Four Observations from an ACFW Conference Newbie

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By Lauren Gail

The 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference held in Nashville, Tennessee was my first ACFW conference. The amazing Frank E. Peretti and the awesome town of Nashville were two of the main reasons I was compelled to register. Add to those the number of agents, editors, publishers, and authors available to network with and the decision was a slam dunk. Although I’ve been writing and studying writing for a number of years, I still consider myself a newbie because I’ve yet to write a novel and be published. I’m as close as I’ve ever been though! It’s oh so close. I can smell it and grasp it my hot little hands already.

Conferences are a fabulous way to stay in touch with your dream as well as being fantastic finish lines for goals. For instance, I registered for this conference with the goal of completing my current work in progress. While I didn’t make the goal, I’m much further in my manuscript than I ever would have been before. At first, I was disappointed in myself for failing but now I see it as the opportunity it was. Why the change of heart? Find the answer and more in these four observations from an ACFW Conference Newbie.

  • Frank E. Peretti is every bit as awesome as his books imply. He is energetic, passionate, thoughtful, witty, and intelligent. Mrs. Carrie Stuart Parks is fortunate to have him as a mentor and friend. They both were wonderful and funny during the Early Bird session where us attendees were lucky enough to hang out with them for the better part of the day absorbing their insights like sponges.
  • Attendees could be sitting next to or eating lunch with a well-established author and not know it. Or maybe we do know and are deciding whether to play it cool or go gaga over them. The bottom line is they—like we—are all just regular people who appreciate recognition and confirmation, from time to time, for what they do.

    Lauren and her husband at the ACFW Gala

  • Going into the conference I was disappointed in myself for not finishing my current WIP. I entertained the thought more than once to cancel the three appointments with the agents/editors the fine ACFW folks had selected for me. Would I make them mad if I couldn’t deliver what they wanted? Am I ruining someone else’s chances by taking the time slot? However, I decided to get the absolute most out of this conference, so I kept my appointments. I met three wonderful, successful business ladies, and I learned something new from each of them which directly pertained to my writing and my goals. Keep your appointments, writers.
  • Most of the other attendees are so friendly and helpful. I made friends with a couple of amazing ladies and, unbeknownst to me at the time, they were both Genesis Finalists! They both won, by the way. Keep an open mind and an open heart when you go. Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone and start a conversation. You are all there to meet new people and learn. Three established authors also welcomed me with open arms, and I learned a lot from them just in the conversations we had. A conference is not the time to be overly shy. Every interaction is an opportunity to grow.

The entire experience enabled me to hone my goals and have a better focus on what I need to do in the coming months. I now have a more realistic plan and can create goals to accomplish in between and by the 2019 ACFW Conference in San Antonio, Texas. See you there!

Stay in touch with your dream. Four observations from an ACFW conference newbie.@LaurenGail11 #ACFWBlogs #acfw2018 Click To Tweet

Lauren Gail has written numerous magazine articles, won the Writer’s Digest 9th Annual Popular Fiction awards in the Thriller category for her short story The Tale of Twisted Creek, and is working on romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Share your writing journey with her @LaurenGail11 on Twitter, lauren_gail11 on Instagram.




Comments 3

  1. As a reader of Christian Fiction, and OK, a frustrated wannabe author, I read with relief Lauren Gail’s struggle to get manuscripts to the finish line. I too have been in this situation. She has an upbeat and still hopeful attitude. I will also be upbeat and sure that I can get my work over the finish line. Glad I read your blog!

  2. Hello, Lauren, lovely to read your recap.

    We actually sat on the same table at the Gala (my Aussie mate David sat next to you I think).

    Keep writing, keep learning and keep believing. Hopefully see you next year in San Antonio.

    Grace and peace,


  3. @Connie, thanks for the comment! Keep on keeping on!

    @Ian, ah yes, I remember you, too. It was a pleasure meeting you. Glad you liked the recap and thanks for the encouragement!

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