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ACFW Conference 2022

Updated: Dec 31, 2022


Authors with coffee
Writers + Coffee = Smiles

At the beginning of September, I flew to St. Louis for the American Christian Fiction Writer's conference. I've been a member of ACFW for several years, but this was my first time attending a conference. Over the last two years, the conference was virtual due to Covid, so we weren't able to gather.


I hope I never have to miss it again. I had such an amazing time meeting other writers face to face and connecting with them in workshops and during meals. I've loved writing and brainstorming stories for as long as I can remember, but it's been a hidden part of my identity most of my life. Prior to the conference, I read boatloads of books, but I'd never even met another writer. Connecting with other writers was, for lack of better phrase, a balm to my soul. An acknowledgment of a part of who I am as an individual. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. And Writer!

 

I arrived early on Tuesday (so I wouldn't have any flight delays and spent most of Tuesday walking around the arch, finding my way around the hotel, exercising in their awesome gym, and ironing my clothes. On Wednesday, I spent the entire day writing. It was amazing. Usually, I'm scrounging time to write, so to have an entire day felt like winning the lottery.

On Wednesday evening, I went down to the hotel's restaurant and ordered carry-out for dinner. While waiting for my meal, Steve Laube, a prominent agent and editor in the industry, came into the restaurant and ordered a meal, too. He kindly sat down and chatted with me while we waited for our food. A few weeks before the conference, I had decided not to schedule any of the optional 10-minute meetings with agents and editors, as my manuscript wasn't finished. Meeting and chatting with Steve was a serendipitous opportunity. Hopefully, if I ever pitch to him in the future, I won't feel the need to be nervous since I now know how kind he is. ;)

 

I knew that one of my favorite authors, Karen Witemeyer, would be in attendance, so I messaged Karen a few weeks prior to the conference and thanked her for inspiring my writing. Then I warned her that I might fangirl over her if I saw her in the lobby. She responded and offered to meet me for lunch. Because she's that awesome. We went to a super-cute deli a few blocks from the hotel and met more authors along the way!

Karen Witemeyer and Stephanie Rose Finsterbush
No big deal. Just me with my fave author ;)
 

Each year the ACFW holds the Genesis Contest for unpublished writers. Last year, I won the Genesis Award in the novella category. ACFW invited last year's winners to attend this year's private Finalist's Reception since we weren't able to be recognized in person last year due to the virtual format. The reception took place on the top floor of the hotel with an incredible view of The Arch. I met so many wonderful aspiring writers and even found my new critique partners!

St. Louis Arch
The view from the 18th floor!

The next couple of days were a blur of workshops, worship, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Mentally, it was exhausting, but it was so fulfilling. Saturday night culminated with a fancy Gala to honor this year's winners. It was so fun to cheer everyone on, and I can't say enough how supportive and encouraging this community is. I'll admit, last year, I wasn't too upset about having a virtual conference since I probably couldn't have attended anyway, but seeing everything in person did make me a little sad to realize what I'd missed out on. Thankfully, I did get the opportunity to take a photo with last year's winners. It was blurry but special.


I took at least one hundred selfies over the whole weekend. Here are just a few. :)

 

I learned so much in the workshops, not only about writing but about the publishing industry and what agents and editors are searching for at present. My objective for the conference was not to pitch a manuscript but to connect with other writers, and I feel like I accomplished that goal. I arrived in St. Louis on Tuesday without knowing a soul, and by the time I departed on Sunday, I felt as if I had dozens of new friends. Two new friends were even on my first plane ride home, and they graciously saved me a seat. It doesn't get better than that.

Becky Yauger & Betsy St. Amant Haddox
Becky Yauger & Betsy St. Amant

The conference couldn't have gone better, and there's so much more I could share, but I have a book to go write, so I'll stop here for now!


Did you attend the conference? What was your favorite memory of the weekend? I cannot wait until we are all reunited next year!

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