God’s Plans for You at the ACFW Conference

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I could list a hundred reasons you should invest in yourself and attend ACFW’s 2011 Conference in St. Louis. I could say you’ll meet people who may become your writing buddies and walk with you through all the ups and downs of publishing. I could tell you about all the things you might learn in the classes from first class speakers. I might even share with you how that paid critique you signed up for was the best money you ever spent.

But that’s not what I’m going to share with you.

I want to share that you never know what God’s plans are for you.

In 2008, I attended my first ACFW conference in Minneapolis. I remember how excited I was – and how incredibly nervous I was. I had made my agent and editor appointments, polished my manuscript, and learned how to write one sheets. I’d practiced my pitch until I had it down perfectly. I packed my proposal and three chapters, my one sheets, and my shiny new business cards and took off with my dear friend Dawn. Once there, we met up with another friend from Canada named Marlene. This is the first time I’d ever met Marlene face to face and it was one of the highlights of the conference for me.

At my second editor meeting, I met with Andrea Doering. At that time, she was the senior acquisitions editor for Revell. I introduced myself, praying she couldn’t see my legs shaking. Then, the worst happened. I forgot every word of my pitch.

Blank. Empty. Gone.

What popped into my head was a Seekerville post by Myra Johnson. She’d explained that she often handed her one sheet to the editor and sat quietly while they read it. After all, she said, they were used to making decisions on what they read. Bless you Myra! That’s exactly what I did.

When Andrea finished the one sheet, she asked me a few questions and then asked to see my chapters. I again sat silently while she read two of the three chapters. Thank goodness she laughed at the right places. I knew I was in trouble if she didn’t!

She then set it down, asked me a few questions, complimented me on my fresh voice, and asked me to send a full manuscript to her.

I merely tried to stay upright in my chair. Later, I went back to my room and cried. I’d been so prepared for a “no,” I didn’t know what do with a “yes.” My dear author friend told me,”Okay, so you’ve made the Olympic team, now it’s time to go for the gold.”

A few months later, when my manuscript was as polished as I and my crit group could get it, I sent it to Andrea. Within six weeks, I had a three-book contract offer and the agent of my dreams.

I’m sharing this because I know a lot of you are still debating if the cost of the trip is worth it. If you knew this kind of publishing story was going to happen to you, it might be easy to fork out the money. As it is, it’s much easier to make excuses and stay home.

But try thinking of your writing career in a different way – with you as the company. You are the machine that puts out the product. In this case, you’re a writing machine and your product is a creative piece of work. If your company doesn’t invest in fueling you with good friendships, educational opportunities, and the chance to show off your work, then its missing one of the best opportunities there is to help you produce a quality product.

In other words, invest in yourself. If God put this desire in your heart, prayerfully consider if attending ACFW’s conference this year is also part of his plan. It was for me, and He may have a plan already in place to make it work.

That first year, we didn’t have the money but I truly wanted to go. I prayed about it, and we received a notice from an old credit card that said we’d overpaid them $500 ten years ago and would they like us to issue a check.

I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know how that happened. Finances have never been such that we’d not have noticed a missing $500. But even after double checking, they assured us, we had indeed overpaid them.

So, ten years before I’d even heard of ACFW, God had planned for me to go. He had it all worked out, but what if I’d not been determined to go? What if I’d made excuses? What if we’d used that $500 for something else?

I don’t know God’s plans for you, but I’m praying you’ll ask Him to direct your path. And remember, you have my permission to invest in yourself.

Lorna Seilstad

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