By that I mean, a writing conference is overwhelming. Last weekend I gathered with nearly 700 other writers for my third ACFW Conference. This year’s venue was the Hyatt at the Arch in St Louis, Missouri, a mere ‘block’ away from the Mississippi River.
Something I learned from my first conference is that it’s worth it to volunteer. When you’re feeling a bit shy and overwhelmed, this sense of purpose pays big dividends. This year I volunteered at the registration desk for two stints, totaling 3.5 hours. Besides having fun with the other volunteers, I got to chat with dozens of incoming writers. Fun!
One of the main purposes of a conference is attending workshops. Mornings are taken up with Continuing Education tracks. I signed up for one entitled “Sometimes It’s Better to Tell than to Show.” Heresy! Instructor Erin Healy made this track far more fun than the title implies. Here my friend Stacy Monson is waiting for class to begin.
I also took in various other workshops, classes, and editor panels. I think my favorite was “Media Training” by a couple of gals from Romantic Times.
In previous years, pitch sessions were a major stressor for me. At ACFW you can sign up for two appointments, and you may be able to get more if you’re johnny-on-the-spot when cancellations and changes are going on. These can be with a mentor, agent, editor, or media. The last two years I had one agent and one editor appointment and felt like they were my only chance(s) to further my career for the entire year.
Since my novella contract and signing with my lovely agent, Joyce Hart (shown here), last winter, my two editor appointments this year were just plain fun. Yes, you read that right! Both were very positive and only time will tell the actual results. (Stay tuned!)
A HUGE highlight for me was the one-hour riverboat cruise on Friday evening hosted by my publisher, Barbour Books, for the 44 of their authors in attendance. The food was great, the view of the city from the river as night fell was awesome, and the company was superb.
I got to hang out with my fellow anthology authors Cara Putman (who brought her 9-month-old son along), Annalisa Daughety, and my roommie Nicole O’Dell. We had a blast!The crescendo of every conference is the gala on the final evening. This features ACFW awards such as Mentor of the Year, Agent of the Year, and Editor of the Year. Also the Genesis award winners are announced, and then the Carol awards are given.
It was a crazy busy few days for someone as introverted as I am. In public from 7am to 11pm several days running, with very little downtime. Thankfully I was able to snatch a few minutes here and there with my laptop in the lobby and catch my husband online. (A downside to being a Canadian at an American conference is the expense of international roaming fees on my cellphone…I just didn’t go there!)
Although I’ve loved my roommates every year and made some great friendships, it was relaxing to have just one roommate this year. Wow, what a great conference! I’m already looking forward to 2012 in Dallas.
Carol J. Garvin says
I’ve never been able to get to the ACFW conference, but as an introvert myself, and having attended several SiWC conferences which are a similar size, I know that feeling of being overwhelmed. It’s truly “information overload” but still a fantastic experience that I’d recommend to anyone. Dallas is still too far away for me, but maybe one year the ACFW will be closer. I can dream anyway. 🙂
Carol, it’s not likely to get any farther west. They’re trying to keep it fairly central (by someone’s standards). It’s Denver, I believe, in 2013. That at least stands a chance of being a direct flight! I’d love to see you there!
Carol J. Garvin says
Colorado is farther west and north than Texas, but still a significant distance from BC all right. Will have to see what the next couple years bring.
I hear you on the distance! I think they should pick Spokane, or even Boise. Would love it to be close enough to drive to!