Monday, September 12, 2011

ACFW on the Mind

This blog comes to you from the Mid-South again, though a few miles south of Memphis than before (we're staying in Southaven this go-round).  Danny had meetings and further work training to complete in the Memphis branch (though "complete" may be an optimistic term), and with ACFW coming up, we decided to connect the St. Louis trip with the Memphis trip and make it one, giant trip away from home.

Danny's busy in the office and hydraulics shop by day. I've been spending my time getting ready for ACFW.

I confess, my priorities are not as my agent would have them. I need to get together my pitch materials for my conference meetings...but let's be honest. Those (when the author chooses to focus on them) tend to come together quickly. You know what takes more time and effort?

Getting your ensemble for the ACFW Awards Banquet ready.

I've got the dress - it took two tries (the first color I ordered was back-ordered until the day *after* the banquet), but it arrived before we left and it's at an alterations shop as I type. I've got the shoes - picked them up to wear for Easter this last spring.  I've got the handbag - found it at TJ in Richland. Bought a cute little hair-clippy and bracelet yesterday. Still haven't figured out what lipstick to use, and if I'm going to get arty with my accessories and perform some last-minute tweaking, but the essentials are there.

So now that *that's* taken care of, I'm on to the task of getting the pitches ready. This involves creating a title and names for character for a story concept I've loved but hadn't spent time articulating the particulars of. Now, if you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I take my names very, very seriously.

For both Plain Jayne and Simply Sara, the main character names were entirely informed by the titles. This is not typically how I roll.  I research, I think about the character in my head, I write out lists, I wait for the right name to pop out and say that this is the one that fits.

Kind of like trying on shoes.

Also, I used to be pretty good at naming books.  I think that period of my life is over.

Next, I'm going to tidy up the first few chapters of my WIP (work in progress), since the second chapter isn't doing for me what I'd like it to.  Especially in an age when readers decide to purchase books depending on the strength of the sample offered on e-reader, the opening chapter and a half (or so, depending on the publisher) is even more important than ever. The days of easing the reader into a story are over. The days of being lazy about starting a plot are over. Bookselling is a competitive marketplace - edit! Tighten! Rewrite! You'll never sit back and sigh, "If only I hadn't given my book a stronger opening sequence."


In other random ACFW news:

Last year at ACFW was tough for me. I resolved then to do what I'm doing this year, which is arrive early to rest up before the conference begins.

I didn't know until a couple weeks ago that I'd be given two weeks to acclimate to the time change, but we'll still arrive at the hotel a day early to get settled and figure out the lay of the land.

Also, ladies, I highly recommend packing this product - Benefit's Eye Bright pencil. They describe it as a nap in a stick, and I would consider that to be an accurate description. I went searching for something, anything to fix my under-eye issues after our last drive back from Memphis - things had gotten so bad I avoided looking at myself in the mirror in the morning.  You can apply it under your under-eye concealer, on top of your makeup at the corners of your eyes, pretty much wherever you need to banish dark shadows. It really is magic, and I don't travel without it.

I also recommend packing plenty of cardigans as well as comfortable shoes - considering that you're moving from one part of a hotel to another part of a hotel, there's still plenty of time on your feet (especially if you're me and you're running late and you've got to seriously hike it from your room to the elevator, and the elevator takes forever and you'd totally take the stairs if you weren't on the ninth floor, and even after you've caught the elevator you make two or three stops before making a dash to the conference room on the opposite side of the building, down a long hall) *and* you never know how the a/c is going to be tuned. Layers are your friend.

Well, it's back to pitch-work for me. If you're at ACFW in a couple weeks, be sure to track me down!


  1. LOL, I love your priorities, Hillary! I, too, have been working on my ensemble for the big event. Pitch? What pitch? (Lord, please don't let my agent find this comment.) ;)

  2. You will be lovely in the new threads, no matter if you decide on getting arty with accessories or not.

    And today's food for thought?

    Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable. ~W.H. Auden

  3. Sarah - I'm glad I'm not alone! I just had a moment of panic when I got the new email from Robin Miller detailing the dress code for the Banquet - "Semi-Formal to Formal." Briefly wondered if I brought the wrong shoes...but I'm sticking with the nude heals! They're very on-trend, and appropriate considering that the event begins earlier in the evening :-) How's your ensemble coming?

    Carrie Sue - LOVE the quote! And thanks :-)

  4. I say go with the nude heels! I'm probably gonna wear my semi-dressy sandals 'cause they're comfy. And as for my ensemble, I'm whittling it down to two or three dress options. I may just bring them all and make a game-day decision. Since I'm driving, I've got extra room in the suitcase (which could be either good or bad). :/

  5. Extra suitcase room is never a bad thing! I'm a huge fan of over-packing for ACFW. I under-packed last year and vowed to never repeat the experience.

    We're arriving Wednesday afternoon to the hotel - let me know if you need an extra dress opinion!

  6. Hey Hillary! I will be fun seeing you there. Funny though that we're in the same state, yet we have to travel across the country to see each other!!

    I look forward to seeing your gorgeous dress at the banquet!

  7. I guess we've got to do what we've got to do! What class are you taking?


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