Conference Tips with Kaye Dacus

by | Sep 7, 2011 | Christian authors, inspirational fiction | 10 comments

Having just read her newest novel, Ransome’s Quest, all I have to say is LISTEN TO WHAT THIS AUTHOR SAYS!

Kaye Dacus has not only written an intriguing historical series in The Ransom Trilogy, she’s mostly known for her wonderful contemporary novels like The Brides of Bonneterre and The Matchmakers series. A few things I personally appreciate from Kaye is her thorough critiques, attention to detail, and wealth of realistic encouragement.

With that in mind, here is what Kaye has to say about conference:

Three necessities for a writers’ conference . . .

1. A plan. It’s important to go into a writers’ conference with a plan in place—not just for what sessions you want to attend and what editors/agents you’re going to request appointments with, but a plan for what you’re going to do if you don’t get the appointments you want—how will you make sure that you get to talk to that publishing professional? Also, make a plan for which editors’/agents’ tables you want to sit at during hosted meals. Even more importantly, plan ahead to meet up with online friends, new and old, to make sure that you find each other—because sometimes it’s hard to find one person out of seven hundred!
2. A purpose. Sure, you have a purpose in attending the conference, but what’s your purpose for why you’re writing? And if your answer is “to get published,” you may need a new purpose. There should be something more to the reason you write than the pursuit of a contract with the “right” agent or the “right” publishing house. What’s your purpose as a writer? Clarify that before you get to the conference. Write it down as a mission statement. (Google “writing a personal mission statement” if you need help.) Carry that mission statement in your pocket/bag with you throughout the conference. Pull it out every couple of hours and read it. Don’t let the craziness and chaos of conference make you lose focus on your purpose as a writer.
3. A perspective. Not only do you need to have a perspective on who you are and what makes you and your writing unique, you need to plan ahead for having a positive, pragmatic perspective on what’s going to happen when the conference ends. What will you do if you don’t hear what you want to hear? What will you do if all of the editors and agents you talk to say, “Thanks, but no thanks”? How will you handle the emotional surge of conference, followed by the inherent crash afterward once you’re back home again and not surrounded by seven hundred other writers? Most importantly, though, is determining your overarching perspective of yourself and your writing and your life and making the decision before you leave for conference that no matter what happens, you aren’t going to let it affect your belief in the calling God has put on your heart to be a writer.
Don’t you love how she just gets to the heart of the matter? What IS your purpose for writing? Some answers will stand the test of time, heartache, and rejection much better than others. It’s important to know your reason. 🙂 AMEN, Kaye! And thanks for sharing these with us.
To learn more about Kaye’s books, visit her blog at
You will find a WHOLE LOT more than just book information and a bio.  Kaye’s Writing Series Index is a MUST READ for aspiring authors- slathered with useful information.
Friday – we have a visit from the cowboy queen, Mary Connealy.
Saturday – it’s the sweet and eloquent historical author, Laura Frantz


  1. Casey

    The crash is what I’m dreading, so I’m PRAYING about it now. I come down hard from those kind of things anyway, so I’m trying not to build a lot of hype into attending and praying for the drive home. 😉

  2. Liz Johnson

    Great tips from Kaye! I always appreciate her insights and suggestions. She’s a great mentor to many of us in the Nashville area.

  3. Kaye Dacus

    Casey–it’s good you’re thinking about that and praying about it/planning for it now. I know so many writers who crash so hard when they get home from writing conferences that it may be six months or a year before they are able to do any writing—and a very few who’ve completely walked away from writing after not hearing what they’d expected (hoped) to hear at a conference.

    Do you have a personal mission statement/a mission statement for your writing? Maybe doing that in the next couple of weeks (and carrying it with you as suggested) can help keep you centered and focused so that the “crash” is more of a gentle fall (like falling into a feather bed?) instead of a head-on collision with a brick wall.

  4. Julie Lessman

    Kaye!!! Look at that — you even have alliteration in your conference necessities!! Now THAT’S a writer for you, and a very succinct one too! 🙂

    And, oh baby, do I know about the “crash”!! Only mine usually happens during the conference for some reason rather than after … 😐

    Cannot wait to see you in St. Loo, my friend!!


    • Kaye Dacus

      At this point, I’m hoping to be there Friday afternoon/evening and most of the day Saturday, but that all depends on finances. If it works out, look for me in the lobby—or whatever common area people are hanging out in because that’s where I’ll be!

  5. Pepper

    The crash was a surprise for me last year (my first ACFW conference). I didn’t know what was wrong with me for a good week after the conference. I hope I’m better prepared (and prayed-up) for it this year.

    It’s just such an amazing opportunity to be around people who ‘get you’ that I think it hits hard when you leave them – plus the deep spiritual thread throughout the conference. 🙂

  6. Regina

    How well I know that crash! Even though I started editing feverishly afterward, I couldn’t set myself down to write anything original for at least 6 months. It was a “if I can just get THIS done” mentality that paralyzed me. I couldn’t even finish a fanfiction piece, and I used to be able to crank out one of those 25-30,000 word stories in a couple of weeks!

    So perspective is what I hope to seriously keep this year. In fact, instead of signing up to see a publisher (since I have my manuscript with a publisher anyway, but didn’t when I signed up!), I signed up for agents and mentors. I figure a writer can’t have too many mentors! 😉

    Thanks for this – I needed it today!

  7. Carol Moncado

    Thanks for this Kaye! I think I’ve got all three of those in place but time will tell…

    I do have some plans for a Sharpie though. Don’t I Pepper ;)?

    Ransome series is still /sigh/ in my TBR list/pile. Looking forward to Love Remains as well :).

    And now back to reading poli sci so I can edit when I get home…

    • pepperbasham

      I think I need to have the hotel security do some kind of ‘check’ on Carol before she is allowed to stay there. I’m really concerned about the sharpie….

  8. Carol Moncado

    Er… I’ve read Love Remains. Looking forward to Turnabout.

    This is what happens when I try to switch gears from Federalism/civil liberties to writing/reading…


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