Today is my assigned day, as part of a blog tour, to write about the ACFW conference. This year it’s in North Dallas, September 21-24.
If you are serious about writing novels for the CBA market, then this is definitely the conference for you because (1) this is where the CBA houses send their editors, (2) this is where interested agents come to meet authors, (3) this is where you will find like-minded writers who will encourage you in countless ways, and (4) if you have never heard Liz Curtis Higgs speak, this is an opportunity to correct that terrible lack in your life.
My first ACFW conference (photo at left; date wrong on camera) was in September 2003 when I was the Keynote Speaker. I had a wonderful time, so much so that I returned in 2004 and 2005. Sadly, this year, I had a scheduling conflict and won’t make it.
I’ve been conferencing for many years (twenty years to be exact). Although I never attended a novelists conference as an unpublished writer (I began back in the days before email and the Internet and it took me a while to find other writers like me and then save up the money to go; my fifth novel was about to be released when I attended my first RWA national conference), I have never come away from one where I haven’t learned something about my craft or found a new friend or made a good contact with an editor and/or agent.
I wrote 30 books for the general romance market, and so my conference of choice through those years were conferences focused on the general romance market. But after answering God’s call on my heart to write faith-based stories that glorify Him, I’ve found I need more from a conference than only to be with other writers who study their craft and who understand the voices we novelists hear in our heads. I need the fellowship of writers who are also seeking to hear God in our hearts. You’ll find them in abundance at the ACFW conference.
Attending a writers conference always involves some sacrifice. There is the cost of transportation, which for the majority means airfare. Then there is the hotel, but with a couple of good friends staying with you, that can be pared down some. There’s the conference fee, too, plus a few meals along the way. There is also the sacrifice of time, of being away from your family and/or outside employment. But as I discovered when I wanted to go to my first RWA conference back in 1986, we somehow find a way to do what we most want to do. From my first conference, I looked at the time and expense as an investment in my career. I was serious about growing as a writer.
If you are seriously pursuing a career as a writer, particularly writing novels for the Christian market or writing novels with a Christian worldview geared for the ABA, then you shouldn’t miss ACFW.