Conference memories...

I am home from the ACFW Conference held this year in St. Louis. I have been trying to upload the photos from my phone camera to my computer, but unfortunately Google and Mac are like sibling rivals and don't share easily. Even email has been painstakingly slow, until I finally learned to send one picture at a time. More photos will be uploaded to Flickr and Facebook for those who are interested. This was my eighth conference with ACFW since its inception in 2000. We have about 2500 members now, but I still have the original ACRW membership card with #071 on it. Or maybe it's #102. It's hard to read. :) Things have changed a lot in 11 years! Our first conference in Kansas City had about 150 in attendance. This conference had about 750. This photo is of Lynn Coleman and her husband Paul. Lynn is the unsung hero of this organization. It was her vision that started it all.

Keynote speakers over the years have included: Karen Kingsbury, Robin Lee Hatcher, Francine Rivers, Karen Ball, Liz Curtis Higgs, Angela Hunt, Debbie Macomber, James Scott Bell, Tim Downs, and Tracie Peterson. (Not in that order.)

This year's conference was held at the Hyatt Regency across from the St. Louis Arch. We had a chance to walk to the arch but not enough time to ride to the top. We had fun shopping in the historical Victorian-style store instead, and just getting out of the hotel into the sunshine was nice for a change.

I attended the Early Bird session on Wednesday with my roommate Maureen Lang. The speaker talked about the moral premise of story (The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue & Vice for Box Office Success) using movies to explain his point. The class was helpful, especially for those who think more analytically. I would recommend the book for those who like to plot out each detail of their stories. The information can help seat-of-the-pants writers too, but perhaps not quite as much.

The following day I got to sit on a panel of seat-of-the-pants writers in a class taught by Karen Ball. What fun! It ended up not being as intimidating as I first feared. Karen is a great teacher and keeps you laughing. Later that day I caught up with former critique partner, Tammy Alexander, and mentor/friend Deborah Raney. One of the best parts of the conference each year is to reconnect with people whom we only "see" online.

Thursday evening Books & Such (my agents) held a dessert party for their clients. We got a group picture, but not with my camera. Hopefully, they'll send us copies soon. We had a good time chatting with fellow Bookies. And of course, one of the highlights for me was getting to spend time with my agent, Wendy Lawton, in person. (See picture of us at the Awards Banquet below.)

Friday night Revell hosted a dinner for their authors at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Great food and great fun! They know how to host a party! After the meal and lots of fellowship, we took a group photo and were given Revell's new Names of God Bible and a gift bag of Kakao peanut brittle and sea salt dark chocolate caramels. SO yummy! I'm so glad these places have websites. I see another thing to put on my Christmas and birthday wish list! And of course, savoring them now makes reading Sarai's page proofs even more enjoyable.

The awards banquet on Saturday night was nice, as usual. Revell's editor Andrea Doering won the Editor of the Year Award! She is not my editor (my editor is Lonnie Hull Dupont) but Andrea is a wonderfully kind person, and I enjoyed seeing her again. We sat together with other Revell authors at the banquet, which was most enjoyable.

Friend and fellow author Elizabeth Goddard won a Carol Award for her mystery The Camera Never Lies published by Barbour. Beth and I have been on this writing journey together for many years, and commiserated over our woes and celebrated our joys. This was a day to rejoice!

By the end of the night, I realized my shoes were rubbing my toes in the wrong places. I haven't worn a dress in ages, and realized why. I'm a blue jeans kind of gal. But I suppose it's nice to clean up once in a while. :)

All in all, it was a good conference. But I am very glad to be home!

Selah~

PersonalJill Eileen Smith