Tuesday, September 22, 2015

ACFW Conferences Recap + My BIG News

I'm not sure what you did last weekend, but I spent five days surrounded by writers of all kinds and it was glorious! I walked...um, well flew, (begrudgingly) away from the 2015 ACFW Conference with a few major takeaways that I thought I'd share here.

5 Takeaways from the 2015 ACFW Conference

1. Worship

Rachel Hauck not only inspires me with her writing and heart for the Lord, but through music as well. Most of you know that I'm a musician on the side (when I'm not writing or taking pictures) and to be able to worship with 500+ writers is one of the most amazing experiences--EVER! I was blessed by her heart and I'm sure everyone else was!
2. Friendship
This year's conference was a special experience for me because I finally met (in person) so many amazing friends who I'd first made contact with online! It was the most amazing thing to put a hug to the name that I'd seen for so long throughout the year. It also reminded me that no matter what, whether we meet through ACFW or through a mutual love of books or writing, we're real friends - meeting in person is just icing on the cake.

3. Knowledge
There were so many amazing classes this year. Though I was running around taking pictures through a lot of them, I found myself picking up tidbits in every class during the few minutes that I was in the room. I can't wait to get the conference flash drive to listen through them all, but more than that, I can't wait to see what everyone else walked away with. 

For me, my "writing takeaway" was a reminder (from several authors and speakers) of how important it is to give our writing over to the Lord. No matter what, I want the Lord in every aspect of my writing and I am excited to jump into projects with this fresh on my mind.

4. Belonging
Where else can you go and be surrounded by people who just get you? There was so much laughter! Yes, a lot of it was coming from me. I fully admit to this and apologize publicly for the fits of giggles that struck me around midnight each night. ;-)

I walk away from ACFW with a renewed sense of belonging in the writing community. It's the perfect time for all of us to come out from behind our computers and to meet face to face and remind one another that we are not alone in this. We never have been.

I love that reminder and it fuels me to press on. To write more, write often, and write better.

(P.S. Natalie we miss you in this picture...)
5. Hope 
Lastly, I walk away from the ACFW conference with a renewed sense of hope. A reminder that--no, I'm not crazy for wanting to write stories about fictional people.  I'm not acting foolishly on some fanciful whim that fades with reality. The deep seated sense of purpose and direction I have is from the Lord and I'm not meant to go it alone, but with a community of like minded people who are focused on encouraging one another to better their craft. I have hope to strive for excellence. To dive into rewrites--again--and to put words to the page even when the inspiration lacks. 

I am a writer and I will write. 


Lastly, if you didn't see my Facebook post - I am thrilled that one of my photos of the amazing and talented Francine Rivers was used in this article for Publishers Weekly. Francine won the 2015 ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award and was at the awards gala to receive it. It was such an honor to photograph her there. I've long looked up to her and her amazing writing (The Mark of the Lion series will always be a favorite) and am so happy that she was recognized like this. 

If you attended I'd love to hear what you took away from the conference! If not, what inspires you and leaves you encouraged afterwards in what you're passionate about?

My BIG News....
All right - I've made you wait long enough, haven't I? I announced on my Facebook author page yesterday that I had some big news and I do...

I've signed a contract with Tamela Hancock Murrary of The Steve Laube Agency

I am so excited! It actually happened just before we left for the conference but I wanted to wait until the paperwork (and craziness of the conference) was over.

For those of you who may not know what this means, she is a literary agent and we'll be joining forces to get my books published. It's a long process (which includes me doing LOTS of writing) but having representation is a huge step. I am so pleased to be with such a wonderful agency and look forward to what the Lord has in store next.

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter (click here). I'll be sending out an update at the end of this week that will include more stories from the conference and a special peek into how my novel Runaway got started!

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