Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Any #ACFW2018 First Timers?

My first experience with the ACFW conference could best be described as 90% terror and maybe 10% excitement. I’ll never forget when Howell dropped me off at the airport. Maybe because it was some ungodly hour in the morning or maybe because he wasn’t going to be with me for the first two days of the conference (and he is my security blanket!)—it’s hard to say. All I know is when I made it through security, I stopped to set my stuff down in a chair and re-group. And then out of nowhere, my eyes filled with tears, and I couldn’t stop crying.

I won’t call it a full-blown panic attack—that might be a bit overdramatic, and I know those are a real thing for some people—but let’s just say, my breath was caught in my chest. Here I am, in front of God and everyone, bawling my eyes out. I fumbled my phone before typing in Howell’s number. He hadn’t even left the parking lot, and already, I’m telling him I can’t do this. It’s too hard. Too scary. Too much.

Meet with agents and editors?

Show my work that has been only closely shared with friends and family?

Small talk with strangers?

Step into massive rooms with large crowds?

Blend in and stand out among a thousand other conference-goers?

No. Nope. Not me.

I will be FOREVER grateful that my sweet hubs talked me off the ledge. I boarded the plane. I took great, huge gulps of breath. And I attended my first ACFW conference.

The relationships I formed that year cannot be measured. I made great friends, some who were exactly where I was at that stage and others who were ahead of me in the game. Both sets of contacts have become invaluable to me.

Because of ACFW, I have learned more than I could have without their resources. The conference workshops and sessions have taught me so much about the craft of writing and the publishing process.  I’ve been in critique groups, met my WONDERFUL critique partner, and found an agent. And I've discovered mentors and friends I might not have met otherwise. 

This year I feel so honored and humbled to be a Genesis finalist, and I know that while God gets 100% of the credit for anything good I write, ACFW gets a smidge on top of that too.

If you’re new to ACFW this year, what are you most afraid of?

If you’re a veteran member, what was your first experience like?

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