ACFW Conference 2018: Day Three

I had a dream about the conference last night, a testament to the fact that it is still very much on mind as I try to remember everything and decide what I should or shouldn’t do next time. And yes, I do want to go back next time if I can make it work. Perhaps writing my final blog about the conference will relieve my mind of the weight so I can move on.

My first class was incredibly necessary. It was called “Doing Publicity without a Publicist” and was taught by a publicist from Harper Collins. I learned that the difference between publicity and marketing is that publicity is all about being visible and establishing your credibility while marketing is all about sales. She gave us places to start in order to get reviews, build a contact list, and writing our pitches. This is one area that I struggle in a lot. In fact when I called home and talked to my husband about the agents who were so discouraging saying someone like me was either not writing good books or was a lousy publicist, he lovingly said, “Well, you are a lousy publicist.” Thanks. Now I’ve got some tools to hopefully make me better at that part of my writing job.

My next session was about romance tropes. What’s a trope? I wasn’t sure either. A trope is a classic romance plot line that has proven to be reader favorites over time. There are many. For example, the love triangle, the friends to lovers, or the marriage of convenience are all classic tropes that you’ll find in many romance novels. We talked about how to keep these tropes from getting cliche or stale. A valuable tool for a romance writer.

We had lunch and then I had some extra time so I asked my mom if she wanted to meet up for a little bit. However, my mom is “directionally challenged” and this resort was huge so I soon got a text saying, “I’m lost.” After finding my mom, I realized that I had been taking the long way to the convention center area the whole time! Of course I would learn that on the final day.

My new mug for my collection

My final session I was late to, and I almost skipped it altogether, but something made me go inside anyway. It was taught by Liz Curtis Higgs (who is phenomenal) and was called “How Not toe Lose Hope”. As soon as I entered, she had been asking what are some things that make you want to lost hope and someone said, “The thought that this is never going to happen for me. I’m never going to succeed. I’m wasting my time and my money chasing a dream that’s not going to happen.” Sound familiar? If you read my blog from day 2, you’ll see that I’ve been struggling with those same thoughts. Liz Curtis Higgs response was, “That is a lie from the devil. If God has planted this in your heart, you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and when Satan rears his head and tells you lies like that, you can tell him where to go.” Wow. Did I need that or what? Her talk was full of things that I needed to hear. She said that we don’t need to worry about sales numbers, but about the hearts that God wants to touch through us. That it’s not about talent, but obedience and giving God the glory. but this is my favorite. If you feel inadequate to the task you’re right where He wants you to be. (This thought was repeated on Sunday by my pastor who was speaking about the burning bush.)

I actually had one more session, but unfortunately planned my flight so that I couldn’t stay for it. It would have been a good one, too, but I had already gotten so many valuable things out of the conference that it was all worth it.

There were two answers to prayers that I wanted to share with you. I had prayed that God would seat me next to an agent at some point on the third day – hoping of course that it would open up conversation and even if it didn’t lead to anything, it might be a helpful contact later. In my first session, a lady sat next to me with an ‘agent’ tag on her name badge. I got excited at this answer to prayer. Then I listened to her talk to her friend next to her and they were both so critical and condescending that I knew if I tried to start up a conversation she would immediately place me as a wannabe author wanting to use her. (Maybe she wouldn’t be entirely wrong, I don’t know.) What I did know was that I didn’t want to be represented by someone who might talk about me like that to someone else. So God answered my prayer, but made it clear that as of right now, an agent isn’t what He has for me.

The second was more exciting for me. A while ago my brother and his wife lived in Texas and met an author at their church named Elizabeth Ludwig. My sister-in-law introduced me to her, and she was so incredibly sweet and gave me a lot of fantastic advice and help early on. I wanted to meet her face to face, but I didn’t want to message her and ask to meet with her because I didn’t want it to seem like I was using her to make contacts or something. So I prayed that God would arrange a meeting with her so that I could thank her in person. As I was running late to my last session, I saw her walking near me, so I called out to her and introduced myself. I thanked her for all her help and we had a nice discussion. I was praising God so much for the events that made me late so that I would be on the stairs at that exact moment so that my prayer would be answered. God is so very good!

The sign my daughter made me

My trip home was uneventful except for a delay in Dallas. I got some writing done on my trip and it was so nice to be able to write with all this new information to try to help my work improve. I also got to finish a book which has been something I haven’t been able to do much lately. With lack of time and stress, I’ve had trouble reading lately so it was lovely to finally have a book I really enjoyed and could finish. I got home late and found a welcome home sign made by my daughter. My kids were already in bed, but I went in and gave them a kiss anyway. It’s good to be home!

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