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

Key Items to Bring to the ACFW Conference

Fiction Finder

Maybe you’re getting ready to attend the ACFW conference in St. Louis later this month, or maybe you’ll attend another conference later this year or next. There are some critical things you need to bring, items you may not have thought about packing. You won’t find a laptop, business card, or one-sheet on this list. Instead, these are the intangibles that can make a conference a success.

o A Servant’s Heart: You never know when you’re going to find someone who has a need. Bring a heart that is quick to serve as Jesus did. In that service, you will feel God smile and your focus will shift from you to another. That shift is critical in the high pressure environment of a conference.

o A Ready Smile: Introvert or extrovert, bring your best smile. Have you ever noticed how in an instant a smile can shift an otherwise bad day? The gift of your smile could be the lift that another attendee needs. Maybe the pressure of appointments about has them to the breaking point. Your smile could be the grace of Christ extended to them.

o A Teachable Spirit: Even after twelve published novels, I have a lot to learn. I may co-teach a few classes this year, but I am also eager to sit under the instruction of others. One thing I love about writing is that we will never “arrive.” We can always push ourselves to improve if we keep a teachable spirit.

o An Openness to Meet with Unexpected Publishers: There have been times I didn’t get my first, second, or third choice, but God was in those unexpected meetings. Other times I’ve asked for appointments at my agent’s suggestion. I couldn’t see where those appointments would go but ended up writing books for at least one of those editors. So if your first or second choice isn’t on your list, trust God to have the right appointments for you.

o An Eye to See the Divine Appointments: Do you have your agenda highlighted and your one-sheets, proposals, and business cards ready? Great, but be prepared to abandon those when God tugs on your heart. Maybe there’s a fellow attendee who needs someone to encourage them. Or you may have a chance to talk to your favorite author—if you’re willing to abandon your agenda.

o A Heart Filled with Expectation to Meet God: I will never forget the first time we had worship at my first ACFW conference. I sensed God’s presence and pleasure. That doesn’t change from year to year. Now I come expecting to have a time of refreshing . . . even if I don’t think I need it. Somehow God always knows, and He meets me in unexpected ways. It might be in a worship set, in the prayer room, or at Harp and Bowl. Or it could be in that chance encounter in the hallway. But if you come with expectation, I’m convinced you will meet Him there.

o A Pitch: There’s a reason this is last. While you need to be able to talk about what you write and answer questions succinctly about your manuscript, don’t stress over this. A Google search will provide a plethora of articles on how to craft a pitch. There are lots of great posts on the ACFW blog with this information, too. As Cynthia Ruchti puts it, “A pitch is like potato salad. Not everyone will love it.” That’s okay. Historicals set during World War II aren’t everyone’s favorite read. But I can find someone who will become as passionate as I am about the stories. So pray, prepare, and do your homework. But the most important element is to trust God with your future. He has even better plans for you than you do!