Wednesday 30 October 2013

A Typical Day at the 2013 ACFW Conference

With famous Aussie, Rel Mollet
You may have seen and read the stories of some of us who’ve attended the ACFW conference recently in Indianapolis. The 2013 Downunder contingent was made up of; Narelle Atkins, Megan Sayer, Kara Issac, Rel Mollet …. and me, Dotti.

You may be wondering what a typical day looks like for a regular attendee. One from across the Pacific, with the broad Aussie/NZ accent and mixed up body clock.

Here’s my take on a day in the life of a conference delegate. I’m a girly girl. So forgive me guys, if my take’s a little too pink. Ian Acheson is picking up where I leave off on Friday, and I’m sure he’ll add plenty of ‘he said’ to balance my ‘she said.’

6:00 am Wake Up.

Yes, the days start early. They go long, and a decent start is essential. Our Southern body clocks work in our favor at this end of the day. And it’s a good thing. With formal interviews scheduled anywhere from 9 am each morning, it’s a blessing not to struggle too much to come alive.

Time alone to pray and stay grounded is essential. Early birds can turn the hours before breakfast into a powerhouse of time with God.

(And girls can fuss with their hair and makeup. There, I said it. I guess Ian and the guys sneak an extra half hour sleep here.)

8:00 am Breakfast and Worship (and one of many meals where each place setting holds a promotional fiction title to pack into the suitcase.) 

My favorite is the Saturday morning zone breakfast. This is where the ACFW Beyond the Borders delegates catch up, representing all countries outside the US. This year, we filled three tables, and the delegate who made the longest journey... came from Japan! 

9:00-12:00 Appointments and Continuing Education.

Megan Sayer on the Registration Desk
Depending on where you are in your writing, you could attend one of four streams. This year, delegates picked from;

1. Finish the Book - A Procrastinator’s Guide To Reaching The End
2. Mastering The Three Act Structure
3. Master Workout For The Middle Of Your Book
4. Live Free. Write Free.

As well as my agent appointments, I volunteered during the slots between meals. I spent some time on the registration desk welcoming newcomers and old timers alike. I also kept time at the appointment rooms, where I fished out my teacher voice to announce FIVE and TIME when each round of interviews ended.

I had a lot of fun with my fellow volunteers. I had occasion to lend my shoulder to those who needed somewhere to cry, and chatted with industry professionals when their schedule slowed.

Noon - Lunch

Kara Issac and Narelle Atkins
This is an hour and a half break to catch our breath and refresh. For some, it’s the chance to debrief with a friend about the education stream, or the editor/agent appointment they may have had.

Or pray for the one they are about to have after lunch.

Or sneak off for a nap... ‘Cause when the iced-tea is whisked away, it’s time to do it all again in the afternoon session.

1:30-4:00pm Afternoon Interviews and Workshops

After lunch is where my body clock told me lies about it being the middle of the night and how I should be asleep. I did my best to stay awake by moving around and talking with people. While the workshops beckoned, the value of networking could not be ignored, and I found conversation kept me more alert than a session of listening and note-taking.

Plus, I’d already determined to buy the conference recordings, as I have every year since 2009, and listen to each session in my own time zone when I’m better able to take it all in.


Susie Dietze in Regency Splendour 
Friday was our costume night, where many took inspiration from their favorite genre and dressed accordingly. My dress borrowed elements from the Olde Worlde in which I love to tinker. Others wore their little black dresses, and glammed up the way a contemporary writer should. Others still, splashed out in steam-punk, military uniform and Dr. Who coats.   

Saturday night was free for groups to gather around welcoming tables in and around Indianapolis. Some publishing houses held their own dinners, as did literary agencies. I walked the short distance to a nearby restaurant for Italian food with new and old friends. And a few God moments, which cheered my heart and confirmed my attendance at the conference.

Sunday night we unpacked our party frocks and bow ties for the gala awards dinner. What a night of celebration and thanksgiving. Authors and industry professionals were applauded for their achievements, and photos aplenty found their way to facebook as reminders of a stellar night with ‘our people.’

Because at heart, the ACFW conference is a gathering of like-minded souls. People who understand the solitary hours it takes to pen a story. The endless study of writing craft. The years one can carry the writing dream, and delight when that dreams becomes reality.

When you find those people, you hold on and savor the moment.

Narelle Atkins and Dorothy Adamek

12:00am Midnight Snack - This is optional. But I highly recommend it.

Gather with a kindred spirit from Downunder. Kick off your party heels and boil the kettle. Make a few cups of tea and unpack the day. Every tiny detail. Talk it over until you roar with laughter. And thank God for all His abundance.

Want to join us one year? Next year, the ACFW conference is in St Louis, Missouri. 

In your opinion, what makes a great writing conference?


Dorothy Adamek lives in Melbourne with her Beloved and their three gorgeous kids. 
She's the winner of the 2013 FHL ~ Touched By Love Competition. Enamoured by all things 19th century, she writes The Heartbeat of Yesteryear, Historical Romance - Aussie style. Come say G'day at her blog, Ink Dots. 


  1. Great wrap up Dots! I really hope I can go one year...

  2. Me too, Amanda. That would be so much fun!! :) xx

  3. Dotti, great post! The midnight snack and cuppa in the hotel room is essential, especially when you can't fall asleep until 2am and nothing is open past midnight. I was the bleary-eyed person at breakfast, having dragged myself out of bed for the 8am start. I did think about skipping the breakfasts, sleeping in and eating the Weetbix I'd brought from home in my room :)

    1. Not allowed to skip communal meals! Too much fun :)

      So glad you were there for the midnight-2am shift, though.

    2. It was fun & exhausting :) I'm looking forward to our next conference together!

    3. Lots of exciting events coming up in 2014. I'm looking forward to them, too! :)

  4. Wonderful insight into a Dotti-day at ACFW. But from my experience in 2012 it was pretty similar. FYI, no hair & makeup for me in the morning rather some exercise to keep me going through the day.

    Great seeing the Aussies well represented in the volunteering stakes too. I had a lot of fun with this last year as well.

    I'm looking forward to sharing some deeper insights from you in Friday's post.

    1. Looking forward to your post, Ian. Missed you there this year.

  5. I simply imagined myself there, Dottie. Didn't you feel a little breeze over your shoulder? Having experienced Writing For The Soul Conference in Colorado a couple of years back, I'm hankering big time after the ACFW's conference next year.
    It's wonderful not having to explain yourself...only writers really understand where we're all coming from!!!!

    1. Was that you, Rita? :)
      I hope you get to attend an ACFW conference very soon. You won't be disappointed.

  6. Sounds so cool. I would be with Ian with the exercise (me being one of the few females who doesn't own any make up and thinks doing your hair means letting it dry naturally) I like to start my day with exercise.
    when I was in the states it didn't take me to long to adjust but as I haven't been able to stay up late for over a year I would struggle at night. there were times I was in bed at 8.30. if there was a 4am session I would have made that!

    1. That's too funny, Jenny. Ian might have been in the gym at 4am.
      It's all Narelle's fault we were up so late. I blame her. (wink) :-)

    2. I would blame her too. I know shes a night owl. Im more an early bird. I tend to wake at 4 and try to go back to sleep but most mornings up around 5.30am. But I know for conferences etc Adrenalin comes into play.


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