well.
You touched many lives.
God's blessings on you.

Anonymous said...

Mary, I didn't realize that everyone got to have appointments. I wonder why I never knew that? But that is way cool. Makes the experience way more personal.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Yes, everyone has the opportunity to have an appointment, wahoo!!!!
You can chose four from the list of editors or mentors or agents or a combination. From that list Casey Miller gives everyone one appointment. All remaining slots are then filled with second choices. If any slots are still open he will give you a third choice. Casey has a fantastic computer system to work the who thing out.

Unknown said...

I think I'm FINALLY catching up on my sleep...poor Casey is STILL exhausted! One of these days, I'll share the story of what he said scheduling the appts was like! :)

Thank you so much for your kind words. It IS a lot of work, but SUCH a blessing to those of us working. :) And OUR table at the pizza party ROCKED! lol

Rajdeep Paulus-Writer of Young Adult Fiction said...

Robin and Casey…you guys heard me out when my 11 year old "had no more tears for me" and Casey, thanks a million for making my change requests!

Cara, you heard me out when my four year old wouldn't stop crying on facetime…sorry to vent in the bathroom!

To many more, my first conference experience was beyond my wildest dreams AMAZING, b/c of the individual gems God dropped in my lap each and every moment of each day!! :) <3

Cheryl Wyatt said...

WONDERFUL post and comments too! Thanks, Pepper for the sweet words. I had a blast working with Robin and Casey. He did a FABULOUS job. Robin amazes me with her conference directing abilities. Wow.

I agree that Cara and Brandilyn are wonderful.

Glad you all had great experiences and hope to see you next year!