Friday, September 28, 2012

God's Greatest Gifts Don't End After the Conference...

You know ten things I love?

The Alley Cats. While not all of us could be in attendance at the ACFW conference this year, I think in a way of those absent, a bit of their hearts were present on Friday night as we lay on our hotel room beds and laughed, laughed, laughed.

You know one thing I'm always continually amazed about attending these conferences? Yes, we come to learn and pitch and rub shoulders with some of today's best in Christian publishing, but it's the relationships that inspire me.

It's the people who I have no clue who they are, walk up to me and say "I know you!" and I'm not a bit freaked out. (much ;-) It's the people that love you no matter how much your eyes leak on Sunday because you don't want to say good-bye.

It's the people that stand by you through thick and thin no matter if you're celebrating the fantastic news of a brand new agent or upset because your appointment didn't go quite right.

Sure making a connection is great, but you know what has blessed me more than anything else? You know the people who have bent over backwards to introduce me to their agent or give me writing advice or tell me to email them for any help I might need...? They are the ones who have gone out of their way for no other reason then the goodness of their heart. They don't have to help me, but they do. Without question, without barter, they just do. 

So often we go to these conferences with one agenda in mind: land that awesome agent who will make all my dreams come true in this publishing world.

Reality: this publishing world is on an ever shifting playing field. Nothing is ever certain sure for long, including the agent you have or the contract you've signed.

 What doesn't change? The friends we make who become brothers and sisters at the heart level. Sure, it's good to make those connections, don't get me wrong. I made a fabulous one myself this year...but it's not near as important to me as hugging and chatting and laughing with friends who have become ever so dear.

It's dropping your bag at a booth and helping set up an empty table even if it might put you five minutes late to your class. It's skipping out on a planned lecture to sit down with another struggling writer, taking her hands in yours and praying for God's perfect peace with her writing.

It's submitting to God's perfect timing and letting Him put you exactly where He wants you at the perfect time. You never know when that volunteer slot you signed up for, might be the perfect opportunity to make a new and life long friend.

God's biggest blessings to me this year weren't the classes I took or all the notes I brought home, though they were awesome and will prove was the people I met. Seeing a dear friend's little Africa baby for the first time and choking back tears. It's squeezing the neck of an excited friend after she won the Carol award. Wagging my "I-told-you-so" finger in her face. It's laughing and praying with my precious Alley Cats.

I don't care what people say about this industry, how it's constantly fluctuating. How you can't make any money and nothing is certain...I still think it's the best place to make the best of friends.

So let's talk...what's one way God blessed you this year at the conference? And if you couldn't attend, what's one way God blessed your writing and heart during that week?

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people.


Debra E. Marvin said...

I was so aware that my writing peeps were gathered to do this amazing thing called conference that I felt the vibes (whoa dude) back home. I used the time to focus, write more, and wait for updates.

The live chat is so much fun!

I love how friends come back charged up and ready to share what they learned. Can't beat that!

Thanks, Casey!

Lisa Jordan said...

God blessed me by answering my prayer. I asked Him to fill me with a spirit of JOY and to celebrate others. He went beyond my expectations by filling me with incredible joy when my name was announced during the Carol awards.

I loved seeing my friends, making new friends, encouraging those before appointments, praying with one another and celebrating great results at the conference. A spirit of joy filled the Hyatt last weekend.

Joanne Sher said...

Made me cry, Casey. Relationships, with Christians who GET us, are so amazing.

Unknown said...

Casey, truly one of my highlights was meeting you and the other Alley Cats. You all are such a sweet, deep, encouraging group of ladies. I came away from each encounter feeling accepted for who I am. :)I loved meeting people and learning writing craft. I didn't get my courage up to ask any famous people for pictures with them, but I loved getting pics with new friends. I have a lump in my throat after reading your post. :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

I loved the chance to celebrate with others. The MBT Shout Out boards -- that was one of my favorite corners of the ACFW world during the conference. I loved seeing all those multi-colored sticky notes put ip by people with things to celebrate. And the other? The prayer room -- where it was a whole lot quieter, but where intercession flowed non-stop.

Lindsay Harrel said...

God continually reinforced that week that THIS is where he wants me. It was so exciting to have confirmation that I'm on the right path. And of course, meeting everyone and seeing their amazing hearts for each other and Jesus...that can't be topped.

Keli Gwyn said...

I was blessed in so many ways. One of them was being privileged to sit at the table with Rosslyn Elliott and Lisa Jordan and share in the thrill of their Carol Award wins up close and personal. I shed so many tears of joy I had to restock my tissue supply.

Susan Anne Mason said...


What an amazing post!

Though I didn't get to go this year (I ended up going to visit my elderly mother in law who was so happy to see us) I did feel blessed to share with so many people posting pictures and comments. I ALMOST felt like I'd been there!

The thing I missed the most was not the agent or editor I may have met - it was all the wonderful authors and on-line friends I missed seeing. Next year - next year!

Hope great things happen for you and everyone else who made wonderful connections at the conference! (YAY - Pepper!)

Thanks for sharing...


Julia M. Reffner said...


The biggest blessing was being able to pray with other people. That was so beautiful! To have that type of intimate fellowship with people I didn't even know, some I had never even connected with online.

OK, this post is making me cry a bit but in a good way.

Casey said...

Debra, isn't that amazing that even when you can't go, you feel the energy and excitement for story pouring across the lines of communication? I hope you're so blessed again next year, wherever you are!

Casey said...

Lisa, I love that word: JOY. And love that God filled so many with that emotion this last week.

Casey said...

Joanne, passing a virtual tissue, because I certainly did my share of tears this last week! You're right...I wouldn't trade these God-given friendships for anything.

Casey said...

Jeanne, I flat-out loved meeting the person behind that little picture on our blog. You're such a wonderful support to us here, I hope someday we can more than return that to you!

Casey said...

Beth, that was such a great idea for the shout out board. I love the heart of MBT! Thank you for having such a heart for prayer, they have blessed me time and time over!

Casey said...

Lindsay, isn't that exciting and SO freeing? I'm so glad you had that confirmation all weekend long.

Casey said...

Keli, I know! Sharing in the joys of friends is one of the best gifts that keeps on giving in this industry.

Casey said...

Sue, YES next year for you for sure! It's these connections I always hate leaving and crave seeing all over again when the next year rolls around. God is so good!

Casey said...

Julia, your heart for prayer humbles and inspires me! You're amazing. :D

Ashley Clark said...

Love this blog, Casey! And I know what you mean! I always come away from the conference feeling so encouraged by the sweet hearts of other authors... what a privilege it is to be part of this community!