Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2016 ACFW Conference

by Jebraun Clifford 

I recently returned from four fabulous days in Nashville where I was able to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers' conference, and, wow, what an adventure! I've mulled over all the information I received; all the publishers, agents, and authors I met; and all the experiences I had. I can honestly say it was one of the best events I've ever been to. Each part of my writer's soul was ministered to! Every workshop I attended spoke to me, educated me, challenged me. There were so many 'divine conversations' and God-moments that I couldn't possibly recount them all. While I was thrilled to win the Genesis award in the YA category as well as have successful interviews with four agents who want to see more of my work, for me the bestest, most awesomest part of the conference was the people! I finally found where I fit in, and I loved every minute.

I walked away with several impressions that will stay with me forever:

Morgan L. Busse in steampunk garb

#1 Writers are weird. 

I mean, where else but the genre dinner would you find such an eclectic mix ranging from Scottish kilts and hoop skirts to steampunk bustiers and military fatigues?
Michele Harper as Risa from 'Inkheart'
 and Amy Brock McNew as a kick-butt warrior

Elizabeth and Paige Newsom
as Rey and General Leia Organa

Me in my costume of a native Kyrian,
 my imaginary world

I'll admit, I was terrified of getting down to the dining room and discovering no one else had dressed up, but my fears were soon put to rest. Everyone's costumes were as unique and as varied as the stories we write.

#2 Writers are friendly.

So many selfies!

Michele's birthday dinner

I loved really meeting people who I'd only 'met' through social media. It can be intimidating walking up to someone and introducing yourself (especially well-known authors!), but each time I stepped out, I was rewarded with the start of a new friendship. The best encounter was an unexpected bear hug from the awesome Nadine Brandes when we were both waiting for the elevator, and I told her how much I'd wanted to meet her. Talk about making my day! This happened again and again. Every single person I talked to had an amazing story to share about their journey with God. It was great sitting by somebody new at breakfast or lunch or in a workshop and hearing how God was working in their life, what kind of fiction they write, and where they were in their writing careers. 

Breakfast after the conference at
The Frothy Monkey
David Rawling and I hiding from our fans ;-)

#3 Writers do best when they write with God.

Ted Dekker 
It may seem like a no-brainer, but this point was reiterated again and again. First, by our fabulous keynote speaker, Ted Dekker. Yes, he's just as amazing in person as one would imagine! He's clearly as passionate about pursuing God as he is about writing. He focused on letting our personal transformation be an important part of our stories. Everyone wants to live a better story, he said, and when we share our transformation, that will resonate with our readers.

Allen Arnold, Mary Weber, Katherine Reay,
and Kristy Cambron sharing in 'Soul Care for Storytellers'

Another refreshing time was in panel discussion about the necessity of taking care of your mind, body, soul, spirit, and community. I came away feeling like I could do anything...with God. We were all encouraged to remember we are co-creating with the Creator and spending time with Him should be our goal when writing.

So thanks ACFW! I don't know when I'll be able to get to another conference, but I don't see how anything could possibly top this one!


  1. Replies
    1. Haha, thanks! It felt over-the-top in the hotel room. I calmed down significantly once I saw everyone else's costumes

  2. Sounds fab! Looking forward to catching up to discuss in person :)

  3. I had a fabulous time being your roomie. Not only did you pull me through a tough time, but we had some amazing God moments I will never forget. I miss you already!

    1. Awww! Thanks! I foresee our time together as roomies as being the first of many! So glad you stayed even though it was tough with what was happening at home. Here's to more God moments!

  4. Hiding from our fan(s)? :) You make a great point re meeting writers: everyone's got a story behind their story. It was so inspiring to hear them all - yours included Jebraun!

    1. Yes! I'm looking forward to seeing how all the stories play out. God's got good plans for us :-)


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