Tuesday, September 25, 2012

American Christian Fiction Writers Conference

My Pitch & Promotion Buddies
Last week I had the incredible opportunity to attend my first writers conference - and it's the biggest one in the nation. The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference was held in Dallas, Texas with almost seven hundred people in attendance.

Some of the reasons to go to a writers conference are to connect with other writers, attend workshops/seminars and to pitch your book idea to agents and editors in person - a privilege you don't get anywhere else. If you don't attend a conference, it can take months for an agent to get around to looking at your book proposal and it's almost impossible to get your idea in front of an editor without an agent.

At a conference you are given two fifteen minute appointments with agents and editors of your choice (but you don't always get your first choice). It's your job to communicate your book idea and get the agent/editor excited about it in fifteen minutes - a daunting task, to say the least. 

When I arrived at the conference on Wednesday I signed up to attend the Pitch & Promotion Seminar presented by Susan May Warren with My Book Therapy - and I'm so happy I did. Susie spent four hours teaching us how to present our book idea to agents and editors during our conference experience and then her skilled team members help us practice that pitch until we felt confident to present it.

Susan May Warren and Jim Rubart Teaching
During the Pitch & Promotion Seminar I had the awesome privilege to work with Beth Vogt - one of my favorite authors and friends. Beth helped me craft my "hook" line - the line you start with to grab your audience's attention. Here's what we came up with for my hook:

"Can the ultimate act of love be to break someones heart?"

What do you think? I had quite a few raised eyebrows when I asked that question - and it's the question that my book explores.

Two of my friends offered me pitch sessions with editors from some really amazing publishing houses. I was nervous going into my pitching sessions, but both of them proved to be awesome experiences.

I have much to share over the coming weeks about my time at ACFW, the people I met, the lessons I learned, the doors that were opened, but, for now, I'll leave you with the greatest truth I've gleaned:

God is in the business of blessing - and He's good at it.

What about you? What blessings are you counting today? What do you think about my hook line? :)


  1. I think your hook line is very intriguing! I want to know what happens!

    I'm looking forward to reading about your conference experiences, and I am so glad I got to meet you in person! :)

  2. Aw, Gabrielle, I loved reading about your conference experience... and hearing about it firsthand! I know really great things are in store for you. Can't wait to see what God has planned next! :) So glad I got to meet you!

  3. "God is in the business of blessing - and He's good at it." I love this line. It's so true! It was great getting to meet you in person!

  4. Your hook is VERY intriguing. I kind of want it to read the other direction, though. "Can breaking someone's heart be the ultimate act of love?" Just my two cents! Can't wait to read more about your experience.

  5. Your hook line caught me, but I think having YOU deliver it makes it even more enticing. You have such a lovely, intelligent presence. I enjoyed spending time with you!

  6. It's His thing!

    Amen for you! Amen.
    ~ Wendy

  7. Oh wow! Love the hook! Although, I gotta say, Sarah's flip of the wording flows better and keeps the punch in the gut right where it needs to be. "Breaking someone's heart" is the centre (yes, I did too spell that properly!) of the hook. Whereas "be to break" cuts the flow in the middle. I hope that's okay.

  8. A great hook! It sounds like SMW's workshop gave you some wonderful ideas and encouragement for presenting your book. I've listened to her online Monday chats in the past and found them very helpful, but with my son's bedtime routine, it's hard to make it to MBT on time. I can't wait to hear more of your conference experience. :-)

  9. Erica - I'm so happy we met, as well! It's always nice to see another Minnesotan when I'm so far from home (and you didn't pick on my accent like some of those Southerners did)! :)

    Ashley - I'm so happy we met!! You have such a bright and sunny personality and you helped make my conference experience so much fun! I can't wait to get on your blog and poke around. :)

    Julie - I had so much fun with you after the Awards Gala on Saturday night! I can't wait to see where your career goes. :)

    Sarah - I LOVE your wording! Thank you for the suggestion - I agree, I didn't care for "be to" combination. I'll have to readjust the line in my head now!

    Jill - thank you - I'm so happy we met in person! You always brought a smile to my face whenever I saw you. I can't wait to come hang out on your blog more!

    Wendy - God's timing is perfect. My scripture for this conference was "My times are in your hands." And I'm still praying that. Amen is right!

    Jennifer - I love Sarah's wording and you're absolutely right - I didn't like the break in the middle, either. Thank you for the encouragement and the proper spelling of centre. :) You Canadians and your spelling!

    Gwen - I loved Susan May Warren. I'll be attending her workshop near Minneapolis in less than a month and I'm so excited! She is an amazing teacher - and as kind as you can imagine. She offered me confidence and encouragement - and both went a long way in helping me pitch to my dream pub. houses!

  10. I soooo loved meeting you, Gabe! You're amazing and you know I love your hook!

    Be watching...your video might pop up on my blog, donchaknow!:)

  11. Love your hook, love you, loved our time together. But you knew all of that already! :)

  12. You had an accent?? Totally didn't hear one. :D

  13. Fishsticks, that unknown was me. Forgot to sign in first. :D We;'ll see if it works this time, but if it doesn't, you can know it is the technology challenged Erica Vetsch, messing up 'that there interweb' again. :D

  14. I like the hook! And I'm still so glad I got to finally meet you!

  15. Gabrielle,

    I'm so excited to find out more about your conference experience - so glad you got to go. And what an invaluable opportunity to spend that time with Susan and Beth!

    Love the hook - I'm with Sarah and Jennifer. I think it flows nicely flipped around. The one you have might be a little "edgier" - certainly something to consider. Getting those 'hooks' are like prying diamonds from coal, aren't they???


  16. Great hook line! Glad you had fun at ACFW!

  17. Like this! Especially the part about ACFW being a blessing. I watched on Sunday online and it touched my heart... Beautiful speeches, beautiful Spirit in the room.

    Glad you had fun, Gabrielle! Thanks for sharing.

    God is indeed VERY good!

  18. love your hook, gabrielle...can't wait to read your novel :)


  19. Gabrielle, it was wonderful to meet you! ACFW was amazing on many fronts. Thanks for sharing your encouragements with me. :) I love your hook and the tweaks offered here today. :)

  20. I absolutely loved meeting you!!! Your spirit is as beautiful as you are! I loved you hook and your story and am soooo excited to see what God has in store for you!

  21. Jessica Patch! That video better never show up anywhere - what happens at ACFW stays at ACFW... Dontchyaknow?!?! :) I loved meeting you, too.

    Lindsay - I've had a couple people ask me how it was rooming with someone I'd never met in person and I said it was wonderful - you and Ruth were the best room mates and I couldn't have had a better experience! I love you, too!!

    Erica - I didn't think I had an accent, but it turns out you can't say "I'm from Minnesota" without sounding like you live in Minnesota. :)

    Amy - I'm so happy I met you, too! I'm especially happy that you won the Genesis Competition!!! Congrats, again. :)

    Becky - I like the hook flipped, too. I'm so excited that I was able to spend time with Susan May and Beth - everyone with My Book Therapy is so amazing!! Thanks for stopping by to say hello today.

    Livia - thank you! I had an amazing time.

    Ganise - I was so happy to hear that they were able to share the Awards Gala live on Saturday evening - it was such an awesome experience knowing I was in a room with Christian Authors who are responsible for sharing the Gospel across the globe. A-MAZ-ING!

    Karen - thank you! I'm just as eager to share my novel as you are to read it! :)

    Jeanne - in my memory you will always be a key player in my time at ACFW. I'm so happy we were able to hang out and share so much of it together!!

    Sherrinda - I'm counting my blessings and you're among them! You were such a bright spot in my day and week at ACFW. You have such a beautiful spirit, too. I remember once you said that if we knew each other in person we could be good friends - and I couldn't agree more!

  22. Your hook is quite catchy.

    I loved meeting you at the conference, Gabrielle. You are such a lovely young woman with a warm heart.

  23. Just getting to this blog post now ... oh, still playing catch up from ACFW! Aren't we all?
    I was thrilled to have you as part of my group at the Scrimmage. You did a great job with your hook -- and I still love it. And, yes, I can see where tweaking the wording a bit improves it. This is what I love about brainstorming with other writers!
    It was a delight to get to know you better.
    And absolute delight!!

  24. Keli - thank you. I'm so happy we met at ACFW and that we were able to share a couple of meals together. You're as sweet as I've always heard you were! By the way, I was in our little Christian Book Store in town yesterday and I saw your book on the shelves!

    Beth - I love the tweaking on my hook, as well. I agree, I love brainstorming with other writers - they take something good and make it great! I'm still playing catch up, too - I think it may take a while to get everything back in it's place, including my rest. :) Thank you for all the warm hugs and the encouragement last week.

  25. I'm counting the blessing of getting to know you better last week, Gabrielle. I'm terrible at coming up with hooks, so I'll leave it to the experts. Yours has me intrigued, for sure! :)

  26. Hey Gabrielle!! So glad the hook worked - it's supposed to raise eyebrows, so that is awesome. I like the change, too - it's always good to get input! Soooooo glad you could join us - it was a delight to meet you and you worked with one of the best - Beth. :) I look forward to hanging out with you in the near future. ;) XO! SMW

  27. Sarah - I'm so happy we were able to get to know one another better, too. Once I went to the Pitch & Promotion Seminar my brain started working and I was able to craft that hook with Beth's help. It's amazing what people can do together!

    Susie May! I'm so happy you stopped by to say hello today. I really enjoyed meeting you and sitting in some of your classes last week. You definitely have a gift for teaching and encouraging. I'm looking forward to the Storycrafter's Weekend in a couple of weeks! I'm coming with a new book idea!! :)

  28. Gabrielle, it was so great to meet you at the conference! I love your hook line, and I can't wait to read your book! :0)


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