I arrived here in St. Louis for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) on Wednesday. This afternoon was catch-up-on-lost-sleep time. I have a hunch I'll sleep well tonight, too. After three and 1/2 days of going almost nonstop (not counting travel), it certainly felt good. Still, I so enjoyed this conference. I looked forward to it all year, and it didn't disappoint. What a blessing the whole conference was!
There's no way to get in on all the workshops, although it would have been great. Randy Ingermanson's two days of The Snowflake Method made synopses written before the book sound easy.
Stanley William's Early Bird Session talked about "The Moral Premise" for writing heroes and villains into EVERY novel or screenplay.
Sarah Sundin's presentation on historical research provided a bunch of insights on how to find, catalog, and organize historical data and was worth busting my bedtime for.
So was the pizza party put on by My Book Therapy--worth staying up for, that is. Funny and inspiring.
Rick Acker, Steve Laube, and Cara Putnam put on a workshop about e-books that probably saved my life--I am sending one of my books to three agents, and did plan to turn another one into an e-book that I would publish myself. Legally NOT a good idea without the consent of your agent and publisher!
The workshop I liked best was "There's Nothing Wrong With You" by Karen Ball--perhaps the perfect workshop for pansters. There are two or perhaps three types of fiction writers--plotters (who plot out the whole book before writing it) and pansters (who write by the seat of their pants--they are just as surprised as the readers about what their characters do. Then there are those in the middle--called plotsters by some. They sort of know what's happening next because maybe they've written a short, vague outline for themselves before starting on their manuscripts.
There were so many other workshops I wish I could have attended and still more that I'm not advanced enough for--something for everyone from the beginners to the experts.
And there were the appointments. You could schedule yourself to pitch to an agent or editor or meet with a mentor. Nice, because agents and editors will be frank with you about whether your novel has a chance with the readers' market or not--and they might even give you ideas on what to do to improve your book. The mentors at the conference read a part of your manuscript and always give you a wonderful critique.
The general sessions, breakfast meetings, and Sunday a.m. service--beautiful music and true worship of our King of Kings.
The hotel staff--from the cleaning people to the meal servers--they were so nice and so accommodating to the folks who wanted a cup of coffee instead or vice tea, gluten-free or vegetarian meals. And they smiled all the time. God bless them!
The highlight of this conference had to be the great Gala last night--people dress up in their finest or maybe their most apropos outfit. There were a couple of kilt-wearers, Jean-Luc Piccard, space warriors, lords, and ladies. A true feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. And the awards. Ah, the awards--the bests of the mentors, agents, editors, and authors in many genres. Lots of happy tears and laughter, and I'm sure some disappointment for ones who came so close but didn't win their races. Even to be in the top three, though, is an honor beyond measure. It's where we all hope to be someday, but not just for ourselves. Our first and foremost goal is to honor God and to draw others closer to Him.
However, the best part of the conference was the people. There were 750 people attending the conference this year, and all of them gave an encouraging smile, a prayer, a hug, and a chance to talk the jargon. For writers, this is so important. Usually our spouses and reader-type friends--their eyes glaze over and they nod and smile at you, their friend who is speaking this foreign language. Normal folks think MS is a disease, a POV is a personally owned vehicle, and a hero is a sandwich. I don't think anyone ever accused a fiction writer as being normal. But being around s750 other people who know what you're talking about? Heaven. Thanks, Lord.