Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Remember When - ACFW Recap, Part 1

I had the pleasure of going to the ACFW conference in St. Louis last week as an editor for WhiteFire Publishing. That means that I spent my day sitting behind a table...
My spot - I got rather comfy there. =) Kim, my editor from Harvest House,
was beside me, Jeane Wynn the PR queen behind me, and a couple agents
rounding out the room.

...listening to stories. Not a bad way to spend a day. =) There are agents and editors out there who really don't enjoy these appointments, and I understand that. They like to focus on the manuscript first. But I have to say, I had a blast meeting the authors and listening to them tell me about their stories.

I also have to confess that of all the pitches I heard, the ones that sounded like rehearsed pitches were the least engaging for me, even if they were interesting. What I, personally, enjoyed was just listening to people talk about their ideas!

I heard a lot of historical pitches and noted a few themes that kept coming up. Quite a few were based on family history, which is always fun.
Me with one of my critique partners, the young and lovely
Amanda Barratt. Amanda just received 2 contracts for novellas
with Barbour!! Super proud of her--she's only 18!

Quite a few pitches, both historical and contemporary, began with "escaping an abusive relationship..." I found that interesting. WhiteFire has published a few stories that had a character doing just that. And frankly, my current work-in-process touches on it too. But I'm talking quite a percentage of the stories I heard that dealt with this, and I'm not sure what that says. Maybe that they were all pitching it to me because WhiteFire isn't afraid to go there? Maybe that everyone wants characters who find their strength...and they do that to escape such a situation? 

Maybe that the world has gone so far down hill that a devastatingly high percentage of people have had to face these issues at one time or another, and it's what God keeps laying on writers' hearts for their sakes?

I thought I would miss the genre dinner on Thursday night (had a meeting), but I did in fact manage to sneak in. I hadn't brought my fabulous Edwardian garb to wear, thinking I wouldn't make it to the dinner, but I enjoyed seeing the other costumes. Including this one that my young-and-talented critique partner donned. Keep an eye out for two novella series coming from Barbour in the next year--they're going to have two of her stories in them! As I have details, I'll share them. This young woman is only 18, but she's already been working hard to get published for four or five years, attending conferences with her family when she was too young to be allowed to come alone. Anyway, dinner was almost over and saw this costume walking from the room. I thought, "That has to be Amanda!" so went darting out after her. And sure enough, it was. =)
In the bookstore

I also had the amazing blessing of talking with some of the established historical writers that I so love reading. I got to hug Julie Klassen--whose books were right beside mine in the bookstore. (No, mine aren't regency, they were just at the edge of the Historical Romance category.) I really loved that. Come for Julie, then look over at Roseanna. ;-) At dinner on Friday with the Baker Group crew, I sat between Mary Conneally and Jen Turano, so that was a hoot. And on the way back to the airport on Sunday, I got to sit beside Jody Hedlund, who'd just won the Carol the night before for A Noble Groom. She's such a sweetheart!
St. Louis courthouse--juxtaposed so funnily between a bunch
of modern architecture. This was the view from the room
I took appointments in.

So, yeah. I was present at every meal, which is a bit unusual for editors. That means I answered a lot of questions of "What do you write?" with "Historical romance and biblical" and then the follow-up questions of "Do you have appointments?" with "Actually, I'm taking them. I'm here as an editor." That was a lot of fun too.

More thoughtful thoughts on it all tomorrow!


  1. Aww, Roseanna! You are so sweet! It was so great seeing you too! I loved chatting over lunch! :)

  2. It sounds as if you had a great conference. I've read a fair bit about writing conferences from the perspective of writers but not so much from the perspective of editors and publishers. Thank you for sharing!