Autumn is my favorite season because September and October bring several special dates to mind—my wedding anniversary, the birthdays of my two boys and the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference.
I’ve been attending ACFW since 2005, which is the first year I met Susie May and knew she was someone I wanted to help mentor me through this crazy writing journey.
That initial conference was everything I dreamed and even more. I formed friendships, realized I had a ton of things to learn about the writing industry and leaned into the knowledge God called me to be a writer.
Attending conferences are not required to get your books published, but they allow you to build relationships with other writers and industry professionals, which is one of the essentials for a writer’s career. Investing in a conference means investing in educating yourself as to what industry professionals are looking for as they read hundreds of proposals that come across their desks or fill their inboxes.
However, the months and weeks leading up to the conference can be challenging especially if you’re a parent, working inside or outside the home. When I made plans to attend my first conference, I needed to take time off from my day job and find care for our two boys, who were ages 14 and 11 at that time because my husband worked second shift at the time. We needed someone who could be available for our boys after school and help with their extra-curricular activities.
One more juggling act for writers wearing many hats.
For us, our primary responsibility was to find care for the boys. They stayed with friends who had kids close in ages to our boys, and they lived within walking distance to both boys’ schools. I felt confident leaving them with responsible adults because I knew they’d receive great care.
In order to help our friends take on the additional responsibilities of our boys’ activities, I used a weekly calendar and wrote out all of their after school activities and homework projects that needed to be completed while I was gone. I made sure my boys understood their responsibilities in seeing these things to completion. I wrote out checks for lunches, school pictures and made sure they had clean clothes for school and practices.
I reviewed everything with Hubby, the boys and the family who would be caring for them for those days. I made a few casseroles ahead of time that could be frozen, and I gave them to my friend’s family to help with evening meals. Even if they decided not to serve them for dinner, she had an extra meal on hand for some other time when cooking time was tight. Plus by adding two extra boys to their family of 5, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for her.
Once my boys’ needs were taken care of, I focused on preparing for the writers conference. I studied the ACFW conference information on the website, ordered business cards, prepared my one-sheet for pitching and communicated with my upcoming roommate. I packed my suitcase and printed boarding passes for one of the greatest adventures of my life.
Having peace of mind about things on the home front allowed me to keep my focus where it needed to be while sitting in workshops, meeting with editors, chatting with agents and getting to know other writers. I called my boys each night and talked about their days, making sure they were ready for the next day.
Once I returned home from conference and after passing out hugs, I made notes about what worked that year and what needed to be improved for the next year’s conference. Yes, I was already planning ahead because I needed that time to budget the money and have the days marked off my work schedule.
If you desire to attend a writer’s conference, but wonder how you can leave your family, don’t despair. With a bit of planning and asking family or friends to help out, you can work everything out in order to attend your favorite conference.
A Recipe for Romance Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.
Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.