Monday, August 19, 2013

My Best ACFW Conference Tip

Every September hundreds of Christian fiction writers gather together to bond, learn, pitch projects, and worship together at ACFW's annual conference.

R-L: Cynthia Herron, Jessica Patch, Me, Ruth Douthitt, Lindsay Harrel, Michelle Masarro, Gabrielle Meyer, Keli Gwyn, and April Gardner

Attending a conference is a big decision. Many writers are introverts, and the thought of conversing with so many people stresses them out. Others wonder if their manuscripts are ready for agents or editors. Some face travel concerns or family issues that make going to conference daunting. For everyone, the cost is a factor. Going to a conference isn't cheap!

R-L: Julie Jarnigin, Susan Crawford, and guest

But if you've made the decision to go, I have a tip for you. It's not just any tip. It's my best tip.

Before I share it with you, I'm going to be very honest. This tip does not come naturally to me, and I have to remind myself of it often. I've been to various conferences, and sometimes I've left this tip at home and later wished I hadn't.

R-L: Melissa Jaegers, Gina Conroy, and me

Here it is, my best ACFW Conference tip.

Pray for God's will to be done, not yours.


See, I had the wrong idea when I started writing. I thought if I worked hard enough, studied enough, built my platform, continued to write daily, got an agent, went to a conference and pitched my story, and you-fill-in-the-blank--I would, of course, be published!

R-L: Amy Leigh Simpson, Katie Ganshert, Gabrielle Meyer, Cynthia Herron, and Sarah Forgrave

My mind-set would naturally focus on "doing things right" at conference. Practicing my pitch. Being engaging. Having a fabulous one-sheet. Not making a fool of myself.

Me and Jessica Patch--prepare yourself, lady! (You, too, Cindy H.!!)

But God doesn't need my help. I'm not saying working hard and preparing and persevering aren't important--they are!! It's just, too often I've put my fate in MY hands. Then I would be miserable when my perfect pitch fell flat, an editor barely glanced at the one-sheet, or I talked too much and made a fool of myself.

Two of my favorite ladies! Lindsay Harrel (top) and Melissa Tagg (bottom)!

We all have different writing journeys, and when I first started writing I was under the delusion whoever was published first was best. It's not true.

God has it worked out. My job is to show up, do the work, and leave it in His hands.

Still wish I could convince this lady, Wendy P. Miller, to come!

This year at ACFW, I plan on looking for God-opportunities that in the past I may have overlooked by being too focused on my own agenda. I will still talk too much. I will still be nervous pitching. And editors will barely glance at my one-sheet (I'm convinced they could care less about these papers!). But I'll pray each day for the good Lord to show me where to go, what to do, who to speak with, and when to rest.

God, Your will be done. Not mine.

Are you going to ACFW this year? Is there anything I can pray about on your behalf?

Have a wonderful day!

47 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Jill. Very wise advice.

    I'm going to ACFW this year. It will be my second time. (I went last year to Dallas because I live in the area.) I almost didn't register this year, in part because my first manuscript (which my dream agent requested at last year's conference) still isn't quite finished. But also in large part because I felt so out of place and alone last year. So . . . prayers? Maybe that I won't feel so isolated this year. That I'll be able to find a couple of people to hang out with and feel like I have a right to be there. (We're being honest here, right?) :-)

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    1. Laura, I'm sorry you felt isolated last year. Not fun at all. Just FYI, there's almost always a group of people hanging around the MBT booth chatting it up. I'll be there off and on as will others. We'd LOVE to see you!! Praying you find some kindred spirits at the conference this year. :)

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    2. So sorry, Laura. My first year was rough too, but it has gotten better every year. I'll be looking for you this year.

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    3. Thank you both. I look forward to visiting with you at the conference. :-)

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    4. Laura,
      I love your honesty. I'm new this year (and have the nerves to go with that :) and would love to meet you! Please look for me and I'll look for you.

      (says girl who can't get her pic to upload;) Guess I'll be finding you!

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    5. *waving* Hi Jill! I didn't know you were going too! Yay! Another new friend to meet!

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    6. Definitely, Jill. Those of us who don't know anybody except via Facebook names just have to spend a lot of time walking around looking at name tags!

      I look forward to meeting you there. :-)

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    7. I am, Jill! I'm excited/nervous/not sure what I'm doing. :) But I'll be there. And your reminder was EXACTLY what I needed today. Perfect timing! Excited to meet all of you!

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    8. Yay!!! Excited to meet you too!!

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    9. Jill, I don't know you, but your witness is powerful: God, Your will be done, not mine. My motto is: God didn't make us to be successful. He made us to be Holy.
      I hope to meet you and say hello at the ACFW's conf in Indianapolis--my first one!
      http://ParchmanPreacher.com

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    10. Wonderful, Michael!! Thank you for your kind words. Your motto has become dear to me. It only took me decades to realize it! Ha! I will be looking for you, Michael--can't wait! Last year was my first time, too!

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  2. Laura, I'm so glad you said this. I'm actually addressing this topic on Wednesday. A conference can be such a lonely place to be! I'm happy you're going this year--we'll have to get together! You DO have a right to be there, and I can't wait to meet you!!

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    1. Thanks, Jill. I look forward to reading your Wednesday post, and to perhaps meeting you next month. :-)

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    2. Oh, we'll be meeting, Laura! :)

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  3. Best tip ever, Jill! I love it. And I soooo cannot wait to see you. :) I think one of my main prayer requests for this year's conference is that I'd really be present in each moment of it...not harried and hurried, running from one thing to another without being fully present in each minute. :) And how can I prayer for you? :)

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    1. Love these words, Melissa, and I am copying them! "Be present in each moment of it." So wise!!

      Prayer for me? This sounds dumb, but that I'll do the work God set out for me. I get in the way sometimes with my own agenda. :)

      Thanks!!

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  4. I so agree. Last year I put less pressure on myself to land and agent and I had the most fun I've ever had. Appointments and workshops are nice, but for me it's really about the fellowship.

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    1. The less stress we put on ourselves, the more we enjoy it! Crazy, huh? Can't wait to see you!!

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  5. What a beautiful mindset for ACFW, Jill -- and it so reveals your heart.
    What's that verse about a man (Insert "a writer") plans his/her steps ... but the Lord directs his/her steps. (Proverbs 16:9.

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    1. I really love that verse. I can be very driven, so I'm glad God leads me where I need to be instead of where I want to be. :) Can't wait to see you!

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  6. Thanks for sharing your one tip, Jill! I think God is preparing me for all that you mentioned. I'm praying more earnestly that my heart will be in line with His regarding ACFW. I'd covet your prayers for that and that I'll be in tune and ready for His timing—whatever that may be—and the divine appointments He has planned for me.

    And, it looks like you had a ton of fun last year, based on your pictures. :) I wanna hang with you this year. :)

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    1. I'll keep you in my prayers, Jeanne. You have such a special spirit--I know you will bless many people!

      I did have a blast hanging out with writers--old friends and new, but last year was tough on me in different ways. :)

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  7. Beautiful and true, Jill. What a gift your words are. :)

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    1. Thanks, Amanda. It means a lot to me.

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  8. Such truth, friend. Several years ago I started praying, "God, use me. Help me to be a blessing." Best conference prayer I've ever prayed because God did use me to bless others, but I feel I got the bigger blessings in return by having them become sweet friends. I'm looking forward to seeing you!!

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    1. Exactly! The blessings of friendship--priceless! I can't wait to see you!!

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  9. So very wise! And a great reminder to stay focused on what's truly important! Can't wait to see you!

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    1. It's hard to stay focused sometimes! Ha! Looking forward to seeing you again!

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  10. Looking forward to hanging out with you at ACFW, Jill! Loved your tips.

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    1. Aack! I will TRY not to overly hug you this time, but let's face it, I won't succeed. Giddy to see you again!!

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  11. Excellent tips, lady! And I'm prepared...are you? ;) God's will. Period. Love.

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    1. You are awesome. I am prepared. I don't think you are. There is going to be hugging and yelling and maybe a little dancing. :) Can't wait!!! Only a few more weeks!!

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  12. What a great way to think about publishing. And you are spot on.

    I hope you have a wonderful time. :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Kathi--it means a lot to me. :)

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  13. Thanks for these great words, Jill! Such wise advise here. Be present in the moment and stop worrying so much.

    Lisa J., I love your prayer and am going to try to do the same. Because this year I am going solo and am a bit terrified.

    We should have a corner designated for "people feeling alone/over whelmed" to hang out together! LOL.

    I hope I can help someone feel less alone!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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    1. Susan, I was thinking the same thing!! Wouldn't it be nice to have a sure-place for everyone who isn't part of a group? I'm arriving Thursday afternoon and I plan on being in the lobby/lounge indefinitely. I hope anyone who is in the lonely/overwhelmed category comes down--I'd love to meet everyone! Can't wait to meet you, Susan!

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  14. I'm sorta prepared:) I have a few more weeks! And yes! His will and only His will. Amen, Jill:)

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    1. I'm not prepared at all. Seriously. Not at all! I'm going to survive back-to-school this week and then get going! Oh, and you're getting a big hug from me!

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  15. I'm so glad I stopped by today.

    My problem is not talking to much when I'm nervous. I have trouble talking around the huge lump in my throat.

    I'm definitely going to remind myself of your tip.

    "God has it worked out. My job is to show up, do the work, and leave it in His hands."

    So I'll be showing up for my second ACFW conference. If any of you see me please stop me. And if you need to get any words out and need somebody to listen, I'm your girl!

    Thanks again Jill for sharing today.

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    1. Jackie, I'll be looking for you!! Everyone gets so excited for conference, but it's just not perfect for everyone!! Trust me, I had some really bad moments last year. :( So glad you're going again!!

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  16. Love seeing these pictures from last year! And I love your tip, Jill. It's the most important thing we should remember when we're at a conference, or pursuing anything for that matter. My prayer is that each of us keep this tip at the center of our hearts and minds as we attend ACFW.

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    1. That's a good prayer, Gabrielle. It's important to see beyond myself and my wants sometimes. I love the idea of praying for everyone who attends. :)

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  17. Fab advice, Jill, in all of our endeavors! Best of luck to you in September; may you be blessed abundantly. :D

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! I already have been blessed in that God gave me the green light to go. :) Thanks so much!!

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  18. I'd like to be there right about now. Sounds like a wonderful experience. Thanks for the tip Jill.

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    1. Would love to see you there, Ellie! It's been so long since we've crossed bloggy-paths. Hope everything is going well for you. I've thought of you often. *hugs*

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  19. Great tip Jill. Can't wait to see what God has planned!

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