Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's exactly 92 days and counting until the ACFW National Conference in Dallas. If you don’t feel like figuring out what day I’m talking about, mark September 20-23 off on your calendar!

I haven’t missed a single ACFW conference since the organization’s first one in Kansas City back in 2002. ACFW was pretty small by comparison back then, but already we’d built a strong community on the email loop and it was like a family reunion. That first conference had Karen Kingsbury as the key note speaker and each year we’ve had someone equally as challenging and exciting from Francine Rivers to Liz Curtis Higgs who was last year’s keynoter. This year we’ll have James Scott Bell and I can’t wait. Not only is Jim a fantastic novelist, but he’s also written some terrific writing books.

The most unique feature of the ACFW conference is that it is all fiction all the time. For a novelist it’s author heaven. Most writers conferences are multi-genre and that’s fine. But if all you write is fiction you need to come to Dallas in September. We have an outstanding faculty including Colleen Coble, Deb Raney, Randy Ingermanson, just to name a few. We also have an array of published authors who are willing to do paid critiques. And Saturday is the traditional day for the book signing. Attending authors' books are on sale in the conference bookstore and this is conferees' opportunity to get those books signed.

Our annual awards banquet on Saturday night is worth the entire conference. We come all cleaned up and enjoy white-gloved service as we dine on a gourmet meal. The evening is capped off by announcements of the winners of the Genesis writing contest, the ACFW Book of the Year winners, and the Mentor of the Year. The entire ballroom is electrified with anticipation as the names of winners are announced in Academy Award fashion, complete with a Power Point presentation. The picture is of Lena Nelson Dooley, the 2006 Mentor of the Year, with her gang of mentees.

For the second year we will be at the Dallas/Addison Marriott and when we say comfort, we mean comfort with a capital C. Ever sleep on a cloud? You will in one of their beds. They have an espresso bar in the gift shop, a state-of-the art health club, and proximity to nearby restaurants for Friday night supper when we have a chance to get out and see a bit of Big D.

To learn more about the ACFW conference go to the conference website and check it out. You can register there too. The sooner you do, the better chance you have of getting a room at the special block rate. If you’re not a member of ACFW you can join at the same time you register for the conference and enjoy a reduced conference fee.

Joining ACFW was one of the best things I ever did and attending the national conference was the second best thing.

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