Sunday, September 22, 2013

ACFW Conference

Phew! In the past two weeks I've logged over 36 hours of drive time in my mini-van. It's been a whirlwind adventure.

Just outside of Ames, Iowa.
I've been to Indianapolis, Des Moines and Webster City, Iowa.  I reunited with old friends, made new friends and have a whole new treasure trove of memories stored away in my heart. I met God in amazing ways and watched other people encounter God in their own lives.

On Tuesday, September 10th I left my home in Minnesota and traveled five hours south to Des Moines, Iowa to meet up with Melissa Tagg and Alena Tauriainen. We spent the night at Melissa's apartment, loaded up the mini-van and then left for Indianapolis the next day.

The trip to Indianapolis took us about seven and a half hours. We enjoyed catching up, listening to each others pitches, sharing funny stories, and laughing our way to the Hyatt in Indianapolis.

Inside the Hyatt in Indianapolis.

That night we met up with the My Book Therapy Staff and went to the Eagle's Nest Restaurant, a rotating room at the top of the Hyatt, where we shared the highs and lows of our year. It was a humbling experience to hear the amazing things God is doing through the ministry of Reba Hoffman and her bicycle.

Sitting with the My Book Therapy Staff in the rotating Eagle's
Nest Restaurant above the Hyatt.
The next day, Thursday, many writing friends began arriving at the Hyatt and I had the privilege of helping with the registration table for the conference. It was there that I met my agent, Mary Keeley, in person for the first time! I also met new friends and reconnected with old ones.

Mary Keeley and I
The second night at the hotel was when all my roommates arrived! I roomed with Jessica Patch, Cynthia Herron and Lindsay Harrel. I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard and so much! We had such a good time we didn't realize how late it had become...or how loud we were being...until the lady next to us was kind enough to tell us we needed to be quiet. :)

My funny roommates: Jessica Patch, Cynthia Herron and Lindsay Harrel.
After that, the conference went by in a wonderful blur! Friday night was the genre dinner where I dressed up in a mid-1910's gown. It was fun to see others get into the spirit of the dinner.

Here is Anne Love dressed in her 1890's attire!
I spent my time attending workshops and seminars, pitching my story to editors and visiting with fellow writers. On Saturday night I went to the My Book Therapy Pizza Party where I was a finalist for the Frasier Contest. I didn't win the award, but I felt like a rock star being a finalist!
Here I am with the other finalists!
The Pizza Party was a lot of fun. The highlight was watching a spoof on the Wizard of Oz, where Lindsay Harrel sang her heart out.
The My Book Therapy Pizza Party performers! Lindsay
is on the left with the silver hair. :) Susan May Warren
is dressed as Dorothy in the blue.
After the Pizza Party I went back to the Eagle's Nest and had tea and dessert with my lovely agent, Mary. We had the opportunity to visit and get to know one another better. We talked about my writing and she encouraged me in wonderful ways. I feel blessed beyond compare by her work on my behalf. It was a much different experience attending a conference with an agent on my side. I'm excited to work with her and I can't wait to see where we go from here.

I also attended the Books & Such Literary Agency breakfast on Sunday morning. This was an amazing event for me. I felt honored to be sitting among the authors represented by my agency. It was fun to meet many authors I've dreamed of meeting my whole life. It was humbling to be included.

The Books & Such Literary Agency Breakfast
Sunday, September 15th marked a very special milestone for my friend Melissa Tagg. Her debut novel, Made to Last, released! I'm so thankful we were there to celebrate with her. Alena, Lindsay and I had release day buttons made to spread the good news.

Here we are showing off our buttons.
I cheered with friends who had successes and I cried with friends who were disappointed. I laughed at funny stories, empathized with those who are struggling, and took a few moments to sit quietly and marvel at this journey God has called me on. Who am I that He would use me?

Susan May Warren and I in our 50's inspired dresses.
The conference ended with the Gala Awards dinner on Sunday night where author Frank Peretti was given the lifetime achievement award. This event was a wonderful time to take all those last minute pictures with friends and to celebrate the work God is doing through Christian Fiction.

One of my favorite mentors, Beth Vogt.
I walked away from the conference sleep-deprived and elated! I am encouraged and equipped for this next leg of my journey. I feel really good about where I'm at and I look forward to where I'm going. It's the best place to be.

Your Turn: If you were at the ACFW Conference, what was your highlight? I've missed being on my blog and visiting with my readers. If you weren't at the conference, I'd love to know what you've been doing these past two weeks.

~ ~ ~ ~

On Wednesday I'm hosting author Jody Hedlund on my blog. I'll be sharing information about a fun giveaway for the month of October. You won't want to miss it!

On Friday I'll share some fun pictures from Melissa Tagg's Made to Last Launch Party in Webster City, Iowa!


  1. The highlight of ACFW?
    Hmmm, I'd say it was becoming a Bookie???
    Right after, and I mean, RIGHT AFTER the Books and Such client breakfast, I had tea with YOUR agent Mary Keeley, who is simply lovely. AT 9:25am, Indy time, she offered representation and I think I cried enough to float a boat.
    So, saying 'yes' to OUR agent Mary Keeley was definitely the highlight of ACFW.
    Other high points? Rooming with Sarah Thomas, meeting so many of my writer friends, meeting you in person!! AND?? Giving poor Frank Peretti ear damage by squealing "I was just in an elevator with FRANK PERETTI!!" as I exited the elevator.
    It was an amazing weekend. AMAZING.
    ANd darlin' your husband is a very blessed man. If you smile just once a day at him, like you smiled all weekend? He doesn't need to look at the night sky, because he can see your sparkle and luminescence every day.

    1. Jennifer, you had a pretty remarkable first conference! How fun that you could be with most of your writer friends when you were told the good news. One of my highlights was finally meeting you in person. I feel blessed by your friendship and I can't wait to see where your journey takes you! And thank you for the compliment...I'll have to share it with my hubby and ask him how accurate you are!! :)

  2. Well...there were a ton of highlights to ACFW for me! I guess some of the biggest were good pitch appts, awesome roomies, and being in the MBT play. :)

    BTW, I miss you already!!! June is too far away...

    1. I miss you, too! June is far away, but at least we don't have to wait until next ACFW Conference to see each other again. Loved rooming with you. :) Are we on for next year?!?!

  3. I miss you, roomie and you put it so nicely! ;)

    I had so many, many highlights. One was meeting and hanging with the awesome Julie Lessman! And gushing over Karen Witemeyer. Ah! Too many to count.

    1. I loved rooming with you, too! I was just telling my mom about all the fun we had...and especially the way you shocked Cynthia's sensibilities!!! :) You're one of my faves! Praise Him!

  4. Too many highlights to count! (I loved Robin Jones Gunn's keynote. And I'm still gushing about her taking the time for photos and autographs and making a 15-year-old's day/year! Our daughter was ecstatic!)

    Other highlights: Meeting my (OUR!) agent face-to-face, hooking up with friends--both old and new, great workshops, worship and praise, my ROOMIES!

    Now... back to the real world! :)

    1. Oh! I forgot to add Robin Jones Gunn to my list of highlights! Here message was so simple, yet deeply profound. I'll never forget what she told us. And I love that she's a Bookie!

      I loved spending more time with you! Thank you for all your wisdom and love.

  5. So many great moments. I love your pictures. Best time for me? Aside from seeing so many friends, it had to be the hour-long breakfast meeting with my lovely agent, Rachelle Gardner. I love being a Bookie! :)

  6. So glad to hear how ACFW blessed you, Gabrielle! Hopefully next year, I'll get to meet you and share the experience. :-)


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