So right now at this very moment, I am probably flying the friendly skies, on my way to the annual ACFW conference in St. Louis. I have to say it's a very different experience than my first conference in Denver. For 4 reasons.
1. I have an agent. Two years ago, I was on the hunt for an agent. I researched which agents would be at the conference, made an appointment to meet with an agent, scoped out agents to sit with at lunch. Getting an agent was my primary focus. After all, we writers know, "first comes agent, then comes publisher, then comes baby (that would be 'book') in a shiny soft cover." So I went prepared with one-sheets, first chapter, etc. etc., ready to launch into all the reasons why they should represent me as an author. This year, I didn't have to pack my agent hunting gear because I've already got one! And the great job my agent Terry Burns has done for me brings me to the second reason this year's conference will be different from the first...
2. I am going "pitchless." As in, I have nothing to pitch to editors. And, of course, that's because I am busy right now focusing on my debut novel, contracted by OakTara, which will be coming out in the next few months. I could have gotten another pitch ready, I suppose, as I do have a mystery I am pretty anxious to get back to. But I figure I'd better stick with one project at a time. And because OakTara might also be interested in contracting my sequel to Mind over Madi, I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew. So this time around, I will not have the pressure of "pitching" (whew...) and can concentrate on networking and learning more about the craft of writing.
3. I am not a Genesis Finalist. I made the semi-finalist list but didn't make finalist this year. I took it hard, probably because I've been spoiled for the past 3 years. But, I'll let you in on a little secret. I'm slightly relieved, because now there's not even the tiniest chance I'll have to go up in front of hundreds of people and give a thank you speech. This year, I can sit back, relax, eat my incredible dinner and dessert, and cheer my heart out for my friends.
4. I have to pay. You may remember that my ACFW conference in Denver was paid for by my dad (I know...what a guy, right?) But this time, the cash is coming out of my pocket. Yes, free was better, but it's okay. I am determined to squeeze everything out of this conference that I can. Gotta get my money's worth. Not that I doubt I will. I am expecting God to work in wonderfully glorious ways this week.
But despite those four differences, many things are very much the same: The excitement over seeing my friends again... rubbing shoulders with published authors I enjoy and editors and agents I admire...the anticipation of getting stirred up and motivated to do this incredible thing God called me to do...finding inspiration and boosting my creativity to new levels...being surrounded by 500+ people who "get me" for 4 straight days!...being pampered at a gorgeous high quality hotel...the food...I could go on and on.
I am so grateful for this opportunity to attend this conference again. I look forward to sharing my experience (and hopefully lots of photos) with you when I return!