Monday, September 7, 2015

It's almost time for ACFW Conference 2015 in Dallas, Texas!

Source: Wikimedia Commons free use image
I'm very excited to get to be in Dallas next week for the ACFW National Writer's Conference!

When you get there, if you see me, please say hello. I'll be helping at the registration table and greeting during meal times. It might sound crazy, but one of my favorite things to do at conference is to volunteer. I get to meet so many new people. 

Here's my picture so you'll know what I look like:

Oops! That's not me!
(Free use image of Julia Roberts)
What? Okay, okay, fine. My real picture's at the bottom of this post in case you don't know who I am.

If it's your first time going to this conference or any other, I highly recommend the same resource I used the first time I attended a writer's conference: The Writer's Conference Survival Guide.  I still use it to help me brush up on the basics. I can't remember everything, you know?

I'm a rather nervous conference attender myself. Mingling with a lot of people is exhausting for me, but there are a few things I've learned through the years that might be helpful if you're as shy and anxious as I am:
  1. Volunteer. If you volunteer the focus is off of yourself and on helping others. Nothing puts me more at ease than helping folks.
  2. Pace yourself. The world will not come to an end if you need to take a break from a session and take a nap in your room. I struggle with a chronic illness, and I know when I'm in need of a 20-minute snooze. I am learning to pay better attention to my body. I'm only hurting myself if I don't.
  3. Keep water and a protein snack with you. It'll keep you awake during long sessions. It'll also keep your tummy from rumbling and your blood sugar stable. Who can concentrate when they're hungry and sleepy?
  4. Bring something to take notes with, whether it's your phone, tablet, laptop or an old-fashioned pen and notebook. You're going to want to take notes. Trust me. 
  5. Consider buying the recordings of the sessions. They are worth every single penny. I promise. I learn so much from them, and often they are timeless. You can listen to them three years later and still learn a lot because it's impossible to learn everything at once.
  6. Wear comfy shoes and clothes. You'll do a lot of walking and standing and waiting. If your stamina isn't good, you may consider bringing a walker to sit on if you need it because you will wait in lines sometimes for a long time.
  7. Dress in layers if you can. Air conditioning can be freezing but then, if you walk outside to lunch somewhere, it can be stifling hot in Dallas in September!
There are also a lot of websites or blogs that you can google that will help you know what to expect at a writer's conference and how to get the most out of one.

Fellow Hoosier, ACFW Board Member and best-selling author, Cara Putnam, has a post here: Preparing for ACFW & Other Writers Conferences.

Cynthia Ruchti's is here: Preparing For Your First Conference

And Susan May Warren has one here: Four Things to Do to Prepare for the ACFW Conference.

There are many other things you'll want to consider, and that's why I highly recommend The Writer's Conference Survival Guide. The author has no idea I'm recommending this, and I get no benefit from doing so other than the joy of knowing you'll be well-prepared.

If you're not going to conference, please leave me a message and I'll be glad to answer any questions you may have about the experience. 

Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots and countless short stories, biographies and other books for middle grades. She currently serves as Vice-President of ACFW-Indiana Chapter and resides in North Manchester with her pastor-husband, twin adult sons with autism, and her mother-in-law with Alzheimer's. Her three dogs and two cats are attentive editors.

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