In just two months, ACFW descends on St. Louis, for the annual conference. This will be my sixth year to attend, and I can’t imagine being a writer in the Christian market and NOT attending. It’s one of the highlights of my year!
One of the many things I love about ACFW is how it has grown to meet the needs of both novice and seasoned authors alike. The first time I went, I was definitely an aspiring novelist. Yes, I’d written a couple of books which weren’t published, but I wasn’t sure how what I wrote fit into the inspirational market, so I went with some hesitation. Wow. Blown away by the experience only begins to describe what transpired during that four days. And each successive conference has brought new (and equally wonderful experiences).
So what makes ACFW so fantastic? I’m glad you asked. No matter what level you are in your writing, there’s a spot for you. And opportunities. Here’s a partial list of things you might expect from attending an ACFW conference.
Newcomer’s orientation: You’ll learn how to get the most out of the conference and have the opportunity to ask questions about how things work.
Continuing ed classes and workshops: These instructional hours are the “meat” of the conference. These vary from beginning level writer to multi-published, so there’s something for everyone. Confession: I still take a beginning level class once in a while, and I always learn something new or am reminded of a great writing concept that I need to work on.
Bonus early bird session with a national speaker. This year Dr. Stanley Williams will present his teaching on The Moral Premise. This promises to be a great session for every level of writer.
Appointments with editors and agents: Goes without saying how valuable to your writing career these are, but to make the most of your time and theirs, do your research ahead of time to see who might be the best fit for you and what you write.
For published writers: Media training and other media opportunities. This was a new and exciting part of ACFW last year as published authors had the opportunity to connect with publicists and/or staff from Christian Retailing Magazine (Strang Publications) and RT Book Reviews.
Awards Banquet: This is the “dessert” of the conference. The fun, gala evening when the best of ACFW is recognized–Genesis winners for the unpublished contest and Carol winners for published books. Plus Editor of the Year, Mentor of the Year, and Agent of the Year. Last year was particularly memorable for me as my agent won the coveted Agent of the Year award.
What do all these things have in common? Connections. Renewing acquaintances and catching up with those you see once a year. Rubbing shoulders with authors, editors, and agents. If it’s your first time and you only know ten people like I did when I attended my first conference, you’ll be surprised at how friendly and helpful ACFW is. To keep track of those you meet, it’s helpful to exchange biz cards.
Connection opportunities abound at ACFW — you’ll have many opportunities for casual meetings with people. The hotel lobby, the conference bookstore, meals, waiting for appointments, and after hours. A prayer room is open for private contemplation or if you want someone to pray with you, volunteers are there. I’ve discovered every year, there are divine connections to be made, sometimes when you least expect it. Come with a heart open for learning and worship, and God will meet you where you are.
See you in St. Louis!
Broken Wings, June 2011 (FaithWords)
Chasing Lilacs, 2010 (FaithWords), Oklahoma Book Award Finalist, 2011 OWFI Best Book of Fiction, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, 2nd Place (Women’s Fiction)