My First ACFW Conference

ACFW Conference

Over the weekend, I joined almost 500 writers, editors, and agents at the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, TX.

Besides being my first time flying and/or traveling alone, I was a little panicked about what a writers’ conference would be like. Would the people I met online be as nice in person? Should I hug them or not? Will I even have the courage to speak to anyone? And many writers’ blogs talk about going away from their first conference feeling like they knew nothing about writing. Would I feel that way?

Nadine and I get a couple of pictures in while waiting for dinner.

Nadine and I get a couple of pictures in while waiting for dinner.

I shouldn’t have worried. That first night after dinner, I turned around to Nadine Brandes calling my name and giving me a hug before I even had to think about whether or not to hug her. It was the first of many hugs. 🙂

I also got lots of hugs from my fellow author and prayer warrior Angie Brashear, but we missed getting any pictures together.

I met Gillian Bronte Adams, author of Orphan's Song. I absolutely love her book, and I was hiding my fangirl squealing when I met her.

I met Gillian Bronte Adams, author of Orphan’s Song. I absolutely love her book, and I was hiding my fangirl squealing when I met her.

I met several other new friends who I plan to keep in touch with. Besides a few moments of panic or trembling hands, I didn’t experience most of my normal social anxiety. Perhaps it was the confidence of being in a room full of writers where I didn’t have to pretend to be normal. Maybe it was the freedom of telling people I’m a writer as the first thing they know about me instead of one of the last. Above all, it was an answer to a prayer.

While I learned a few things from the writing workshops, I didn’t learn as much as I thought (or feared) I would. No panicked realization that I knew nothing of writing. In fact, what I did learn was that I knew more than I thought I did. I learned a lot from writing and editing Dare. Yes, I have stuff to learn yet. There’s always more to learn. But a lot of what I need to work on is applying the things I do know consistently.

While I was nervous for my critique with Jeff Gerke, I shouldn't have worried. After bonding over a shared love of Mountain Dew, the rest of the critique went by quickly.

While I was nervous for my critique with Jeff Gerke, I shouldn’t have worried. After bonding over a shared love of Mountain Dew, the rest of the critique went by quickly.

I was really disappointed that it was over so quickly. Next thing I knew, I was packing my bags and slipping out of the hotel for my airport terminal.

Once on my plane, still high from whatever streak of courage that got hold of me all weekend, I turned to the lady sitting next to me (something I never do) to strike up a conversation. She was a young mother, her chubby cheeked kid sitting on her lap, her husband in the seat on the other side of her.

Every mother likes to talk about her kid, right? So I asked, “How old is he?”

She gave me this cold look. “She is a girl.”

Oops. Guess my socially inept self was going to make a reappearance sooner rather than later. I’ll go read my book now.


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