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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Get ready for ACFW conference!

A newbies guide for ACFW conference preparedness:

Getting ready for the ACFW conference in St. Louis? Me too. I'm excited, nervous and well-- excited. It's my first time to attend a writer's conference of any kind and besides having nothing to wear, not having a polished pitch, feeling like a rookie and eating too much chocolate, I'm ready to go. At least I've got a finished manuscript, right?
Am I qualified to write this article? Probably not if you're seeking expert advice. If you want to share the ups and downs of preparation, read on!

I can't tell you how long it took to admit to someone that I was a writer. What if they ask what I've published? "Oh, nothing but I'm attending the ACFW writers conference in September." Trust me, you're a writer!

ASK: There are brilliant writers in this biz and they are almost always willing to help or share with you. CBA authors will never cease to amaze you with their kindness. Email someone you'd like to emulate, even if you've never met, and ask the question. Want to know about pitching? Ask around until you find that brilliant pitcher... don't check the minor leagues... we're talking book pitch. I've learned more valuable information from asking the right person than I've ever read in a book. I'm pitch-ready because of an acquaintance thats helped me get through it.

PRAY: Duh, right? How many times do we endeavor something without praying? Isn't it cool to think of all these writers praying for basically the same thing? Forgive the tongue in cheek but can't you hear St. Peter: "It's a rush on aisle 7". We want an agent. A contract. A new craft tool. A practical marketing plan. Yeah, He knows and, like we've heard a million times: TRUST HIS TIMING! The Psalmist reminds us that "He seeks to bless you in even as you sleep." (What if we don't plan to sleep at conference?)
Um, I wrote this one for me. Anyone else have my problem? I eat, dream and gargle conference ideas with every thought these days. Will I be ready? What should I expect? Chill. (yes, Kelli-- Chill) There are approx 190 other newbies attending the conference this year. A good chunk of the whole burrito! If you're worried, remember this great little mantra: Go ahead and fail....everybody else has.

EMBODY KINDNESS: It might be your year to land that big contract, it might not. Wouldn't it be nice to have a smile along the way? To tell you the truth, unless they masquerade as grocery attendants and newspaper boys, I've never met and agent or an editor. But I have met doctors, teachers, professors and lawyers. Engineers, preachers, dancers and day-care providers. Want to know what I've noticed? They're all people. They have good days and bad days...just like us. I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing they don't really want us to be afraid of them...without writers...they join the unemployed. Be kind. Embody it. Share it.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: If you're like me, I've been on the "loop" for a while now. Are you hanging on every email? Me too. I don't want to be guilty of a conference faux pas~!  But here's what I've noticed: person A says this...person B says this and person C contradicts them all. How to pitch, how to plot, what to wear? I've never seen such great advice on how to be prepared from our great conference volunteers. But basically, be yourself and expect the unexpected! We're all striving for that creative pitch; don't you think God throws one of His own now and then? Your conference experience could be that God curve-ball. Heck, look at the platypus.

Best advice for marriage and conference attendees:  TLYE (someone text me that a few times on Thursday, OK?) Temporarily Lower Your Expectations. I'm not sure what's going to happen at conference, but I know God's going to bless it. So you don't get that contract. You aren't the big Genesis winner. If your expectations are a little lower, maybe the "thud" won't be so bad. If I understand it, conference is run by volunteers. I'm sure they could use a break. What if your schedule is wrong or difficult? TLYE. What if you don't get the meeting with your dream agent? TLYE. God's driving this ship. Be ready for that gift.

Here's my request to YOU: I will know 4 people at conference and of those 4, I've met ZERO in person. Will you find me at conference? Introduce yourself to the brunette from Colorado. Share a table with me? A coffee? I'm nervous but also vibrating with impatience to get to St. Louis. I can't wait to meet you! If nothing else, we'll have each other!

Are you feeling prepared? Don't answer that! ASK, PRAY, CHILL, EMBODY KINDNESS, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED and TLYE. Smile, and meet me in St. Louis! 


  1. I thought you were going to end it with See you in St. Louis!

  2. All the best Kelli and good for you!!

  3. You'll be great!

    Find me. I'll have cookies.

    I'm the brunette from Springfield, MO.

    Great list!!!


  4. I'm so glad Cara drew this to our attention on the newbie loop. Great article, Kelli! I love the look of your blog and your wonderful tag line. I'm a Genesis finalist in your same category--small world. Hope I run into you at conference. Blessings!

  5. It's so great to know that so many others are in the same boat as me! I'll be the red head from North Dakota (but the color is subject to change periodically ;) Can't wait to meet you!

  6. I'll be the blonde tripping over her suitcase. See, now that we expect that, it will be a bonus if I don't. Thanks for this piece. I'll take a deep breath and chill now!

  7. Hi Kelli,
    I'm from Golden. Maybe we need a Colorado table for one of the meals so we can all meet each other.

  8. KELLI!!! I could have written this post! :) I'll be right with ya, girl, freaking out a little with nerves, so excited to meet my writer cyber-friends in person, and slightly starstruck as I rub elbows with authors I love. Can't wait to meet you!

  9. Love this post, Kelli! This is my third writers conference but my first with ACFW. Although I am as nervous as can be, I believe a wise editor's advice about a different conference will also ring true for this one: it will be like attending a family reunion for a family we've yet to meet. In the Christian writing world, we truly are family, so if nothing else calms our jitters, that should. I'll be looking for you, my sister in Christ. We're all in for a huge treat! :-)

  10. It was nice to hear from a fellow Newbie! Hope we can meet:)

  11. I can feel the love already! I'm so excited to meet you face to face in St. Louis. Seriously, we should have a Colorado table! Since, I'm a newbie, I'm not sure how to make that happen. :) Thanks for all the encouragement and comments!

  12. Here's to winning the Genesis, Kelli! I hope we get to meet each other :)

  13. The Blonde newbie from Oklahoma will be hunting the brunette newbies from Colorado and Springfield. We'll have cookies and coffee

    Sharon Srock

  14. Great thoughts! Don't forget our excited fingers. That might calm the butterflies! You've got so many people to meet! FUN!:):) Sorry I missed your call! I've got to hear all about this when you get back:):)