Home from ACFW … (where Sandra won Agent of the Year!)
Chip, Amanda, and I are all just coming off a six
day road trip to ACFW conference, followed by visits to several publishers. It’s
always good to get home.
The conference was great. We had a lot of fun
connecting with friends and associates in the world of ACFW. I worked very hard meeting hopeful authors;
connecting and praying with my clients; squeezing in times to confer with Chip
and Amanda whenever possible. Between us, we taught or participated in at least
half a dozen teaching and/or industry sessions. Chip did a great job as emcee
of Susan May Warren’s My Book Therapy pizza party. Though I had to duck out
early to attend a publishing dinner, I hear he helped move things along at the line
dance lesson which followed. Here’s a YouTube link to one of the most well
organized line dance lessons I’ve ever seen … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNvFf7tQH0w.
At the awards banquet, we were pleased to cheer
for all the winners, and picked up a few awards ourselves. Our very own Jenny
B. Jones won twice; once in the Young Adult category for I’m So Sure (Thomas Nelson) and again in the Long Contepmorary
Romance category for Just Between You and
Me (Thomas Nelson).
Jenny is always a hoot, and her off the cuff
acceptance speeches were no exception. If you weren’t there and would like to
get an asparagus-free taste of the awards banquet, check out the liveblog at http://acfw.com/conference/liveblog.shtml
led by Tyson Wynn of Wynn-Wynn Media.
By the time the Agent of the Year was announced, I’d
thoroughly decided there was no way I would possibly be walking up front to
accept the award, so I was thoroughly shocked, quite honestly, when my name was
called. I think my thirty-second-at-best acceptance remarks relayed this.
I will admit I was asked to prepare a speech just
in case, which I did. But learning mid-conference that winners would have 30
seconds max to say thanks, I ditched it.
Still, I think it expresses very well what this
award means to me, so I’ll share it here.
I heard I was nominated and realized there was the chance that I might have to
trot up to the front of the room and receive recognition, I hoped to find something
in my closet which I hadn’t already worn to other ACFW and conference events. But
… no luck. I’m not much of a shopper, actually. So it took a bit of a nudge from
my husband, offers of help from my two best girlfriends, and some pre-shopping
advice from a fashion savvy author I represent, to get me to the “social wear”
department of our local upscale department store. “Don’t worry about the price,”
they all said. “Just find something that makes you feel fabulous.”
selecting as many dresses as possible to take into the dressing room at once
(as much as I hate shopping in general, I loathe the back and forth between the
racks and dressing room even more) I narrowed it down to three, then one,
marched over to the jewelry counter to find jewelry to accent the dress, then
escorted my usual frugal self to the register without stopping too long to
ponder the fact that the dress I chose was (of course) the most expensive of
the bunch and (gasp) not on sale. It did make me feel fabulous, though, so I
caved and bought it.
then the next morning at church Randy Alcorn, whose book THE TREASURE PRINCIPLE
has greatly influenced my thoughts on money and possessions, was a guest
speaker. Randy, in his very gentle-yet-convicting way, reminded me (well, it
wasn’t just me, but it felt like it) that God provides for us so that we, the
church, can provide for others.
soul said amen. And then it started doing a number on my conscience. Suddenly
the price tag of that dress started to matter again. Before the day was out, I
decided I’d be returning the dress and looking elsewhere for something with a
more conservative price. And that I’d be praying for an opportunity to up my
contributions to others in need. It’s not the first time God influenced my life
through the work of a book or author.
I was even aware there were such things as “Christian books” (which begs the
question – can a book be a Christian?) authors like John Steinbeck, Norman Maclean,
Elizabeth Berg, and Gabriel Garcia- Marquez helped shape my sensibilities for
what makes a good story good.
in the day when I was a new believer and Christian fiction was housed on one
shelf, Frank Peretti’s THIS PRESENT DARKNESS opened my eyes to the reality that
we live in a battlefield, and are responsible for keeping ourselves girded in
prayer and armed with truth.
Miller’s, TO OWN A DRAGON, helped usher me through a very dark time in my life
when I realized I still had “Daddy Issues” I needed to resolve.
few years ago, Randy Alcorn gave me a signed copy of his book HEAVEN, which
opened my eyes to the delights of the age to come. And then, God gave me the
opportunity to share these insights with the twelve year old daughter of my
best friend who was losing a battle to brain cancer but looking forward more
each day to meeting Jesus.
I first began agenting, I wondered if my dream to create a bridge for Christian
fiction authors to inspire the world to a higher standard of entertainment was
realistic. Leif Enger’s PEACE LIKE A RIVER showed me that it is. Learning that
Barnes & Noble had chosen to place Carla Stewart’s CHASING LILACS at the
front table of every store across the country this past summer helped affirm my
confidence that I do indeed recognize good writing, and that my endeavors to
represent quality books – and authors – who make a difference in our world is
Samson’s book QUAKER SUMMER helped dawn in me the notion of looking for an
opportunity to reach out to my local community – even if it only felt like a
tiny drop in a very, very big bucket.
Melanie’s Dobson’s book LOVE FINDS YOU IN LIBERTY, INDIANA while my son’s class
rehearsed their roles in a civil war peace cotillion added a fullness to my
appreciation of the struggles of our founders and forefathers. And mothers.
summer I had a chance to meet Arloa Sutter in person – she’s an author I
represent whose new book THE INVISIBLE just released. As the director of
Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield, Chicago, the work she is doing
on a daily basis to help people in one of the most impoverished communities in
America is inspiring. But the reality of her message and her life – that
there’s always hope – came at a time when I needed that reaffirmed as the
economy struggled to recover from a downward spiral and so many of the
yet-to-be published authors I represent needed encouragement to keep their heads
up, and continue fighting the good fight with me – even when prospects seem
there are stories being written, and read. Hearts – and consciences – being
challenged and changed all because of books.
even if it means I have to trek back to the mall the next chance I get, I’m
grateful for Randy, and for other authors whose books have shaped who I am, and
who I am still becoming.
be a part of this is honestly reward enough, though I am honored to have
received recognition for it.
sincere thank you to Chip MacGregor, the authors I’m privileged to help along
in their publishing journeys and whose letters were responsible for my
nomination, and all the authors whose work has influenced me over the years.
I said, I’ll be returning the mall very soon to return the dress I left hanging
in my closet when I packed for ACFW.
keeping the earrings, though.