September 9, 2016

My First ACFW Conference

Forgive the delay, ya'll, in getting this up. My head and heart are spinning between recovering from conference and getting back to real life with a slam-bang beginning of job interviews, edits, physical therapy--and a towering To Be Read Stack.
Without further ado...
This was the perfect "first conference" for me. To not be a technical attendee (like many others which only made the days even more fun!) and get to mingle, make connections, meet friends, encourage those going off to pitch appointments and observe? This people-watcher was in her element 24/7 for three straight days.
Upon arriving at the hotel it was being held at with Carrie and one of the Rach(a)el's, we literally walked in and gasped. #freakingoutandflailingabout Because Kristy Cambron in all her tall, real-life, in person, blonde glory was like twenty feet away.
Forgive the lipstick-less puffy eyed gritting teeth look. LOL
I really was stoked to meet this sweet woman!
(I've also found out it looks like I grit my teeth when I just smile super excitedly for a quick picture. But I don't, I promise!)

Got pics, got autograph (in my handy-dandy autograph book), a few hugs and then I hustled upstairs to meet with Emilie Anne Hendryx for my headshots. I may not have hustled so much as strolled, head on swivel, eyes huge and thankfully didn't trip my way up the escalators.
Oh yeah! I think right before I tripped up the light fantastic for the headshot sesh, MY TWIN (Marisa) sped over and a reunion was had. With lots of laughing and just shaking our head at the huge provision of God in getting us both here. To ACFW. Together.
And we had no idea what we'd be in for the next two days of conference.
After a ridiculously fun photoshoot with the effervescent Emilie, I'm sitting down just for a second to write out a quick check, and lo and behold my first Bling author Patricia Beal runs over! Her debut, A Season to Dance releases this coming May and ya'll--it is a POWERFUL tale. She is quite a woman, and a what writer let me tell you and it was so so so good to meet her in person after months of emails and edits and encouragement in the often painful editing process. Next up to join us is another Bling author, Candee Fick, whose sophmore novel Dance Over Me releases in ten days, and is a stunning read. I was loath to put it down to write this blog post, actually.

So basically I was inwardly freaking-out-and-flailing-about but what superseded just...everything was the community felt within the walls of the hotel. I am still truly shocked at how many people recognized me. Without a name tag. At a conference of 600+ people with some of THE biggest names in the industry.
Amongst my people, happy as a lark (though my feet at that point were already swollen. Again) and around the corner comes Laurie Tomlinson and Anne Love. Who, oh my word, are so freaking wonderful. We headed to a very impromptu mutually hangry-fueled lunch across the street at the Omni and talked books and the industry and Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill probably and families and oh, it was just the greatest getting to hang with them. Over $4 pizza--as if the day could get better.

Lobby-lingering with fellow CFRR attendees (pictured in this post from the other day) was a total blast. Getting to sit and talk with Ruth Logan Herne who was the most Titus 2 kindly funny and all around wonderful woman had me and the Bookworm Mama going, "Can we just sit with her forever and listen to her?" And we haven't even yet read any of her books! Laura Frantz, same thing. I couldn't fit one photo in my collages (so many pictures, ya'll. I unashamedly confess to playing paparazzi at times) that had Pepper sitting close to Laura Frantz and (I think they maaay've been taking a selfie LOL) but it was just so full of mutual love and admiration it was too sweet a moment not to capture. Much like what Pepper is to me--one of those "I want to grow up to write like you" authors--so Laura is to Pepper.
My Lord I'm not even through the first day. Yeeeeesh.
Featured Authors in No Particular Order with links to their websites:
Teresa Tysinger, Ruth Logan Herne, Pepper Basham, Mary Vee, Betsy St. Amant, Julie Lessman, my twin Marisa Deshaies, Jaime Jo WrightAmanda Barratt, Laurie Tomlinson, Anne Love,
and Emilie Hendryx.
I feel like this post could be a Who's Who of my favorites/FB friends list. But oh, how sweet it is to be loved by such a good, good Father God. Who made a way for me to go to ACFW, meet such amazing women, soak in their smiles, their embraces so genuinely thrilled to see me, me?!, and oh, the encouragement (more on that in Monday's post). The opportunity to talk about the stories God alone has inspired in each and every one of us. And unabashedly fangirling happened too of course. I was so far from calm cool and collected the whole time. LOL The laughter that rang out. Oh, the laughter. These photos are but a mere smattering of so many memories with such dear women but what sticks out in my sleepy brain are the laughter, the God-moments, the pinch-me-living-a-new-dream moments alongside Marisa as editors...
So many autographs, exchanging of business cards, helping out a very blonde (she called herself that!) author (Katie Ganshert!) figure out the elevators, walking past a handful of people en route to a workshop and turning to whomever I was with and going, "Was that who I think it was?!"

Being amongst my people was a priceless treasure. I miss them all so much. And there are not enough words to fully communicate how my time in Nashville touched my heart, bolstered my faith and was just that fun and colored with minute-to-minute memories.
God is too good. All the time.