my first ACFW conference experience

Last year, I was a brand new ACFW member. I was still new at even considering myself a pre-published author, and if it weren’t for finaling in a contest and the encouragement of a few persistent friends, I probably would have talked myself out of going.

But when I looked at the ACFW, I saw this big fellowship of people with an unreal camaraderie. And even if it took years, I wanted to be part of it.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t take years.

I dressed like I was going to a job interview and wheeled my suitcase to the terminal at the Tulsa airport, kissed my husband goodbye, and embarked on what I felt was a grand adventure. Because it kind of was.

And I had my first (in-person) experience with the ACFW earlier than planned. My connecting flight at the DFW airport was soon after landing, so I hurried to my gate. There I found a group of women talking and laughing. I didn’t know a soul. But I recognized one, author Betsy St. Amant.

So I inched closer. Casually. Gathered up the nerve to ask if they were going to ACFW. They immediately opened their circle to me and asked me what I write. Can I tell you that it was weird answering that question for the first of many times that week as someone who normally shrugged it off? But it got much easier, I promise. Then we exchanged business cards and went around introducing ourselves.

ACFWBusinessCards

 

I don’t remember everyone who was at the airport gate that day. But I remember that, when I said I was flying standby, Lena Nelson Dooley offered to pray for me with the whole group. Wow. Me, a person she had just met minutes before.

When we touched down in Dallas and dispersed to get our luggage, I realized that in my frenzy to get all of my materials ready, I had no way to get to the hotel from the airport. Rookie mistake. But sweet multi-published author Elizabeth Ludwig had pity on me and took me into their taxi. Another WOW moment of unhesitating kindness.

I think that’s the whole point of this post. The members of ACFW are your people. Individuals with whom you can unleash your full writerly self without fear of condemnation or strange looks like the “Muggles” give us when we talk about our characters as if they’re living, breathing people. The Muggles just don’t understand πŸ™‚

At conference, I encourage you to introduce yourself to people — even that multi-published author you’ve been fangirling.Β Respect people’s personal space. Be courteous, professional, friendly, and especially gracious. But take that step closer and introduce yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and exchange business cards. Learn somebody’s story. Not everyone will become your new best friend, but you never know what connections you’ll form.

Or who will become your fabulous new critique group. πŸ™‚

Conference CPs

Laurie Kara

PS: If you’re new to the ACFW Conference, Mary Vee put up a fabulous, informative post today on The Writer’s Alley. It will help you prepare with peace and confidence!

10 Comments

  1. Meghan Gorecki September 17, 2014

    What fun! So glad you had that awesome experience. I’m still praying for that experience and saving my money for the next two years to be able to go to the ACFW conference. Have fun this weekend!

    Reply
    • Laurie September 17, 2014

      The opportunity is so invaluable. So hope doors open for you to get to come even sooner than that!

      Reply
  2. Victoria Mills September 17, 2014

    What an incredible opportunity & experience for you! I’m so happy for your adventure!! Congrats!!!

    Reply
  3. Gail Helgeson September 17, 2014

    Hello. Thank you for this post. Maybe we will bump into each other at ACFW. Blessings to you on every moment while you are there.

    Reply
    • Laurie September 22, 2014

      You too! If you see me, say hi πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Anne September 19, 2014

    I’m ever grateful you stepped out and into our lives L!

    Reply
  5. Jessica Everingham September 19, 2014

    I’m ridiculously jealous of everyone going to the conference this week! Hopefully I’ll be going to one next year. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Laurie September 22, 2014

      I hope so, too! Such a great investment in writing life and life in general πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Elizabeth Ludwig September 23, 2014

    Laurie, meeting you was such a blessing to me! It was so much fun cheering you on at that conference, and it reminded me what an honor and a privilege it is to say that I write inspirational fiction. Blessings on you, sweet friend!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.