Monday, September 9, 2013

So you don't get to go to the conference...

By Niki Turner

EVERYBODY is headed off to the ACFW conference this week.

OK, not everybody, but for those of us who didn't get to go for one reason or another, it can feel that way while our friends take smiling group photos at the hotel, chit-chat on FB and email about who they saw and who they met, and generally have all kinds of fun without us.

So what if you are one of the ones left at home this year? Here's a tongue-in-cheek, sort-of serious list of the top ten ways to make it a positive and productive week anyway.

Clock number 10
Review the conference schedule. What workshops would you attend if you were there? Set aside time to read books on craft, review workshop and conference notes, or seek out online learning resources on those particular topics. (Many of this year's conference speakers have lessons, outlines, classes, and more available online.)

number 9
Research agents and publishers and make lists of those that might be a good fit for your writing.

Numero 8
Work on your query letters, one-sheet presentations, and book pitches for the manuscripts you have in progress (or just the ones still trapped in your head).

Block Number 7
Design your business cards, logo, and look up those pesky tax laws you'll need to know and understand when you start getting advances and royalty checks. Yes, writing is a business. Treat it as such from the beginning and save yourself some headaches.

Pewter Number 6
"Sell" your book to someone (friend, family member, complete stranger) in less than ten minutes. Note the places you stumble and mumble over your premise, your characters, or your plot and plan to work on those areas.

number 5
Spend quality time in worship and prayer with your Heavenly Father. Thank Him for all the good things in your life, and seek His will and His grace for your writing career/calling, and how you can best honor Him with your particular gifts.

number 4
Clean and organize your writing area/home office. That includes sorting through all your old notes, story starts, unfinished manuscripts, duplicate copies, and other general mess that has collected in your computer's hard drive. Get it cleaned up and organized, and then save everything to a flash drive, external hard drive, or online storage service.

number 3
Send at least one encouraging email, card, letter, voice mail, or other message to one other writer you know (whether or not he or she is at the conference). Find and display a motivational quote or scripture verse near all your "writing spots" to encourage you to keep going.

The Prisoner number 2
For Friday night's "genre dinner," dress up in your writing genre of choice, take a "selfie" and send it to your writing friends. Don't have a real costume? Photoshop your head onto a picture of the costume of your choice.

number 1
And last, but not least, on Sunday night for the annual awards gala, get dinner ready in advance (take-out is always good), dress in your very finest (and it's OK if there are runs in your stockings or you choose to forego shoes, because no one can see you), light candles on the table beside your computer, and log on to watch the awards gala live so you can cyber-celebrate with your friends and ACFW finalists!

Blessings to everyone who, like me, will be at home during the conference this year. May it be a time of productivity, joy, encouragement, and motivation! And for all of you who WILL be there? Seize this opportunity, don't let fear or self-consciousness slow you down, expect good things, and most of all, enjoy yourselves!

Niki Turner is a writer, former pastor's wife, mother of four, and grandmother of two and a half. She has thus far been unsuccessful at coming up with catchy taglines for her writing, her purpose in life, or what she hopes to achieve in the future. Suggestions are welcome.


  1. Nikster, I wish I could bring you with me. xoxoxo

  2. You know, I'm not as sad as I thought I would be. Reasons 1) I didn't see many classes I wanted to take this year. 2) It's earlier this year than it has been in the past, and my kids and I are still figuring out the new school/activity schedule. I can't even imagine leaving right now.

    It also takes the sting off that I got to see Gina this summer and I will get to see some writing friends this week at the beach.

    I will still miss the fun friend time for sure, though.

  3. Niki, your list is great, but one thing I would add is a Conference-at-Home that some of them are taking part in. I can't remember who's doing it, but it's an online thing where they'll meet on Facebook (I think) and discuss after virtual workshops, etc. Sounds like it will be fun to get together that way.

    Dina, I'm going to miss you this year. I enjoy rooming with you because you make me laugh and feel good. :)

    Niki, we'll meet one of these days.

    Suzie, enjoy your train trip with Narelle. See you both in Indy.

  4. Aw, Suzie, I wish I was going with you, too! I'd love to ride the train!

  5. Dina, it's good that you can recognize that you are in one of those seasons where staying home this year is probably a good thing. That's balance!

  6. Anita! If you remember who is doing it, please add it to this post! I hadn't heard of anything like that. Sounds fund!

    And yes, one of these days we'll meet up!

  7. *fun* (First trip to grocery store since surgery today... I'm a bit wiped out.)

  8. Niki! Great post.

    I hope you're lying down and resting up after your Big Trip to the store. Don't push yourself!

    Usually I'm in my yoga pants eating take-out fish tacos during the live stream blog of the galas. There's a big part of me that will miss wearing yoga pants this year. But don't get me wrong: I am very, very grateful for the chance to go this year.

    1. LOL! You could always wear yoga pants under your dress! I'm glad for you, too!

  9. Frankly, your list is incredible and sounds like a lot more work than just going to conference!

    And, seeing as I am wearing a dressy pants suit to the gala I don't have to face panty hose this time around, so it's really looking like an easy 4-5 days! ha ha.

    After going once, I planned on going right back. instead it's been a 5 yr wait. I plan on enjoying every minute of it and yet... I think I'll miss the fun of the live blog Gala. You can work on your computer and keep up with the event at the same time (and eat fish tacos instead of something you need to juggle a sharp knife and 'the right fork' to eat.

  10. I think that when I get to meet DeAnna, I will be the only Inkie to have met all the others. So that's my goal - after this conference, DeAnna - look out!

    Barb and I might be the only ones who can prove Niki is not a figment of our imaginations.

    With 8 out of 12 of us going, I think we are in for some silly stuff, I mean, serious pursuit of our dream writing career.

  11. Hahaha! I love the idea of being a figment of everyone's imagination!: )

    You still have to post pictures, Deb, of you in your pants suit! IMHO, pants suits that are comfortable and dressy are awesome things. Got me through any number of mandatory pastor's wife meetings!

  12. There's a conference somewhere? Really? Guess I've been too busy practicing number 11.

    Number 11: Buy plane tickets to some exotic locale for the same week.

  13. For which we wish you well, CJ! So exciting!

  14. nice timing C.J.! Now conference sounds even more relaxing than having a new boy in the house. yikes!

    3 days with my grandson and i'm wiped out...

  15. hey everybody
    i'm not even close to being able to go to a conference (not one manuscript complete) - but I hope all who are going have lots of fun along with the hope that your time will be uber productive. the wish is the same for the stay at home peeps too.

    i keep telling myself someday...
    i'm still a writer2b, but i get great ideas and information from the Inkwell!!!!

  16. @debh
    You ARE a writer because you write, not because of any milestone you have reached! Keep at it!


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