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. Continue reading

Conference Details

I’m going to be posting updates and experiences from the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference on my Facebook page. Please like the page if you visit – helps me out so much! The link is HERE!

Hope you will enjoy reading about my various adventures, but I warn you now, I can get carried away! Continue reading


How NOT to Pitch

I’ve gotten to know Lisa Buffaloe through her website, her radio show, and through mutual friends here in Dallas. She seems like a true kindred spirit. While zealous for the Lord, she also has such a fun personality and a clever sense of humor!

This video of how NOT to pitch at a writers’ conference made me laugh! Tweet this! Continue reading


Attitude is Everything

Last week I did something mean, and you can read about it here. I’m contritely sorry if I robbed you of sleep when I didn’t reveal the most important thing to bring to the ACFW conference. But I told you I’d share the topic today and here it is!

The most important thing to bring to the conference is … ready? Continue reading


Top 10 Things for the ACFW Conference

Last week, I shared the suggestions from Christian Publishing experts at what to bring to conference. Many suggested items of personality that I didn’t originally think about. And since I wrote the article, I’ve read several others that echo the need for one thing in particular. I wonder if you can pick it out from my conglomeration list of the ten main things I’m bringing to the ACFW Conference in a couple of weeks. Continue reading


ACFW: What to Bring, What to Do?

Writers, getting ready for conferences need more than just business cards and synopses. This will be my first ACFW conference. Shoot this will be my first of any kind of writer’s conference. Nothing like starting off big. Huh?

There are some wonderful folks anxious to help out a newbie like me make preparations for this September weekend. On the ACFW site, I’ve been delighted and blessed to be involved in the “First-Timers” loop where experienced authors like Cara Putnam and Brandilyn Collins give tips and suggestions on our different types of pitches. What amazing input and such generosity! Can’t wait to hug their necks for making the experience so much easier and less frightening.

I know that Cara is also doing a course on ACFW preparation at the ACFW loops. So helpful. And it gave me the idea to poll experienced folks from all walks, published and non-published, to see what they suggest to bring to for the weekend, or any other writing conference. Got some great suggestions.

  • Business cards and plenty of paper and pens to take notes, copies of one sheets, synopses, and sample chapters, a specific folder for each editor or agent appointment containing what they would like to see. – Keisha Bass, writer of Inspiration Fiction and Non-fiction
  • Your one sheets and sample chapter, info on agents and editors you want to meet including their pictures so you know what they look like and what they are looking for, Ipad or tablet with long battery life, comfy shoes, good attitude and a desire to help others, prayer, and a teachable spirit – Patricia PacJac Carroll, author of Western Historical Romance
  • Comfortable shoes, sweater or wrap for chilly classrooms, pens, highlighters and a Magic Marker, Scotch Tape (for instant hem mends and other random uses), Bandaids ( a few in case of paper cuts or blisters), snacks to carry in your bag (because hotel food is expensive and lines at breaks can be long), camera in all forms. – Marilyn Eudaly, non-fiction author
  • Prepare to be teachable. – Pamela S. Meyers, author of romantic fiction
  • Business cards – Roger Bruner, author of quirky Inspirational Fiction
  • In the last two conferences I’ve attended, I’ve been on the appointment-taking end. My biggest advice to those meeting with editors is to relax. Put on a smile, be yourself, and trust the Lord with the outcome. And have fun! You may make friends at conference that you’ll have for life. – Normandie Fischer, Executive Editor, Wayside Pressan imprint of Written World Communications
  • Comfy clothes. Make sure you’re comfortable all weekend! – Linda Glaz, literary agent for Hartline Literary Agency and author of Romance-Suspense
  • Comfortable shoes, business cards, one sheets – Terry Burns, literary agent for Hartline Literary Agency and author of Western Fiction
  • Here are the top ten from Janice Olson, president of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of ACFW (DFW Ready Writers):
    1. Comfortable clothes, but conference/business appropriate
    2. Comfortable shoes, again conference/business appropriate – You always want to look professional.
    3. Several pens/pencils, paper, and or a computer or similar devise if you rather take notes that way.
    4. Headache tablets.
    5. Money for those times meals are not provided for you.
    6. A good sense of humor
    7. A smile and welcoming face
    8. Business card with pertain contact information and a recent picture of you on it.
    9. A well prepared One Sheet and elevator pitch
    10. A Bible for those periods of down time and when you need encouragement.
  • Lena Nelson Dooley, multi-published author of Historical Romance added her top five suggestions:
    1. An open heart
    2. A listening ear to God’s promptings
    3. A teachable spirit
    4. A desire to bless and minister to others
    5. Boldness to step out and meet people

Interesting how three seasoned conference attendees all included a teachable spirit on their lists. I will definitely be praying that the Lord help me be a listener in a big way. I’ll also pack my bag carefully and as lightly as possible, expecting to do a lot of standing and walking according to the others who have gone before me. Prom experience (9 hours of seldom-sitting) has proven to me that I’m not so great at that. So I’m doing a lot of walking ahead of time to get into better shape.

Your turn: What is your must-have at a conference that you’ve attended?


Publishing from a Newbie’s Perspective: What’s Next?

Traditional publishing requires stops and starts, but waiting doesn't have to be involved.I have to tell you, I feel like I’ve learned a decade’s worth of information in the last year about publishing, social media, marketing, and all that goes with them. Enough to know that I have a LOT more to learn.

Trite – I know – but way too true for my comfort level. See, I grew up with the Saturday morning mantra that “Knowledge is Power.” (Anyone remember that intro to Schoolhouse Rock?) I figure if I can understand something or at least know about it, I can handle it/fix it.

But that isn’t reality for so many pieces of my life.

  • A dear new friend was shot on Saturday night. I don’t know what’s going to happen to her.
  • My son graduates from college next spring. He has no idea what he wants to do.
  • I have a book to sell, but I don’t know when or how that will all come about – though I believe it will.

And those are just the things I’ve thought about in the last 5 minutes! God never promised me that I would know or understand what I’m going through – in fact, just the opposite.

Who then can understand the thunder of his power? Job 26:14b

So here’s where I’m at on the path to traditional publishing. I have contracted with an amazing agent who I’m growing to adore! I’m meeting (through a Yahoo group) all of his clients, my new agency-mates, and learning so much from them as they interact with each other. I’m reading much in my genre and focusing on books that are similar to Cat’s Eyes (my Christian Romance-Suspense) for reference.

Traditional publishing has so much that goes into it, but that doesn't mean waiting around for published books to happen.But that’s not all. I’m nothing if not determined and waiting around for publishing just doesn’t fit into my worldview. So I’m working on business cards, one-sheets, and pitches for the conference that I’m attending next month. I know I’ll have at least one interview with an editor, possibly two. I want to put my best foot forward in every situation. That means I need to be practiced and researched about who’s who and what books they have published and how those stories compare to Cat’s Eyes. I’m also looking forward to meeting other publishing professionals, agents and established authors, so I want to educated myself about what they write or represent and what agency or publishing company they are with. I’m really exited about meeting other newbies like myself and a few authors whom I’ve enjoyed chatting with online.

Aside from my prep for the conference, I’m working on other projects. Though I hesitate to do novel work, so I won’t get confused when I have to talk about Cat’s Eyes, I’m writing many short stories and articles for a variety of submissions, to keep warmed-up and as extra financial opportunities.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still totally giddy about having an agent! Squee! I’m just not willing to sit around watching the ink dry, thinking I’m done achieving my goals. Publishing my first book is my current goal and I’ve received a huge blessing – a giant step in the right direction, but I’m nowhere near the end of my path. Just keep stepping.

Your turn: What is your current goal? What steps are you taking to achieve it?