CAFE: A gathering place. A place of refreshment.

Thirsty for the latest releases in Christian fiction? Ready for a peek into the world of publishing and writing conferences? Hungry for spiritual and real-life nourishment? Pull up a seat; you're in the right place, and I'm so glad you've stopped by.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ACFW Conference Aftermath

Sometimes it's hard to process all that goes on in a weekend long conference - hence my long wait to tell you about my ACFW conference experience last week. My thanks to the conference directors who made this the best one yet! The teaching was exceptional, and I know I will be pondering some of the nuggets I learned for a long time. But for me, the primary purpose of attending ACFW is to be with other writers, to reconnect with friends, make new ones, and for a few short days, indulge myself in all things having to do with craft and promotion and rubbing shoulders with some of today's finest Christian authors. So, here are my highlights of this year's conference:


Seeing my friend, Camille Eide, who is also one of my critique partners, and our mutual dear friend Kellie Gilbert. They are both fabulous writers and someday you're going to enjoy reading their novels. To give you a taste, check out what Camille had to say about the conference here. She's funny and wonderful!
(left to right: Kellie, Carla, Camille)
I LOVE the awards banquet, and this year was exceptional. My agent, Sandra Bishop, received the Agent of the Year award. Not a surprise to her clients as she is witty and smart and one of the best in the biz. Here is Sandra with Chip MacGregor and Amanda Luedeke, the rest of the savvy team at MacGregor Literary. CONGRATS SANDRA! Sandra gave her 30-second speech with style and grace, but was unable to give her longer, prepared speech. However, she shares it here. Scroll down to the September 22 entry.

Hats off to all the winners, but a shout out to Cindy Hays who was a Genesis finalist and Myra Johnson and Vickie McDonough from my local ACFW group who were Carol Award finalists. A complete list of the winners can be found here.

One of the most prestigious awards is for the Mentor of the Year, and this year's honor went to Susan May Warren. She is one of the most energetic, giving, and fun people I know. She encourages and inspires other writers through her My Book Therapy endeavors. And every year, she hosts a pizza party on the "free" night at the conference. This year she had a special surprise. At the conclusion of the party, Susie herded everyone into another room, locked the doors, and taught us all a line dance. Not your usual expectation for a writing conference, but what can I say? Publisher's Weekly dubbed it the highlight of the conference. I'm sharing the link at risk of embarrassment to myself, but we're all friends here, right? Line Dance on YouTube.

I'll conclude with some other random shots - friends, colleagues, moments that I'll hang onto until the next conference. To see my complete set of photos please visit me on FaceBook where I've posted two albums of pics.

I shared a book signing table with the fabulous James Scott Bell and enjoyed the support of Susan Meissner and Christina Berry. The gals both endorsed Chasing Lilacs and were Carol Award finalists. Christina took home the trophy in Contemporary Fiction Book of the Year - I am so proud of this girl!
Courtney Walsh, Sandra Bishop, and me. I'd been dying to meet Courtney after our online friendship and sharing the same agent. She was wonderful and we hit it right off. I miss her already. 

Sandra and her clients, celebrating at the banquet. 
 My post is not complete without mentioning Max, who not only encourages me in this crazy writing life I've chosen, but also drove the SUV that got us safely to Indianapolis and home. Not sure if it was the allure of being around 630 people who navigate imaginary worlds and stay up until all hours talking about plots and character goals or if it was the call of golf courses not yet conquered that made him want to go. Whatever it was, the trip was that much sweeter because Max shared it with me. Thanks, honey.


Erica Vetsch said...

I had a wonderful conference, but we didn't get to talk! I saw Max in the hallways more than I got to see you (not that it wasn't nice to wave to Max from time to time)

Congratulations on Chasing Lilacs. It's gonna rock in the Carols next year. :)

Courtney Walsh said...

Oh, Carla, I miss you too! You are so so sweet. Maybe next year, I can con my husband into coming with me and he and Max can hit the golf course together! lol :)

You are beyond sweet.

carla stewart said...

Erica! I missed talking to you too. With so many people there this year, I know I missed seeing a lot of people. Good to see Peter and James that one brief moment, though.

Courtney, Max would love to have a golf buddy. He played a couple of courses in St. Louis last summer and is already thinking about next year's conference (for the golfing of course!).

Myra Johnson said...

I felt like we were two ships passing in the night at ACFW. It gets more hectic every year, huh? Glad I get to see you at least once a month at our local chapter meetings!!!