As promised--my take on the conference. =)
First of all, allow me to say how eternally grateful I am that, though I flew American, my two flights were completely unaffected by all the hullabaloo going on with that company right now. Phew! And to make matters all the more fun, I even ran into two other ACFW-bound ladies waiting at the gate. One of whom had just had a friend of mine design her website for her, and said friend kindly hosted me and my hubby Wednesday night, since they live really close to the airport. He said, "Hey, keep an eye out for Leslie Pain." And I said, "Riiiiight. Amid the 700 attendees." So that was pretty hilarious. =)
|Me, Kim, and Katie at the gala|
My conference started off awesomely with a lunch get-together with my editor Kim and her best friend Katie, who is in the marketing department at Harvest House. We had a great time talking about cats and kids and books and what-comes-next and where their design company finds their costumes and living in city versus country and...anything else that sprang to mind. =) These lovely ladies are so much fun just to talk to! And I of course warned them that I'd be arriving to their table at the gala Saturday night in my super fantabulous historical garb. Which they loved. =) And Kim has a really fun idea for a line of books, so I'm having fun noodling that. Not that I shall breathe a word of what it may be... ;-)
Not long after that, my best friend and critter Stephanie arrived, and oh! was it nice to give her a hug for the first time in a year. We had a little time to visit before the conference was officially underway, then off we went to general session. I had to duck out as soon as Michael Hyatt had finished speaking to meet with my rock star of an agent, Karen Ball. Which means that I missed the start of the slide show thingy they put up on the big screens during meals, so was totally oblivious to the fact that Harvest House had created slides for all their new authors, and my face had blasted everyone in super-huge, back-lit splendor. Aaggghh! Naturally, we had to take a picture of it to prove to the folks back home that I wasn't making it up. ;-)
It was great to get to sit down with my agent for a little while too, since Karen is one of the most hilarious people I have ever met in my life. And the other two agents in the Laube agency happened by, so I got the chance to meet them again too and get the oh-so-wise Steve Laube's take on a few things. (Then on Saturday I got to hear his firsthand account of the big Anchorage earthquake of 1964, which was just crazy!)
|Me and Diane at the gala, sans coffee stains ;-)|
At this point in my life with ACFW, I know enough people that coming to these conferences is like a great big family reunion. It is such a blessing to get to hug and exclaim and laugh with all these friends I usually only see through email. Friday was a day of great classes, great friends, and then a great dinner with the Harvest House crew, where I also got to meet the creative genius of the CBD fiction section, Diane. My HH ladies had said to be sure to chat with her so she would remember who I was when it came time for Ring of Secrets to release, so I graciously offered to spill coffee on her lap so she'd never forget me, but for some reason they vetoed that idea. ;-) Seriously, that was one of the unexpected blessings I got to experience. Diane was a hoot, and apparently it's adorable to see how excited I get about my story, because all the others at the table were giving me that, "Aw, aren't you a cute little thing!" look at that point, LOL.
|Me, Amanda, and Stephanie|
I was thrilled to run into my amazingly awesome teen critique partner, Amanda Barritt, in the bookstore on Friday, and so proud to hear that she got three manuscript requests while there! Go, Amanda!
Friday night I also got to have dessert with the Summerside ladies, and I ended up talking most of the time to Melanie Dobson. I've never had the pleasure of meeting Melanie before, so I had no idea how much we have in common! From historical interests to home schooling, we had a great hour chatting about those and many things in between. So new friends definitely = unexpected blessings too.
|An accidental picture, LOL--this screen followed mine|
But the greatest one came from my hour in the prayer room. I knew when I volunteered for it that it had the potential to be the best hour at conference. See, I've been seriously touched, my life altered, by my visits to the prayer room. It was Mary DeMuth's prayer for me before my meeting with Kim in 2009 that made that appointment go so smoothly. I know that. And that meeting is what led to the relationship that allowed me to pitch Ring of Secrets to Kim a year and a half later. Mary likely has no idea the blessing she was to me--but I so wanted the chance to pay it forward. But I have to say that of all the hours of conference, this was the one that made me nervous. I've never done this kind of prayer before, and I was afraid of getting in God's way, if you know what I mean, LOL. But I put a lot of prayer into it before I stepped foot in that quiet room, and wow. So awesome to feel Him moving there! It was a true joy to get to share in others hopes and fears and blessings and disappointments. To open my mouth and wait to hear what might come out. Talk about humbling. Again I was changed by time in the prayer room--even more than before.
|The Wild Women of WhiteFire|
I enjoyed a chance meeting at lunch with a young writer who was just so much fun (hi, Emileigh!!), who obviously has awesome taste in clothes, as she was wearing the jacket that matched the pants I was wearing, LOL. Emileigh is vibrant and fun and obviously so excited about writing. It was fun to play mentor for a few minutes and share what I'd learned from conferences and the fact that, no, I have no writing system that can be taught in a class, and that's fine. We don't all need one. ;-) And then on Saturday afternoon, I also had the opportunity to take my WhiteFire authors for coffee! And let me just tell you, this is one fabulous batch of ladies. We sorely missed those who couldn't be there, but had a great time with those who were. We're thinking that if ever the whole group can get together, we'll need to warn the bystanders that they may just be blinded by the brilliance of all our awesomeness combined. ;-) Seriously, isn't this a gorgeous bunch of women?
|Me and my gal Rachel Smith|
Directly after that coffee meeting was the gala, which I'd been waiting for because I love my Edwardian garb. =) So to sum up, a few more fun pictures from that. And the happy thought that though I went to the conference with no big goals other than to fellowship and have fun, I came away with new ideas, reassurances, new friends, a spirit touched by the hearts of others, happy times with my buds and critters, and many chances for fun sarcasm after two dozen people came up to me at the gala and asked, "Are you a historical writer?" What's a girl to do but answer, "No, futuristic sci-fi/fantasty--can't you tell?" ;-)
And of course, I came home to very excited kids who threw me a little welcome home party. So sweet! So a few more pictures just to round it all out...
|Me and my amazing agent, Karen Ball|
|Me and my best friend Stephanie, who had the cutest little purse!!|
|The first thing I saw upon walking in the door - the Mommy banner =)|
|Xoe knows Pooh is my favorite, so they found a frame and she drew a picture for me for in it. =)|
|Yes, most people remember to take pictures before cutting the cake...but you know there's supposed to be an 'm' there, right?|