I came back from ACFW’s annual conference this year thinking about how different it was from two years ago when I barely knew ACFW existed, but I followed the gala in the live chat. This year, I sat near the stage [okay, way up front and off to the way side, but still]. And one of the Carol Award winners is a dear friend – and I know several others, and many more nominees.
And I’ve been privileged enough to beta read for this gal! [What does that mean? It means I’ve read her next two contracted manuscripts – and I like to think I might have even helped a little bit with them :D.]
Just over two years ago, I wrote this post – mentioning just a couple of the authors I was aware of at the time.
I still don’t claim to be part of the in crowd but I can’t say that God hasn’t brought innumerable people into my life in the last two years. People I adore and who certainly seem to like me. Even if just a bit ;). And some even a bit more than that :D.
For me, this year was about making connections – particularly face-to-face meetings with editors and agents that can’t happen any other time of year. I ordered the class mp3s because that wasn’t where my focus was, but I’ve heard so many great things that I just had to. But also, I focused on making connections with other writers. People I knew well but had never met. People I barely knew but now know better. And brand new people too.
First up – my NovelSistas – Jessica and Kristy. Amazing writers. Better friends. And our 4th roomie, Joanna – just as incredible.
Whether or not I’m one of the cool kids, I get to be friends with them. There were about 700 people at conference this year. I’m sure there’s hundreds of cool kids I’m not friends with, but I do claim these folks – and I like to think they claim me.
Beth, who has been a blessing and encouragement to me for some time but especially since the Bell’s Palsy incident earlier this year, and I had breakfast plans for Thursday morning before conference started. Candy, one of my very first ACFW friends, asked to join us. They didn’t know each other before breakfast – but I hope they do now! They were such a blessing to me that day (and during the rest of conference) and I thank God for both of them!
This year I didn’t get a picture of Casey Herringshaw chair dancing, so I have to settle for this one of us laughing hysterically. (Thanks Tina Russo Radcliffe!)
The lovely ladies of Seekerville and Seekervillager Melanie celebrate after Mellie’s win. I absolutely adore every woman in this picture. ‘Nough said.
Last year, I knew I would like all of the Seeker gals, but I was surprised by how much I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful Audra Harders. This year, when I needed a pal to truly commiserate with me, she did just that (don’t ask what about, I’m not telling).
Casey Miller is the appointments guru. It’s up to him to take on the daunting, but hopefully not thankless, task of assigning hundreds of appointments. I’d imagine he also gets the brunt of it when someone’s schedule doesn’t turn out quite to their liking. But what’s uber-cool is how he, his wife Robin (conference director, below) and Cheryl Wyatt (assistant appointments guru, also below) pray over every meeting – during scheduling, before appointments and as the meetings take place. These folks are all that – and a bag of chips besides.
Robin Carroll is the Conference Director. How she manages to put together such an amazing conference and still churn out incredible romantic suspense books (see reviews from “Romantic Suspense Review Week” a couple weeks ago) is beyond me. But I’m so grateful she does.
Plus she and Casey let me share their anniversary (Matt and I started dating on their anniversary – but I won’t say how long they’d been married at the time ;)).
Cheryl Wyatt is an amazing gal. After a rough meeting, she took a few minutes out of her very busy schedule just to hug on, love on and pray for me. Love her. To pieces.
And, of course, my very dear friend. My long lost literary twin. My alleged partner in crime. My sweet Pepper Basham.
There are more pictures I could include. Lots of them. Off the top of my head, Susan Tuttle, Michelle Massaro, Jordyn Redwood, Erica Vetsch, Angie Dicken. The list goes on and on. Watch for more pics in future posts, but in the meantime…
I’m not sure there is an “in crowd” – not like we all thought there was in high school. What there is, at least in my ACFW experience, is a group of authors willing to go out of their way to help each other in the increasingly challenging world of publishing. Friends who love and encourage one another. Who give up seats or appointments so a friend can have a chance to pitch to that editor or agent. Who forego half their dinner – while pregnant no less! – so you can have a complete meltdown in the bathroom (yes, Kristy, I’m looking at you – you kept me from spending the next three days hidden in our room).
Friends who share not only your highs but your lows.
If I gave up this writing thing tomorrow. If I never wrote another word. All the time. All the money we’ve spent on conference and critiques and everything else. All of it would be worth it.
Because of the friendships and relationships forged over the last two years.
They are invaluable to me and I thank God for them daily.
Now. Bedtime. Because I have some proposals to get out ;).