The “In Crowd”, Part 2

I came back from ACFW’s annual conference this year thinking about how different it was from two years ago when I barely knew ACFW existed, but I followed the gala in the live chat. This year, I sat near the stage [okay, way up front and off to the way side, but still]. And one of the Carol Award winners is a dear friend – and I know several others, and many more nominees.

Me and Carol Award winning author Melanie Dickerson

And I’ve been privileged enough to beta read for this gal! [What does that mean? It means I’ve read her next two contracted manuscripts – and I like to think I might have even helped a little bit with them :D.]

Just over two years ago, I wrote this post – mentioning just a couple of the authors I was aware of at the time.

I still don’t claim to be part of the in crowd but I can’t say that God hasn’t brought innumerable people into my life in the last two years. People I adore and who certainly seem to like me. Even if just a bit ;). And some even a bit more than that :D.

For me, this year was about making connections – particularly face-to-face meetings with editors and agents that can’t happen any other time of year. I ordered the class mp3s because that wasn’t where my focus was, but I’ve heard so many great things that I just had to. But also, I focused on making connections with other writers. People I knew well but had never met. People I barely knew but now know better. And brand new people too.

First up – my NovelSistas – Jessica and Kristy. Amazing writers. Better friends. And our 4th roomie, Joanna – just as incredible.

Me, Jessica, Kristy, Joanna

Whether or not I’m one of the cool kids, I get to be friends with them. There were about 700 people at conference this year. I’m sure there’s hundreds of cool kids I’m not friends with, but I do claim these folks – and I like to think they claim me.

Cindy, Tracey, Me, Julia, Ruth, Helen
Road Trippin’ from Springfield
(Ironically, none of us are FROM Springfield)

Me, Candace Calvert, Beth Vogt

Beth, who has been a blessing and encouragement to me for some time but especially since the Bell’s Palsy incident earlier this year, and I had breakfast plans for Thursday morning before conference started. Candy, one of my very first ACFW friends, asked to join us. They didn’t know each other before breakfast – but I hope they do now! They were such a blessing to me that day (and during the rest of conference) and I thank God for both of them!

Me, Casey Herringshaw


This year I didn’t get a picture of Casey Herringshaw chair dancing, so I have to settle for this one of us laughing hysterically. (Thanks Tina Russo Radcliffe!)




Myra Johnson, Missy Tippens, Janet Dean, Pam Hillman, Carol Award Winner Melanie Dickerson, Audra Harders, Debby Guisti, Mary Connealy

The lovely ladies of Seekerville and Seekervillager Melanie celebrate after Mellie’s win. I absolutely adore every woman in this picture. ‘Nough said.






Me, Audra Harders

Last year, I knew I would like all of the Seeker gals, but I was surprised by how much I absolutely fell in love with the beautiful Audra Harders. This year, when I needed a pal to truly commiserate with me, she did just that (don’t ask what about, I’m not telling).



Casey Miller, Me
(Yes, I’m still dressed for the gala and he’s already changed into something comfortable ;))


Casey Miller is the appointments guru. It’s up to him to take on the daunting, but hopefully not thankless, task of assigning hundreds of appointments. I’d imagine he also gets the brunt of it when someone’s schedule doesn’t turn out quite to their liking. But what’s uber-cool is how he, his wife Robin (conference director, below) and Cheryl Wyatt (assistant appointments guru, also below) pray over every meeting – during scheduling, before appointments and as the meetings take place. These folks are all that – and a bag of chips besides.

Robin Carroll, Me

Robin Carroll is the Conference Director. How she manages to put together such an amazing conference and still churn out incredible romantic suspense books (see reviews from “Romantic Suspense Review Week” a couple weeks ago) is beyond me. But I’m so grateful she does.

Plus she and Casey let me share their anniversary (Matt and I started dating on their anniversary – but I won’t say how long they’d been married at the time ;)).

Me, Cheryl Wyatt


Cheryl Wyatt is an amazing gal. After a rough meeting, she took a few minutes out of her very busy schedule just to hug on, love on and pray for me. Love her. To pieces.




Think we might have fun together?
Pepper Basham, Me

And, of course, my very dear friend. My long lost literary twin. My alleged partner in crime. My sweet Pepper Basham.






There are more pictures I could include. Lots of them. Off the top of my head, Susan Tuttle, Michelle Massaro, Jordyn Redwood, Erica Vetsch, Angie Dicken. The list goes on and on. Watch for more pics in future posts, but in the meantime…

I’m not sure there is an “in crowd” – not like we all thought there was in high school. What there is, at least in my ACFW experience, is a group of authors willing to go out of their way to help each other in the increasingly challenging world of publishing. Friends who love and encourage one another. Who give up seats or appointments so a friend can have a chance to pitch to that editor or agent. Who forego half their dinner – while pregnant no less! – so you can have a complete meltdown in the bathroom (yes, Kristy, I’m looking at you – you kept me from spending the next three days hidden in our room).

Friends who share not only your highs but your lows.

If I gave up this writing thing tomorrow. If I never wrote another word. All the time. All the money we’ve spent on conference and critiques and everything else. All of it would be worth it.

Because of the friendships and relationships forged over the last two years.

They are invaluable to me and I thank God for them daily.

Now. Bedtime. Because I have some proposals to get out ;).


  • Hey, Carol! Well, I’m definitely not in the in crowd! I’ve always been the nonconformist, quiet rebel myself. 🙂 But I do love you, and I appreciate you reading my stuff and giving me your feedback! I really needed your input back last spring, and you are so sweet, and incredibly prolific, to be reading my stuff and churning out those books the way you do! You are wonderful in your own right, girlie! I’m just sorry we didn’t get a chance to sit down and really talk. You’ll have to let me know what all went on with your appointments and such.
    But it was a great conference for me, and I appreciate all the people who work really hard and donate their time for free, like the people who run the Carol Awards. I was particularly grateful to them this year. 🙂
    Love ya, girl!

  • And I just want to say, you HAVE come a long way! And Audra Harders IS beautiful! 😀

  • Carol, wish we had connected more or at least snapped a photo! I never get enough pics with people. Too busy having fun “connecting” I guess!! My experience was life yours. I’ve been going to ACFW for 5 or so years and each year it gets better and better!

  • Carol,
    Here’s what I love about ACFW: It was one huge “in” crowd. Everyone was in — no one was out. At least, that was the overall feel. And I know there were prayers being said that no one felt left out, no one felt alone. I love the spirit of the conference — the heart of attendees. It’s a “Y’all come!” kind of event. The more the merrier.
    And it was a delight to spend time with you.
    A delight!

  • I enjoyed seeing you at the conference, Carol. Your smile is contagious!

  • Ruth Tredway

    You’re so right about the differences in the conference this year. It felt like everyone was welcome, no matter their place on this journey. The encouragement, and sometimes kicks in the right places, were so helpful. Thanks for heading up the ride together, and the time to know our local MozArks group better. I look forward to growing as a writer with this group that God has brought together. See you soon.