I recently returned from the 2012 ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. Many of you know I LOVE magazines, so while I was there, I couldn't help thinking the conference was a celebrity event. No, Jennifer Aniston wasn't there. Nor was Denzel Washington or Sandra Bullock. These stars are small fries compared to the big potatoes I saw!
Only the BIG celebrities were at ACFW, and I got to meet many of them!
First up, the shuttle from the airport to the hotel. Who did I ride with? None other than the super cool Amy Clipston! Amy writes Amish and contemporary Christian fiction, and she was so friendly and welcoming, I couldn't believe my trip had started on such a high note!
Within minutes, I'd shoved my junk into my hotel room (see the stellar view from our room below) and sprinted back down to the lobby. I did not want to miss my two superstars arrive--Cynthia Herron, my fab roomie, and Jessica Patch, my dear friend. But before they showed up, I met Jennifer Fromke!! Jennifer writes women's fiction AND she's familiar with mid-Michigan where I grew up. It's always fun to use the words "tractor pull" and "demolition derby" in a sentence and have someone nodding in complete understanding. :)
I can't even begin to tell you how many friends I finally was able to meet in person. I just started writing them out and had to come back and delete because I realized this post would be forty-five pages long! Before I continue, though, I have to say I've been beyond blessed to deepen my friendships with both Cynthia Herron and Jessica R. Patch. These women are genuine, honest, and classy. I'm honored to know them.
It's funny how certain people have an automatic "buzz" around them. People clamor for their attention. We get excited and elbow each other when they're near. Who are these people? Every agent, editor, and best-selling author there! If only I had pictures to show the ACFW version of "Stars: Just Like Us."
You'd see for yourself that editors get their own coffee (shocking!) and they wait in line to buy a Diet Coke in the gift shop (what??). Agents GO TO THE BATHROOM (I know!! Who knew they had bladders?). Best-selling authors? They attend workshops! (Wow!)
While I get as star-struck as anyone, the people I completely flipped over (besides my friends) were(in the order I met them) Becky Wade, Lisa Jordan, Liz Johnson, and Judy Gann.
I'd read My Stubborn Heart over the weekend and concluded I could NEVER write as good as Becky Wade, and if I could meet her at the conference my life would certainly be complete. Well, guess what? She was in the first-timer's meeting too! I may have (definitely did) overly hugged her, but she was just awesome, which made me love her even more.
Lisa Jordan and I have been friends for a long time online, and she's always so warm and friendly that I couldn't wait to meet her. She's even more beautiful in person, and she gives the best hugs, and she even forgave me for completely blanking on life details when we first met, which I thought was very classy. Let's just say this little brain can only handle so much information in a conference full of people and it had reached its limit! Watching Lisa accept the Carol award for her short contemporary romance, Lakeside Reunion, brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations, Lisa!
Moving on to Liz Johnson. Liz and I share the same agent so I knew we'd get along great--and we did! Liz is even more down-to-earth and fantastic in person! Liz, too, was up for a Carol award. It's probably wrong to say she was robbed so I won't. :) So now I have an out-of-control girl crush on Liz, too. I might have to form a fan club or something...
One of my new favorite friends is Judy Gann. Judy is a Bookie (represented by Books & Such Literary Agency) too, and I met her on her birthday! Happy Birthday, Judy! Judy and I bumped into each other off and on throughout the conference, and I'm convinced God sent her to help me. I realize with all the exclamation points it looks as if I had the time of my life. Let me set you straight. The conference was a real challenge for me. Judy comforted and encouraged me throughout my stay, and we were able to have a nice long talk on the final day. I'm SO blessed by Judy!
There are dozens of other people who made a huge impact on me. Susan May Warren is such a special person. I know she personally touched many writers' lives over the weekend, and I'm very thankful to her. I could go on and on, but I'll save my other friends for another post.
The bottom line? The conference solidified one thing I already knew: it's not what I can take away from a conference, but who I can add to my life that makes all the difference. I'm SO blessed to have new friends.
What did you do last week? What are you doing this week? I've missed you!
Have a blessed Wednesday!