ACFW Keystone Christian Fiction Writers Conference

I couldn’t have received a better greeting upon arriving at the conference — I was at the registration table to collect my name tag and folder, and I heard, “Kelly Barr.”  I turned and saw Mike Dellosso!  He gave me a hug and I told him it was great to hear about their upcoming adoption.

If you don’t know who Mike is, to me Mike is the first, what I consider fairly successful, author that I had a fifteen minute one-on-one appointment with at my very first writers’ conference.  He was so helpful and encouraging.  Since then I have been his Facebook friend and am a member of his Darlington Society.  I also did an interview with him on this very blog here if you would like to learn more about him.  I encourage you to go to Amazon and buy his latest ebook, Fear Mountain now and help him and his family raise the funds for their adoption.  I also highly recommend his book, Centrailia.  His books will keep you turning the pages.

Mike was our keynote speaker.  He presented us with wise words about how to keep writing and not give in to our fears and/or failures.  He used the example of a runner and left us with the scripture reference of Isaiah 43.  We need to be listening to the voice of God regardless of what anyone else says.

Mike also did a session on how to find time to write.  It was a very encouraging session with many things to think about.  The top two things I took away from this session were “Write what you’re passionate about.  The going will get rough and things will upset your schedule, so your passion is what will keep you going.”  And, “If you’re going to start something, finish it because as you go through the process, you will learn valuable lessons.”

Kelly Anne Liberto also did a session.  The title of her session was “Hiding God’s Word in Our Stories in a Post Christian World”.  She had some trouble with her computer at the beginning of her session and again later, so I think this may have caused her to lose her focus.  I have to say that I was disappointed with this session.  Based on the title, I was expecting her to explain how to write a Christian message into your story without using all of the Christian language, and I expected to receive some examples of how to do this.  Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that she adequately covered this, and I felt that a lot of what she did talk about was advice on how to lean on God as you prepare to write and as you write.

Dwight Kopp presented a workshop on “Characters and Chaos”.  He was a very energetic and enthusiastic speaker, which made this workshop very enjoyable.  He explained how important both characters and complications are to any story.  He made suggestions of great places to find ideas for stories, and he left me with a great mental picture, when he said something like, take an idea and play with it like playdough, experimenting with different complications and possible endings and eventually you’ll find a story worth writing.

My friend, Donna Smith, also did a workshop.  Her workshop was “Plotting for Pantsers”.  She gave us lots of information and suggested a couple of books, one of which I definitely want to get my hands on:  Story Trumps Structure by Steven James.  She said it is a very unique book and is great for pantsers.

The conference ended with a Panel Discussion.  I had never seen or participated in one of those before.  It was very educational, informational and enjoyable.  Nine people, consisting of some publishers, agents, editors, and authors sat up front and we were able to ask them questions on any writing topic for an hour.  They talked about writing trends, writing contracts, self-publishing and much more.

During the day, we also had the opportunity for 15 minute one-on-one appointments with agents, editors, authors, and publishers.  I met with an agent.  She was a very nice lady, but from what I knew of her in the past, she pretty much told me what I expected her to tell me, and her advice is not the advice I want to follow.  Later, I met with a publisher and that was a surprising experience.  I handed her my One Sheet, and instead of reading over that and talking to me about my story, she said, “Tell me your story.”  So, I gave a brief oral description of my plot line.  When I finished, she said, “I love it!”  Wow, I didn’t expect such an enthusiastic response.  She gave me a packet of information, explained her publishing and told me to contact her.

The day was quite enjoyable and I left feeling very encouraged about my writing.  Therefore, I thought the day was a success.

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