I think everyone else that attended ACFW conference probably blogged about it a week or two ago, so those most curious about what went on already know. But here’s the sort-of-short Valerie Version–how it seemed to my eyes.
Maripat and her son dropped me off at the Denver Marriott Tech Center Wednesday afternoon. Even though I was there on the early side of things, the lobby was already full of people calling each other’s names, then running across the lobby to hug because they hadn’t seen each other for a year. I registered, got my meal tickets at one station, my carry bag, portfolio, and name tag at another, and my pitch assignments at a third. I smiled and nodded and tried to figure out what I was supposed to do with all this stuff–and I admit it–I retreated to my room on the tenth floor to do so. Got my name tag put together (meal tickets, etc, in the little zippered back compartment–cool tags!), looked myself in the mirror, and gave myself a pep talk. And went back downstairs.
Some of the highlights: meeting Tasmanian author Mary Hawkins and her husband, Ray.
Helping set up the bookstore. Any ACFW author could have their books in the store, which was also open to the public during a 100+ author booksigning Saturday. Which was its own highlight, getting my books signed by favorite authors and new friends.
Getting my head fried during the Donald Maass How to Write the Breakout Novel Workshop for eight hours on Thursday. Finding many ways to deepen my stories’ characters and tension.
Meeting my roommates, Candee Fick, Liz Johnson, and Heidi Kortman. Meeting two of my crit group members, Lynda Schab and Heidi Main. Meeting over a dozen other fantasy and science fiction writers. Meeting dozens of people I’d ‘met’ online through the e-loops and forums.
Enjoying our keynote speaker, Debbie Macomber.
Volunteering as a meal-ticket-taker for two meals–and therefore getting to see everyone!
Pitching the fantasy manuscript that was a finalist in Genesis, Majai’s Fury, to an editor–and having him ask for a partial manuscript.
Pitching Joy Comes in the Morning, the subject of much rewriting in 2009, to an editor, who asked for the full manuscript (and knows she isn’t going to get it for another six weeks or so.) I also pitched her the Green Acres series, but she said it wasn’t right for her line.
Pitching Joy Comes in the Morning to an agent, who also asked to see a full (preferably before the editor!), and who loved the concept of Green Acres and really gave me a lot of encouragement to flesh it out. (It’s currently a series of four blurbs, one with a rough outline and a couple of chapters written.)
Continuing education workshop with author Margaret Daley. Being SO encouraged in private conversation with Margaret, Cheryl Wyatt, Tosca Lee, and others. What a blessing these women were to me.
Fabulous food, especially the awards banquet Saturday evening. Of course, I was also hoping to win an award at the banquet, and I didn’t. If you notice the successful pitches, though, you may understand why I wasn’t overly disappointed. I could truly be excited for David Fry and Megan Ebba, who took first and runner-up in Speculative Fiction.
For three and a half days we ate, slept, and lived writing and friendship. An awesome experience that I hope to have again. Annually would be nice, but I’m not sure if it’s practical!