Admit I’m a First-timer? Are you kidding?

ACFW Advice, Conference Leave a Comment

The year is 2009 and I have just sent in my registration for the ACFW Conference to be held in Denver, Colorado. OMGoodness – what was I thinking. Okay – I knew what I was thinking. I work for a top literary agent and she is telling me she needs her assistant to attend with her. Not only that, she is telling me that if I really want to write the next breakout novel, I must attend.

I pour over my application. Early Bird (Writing The Breakout Novel – how cool is that?) with Donald Maass. Check. CE sessions. Aaack – Must decide a level. Will check with the First Timers Orientation Loop. No sweat. Check. Workshops. I want them all. Will check with Natasha. Check. Spotlights on the Agents. Easy. Check. Spotlights on the Publishers/Editors. You mean we really get to sit face to face and they will tell us exactly what they are looking for? Wow! I mean, check! From the start the First Timer’s E-Loop, guided by Brandilyn Collins and Cara Putnam, was invaluable. Whether you are a lurker or actively participate, you will find all of your questions answered, all of your fears assuaged. From what do I pack? Dresses? Jeans? to Do I need an appointment with an editor? agent?  And what in the world is a One Page? You will find the answers on the First Timer’s loop as well as at the First Timer’s Orientation. I can tell you, I had worked and reworked Natasha’s schedule for 2008 as well as 2009. Attention to detail was a must. Her schedule at the ACFW conference is always tight, with no room for error. So, a part of me felt this was not my first time. A part of me wanted to hide the First Timer’s ribbon I was issued and pretend I knew what I was doing. But, I am so glad I did not. I scoured the First Timer’s E-loop. I attended the First Timer’s Orientation. Wow – Cara and Brandilyn are treasures! They will make you feel so welcomed, so at home. They will give you tips. Brandilyn is often found in the chapel, or as emcee and prayer leader. Last year I so enjoyed her slide show of her mother and the story of her braces! Cara can be found everywhere, and at the booksigning I found her to be so sweet and so completely helpful, even when she was in her capacity of “author”!

There is something so uniquely special about the ACFW conference. Something you most likely will not find anywhere else. The people that attend, be they Editors, Agents, Authors, Fellow Writers, want you to succeed. They are there to support you. To cheerlead you. To pray for you. To lift you up.You will not find that very often.

And Dad&Me? We are two peas in a pod. From even before I can remember I loved horses, just like my Dad. Dad has always had horses, even during the time he was a Navy pilot, from Virginia with Baldy to Oregon with Fanny. My very earliest memory of my own horse is my little white rocking horse, with a blue saddle and red bridle and rockers. I aptly named him “Rocky” and though I don’t remember when I got him, I do remember riding him well after I had officially outgrown him! Thankfully, Dad bought me my first pony when I was in the fifth grade: Susan, a grey mare, with a sorrell filly by her side and another in her belly! What fun I had with Susie! But when I turned 12 and my Dad bought me a beautiful black and white pinto, (just like Little Joe on Bonanza!) with a stunning star on her forehead, I thought I couldn’t be luckier. And I would be right! Our love of horses was not the only commonality, though. I would rise before dawn to go out and brush my horse before a ride. Years later, when vacationing at the beach with our large family, Dad, Mom and I would get up before five to enjoy a hot Cinnamon Bun and coffee, before  anyone else rose. Years before that, while camping on our 40acres in Oak Harbor, WA, Dad would make cowboy coffee – boil the grounds in water over a campfire with eggshell halves in the water to collect the grounds – and I learned to love hot, straight black coffee, just like my Dad. We share other things, too, scarey things, like glaucoma (we both can still see, though, thanks to early detection – get your eye tests!) and a funky aortic valve. Mine we have been watching for years, and although the valve disease progresses, I know at some point I will have it replaced. Dad’s was such a surprise and I don’t really know why. Had he been reassured one too many times and he chose to believe it? It truly doesn’t matter. He is recovering. He is strong.

To learn more about Rebecca DeMarino and her books, go here.

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