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
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!