Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Editor’s Tale of ACFW

Today’s blog may be shorter than usual but I thought you would want a view of the conference through the eyes . . . or feet . . . of an editor. I drove to Indy on Thursday and headed for the airport to pick up two authors: Joyce Magnin, the author of Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise, and Christa Allan, Walking on Broken Glass.

A simple task, right? Wrong. A double-wide mobile home had gotten stuck between two railings on the overpass of my exit to the airport. What to do? The nice man in the state trooper’s uniform knew what to do. Keep moving.

I give the second state trooper a little more credit. I rolled down my window, and since he was already dealing with one hysterical woman (the one stuck on the exit) he was used to a deer in the headlights look. He told me to get off the road, turn around, get back on I-70, and exit at the airport.

Faith kicked my hysteria in the posterior, and I moved on. Adventure runs in my veins. After all, I’m distantly related to “Dr. Livingston I presume,” the great missionary doctor people thought had been lost in the jungle. He wasn’t lost. He knew where he was all along.

Authors were picked up on time, we checked into the hotel, and the marathon began. On Thursday, I paced myself. How can you mess up registration, picking up an appointment schedule, and dinner?

Over the next two days, I met with 30 “scheduled” conferees, and received innumerable escalator and elevator pitches, Starbucks pitches, and between hither and yon pitches. Also lots of wonderful conversations with people who only wanted to say hi—even some of you who have followed my blog.

By Saturday night at the Abingdon author dinner at P.F. Chang’s, I was on a roll. Energy high. Still awake. My laughter button working. I was running full tilt.

On Sunday night after my self-editing workshop and the awards banquet, my feet were swollen to twice their size, I felt as old as Moses, and I was facing a six-hour drive back to Nashville the next morning at 6 a.m. Reality kicked in.

But I finished my race and passed the torch to Rick Acker, author of When the Devil Whistles. He’s younger, and I thought he could stay up longer that night.

After saying good-bye to Joyce, Christa, and multiple award-winning author Jenny B. Jones at the airport on Monday morning, I sailed away in my 2002 Camry that I named Silver Streak that morning. All this without a drop of coffee in my veins.

By this time dawn had broken, but I could barely keep my eyes open. Silver Streak raced off the freeway at the first Golden Arches she saw. I thought an Egg McMuffin and a soda would do it. Not so much. (I don’t like McDonald’s coffee. Sorry Mickie “D”.)

I hit the road . . . back north instead of south. Before I could turn around in commuter traffic, I had made a 20-mile mistake. Eventually, I made the loop on I-65 and headed south. Only 265 miles to go.

More yawning, but now, I’d become a danger to myself and the public. I pulled off at a convenience store and gas station, changed into tennis shoes, which I couldn’t tie because of the swelling, drank a venti-size bold roast, and decided it was naptime. I laid back my head and snoozed for an hour.

Before I got home, I had poured at least five large caffeine  drinks into my body. Next time I’ll fly, or Mike will come and act as relief driver.

Wait! The conference. Yes, it was the best ever with 620+ conferees and more divine appointments than I can tell you about. They say my author Cynthia Ruchti, outgoing president of ACFW and author of They Almost Always Come Home, walked those halls early every morning, praying for the event and the conferees. The Lord was pleased, and He was present.

If you ever have a chance to attend, pace yourself. Don’t attend every workshop. Meet people and make lifelong friends.

Now it’s your turn. Were you there? Tell us your stories. What was the highlight for you?

* * *

Please let me know how today’s blog has helped you. This becomes a two-way conversation when you post a comment. Often I jump back on the blog during the day and will answer your questions or respond to your comments. I have both published and unpublished authors who read The Roving Editor, and we’d love to hear from you so that we can learn from your experience. Let’s talk!


  1. I struggled at first, being a newbie and feeling like I was in over my head. But I was amazed at the friendliness and helpfulness of all- writers, published authors, editors and agents! It wasn't the "everyone in it for themselves" like I feared it would be. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to attend next year!
    It was also a pleasure meeting you at lunch on Saturday, Barbara! I really appreciate all the encouragement and advice you gave. Thank you!

  2. Yes, I was there (although you can't tell it from the pictures everyone has posted on Facebook--I feel like the invisible man). Enjoyed the whole thing. Got to hook up with a number of writer and editor friends (including you, Barbara--great to see you). Picked up a pearl or two, discovering that this old dog can learn a few new tricks. Learned that no matter how many elevators a hotel has, they can't accommodate an ACFW meeting in full swing. Decided that hotel rooms, no matter how nice, can't hold a candle to my own bedroom. And recommitted my writing to God, because ultimately it's for Him that I write.

  3. It's great to hear everyone's stories and I haven't heard a word of complaint yet. The organizers must have done their job well. It is my prayer to go next year for the first time. Thanks for sharing...sounds like the kind of driving adventure I would have had.

  4. Yes, I was there, and even had the chance to meet you :) I collected some good advice from your Art of Self-Editing class. I enjoyed singing in the choir and sitting with Cynthia Ruchti just before the performance and hearing the story behind the song that was chosen. Beautiful! And you are so right about divine appointments. They were there in abundance and every one was a precious blessing. It was an amazing time and I am so grateful I went.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. It's such a pleasure reading your blog, Barbara. Gosh, I loved this post. Driving all that way, coffee, caffeine, sleep deprecation, meeting authors, food and fellowship.

    I wish I could have been at ACFW this year. After seeing so many photos, it looks like it was a sweet time.

    Where was I? At home parked in front of my computer working on 'Before the Scarlet Dawn'. I know, I told you earlier in the month I had finished writing out the last scenes. That was by hand. I've since gone on to transposing them into my document, adding more scene, narrative, and dialogue, and shedding a tear when I reached the ending.

    I'm still not finished --- not even with 'The End' leaping off the page at me. Into self-editing now, and then on to writing book 2 in the series.

  7. Oh, Barbara! I'm so sorry about the swollen feet and the need for caffeine! You were so gracious in your pain and put us all at ease with your smile.

    Highlights? It's a let-me-count-the ways deal! Tim Downs inspired me like no other! Hanging out with my Ponderer friends and Susie May Warren ranked up there too. The workshops sent me home popping with ideas. I promised myself a day of rest yesterday, but couldn't resist pulling out my manuscript and working on the opening pages.

    And I loved Rachel Hauck's team leading us into the Lord's presence everyday.

    Yes, let me count the ways--including meeting the Roving Editor face to face for the first time.

  8. I was speaking at a great event, but wishing the entire time that I was there with you all. Thanks for the virtual conference, Barbara, swollen feet and all!

    ~Kay Strom

  9. Me three, Barbara! I was home too, but with you all in spirit. I'm thankful to be a part of this family. --Linda Clare

  10. Next year I plan on attending. Missing the conference is like being the only one not coming to a family reunion. I had too many conflicts this year, but I know that Mount Hermon will be upon us before we know it, as that is how time rolls.

    For Mount Hermon, we're going to send you lots of Airborne for the plane ride.

  11. One of my highlights was getting to see you again, Barbara! I didn't get to attend ACFW last year, so this year was a special treat for me. It was my first time at conference as a published author.

    The divine appts were plenty, some where I was used by God and others where God used someone to bless me. I wish I could have had more time to chat with you like we had at the first Abingdon retreat, but I know you were pulled in so many directions. I'm so sorry about your feet--you hid it well. I had wondered how long your drive was.

    On behalf of all the Abingdon authors, please thank Abingdon Press for a wonderful dinner! It was great to fellowship with each other and to meet other Abingdon authors in person whom I had never met.

    I had been looking forward to ACFW Conference all year, and once again, I wasn't disappointed. God is great and His presence is felt in all the praise and worship sessions, the prayer room, the fellowship and as you mentioned--the divine appts.

  12. When Silver Streak finally crept into the driveway on Monday about 2:45 p.m., I kissed my hubby, my dog, and fell into bed about 3. I slept for four straight hours. Then I went back to bed about 10 and slept late on Tuesday.

    My feet were still so swollen that after our morning walk, Mike used painter's tape to hold a bag of frozen veggies on the toe I broke about 30 years ago. He's such a sweetie and a real MacGyver. But did he have to use the SteamFresh bag with cheese sauce. Expensive treatment!

    I slept the afternoon away, answered a few emails, and went to bed early. I think I'll live now!!

    At ACFW, it was amazing what feats of derring-do I could perform on an andrenaline rush. LOL

    And Michael, I'll take you up on the offer of Airborne, although my pharmacist says it doesn't work. What does she know?

    It was great meeting so many of you, and I look forward to the many years ahead. I need to block out more time to sit in the lobby and meet people face-to-face.

    For the Oklahoma folks, we've scheduled a Roving Editor one-day intensive fiction writing workshop in Tulsa on Saturday, October 16. Pay Pal is working, I think, but they said I have to wait until I confirm two small deposits in my bank account before I'm fully operational. (Should be fine on Friday.)

    My little "event" gadget doesn't seem to be working,either, so I couldn't put up the place on the sidebar. It will be held at the Fellowship Lutheran Church at 6727 S. Sheridan Rd. in Tulsa, OK, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 10/16. Don't know the room # yet.

    I'll try again today to set up the sidebar. Techie me. In the old days we could slap that pinball machine around the block and make the stainless steel balls go into the slots we wanted. Sigh. Try that with a computer.

  13. My best moment of the conference occurred the day before I left, on Wednesday, September 15.
    I messed up, begged forgiveness, and was forgiven in a way that blessed the socks right off of me (good thing--my feet swelled, too.) It's too long to write here, but if you are interested, check out my blog at later today.
    Blessings on you, too. I really enjoyed meeting you.
    anneb1944 at aol dot com

  14. I was there! It was wonderful! I got to chit-chat with you in line while we waited to buy books. It was a pleasure, Barbara!

  15. Barbara,

    You were one of my highlights--meeting you and attending your class. I'm hard at work, so I'll keep my comment short, but I'm so grateful to have met with you.

    I'm also grateful my laughter button worked the whole time I was there and only broke down in the airport during my three hour layover.


  16. I didn't go this year, but some crit partners did, and I can tell you, you were the kindness they had looked for in an overwhelming time. Thank you for being you and caring about the people you speak with. What a blessing!

  17. I was there and sorry I did not get to meet you. One of my room mates attended your workshop and said it was excellent!

    There were so many great things about the conference - it's hard to select just one. I will have to say being in the prayer room and singing in the choir ranks among the best! The entire conference was wonderful!

    Edwina Cowgill

  18. Barbara, it was a pleasure meeting you at dinner on Friday night. I was sitting at the table beside Jim Rubart and I recall Jenny Jones and Christa Allan were sitting at the table also. I enjoyed telling you about my blog and about the Abington books that I'd read. You all are releasing some great titles!

  19. I didn't go but some crit partners did, and they met with you too! *wink*

    I'm so sorry about your poor feet though! I'm glad you've been able to recover, and your man sounds amazing! :-)

  20. My critique partners went too (like Jessica;s) and it was so nice to be updated about what an awesome time it was there. Hopefully I will meet you at another conference!

  21. Barbara, it was awesome to meet you. Your authors are so lucky to work with such a nice, down-to-earth, approachable gal. I want to thank you and the Silver Streak for driving me to the airport. I was very grateful. See you next year!

  22. Actually, I was only able to stay up later because I'd been partaking of the chocolate covered espresso beans I brought to my Author Law 101 class (legalese makes even me glaze over). :-)

    As always, it was great to see you, Barbara, and the other Abingdon authors and Ramona. And thanks again to you and Abingdon for dinner on Saturday. We all had a great time.

  23. Hmm. Chocolate espresso beans. I wonder if they sell them by the barrel?

    Thank you all for blessing me with your kind comments. The future of the Christian book industry is safe in your capable hands. Keep writing. Keep singing. Keep smiling.


  24. Loved the conference. My first with ACFW. So many warm, wonderful people and I learned a lot. And I enjoyed meeting you face to face, Barbara! Went there with no MS, only a story idea on a one-sheet. Came home encouraged. Of my two interviews, an agent wants me to send in my NON-fiction book proposal and an editor wants three chapts of my novel when I get them written. Much, much more than I anticipated.

    I'm commiserating a bit with you, Barbara, although my trek wasn't nearly as intense as yours. On Monday we spent 8 hours on a plane flying from Indy to Sacramento. Got up early Tuesday morning for the kick off of our Bible study. Spent 10 hours today driving to San Diego for a visit with my family. The kids just went to bed and I shall follow shortly!! Nite all!

  25. I was not there physically, but I did log on for the live blog feed of the awards ceremony. That was pretty cool.

    I agree with your pharmicist. Airborne did not work for me. I took it for a week before leaving for Mt. Hermon 3 years ago and the whole time I was at the conference. On the flight home, I was so sick, I passed out twice. Of course, we were leaving for vacation the day after I got back and I ended up in the ER while we were away. Maybe next time, I'll wear a mask. HA!!

    Thanks for taking care of my BFF, Joyce!

  26. Your travel story made me thankful for the short 2 hour drive between Dayton and Indy. Thank you for your sacrifices, Barbara.
    I was privileged to eat Sunday lunch at your table, and walked away with armloads of encouragement. Thank you! You blessed my slightly bruised heart that was recovering from an editor who felt to inform me that I'll probably never be a published author.
    Thank you for taking time to at least hear about my story!

  27. This was my first ACFW conference. It was wonderful and overwhelming all at the same time. I chose not to have any editor or agent appointments since I'm only four chapters in on my WIP. I didn't even have an opportunity to pitch to anyone. :)

    I told my husband that I was anticipating a mountain top experience, but instead God showed up with a gentle whisper - reaffirming His call on me to write.

    I had hoped to make some agent or editor contacts, but that didn't happen. I reminded myself that I had been praying leading up to the conference, and I feel that sometimes things don't go as we plan, but how God plans. I am thankful I had the opportunity to go. It was a learning experience for me. I made contact with some new writers and met two of my favorite authors. God showed up differently than I anticipated, but it still was what I needed.

    Jodie Wolfe

  28. Hmmm. I spent an awful lot of time with you to get no mention whatsoever in your conference overview. Perhaps I was invisible with Richard (who, by the way, I sat next to at the Abingdon dinner and found to be charming!). So to avoid looking like a dork, I won't say that one of my highlights was getting to spend so much time with you. I'll move on to other highlights:

    Meeting and spending time with my co-authors in next spring's devotional; getting to know my agent so much better than I knew her before; having my BFF sharing the hotel room where EVERY NIGHT we laughed until we almost cried (and one time, we DID cry); sitting at a table with ACFW's prez after it was all over, and praying together through our weariness.

    This was, without a doubt, the best conference I've ever attended.

    And yes, I did occasionally enjoy the rockin company of a roving editor who shall remain nameless.

  29. "Don't attend every workshop"--I managed to attend three. Can't wait for the MP3s to arrive. But I connected with a lot of wonderful people, confirming my belief that nobody "gets" a writer like another writer. Here's a gem from your publisher's panel: "A new voice is an editor's drug of choice."
    There's something to think about, yes?

  30. Rosanna, your remark about an editor who told you that you'd probably never be a published author caught my attention. Are editors passing themselves off as psychics these days? Gosh, I thought God was still in charge and on the throne. If you are meant to be published, nothing will stop you. Keep writing, and keep improving. Above all, remain teachable. Bless you!

    Richard, if I'd taken my camera with me to dinner, I would have had a picture of you to share. Sorry!

    And my dear sweet Sandie, I didn't think I needed to mention ALWAYS THE BAKER, NEVER THE BRIDE and the brilliant author because you were all over Facebook in that gorgeous red top. ;o)

    All of you have blessed the socks off me. Now off to write today's blog. Yes, I'm a little late.

  31. Barbara,

    I am a conference newbie who ran into you in the elevator twice. So was the Lord pushing me in your direction? I wonder! Therefore I went to your evening presentation and got some good info from it, and found myself chatting with you while waiting for my appointment with Chip MacGregor.

    I'd love to be able to tell you about my manuscript after I have reworked it. Maybe it will be right up your alley!

    Phyllis Wheeler
    St. Louis MO

  32. I'm chiming in late but I disagree with your pharmacist. When I consistently take Walborne through the cold season, I don't get colds.

  33. I've been traveling to places w/out access to internet since the conference, so I'm chiming in late too. I just want to thank you, Barbara, for making my first conference a wonderful experience w/both your blog prep before it, and your gracious presence there. It was an unforgettable pleasure meeting you. I had no idea of the hassles, fatigue and swollen feet you suffered, since I never saw you without a smile. What a trooper you are! Thank you for enduring!

    I pray those of you who couldn't attend this conference will get an opportunity to go next year. I'm very grateful to the Lord I was able to attend. Every aspect of ACFW Indy 2010 was such a blessing that I feel as Paul said in Ephesians 4:20: Jesus Christ did exceedingly abundantly above all that I asked or thought.