Was it all just a dream?
Did it really happen?
In some ways it is hard to believe it did. It was all just one big blur of wonderment that could have easily been a dream. It felt like I went to a writer's version of Hogwarts except instead of having a school year's worth of time, we only had three days. Three magical days where I was surrounded by writers, agents, and publishers. It was just way too short but full of life and wonder.
It was strange to be back and see how much the hotel and the conference rooms had not changed. Everything felt the same and I even remembered what I was feeling and thinking from the last time I was there but I was not the same person walking in from 3 years ago. It was strange and rather bizarre experience.
I met so many amazing and talented people and even got to see old friends too.
As always, I feel like I feast like a princess with servants attending to my every need while I'm there. I felt so spoiled.
TOP 3 THINGS I LEARNED
What is interesting about this year is that I really didn't learn anything new about my craft but I did learn a lot spiritually which is funny when you think about it. Usually, you can go on spiritual retreats for that but instead I got it at a writer's conference.
The Lord is funny in that way.
1) God not only knows the desires of your heart, but He can take them further. As Allen Arnold said, "God gives you the talent so that He can build it with you but also scare you a bit with the big dreams He has for you."
Let me explain a little bit more.
For ACFW, I didn't have a complete manuscript. I didn't having anything I felt remotely comfortable showing. So, my goals for the weekend were
a) find a critique group
b) make friendsSimple enough, right?
I was heading downstairs for the genre dinner when I met two lovely ladies waiting for the elevator, ACFW name tags on their chest. Yay! Time to make friends!
I introduced myself and we started a lovely conversation. Well, one of those ladies is a fantasy writer (GENRE-SISTERS!) and one of the first questions she asked me was, "Do you have a critique group?"
I replied, "No. Sadly, I do not."
She smiled and handed me her card and told me she would hook me right up.
That writer was Jamie S. Foley and she is an answer to prayer.
I still get goosebumps over this experience because I knew what God was saying to me, "See. I can do this and more for your dreams." (And that was just in the first 2 hours of the conference!)
During the rest of the weekend, the Lord showed up in amazing and astounding ways. That I'll never forget.
2) As a creator, you must know your story before you write one. - Allen Arnold, the Wildness of Writing with God
It was really hard to find the one line that summed up this epic, 5 1/2 hour class, let alone dedicate a paragraph. Allen did such an amazing job. He has such a big heart and he really spoke to us creatives in such a kind and encouraging way that made most of cry. Seriously, there were tears.
I will do my best to highlight what really spoke to me but I recommend getting the recording for this class (which I hope will be on the ACFW website soon.) I suspect that everyone got a different take away from the class than I did. Plus, overall, the class was amazing and I learned so much from it. Here are a few points that I got out of the class:
a) Allen talked about our identity as children of God. Writing a novel and knowing your story are completely different. "It's not about escaping reality - that's what ice cream is for - but showing a higher reality." You are not what you do. You are your identity.
c) If God has given you the desire to write, He will see it through. It may never be like you want it but He will see it through. He wants to see this finished. He wants you to lean on Him. He's not watching you from the stands. He's right there doing it with you because wherever you're going, whatever you're doing, He wants to do it together.
And these are but a few of the points he made. I really do recommend getting the recording of this class because my few snippets do NOT do it justice.
3) "Adults primarily read fiction to escape reality. Teens primarily read fiction to learn how to cope with reality."
Mary Weber did an awesome job teaching this workshop - Writing YA in the CBA
She showed us that teens of today are overexposed and their emotions are amplified. They don't care about happy endings but hopeful endings to cope with their reality. They want more adventure, more violence (because their world is violent), more truth, and more emotional realism.
No instalove. No love-triangle. No first-look love.
More strong female heroines and less sissy guys or guys as the savior.
They want authenticity.
FUNNY STORY...kind of
Once I gotten myself there in one piece (Dallas traffic is SO CRAZY.) and had everything settled in my room, I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing. I was about to eat lunch but before I did I went down stairs to the registration desk. (Let me just right quick, eat first then go register.)
Everything is going to be okay. Be positive. Relax.
They couldn't find me. My packet was missing.
I was completely bewildered. How could I not be there? I registered online. I paid the money. I doubled checked the process maybe about ten times because I'm a pessimist and expect the worst. Everything was in its place. Everything should work.
I tried my best to keep it together but I think they could tell that I was not okay.
Looking back now, I realize that it was a moment for me to turn to God and be reminded that everything is in His hands. Everything that has happened has been because of Him not me. He told me to come and I have done as He has asked.
With the help of my mother and my sister, I closed my eyes and prayed for the storm to calm down in my chest. And then I offered this experience up to Him, let His will be done through me and through this conference whether I get in or not.
It was definitely a heart-check moment.
Fortunately, one of the ladies at the registration desk was kind enough to let me catch the last 30 minutes of Bill Myers speech instead of missing it entirely.
And, they did find my packet and I was able to be apart of the conference. Yay!
Okay, maybe not quite so funny of a story but definitely comical. No?
While I was there I was able to have Mary Weber, Nadine Brandes, and Gillain Bronte Adams sign my books. They were SO sweet and generous to do so.
Sidenote: Not all of these pictures were taken by me. A few pictures in the collage were taken by Sara Ella, Ralene Burke, and Bethany Kaczmarek.
And, if you didn't already hear, Sons of Victory is out!
You can find it in Splickety Prime's Lost at Sea issue. Click the magazine on the left hand side of this blog if you are interested in purchasing a copy of the magazine.
I want to take a moment and say thank you to everyone for all the sweet and encouraging comments and for sharing my wittle story! And thank you to the epic staff at Splickety for polishing and publishing Sons of Victory. Unfortunately I don't have a million dollars to give to everyone for their amazing kindness but I do have my face and a board. You're welcome. But, seriously, y'all are pretty much the greatest people ever!!! And, I do appreciate all y'all lovely folk!