Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Top Ten Things I Learned at the ACFW Conference


The ACFW Conference was amazing from the volunteer tote-packing on Wednesday to the Gala on Saturday night! (Check here to see a note about that!)

Last weekend my biggest prayer was that I wouldn’t miss the things that happened around me. Ha! Flat-out impossible.

But here are the things that I learned from my conference last week:So much went on, so many gems and gold nuggets uncovered, that my fingers typed like mad and I still know I only caught a tiny fraction!

10. Enjoy where I am while I’m there. This isn’t exactly a lesson I learned from conference, but it was never more pertinent than last week as I soaked in everything around me. I planned ahead of time to have the details of my life on hold and allowed the experience to suck me in.

9. Others are as nervous and alone as I am. Okay, I wasn’t exactly alone. I mean I was for much of the time, but the fact that I had buddies nearby made it easier for me to be friendly to total strangers. Even when they turned out to be editors, agents, and multi-published authors. Which leads me to my next point …

8. Editors and agents don’t bite. Really. I mean my agent, Terry Burns, is so friendly and easy to talk to, but I was totally freaked out about meeting any editors. Yikes. Come to find out, I sat through a meal with one from Penguin and had a great time just chatting and laughing with her and her friends. Shocking, I know, but from what I saw and heard, all of the editors and agents speak and laugh and even sparkle when they talk about the things they love.

7. Be proud of the newbie status! We had ribbons hanging down from our name badge and every time I failed to recognize something important or made a mistake, I just pointed to the one that said “first-time attender.” Newbies get away with a lot! I ended up losing all of my ribbons on the last day, but it’s probably a good thing as I would have been tempted to use that first-timer status next year, too! Ha!

6. Let your dreams go sometimes. I had a list of folks, mostly online buds, who I wanted to meet. A few were editors and I actually got to meet almost all of them. But one editor escaped me. (Oh, that sounds so evil!) Kim Moore with Harvest House worked with one of my favorite authors, Mindy Starnes Clark, whose writing has the same tone and feel that mine has. I wanted to meet her even though I wasn’t able to get an appointment with her. And I turned around and saw her. Right there. Standing at the sink in the bathroom. Yep, let that one go. I figured if God wanted me to meet her, He’d come up with a better spot. I guess He didn’t want that connection, yet. Maybe someday?

5. Buy the conference recordings! Knowing that I would be purchasing the conference CDs eliminated such pressure. I had to leave a dynamite class led by Cara Putnam and Tricia Goyer that I learned SO MUCH in. Yet both of my appointments occurred at the same time, during their two part class. Just to get my head in the game, I’d leave 20 minutes early for my appointment and then chatted with my cheering “Newbie Zooers” when I finished, so I missed half of the class both days. But trust me when I say I will not be missing anything as I will inhale that class again and again!

4. Start early, stay late! One of the things I loved most was being at the set-up day. On Wednesday, a group of our DFW Ready Writers helped pack the give-away bags, then set up parts of the bookstore. I got to meet several gals that I saw all week long. Like Leah Walker. Such a sweet lady and always a smile on her face. As for staying late, I can tell you that I missed my final workshop on Thursday night. I felt myself fading the hour before and couldn’t imagine sitting through another no matter what it was (because I would get to hear it later when I felt fresher). So I went down the hall and sat at a little table with a lady who ended up being a former president of ACFW and quite an established author. Cynthia Ruchti was so kind and encouraging. Even looked over my one sheet with compliments. The encounter gave such an enthusiasm to end the day!

3. Be willing to speak up in classes with good questions and answers. The key here is listening. I did hear some questions that required patience from the presenter because they had already answered them in the discussion. Also, a little wisdom is in order. If the presenter asks you to describe the room, don’t intimate that the speaker looks like death or has a monotone. Just saying. More on that one later – LOL!

2. Be prepared. Yes this is at the top of the list on purpose. Taking notes is so much easier with a pen. And there is nothing more frustrating that to see everyone around sharing business cards when yours are missing. Now that didn’t happen to me, but I did see the disappointment in the face of the couple of gals who took one of mine and had nothing to share.

1. Let little things roll. I’ve got some specific examples of this little baby that I’ll be sharing next Monday! Make sure you stop back then to learn about my Conference Encounters. (Appropriate music insert here.)

Your turn: At the last important event you attended what was the most important thing you learned?

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

15 thoughts on “Top Ten Things I Learned at the ACFW Conference

  1. Pingback: Conference Encounter #3 « Marji Laine ~ Author

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  4. You summed up the experience perfectly. I loved being a “newbie,” too. Can’t wait to see what God is going to do with all the things I learned and the connections I made. Hope to meet you at the next conference.


  5. Great thoughts, Marji! I’m going to share some of these with our Arizona chapter of ACFW – CWOW (Christian Writers of the West), which meets this Saturday.


  6. I love writing conferences–they just totally bring up one’s writing energy and desire to persevere! So glad you had a great time and learned a ton. 🙂


  7. Thanks, Marji, for the wonderful tips. I have never been to ACFW but have been to the ETBU Christian Writers Conference and will attend again next month. Attending a Christian writers conference is such an encouraging thing. There isn’t that comaraderie and encouragement at a secular writing conference and you never know what you will hear either! Thanks for sharing.


    • I totally agree, Carole! There’s just something about the atmosphere at a Christian conference because regardless of what we write, we have the same Spirit leading! I’ve never been to another writing conference, but have attended others for business or networking. They don’t come close to the joy I shared last week with new friends and close buds!


  8. I loved your post, Marji. You have such an easy conversational style and subtle, infectious humor. Thanks for sharing. I wish I could have been there!


  9. Great list, Marji. What a coincidence that we both learned many of the same things!