Here at Speculative Faith, we’re reader-centric. Yet many of our readers are also authors or aspiring authors. So you have attended a few writers’ conferences — perhaps conferences like the American Christian Fiction Writers conference that is ongoing this week.
If you’ve attended this conference, or any others, what crazy stories might you share?
For me, conferences are a mixed bag. Travel is thrilling. So is re-meeting or meeting friends. Learning new craft/promotion skills seems the most mixed of all, leading to my discontent with sitting there hearing about theory; I want to throw down the hood and drive the new author vehicle off the lot now. But perhaps anecdote potential is the best benefit of all.
My true fiction writers’ conference stories of whoa and woe:
- Five years ago, in 2007, I began driving to Dallas on Wednesday, Sept. 19 (Talk Like a Pirate Day) to attend half that year’s ACFW conference. Why half? Because Saturday morning, Sept. 22 — the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins — I drove four hours south to meet, in real life for the first time, a long-distance special friend. Lacy and I have now been married three years. Courtship is much easier close-range and married.
- I’ve attended 2.5 conferences far: the .5 comes from the 2007 one, and I’ve also gone to ACFW 2006, also in Dallas, and 2010, in Indianapolis.
- John Otte, now an author and SF contributor, is very easy to spot in a crowd. (This year I believe he is the only SF contributor attending the conference, once more in Dallas.)
- During ACFW 2006, the overwhelming amount of women was such that hotel staff turned the main hallway’s men’s restroom into a woman’s restroom. According to reliable rumor, one wacky cutup male author threatened to “go” on someone’s leg.
- During last year’s conference, I must admit I picked a favorite to win a Carol Award for best speculative novel. That night I watched the web feed with near-religious energy.
- If you’re worship-banding into the wee hours, hotel staff get annoyed. Just so you know.
- At a breakfast discussion featuring one publishing house’s editor, said editor, who was friendly and welcoming, asked the unpublished others what favorite novels they’d read this year. Most cited novels by authors who were published, not themselves personally. One person did not. Word to the wise: “No, don’t do that. No really, don’t. Really. Don’t.” (Addendum as of Thursday, Sept. 27: below, reader Shannon McNear offers a more-positive explanation, possibly for the same incident. What could seem like conceit on the surface could actually be honest response.)
- Author John Olson’s 2007 session opener, “God can’t spell and has bad grammar,” has ever since stuck in my mind and heart. This seeming heresy is an excellent antidote to potential author arrogance, and an infusion of more-Biblical writing “inspiration.”
I’m still finding business cards, bookmarks, and other promotional paraphernalia that I had been given in 2010 and shoved hastily into my folders, pockets, sleeves, ears, etc.
- Future Speculative Faith co-editors Rebecca LuElla Miller and yours truly evidently met in person at least once, at ACFW 2006, and photo evidence proves this meeting. Neither of us, however, remember that meeting, leading to suspicion about alternate timelines.
What’s your writers’ conference story, wacky or otherwise?