American Christian Fiction Writers
Cara Putman

Cara Putman is a woman living a dream. Barbour's Heartsong Presents has released six of her books, including Canteen Dreams, a WWII historical set in Nebraska that won the ACFW 2008 Book of the Year for Short Historical. She also has written romantic suspense for Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense, contemporary mysteries for Guidepost, a historical romantic suspense for Summerside, and the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law. Cara is an attorney, wife, mom to four, homeschool teacher, occasional professor at Purdue, active at her church, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids. Visit her at

ACFW Happenings

Making the Most of Your Conference Experience

Fiction Finder

The conference schedule is in full swing. If you will be attending any of the several available, your nerves may be bundled tightly. Don’t worry. Everybody wants your conference experience to match or exceed your expectations. Here are a few easy steps you can take to prepare for whichever conference you will be going to … and if it’s ACFW’s in Dallas, September 20–23, I can’t wait to meet you!

1) If you are making appointments, do your research ahead of time. Most conferences will list on their Websites the people available for appointments. For example, ACFW offers editor, agent, mentor, and specialty appointments, and you can find their bios and, even more important, what they are currently looking for if they are an editor or agent. With mentors you can learn what they write and have to offer. Review the bios before you make your selections. If Jacque Alberta with ZonderKidz considers only YA, then don’t select an appointment with her if you write historical romance. The editors and agents who attend are as excited to meet their next writers/clients as you are to meet them.

2) If you aren’t ready for an editor or agent appointment, then work with a mentor. The best advice I received before my first ACFW conference was to focus on learning rather than stressing about an editor or agent appointment when I wasn’t ready. Instead, I focused on talking to other writers and sucking every bit of writing knowledge out of my time. It removed so much pressure from the experience. Even so, I walked out of the conference with the invitation to send proposals to several editors … when I was ready.

3) Every conference has a different feel and focus. Pick the right one for you. ACFW focuses exclusively on Christian fiction. If you write erotica or nonfiction, then ACFW isn’t the conference for you. However, if you want to build your skills in fiction writing, this is the one conference where you will find more than 700 people gathered for the purpose of learning about and discussing Christian fiction.

4) Don’t be afraid that a large conference will be overwhelming. ACFW has worked hard to develop programs that help the most introverted person thrive. Brandilyn Collins and I run a first-time orientation program that focuses on the details of the conference, framing pitches, meeting other first-timers (there are usually around 200), and answering the questions. I also run a similar program as an online course. Then immediately before the conference begins, we get all the first-timers in one room, answer more questions, and then have them mix and mingle. The goal is that when you enter the ACFW general sessions, you will already have connected with others who can share the conference with you. It’s a great way to move from feeling lost in a crowd to making lasting friendships.

Writer conferences are a great way to take your writing to the next level. I look forward to meeting you there!