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