by Deborah Raney
Now that the conference is mere weeks away, excitement is building, and talk among writers turns to conference topics, it’s hard not to feel left out if circumstances keep you from coming to the conference this year. Despite how disappointing it might be to not be attending this year, there are still ways you can participate in the conference from afar. Here is a short list:
* Take time to pray, not only for those heading to conference, but for others who may be equally disappointed that they can’t come this year. Our conference could not succeed without the many prayers that go up before, during and after.
* Consider making a donation to the scholarship fund. ACFW is one of the most generous groups I’ve ever been part of, and those who have benefited from the scholarship program in the past will tell you what a blessing it is. And maybe next year you’ll be one of the scholarship winners.
* Look through the conference schedule and choose some of the workshops you would have attended. Make a list and when the conference recordings become available, place an order. For a fraction of the cost of attending the conference, you can have access to the great keynote speeches and workshops that attendees heard.
* Come up with a strategy for saving up for a future conference. With travel, room, meals, conference fees and incidentals, the conference can cost anywhere from $700-1,000. That’s a significant investment in your writing career, but if you start today, even setting aside $50-70 a month could net enough to attend the 2010 conference. Starting now to set aside just one dollar a day would get you to the 2011 conference. Would you be willing to give up a few Starbucks runs a week? Four mochas a week times four weeks is almost $60 a month toward conference. Selling a few items on ebay, or having a garage sale could bring in several hundred dollars toward the conference fee (and get your closets cleaned out at the same time!) It may be too late for this year, but missing this year’s conference won’t be nearly as disappointing if you have a nest egg started for the following year.
* While others are attending conference, why not have your own mini-conference. You might spend the days of conference reading a new book on the craft of writing, working on a proposal or better yet, joining with several writer friends to have an in-person retreat or an online workshop session. It takes a little planning to clear off your schedule, but even setting aside one weekend for honing your craft can be so worthwhile!
Each year at conference I hear testimonies from those who have finally been able to come for the first time, or who have missed several years and then been able to return. What I’ve heard over and over is that God’s timing is always perfect and sometimes He reveals a greater purpose in our not being able to attend conference.
If you’ve been a part of the conference before and can’t attend this year, we will truly miss you! ACFW is a family and we wish every member could be at our annual “reunion.” But if circumstances won’t allow you to be in Denver next month, please know that we hope and pray you’ll be able to join us some year soon, and in the meantime, as always, we love hearing from you on the loop.
DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her 19th novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her newest books, the Clayburn Novels, are from Howard/Simon & Schuster and Deb has just finished the first in a new series for Howard, the Hanover Falls novels. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small- town life in Kansas.
NEW!! YESTERDAY’S EMBERS a Clayburn Novel from Howard/Simon & Schuster
REMEMBER TO FORGET ACFW Book of the Year, HOLT Merit Award, 2008 Christy finalist
A VOW TO CHERISH the novel that inspired the award-winning World Wide Pictures film