On to FRIDAY... Started off the morning with breakfast, then worship and announcements before heading to our Continuing Education workshops. I attended Sometimes it's Better to Show than Tell, led by author Erin Healy. Erin is an excellent teacher and talked about the "rules" of writing fiction and when it's okay to break those rules. Wonderful, wonderful class, with lots of interactive discussion.
I missed the first half of my CE class because I scheduled a Mentor appointment with author Camy Tang. Even though I'd never personally met Camy before, from interacting with her a bit online, I knew I'd love her. Camy is the Genesis Contest coordinator and has authored half a dozen published books so far. I used my 15 slotted minutes to talk with her mostly about time management, as I have a really tough time "switching gears" from my non-fiction work to my fiction. I walked away with a great tip from Camy: Use a prop to help your brain "turn" from one type of writing to the other. She suggested moving the laptop to a different location, or even putting a "writing hat" on my head - something to mentally "trick" myself into getting into the right mindset. I've yet to try it, but I have a feeling that might be just what I need. Thanks, Camy!
Friday and Saturday lunch tables are hosted by editors and agents. Writers crowd around the doors, waiting for them to open so they can race to the tables - in a polite Christian way, of course - of the editors and agents they want to connect with and/or pitch to. Since I didn't have anything to pitch, I didn't particularly care who I sat with, but when I came to editor Stephanie Broene's table, I sat down. Stephanie is an editor with Tyndale and I happen to know she went to the same high school I did, and still has family and friends who live in the same town I do, so we'd have something in common. Stephanie ended up sitting directly beside me and she was awesome. She engaged everyone at the table, listening to our ideas and giving insight into the business.
Friday afternoon I attended a blogging/marketing/publicity workshop taught by author Shannon Vanatter. Shannon offered some great tips on the necessary business side of writing. By this time, I was mentally exhausted, so I skipped out on the next main session to rest up in my room for a bit.
We were on our own for dinner on Friday. A group of us walked a couple blocks to TGI Fridays, and enjoyed great food and conversation.
SATURDAY: After breakfast, worship, and general announcements, we broke off to our CE classes again. I finished up Erin Healy's workshop, Sometimes it's Better to Tell than Show. Good stuff!
At lunch I had the privilege of sitting at the table hosted by Sue Brower, editor with Zondervan. I met with Sue two years ago in Denver and she was so helpful to me. She was the perfect host, having us go around the table to tell what we are working on. One highlight for me was sitting right next to one of my favorite authors, Gayle Roper. And the lovely Janet Bly sat across from me. Janet's husband Stephen, author of 100 books, passed away only a few months ago. Together, they authored many books, and she and her son recently published Stephen's final western, Throw the Devil Off the Train.
The afternoon flew by with two more workshops and then it was time to go get ready for... the gala!
|With roomies, Teresa and Connie|
The ACFW Awards Gala is the Academy Awards for writers. Cameras flashing, lots of gushing over dresses, hugs and smiles abound. After enjoying a delicious dinner, we went straight into the awards which, for the first time ever, was broadcast live online! For a list of the winners, see THIS POST.
What an evening! Glitz, glamor, and spinning elephants were the talk of the night. For those of you who haven't yet heard, the backdrop to the stage was very cool - beautiful changing scenes of "moving" waterfalls and other designs. But then came the spinning elephants. I don't imagine it was meant to be funny, but it was! A wave of laughter flooded the ballroom and became the talk of the night. Hey...it certainly gave us something to remember about the 2011 conference.
|With published authors and former crit buddies, Betsy St. Amant, Jenness Walker, and Cathy West|
|Our fancy shmancy dessert|
SUNDAY: Well, all good things must come to an end. (Boo....) We enjoyed one final breakfast and a wonderful time of worship before the conference officially ended. I took some last minute photos with friends I was leaving behind - at least physically. We constantly stay in touch via Facebook and email, but saying goodbye is never easy.
|With "Romance with Cowboys" author, Mary Connealy|
|With new crit partner, Hilarey Johnson|
|Again with Cathy and Jenness|
HOME SWEET HOME...At 9:30 pm, I finally walked through my back door. As incredible as the conference was, I have to say, it felt good to be home. My folder with all my conference notes still sits on the end table next to my writing chair, waiting to be gone through and absorbed some more. But, like I said on Sunday, getting caught up is a little more difficult than I expected.
On Thursday, I'll post a few of the highlights of my trip. The main thing I took away was how amazing God is. 680 of us showed up in St. Louis with the same passion, the same desire to write for God's glory. But although we may share the same gift, God takes us down different roads to touch different people, impact the world around us, and accomplish his purpose.