The Big Dance, the national ACFW Conference of 2018, has taken its place in history. Much as I would’ve loved it, I didn’t get to attend for a variety of reasons. However the writing world is filled with conferences and retreats—Christian, secular, romance writers, children’s writers, state and regional gatherings. All have something good to offer—an opportunity to learn the craft, gather information on trends, and rub shoulders with agents, editors, and writers. Each event has its own distinct flavor.
Annually, I budget a specific amount to attend a conference somewhere. So this year, for the first time, I went to the Breathe Conference at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Beautiful campus dressed in glorious fall colors! The conference lasted two days and was chock full of breakout sessions. There were so many good ones to choose from that I’ll order several recorded sessions that I missed.
Here’s what I got out of my weekend.
1. Spiritual refreshment. From Marvin Williams’s Sunday sermon to Jocelyn Green’s keynote speeches, The Word infused every speaker’s message. What a blessing!
2. Specific feedback on my work. Knowing my WIP isn’t ready for prime time, I made a couple of one-on-one appointments with editors and asked, “If these first pages of a novel crossed your desk, what would be your reasons for rejecting it?” Now, that’s not as negative as it sounds since other editors have responded to queries telling me the writing is excellent, but the story “doesn’t grab me.” The conference was an opportunity to find out exactly where I was losing the reader. Now I know what to work on.
3. Friendships nurtured. Karen, my online critique buddy also attended the conference. Members of our group, The Scriblerians, hail from as far west as Arizona, as far north as Minnesota, as far south as Texas and Louisiana, and beyond the border to Canada. We cherish every chance we get to meet up in person. Karen's purpose in attending the conference was a little different from mine. She was seeking information to build up and finesse her platform, so she concentrated on offerings about newsletters, podcasts, and the like.
Conferences can cost as little as ninety-nine dollars for a weekend (check out Taylor University’s workshop in August) or run into a couple thousand dollars depending on length, venue, and faculty. ACFW even has a free at-home conference that offers sessions concurrently with the live conference.
No matter which meeting you decide would work best for you, go for it. You won’t be sorry. By joining with others in this industry, you become a better writer. As Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron.”
Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft. She still visits the school and teaches creative writing workshops.
Where Linda can be found on the web: