Monday, September 8, 2008

When Christian Writers Turn Evil

A week and a half from now, members of the American Christian Fiction Writers organization (ACFW) will converge on Minneapolis for their annual conference. As the conference draws nigh, I'm beginning to sense more than a bit of nervousness from some authors as they prepare to attend the conference:
"How many books should I bring for the big Mall of America booksigning?"
"What if nobody even talks to me?"
"Have I scheduled an appointment with the right editor?"
"Who is teaching the course that would most benefit my career at this point?"
"Am I kidding myself by thinking I'm ready for something like this."
"Who? . . . What? . . . When? . . . Where? . . . Why? . . . How. . ."

Worry seems to be the theme for a few ACFW members at this point in pre-conference preparations.

I have one simple word of advice for those of you who are tempted to fret. Don't! Determine to enjoy every minute of your conference experience and leave all those "What ifs" and other anxieties about your writing career in the Lord's hands.

The 37th Psalm gives some great advice for life in general, but whenever I'm tempted to fret, this scripture always comes to mind. "Do not fret--it leads only to evil."

When we fret, we aren't trusting. When we fret, we are in essence saying that the Lord isn't capable of working the situation out for the good of those who love Him. When we fret enough, we start to scheme and plot and manipulate the situation and think only of OUR OWN needs and not the needs of others. Our focus turns inward.

So, for those of you who are in the frantic stage of conference preparation, breathe deep. Trust that your life--including your writing career--is in HIS hands. Let's have a GREAT time together in Minneapolis. I can't wait to see you there!


Mary Connealy said...

I'll give a few pieces of advice from a homebody who was FREAKED OUT by my first ACFW conference.

Fake it. Act calm. Amazing how that can translate into being calm.

Ask anyone you get near: So, what are you writing?
Guaranteed one hour conversation. You've got a LOT in common with these people.

Look for shy people. They will LOVE IT if you come and be shy next to them. Insert: So, what are you writing question into the shyness.

Editors are rooting for you. Yes the stakes are high, hoping an editor will buy your book, but an editor wants to find a book just as badly as you want them to find you, so they're not there to boot you out, they're there, hoping to discover you.
Editors are really used to nervous authors. They're very understanding and mostly, just pitch your book then answer their questions.
Editors will tell you what they're looking for. If you don't have it in your book then you're not going to sell to that editor, but LISTEN you'll get great info on what they ARE looking for. Think of it as researching the market.

ENJOY THE WORSHIP. Whatever else you get out of an ACFW conference, there is a wonderful all-surrounding spirit of a group of believers. The worship, the singing, the Sunday mornign speakers, the keynote speakers, all such wonderful Christian people, the worship is worth the trip, learning, selling, connecting, are all just icing on the cake.

CHickey said...

Wow! I needed this. Thanks! I've been having heart palpitations!

Janet Spaeth said...

I love conferences. The only thing I ever worry about is making it to my flight on time. (This is a chronic problem, which could be solved if I just started a bit earlier-->never gonna happen.)

Of course, everything else in my life is fodder for the Worry Mill, so it's not like I'm stress-free other times. Maybe that's WHY I like conferences so much: somebody else cooks and cleans. Hey, what's not to like?

Debby Mayne said...

My first ACFW conference was a bit overwhelming, but now when I go, I have the best time! Don't worry about anything. Just take it all in and enjoy the fellowship. The workshops are wonderful and totally stress-free.

I'm with Janet about the cooking and cleaning. You don't have to prepare the meals or clean up afterward. You just show up, and the food's there. When the last song is sung and the final award is given out, you can get up and leave without having to worry about doing the dishes.

The only thing I'm concerned about is what to wear. I live in Florida, and the conference is in Minnesota. Is it cold there in September? Do I need a heavy coat, or will a lightweight jacket be enough? I don't plan to wear sandals, but do I need boots?

No matter what, I plan to have a wonderful time! It's fun to see old friends and meet new ones!

Vickie McDonough said...

I love going to ACFW. It's a time to see old friends and make new ones. Don't be afraid to talk to strangers, because you'll find most of them are kindred spirits.

Also, when you pitch to an editor, remember that they are at the conference because they want to acquire great stories. Try to relax and don't make your pitch one long run-on sentence like my first one was. Poor Jim Peterson finally reached over and laid his hand on my arm and said, "Just send it to me."

Mary Connealy said...

take one pair of the most comfortable black shoes you own. All occasion. Leave the brown pants at home to avoid the extra shoes. Comfortable.
It is cold in Minneapolis in September, unless it isn't. Layers. Bring blazers or sweaters or the like to put on over your dress or shirt then take it off if the air conditioning isn't set on frost. And yes, even if it's cold they'll probably have the air conditioning on. Unless they don't.

Debby Mayne said...

Thanks for the travel wardrobe tips, Mary! I'll bring layers. As for avoiding the extra shoes, we need to talk. See me about this at the conference. *g*