The excited newbie writer hungered to learn all she could about writing fiction and to meet other fiction writers--some of whom were published, while many others aspired to be contracted. The conference did not disappoint. Only 100 attendees, including the presenters, but they made a mighty impression on that rather small hotel and its staff.
What the writer didn't expect was a call a couple days later from Andrea Boeshaar, who was then agenting, saying, "I want to represent you." The writer had already been rejoicing over the wonderful experience in Kansas City that included a conversation with Andrea, and the call was like a cherry on top of the dessert. Totally unexpected.
As you may have realized, that writer was me.
I've had the blessing of attending each and every ACFW conference. What kinds of unexpected things happen at the ACFW Conference?
|Margaret Daley announcing the Service Award Winner at the Denver Conference in '09|
Every year someone has been blessed to have their name called out by a Barbour Publishing editor to receive their very first fiction contract. It's never expected and comes as a complete and awesome surprise.
"Chance" meetings go on every day of the conference. Someone sits at an editor's meal table and by dessert they have a request for a proposal, while out in the lobby another settles into a cushy chair to kick off her heels and happens to sit next to an agent. Soon she's being asked to send a proposal. Back in the dining room, someone is chatting with people at the dinner table and before long, they agree to become a crit group. Are these meetings chance? I like to think of them as "God Appointments." Opportunities don't all happen in editor/agent appointments.
Last year, one of our sponsors gave away an Ipad through a drawing. The winner was volunteering in the bookstore and someone had to get her. A very surprised woman came into the room to receive her prize. A totally unexpected moment.
One of the most unexpected moments for me came several years ago at a Dallas conference. Because Andrea had decided to stop agenting, I had gone to conference determined to find a new agent. The agent with whom I requested an appointment canceled due to a health issue, and all other appointment slots were filled. I found myself in the prayer room, pouring out my heart to God and opened to Psalm 37: 3:
Trust in the LORD, and do good. Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. (NKJV)The part about feeding on His faithfulness prompted me to look back on how God had been faithful to me in so many ways up to that point. Truth be told, I didn't have a manuscript ready for any agent to present. God impressed that at the right time, I would have a new agent. And a year later I signed with Terry Burns. That was also unexpected, but has been the greatest of blessings.
I encourage anyone reading this who has not yet decided whether to attend conference this year, if it is at all possible, go. You never know what unexpected thing may happen while you are there!
Below are some candid shots of attendees at Denver in 2009 and Indianapolis in 2010.