The ACFW Conference: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Two months from today I’ll be packing my bag, eager for my flight to St. Louis the next day where I’ll be attending my second ACFW Conference. I’ve been looking forward to this event since the day I flew home from Indianapolis last September.

I’ve attended a number of conferences in the five years since I began writing. Each has been enjoyable and memorable, but none has been as thrilling as the ACFW Conference.

For those who’ve never been before, I thought I’d take a look back, using photos to highlight some of the many benefits of attending this gem of a conference.

The Venue

ACFW chooses great locations for the conferences. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Indianapolis and was able to take in a few of the city’s many sights, including some of the older buildings that cause this historical writer’s heart to take off like an Indy race car.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Lucas Stadium, Home of the 2012 Super Bowl

Indiana State Capitol

Friends, Friends, and More Friends

The sights are interesting and the workshops enlightening, but my primary reason for attending the conference is the people. Seeing friends again and meeting others in person for the first time is wonderful.

Some of my many friends: Karen Witemeyer, Katie Ganshert, Heather Sunseri, Jeannie Campbell, Cindy R. Wilson, me, and my critique partner Jody Hedlund

Friends Erica Vetsch, my agency mate, and Wendy Paine Miller

My agency mate Deborah Vogts and me

You meet the nicest people at mealtimes. Look who was at my lunch table one day.

My conference roomie and agency mate Anne Lang Bundy with Julie Carobini, John Olson, and Randy Ingermanson

Authors Galore

Meeting the authors of the books I love to read is such fun. Here’s just a small sample of the many talented author who attended the 2010 conference.

Julie Lessman and me

Me and my agency mate Karen Witemeyer

Me and Rachel Hauck

The Publishing Professionals

One of the many benefits of attending the conference is the opportunity to meet agents and editors, getting that all-important face-to-face time. I got to meet my agent in person for the first time at the conference, which was one of the highlights.

My awesome agent Rachelle Gardner and me

If you summon your courage as I did, you might get a picture with the man in the kilt, aka agent Chip MacGregor, who graciously posed for this shot with me.

Chip MacGregor and me

Editors are in attendance, too, and it’s reassuring to find out they’re very nice people. πŸ™‚

Bethany House editor David Long with my critique partner Jody Hedlund, who is holding her debut novel, The Preacher's Bride

Fun with Friends

I learned that the bar is the place to hang out after a busy day at the conference. Since I’m not one to visit bars back home, I asked a friend to snap this shot to prove I was having lots of fun. I smiled so much during the conference that my cheeks hurt. πŸ™‚

My friend and agency mate Katie Ganshert and me

The Awards Ceremony

It’s such a thrill to cheer for those who are finalists for the Genesis and Carol Awards.

Jeannie Campbell

Getting dressed up in our finery is fun. The atmosphere in the ballroom is super-charged.

Katie Ganshert, Jody Hedlund, and me

Rosslyn Elliott and her husband make a stunning Victorian couple

A Look Ahead

I’m counting down the days until the 2011 ACFW Conference and am eager to see my many friends. I’ll be rooming with a new writer who lives not far from me, and I’m looking forward to serving as her guide.

I’m anticipating many helpful workshops. I signed up to volunteer this year and am excited about being able to give something back to ACFW.

I’ve had a Victorian gown made and am eager for its debut at the Awards Ceremony. My awesome agent, Rachelle Gardner, is one of the finalists for Agent of the Year, and I’m ready to cheer myself hoarse for her. She’s already a winner in my book.

The Conference is one of the highlights of my year!

β€’ β€’ β€’

Are you planning to attend the ACFW conference? If so, what are you looking forward to?

If you’ve attended other conferences, what did you enjoy the most?


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curvesβ„’ and reading.
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14 Responses to The ACFW Conference: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

  1. Miss Keli,

    I have to say, you never cease to impress me. This is a beautiful post! what fun. I wish I was going and could be in a pic with you. Be safe and have a blast!

  2. Wendy says:

    I’ll be cheering for Rachelle w/ you.

    Keli, Seeing these pictures brought tears to my eyes. I’m a sap. I need more caffeine (not even sure I’m spelling that right I’m not awake yet). While the last two things may be true, I also think it’s because my connections run deep and seeing those pictures I’m reminded of how encouraged I’ve been by my online buds. You have changed my life!
    ~ Wendy

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing YOU! :D:D

  4. cynthiaherron says:

    Keli, this is an awesome post! I’m so thrilled (and nervous) to be attending this year! Your excitement is contagious and I look so forward to meeting you “in person!” Oh, just out of curiosity…how many pics did you take? I have a feeling my camera will be my third hand! πŸ™‚

  5. cynthiaherron says:

    Oh, I forgot to answer your question…what do I look forward to the most? Soaking up everything I can about the publishing industry, and brushing elbows with the actual authors whose books I’ve READ. Wow!! (Will you autograph a dinner napkin or something for me?) πŸ™‚

  6. I’m getting so excited! We’ll have to pack a bag full of treats and goodies to enjoy on the flight. πŸ™‚

  7. Great pictures and introductions to those affiliated with the conference. Well done and fun to read.

  8. I’m getting more excited by the day, as well as a wee bit frazzled, since I want to have a project turned in before I go.

  9. Wonderful photos, Keli! I’ve never been able to get to the ACFW conference but I’ve attended others closer to home. I love the atmosphere… being immersed in everything writing and surrounded by so many talented people who love doing what I love, and understand the passion for it.

  10. Great post, Keli – – and I cannot wait to meet YOU in St. Louis! πŸ™‚ The ACFW Conferences are the only ones I’ve attended so far, and are AMAZING! I went to MN in 2008 and couldn’t believe how awesome it was. So before I attended the 2009 Conference in Denver, I told my husband there was no way it would be as good as the first one I attended. Well, the Lord had a surprise in store for me….because (for me, personally) that one (2009) was an even BETTER experience!! πŸ™‚ So, needless to say, I am super excited about this year’s conference (especially since I had to miss last year due to surgeries) and can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for all of us! p.s. Meeting new friends is the BEST thing about the conferences for me – – people are wonderful! πŸ™‚

  11. I’m not quite what I’m expecting from conference quite yet, but I know I’m excited to see many friends I met in person last year and meeting many more this year. Can’t wait to see you, Keli!

  12. Keli!!! Looking forward to seeing you in St. Loo … after nine in the lobby, perhaps??


  13. Susan Mason says:


    I’m so excited to be attending for the first time. And also very nervous. I may have to put your number on speed-dial for HELP! I’m working hard to get my one-sheets done and my ms polished. Oh, and the dreaded pitches. Yikes!

    I’m so excited to meet you in person, as well as so many of the authors and publishing people I admire. Better than the Oscars!


  14. Gina Conroy says:

    I missed last year, but I’m so looking forward to this year and meeting you, Keli!

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