WE WERE IN PERSON!
The big news for the annual conference of American Christian Fiction Writers for 2022 was just that – we were in person in St. Louis at the Arch. And for me, as I’m certain it was for many attendees, seeing writing friends both old and new, was the attraction this year. Yes, I enjoyed the teaching. Yes, I enjoyed the setting. Yes, I enjoyed the food. And the worship. And the keynotes. But the best part was hugging and talking face-to-face with people I’ve met once or twice or only online.
My new adventure with Sunrise Publishing has led to my online acquaintance with many new authors. I enjoyed actually meeting with and spending time with several of them over the course of the conference. One of the highlights was the Sunrise Dinner where we all gathered over a meal and got to know each other more.
Spending time with my fellow draft authors, Susan Jane Anderson and Patti Stockdale, and our lead author, the amazing Jody Hedlund, was an added bonus. As well as meeting suspense authors Lisa Phillips and Lynette Eason, and newly-published authors, Kate Angelo, Rachel Russell, Andrea Christenson, Mandy Boerma, Michelle Aleckson, Sami Abrams. Meeting the unquenchable Susan May Warren and talented Lindsay Harrell again was icing on the cupcake, as it were.
I also enjoyed time with my roommate, Indiana ACFW President, Linda Sammaritan (Sammaritoni) and with other soon-to-be published authors, conference photographer Emilie Haney (whose work is amazing as is her personality) and fellow podcaster and YouTuber, Becky Yauger.
My Book Therapy (Novel.Academy) had a meet and greet as well, so I was able to meet many of the lovely ladies I spend most Thursday nights with in person. We had a “Donut Stress” time in Susan May Warren’s hotel suite with fun and games. Meeting Tari Faris and Lisa Jordan in person as well as Jeanne Takanaka was another highlight. I feel I know these women because we’ve spent so much time together online, but nothing beats hugs and real-time speech versus chat windows and typing.
There were classes. I learned about characters from Cara Putman and Pepper Basham, writing historicals that appeal to modern readers from Jody Hedlund, and complex plots from Lisa Phillips. Sunrise Publishing had a spotlight and Susie May taught a class on how to make money as an author. The hilarious, witty and wise, Liz Curtis Higgs rocked the keynotes, while Rachel Hauck and her band led us in meaningful worship. Brandilyn Collins, the effervescent mc, let us in on the secrets of floor 13 and all the announcements each day. We celebrated milestones and awards at separate celebrations.
The gala gave everyone a chance to fancy-up our dress and enjoy another meal together before heading our separate ways.
The sights of St. Louis and the Arch drew me outside the first day. I enjoyed the park with its walkways, manicured lawns and trees. The river flowed past with its usual traffic and ripples. The sunny day boasted a lovely breeze to moderate the temperature, and since it was a weekday, there were few people about. I was able to meander at will, taking in the various views and escaping the artificial lights and conditioned air of the hotel. As an outdoor person, the reprieve was invigorating.
Whether you’re a long-time author with many publications under you belt or a newbie just considering writing for publication, ACFW offers resources and connections that can further your career as well as writing buddies to alleviate the sense of aloneness that often permeates the writing experience. Consider attending the conference in 2023. We’re returning to St. Louis for another go. I hope to see you all there!
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