Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The American Fiction Writers Conference this year was better than ever. Membership is now 1700-strong with twenty-one chapters spread over the country. More than 500 authors were in Minneapolis last week for the Thursday to Friday event.
I flew in early for Margie Lawson’s workshop, which was excellent. She presents information in an easy, understandable format and challenges writers to stretch and grow. (Margie will be at the Georgia Romance Writers’ Moonlight and Magnolias Conference the first weekend in October where I’ll be able to learn even more from this woman who’s a master at the craft of writing. Check out her website for other opportunities to learn from her expertise. She also offers online classes throughout the year.)
At the opening of the ACFW conference, twenty-five editors and sixteen agents presented panel discussions, which gave all of us in the audience a chance to learn something about the publishing houses and literary agencies.
The continuing education tracks started Friday morning. I attended John Olson’s class, ADVANCED FICTION WRITING: WRITING THE BIG STORY and loved his male POV and the way he presented the information. Check out John’s web site for more details, and be sure to sign up for his classes whenever you have the opportunity.
Suspense author Terri Blackstock gave an interesting program on UP ALL NIGHT SUSPENSE. I love Terri’s work so it was a joy to hear what she had to say. She’s from Mississippi, and we flew back to Atlanta on the same plane and chatted at the airport waiting for our flight to board. Terri focuses less on marketing and more on writing the next book, and from what she said, it seems she doesn’t attend many conference so I felt very fortunate to meet her at ACFW. Her next book will be out in February. I’ll be watching for it in my local bookstore. If you’re interested in writing Christian suspense be sure to read Terri’s work.
Another good workshop was YOU WRITE LIKE A GIRL—HANDLING THE MALE POV. Rachel Hauck offered lots of insights I hadn’t thought of about male characters. She and Susan May Warren provide editorial help to writers through MY BOOK THERAPY. Check them out online at www.MyBookTherapy.com. Rachel said an article about male POV would be posted at their site.
Thursday night my editor Emily Rodmell, along with Steeple Hill authors Cheryl Wyatt and Dana Mintuk, had a Late-Night Chat about Steeple Hill. Emily’s a doll. This was her first conference and all the Steeple Hill authors loved meeting her in person and getting to know her better. One note on submissions, Emily said Love Inspired Historicals are now open to submissions set in any timeframe. Yes, even during the Civil War!
Saturday I started off the day with a two-hour POLICE PROCEDURAL class by Mark Mynheir. He’s a homicide detective and writer who provided lots of good info. According to Mark, www.officer.com is the site to find answers to all our cop questions. He also recommended the book, PRACTICAL HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION, by Vernon Geberth.
The mega booksigning at the Mall of America ran from 1-3 PM on Saturday. With over 100 authors, there was something for every reader in the crowd. Our own Craftie Lady Cara Putman organized the mega-event with buses to and from the Mall and a stage where best-selling authors discussed writing while the photos and book covers of all the authors flashed on two huge screens in the atrium. The shoppers who strolled by my table were thrilled to meet and talk with so many writers. Thanks, Cara, for all your hard work that really paid off!
At the gala banquet that evening, we dined on filet mignon and enjoyed hearing which of our friends had won the big awards. Cara Putnam won in the Young Adult category and Craftie Ladies Terri, Pam, Margaret and I placed in the suspense genre. Dear friends Camy Tang and Mary Connealy, from my other blog www.seekerville.blogspot.com, also won in the debut and short inspirational categories! Way to go, girls!
The conference concluded on Sunday with a worship service and an inspiring talk by Keynote speaker Angela Hunt. Saying goodbye to dear friends was hard, but at the same time, I was eager to get home to my family and start writing again.
My “dream” for this year’s ACFW was to meet ten new writing friends and four industry professionals. In the warm and welcoming environment, it was easy to exceed those goals and a joy to get to know so many writers. If you attended the conference, post a comment about your experiences, your favorite workshops or tidbit of information you picked up.
Next year, I hope many more writers will be able to attend. Debbi Macomber will be the Keynote speaker. Mark your calendars for the 2009 event, September 17-20th in Denver. Hope to see you there!
Wishing you abundant blessings,