Newbie Reflections: ACFW Post-Conference Takeaway

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The conference is over.

I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.

It’s September 21st, and I’m home in Tampa with two happy boys, a relieved hubby, and a dog that won’t stop licking me. I can live without the licking, but I’m sure glad to be home.

Since mid-June, the build up for this conference–in my own life and in the lives of other newbies (new ACFW conference attendees)–has been an exciting and heavy weight.

So, you might wonder, what does the annual ACFW conference consist of? What do writers do at writing conferences?

  • Sit in large silent groups with laptops open, feverishly typing away at a manuscript and avoiding eye contact at all cost? <Some write during conference, but mostly at night. And eye contact is encouraged.>
  • Throw sentence diagramming parties to make sure we’re following grammar rules to the nth degree in our stories? <Thank goodness, no!>
  • Take turns reading our favorite scene from our stories then acting them out? <Um, no.>

Here’s what DOES happen at a writers’ conference:

  • If you’re unrepresented, you pitch your story(ies) to agents, face-to-face (Sweaty palms, much?)
  • If you are represented by an agent, you pitch to editors from publishing houses (Normal people, the veterans assured us. Agents and editors are just like us, they said. And they really are.)
  • Meals shared with brand new middle grade writer friends.

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  • Panels with witty agents giving helpful advice and sharing industry nuggets about genre, sales figures, and self-publishing wisdom.
  • Really yummy food (no dishes for three days!)
  • Hugs and smiles from authors you’ve read and loved and look up to. Gratitude sigh, Carla Stewart, Anne Mateer, and Nancy Kimball.

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  • Smiles and encouragement from those who were newbies once, too (last year, even).
  • Thoughtful, timely words prayed over me as I was about to pitch for the first time, from a woman I didn’t know seated beside me (how I wish I’d gotten her name).
  • Getting all prettied-up for the Gala on Saturday night. Heels and all.

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  • Worshipping together each day, hands lifted, praising Jesus for Who He is before we even set about sharing our stories. He IS the story, we are the words to share His love and saving grace. This was probably my favorite part of the conference.
  • Spending time with my mom and sister, who came along for moral support.

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  • Really yummy desserts. (No dishes for three days!)
  • Seeing my name on the big screen as a YA Genesis finalist? Unforgettable and humbling. God’s grace, lit up.

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  • Sitting in classes taught by boots-on-the-ground authors, veterans and those who have just been published, people brimming with advice, encouragement, and wisdom.
  • Really yummy chai lattes in the coffee shop. (No dishes for three days!)
  • New writing friends who clomped through airport parking garages with me in the Dallas heat.

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  • Feeling the peace that passes all understanding guarding my heart as I waited to pitch to agents and editors, knowing dear friends and family were praying for that very thing. God’s peace.

So.

The conference is over.

There will be next year, Lord willing. Nashville. And I won’t be a newbie. I’m glad for this.

In the meantime, we writers write. We plot, read, critique, write more, edit, talk dialogue aloud, and write more.

I’m so thankful to have gone to ACFW 2015.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

 

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3 thoughts on “Newbie Reflections: ACFW Post-Conference Takeaway

  1. WordsasWorship September 21, 2015 at 9:49 pm Reply

    Thanks for this wonderful newbie’s eye view, Kerry. Love the photos and the connections it appears you made. Can’t wait to hear more at the next Brandon Christian Writers meeting and at Florida Inspirational Writers Retreat. We are so proud of you!!

  2. Normandie Fischer (@WritingOnBoard) September 22, 2015 at 8:12 am Reply

    Perhaps I’ll see you next year, Kerry. I haven’t been since 2010, but Nashville feels near enough for a road trip!

  3. Alisa Hope Wagner September 22, 2015 at 5:26 pm Reply

    Sounds like my first (and only so far) conference experience! I was 7 months pregnant, though, which was interesting. I got to take a class taught by David Morrell–the writer of Rambo. That was amazing. And I met a ton of other writers, getting all of their autographs and books, which I gave as Christmas presents 🙂 And no dishes for three days!

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