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ACFW in St. Louis/Was It Worth It?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I experienced the wonder of another American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this past week. I'm exhausted, broke, behind on my writing schedule, and very happy. No I haven't completely gone bonkers, although as anyone that's ever attended an ACFW Conference can tell you it may seem that way at moments.

We all need to take time out now and then and invest in ourselves. That investment can take many different forms: a new website, a new computer, craft books, spending time with crit partners, and sometimes attending a conference among many other things.


Don't go to conference expecting to sign with an agent or be offered a contract. These things can happen, but you're letting yourself in for huge disillusionment and disappointment if that's why you plan to attend.

Do plan to meet with editors and agents and pitch your stories. You never know what will come of a meeting, but go to grow. Ask the experts questions that will help you get better at your craft and gain confidence among those who have been helping writers for a long time.


Don't be shy. Or don't let your shyness prevent you from taking risks. Say hello. Introduce yourself. Make friends and make the most of it.

Do take advantage of the many opportunities that present themselves. Schedule appointments that are important to you, attend workshops you think will help you grow, do something totally unplanned. By that, I mean you may have planned one thing, but a little voice whispers to you that you need to go do that something you didn't consider earlier. That may be one of your divine appointments.


I learned a long time ago that even if I attend conference it's worth getting the MP3 because of what I've discussed above. You just can't do everything and be alert to learning all the time. Sometimes you have to go take a nap, go outside and walk and get some fresh air, do something unexpected and fun with friends, talk to someone over coffee instead of going to a workshop. Then you can listen to the MP3 another time and pace your learning so you can have more time to think about a subject and review.

  1. I attended as a published author and got to wear my Author ribbon.
  2. I met with my agent (Rachelle Gardner) for the first time since my book published.
  3. I saw my book selling in the bookstore.
  4. Went out to dinner with my agent and fellow agency mates.
  5. Video-taped interview for Christian Retailing and also completed video-tape for sales department at Realms/Charisma.
  6. My agent received the Agent of the Year Award and I was there to witness it. :)
  7. I took breaks and took naps.
  8. God had grown me over many years.
  9. I'd presevered and I'd presevered some more.
  10. I listened and watched for God moments.

Was it worth it? Yep.

Did you go? Have you gone in the past? What made it worth it for you?


  1. Definitely worth it. I went mostly for the networking but was pleasantly surprised to sit in a few workshops where I learned something new about writing. it inspired me to come home and work. And of course I deepened existing relationships and made some new ones. My only regret was that with such a large attendance there were some people (like you!) who I never ran across when we could actually chat. But that's okay. There are more conferences to come!

  2. So worth it! Though like Anne said above, with so many folks, I didn't get the chance to sit and visit with everyone I wanted to.

    And YAY for Rachelle. That was a great moment, and she is so deserving of the award.

  3. Good Morning Anne!
    Isn't it amazing how much there is to learn about writing? I've studied for so long but everytime I enter a workshop I discover something new. Where did the time go? It seemed that every minute was used up (including my nap time). I was determined to come back home healthy. It seems this time of year my allergies kick in and when I don't take care to rest I end up with bronchitis, but I'm doing well today. Yeah! So wish I could have spent time with you but ACFW has grown and I can tell that is always going to be an issue with a conference this big. Keep in touch and we'll visit on-line.

  4. Hi Erica,
    You're another one I didn't get to spend time with, but it was fun seeing Rachelle get the Agent of the Year Award. And she is so deserving as you say. And did I hear that you also have contributed to a novella, Log Cabin Christmas? that's doing super well? Congrats kiddo! I'm not sure I've got all the details right so if you get a chance tell me more here on the blog.

  5. Really nice post, Jillian! Well done.

  6. Hey Diane!
    Thanks so much! Nice seeing you here.

  7. It was great to see you at the conference, Jill. I wish we could have slipped away for a nice chat, just the two of us. Maybe we can arrange that in Dallas.

    It was wonderful to hear Rachelle's name called and listen to her deliver her Agent of the Year acceptance speech in person. I'm thrilled for her.

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  9. I'm glad you had such a productive time at conference. I also appreciate the tips! I'll do my best to put them to use during RWA this summer. And I won't feel guilty for taking a nap if I need it. :)

  10. Hi Keli,
    We'll I had to switch to Foxfire to post. Weird. I loved seeing you at conference and wish we could have spent some time together talking over coffee. I spent enough money at Starbucks! Seeing Rachelle get the Agent of the Year Award was so fun and she so deserves it.

    Not sure about next year. I may have a child in college and then all plans may go out the window. I'll have to wait and see.

  11. Hi Susie!
    What do you know, it's a miracle. I can post again. :) Where's RWA next year? I went to my first RWA in 2000. This has been a roller coaster of a twelve years. When I look back I wonder how I arrived today in one piece. Use those tips kiddo. Especially take that nap!