Photos and Final Thoughts from ACFW

…With thanks to my friends, because I didn’t have a camera along. It was so awesome to see everyone!

Had a great breakfast with Caleb Breakey, Mike Duran and Morgan Busse. Jason Joyner was also with us, and took the photo for Mike.

Day 1: Having arrived the night before and slept horrendously, through no fault of the luxurious Hyatt facilities, I caught about half the EarlyBird session with Hugo and Nebula-Award winning author Nancy Kress, who is an excellent instructor. After lunch, we helped set up the main room for the afternoon’s keynote session. Three of my dudes and one supportive spouse very graciously pitched in, though they hadn’t originally signed on for the job. (Y’all, I totally owe you.)

Later in the day, I began to see faces I knew. In some cases, it took a moment to connect Facebook photos to real life, but in others, things clicked right away. At this point, my writing partner and his wife became highly amused at my standard assertion that I’m shy. For me, conference pretty much equated to spending 14 hours a day talking with more friends than I’d expected to meet.

Let the record reflect that it was not because I’m not shy, it was because I was so happy to see people I know and feel comfortable with. I love my writer pals.

In which editing client Diane Graham gives me the bunny-ear treatment. Publishing is a questionable business, I tell you. (With the lovely and better-behaved Ralene Burke.)

Day 2: It was a day filled with happy accidental meetings, thankfully. Catching up with everyone by email didn’t entirely work, but I stumbled over my missing friends, such as Jenn Fromke and Ashley Clark.

Also, I somehow ended up organizing an impromptu breakfast table with such lovely people as Stephanie Landsem and Linda Yezak. Too much fun!

Ohmigosh! Diane sweet-talks my varmint of a writing partner, Marc Schooley, into being in a photo. What a pair of raven-haired swashbucklers. I adore these two authors.

Day 3: I pretty much wandered around exhausted, getting in a last few visits and hugs from people I may not see again for a long time. In some cases, whom I won’t see again for a long time… Publisher Grace Bridges made it there all the way from New Zealand, and I had the gift of seeing her a second time after her visit with us in the summer.

I had the privilege of being DeMentored by none other than Randy Ingermanson, who assisted me with my Patronus spell and just generally talked writing life stuff with me. For instance:

Me: “Is it weird if I have a thirty-year career plan in mind?”

Randy I.: “No, that’s probably a good thing.”

A lot of patience can be found by taking the long view…the confirmation of that was comforting.

Got in a visit with Mike and his wife. Great conversation, as always…more to be found at on a regular basis.

Cool people I met for the first time, not pictured: Suzy and Shawn Kuhn from SuzyQ, a retail development/author promotion firm.

Steve Laube, a fantastic agent whose blog I truly adore, and who has represented many of my favourite writers. His advice provided me with some indispensable perspective.

Allen Arnold, former Senior VP of Thomas Nelson/publisher of TN fiction, who has a great sense of the meaning and purpose of fiction writing. Our mentoring conversation took off when he asked me, “How do you know you’re called to write?”

It’s a long answer for a different day, but I found out what I know. Sometimes things don’t come clear for me until I have to articulate them to someone else. That’s the beauty of getting to sit down with more experienced people. They know how to nurture that focus.

Me and Grace Bridges, owner of Splashdown Books, and one of my favourite people to work with.