However, I really had no viable excuse for not going to the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this year. It was in driving distance. I needed to meet the wonderful people at Bethany House, my new publisher. I wanted to meet people from my writers' loops, especially my wonderful Inky Sisters (those who were able to attend). And I really needed to be around other writers, those who "get" what my life and my passion for words are like.
So, overcoming all my self-imposed objections to going (most involving NOT wanting to get up at five in the morning), I made my way to the conference bright and really early on Friday morning. Instead of arriving at DFW Airport at approximately 7:45, time enough to register and get my conference materials before breakfast started at eight, I got there at about five minutes after seven. Evidently the traffic and construction problems weren't quite as bad as I had expected.
Fortunately, I didn't get lost or diverted or confused and found the hotel without any problem. I was pleased to find that ACFW was actually expecting me and, better than that, some of my fellow Inkies had saved me a place at breakfast! It was so great meeting them. I was sorry all of the group wasn't able to make it this time, but I hope by the next time the conference is in Dallas, in 2015, we'll all be there.
After a gourmet breakfast and lots of hugs and chatting with Inky peeps, I headed off to the conference bookstore. So many great books. And what deals they were offering. Many were buy one get one free or even buy one get two free! And I so much wanted to buy some, but I couldn't remember what I already had and didn't have, so I didn't buy anything. And, wouldn't you know it, I didn't already have any of the books I wanted to buy. Sorry Mary Connealy and Karen Witemeyer! I'll be getting those books soon though, I promise.
After the bookstore, I went to my first continuing education class. Davis Bunn taught a class on craft and, especially, tying the hero's internal and external goals into the novel's climax. I was sorry to find out that this class was to be continued the next day (when I wouldn't be there), because I found his comparison of the heroic and the post-modern journey fascinating. Who knew the post-modern model was thousands of years old?
Following a delicious (and very ample) lunch, during which there was more Inky fellowship, I went to hear Allen Arnold and Jim Rubart talk about how to write and live in freedom. The thing that I loved most about that talk was the idea that we do have time to do everything God calls us to do. He doesn't give us more than we can handle. We just have to learn to say no to the extraneous things that weigh us down. It was something I knew but truly needed to have brought to my attention. Forcefully.
After that, I had another trip to the bookstore (still wondering which books I already had and which I didn't) and then went to hear Michael Hyatt talk about social marketing. Man, so much to do, so many avenues available to get information out to readers. It's overwhelming! Once the session was over, I had to say goodbye to my Inky friends and head off to dinner with the Bethany House editors and authors. That was amazing! Not only were they all wonderfully nice, they had all kinds of interesting things to say about writing and publishing. I've always been fascinated with things like cover design and photo shoots and book trailers, about how books are marketed and the mysterious workings of WalMart and Amazon.
By the end of the day, almost eighteen hours after my alarm went off, I was happily exhausted. I had talked shop all day to people who loved books and writing and publishing. Even though my new book won't be out until next summer, I felt like a real author. I'm looking forward to when ACFW will again be in Dallas.
See you all in 2015!