Patti Stockdale, historical fiction writer and Ankeny resident, recently attended the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference in Nashville. I asked her for a short report. Her comments follow:
With over 600 people in attendance, this was the biggest writing conference I ever attended. I arrived at Nashville’s Omni Hotel on August 25. Before hitting the orientation session for first-timers, I picked up my much anticipated registration packet. It not only detailed my personalized agenda for the next three days, it also contained the two names of the literary agents I’d soon meet for 15 minute pitch sessions. Happy with my schedule, I hurried to the first session.
Workshops covered everything from how to build a platform and sustaining a lucrative writing career to working with an agent and developing a thick skin. The breakout sessions and continuing education classes were first-rate and taught by a number of well-established writers and editors. Ted Dekker, New York Times bestselling author, served as the keynote speaker.
Meals were designed for community building. One night, I attended a genre dinner, meeting other historical fiction writers. At the zone breakfast the following morning, I sat at a table with writers from Iowa and nearby states. We exchanged business cards, one sheets, encouragement, and advice. At the award’s dinner, the Newcomer Award went to a senior citizen, and before she finished her heartfelt, humorous acceptance speech, tears hit my dinner plate.
For many attendees, the conference highlight is the one-on-sessions with agents, editors, publicists, and mentors. Many of these professionals not only work with the Christian market but also the general market. Each conference attendee is guaranteed two appointments. I ended up with three agent meetings. The first one went so-so, the second one flowed, and by the third one, I’d totally relaxed.
While the conference was pricey, it was worth every penny, an investment in my writing career. I won’t soon forget the people I met or the lessons I learned. Will I ever attend another big conference? I certainly hope so.