Friday, September 23, 2011

Left Behind!

…From ACFW Conference, that is.

by Susanne Dietze

If you’re reading this, I can guess you’re not in St. Louis for the 2011 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. Me neither. We all have our reasons for staying home, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t a little sad—and maybe more than a bit curious about what we’re missing.

While some of our favorite inspirational authors (both published and soon-to-be published) are networking, we’re working day jobs. While they’re marinating in the teaching of notable speakers, we’re marinating tonight’s chicken dinner. Which we’ll be eating while they’re celebrating achievement in inspirational writing with a big ol’ banquet.

But this is not the time to have a pity party! Those of us who are left behind from Conference can accomplish some big things weekend. Here’s what I plan to do:

Be present in the moment and trust in God. Rejoice in wherever you are this weekend, because the Lord most probably wanted you there, whether it’s a family wedding or a kid’s soccer game. God’s faithfulness and love for you is the same as it ever was. Trust in His timing and provision, and pray to be able to discern His will for your future attendance.

Write. Networking is only part of our job as writers. If we don’t have proposals / manuscripts in hand, then there’s nothing to publish. Plan to get some work accomplished toward that end. As for me, I’ll be writing a synopsis.

Do research—for your story or your craft. Since I’m writing a synopsis this weekend (one of my least favorite things to do), I’m going to search online for articles to help me do it well.

Speaking of craft, if you’re a member of ACFW, you can attend the At Home Conference. Teachings on marketing, writing, and networking will be available. Visit for more information.

Party. We can join in the celebration for the Genesis and Carol Awards! Participate in the Live Blog, which will occur during the awards ceremony tomorrow, September 24, at 6:30 PM CDT. Visit to take part.

Last year, I was a Genesis finalist but couldn’t attend conference. My family picked up my favorite take-out and we put the laptop on the kitchen table, joining in the Live Blog. I was also blessed that my friend Lisa Richardson sent photos of the banquet food, so I felt part of the party. Except I got to wear comfy yoga pants instead of sequins.

Do one thing to pamper yourself. Yeah, our friends at conference can visit the hotel’s spa. But you’re worth an indulgence, too. Paint your toenails, take a nap, order a zillion-calorie drink at Starbuck’s (mine will be a Pumpkin Spice Latte!)—whatever makes you feel special and nurtured.

I’ll be praying for conference, and for those of us left behind. Perhaps one of these days—maybe even next year—we’ll be there together.

What are you doing this weekend? What’s your favorite Starbuck’s indulgence?

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,

Photos courtesy of


  1. Well we may not be there but we have imaginations! I remember being perfectly excited last year as Susie and I attended the Live Blog together--well sort of. I DID feel I was part of the event and we didn't have to put on stockings or makeup!

    And Lisa, Jen, Dina,Gina,and Anita are staying in touch. Lisa already sent notes back!!

    Susie I feel your pain. Synopsis. Nuff said.

  2. Good morning, Deb! Ah, I remember last year. You and I wore our best sweatpants for the Live Blog. I was glad you were my virtual dinner partner.

    Some day we'll have a full-on real meal together!

    This synopsis is whacking me over the head. I really, really don't like them. I tend to be too wordy, for one thing. But writing a synopsis does make me structure my story better. Still...

    Thanks for coming by, Deb. Hope you're having a good day.

  3. Good morning, Susie!

    I have a confession to make. This is the 2nd time in a week that I've heard the term "yoga pants" and I don't know what they look like? Are they flowy like Turkish pants? Tight like biking shorts?

    I hope I finish all my schoolwork tonight so I can work on my book tomorrow. Good luck with your synopsis. They are my least favorite thing to write.

    Starbucks! My favorite treat from Starbucks is the black iced-tea - unsweetened. There's something about the leafy taste of the tea that I just crave. Oh, and those little pink birthday cake doughnuts, too. Yum.

  4. I am drinking a pumpkin spice latte right this very minute! Mmm...first of the season.

    I like those little donuts, too, Suzie.

    My yoga pants are not tight at all, but loose, flowy, t-shirt-ish cotton. They are the most comfy thing in my drawer.

    Good luck with your writing tomorrow. I just looked at my pile of notes for my WIP, waiting for me to turn them into a synopsis, and I sighed.

  5. I think I need some yoga pants! They sound lovely.

    I always sigh when it comes to the synopsis. Especially if it can only be one or two pages.

  6. I'm one of the few people who have not bought into the Starbuck's craze. As for coffee, plain old decaf will have to do.

    I was at ACFW last year, waiting to hear how I did in the Genesis (runner up). Not sure if I ate much; my stomach was in knots.

    Not many plans over the weekend. Am on my way to a screenwriting workshop at an historic restored theater later this afternoon, so that is my writing treat.

  7. Suzie, I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who sighs repeatedly over a synopsis. Ugh. I got a bit done on it this morning, though.

  8. Barb, the screenwriting workshop sounds fun! I've read that those are wonderful for novelists--helpful with pacing, dialogue, etc. You'll have to fill us in later. Ooh, or write a blog post about it! I'd love to know what you learned.

  9. I guess I'm not that much of a coffee drinker, though if it's cold enough outside, I do love a good cup like Outback or Olive Garden make.

    But if I go to Starbucks, a vanilla latte is what I pick

    Exciting, huh?

    My coffee needs are small. ;)

    I wish I could have gone to the conference, but there IS plenty for all of us to do right where we are. And next year, God willing, I'll go.

  10. I try to get some of the pumpkin flavored treats this time of year but I've never bought a latte in my life. You probably wonder what a deprived life I've led... I only drink decaf and I prefer my calories in the chewable form.

    I'm going to splurge on me (the poor me I didn't go to conference excuse) by buying Alicia Rasley's workbook to see if it helps me plot the next book. I love plotting so I don't know if I need it for that but if it can help and cut down on the time it takes to write the book...

    Nice to chat with the left- behinders. Hey where's Niki?

  11. I don't drink coffee, just tea. But I do love the smell of coffee. I think just smelling it causes the caffeine to absorb into your body, because I always feel good when I smell it. :)

    Deb, have fun with the workbook. I have a plotting workbook, too, but I hate to write in it. I don't want to mess it up.

    I'm among those who hope to go to the conf next year, but I'm planning to go to RWA in Anaheim, so I'm not sure I can swing both. But I'd like to. I'm so greedy.

  12. Mmm DeAnna, a vanilla latte. But now I'm a bit hungry for Olive Garden. Is your Olive Garden always as packed as mine is?

    Glad you're getting some work done. I'm chugging right along with my syno, so I'm glad I am getting something done, too.

  13. I bought Alicia Rasley's book a year or so ago, Deb, and it's helped me quite a bit. I am better with characters than I am with plot, so I need all the help I can get. I hope it helps you, too.

    Wherever Niki is, I hope she's having a virtual Starbuck's with us.

  14. Suzie, we'll have tea at RWA together! Yipee!

  15. Our OG stays pretty busy. You have to know the right times to go.

    Friday/Saturday night is out. ;)

    And, yes, I'm getting lots done. I'm in one of those delightful "zones" where the story just comes.

    Trying to get it all down before it dries up and I have to actually start working for it.

    Heroine just met hero, though he hasn't yet met her. O.o

  16. Not a coffee drinker, so not a big Starbucks person either.

    Deb, just to make you jealous, I'm going to share that I went to an all day Alicia Rasley workshop 2 weeks ago (the 10th). Mostly on character motivation. And since I'm a member of Virginia Romance Writers, it was free (except my gas for the 2+ hour drive to Richmond).

    No yoga pants here, but I learned about yoga toe shoes yesterday. I may have to try a pair.

    Susie, I'm seriously procrastinating (well, today I am, did pretty good yesterday, but only 20% toward my goal for today), so if you want me to rip apart, er, look over your synop, send it to me.

  17. very nice, CJ! I love to drive. Love to drive. too bad about the price of gas. Virginia actually feels close so if it wasn't for things like 'finances', I'd have hopped on down for that workshop.

    I don't have yoga pants either. I guess they are the upscale version of sweat pants which, I KNOW, are not a good look. I have a pair that say DUCK NC on the thigh and the silkscreened paint is basically gone so I think I'll wear my nice pajamas for the awards ceremony!

    For decadence today, I just used heavy cream for my fiber cereal. The milk was bad and I had no yogurt. It was delish but sort of ruined the 'healthy snack' idea.

    I'm tellin' ya, we are having fun now, ladies! Who needs conference?!

    Susie congrats on making progress with the dreaded synopsis!

  18. <>

    DeAnna! (said in a sing-song voice) I am intrigued!!! (You deserve those three exclamation points ;) )

  19. Ok, what are yoga toe shoes, CJ? This sounds like something I need, er, want.

    Thanks for the offer for me to send you my syno. It's a Regency, so I'd actually really appreciate your input. It's not quite ready...I'll check with you in a day or two and if you're too busy, that's totally fine.

    I'd love to hear more about the Alicia Rasley workshop!

  20. DeAnna, I tried to copy your last line about the hero and heroine, Oo, in my earlier comment, but my comment just left the <> signs. Sigh. Anyway, what a hook you came up with, m'dear!

  21. :::Mr. Burns voice:::


    :::winks at Sus:::

  22. Deb, I love the word "delish." My family teases me when I say it. I'm so glad you say it too. And about cream, no less! Cream makes everything better! I remember a line--or a paragraph--in a Willa Cather story about what glorious things cream does to coffee.

    Yeah, who needs conference?? Well, some of our ACFW friends are on a riverboat tonight. That sounds pretty fun, too...

    But we have cream!

  23. Oh! Mr. Burns! Rubbing his hands together!

  24. If this bizarre story ever sees the light of day, I'll make sure you get a copy, Sus. :D

  25. Well, I don't know about you but I heard a long rumbling sound like thunder and looked out to see if it was that falling satellite.

    I guess it's supposed to fall over the US. somewhere... seems fair as we put it up there.

    When twitter stopped working earlier, I figured pieces had landed somewhere and everyone was 'hitting' cyberspace in response.

    I'll be going to bed with a prayer it becomes a great YouTube video like twenty shooting stars and the pieces land in no-man's land.

    Good night ladies! Well, I know DeAnna will be up for hours in her obsessive writing stage!

  26. Where'd you get THAT idea?

    I'll be going to bed any minute now.

    Uh, yeah, any minute.

    Just, um, just a little bit more . . .

  27. You'd better get me a copy, DeAnna!

    So glad you're on a writing spree. Love when that happens. You go, girl!

  28. Deb, is the satellite supposed to fall tonight, now? It was supposed to come down earlier (yesterday?) but it's now in a different orbit or something super scientific sounding..?

    Either way, I hope there's not any damage.

    We had a lot of lightning last night. It was pretty cool!

  29. I will, Sus.

    IF it turns out to be anything.

    But I'm having fun anyway.

    My poor little hero . . .



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