My friend and fellow ACFW board member, Cara Putman, talks about American Christian Fiction Writers on her blog this morning. What she wrote prompted me to say a few words about ACFW myself.
I joined ACFW back when it was still called ACRW (the "R" stands for romance). It was a fledgling group of about 100 members at the time, but now, five years later has grown to well over 1000 members writing in a multitude of genres! In spite of its growth, the organization has managed to retain a good sense of community among Christian writers who write fiction.
If I hadn't joined ACFW I don't think my writing would be at the level it is today. ACFW is a cross-section of new, intermediate, and advanced writers. You'll find authors who are well known to people who read Christian fiction and some who are just getting started.
I remember the first national conference in Kansas City like it was yesterday. The lobby of that hotel is probably still reeling from the gaggle of people looking at name tags and hugging like long-lost friends. People were seeing people they'd only known on line for the first time. It was like a high school reunion gone wild LOL. And even today, it's much the same.
Last September after a long day of board meetings, I stepped into our Dallas hotel lobby the night before the official start of our conference. Hugs, laughs, and non-stop conversation was going on in every nook and cranny. I found it hard to work my way through the crowd to the hotel restaurant where we were to resume our meeting over supper.
But, that's not the whole of it. Through the on-line writing workshops, conference workshops, critique groups, and mentoring offered by seasoned writers who unselfishly give of their time, I have grown in my craft. I've learned about revisions and editing from Deb Raney, the ins and outs of writing suspense from Colleen Coble, how to write mystery (yes there is a difference between suspense and mystery) from Karen Weisner, the Snowflake Method from Randy Ingermanson, just to name a few. I'm not trying to name drop by only naming the known writers who have helped me. Critique partners like Lisa Tuttle, Rich Bullock, and Fay Lamb to name several have made a huge difference in my growth as a writer.
I've been honored to be a part of the ACFW board and to have a small role in helping this organization become what it is today. I often receive emails from people who have happened onto the ACFW site asking why they should join. I write back and tell them pretty much what I've just written here. It's fun to see their names show up a few days later on the list of new members and to send them a welcome letter which is one of the fun things I get to do as board secretary.
If you are a Christian who writes and don't belong to ACFW what are you waiting for? If you've not been published in fiction, by joining now you still have time to submit 25 pages to the Genesis writing contest, and if you have a fiction work published by a royalty paying publisher in the past year, you have time to submit your work to the Book of the Year contest. Registration for our National Conference scheduled for the third weekend in September in Dallas opens June 1st. Our keynote speaker is James Scott Bell, and we have a dynamite schedule of continuing sessions and workshops lined up. You can learn more about this one-of-a-kind conference (we only focus on fiction) by heading over to the ACFW website and clicking on the link to the conference page.
I guess you can tell I'm pretty much sold on ACFW. Where else can you get connected to other writers who are striving to write for Him and to be encouraged and taught in the process?