Last month, I got to attend ACFW 2016 (American Christian Fiction Writers), my second annual conference. It was held thirty miles away from where I live this year but I wanted the entire experience so I opted to stay at the hotel in downtown Nashville. A decision I did not at all regret. Side note: The Omni Hotel in Nashville is gorgeous (even if our view wasn’t the most picturesque).
Forty days prior to when the conference begins, it is covered in prayer, and this year we felt the presence of God amongst us. As we caught up with old friends, met new ones, worshipped together, and learned from those who have gone before us, there was a sweet spirit throughout the entire four days.
Ted Dekker was the keynote speaker and as he shared what he called the unfair advantage that we, as writers, face:
You writer to discover yourself. You learn what your characters do.
A few other tidbits from Ted Dekker (he had a lot of them but I don’t have room to share them all):
Story is always transformation. If it’s not, don’t write it.
Write for your own transformation. Readers are addicted to that.
Your writing is your healing.
If I’m not stepping out of the boat (of safety), I’m not telling in authentic story.
Day two of the conference included an all-day continuing ed course. I chose to attend Erin Healy’s “How to Think Like your Editor” and came away with so much good information, I was already going through my current WIP in my head deciding what I needed to change or make stronger. A couple highlights from that session:
We read primarily for the emotional experience
Anything you can do to make your writing invisible (to the reader) is a good thing.
We all had Friday evening free to explore, write, pray, visit, or whatever we wanted to do. I was grateful for this little reprieve as there was so much to process from Erin Healy’s class.
Saturday was filled with spotlight sessions. In fact, there were so many great sessions to choose from, it was difficult to decide on them. I ended sitting in on Jamie Jo Wright’s session on building platform and she said a couple things that really hit home. With the focus on getting published and publishers’ current emphasis on platform, Wright brought it back home.
God make you who you are. It’s not a mistake that you have the personality you do.
No matter how many people you have on your platform, if it’s only 120 people, it’s the 120 people you’re supposed to be in relationship with at this moment.
The reminder of relationships was timely and poignant.
I also attended a session on backstory, the antagonistic setting, and finishing your novel using Allie Plieter’s Chunky Method (which totally makes sense when you sit down and look at it). During meals, other authors would tell me about the spotlights they’d been to and all around, everyone seemed to be getting a lot out of their sessions.
The conference ended with the dinner and the awards gala. Linda Brooks Davis, Carol Award winner for Debut Novel, ended the evening by leaving everyone in the room rolling with laughter (her speech was hands down, the best of the night). And with that, the conference closed.
I look forward to watch ACFW 2017 in Dallas, TX brings.