Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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?


Writing Life: Changes

You’ve read the articles before. Writers who report, “I got the call!”

Well, I got an email.

Funny how God knows just what I need when I need it, because had I been on the phone when I squealed I might have burst the eardrum of my new agent. Not such a great way to start, you know!

This truly showed God’s moving. I asked several close friends to be prayer partners for me and sent out queries. I wrote to my prayer team and shared that the wait could be substantial, but this was patience training time. Less than 18 hours later I had a request for a full manuscript. Funny thing was, I’d just printed it out and sent it off with a proofreader. I asked if I could send it in early the next week, after the scrubbing.

Then, after submitting the newly washed manuscript, I again wrote my prayer team. This truly would be patience training as I had heard that manuscript-reading could take up to six months. I settled in for a long wait and thought about my next project … for a few hours.

Opening my email as my daughter fixed a snack on the counter next to me, she heard me gasp.

“Mom, is everything all right?”

“I have an email.” I stared up at her and she understood immediately.

“Do you want me to read it for you?”

I didn’t even let her get the words out before I digitally tore into the note. I read the words “recommendation” and “represent.” That was it. I started hollering and giggling and dancing a jig. Both twins joined me and my Labrador just knew it was all on account of him. He jumped and danced and barked along with us.

Then I had to stop and fully read the email … uh … but my computer had been busted in our reverie. No doubt by the huge hound.

Couldn’t get to my redhead’s computer fast enough. Not only to actually read (and reread and reread) the email, but to respond, hopefully in a professional manner that didn’t reflect the unsophisticated, uninhibited joy and revelry we’d experienced.

I’m feeling more like an author every day. I’m even listed under the “Our Authors” link at the Hartline Literary Agency where I’m now represented by Terry Burns.

I’m still giddy!