But the annual conference is about so much more than awards. It's an opportunity for writers (published authors, aspiring authors, beginning writers) to gather together, learn, network--socialize, support each other. Writing is for the most part a solitary (and lonely) endeavor, butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard--with the occasional foray into Twitter or Facebook when the walls close in. For the 4 or 5 days at conference, we do a 180 turn--non-stop talking, laughs, hugs, reunions, new friendships, brainstorming. Dizzying, exciting, inspiring--exhausting, but wonderful. I remember(way back when) at my first writers' conference feeling like I'd finally landed on a planet where everyone spoke my language! And being completely hoarse on the last day. As I am every time since.
So what sort of planned activities will be going on at the Hyatt? Great stuff like:
Keynote Addresses by best-selling author of the "Bug Man" series, Tim Downs.
Early bird session by stellar author, James Scott Bell: "6 Critical Success Factors in Fiction."
Editor and Agent panels--and opportunities for writers to "pitch" their current work in progress to these industry professionals!
Mentoring of writers by published authors.
Workshops on subjects like: "Creating a Believable Fantasy Storyworld," "It's Not a Dirty Word--Theme," "This Ain't Sweet Valley High--writing Young Adult Fiction," "Turning Rejection into Redirection," "Amish 101," "Feeding the Muse". . . and many more.
A bookstore, with scheduled signings by authors--OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. I'll be signing copies of all three Mercy Hospital books at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday morning, September 18th from 8:45 to 9:15 AM. Come on by!
The ACFW Awards Banquet (hence the evening gown) on Sunday night--a glitzy and glamorous dinner event run much like the Oscars. I'll be sitting with my agent Natasha Kern, and our wonderful "family" of clients, NINE of whom have been nominated for Carol Awards in various categories!
This year, there will be a LIVE BLOG FEED from the awards ceremony--tune in and catch the excitement!
One of my very favorite parts of this conference is something that sets it apart from so many other writing conferences: opportunities for worship as a group. Individual devotions offered by attendees, a member choir that leads songs of praise. Reminders that, as Christian fiction writers (and other industry professionals) we are all "on the same page" when it comes to our work. Awesome indeed. That, and the opportunity to encourage new writers, make this event the best of the best.
So . . . back to packing. Decisions to be made: Pearls or glitter with the evening gown? Bring the Kinko's poster of Code Triage in case the hot-off-the-press books don't arrive? Wear the red scrubs for the signing?
And what about the bookmarks? Last year I got patted down by airport security after the box went through the scanner . . .
I leave on Friday and I'm excited! If you're going to conference, I'll see you there (if we haven't met, please don't be shy. Introduce yourself; I'd love the chance to get to know you).
If you're not going this year, I promise to post pictures when I return. Hoarse, tired--and inspired.
Whoo hoo, Indy bound!