The Best Convention Ever

I’ve been home a week, now, after attending the ACFW Conference in Dallas, TX. What an experience! I’m still recovering from the overload of information, the wisdom I absorbed, and the fascination of meeting “giants” in the industry. Let me drop some names: 

I met and spent time with John Olson, author of Oxygen and Adrenaline. He impressed me with his friendly manner and openness. He loved meeting us wanna-be writers and helping us hone our craft.  He spent personal time with my friend and I, giving us suggestions and pathways that we hadn’t thought of to perfect our stories. And he signed my book! I’m officially a “pointy-eared member of the S crew,” much to my delight and amazement. The “S” crew is the “Sci-fi crew” and I’m proud to wear the title.  Out of 480+ people, only 17 or so were Sci-fi/Fantasy, and we stuck together in a tight little knot, with John as our Captain. 

I found Randy Ingermanson to be a humble, yet hysterical, guy who just happens to write excellent fiction and loves meeting with like-minded authors. He, also, spent time dispensing wisdom to those of us willing to suck it all in.  He found himself the butt of all the jokes during the main gatherings, and he loved every moment of it. (Keynote speaker James Scott Bell called the ACFW “The FHWRI = Four Hundred Women and Randy Ingermanson.”) To my delight, I discovered that Randy lives within driving distance of my home, so I hope he’ll take me up on a lunch invitation or two. He seemed interested when I suggested it at the conference…

Susan May Warren has a fantastic sense of humor and a great marketing scheme for her newest book, Taming Rafe. (“Rafe” looked un-tamable, in the advertising poster, and when I asked if he rode away into the sunset on his own, still untamed, she said, “Read the book!”). She gave me a sticker with a picture of “Rafe” (actor name unknown) and I had some explaining to do when I got home, wearing the ruggedly handsome Rafe’s mug on my official conference name tag.

As always, Chip MacGregor, the most beloved and sarcastic of all agents, gave us all more than one laugh when he served on the Agent Panel Discussion. And when he showed up for the formal banquet in his kilt, my national pride swelled to overflowing: Proud to be Scottish! 

I met with agent Steve Laube, who’s personable and witty – and asked for my full manuscript (yeah!). Editor Andy Meisenheimer, of Zondervan, aspires to be a true sci-fi geek, like me. Colleen Coble taught an amazing class about building suspense, and showed a true mentor mentality throughout the entire conference. She also introduced us to an interesting book called The Baby Name Survey Book to help us choose proper names for our characters. It doesn’t offer the meaning of the name, but rather what most people think when they hear the name. And finally, James Scott Bell, the keynote speaker, offered the sound advice of developing a writing quota every day and reading books outside our genre with a studious eye for details. He quoted from the movie City Slickers: “You’re thinking about quitting. Don’t let it happen again,” and encouraged us to stick with our writing, no matter what. Very inspirational. 

That’s enough for now. Next time I post, I’ll dispense some of the wisdom I brought home, for what it’s worth.

-Sonja
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