I’m blogging today about the upcoming ACFW conference in Indianapolis from Sept. 17th through the 20th. First, let me say I’m excited beyond measure to be going, and secondly, I wish to encourage any new or want-to-be writers of Christian fiction to consider this invaluable opportunity. Let me share my experiences at another writers’ conference as a first-timer to alleviate any anxiety others may have. Ten years ago, I attended RWA national in Washington DC as an unpublished author. I had my first manuscript done, my synopsis more-or-less making sense, and my head in the clouds. I signed up for an editor appt. to pitch my historical romance later that weekend. But first I attended a workshop given by the senior editor of the publishing house I was targeting. During the first five minutes, this venerable, bigger-than-life editor stated she thought Gone With the Wind was the worst book ever written, and she wouldn’t buy anything dealing with the Civil War if it was the only manuscript on her desk. (my paraphrasing…ten years is a long time) Well, little-me-from-Ohio practically started crying and at my age, that’s so not cool, because as I’m sure you’ve guessed, my masterpiece, my baby was set during the Civil War. Well, folks, I stiffened my upper lip and attended that appt. anyway. The editor I pitched to turned out to be delightful! She set me at ease and boosted my confidence. She told me about the fond memories she had of a family vacation to Gettysburg Pa. Then she requested I send her the full manuscript (probably knowing full well it would never be acquired). I was tickled pink! In the end, that publishing house didn’t buy my baby, but I met wonderful people, took amazingly helpful workshops and I felt like a writer. Because if you’ve written a manuscript that’s what you are…and never let anyone discourage you from pursuing your dream. If you can find the way, come to the ACFW conference—you won’t be sorry.
After five days in Washington DC, I must say it’s good to be home. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself and learn much. I had a wonderful dinner with my agent and two fellow writers, toured a Smithsonian Art Gallery, and sat in on two great workshops–the first given by Christian inspirational writers—Shelley Shepard Gray and Leanna Ellis. Unfortunately, she is no relation–but I’d adopt her for a little sister in a heartbeat. The other super workshop was given by Debra Clopton, Lisa Mondello, and Renee Ryan. They were both informative, but more than that, it was good to feel part of such a loving, positive group of women writers.