2010 ACFW Conference!

Me with Maureen Lang and Siri Mitchell Home again! Randy, Ryan, and I left last Thursday morning and headed to Indianapolis for the 2010 ACFW Conference. I hadn't been to a conference in two years, so it was great to connect with people I've known online for years but rarely see. Some have become dear friends, others colleagues, still others new writing acquaintances and hopefully, new friends!

The first night, Revell had invited their authors to a dinner at a fabulous restaurant on the top floor of the hotel - a revolving restaurant that overlooked downtown Indianapolis. What a gorgeous view! I got to chat with my editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont, and the Revell team. It was so fun to meet so many Revell authors, most of whom I hadn't met before. What a great group!

Beth Goddard and me

Friday morning (well, closer to noon) Randy, Ryan, and I walked through downtown Indy to a restaurant that made fabulous omelets without a lot of fat. After breakfast, I shopped at the conference bookstore and ran into lots of long-time friends. Like old-home week.

Friday afternoon, Tim Downs spoke to the 600 attendees. I had never heard him speak and haven't yet read his books, though my brother enjoys his bug man books. He's a great speaker, and I enjoyed his thoughts on Christian fiction. Much to ponder. (I didn't remember to take a picture, but honestly, I was too far back in the room during the speech to get a good one. Later, at his booksigning, I forgot.)

Lynette Eason, Lorna Seilstad, Ann Shorey, Andrea Doering, Dan Walsh, me, Julie Lessman, Laura Frantz, Ann Gabhart

Kim Vogel Sawyer and me ACFW Banquet

Saturday was busy. Revell authors got to sign books at the same time - they had 1/2 hour time slots for various author groups. Only one editor from the Revell team had stayed for the conference - Andrea Doering - and she wanted a picture with all of the Revell authors, so Randy did the honors and played photographer.

On the way to lunch afterward, I got to meet Dianne Burnett, the representative from Christian Book Distributors. Check back on their website for future behind-the-scenes info and other special articles about Bathsheba!

After lunch, I had my first YouTube style interview with Christian Retailing Magazine. Who would have thought an on-the-spot interview (well, okay, there was a little advance warning) would be so fun? God mercifully, helped me to think clear enough - at least I hope so. I haven't seen the end result. I may end up eating these words!

Books & Such authors

Saturday night we had a Books & Such dinner at P.F. Changs. My agent, Wendy Lawton, had wanted to be there, but had to cancel her conference plans at the last minute. Etta Wilson filled in for the agency and about a dozen authors gathered to eat and fellowship together. It was great to get to know some of them better - and for many, to meet them for the first time. What a delightful group of women! Now I wish I could go to the retreat next month! Oh well...perhaps another year.

While I went to dinner with my agency, Randy and Ryan went to local restaurant. (It was free time, so there was no scheduled dinner with the entire group - something the hotel staff probably appreciated!) After dinner, I returned to the hotel room and found Ryan and Randy just returning. Ryan talked me into going to the workout room with them, and I spent a mile on an elliptical - something I had not done before - and then wondered if I'd be able to walk in high heels for the banquet the next night. I made it! Though I think whoever designed high heels hated feet.

Deborah Raney, Maureen Lang, Kathy Rouser, Deborah Vogts, me

Sunday morning I had arranged to have breakfast with a few author friends, and we managed to all get there and enjoy a few moments of conversation. At my first ACFW Conference in 2002, we had 100 in attendance. There were over 600 in attendance this year, and finding any quality time with some of my long-time friends was tough. So we snatched it when we could.

I sat in on a class taught by Michael Hauge, a screenwriting teacher who taught us about the six stages of plot structure. Very informative class and one I was glad to attend.

Sunday was an exhausting day. Breakfast started earlier this year than it did at past conferences, so to be ready on time, I had to get up at 6:15 a.m. By mid-afternoon, I needed a nap. Randy had gone to the Indianapolis 500 Speedway to do some sightseeing. The hotel seemed dry (I heard the complaint from others too) affecting my eyes, making them hurt. So after I closed them for about half an hour, Ryan and I ran out to a store, then returned to dress for the banquet. By then, Randy had returned, and I set about doing all of the things women do to make themselves look their best. :)

Randy, me, Ryan

The banquet room was packed tight. Unfortunately, that meant the servers kept bumping the back of my chair as they maneuvered between tables. I learned to lean forward in the seat, and it worked out fine. But I wonder if they might need to rent a stadium next time! At the rate the group keeps growing, I wonder!

The dinner was fabulous and the awards ceremony delightfully engaging. Janette Oke and Carol Johnson gave inspiring speeches, and the award winners (most of them) kept the audience laughing the whole night. Michal was a finalist for the Carol Award in the Debut Author Category. I'll admit, I wanted to win. (I'd be lying if I said I didn't.) But as the night went on and I saw so many authors, whom I highly respect, not win in their categories, I felt like either way, I was in great company! Dan Walsh won the Debut for his book The Unfinished Gift. The great thing is - he's a Revell author! How cool is that? For a complete list of the winners, check the ACFW website.

Carol Finalist Announcement

At the end of the conference, Genesis finalists and winners (past and present) and Carol finalists and winners (past and present) received lapel pins to wear to future conferences. I think I may attach them to one of my Idea Boards for inspiration and encouraging reminders.

All in all, it was a great conference. I was very grateful Randy and Ryan could join me - they made it better than it would have been without them. It was great to see so many friends I rarely get to see. Now, I'm playing catch-up. I need to restock my refrigerator and get back to actual writing work. I thank God for the blessing of this weekend, but it's good to be home. The cats have held us hostage, needing lots of hugs, and are obviously SO glad we are home. I missed them too!


PersonalJill Eileen Smith