ACFW 2017 – Peeps on the Journey


I look forward to the ACFW conference every year.

beckycarolWhat in the world does ACFW stand for? Well, it’s the American Christian Fiction Writers – an organization for Christian fiction writers – and they converge once a year so that like-minded, fiction loving authors can join forces with editors, agents, and marketing people to form a magnificent force of great minds.

And maybe a few scary minds.

We DO talk to people no one else can see 😉

This year, the conference was held in Grapevine, TX in the Dallas/Fortworth area at the MASSIVE Gaylord Resort. Me in awe:

Yes, this place was huge.


A little village inside one building. It had an expansive atrium, complete with live plants, a little pond, and a cool miniature railroad track, but everything was enclosed…like one of those sci fi books where a colony is placed on Mars 😊

Except a LOT nicer. And less likelihood of death by dropping oxygen levels.

What happens when a lot of writers get together?

21766407_10213940304322689_4106097733915362874_nWell, funny stories emerge. Silly photos. Encouragement. Brainstorming (I got to brainstorm with New York Times Bestselling author Rachel Hauk and that was so. Much. Fun!

There are opportunities to actually HUG people you’ve only met online – like Savanna Kaiser, Erica Hogan, Rebekah Millet, the gracious Cathy Goeke, and Sarah Ruut – AS WELL as, catching up with amazing authors like Becky Wade, Mary Connealy,  Lisa Jordan, Cathy West, Carol Moncado, Janice Thompson, Cynthia Ruchti,  Deb Rainey, and so many more.

I attended excellent classes from Jim Rubart, Cara Putman, the team at Harper Collins 21768451_10214336852475877_8714949246374914216_nand more!

Gleaned encouragement and guidance from beautiful people like Colleen Coble, Pam Hillman, Shaina Turner, Janice Thompson, Brandilyn Collins and MORE.

Had a fab meeting with my agent, Julie Gwinn.

Worshipped on the praise team with an awesome band (thanks so much Javi, Tom, Jason, Jeremy, and Eddie) with the remarkable addition of fellow author, Amanda Wen, on the cello, and led 22008349_10214336872436376_7502329595824910784_nby encourager-extraordinaire, Rachel Hauck.

Um…I got to see DENISE HUNTER AGAIN!! (fan girl moment. She’s so sweet! AND so is her hubby)

Then, of course, there was my time with my ALLEYCATS!  There’s a precious, sweet bond between us and getting to hug them and chat with them IN PERSON is such a refreshment. Cara Putman, Angie Dicken, Casey Herringshaw, Sherrinda Ketchersid, Mary Vee, Ashley Clark, and Laurie Tomlinson – I am SO thankful for you all!! (Ash, Ang, and Case – I LOVED getting to have my last meal/snack at conference with you all…just sharing and loving each 22141195_10214336921437601_2188058956282146488_nother). And Cara and Angie – sooooo thankful for time to encourage one another.

(meet some of them here 🙂

So, what did I GET from ACFW? Besides the obvious fun time and wealth of information?

Renewed and NEW connections with a group of people who all want to glorify God through story.

Massive amounts of encouragement.

22008337_10214336912797385_6135043439045117348_nA solid dose of challenges – let’s face it, this writing gig and the published world isn’t always an easy place.

A heap of love.

And…I even happened to sneak off with a copy of Joanna Politano’s DEBUT novel, Lady Jayne Disappears. (Yes, be jealous)

If you’re a writer, attending a conference is a wonderful way to realize YOU ARE NOT alone – especially when you’re the only person in your family who still talks to imaginary friends 😊

And a Christian writer’s conference? Well, the game changes, because we’re not competing Against each other for something because all of our goals are the same. Using the God-given gift  we have to share the gospel (whether overtly or covertly).

22089935_10214336915037441_6920393314400122921_nIt changes the playing field and makes the journey more like a race uphill with a lot of friends than a tug-of-war with enemies.

God LOVES story!

And we all have one to tell.

Having people on the journey with you, is a must!

And if you want to join some more of the fun of ACFW – check out the fun giveaway I have going on in celebration of my upcoming release Charming the Troublemaker!!! Visit FB or Instagram to join the fun!!

Join the fun HERE on Facebook


Post ACFW – part 2

I’ve been out of town the past few days for my grandfather’s funeral, so I’m sorry I haven’t posted more pics. It’s weird being on this side of the emotional roller coaster of ACFW – back to work – my grandfather’s death – and back to work. My brain is numb! 🙂

Let me start off with two beautiful ladies (and great encouragers) that I met on Friday at lunch. Debby Mayne and Trish Perry were phenomenal. Debby just showered me with encouragement and even took me to meet her agent, Tamela Hancock Murray (another pleasure). With more books than I had time to count on her website, Debby’s advice and friendship meant so much to me.  Thanks, Debby!!

I just have to say that encouragement was EVERYWHERE – almost in every smile I saw.

I LOVED this pic from Casey’s stash. It’s of me, Case, and the lovely Laura Frantz. Those gals are two absolutely beautiful people (inside & out)

YAY!!! Roomie Carol Moncado is here with me while we have one of those ‘fancy’ meals during the conference. Mealtime was a great opportunity to network and enjoy food (that I neither had to prepare or clean up after – GOOD FOOD in my book) If in doubt of who Carol is – just mentioned the “Cookie Queen’ to any ACFW attendee and they’ll probably be able to tell you. Carol brought SEVEN batches of cookies to give out at the conference. Bribery?…Well, it sure worked. 🙂 No ONE complained.

Conference Tips with ACFW Worship Leader Rachel Hauck

The ACFW conference starts today – and what a better way to welcome the fun then with conference tips from the worship leader and fabulous author, Rachel Hauck.  One of the most fabulous parts of ACFW is the time when hundreds of people get together to sing praises to the Author of our Salvation – and Rachel does a fabulous job leading us in song.

What does she think you ought to bring to conference?

Three Writer’s Conference Necessities:

1. An open heart and mind. Go to the conference with hope, but looking to learn and listen! Be slow to speak. Quick to hear.
2. Do your research on the editor and agent you want to meet. Read their blogs if they have one. Email authors who work with them and ask for any advice.
3. Don’t let your hurt feelings or sense of rejection isolate you. If you feel hurt or rejected, go to the prayer room. Go to the worship sets. Reach out. There’s no need to get hurt and stay hurt. Trust me! Every one feels hurt or rejected at the conference at some point. Yea, even me. 😉 But I don’t stay in that place. It’s not fruitful!
GREAT tips, Rachel – and #3 is a doozy!
Those who God has called, He will also equip. I’ve had to repeat my writing mantra to myself a lot over the past few weeks:
God’s call, God’s timing, my perverance!
I hope you guys have enjoyed the conference tips for ANY writers conference you may attend in the future.
Blessings to you all – and stay tuned for updated info from ACFW!!

Conference Tips with Siri Mitchell

One of my top FIVE historical authors is Siri Mitchell. Her books have a unique flavor to them with deep threads of faith interwoven through a colorful story. I love her contemporary novels too, but (to me) her historicals hold so much more depth.

Siri is an encourager too. Five minutes with her will make you aware of how much knowledge and insight into the writing world she has to share. She is one of the quiet dreamers, an observer, and a creator of beautiful fiction.

What does this award winning author tell us to bring along to conference???

1.       A cardigan sweater (or some sort of wrap or jacket). To keep you warm in those air-conditioned hotel conference rooms.

2.       Spontaneity. You never know what kinds of information you’ll learn or wonderful people you meet if you break with the schedule you’ve set up for yourself and ‘go with the flow’ instead.

3.       Courage. To meet new people, talk to your favorite authors, pitch to agents and editors. You can do anything for 15 minutes, right? A conference is just lots of 15-minute intervals strung together

Love it!! I feel so much better about breaking up my conference experience into 15 minute increments. It certainly doesn’t seem as frightening that way 🙂

Siri, thanks for the wonderul tips. Will I have the opportunity to have a cup of Caramel Hot Chocolate with you again this year? Here’s hopin’!

You can learn more about Siri and her books at

Conference Tips Lineup

Less than a week left before ACFW, but there is plenty of time to stop by and get some last minute tips from some of your favorite authors.

Check out who’s coming to visit:

Monday – Siri Mitchell

Tuesday – Cara Lynn James

Wednesday – Kim Sawyer

Thursday – Rachel Hauck

And Friday, I’m going to try to stop in and let you know how things are going at ACFW – maybe with a few pics too 🙂

Conference Tips with Audra Harders

There are some people God brings into your life at the perfect time for the perfect reason. Steeple Hill Love Inspired author, Audra Harders, was one of those people to me last year at  ACFW.

Besides being a partner in workshop ‘sneaking’, Audra was also an encourager during my nervousness. She took me under her wing and prayed for me right in the lobby of the hotel. It was a beautiful experience – an example of her gentle, kind, and lovely personality.

Audra is another one of the fabulous fifteen Seekers and her novel, Rocky Mountain Hero, debuted in January 2011.

So Audra, what are your conference tips?

 1. Bring your sense of curiosity and adventure. I know writers tend to be hermits, but a conference is no place to bow to those tendencies! Get out of your room and snoop around the hotel, you never know who you’re going to run into at the coffee shop or lobby. Or exercise room. Or pool.

 2. Think about your “brand” and bring a gimmick. It can be as simple as a business card with your picture, your log line, or anything to identify you and your genre. Or maybe something that relates to your genre such as a creative (crafty) bookmark representing the era you set your books, or special chocolate from the region where your book is set. Market yourself as simply, but as powerfully, as possible.

 3. You can’t look confident and relaxed if you’re not comfortable. While workshops and meetings are in session, dress for the image you want to exude. If it’s western, pack a jean skirt; if it’s urban, try stylish trousers and flats. Comfortable does not mean frumpy. Don’t leave your sweats at home if you like to relax in them, but make sure they’re publicly acceptable before you pack them. But don’t get too comfortable. I remember a conference I attended a few years ago where one of the authors was lounging in the lobby. This isn’t a bad thing…except she was wearing an old ratty t-shirt, dollar store flip-flops, and couldn’t have slumped down deeper into the overstuffed chair if she tried while she typed away on her laptop. Unfortunately, that is the image now burned into my gray matter of this author.

 Remember: Comfortable, not sloppy!

Thank you! Thank you, Audra.

And Audra brought the ‘brand’ word! Whew….tought stuff. What’s your brand?

To find out more about Audra visit her website, or stop by Seekerville.

And Audra – SEE YOU IN ST. LOUIE!!!!!

Conference Tips with Keli GwynI

If you’ve never been to Romance Writers on the Journey, you need to scootdaddle right over there and check it out. It’s the brain-child of Keli Gwyn, encourager -extraordinairre and debut author. I met Keli last year at ACFW, but she’d made an impact on my life well before then. She’s one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met – and her timing is impeccable.

In January this year, right after receiving a pretty scathing critique from a contest, a card arrived in the mail from Keli. It read: 2011 – This is YOUR year.

What a sweet encouragement and reminder that there are people on this journey WITH me – so many cheerleaders. Keli is one of the BEST.

So – I’m extremely happy to cheer her own as her first book, A Bride Opens Shop in Eldorado, California, expects to arrive in bookstores in 2012.

What are Keli’s tips?

1) A willingness to learn
2) Realistic expectations
3) A map with directions to the nearest Taco Bell in case withdrawal symptoms appear
Good stuff here, Keli. Realistic expectations is a tough one  to keep under control because we all want the ‘big dream’ to happen to use while were among the famous and infamous at ACFW 😉
But just as Kaye Dacus reminded us last week, if we remember the root of WHY we  write (what our purpose is), then it helps keep our heads.
And Taco Bell directions? Oh yeah. Just had some today, in fact 🙂
Thanks so much, Keli.
You can learn more about Keli, her blogs, and her upcoming novel at

Conference Tips with Ruth Logan Herne

For the unpubbed author, there is nothing better than finding people who support and encourage you.

People who teach and guide you.

People who tell you the truth, critique with love, and have a snarky sense of humor.

Ruth Logan Herne has been one of those people for me!

One of the fabulous fifteen of Seekerville, Ruthy has made an amazing hit into the published world since her first book Winter’s End came out in March 2010, Ruthy has successfully released  FIVE more books with many more to come! Her novels have consistently received excellent reviews and Winter’s End is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards this year (I plan to CHEER in person!!! Probably annoyingly loudly. Go, Ruthy!!)

So, without further ado, what are Ruthy’s top three conference tips?

Oh, honey, that one’s easy.




Everything else is extraneous.




Can’t make a cake without flour…

Writing’s your flour. THe basic ingredient.

Simple, yet profound. Thanks Ruthy.

Without words on a page, there’s little chance of publication – so….we have some work to do. 🙂

To learn more about Ruthy’s books, visit her website at or stop by Seekerville!

Do you have someone or more than one someone who encourages you along this writing journey?


photos courtesy of

Conference Tips with Ruth Axtell Morren

Why not follow Julie Lessman with her ACFW workshop partner, Ruth Axtell Morren.

The first time I read one of Ruth’s novels, I was moved to tears. Her portrayal of romance framed in by the grace of God was truly breathtaking.

If you’ve never read her novels, I strongly recommend them – especially if you like to see how unlikely characters end up together AND if you like to experience a story woven with strong threads of redemption. They are truly lovely.

What does Ruth have to say?

I’d have to say as an introvert, although I love conferences with their chance to see fellow writers in person and talk up a storm and soak up all kinds of information, come nightfall, I have a terrible time shutting my thoughts off to sleep, so this time around, I’m going to bring some Valerian or over the counter sleeping pills and an eyemask to help in that dept.;
   friends’ cell phone numbers so we can connect during the conference. It’s like a zoo there, and I want to make sure I don’t miss people I either only know online or whom I only get to see rarely;
   non-judgmental attitude so I don’t begin to feel either full of myself or insecure by measuring myself

Thanks so much for these important tips, Ruth. Speaking of cell #s and meeting important people – I can’t WAIT to meet you!!! So excited you will be at ACFW this year!!

And the non-judgmental attitude? Definitely! As a pubbed-author-wannabe, I can easily see myself as leaning toward the ‘insecure’ side.

Thanks for being here today.

If you all would like to learn more about Ruth’s books, check out her website at

Conference Tips with Julie Lessman

With her brand new release, A Heart Revealed, and her upcoming conference workshop entitled A Kiss is NOT just a Kiss, Julie Lessman is as hot as ever 😉 Have you seen her latest pictures! Wowzers. Keith is one lucky man 🙂

I just finished reading A Heart Revealed  and it was beautiful. The slow spiritual arc of Julie’s characters is always well-done and reveals the heart of her fiction. (And then, of course, she adds the ‘heat’ of her fiction 😉  Oooh, sounds good. Julie Lessman, fiction with heart and heat 🙂 A new tagline, Jules?

Who better to start off this week with a bit of excitement and conference tips than Julie Lessman herself?

I’m a BIG Lessman fan because she is excellent at crafting novels that not only inspire the passion between a man and a woman, but a deeper passion for Jesus. Her fiction is called ‘edgy’, but I like life on the edge – so the temperature in her books suit me JUST fine! 🙂

To me, it’s sexual tension with class, heat without the bodice ripping, and passion with purity.

So what are The Kissing Queen’s tips for conference?

1.) Eye makeup remover … for all the times I cry during Rachel’s incredible worship, in Brandilyn’s prayer room and up in my room when I’m just feeling lonely (a bit of a joke, but not really).
2.) Laptop to catch up on e-mails, blog/interview/giveaways that always go on in Sept. due to book release.
3.) I-phone programmed with all the phone numbers of friends I am dying to see, especially the Seekers.
Thanks for the opportunity to respond, Pep. Big hugs coming your way in St. Loo.
Always my pleasure, Julie – and I’ll take all the hugs you want to send my way.
You can find out more about Julie’s books on her website –
And if you’re headed to St. Louis next week, make sure you stop in on her workshop with author, Ruth Axtell Morren.
Bring a fan.