Day Four – Saturday, April 4

9am. The Major Morning Tracks begin directly after breakfast, which I shared with my fellow attending ACFWers (we have three tables set aside for us this morning). I’ve chosen to take author Davis Bunn‘s class, Taking Your Story To The Next Level. Very quickly into our first meeting, I’m convinced I’ve chosen wisely. A lot of what he’s sharing reminds me of what I’ve heard Donald Maas teaches (he of the Writing the Breakout Novel fame). Today he talks about what makes a successful novel, what an opening scene needs, how to raise the stakes, and how to make things worse for our characters. I take pages and pages of notes. I enjoy Davis Bunn’s teaching style. His is a presence of gentle authority, punctuated by bursts of humor, often self-effacing. The class is large for this setting, around 45 people, but there’s a sense of being in a much smaller group, because Davis invites interaction and questions, and his teaching style is fluid enough to handle needful side tracks.

Laurel Lounge, site of my Morning Track class
 (the room with the fireplace, which we had blazing each day)

Before lunch, Agent #4’s assistant finds me with the news that the agent wishes to speak to me further about Kindred. That’s unexpected, but welcome (considering how I bungled my verbal pitch during the previous evening’s dinner).

I sit at Karen Ball’s table at lunch, for a chance to chat with her. We’ve both been so busy I’ve hardly seen her. After lunch, I drop off my synopsis and chapters at Hospitality, for Agent #2 to pick up, for our meeting on Sunday.

I attend a workshop led by Agent #4, and afterward we talk. She’s been thinking about Kindred, and has a few ideas about shortening the story. Very cool. Then I hurry off to my appointment with Agent #3, which results in a request for submission of three chapters via email, after the conference. Also very cool.

I meet Camille Eide, who is the main reason I’m at the conference (she told me about the first timer’s discount). I also meet the other Novel Matters ladies, Bonnie Grove, Kathleen Popa, Latayne Scott, Sharon Souza, and Debbie Thomas. This is the first time many of them have met each other. I learn they came together to form the Novel Matters blog at the suggestion of their mutual agent.

Bill Butterworth makes us laugh until we cry, while managing to inspire us to Be Victorious. I’m exhausted today, my brain is tired, so I duck out the instant Bill is finished and hurry through the frog-croaking dark to my room.

Day Five – Palm Sunday, April 5

Another great Morning Track class with Davis Bunn. More pages of notes covering Dialogue, Description, and Conflict. Then we get into a mind-stretching discussion of Classic Storytelling vs. Post Modernism. This is great stuff. I decide I’m going to order the CDs of this class, because I can’t possibly take it all in this week.


We break early for a worship service and share communion as a group. Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

The chapel. This isn’t where we met, since our group was over 300 conferees

On the way to lunch, I notice the agent who taught my first workshop (I’ll call her Agent #5) is showing off a photo on her camera viewscreen. I take a look in passing. It’s a huge spider she found in her room. I shudder and look away, but can’t shake this feeling of foreboding that comes over me….

I attend an agent panel, and get confused about multiple queries, and when in the submission process you should let agents know that other agents are considering your work, then have my question answered (not yet, in my case).

I go to meet with Agent #2, but am very early, so I sit around doing some editing on the last section of Kindred, until our 4:15pm appointment. If an agent has to turn me down, at least Agent #2 tells me the one reason for it that I feel I can work with. He’s looked at the first 50 pages, and while my writing is beautiful (his word), it’s still over-written. I’m glad to hear this, because it means there’s room for more line-by-line editing, no matter what I end up doing to the story structure. He’s not willing to consider Kindred for representation. Not at 198,000 words. But he suggests that if a certain amount is cut, I may submit to him then. I enjoy our talk, and really, any feedback from an agent is gold.

A great dinner is followed by Bill Butterworth at his most hilarious talking about the parts of the body of Christ. Some get more applause than others, but all are vital. And it’s also vital to Be Yourself.

I head to bed, ready for tomorrow, unaware that the foreboding I experienced earlier in the day is about to sprout legs and crawl….

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