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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Left Behind

If you are a writer, then you know that this weekend is the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Every writing related blog/website is abuzz about the fabulous and exciting conference and unless you live in a remote village in Tibet (in which case you are probably extremely enlightened and completely at peace and need not read on) you have been inundated with valuable information on this conference, including some fabulous posts written by my fellow Ponderers.

Alas, I will be sitting out the 2010 ACFW conference due to some health issues, and the disappointment is sometimes a little overwhelming. I feel a little like Cinderella being left behind while my sisters (the ones I love beyond measure, NOT the ugly step-sister sisters!!) go to the ball. So, I would like to offer my list of my top ten things to do this weekend if you, too, are being left behind.

10.) Curl your fists into tight balls and pound them on the dining room table while stomping your feet (preferably on wood or tile floors for full effect) and shriek until you begin to feel better. Optional: hold your breath until you turn blue.

9.) Close your eyes, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth. Repeat ten times, or as many times as it takes for you to begin to feel refreshed and/or in control of your emotions. Then eat a pint of your favorite ice cream.

8.) Close your eyes and wish for a fairy godmother to magically appear with plane tickets for a pumpkin shaped airplane with creepy mice-ish flight attendants, deluxe hotel accommodations at the castle, a fully written and edited manuscript, and/or a gigantic pink taffeta gown with satin and lace accents and lots of sparkles for the Saturday night awards banquet.

7.) Attach a room number to your bedroom door, along with a “do not disturb” sign on the doorknob. (Optional: hang the sign so that it reads “maid service requested.”) Inform your family that you will be "away" for awhile and that you will not answer the door for anyone other than room service.

6.) Post updates on your facebook that imply you are at the writing conference. Example: “Heidi Larson Geis just had the most amazing conversation with James Scott Bell on the best way to convey legal jargon to the average reader. James completely appreciated Heidi’s suggestions and will be dedicating his next book to her.”

5.) Visit the facebook pages of authors/agents/publishers you know are attending and/or teaching at the conference and post something like this: “It was so great to meet you. Wasn’t dinner amazing?” or “Your class on humor in fiction was so enlightening. Thank you!”

(Disclaimer: The preceding suggestions are for entertainment purposes only. If you choose to actually do any of these things, you do so at your own risk and Heidi is not responsible for anything that happens as a result. Unless, of course, the outcome is positive, at which time Heidi will take full credit. The following suggestions are the things Heidi actually encourages you to do.)

4.) Find some friends who are going and set up times to Skype with them. Make them tell you one or two things they have learned that will change the face of their writing, and then try to immediately implement them in your writing. (And possibly, although I can neither confirm nor deny that I know anyone attempting to do this, have your friend sneak in their pink Mac to Skype the awards banquet. Make sure you dress up, though, as Skype goes both ways!)

3.) Buy yourself a writing book by one of the many awesome authors teaching at the conference (Suggestions: The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors by Brandilyn Collins, Plot and Structure or Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, A Novel Idea by a variety of awesome Christian authors, and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass) and spend the weekend reading and taking notes on the book. Try to apply at least one thing you learn in one or two scenes of your manuscript.

2.) Use the internet to find other conferences and writing retreats that may better fit your schedule and/or budget. I have attended and can recommend all three of Susan May Warren’s coaching/writing retreats (AWESOME! ), the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Novelist Retreat, and an American Christian Writers conference. I am thinking about trying the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers conference (in North Carolina in May) or the Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference (in California in March.)

1.) PRAY. Okay, I think we all knew this one would find its way into the countdown, as well it should because the Bible is pretty clear about prayer and thanksgiving. Pray for those blessed to attend, for their safe travel and for their conference experience. Pray for those who are teaching and for the keynote speaker. Pray for the hotel staff, that they will be blessed by conference attendees and know that they are Christians by their love. Pray for yourself. (My husband is a pastor…he said it is totally okay to pray for yourself!) I prayed that God would help me with my feelings of discouragement and disappointment, and that He would help me to be happy for my friends who get to go. I also prayed that God would open doors for me to attend next year, IF IT IS HIS WILL. (That last part is kind of important.) Finally, I prayed that God would give me something else to do that felt almost more important than the conference (aka perspective) and it turns out tonight is my son’s first football game. His first one ever in his whole 14 years of life. There will be other writing conferences, but not other first football games. I am so glad I will not be missing it…it’s almost as if God knew why I needed to be left behind.

Be blessed beyond measure!
Heidi Larson Geis


  1. Great picture, Heidi. ;-) And great post. I especially like #5. I'm going to have to use that one, I think. Thinking up facebook messages now... :-)

  2. Thanks, Jenness! Oh wait, whose book is on the top of that stack? Ah yes, Carol finalist for short contemporary suspense Jenness Walker?

    You can totally get away with #5 since they are expecting around 600 people at the conference. No one will know you weren't actually there!

  3. Just popping in to say, I enjoyed your post, Heidi! Sorry health issues are keeping you home, but what a blessing to watch your son stretch his wings a bit. :) May the Lord bless your weekend, and give you some great ideas in your writing! I'm not going, but I am going to our ladies' retreat, and will pray for the Ponderers (and fellow bloggers)at ACFW. Have a great weekend, and play a practical joke or two. :)

  4. You girls are so good to me.

    And stop tempting me! Would #5 be classified as being deceitful or just playing a joke? :-)

  5. Love your post, Heidi. For sure you should do humor. Does it help to say that I drove 12 hrs. yesterday, arrived safely, since Hyatt was full by time I knew I could come, I reserved 6 miles away, tired so crashed & decided to shower, do hair this a.m. BUT water main broke at midnight--this whole block (only this one) has NO WATER. Still glad to be here, but hope my current reality check helps a tad.

  6. No, above post is by Delores

  7. Heidi, Heidi, Heidi, I've said it before & I'll say it again: You've got to take your act on the road, girl!!! Laughed out loud reading this post! The Ponderer contingent here at ACFW was talking about "Heidi's hysterical blog post"--totally!!!
    Love you and miss you and, whatever you do, keep writing!
    How'd the football game go?