Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Writing Conference: 5 Necessities


DFW Ready WritersI’m hardly a seasoned veteran of writing conferences, but I learned who to ask pretty quickly when I had questions. One of my biggest worries last year was what to bring to the national American Christian Fiction Writers conference. It was my first of any writing conferences so I asked some of my mentors and friends from the Dallas chapter of the ACFW. Here are their answers from last year.

This year, I’m still not a seasoned vet, but I’ll tell you what I did that worked and what I won’t try again.

Comfortable Shoes

This is huge for me because I’m not a stander. Even during the gala, I was thankful for my stylish, but terribly comfortable shoes!

Business Casual

I think that means something different for everyone. Last year I saw Sunday dresses, slacks, suits. Very few folks wore jeans, but some did. I don’t remember seeing anything more casual than that. I’ll probably pack an outfit for everyday and then an extra one just in case I change my mind. That’s been known to happen.

My first workshop at the ACFW conferenceLight-weight Layers

I will definitely bring a sweater with me this year. And I’m warning you. If I need a sweater, most folks will prefer a parka!

No heavy Baggage

This could be as much an emotional suggestion as a physical one. Last year I piled a filled binder, large camera, iPad, and wallet into my tote bag. Way too much. My shoulder and back hurt before I got to breakfast. This year, I’m focusing on just what I need … and a small camera. Here’s my list:

  • Business cards
  • Business card binder sheets (I like to write on the backs of the cards and keep them in order to help me remember when and where I met someone.)
  • Note pad and pen
  • Phone
  • The important things from my wallet (instead of the huge heavy thing itself)
  • File folders with my one sheets and proposals (Since I don’t know which appointment I’ll get, I make sure I have the things that all four on my wishlist want to see.)

For those of you who have gone before, am I missing anything?

Me and Lee CarverAs far as the emotional baggage goes, my best advice is to let issues fall away. Definitely leave outside troubles at the altar before arriving. But I know how easy it is to let nerves and the burden of getting an agent/selling a book stress emotions. I remember meeting one lady last year. She seemed so upset, I didn’t know how to engage her. Like a coward, I bailed. Recently, I learned that she didn’t connect with anyone last year and felt hurt about that.

I guess two lessons can be learned from that one, the first for me is to make sure I make the folks I meet feel welcome. The second:

Pack a Smile

This isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds when facing fears with publishing experts. But those who are the experts know where we’re coming from and are SO kind and gracious. Those who aren’t experts are right in the boat with us. Last year I, realized just how many new folks come to this conference, knowing no one. No need to be shy or tentative when everyone feels the same way!

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.

6 thoughts on “Writing Conference: 5 Necessities

  1. Hi, Marji! I look forward to meeting you this weekend.

    Another thing I recommend taking is any beverages you like to have on-hand. I’m not a coffee drinker but prefer to get my caffeine from diet Dew or diet Coke. Rather than waiting to see what the hotel has, which I already know will be pricey, I’ll just take what I want with me. And the rooms have small fridges, so it’s easy to keep it cold.

    And chocolate. I’ll definitely take my own chocolate. 🙂


  2. Love the tips, Marji, especially the one about taking necessities OUT of the wallet, lol. Mine weighs a ton too!