This is the week I anticipate all year - the annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference. This year it's in Indianapolis, so soon I will be In-di-an-a Bound! What's so special about this conference? I'm glad you asked. Here are ten things I love about it, and I'm sure if I tried I could think of ten more, but with bags to pack and materials to gather, this is what I've come up with.
1. Seeing different cities: Usually it's held somewhere in the middle of America, and so far I've been fortunate to attend ACFW in Dallas, Minneapolis, Denver, and now Indianapolis. The two ending with "polis" are cities I've never been to - states I've never seen.
2. The buzz in the air when you first step into the lobby of the hotel. It's readily apparent that ACFW has taken over and not a year has gone by that I didn't recognize a noted author or a dear friend. Which leads to the next item on the list . . .
3. Hugs. Whoops of joy at seeing friends from previous years. I often only see these friends once a year and it's sweet bliss to be together again. Hugs. Smiles. Friends.
4. Classes. Continuing sessions. Late night chats. There is no comparison to the variety and quality of the workshops that are offered. Something for every level of writer. For every genre. I've yet to attend a conference without coming away with my head spinning from all the new knowledge and ideas that I want to bring to my writing. This year I'm looking forward to James Scott Bell's early bird session, the multi-session teaching of Dr. Dennis Hensley of Taylor University, the keynote speeches of Tim Downs, and numerous workshops on craft and the business of writing.
5. Worship. One of the unique things about this conference is that each day begins with a devotion and time of worship. This year 600 will gather to lift their voices and prayers to heaven. And it feels a bit like heaven to be in the midst of the 600.
6. Prayer. A prayer room is open at all times for private prayer or to have someone pray with you. Prayer happens spontaneously, too - in the hallways waiting for appointments, in the restroom where you find someone crying, around the meal tables when a seat mate says, "Say a prayer for me, okay?" I love this part of the conference. I've had people pray with me and for me as I have done for others. What a privilege.
7. Pitching and networking opportunities. Often this part of the conference is the most stress-inducing - talking to an editor or an agent about your book or your ideas. Fortunately, the editors and agents are human and very gracious. I've met with several in the past, and while they may or may not have requested my work, they are now acquaintances who I trust and am always happy to see. A conference is by far the best place to start networking with the folks who hold your writing future in their hands.
8. Coffee. My life is not complete without coffee, and thankfully, most conferences I've been to have great coffee. And there's nothing like sitting with a friend, sipping a cuppa, and sharing your heart.
9. Socializing. Yes, there's still time for that. One evening is left open for people to get together on their own. Pizza parties. Publishers get-togethers. There's a chocolate party that's always a hit. And there's always a lively group in the lobby after hours.
10. Awards banquet. It's not a conference if people aren't recognized for their hard work. And ACFW does it up grand with a lovely dinner and an Oscar-worthy list of finalists. Lots of glitz and glam, winners, shoulda-been winners, and the lovely MC of the evening, Brandilyn Collins. I'll be cheering for many friends and colleagues this year.
So there you have it - the top ten reasons I love the ACFW conference. I'll be putting the blog on automatic posting for the next few days with lists of the finalists in the various categories. And, of course, I'll be back next week with pictures!
Oops! Almost forgot. Number 11. This is the first year I'll have a book to sign - can't wait for that! Also, I have a small gift for the first five people who come to my table to get my autograph. Saturday from 3:00 to 3:30.
See you next week!
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.