Friday, September 28, 2012

A Newbie Goes To Conference

Last week, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference for the first time. It was flat out amazing. I could talk about it for hours, but I'll spare you and just give you the highlights.

I arrived on Wednesday and jumped straight into the My Book Therapy Pitch and Promotion workshop, which really helped to ease my nerves and prepared me for my agent & editor appointments. My coach for the day was Lisa Jordan, who is quite possibly the world's greatest encourager. She's also a Carol Award winner. That's just how she rolls.

The very best table at the MBT Scrimmage.
Jeanne Takenaka, Mindy Obenhaus, Lisa Jordan, and me. We're missing
Lindsay Harrel, who was probably roaming about the room spreading Lindsay cheer.

Thursday morning, I went to the Early Bird session taught by Nancy Kress and took page after page of notes on writing scenes. That session was packed with helpful lessons. 

Later on Thursday, I volunteered to help set up the dining room for that evening's dinner. I really didn't know what we would be setting up before I went, so imagine my happy surprise when I found out that we were placing a free book on every chair! This is my kind of place! By the end of the weekend, I had a stack of books to bring home from all the lunch and dinner gifts.

About to head into the first main session with some of my OKC writer friends.
Me, Janet Lee Barton, Terri Weldon, Julie Jarnagin, and Lacy Williams.

Thursday afternoon, the conference officially started with worship led by Rachel Hauck and a keynote from Michael Hyatt. Both of those things were awesome. I tried to take a picture, but this was all I got.

You'll just have to trust me. That's Michael Hyatt.

Friday morning, I had my first appointment with an editor, and I didn't throw up or pass out. Win! I actually enjoyed meeting her and had a nice conversation. Friday afternoon, I met with an agent and was really encouraged by what she had to say. In between all that were loads of amazing classes on writing.

Friday night was the My Book Therapy Pizza Party. They put on a writer's version of the musical Oklahoma and it was hilarious. 

Lindsay "Curly" Harrel, Jeanne, and I having a yeehaw good time.
Saturday was the day of unexpected God moments. It started at breakfast when I met Connie Mann and continued later when I met Allison Pittman. Everyone I met at the conference was so wonderful, but these two ladies went out of their way to connect me with industry professionals. They didn't have to do that. Nobody even asked them to, but they did it anyway. I walked away from my conversations with them so encouraged, and was inspired to be as thoughtful of other people as they were to me. And for some reason, I didn't take a picture with either of them. Next year!

Saturday night was the big Awards Gala, which was SO fun! I was so happy for all the winners, and got teary during nearly every acceptance speech. It's just so exciting to watch people living their dreams.

Me and Julie (aka the best roommate ever!) on our way to the Gala.
Cheering for our friend the Genesis finalist, Erin Taylor Young.
Erin! Your face is on the big screen! How cool is that?!

Sunday, the conference ended with worship and lots of hugging and saying goodbye.

Worshipping with 700 other writers was awesome.

My prayer going into the conference was that I'd get just a bit of encouragement to keep going on my writing journey. God was faithful and gave me the encouragement I needed by the bucketful. And as an added bonus, He connected me with tons of people who will be my lifelong friends. As an introvert, I was nervous that I'd be overwhelmed with all the people, but I truly enjoyed being with everyone, especially my OKC writer friends. 

I'm already counting down the days until next year!