Top Ten ACFW Highlights

I wish there were a way to distill last weekend’s ACFW conference in Dallas to a top ten, but I honestly don’t think it can be done. There were highs. And lows. Times of celebration. Times of reflection. So I’ll just start and see what happens.

Highlight: Crossing the Red River into Texas. This always makes me sigh and feel like I’m coming home. This year I went to the conference solo and spent the drive in anticipation of what was to come. I sent dozens of arrow prayers for my heart to be open to whatever God had for me. For new direction in what’s next in my writing life. For being sensitive to others. And to not have a wreck or get lost on my way to the hotel.

The view from my hotel window which was less than scenic.

Highlight: First person I saw was my sweet critique friend Myra Johnson (who moved to North Carolina and tells me constantly that it doesn’t get as hot in summer or as cold in winter as Tulsa does). It was wonderful to see her and have a great meal at Saltgrass with her and Jack on Friday night.

Myra Johnson – wonderful friend and writer

Highlight: Spending time Cathy Richmond, who writes lovely historical novels and was the perfect roommate.

My roommate Cathy Richmond and me gussied up at the gala.

Highlight: Books! Imagine that! Three that I brought home and can’t wait to read: The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner, Wreath by Judy Christie, and The River by Michael Neale, which was a freebie and has an intriguing concept.

My sweet friend, Judy Christie!

Highlight: BEST coffee bar ever with a barista who knew exactly what I wanted every. single. time. Thanks, Ashley!

Hanging out with Tracy Jones, Susie Warren, and Matt Jones (Matt and Tracy are my wonderful web designers).

Highlight: Celebrating with Ane Mulligan who received news of being offered a two-book contract! Ane has waited patiently in the wings for several years, always cheering for other people, mentoring, and never giving up. So happy for you, Ane!

Highlight: Amazing continuing ed session with Davis Bunn who challenged us to write beyond what we think we are capable of. He’s the writer-in-residence at Oxford University (yes, THAT Oxford) and had a teaching style that was riveting, informative, and inspiring.

Highlight: Hearing Michael Hyatt give two keynote addresses on building your audience by focusing on the reader.

Highlight: This one is huge! Having lunch with my FaithWords editor, Christina Boys. Three hours after we started talking, we were both still thinking of things we wanted to discuss – everything from writing to Disneyana to Pinterest to sales figures. And I had the pleasure of attending the gala with her and another of her authors, Ginny Aiken, who was adorable and a scamp. Very fun evening!

Christina Boys, Ginny Aiken, and me before the gala.

Highlight: Spending time with my agent, Sandra Bishop, who had appointments around the clock it seemed. We did squeeze in some snatches of great conversation and a morning coffee with her clients who came to the conference.

My agent Sandra Bishop and writing buddies, Courtney Walsh, Lynne Gentry, Kellie Gilbert, and me.

Highlight: The gala awards ceremony. THRILLED for Lisa Wingate who won the Carol Award for Women’s Fiction with Dandelion Summer and the first-ever perfect score from every judge! You can see a complete list of the Carol Award winners here and the Genesis winners here.

I’m honored to stand with some of the most amazing writers I know – Lisa Wingate, Susan Meissner, and Anne Mateer.

Lows: Ah, you knew there would be something, didn’t you? There weren’t enough hours in a four-day weekend to have all of the heart to heart conversations I wanted. And I know I missed seeing a few people who I really wanted to talk to. And sometimes my feet hurt, not to mention I scraped my ankle while shaving and had to wear a band-aid all day.

Reflection: Although the conference was more upbeat than the last couple have been, there was an air of “change.” Michael Hyatt said this was the best time ever to be an author with all the options and opportunities available today. I truly believe that, but I talked to quite a few people who are wondering, like me, what’s next?

Highlight: The long drive home. When I pulled out of the parking garage on Sunday, I was weary and dreading the four-plus hours on the road. I stopped for gas and a coffee refill in Plano and called Max to tell him when I would be home. By the time I crossed the Red River and had Texas in my rearview mirror, my heart was full of memories. But my mind was also racing with new possibilities. I slid a CD into the player and turned up the volume. Here’s the first song that played. It was the essence of a glorious weekend.

Oops. Looks like I listed fourteen things. Consider the extras a bonus.

 

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