Saturday, September 3, 2011

Can't go to ACFW St. Louis?--Plan a Writer's Weekend!

Can't afford to go to a big writer's conference? 

Mourning the fact that your schedule just can't include the national ACFW conference in St. Louis this year?

So, make a smaller budget, and change the schedule and the company to something that fits! That's what my crit partner, Jaime Wright, and I just did. I booked tickets on Amtrak to her house for a Friday morning, and we'll have Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. Now, instead of crying in our coffee while everyone else is feverishly preparing one-sheets, we are so psyched and pumped for our little get away. And we've agreed to split the cost so it will work for us.

So, now I'm wondering:  How does one prep for a writers weekend with your CP?

Pray--always pray.

Shop for coffee to take along. Find out what Jaime's favorite flavor is. :o)

Be flexible.
I'm praying my train connections go without delays. I'm hoping to see a spontaneous song and dance in Chicago's Union Station during my layover!  I'll be sure to video it and post it to FB if it happens--unless of coarse--I'm dancing too!

What do I want the most out of the weekend?
The best thing about getting together is that magic that happens when we brainstorm together and feed off each other's ideas--pushing each of our stories to a much deeper level. That creative process grounds my story idea and fleshes out the unknowns of my characters. It forces me to answer the best question about my hero and heroine--"why?"  When you have to explain what motivates your character before you truly know all the fine details, its surprising what you find out about your story.

Creative minds think differently.
As in any relationship, we all bring our strengths and weaknesses. My CP balances me. Where I am too structured and so much of a plotter that I've shut down my creative process--she is a pantser, just bubbling with ideas that push me when I'm stuck. When she's pantsing her plot's pants off, I'm asking her why and what motivates her characters and their choices.

Instead of One-Pages and Pitches----
I'll be preparing plot outlines, and character sheets to discuss with my CP. I'll have a list of questions about my story. And I'll also be prepared to listen to my CP's questions, hopes, and dreams.

Still bummed you're not going to ACFW in St.Louis?

Well, how can you use your time while you're thinking--but Lord, it will be a whole-nother year until I'll have a chance to meet agents!?

If you're agent shopping, I suggest you visit the ACFW website, click on the agents page and study who will be there. Write down what type of works they are seeking, what genre? what age group--YA, vs. adult fiction? Know what they are NOT accepting. After the conference is over the agent page will go down, so study it while you can!

If you went to a previous ACFW conference, SAVE your booklet, it highlights the agents and editors who were at the conference. While I'm praying about an agent this year, I've referred back to those agent profiles while I research on them. Plus, I wrote "notes to self" while at conference, and those are good to review.

While I'm waiting for the Lord's leading to the right agent, I'm visiting the websites of agents. I'm also interviewing authors. Most authors are happy to say a few words of wisdom about how they landed their agents and what their working relationship is like. So, when I read a book I love, I check the acknowledgements for their agent's name.

So, until Dallas 2012, I'll have a lot of time to interview authors and gather wisdom....Sigh....

What will you be doing at home this year if you're missing ACFW?

Share your writer's weekend goals and stories.


  1. What a fun idea, Anne! I'm sorry I won't get to see you at ACFW this year, but from what I know of Jaime, you'll have a fabulous time with her! :)

  2. I can't wait! I'll bet you are getting pretty pumped for St. Louis!