Thursday, September 24, 2009

Inkwell Inspirations hits the 2009 ACFW Conference

Nine of the scribes from Inkwell Inspirations travelled from near and far to attend the ACFW Conference last weekend in Denver, Colorado. We hugged, we ate, we laughed, we cried, and we soaked up more information than SpongeBob soaks up sea water. Here's just a little bit of what we experienced, from the keyboards of the Inkies themselves...

D’Ann Mateer
One of the most incredible things for me this year was the Awards Banquet on Saturday night. I was sitting the back of the room of over 500 people, yet when my name was announced as a Genesis finalist, I heard a shout go up from within the crowd. Much of that was due to my new friends who participate in this blog. I wasn’t alone. I had more than a few friends rooting for me. It brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t hear my name called again, but it didn’t matter. I could smile. For awards without relationships are empty things. And relationships don’t hinge on winning awards. (Thank goodness!)

Debra E. Marvin
This was my first ACFW conference and the first time to meet my blog mates in person. I looked at it as a time to learn about the industry, take some workshops and make new friends. Of course, it was so much more. I learned that my blogmates are incredible people. Really. I met lots of online friends, and some authors who've inspired me and now who are personally encouraging me. An editor and now three agents would like to see "Nightshade" when it's ready. (Scuse me, gotta run!) But there's more. God used this conference to minister to my heart. You thought it was the arid air that made us feel dehydrated? No it was all the tears.

Wenda Dottridge
Other than meeting face-to-face many new and longtime online friends for the first time, other than all the laughs with those friends, other than the high caliber of the workshops, other than the opportunity to speak directly with industry professionals, and other than the moving, motivational speeches by the incredibly gracious Debbie Macomber the highlight of my conference was the atmosphere. I think, because the organization is the American Christian Fiction Writers, I believed the conference would be churchy or religious. It wasn't. And yet, it seemed that God's grace permeated the atmosphere. More than one person told me the weekend was very emotional for them. That they felt open and vulnerable in a way they hadn't expected. Yes, I wanted to shout. Me too! That's not what I went there for, and yet that is what I came away with.

Lisa Richardson
This was my third ACFW conference and I have to say, I enjoyed it the most. I was finally comfortable enough to focus on relationships instead of timelines. I had the privilege of meeting in person eight other inkies and it was just so incredible to see how we are all so different and yet got along so well. But the absolute best thing was what the Lord did for me during the awards banquet. I was a finalist for the Genesis contest and I was so nervous I couldn't even eat the fabulous meal that everyone else enjoyed so much. About half way through the Book of the Year awards I felt the Lord speaking to my heart. He said simply: "Be still." I knew somehow in that moment that I hadn't won, but that I was right where I needed to be cupped in the palm of God's hand. I ate some mashed potatoes and then the Genesis awards began. I was 2nd place. SURREAL. Such an honor. I know many others had worked just as hard, and wanted it just as much. But the sweetest thing was knowing that Jesus was with me.

Anita Mae Draper
This year was my 2nd ACFW conference so I knew what to expect – like the renewal of friendships and no sleep. I also knew not to push myself to attend every workshop and bought the CDs instead. In this way I can hear all the workshops and not just the ones I signed up for. It also freed me up to listen to where God wanted me to be. And if you’ve been following my blog, you’d have read that I had several ‘God’ moments while in Denver and all because I was receptive to His voice. The conference also allowed me to meet my crit partner, my new Inkie sisters, and other friends I’ve only ‘talked’ to online. I needed the personal fellowships only a face-to-face encounter can bring. I needed the rejuvenation of spirit. I needed to be encouraged after hearing the trials of successful writers like Debbie Macomber. And I needed to touch base with the professionals of my craft. I received emails from new friends I met at the conference before I even got home. Now that I’m back, I’m eager to get writing. Tired and happy, I can’t wait for next year.

Jennifer AlLee
This was my third ACFW conference. I've always been impressed with what a giving, loving group this is, but this year I really got to see it in action. I witnessed a room full of hundreds of writers pray together for those who were facing challenges. I basked in the glow of community worship, one of the most powerful things there is. And, perhaps the most miraculous of all, I saw writers give up their scheduled appointment times so another writer could have the opportunity. I watched it happen with two women who just met each other at lunch. And it happened to me when my roomie, best bud, and Inky sister Lisa told me that I needed to take her appointment the next day. John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Well, at a conference full of writing professionals, the equivilent is, "Greater love has no writer than this, that he give up his editor appointment for his friend." It was, without a doubt, the most awesome four days ever!

Connie Marquise
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
Jesus is alive and well – and was with us at the ACFW conference in Denver last week. Wow! What an amazing journey the Lord took me on. I am still in awe of the fellowship and camaraderie I experienced. We were of every denomination as well as culture, and God’s love flowed between us like a refreshing river, linking us all in His name. It extended beyond our group to all we encountered--other guests and hotel staff included. The subtle changes I witnessed in their demeanor and attitude as each day passed is testimony to the peace and harmony available to everyone when we live a loving and giving life. A Christ-filled life.

That’s the lesson that will remain in my heart even as all the names and lectures begin to fade. I’ve always known He is in charge, though I’ve not always handed over the reins. In Denver, I was reminded that while He may close one door in your life, He will always open another. It’s a matter of waiting and listening, because His time is the right time. It’s my prayer that each of you experiences on a regular basis the same fellowship that enveloped us there. As the song says, “I hope you’ll give faith a fighting chance. I hope you dance.”

Happy Inkies - from left
D'Ann, Connie, Jen, Gwen, Debra, Lisa, Anita Mae
(not pictured - Jill, who is in the previous
picture with Connie)

If you went to the ACFW conference, we'd sure love to hear your thoughts. And if you didn't go, feel free to tell us about another group event that meant a lot to you... a high school reunion, family get-together, etc.

To enter today's giveaway...
One of the ACFW success stories is author Myra Johnson. So today's prize is a copy of her debut novel, One ImPerfect Christmas from Abingdon Press. If you’d like to be entered, just leave a comment on this blog. Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). We'll pick a winner at random on September 27th. Remember, all comments left today will also be entered in our grand prize drawing on November 1st.


  1. Yay, Ladies! I love seeing your sweet faces. I'm so glad you all had a wonderful and blessed time. I hope to join you next year!

  2. Suzie's got the first comment! And I'm coming in second... amazing :+}

    I sure hope you can be there next year. We'll have a blast!

  3. Oh, I loved reading all your precious thoughts about the conference. Most of all, I loved meeting all of you!

    I wish the conference could have gone by more s-l-o-w-l-y. I feel like I meet SO many people and was rushed from here to there, but I'm so grateful I was able to go. I'm just now recovering from exhaustion and jet lag!

    God bless you all today.

  4. What a group of excellence! How wonderful that God led you to each other and you have gathered on this blog to share with others!

  5. My first conference was the Blue Ridge Writers Conference this past May. I heard from people who attend both, that in contrast Blue Ridge is less professional but more relaxed and more spiritually focused than ACFW.

    The spiritual apspect of the conference was amazing. I saw miracle after miracle all week long. Most of them would take too long to describe, but here's a quick one. My roommate spent all Monday night crying and overwhelmed as the enormity of the call to write she had undertaken crashed in on her. The next morning Cecil Murphy had devotions, and he addressed point for point, in some cases word for word, everything she was going through.

    For me, I went there trying to figure out what the "something missing" was in my novel that had been pointed out to me by a well respected agent. I figured it out and then some. God took my novel to whole new levels I never expected through what I learned at that conference and the Donald Maass book that was being recommended by all the instructors.

    I also met my agent there. She's a sweetie and she felt like an old friend. Oh, and there's another long testimony about that, but I'll save it for another day.

    By the way, I'm going to the Blue Ridge Novelists Retreat October 4-8. I don't think it's too late if anyone wants to join me :)


  6. Hello Inkies!

    Sending a special Hello to Debra and Anita, it was so nice meeting both of you at the conference! I didn't have the honor of getting to know the rest of the Inkies, maybe next year.
    Everyone of you are beautiful ladies, and your blog is excellent!
    This is my first time commenting on your blog,but I assure you it won't be my last...I love it!


  7. I love hearing everyone else's highlights of the conference. Like Connie, I do love that we come together as the Body of Christ, from all different denominations and cultures, and we are as one. Those are incredible moments!

  8. Dear Inkies,
    What I noticed about my fellow scribes were y'all's gorgeous smiles! Wish I could'a been sharing those claps and Godstop moments with y'all.

    Only a wedding--of a firstborn, no less--could trump something like the ACFW national gathering.

    You made my day--at 7:56 a.m. A pretty good deal!


  9. How wonderful! Thank you for sharing. I have never been to a conference but would love to someday. It would be fun to meet in person some of the authors whose books I enjoy reading. Maybe when my 2 year old and 6 year old are much older.

    Sounds like the conference had a great deal of fellowship being experienced. Sounds similar to a wonderful retreat that I went quite a ways back before I was married. The fellowship was amazing and I left there with such sense of peace.

    Thanks again for sharing.


  10. Wow, once again it is abundantly clear how we are all so different and yet somehow we seem to mesh. I'm just recovered from the trip but I'd go again in a heartbeat. Too bad it only happens once a year.

  11. Thanks Jen, for compiling our thoughts and photos. I'm blessed but not surprised as I read the thoughts of some of my "Denver Nine" Inky sisters. My heart was prepared before I left. I am a completely task oriented person so I'd hoped I could put that aside and use the time for fellowship. I did. And as usual, when you follow the Lord's leading He blesses you beyond your expectations.

    Dina, I'd love to do the Blue Ridge sometime.

    Group Hug!

  12. It's difficult to put into words all that the conference offered, isn't it? But you ladies did a great job. God was definitely there. I certainly felt His calming presence when I needed it the most.

  13. Hi everyone!

    It was great to meet you all at the conference--I really appreciated your warmth and down-to-earth attitudes. Your blog pins were a fantastic idea. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  14. Stellar post, Jen. We're so blessed to have you among us. It seems as if the conference touched us each in separate yet still, somehow, the same ways. God is indeed great. Bringing the Denver Nine together was awesome and meeting and gathering with fellow Christians was a thrill. To a new year and new accomplishments!

  15. it was great to meet most of you ladies at the conference! it was such a blessing. :)

    The Character Therapist

  16. The Denver Nine... I like that!

    If I could swing it, I would also love to go to Mount Hermon. But for now, my budget can only hold one conference and I've decided ACFW is it. So glad we could share it together. I hope next year, we'll be able to make it The Indianapolis Fifteen!

  17. Great post! I loved reading about your experiences, but it also gave me joy to look at the photos.

    Haven't been to ACFW yet, but I did go to Kelly Mortimer's conference in May. What a blast. I learned a lot, slept little, and made friends. I was so blessed by the experience.

  18. God blessed my socks off on this trip to Denver. I not only went to conference, but I visited a friend of mine (prior to the start of conference) who used to work with me in Cincinnati.

    I was able to go to Idaho Springs, Frisco, Lake Dillon, and Breckenridge. And I still had a energy for conference, which exceeded all expectations.

    One of my favorite things was visiting and meeting inkies, and each one is incredible in their own way, and so very talented. I loved the trip on the lightrail to go into downtown Denver. You can tell by that smile on my face that we had fun on the train. That's me in the glasses, by the way, sitting with Connie in our pictures.

    I also got to see friends, Vicki Cato and Serena Miller that I haven't seen for a long time.

    The workshops were tremendous. If you didn't get to conference I highly recommend buying the conference MP3's. I get them every year so that I can have conference all year round.

    I miss you inkies. I'm still recuperating from this cold I picked up in Denver. As soon as I get over it I'm sure I'll be on a conference high for a long time to come.:)

  19. Lisa, thank you for your reflections about the conference, and kudos for your own accomplishments. You're standing on the brink, dear sister! I thank and praise God for the way He is working in your work.

  20. In the back of my mind I'm already packing for Indianapolis, but haven't sprung that surprise on my husband yet. I'll give him a week or two, until the laundry is all caught up again, before I mention it oh, so casually.

    In the meantime, I've come back energized and anxious to write, so ttfn.

  21. It was great to see some of you in person. Anita...huge thanks for helping me bunch the meal tickets. YOU ROCK!

    Hugs all,


  22. Aw, Sharon. Thanks. I wish you could have been there too, it would be so good to give you a hug in person!

  23. I too was at the conference for the first time. I did not meet you ladies, but I did make some new friends. The ACFW is such a blessing and the conference was packed with fellowship and learning opportunities. pgrau dot ggi at gmail dot com

  24. enjoyed all your reflections on the Conference!
    Way to go Lisa, I am proud of you!
    I always enjoy getting together with family and friends, whether at a conference, reunion, or just day to day. Don't really have any special time in mind today. All seemed to be special.
    mrstgr at msn dot com

  25. This year's ACFW conference was so much more than I expected. I was like a horse heading to the barn on the way, straining at the bit. And once there, the time went too fast. Thank goodness I realized my limitations and stayed back at the hotel on Friday night. Although I would've loved to tour with the Inkies, I needed the time to relax and it worked out for the best.

    Thank you for all the wonderful photos, many of which I hadn't seen before. Jen, you've done a fantastic job compiling the info.

    I'm sorry if you were at the conf and I didn't get to meet you. Hopefully next time. And to those who couldn't make it, you were where God needed you to be. Someone needed to hold down the 'fort'. Your time will come.

    I treasure each and every one of you who've found your way to this blog whether an Inky or an Inkette and I truly believe God has brought us all together here for His purpose. God bless you all.

  26. Just saw my book as your giveaway for this post--thanks for the promo! What a great new blog you ladies have started! Congratulations, and it was great seeing so many of you at ACFW!

  27. The winner of today's gift is Sharon Kirk Clifton. Congratulations!


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How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.