Wednesday, April 23, 2014

ACFW and the Power of Connection

September 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Marketing, Publishing, Writing Business

I started a tradition of summing up my ACFW conference experience in a word years ago. It’s been insightful and fun looking back over the years as God spoke one or two words specifically for me. Maybe with all the excitement and conference overload one or two simple words was all I could handle. Maybe in this case, less was really more.

In 2006, the word was Why? I was on a writing fast that year and longed for progress in my writing career as I witnessed friends I started this writing journey with receive contracts and leave me behind. There were other words that year. Ugly, not so pretty words God needed to dig up in my heart before I could move forward. Pride… Humility… Patience

Boy, was that a conference to remember! And it was just the beginning of a great work God needed to do in my heart!

In 2007, the word was Flexibile. My younger sister JUST had a heart attack at age 36, but God knew ahead of time. In fact, she lived only 45 minutes from where the conference was held that year. Though my plans were disrupted and I felt disconnected from ACFW at times, I learned to be flexible and move where God wanted me to be.

In 2008, brought me my first stalker, and the words were connections and encouragement as the people at ACFW became more important than the sessions. Here’s a link to the end of my stalker story…don’t worry, it turned out to be a God thing.

In 2009, the words were Pensieve and Humbled as I felt disconnected, but comforted from a God who supplied my every need.

In summer of 2010,  everything fell apart when a  multi published author mentor of mine said my historical romance wasn’t working and that I should start over with Women’s fiction. It took some time to grieve and hit delete on 50,000 words, but I did. I also skipped ACFW that year and attended a couple smaller, more intimate conferences instead. At these smaller venues, I found my voice again, and got a confirmation from my writing hero, Lisa Samson, that “I really had something.” It was exactly what I needed to restart my story and confidence.

ACFW 2011, God showed me in a tangible way that I was not insignificant. It must have struck a cord with others because it’s one of my most commented on posts.

So what about ACFW 2012? For me it was all about connection. After registering and seeing my writing bank account being cleaned out, I had second thoughts about attending. I had nothing to pitch and really needed the cash to redesign my website. But my agent encouraged me that I could promote my new book. So I pushed the money out of my mind and started focusing on connecting with people.

And what better way to connect than on the dance floor! Wednesday night a small group of 9 people attended the first annual ACFW Swing Dance night. The time was sweet and intimate as I got to connect with new and old friends in a  special way that only happens on the dance floor.

The rest of the conference went about the same way. I turned online friends into real life friends connecting a personality with a gravatar. It was so rewarding to experience the accents, personalities, and rather petite sizes of my new friends. Waving at Jill, Michelle, April, Elizabeth, Melissa, Julie, Robin, Casey, Sarah, Christy and a whole bunch of people I know I’m forgetting. And how could I forget the late night silly “bonding” time with Danica and Georgiana. It was worth the lack of sleep!

My Digging Up Death Chocolate promo seemed to be a hit among attenders. I even got smiles and “clever idea” from agents, editors and publicists!

And as always, the wonderful worship and sessions by amazing authors who are willing to share their knowledge was priceless. I walked out of every class with one or two practical things I knew I could implement in my marketing and writing.

Add it all up, and it was worth the price tag!

If you’d like to see photos of ACFW 2012, check out my Facebook.

Let’s Talk: What one word stands out for you and your writing journey?

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