Navigating the conference waters by Dana Mentink

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by Dana Mentink

I’m a shy person by nature. People who know me might not suspect it, but I need to really work at being outgoing. As I tell my husband, being charming is exhausting!

I’ve been to three ACFW conferences and the first one I was petrified. I stuck to mostly lurking and such. If it weren’t for the kindness of the Barbour folks, I probably wouldn’t have said boo to anyone.

The second conference in Minnesota last year was a great time. Yes, I still had to force myself to be charming, but I had the joy of meeting with my Barbour people again and having a face to face with my also charming agent. (He doesn’t seem to have to work nearly as I do to maintain a sparkling personality!) At each conference I’ve learned boat loads and come home fired up about writing. So here are my top three tips for navigating those conference waters.

1. Find someone who is alone and ask them where they’re from and what they write. Bingo! You’ve made a connection. Now make arrangements to sit with them at lunch. Having a built in lunch partner is such a comfort.

2. Go to morning worship. I know, I know, it’s early, but it will really jump start your spirit and remind you that writing doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor.

3. Don’t be afraid to make an appointment with an agent/editor simply to ask questions about the business or ask what they are looking for. It doesn’t always have to be a high pressure, you’ve-gotta-present-a-killer-pitch-or-else deal. I have found the editors/agents to be very warm, encouraging people if you aren’t trying to beat them over the head with an idea!

Now go forth and dive in! You’ll be glad you did!

Dana Mentink writes cozy mysteries for Barbour and suspense for Harlequin’s Steeple Hill. Her newest book is California Capers, a three in one mystery from Barbour. You’ll find her next Love Inspired Suspense novel in bookstores in September.

Visit her website at

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