Monday, June 20, 2011

Thank You, ACFW

One of the best things I ever did in my writing life was to join ACFW in February, 2000. DiAnn Mills urged me to join a group of writers who had just organized into the ACRW, American Christian Romance Writers. She then put together two conferences held here in Houston in 2000 and 2001. I helped her with both and met Lena Nelson Dooley and Lynn Coleman and Pamela Griffin whose writing I had come to admire and editor Becky Germany who gave me my first fiction writing contract with the novella Sugar and Grits.

DiAnn also formed a critique group we named Seared Hearts. Kathleen Y’Barbo and Myra Johnson were the other two members. We met for lunch every week and discussed our chapters. We managed to critique one chapter from each of us per week. When Myra had to drop out, Janice Thompson joined our group. Janice, Kathleen, and I have remained together all these years. We don’t critique as much, but we’re still good friends. Later Marcia Gruver, Marion Merritt, and Linda Kozar became members for a season.

After those first two local conferences here, ACRW organized a national conference in Kansas City, and I attended with DiAnn, Kathleen, and Janice. There I met a wonderful lady and admired her beautiful smile and fun hats. Her name was Tamela Hancock Murray, and because of that meeting, she later became my agent in 2004 and still is to this day.

Also at the Kansas City Conference I was a Genesis Finalist, one of the first group of contest entries. Since that time I have attended every conference thanks to friends, family, and scholarships. Last year my first full royalty check paid for the trip to Indianapolis. In 2003 I served on the conference committee for our Houston conference, and that was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

Had it not been for all the wonderful authors, agents, and editors I met through ACFW, I would not have learned about the craft of writing and how to make my stories come alive on the page. Each conference helped me to build more confidence in my writing even though I wanted to give up so many times.

Then in 2009 I signed my first contract for a full length novel. A month later it was followed by one for three more to complete the series. All the years of conference classes, Tamela’s perseverance, great critiques by my friends, I was on my way to having books on bookstore shelves.

Although at times heartbreaking, disappointing and frustrating, it’s been a wonderful journey, and I would never have accomplished any of it without the Lord’s grace and mercy. He led me to DiAnn then to ACFW then to Tamela and then to publication. I praise Him because of His great love and faithfulness. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, ACFW for all you’ve meant to me in the past eleven years.


Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Yes, Martha, we go waaaaaay back, and I'm thrilled to be a fellow author with you for Charisma House.

Happy birthday and happy writing.

Jodie Wolfe said...

What a wonderful story Martha. I'm fairly new to ACFW. I'm just entering my second year to be a member. I made it to the conference last year and was so blessed by it. I'd love to go this year, but find it not possible. This next year will be spent editing/fine tuning my historical novel.

It was exciting to hear of the friendships you've formed through ACFW as well as critique partners too. It encourages me.

Hope you have a wonderful 75th birthday. What an inspiration that you continue to write. :)

Jodie Wolfe

Miralee Ferrell said...

What a joy it was to meet you at an ACFW conference a few years ago. And how awesome that you've been a member from the beginning stages! God has certainly had His hand on your life and career. Happy birthday, sweet Martha!!!

Martha W. Rogers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha W. Rogers said...

I'm posting this for Gail. She couldn't get it to work.

Your posts are SO uplifting. Thank you for sharing your life. I've finished a series of 3 hist. insp. novels (women's fiction w/romance) and now this wonderful story is bounding onto the's a WWII story of women's friendship and empowerment through experiencing God's grace together. I want to meet you. Your post today was just the shot i the arm I needed (it's my sixty-first birthday and I was thinking, "Ok, even w/your late start, things are REALLY flowing w/this new novel.")

Debbie Lynne Costello said...

Martha, how encouraging! I love it every time you reveal a little more of your journey. Few are blessed with instant success and it is so nice to hear stories like yours who preserve. I'm sorry I missed you last year at conference. I shall seek you out this year! Hope you are having a wonderful Birthday Month! God Bless You and Your Writing!

Carla Gade said...

It is so wonderful how the Lord connects us with the people we need. The Christian writing community, ACFW among them, has been such a blessing to me as well!

Lynnette Bonner said...

Hi Martha, First, Happy Birthday! Second, I'm also glad that I joined ACFW. It has been a wealth of learning and connecting for me and I've only been a member for just under a year.

I love my critique group too! They are such a blessing to me - encouraging when I need it and pointing out problem area after problem area when I need that too. :) I hope we are all still together 10 or more years from now.

Ann Lee Miller said...

I have been blessed by three ACFW conferences. My favorite part was meeting other writers and making friends. I'm also grateful for the huge selection of editors and agents at each conference who make themselves available to us. Of course, pitching is agony for most of us introverts. Still, I haven't found another conference that offers such a wealth of industry representatives and writing teachers. I credit ACFW with growing me up into my writing shoes. :)


Rachel Christine said...

Happy Birthday, Martha.
I thought I'd already commented but it didn't show up. I'd love to win the birthday surprise package. My birthday is next month and I'm not far behind you.

Martha W. Rogers said...

Congratulations. The three winners of today's blog are Andrea, Gail, and Connie Brown. A final name will be drawn from the three for each blog.