At the recent American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Dallas TX, much wisdom was shared in the 31 workshops, six continuing education sessions, and two keynote addresses from Michael Hyatt, author of the book Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World.
If you have never attended this conference, put it on your bucket list. The time and money are well spent. As the editor of the ACFW Journal, I coordinate coverage of the conference, assigning sessions to various volunteer reporters. Some of the highlights I’m sharing come from my experience, but others come from members of my corps of reporters.
Hyatt’s first keynote address
After referencing Ecclesiastes 7:10 (Do not ask, “Where have all the good times gone?” Wisdom knows better than to ask such a thing. The Voice translation) he said:
“We often get stuck in a version of how things were and we pine for the old days. But they aren’t coming back. In the future you will look back on this day and think of it as the good ol’ days. You are living in the good ol’ days. God is doing a new work today and you have the privilege of being a part of it.”
“One of the reasons your role (as a writer) is so important is we live in chaotic times. People desperately need stories to sort out the meaning of what they’re experiencing. (They need) a way of thinking about the world to help them make sense of it.
“What do you choose to do with the gift—the future—you’ve been given? Will you lean into it and believe that God is with you?”
Karen Ball on voice
From Lee Carver’s notes: Find your voice by writing a lot. Do not try to sound like someone else, or compare your voice to another writer. Maintain your voice despite critiques and edits. Don’t be caught up in others’ opinions of “You should write it this way.” You are unique.
Allen Arnold/Jim Rubart on living free
From Lacy William’s notes: Arnold urged attendees to “Hold on loosely.” Rubart phrased it this way, “We have to die to all of our dreams, all of our passions, so we can be reborn.”
If writers are to write free, Arnold said they must be willing to give up control. “If God has called you to be an author, He is going to take care of that (selling your book).”
Mary Sue Seymour on getting published
From Donna Schlachter’s notes: “Digital books and the e-book market have opened the publishing market wide for many authors who wouldn’t ordinarily be published.” Seymour also noted most new publications are available as e-books.
Kathleen Samuelson on retailers
From Lacy William’s notes: Many authors find retailers and retail employees standoffish, preoccupied, and indifferent. The reality is, Samuelson noted, many are overworked and underpaid. They want to align themselves with authors and the author’s message. “The retailers are your tribe,” she said. “Once a relationship is developed, these people can be your biggest evangelist.”
Chip MacGregor on proposals
From Linda Matchett’s notes: “Too many authors spend three or four years writing and only three or four minutes on their proposal,” said MacGregor. “Many of the proposals I get look the same. You need to stand out.
“Don’t be in a hurry. This is art. If you are a writer, you are an artist and it takes something to ask people to pay for art.”
ACFW’s ezine Afictionado will have stories on these sessions and more. Publication date is scheduled for October 15. You do not need to be a member of ACFW to read the ezine—but becoming a member will help you on your publishing journey in many ways.
To read the ezine when published go the ACFW Journal page, then click on ezine in the right navigation. If you go there now, you’ll see last year’s conference ezine.
Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor/writer at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where each Tuesday he takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.