My favorite things about conferences are what happens in the “in-between spaces.” In-between sessions, in-between keynotes, in-between hallways or rooms, and in-between days. That’s where the real magic is.

EFA members had a strong presence at ACES. Nonfiction editor Kelly Young and I drove down from Los Angeles to San Diego on Wednesday and kicked off the day with a pre-conference lunch with EFA San Diego chapter members.


  • learned about our colleague’s specialties (i.e. future referrals I can give)
  • connected with familiar faces (i.e. safety nets to talk to) before the event
San Diego Chapter members. Photo credit: Stonehouse waitstaff

During my time working at the EFA booth, I had a chance to meet three fellow cookbook editors, an LAist reporter, an EFA instructor, two news editors, plus brainstorm with SD chapter coordinator Marcella Lopez about our personal writing projects. 


  • The cookbook editors (hello Mary Knight!) agreed we should all meet online and talk about our skills, projects, and opportunities (plus invite a few other cookbook editors we know to join in).
  • The people I met seemed excited about the EFA’s community and member benefits and signed up to get more information.
  • Existing EFA members signed up to learn more about their local chapters and volunteer opportunities.
  • It felt really good to represent EFA and feel part of this freelancing community.

Two conference sessions were particularly memorable for me. Griffin Zimmerman’s “Focusing on Document Accessibility: A Style Guide Workshop,” and “Promoting Plain Language and Digital Accessibility” by Jill Russell, Juliana Figuereido, and Bill Warhop from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Both exceeded my expectations on so many levels, and I can’t wait to implement what I learned on my own website, with client projects, and in a new book I’m publishing.

While hosting the networking table at the Ask the Experts session, I met professionals from other industries who are considering transitioning into an editing career. The sad bit was learning the hard reality that many have recently been laid off after working for big “important” companies for many years and are now looking for other ways to supplement their income. I also moderated the panel “Freelancing Success: Where Networking and Volunteering Meet” with EFA editors Kellie Hultgren, Marcella Lopez and Pam Hines, and each of them had such great, valuable insight, to share with attendees based on their personal volunteering experiences.

Linda Ruggeri, Kellie Hultgren, Marcella Lopez,  and Pam Hines. Photo credit Madeleine Vasaly

The rest is a whirlwind of sessions, of notetaking, of walking down long corridors to meet other editors for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and late-night caps. And while they all seemed like gastronomic encounters, they were really about checking in with each other, sharing valuable information, and laughing (so much of it—thank you Kelly Young, Erica Williams and Amy Carbo!).

Kelly Young, Erica Williams, Linda Ruggeri, Amy Carbo. Photo Credit: Marcella Lopez

When I look back on this conference, the word that comes up is “gratitude.” I wouldn’t have had any of these experiences, had I not started volunteering for EFA in 2019.

Office Closed Monday April 8.

The EFA Offices will be closed Monday, April 8, 2024. We will reopen on Tuesday, April 9. Job postings, discussion list subscriptions, and other customer service requests may not be responded to until then.

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