Keeping My Eye on the Prize

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I just got back from the ACFW yearly conference. It was a great time. I want to apologize for everyone I sneezed or coughed on. I came back to Arkansas with a head full of snot and some serious indignation (nothing ticks me off more than being sick). I was all fired-up and ready to find out who gave me the plague, only to  discover that it's pretty much spreading everywhere here. Um, guess it will be spreading everywhere in Indianapolis now. You're welcome. Anyway, between ACFW and whatever demonic forces took over my sinus cavities, I did not get a chance to blog.

It was a fabulous conference. Normally I'm the nerd soaking up every single class, but this year I was the nerd who had to miss a lot. Between a ton of meetings,  teaching my own two classes, and blowing my nose, I only made it to 1.5 sessions. I'm gonna have to buy the mp3's for sure.

So I have a lot to share from the week, but let me tell you about my cool moment–one of many. So it's Sunday, the last day of classes at ACFW and hours until the banquet and awards ceremony. And I felt like death. I don't get sick. I might have a health issue or two, but I have the immunity of John Travolta in a bubble, so it always throws me. And I had no drugs. I had some drug wannabe in my bag from the airport, but I needed the kind you have to sign for in the Wal-Mart pharmacy. The kind that contains ingredients that could blow your house up if mixed with a little heat and battery acid. And I hadn't slept in a while. And my hair wasn't cooperating. And they kept feeding us asparagus at meals.

So it's Sunday afternoon and I'm on minute thirty-one of looking for this stinkin' class. I had a map. I had a room name. And I could NOT find it. So I'm just walking around looking for this room and praying that Sudafed will magically drop from the ceiling. And this girl comes up to me and says, “Are you Ms. Jones?” And my first thought is, “Oh, crap, what have I done?”  And I consider saying, “No. I'm Susan May Warren.” But I tell her, yes, I am. And she breaks into the biggest smile (the kind of smile I would get if she had handed me Mucinex) and says, “I've been looking for you for days. I've read all your books. I love them.” And I just stop. And forget about the class I'm never going to find. And we stand there and talk. And I'm blown away by the way she's looking at me. Like I'm special. Like I'm Justin Bieber. Like I'm Blue Bell ice cream.  And Victoria introduces herself (that's her in the pic above. Isn't she the cutest?) and then her mom stops by. Victoria's sister, who I'd met earlier, is attending the conference, and Mom and little sis have come to stay with her and give support because we can be a bit intimidating. And I think it's the coolest thing ever. (In third grade I asked my own mother to ship me off to live with an ice skating coach (any one would do)  for the rest of my life so I could fulfill my dream to be a figure skater. She wouldn't do it. I'm still not over it.)  And then Victoria asks me some questions about the books, about the characters, and we just talk. And I know I'm standing in a God moment.And that he's just totally spoken to me and blessed me.  Through one little girl.

After we part ways, I don't get two steps before another mother approaches me to say, “I just want you to know your books are making a difference.” And proceeds to tell me about her daughter. And I say thank you, but what I want to say is, “Do you have any idea what a gift you've given to me? Do you have any idea how hung up I've been on the wrong things lately? And that last week in church I know God asked me, as clear as a bell, “Are you gonna listen to what people say about you and the books? Or are you going to listen to me?”  As an author (or any artist, creative type, etc), it's so easy to tune in to only the negative. I needed those reminders, especially in a conference surrounded by people who completely intimidate me with their talent, that there is a purpose in the books beyond the things I get caught up in like reviews, sales, and awards. We rarely get to see the faces of our readers, let alone hear from a reader in person how a book has made a difference. Those two conversations are something I will hang on to for years to come, occasionally pulling them out to look at, like my grandmother's old diamond ring.

In other news, I'm So Sure won the ACFW Book of the Year for Young Adult.
Just Between You and Me won Book of the Year for Contemporary Romance.
But neither one compares to what one girl and one mom gave me as I stood in a hall. Unsure of where I was supposed to be. And lost.

Thank you to every single reader of the books or the blog. It is an honor that you would read one single page, let alone let the story into your life. And I'm profoundly grateful and humbled by the two chance meetings where I listened to two new friends, felt the hand of God, and thought of you.

 

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 12 comments
Annie - September 21, 2010

That’s awesome! Those little reminders, I think, are often the best ones. :]

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Kristin - September 22, 2010

Congrats! And I’m glad you got to meet Victoria. It sounds like a sweet little moment arranged by God. 🙂

~Kristin

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Liv - September 22, 2010

Congrats! Moments of encouragement really are wonderful when your sneezing on Christian authors. 😀

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Sarah - September 22, 2010

What a great moment and story-thank you so much for sharing! I love these moments in life when we’re reminded why we do what we do (it always makes my day in the library when a teen comes and talks to me and I realize that’s why I’m here, so they have an adult to talk to and share with and realize that adults are cool!) And I’m sure there are millions of readers who would line up to tell you how much your books mean to them! (I know I would!)

And CONGRATS on the double win-that’s awesome!

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Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect - September 22, 2010

Congratulations on your awards! And what a great story – a divine appointment, I’d say! I love how God blesses us by letting us know how we’ve blessed others. 🙂

Also – I just started reading So Not Happening. I’m 16 pages in and liking it a lot!

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Kim - September 22, 2010

CONGRATULATIONS JEN!!!! I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!

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Suzanne Schaffer - September 23, 2010

Aww, Jenny, if you need to hear positive stuff just ask your blogger friends! We love you here (because we wouldn’t visit you online if we didn’t) and your books are making me want to write again AND to skip on over to the YA genre instead of books for grown-up women.

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ashley - September 23, 2010

Congrats!!!!! I whooped whooped for you here in Nashville!

I’ll do it again too – whoop whoop!

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Erin McFarland - September 23, 2010

I loved that this was one of the big highlights for you at the conference (meeting that sweet girl)… just shows even more what a cool chick you are 🙂 Huge congrats on the awards! Just finished up the Katie Parker Series (I’ve read your books newest to oldest apparently)… there are some series where I really wish the characters were real and that was definitely one of them. Maxine should go into a fictional character hall of fame. She has the same spunk as my Nana times a hundred with a bit of crazy. Loved her. God bless you for following your call to write!

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Jenny B Jones - September 23, 2010

Thanks for the comments, guys! Y’all are awesome.

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Ashley Clark - September 24, 2010

Jen, I had no idea you were sick! I had DayQuil in my suitcase. 🙁 And I totally wanted to be a figure skater too. Parents: “You can be anything you want to be.” Ashley age 5: “I want to be an Olympic figure skater.” 🙂

It was so much fun to meet with you at the conference. I enjoyed your YA workshop and just getting to know you. Hope you get to feeling better! 🙂

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C.J. Darlington - September 24, 2010

What a great story! I’m so glad you got to experience this, Jenny.

CJ

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