Wednesday, September 23, 2009

ACFW Conference 2009 - Day ONE

I'm back! And WOW - what a weekend!

As you know, I just returned from my very first ACFW conference. Grab a cup of coffee or a Diet Coke and come along on this recap of my experience. My plan is to break it up between two or three blog posts. Hey - if I tell you about the whole thing at once, it will be a reeeeallly long entry and you'll get that glazed look in your eye and find your thoughts wandering. Plus, this way, I'll have something to blog about for the next few days. :-)

So today, I will blog about Wednesday and Thursday.

My dad picked me up on Wednesday and we drove to Clio, Michigan (near Flint) to stay with my aunt. This would put us a little closer to Detroit, where I would fly out of the next morning. I went to bed early and set the alarm for 2:00 AM. Yes, I said 2:00 AM! I was getting ready (trying to be quiet so I wouldn't wake up my aunt, uncle, and cousins), and as I tiptoed down the stairs, I missed the last step and fell on my butt.


So much for being quiet.

And not a great start to my day! But I was ok and was glad I got my falling out of the way before arriving at the conference.

So I had a smooth flight and arrived at the Denver airport on Thursday, at 7:30 AM. I hung around for a couple of hours until my roommate's plane came in at 9:30. Meeting Michelle was one of the highlights of my weekend. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful roomie. We got along great! Here's a picture of me with Michelle:

Got to the hotel at around 11:00, just in time for my volunteer shift. The hotel was absolutely GORGEOUS (did you see that picture at the top of this post? That's the atrium. Beautiful!) Our room wasn't ready yet, so we parked our bags behind the registration counter, where I was working. I LOVED working registration. I got to meet so many people and put faces to the names. Even met a few of my favorite authors and tried not to appear too star-struck. :-)

My shift ended at 1:00 and our room still wasn't ready, so I walked around, shopped in the bookstore and chatted with several other conference-goers. The energy and spirit in that place was amazing. The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident even in the lobby of the hotel. I felt at home and had never been more confident that I was in the right place.

3:00 PM- room was ready. YAY! Michelle and I hauled all of our luggage (which was EXTREMELY heavy) all the way up to the third floor. We opened the king-sized bed.

Well, let's just say Michelle and I like each other, but not that much.

So back down to the lobby we went, dragging our luggage behind us. We told the front desk girl that we needed two double beds and I have to say, she was not miss congeniality. But we forgave her because it was rather chaotic that day. :-) There were no rooms available yet, so...sigh...more waiting.

By this time, it was about 3:30 and I needed to get ready for the first-timers orientation meeting at 4:15. I called my critique partner, Heidi, whom I had not yet even met. She was attending the Donald Maas Early Bird workshop. I asked if I could use her room to get ready. She met me in the lobby with a hug and a smile (she's adorable!) and graciously handed me her room key.

Made it down to the orientation meeting, where we were informed on how everything worked and got to socialize with other writers in our genre.

Time for the opening session. We were welcomed by Cynthia Ruchti, ACFW president and beautiful woman - both inside and out. Worship followed, led by multi-published author Rachel Hauck and the worship team or "chic band", even though there was one guy (a non-ACFWer). The worship was awesome and the theme song was "waiting". This song was featured in the movie Fireproof and spoke directly to me (and many others, I'm sure). The message is that we will continue serving and worshiping the Lord, even in the midst of the waiting. And we writers know a little bit about waiting, don't we?

Dinner followed. I think it was some sort of chicken, but I do remember it was artistically arranged on the plate. VERY fancy stuff! Much nicer than the Wendy's and Taco Bell atmosphere I'm used to. This is where we ate our meals and the general sessions were held:

After dinner, during the break, I am almost ashamed to say I skipped out. By this time, I'd been up almost 20 hours and I was exhausted. I knew if I didn't get some sleep, I would be a mess for the rest of the conference. So, as much as I wanted to see Debbie's keynote address, AND attend the Spotlight on...Zondervan, I headed up to my room and crawled under the covers. According to Michelle, I didn't even stir when she came in a couple hours later. Can't say I'm surprised.

Skipping out on workshops ended up being a recurring theme for me, which is why I ended up purchasing MP3's of the entire conference. That way, I can listen at my leisure and not miss a thing!

So that wraps up my account of the first couple days.

To be continued tomorrow...


Lisa Buffaloe said...

Loved getting to meet you in person. Isn't ACFW awesome!

Dorothy Adamek said...

I am so jealous Lynda! It sounds like an amazing first 24 hours. And there is no 'lost luggage' story so far! I downloaded the 2008 ACFW sessions, and I am having the best fun listening to those.
I am impressed you volunteered to work as soon as you hit the ground!
Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

Diana D said...

LOL about the falling episode! And the whole thing sounds FAB so far. Smart of you to get the mp3's...