Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ACFW Conference Woman on the Street-Live in Dallas

The American Christian Fiction Writers Conference is one of the most exciting events for a writer to attend. New and seasoned authors meet, network, share their joys and sorrows in a venue designed to be uplifting and encouraging. No matter what happens, every conferee goes home with something good.

Today I am playing woman on the street. Yes, I am here in Dallas. I have my microphone in hand and am ready to give you on the spot interviews with some ACFW VIPs:

I see Robin Miller, the Conference Director over there. Excuse, me, Robin, do you have a minute for our readers? She's nodding and coming over to us!!

1. Robin, you seem rather busy. What are you doing?
RM: I'm getting last minute details handled. We work year long toward the conference, planning and paying attention to details, but there are some things that just have to be done onsite.

2. As the conference director, what one help could you offer new attendees?
RM: One bit of advice I offer new and seasoned attendees alike...the conference is for YOU. Only you can determine how much rest you need, how much time you need to devote in the prayer room, how many sessions you can take in one day...set the pace that works for you.

3. What is the greatest take-away you hope conferees have?
RM: I hope conferees go away spiritually recharged as well as having learned something new for their careers or have made new connections. Conference is truly a highlight of many writers' year, and I love hearing stories after the fact of some of the stuff God was doing behind the scenes. So blessed!

Here is Brandilyn Collins, Prayer Room Coordinator! She will pray with and for you during the conference. What a godly leader. She is also the emcee during the general session and is ready to make you laugh. Let's ask her a few questions:

1. Brandilyn, you look busy. What are you doing?
BC: The day before conference starts is our day-long board meeting. We have numerous important issues for ACFW to discuss this year. When I'm done with the board meeting I'll be running around the hotel, familiarizing myself with the layout. Once conference starts I need to know where the meeting rooms, bathrooms, etc. are so I can help conferees who are lost. And sometime during the day I'll be sure to go to the prayer room and pray over it, asking God to be present in the room as people pray throughout the weekend. I've seen wonderful answers to prayer every year, and I expect no less this year.
2. As the Prayer Room coordinator and emcee, what one help could you offer new attendees?
BC: DO take time to go to the prayer room early in the conference. Ask God to lead you during the weekend. Trust Him to "accomplish what concerns you," as Psalm 138:8 promises. And if you feel a pull to go into the room at some point, GO. It may be God leading you there to pray with someone else.
3. What is the greatest take-away you hope conferees have?
BC: Two things I like to see the conference accomplish. First, that each person learns more about the craft of writing fiction. Second, that each person better understands God's leading regarding his/her writing.
Blessings, all, and look forward to seeing you in Dallas!
I remember my first time to this conference. I felt so lost in a sea of awesome writers. One of the most crucial first landing points is the ACFW registration desk. Manning this station is Dineen Miller. She has an awesome smile and plenty of helpful directions.

Dineen! Hi! Do you have a minute? (Dineen looks up) I have a few questions:
1. You seem rather busy, what are you doing? I see we'll get something to hold our things in at the conference! That's great!
DM: We’re getting everything ready and in place so that every attendee will be well informed and well equipped. Yes, these bags are stuffed with goodies for you! Every conference attendee will receive a tote, a conference booklet, a note book and pen, a badge and a packet that has all their specific conference information such as what sessions they signed up for, editor and agent appointments, etc. Plus their nameplate for their lanyard is tucked in that little inner pocket of the information folder. Pretty neat, huh?

And we are never too busy to help and no question is too silly. I love serving at the registration desk and our volunteers do too. We’re here to make your conference experience as great as possible.

2. As the Registration Desk Specialists, what one help could you offer new attendees?
DM: Take a deep breath and remember Who’s really at the center of it all. I love Psalm 32:7 that says “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

Take time to relax and pray. Entrust it all to Him. He’s got you. Enjoy the conference and whatever God has for you in this experience. It may not be exactly what you expected, but I’m pretty sure that if you let God guide you, it will be even better.

3. What is the greatest take-away you hope conferees have?
DM: Clarity as to why they are writing. Encouragement to keep writing. Inspiration for what they are writing. Jesus impacted lives through stories. We do too. That’s a pretty cool job if you ask me! So, perhaps the greatest take-away may be having a heart and passion for your future readers. God meets them on those pages in stunning ways. You just never know...
Can you hear the music? Rachel Hauck leads our worship time. She, the singers, and musicians in her group are preparing songs of praise. As conferees we gather several times during the conference to worship the God who loves us with songs and praise.  While the band is tuning, let's ask Rachel a few questions.

1. Rachel, you seem rather busy, what are you doing?
RH: I'm always surprised how busy the conference is for me. I'm up early to get worship going during breakfast and then I'm off to teach a class or perhaps meet with my agent or my editor, or publisher. I meet up with other authors. It's a great time to network. I do like to be available to meet new people so I try to hang around the lobby.

2. As the Conference Worship Director, Rachel, what one help could you offer new attendees?
RH: This may sound weird, but "Let the conference come to you." Meaning, whoever you sit by for lunch, or next to in a workshop, bloom! Talk to the people next to you, strike up conversations. If you see someone you want to meet or admire, go up and say "Hello" but don't over extend your expectations of what might happen. Just breathe. See what doors the Lord will open.

3. What is the greatest take-away you hope conferees have?
RH: That they have tools to keep on this publishing journey. That they feel assured this is what God has called them to do!

Casey Miller is the Appointment Coordinator. He is the incredibly organized guy who coordinates hundreds of appointments for conferees with agents, editors, and mentors. He has plan B-Z ready to go for any situation. 
Hey Casey!
1.  You seem rather busy in this office, what are you doing with all these papers?
CM: When I am in the conference office, I am usually working on cancellations of appointments and trying to see if I can get them filled before they expire. If I am not working on appointments, then I am working usually on last minute tweaks and changes to the Gala Awards slide show presentation. ACFW is always striving to make things better for the attendees and its members.

2. As the Appointment Coordinator, what one help could you offer new attendees?
CM: The ACFW membership is the most gracious group of people I have ever met. I have seen editors, agents, mentors, and various other attendees giving up of their time and their appointments to someone who they felt needed those more. ACFW attendees are the best! The one bit of advice I would offer to all attendees is to learn your environment. There are many times I can see the  stress and frustration on their face because they don’t know where they’re going, and this could be avoided just by taking the time to learn where everything is located…also download the ACFW App! The phone app is usually up to date and will help tremendously…I also hear it even has an alarm to set for appointment times and for CE’s & Workshops.  

Mary here: I totally didn't know about the app! What a great idea!!

3. What tip could you give conferees regarding appointments?
CM: I would say the biggest mistake I see the new attendees make is not doing their investigative work first, before making their choices for appointments. For the seasoned attendees, their biggest mistake, is not talking to their agents first. I will get 30-40 change requests a day from both sets of attendees and it is usually from these two examples.

4. Is there any other tips you can give?
CM: I recommend you meet with members from your zones, find crit partners, and meet up with some same genres attendees. This conference is a great event and you want to enjoy it to its fullest. Attendees must also take a step back, take a breath, relax, and go to the prayer room. You have to go at a pace that you are comfortable with.
Look! There is Casey Herringshaw, the Carol Awards Coordinator. Let's ask her a few questions:
1. What exactly are the Carol Awards?
CH: The Carol Awards are ACFW's award to acknowledge the best in published Christian fiction--both traditionally published and self-published. The Carol's are a premier Christian fiction award, coveted by any who receive or final in the award. The finalists are books that should not be missed.
2. How are the books nominated? And can Indie books be nominated? How are winners selected?
CH: Books are entered by the author. Right now any indie book that has earned the author a certain amount of revenue (further information is available on our Carol Awards page on can be entered in the award--we have several Indie books this year up for awards--exciting! Winners are judged in two rounds. The first round with 5 individual judges and scores and the second round with 3 individual judges and scores. The book with the highest score wins. smile emoticon 

3. What is the greatest take-away you hope conferees have? 
CH: I hope they walk onto the conference floor and are flooded with the reminder of why they love writing. That their energy for the craft is rejuvenated and that they connect with friends both old and new.

What questions do you have?
How can we help you?

I can't wait to read your comment(s)!

Photo Courtesy: - rated-permission for reuse and modifications.

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Anonymous said...

What a fun interview--wish I was there! Some year soon once I save up and wedding season settles down for all my friends. ;)
Hope everyone has an amazing time!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Let's plan to meet the year you come, Meghan!!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Love this! Wish I was there!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Me too, Ames.

Rachel Hauck said...

Great post Mary!!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks, Rachel.
Couldn't have done it without the ACFW gang's help.