I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, September 24, 2010

ACFW Conference Highlights

The MBT Ponders demonstrate the Heisman Move
It’s impossible in one blog post to zero in on all the high points, but the picture can clue you in on the way The MBT Ponderers felt jazzed by the end of the conference! Let me share a few details.

Happiest Moment

When the presenter read comments about the Mentor of the Year at the banquet, the Ponderers tensed and at least one bit her fingernail—then we recognized comments from our own nominations. We covered our mouths. We elbowed each other. We knew.

When they announced Susan May Warren’s name, we jumped to our feet and belted out the loudest Ponderer cheer to date! While we were certain that other mentors also deserved reconigtion, no one deserved the award more than Susie!

For once in her life, the award-winning author who can churn out thousands upon thousands of words a day, the teacher who always has more to share than there’s time for, the mentor who never hesitates in encouraging us found herself at a loss for words.

Susie's acceptance speech for her Carol
Congratulations to Susan May Warren, Mentor of the Year--and winner of the 2010 ACFW Carol Award for Contemporary Novella for The Great Christmas Bowl!

Most Inspiring Moment

I think almost everyone would agree that both of Tim Downs’ keynote speeches were the best we’ve ever heard. Most of us plan to purchase the recordings and listen to them again. He said that stories give structure and meaning to life. Jesus often used stories instead of sermons to answer questions or illustrate his point. With stories you’ll sneak up on the readers and touch their hearts at the most unexpected time.

Tim Downs said that “thou shalt not” touches the head. “Once upon a time” touches the heart.
He said, “Stories go places that sermons never can.”

Tim reminded us that we are all part of the body of Christ so just as the head cannot say to the foot, “I have no need of you”, the romance writer cannot say to the author of science fiction, “I have no need of you.” (Or visa versa!)

He left us with this thought: “I hope the ideas you try to write are bigger than your ability to write.”

Please listen to his entire keynote on What is Christian Fiction.

Best of my Gleanings

From James Scott Bell’s Early Bird: Great art makes you homesick for heaven.

Chip's devotional: Success vs. Significance
From Harry Kraus’ devotional: We’re commanded to feel, so go ahead and giggle!

From Chip MacGregor’s devotional: Success is going after a goal and accomplishing it—but this fades quickly. Significance is making a difference in the lives of others—this lasts for eternity.

Susan May Warren’s Scene Therapy: A fabulous equation: a sympathetic character + stakes + goals + obstacles + fear of failure = tension

Susan May Warren’s Deep and Wide: A great subplot mirrors the theme of the main plot.

Most memorable moment

Okay, this isn’t just my opinion. Publisher's Weekly declared that the My Book Therapy line dance snagged ACFW’s most memorable moment.

You know how writers always post good news of a contract or great review saying they’re “Snoopy dancing”? Susie choreographed an official MBT line dance so we’ll all know just how to do it. Her son, Pete, helped her, and they dubbed one of the moves “The Heisman” in honor of the Warren family passion with football. (That’s Susie and the Ponderers doing the move in the top picture.)

If you’d like to learn the dance in preparation for your next contract or good news announcement, click here!

Best Fellowship Moments

Well, there were just too many to name! The Ponderers loved meeting some of our blog visitors face to face for the first time. I personally enjoyed getting to know MBT Voices Columnist Edie Melson. What a sweetheart. Melissa has an announcement about our blog visitors soon, so stay turned!

Blog Give-away Today

Today, I’m offering a free, signed copy of Susan May Warren’s craft book From the Inside…Out to someone who leaves a comment about the best moment or highlight or greatest gleaning at the ACFW conference. If you didn't go to the conference, tell us about something that's inspired you recently.

Blessings, Teri


  1. Great list, Teri. I'd include Melissa winning The Frasier as one of my highlights, too.

    The blankets of prayers that warmed my heart shines higher than everything else. I look through my photos and miss everyone!! God is so great, even during the down times. His provision brought us together and cemented us in a way only He can do.

  2. I really want to be eligible for the gift since I'm about to start writing a second book...but I'm guessing my Ponderer status makes me ineligible. Darn rules!

    But I'll answer your question anyhow, Teri! My favorite moment was definitely Susie winning Mentor of the Year, followed closely by a tie between the Frasier Award and an awesome agent meeting. My greatest gleaning, honestly, was more of a personal thing - Tim Downs' first speech really got under my skin and throughout the rest of the weekend, I felt God reminding me that He *is* my story...you know, like that old hymn "Blessed Assurance." How easy it is to go after a dream while leaving the dream-giver behind...if He's not in front of me, there's no point...

    All in all, a perfect first ACFW experience!!

  3. How do you say one thing about the ACFW conference? There never is just one thing. But I have to say that Susie and Rachel's continuing class on scene therapy impacted my writing a lot. It really helped to have taken my laptop with me and worked directly on that. I can't wait to get to that ms. and start employing what they taught!

  4. I agree with you, Pamela. That scene therapy class resulted in a complete breakthrough for me...there's a scene in my book that should be the most poignant in the whole story, but up til now, something has been missing. Susie and Rachel's class drew out the missing piece. Yay! They're such great teachers, aren't they?!

  5. Love those thoughts, Melissa. Great post Teri. I'm still speechless, by the way. I loved Chip's words on Sucess versus Significance. I remember the president of Taylor University saying, "Pursue Faithfulness and you will find Significance." That's it right there, I think. Very Galations 6:9. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." We have that on our kitchen wall. Next to the fridge. :) But I love the fact that God doesn't call us to success. He calls us to faithfulness.

    Uh oh, I feel a blog coming on. :O! Thank you for the excellent thoughts this morning, Ponderers!!

  6. Lisa, you're soooooo right! How could I leave out Melissa's win of the Frasier?? Thanks for reminding me!

    The Frasier contest in a great one. The elements on the judge's sheet are just what we're taught to do. I think it's going to become a must-enter contest!

  7. Melissa, I agree that Tim Down's message resonated BIG TIME! I loved what he said about God telling us our story in heaven too...like heaven's going to be one great story telling time.

    Are authors going to be especially happy in heaven?

  8. Pamela, I'm with you! There's never one thing! And I could write an entire post on Susie's scene therapy class. I'm going to get the tapes because both times I had an appointment.

    By the way, Susie posted the revised scenes and her notes here: http://www.mybooktherapy.com/index2.php/scene-therapy-overview/

  9. Susie! Thanks for stopping by! Since you mentioned a highlight and you're not a Ponderer, you're eligible to win the book.

    Oh, wait, you wrote it! And signed it! : )

    Congrats on the Mentor of the Year from the bottom of all our little pondering hearts!

  10. Melissa, you don't have this book?? Aren't you breaking a Ponderer law?

  11. I'm amazed you got your post out on time. If it were me it would have taken two weeks to decide on what to write about! Not because the conference was boring, but because there were so many memorable moments!

    I agree that the best was Susie winning the Mentor of the Year award. It was so fun listening to the whispers around the table while the comments were being read, knowing Susie was the winner even before the announcement!

  12. Actually, I do have the book, Teri. Two copies, to be honest. But they're both scribbled with notes in every inch of white space!! :)

  13. Funny, I signed up for all these workshops . . . and made it to three! I am counting the days until my MP3 CDs get here so I can finally listen to all the workshops. Most significant moment(s): The time spent with people--old friends and new friends, doing life as writers together, savoring that unity in the Spirit that will keep me going when it's just me and my computer.
    Yeah, Tim Downs was right when he said writers are weird and we need our computers and our printers and lots of paper--but I think we also need each other. Because who else gets us like another writer?
    Oh--another favorite moment? When Susie May was chosen as Mentor of the Year! Yeah, baby! That is what I am talking about!

  14. Whew, Melissa. My mind couldn't grasp that you didn't have one. You're no longer under arrest.

  15. I'm actually banging my head here that I didn't mention Melissa and the Frasier. But maybe we need to do a whole post about the Frasier and Melissa!!!! Maybe that's why God allowed me to be forgetful this time.

  16. Haha, um, no need to feel bad at all. Because if you mentioned the award you'd also have to mention the ever-so-UN-dignified acceptance speech. So, please...do not bang your head! :) Oh, and thank you for unarresting me!

    Ahh, just writing comments here makes me miss you all so much!

  17. I have to tell you, outside of Susie winning Mentor of the Year, my hightlight was getting to know all the Ponderers and hanging out with you all! You are all such a blessing to so many - through your blog, Voices ezine, and mbt voices forum.I look forward to sharing many more moments with you all!
    Hugs to you all - I miss you!!!!

  18. Aww, Edie! I miss you too. I really, really meant it when I said getting to know you was a highlight! It's going to make hanging out on the forum and the chats all the better now!

    Big group hug!!

  19. Teri, I loved reading your post, and all the "moments" moments. :) Reading about this year's ACFW makes me excited at the prospect of going next year!

    As for me, the most inspiring thing in my life lately was gleaned at the ladies' retreat I attended last weekend. I am in awe of God's great love for me and complete acceptance of me, which He showed me and reaffirmed in my heart. There is nothing like being accepted by my Abba, unconditionally, with passion and with fatherly love. I'm being vague on purpose, but He continues to amaze me. So there it is. :)

    Thanks again for sharing, Teri. I loved reading about this year's conference. It's exciting to PONDER what the Lord will do with all you Ponderers and your writing in the coming year!

  20. My favorite conference moment, as a stay-at-homer, was on Sunday night when my husband came out of the bedroom carrying his tux to steam the wrinkles out. "You're weird," he said. "But kinda fun. So let's dress up for the live blog."

  21. I didn't get to go to ACFW, but just reading this blog post is inspiring! I love the idea that great art makes us homesick for heaven. And I need to put up a visual reminder to myself, too--to strive for significance, not success. I really hope I get to go next year!!

    A recently inspiring moment for me: my church is just starting a Kay Arthur Bible study on Nehemiah. Wednesday night was DVD night, so we all settled in to watch Kay, and someone started the DVD a few seconds into her talk. The first words we heard: "What kind of book are you writing?"

    I stared at the screen. This Bible study has nothing whatsoever to do with writing. What on earth.

    Kay elaborated that 41 of the 66 books of the Bible are given the name of a specific man or woman. She said each person on this planet is "writing a book" with our actions, which God is recording, and she challenged us to be deliberate about what will be in the "Book of [Your Name Here]."

    But this resonated for me so much more deeply because I saw it two ways: writing my fiction is part of what is going into my Book of Amanda. Yet at the same time, that first question she asked--"What kind of book are you writing?"--inspired me so much to re-look at this creature I call Book 1 WIP. What kind of book is this? Is it written for God's glory or mine? Will it grab hold of people's hearts and impact their view of the world around them?

    The rest of Kay's talk regarding the steps of making a difference actually, believe it or not, somewhat mirrored the journey of my protag. Talk about inspiring! And from a non-writing source! God knew exactly what I needed to hear that night.

  22. Teri, is a great post. I didn't get to hear all the "good" stuff due to one thing or another, but reading them here gets my brain pondering. Thanks! Well done.

  23. What an amazing God-moment, Amanda--that Kay's Bible study would start with the question, "What kind of book are you writing?"

    And, Jenness, Tim Downs said writers are weird--so your husband called it right. And your husband sounds like a wonderful guy!

  24. Lol, Jenness! I loved the tux moment! Tell your husband the Ponderers appreciated his going along with his crazy-weird writing wife!

  25. Jeanne, We can't get much higher here on earth than your moment of basking in God's unconditional love! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Amanda--that moment was awesome! Tim Downs said something a little like that too. He said that in heaven God would tell our story and how it fit in with His.

    Thanks for sharing!

  27. The winner of the signed copy of Susan May Warren's From the Inside...Out is Amanda G!!!

  28. Oh, squee!!! Thank you! I can't wait to write all over it! :-D

  29. Amanda, can you e-mail me your mailing address? terism at rgv dot rr dot com