I Attended the Writers Conference After All!

Last spring, I admitted to someone that I wouldn’t be able to attend the Cedar Falls Christian Writers Conference, that I’d become more disabled since the last one I’d been to in 2019.

But that confession seemed to plant a seed. It wasn’t long before I began to notice God’s nudgings about what it would be like to  e at the conference, thanking those who’d given feedback through the years for what became Leora’s Letters.

I rented the closest cabin (to escape to for needed naps), signed up for the conference, and began to pray about it. Even though my favorite chauffeur has started down the path of his own health challenge, he said he’d take me–a two hour drive (from the Des Moines area) four times, since he’d come home in between. 

I’d taken part in this conference four or five times, but this would be my first as an author! I wanted to let others know how I’d been supported by this group, even since 2019. 

My New Role

In recent months I’d embraced an unexpected and humbling affirmation when invited to write endorsements for other authors’ books. The conference would be an opportunity, in this new role, to encourage beginning writers, or ones not published yet. The CFCWC became the highlight of the month. 

The Conference

When the day came, we arrived in Cedar Falls early enough to try the Dairy Cream near the campground. They have black raspberry swirl! Guy helped me get settled before Thursday evening’s creative activity. Mary Kenyon provided materials for spiritual vision journey boards, suggesting that we meditate on Philippians 4:8, asking the Holy Spirit to guide each to a focal point. With just three others at a table, we got acquainted right away. The evening set the tone for the entire conference.

Co-coordinators Mary Kenyon and Nick Portzen, along with their in-town team, were superb. A beautiful Spirit permeated the whole gathering.

I’d already read several books by Mary Kenyon, Sheri Shonk, and Cherie Dargan, so I’m awaiting their newest ones. Craig Bishop’s book about Billy Sunday has already gone home with our house painter (along with two sets of “Leora books).

During the next two days, we all attended some of the inspirational presentations, and sometimes we could make choices between two workshops. Alas, I missed a few when my body insisted on naps, but I sopped up information and met new people between presentations.

Authors were given space to display our books, which was fun my very first time. I didn’t sell many books, but I did bring home a dozen from other authors who were there!

The Best Part

The best part of the conference was getting acquainted with the attendees and presenters, with their stories, with what they felt God had prompted them to write about. What a delight to find fledgling writers with compelling ideas and topics I could cheer for! 

Well, Saturday evening came quickly. My favorite chauffeur and I took time for black raspberry swirl at the Dairy Cream before heading home.


The incredibleness wasn’t done. Monday I learned a poem I’d entered will be published in Lyrical Iowa this year. Tuesday I was invited to speak to a local book club next month. Wednesday I was invited to submit a story about Independence Day.

Wednesday night, I came down with hives, although I didn’t know that’s what the misery would turn out to be. I spent Thursday applying hydrocortisone cream to rashes, only to have those calm down and break out somewhere else. Friday, I discovered that the hives was likely due to the effort it took to be at the conference. Yes, it was worth it!

Since then I’ve been reading and leaving short reviews for the books I’d bought, sharing across social media. What a delight to support them on their writing journeys, while still basking in the Spirit from the conference I thought I was too disabled to attend. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Most of us attendees at the 2019 conference.


  1. Bravo to you for making the effort to attend in spite of health challenges and for your encouragement of others both while there and afterward! I often feel that way about attending church. I might not “feel like” going, but I do anyway, and invariably I return home afterward having received a blessing or encouragement from others or having been able to encourage someone else. I know your example has certainly been a rebuke of my own excuse-making and an encouragement to exert efforts with my own writing. Thank you!

  2. How wonderful that you able to attend this event! It’s good to see how you are encouraging fellow authors ( I know what it feels like to be lifted up by Joy).

    • Bless you, Bob! It was worth even the 24 hours of hives! I realized I’d gladly doing it again even knowing there’s be hives in my future! (Attenders came from MN, MO, KS, and MI, but no one from Wisconsin.)

      • I’d be lost among all those hardworking authors. Just this last Sunday someone at church ask when was I going to write another book. I said I wasn’t and she sounded disappointed. Frankly, I don’t think there’s another book in me, and that’s OK. I’m even running out of blog topics, though it surprises me that occasionally someone reads and like an older post. I’ll rest in whatever way God leads me, grateful for the opportunities He’s given me to share His working in my life. Blessings to you and Guy.

      • I seem to remember a couple of adventures you’ve had with things on wheels. You mentioned that you’ve got several stories involving vehicles. Hmm, seems to be a theme here, an interesting thing. Noodle around and see if there’s anything there. I’d certainly enjoy more stories like those.

  3. Cheers to you for being able to go…boo about the hives, though! Truly – congrats on the upcoming publishing of your poem, Joy. How wonderful. And I hope you enjoyed that blackberry swirl treat! 😘

  4. Writing reviews for books you purchased from other authors who were at the conference was so thoughtful of you. Have some more blackberry swirl ice cream! Oh, and I love Philippians 4:8!

    • A few years ago, someone at the conference urged us to get in the habit of leaving reviews, even short ones, for books we read. It’s been fun! I can check back on Goodreads, which keeps my list and when I finished reading a book, which has become handy.

    • Since then, two local shops have requested five and six SETS of all 3 Leora books! And today, someone wants to know if there’s another one in the works. It’s underway, I’m praying for focus and concentration!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.