I’ve been asked quite a few times what conference I went to this past weekend and what it was about. I’m glad you asked! ACFW stands for American Christian Fiction Writers and it is a national group of writers who write for the Christian market. They hold a conference once a year with many workshops and courses to learn about the craft of writing, as well has host pitch appointments with editors, agents, and mentors. I believe there was around 500 writers at the conference, and let me tell you, they were a bunch of beautiful souls willing to share their expertise and wisdom about the writing life. I went to the contest because I am writing historical romance and need to learn and connect with other writers.
Thursday was the early bird session, which I paid extra for because James Scott Bell was teaching for the whole day. He was totally worth it! His knowledge of the craft is immense and gave great tools for enriching your story.
Thursday evening I sat in on the Bethany House panel, with their editor/marketing team. It was fascinating to hear the behind the scenes action and what they are looking for in fiction. After that, I went to an agent panel where I learned what agents desire in a client, what to expect when you query, how to query, and on and on. It was terrific information that I needed as I am now seeking an agent.
Friday I went to Allen Arnold’s course called Using Chaos As Your Canvas. Oh my, this course was beautiful. I took eight pages of notes while my heart burned within me. You know when the Spirit moves inside your soul, nudging you to pay attention because something is happening? That is what I felt like in this class. I would share more, but will save it for another blog post.
Friday night was spent with my lovely Alley Cats, co-writers at The Writers Alley blog. I was in on the start of this blog years ago and stepped back in this year. I love these spunky gals who make me laugh and encourage me on this writing journey.
Saturday was the day for classes. I took one on Setting, one on Writing in Layers, one on Indie publishing, and the last was an Agent’s View on Traditional, Indie, and Hybrid Publishing. This last one was fascinating. I have never been opposed to indie publishing, but didn’t have much knowledge about it and was concerned about the marketing aspect. This class had so much practical information and really spelled out the pros and cons of each. I went away really encouraged by all I learned.
Then there was the Gala. This is a dress-up affair with a delicious meal followed by an awards ceremony. Jerry B. Jenkins was given the Lifetime Achievement award. Awards for Agent of the Year, Editor of the Year and Mentor of the Year were given as well. Then the Genesis awards were given. This is the contest for unpublished authors (You submit a small portion of your manuscript for judging.) I was a finalist in the Historical Romance category. The Carol Awards are for published books. It felt like the Academy Awards and was so exciting!
I was so blessed by the conference. These writers are a gracious bunch, so willing to help each other and cheer each other on. I came away encouraged, motivated, and humbled by God’s goodness.
Now, it is time to to plot the next story!