Sunday, September 23, 2012

2012 ACFW Conference Memories

The American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference took place this past weekend in Dallas/Ft. Worth. I was blessed to be able to attend. A very generous, wonderful person provided the funds, for which I will always be so very, very grateful. You know who you are, and I love you so, so much!!

The conference is a special time for authors who write for the Christian fiction market. Not only do we get to be with 700 other writers who think like we do -- aka weirdos who talk to and live with imaginary people! -- but we also get to meet with folks in the industry, like editors, agents, publicists and such. We attend workshops and on-going classes that provide a wealth of knowledge and advice to grow us as writers and advance our careers. A very cool thing about the classes and workshops: many are taught by the authors themselves, which basically means they are teaching their competition how to become a better writer. How many professionals out in the world are willing to help their competitors like that? Not many. This year my two favorite workshops were taught by Author Karen Ball and Author Rene Gutteridge. Excellent writers giving excellent advice.

One of the highlights of the ACFW conference for me is the worship. At each general session, a room full of crazy writers and lovers of words turn their hearts and minds to God, the giver of our gifts. A band plays while the praise team leads us in song. It's a truly wonderful sight and sound. I love to look around the large banquet room and see so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ -- and fellow writers -- praising God. The devotionals this year were exceptionally good and touched my heart with deep, abiding truths.

The awards banquet on Saturday night honors authors in all genres, published and unpublished. The Genesis contest is open to unpublished members, and the Carol Awards go to published authors. They also recognize someone from the industry with a Lifetime Achievement award, honoring this person for their contributions to the ministry of Christian fiction. Stand-out editors, agents and mentors are also recognized. Everyone gets dressed up in sequins and suits -- and a few odd costumes that, this year, led to hotel security getting involved! -- and enjoy the last night of being together.

Over the years, I've met many of my favorite authors at the ACFW conference, including Francine Rivers and Tracie Peterson. I've also watched the careers of friends take off, like Tamera Alexander, Virginia Smith, and Kim Vogel Sawyer. Two of my dearest friends in the world -- Authors Pamela S. Meyers and Paula Bicknell -- are in my life because of ACFW. And this year I was blessed to find a kindred spirit in Author Tracey Bateman. The woman makes me laugh!

I'm thankful for the many people who give their time and talents to make the ACFW conference the amazing event it is! I can't wait for next year! Go here if you'd like to join us!

My wonderful agent, Les Stobbe!

Author Pamela S. Meyers and me at the awards banquet.

Author Tracey Bateman and me. My "almost" roomie. ;)
Author/Editor Susan Downs and me. Susan's sister was my next-door neighbor in the dorm in college!
Small world!

This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, Russia, Indonesia, Ukraine, Canada, Australia, Sweden, India, France, Philippines, Morocco, Poland, Venezuela, United Kindgom, Ireland, China


Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

Michelle, it was such a delight to see you again! You just glow "Jesus." :o)

Michelle Shocklee said...

Aww, thank you, sweet friend! Loved seeing you too. I've added the name of your loved one to my prayer list. <3