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.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Birthday #2 God's Provision

I never cease to be amazed at how God blesses our lives by providing for our needs before we even know we need them. The most dramatic one happened with our now 17 year old grandson who has Cystic Fibrosis. Before he had a liver transplant at age 10, he had a problem with his platelets and every time he had surgery, he needed them. Friends always came through in the days prior to make sure plenty were available. After one particular surgery, several units of platelets were left over and stored at the blood bank to be discarded in a few days. Several days later Robert Mikell began bleeding and went to the emergency room. He needed platelets, buy there was no time to notify friends for donations. The nurse checked with the blood bank and his platelets were still there from the previous surgery, due to be disposed of at midnight that night. Around 11 PM the platelets were rushed to TCH in Houston and saved his life. God knew RM would need those extra platelets and provided them. What we thought was extra and just going to waste, was actually God taking care of RM before anyone knew it would be needed.

Then this year I was the recipient of God's abundant blessings. I received a very nice royalty check in March from my first series. We put it in my business account and used it to pay some bills and expenses for a few writing related trips and speaking engagements. At the time I wondered what we would do with the money left and how nice it was to have a little extra in the bank after years of struggling to make ends meet on our retirement and SS income. Then in May my 88 year old aunt in Washington D.C. was diagnosed with lung cancer among other health problems. She and her mentally challenged son (in his sixties) had made a mess of their bills and finances and she needed an evaluation of needs and some other things, but no money was available. My sister and I were able to step in and help take care of their needs and help financially. Then a few weeks later, my husband's sister was diagnosed with an inoperable, fast growing brain tumor with only weeks to live. Rex and I were able to fly to Roswell over the Memorial Day weekend and stay from Friday until Tuesday to be with her and his other siblings for a wonderful visit. We were able to help my aunt and pay  cash for our trip all because God provided the funds back in March. We would never have been able to do any of it without going into debt, but God knew we'd need it and took care of us.

Our God is never too late, never too early, but always right on time. He takes care of us like no other, and our Lord and Savior promised to never leave us or forsake us. Even when times are so bad we don't know how we can exist much longer, God will step up and provide when we least expect it and sometimes in the most miraculous ways. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow. 

Answer this question and leave a comment to be included in the drawing from this post.

How has God provided for your needs in a special way?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

BIrthday Celebration

In honor of my 75th birthday, I invite you to my "party". Today, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday I will be posting about some aspect of writing. There will be 2 winners for each post and those will go into the final drawing for a gift box filled with goodies. So stay tuned and keep coming back for more chances to get your name in the final drawing. Just answer one of the questions at the end of this post to be entered for tonight and tomorrow.

Have You Got What It Takes to be a Writer?

Prayer, patience and perseverence are three main traits and habits a writer must have. Along with those go the stamina for hard work, thick skin for critiques and rejections, and an "I can do." attitude. However, the most important is the desire and call from God that this is what He wants you to do. When the Lord calls, He will equip. Along with that He expects you to be the best you can be. To make sure you are doing all you can to be that, you need to attend conferences whenever possible, meet other writers through a local writing group, join a national group like ACFW, and be willing to learn, change and grow as you study the craft of writing.
Learning to write stories that editors want takes hard work in studying, reading, writing, rewriting, and research. Never stop learning. Here I am seventy-five years of age, and I'm still learning how to be a better writer. It's taken great patience and perseverence laced with plenty of prayer to get where I am today. God has bless me beyond measure in my Golden Years. I hope it doesn't take some of you that long to have your first book published.

If you want to be a writer...write. Whether it's for one hour a day or day at a time, put words to paper. When you are faithful to the task He gives you, He will bring success, and it may not always be in the way you may think. Be open, be ready, and listen for God's voice to instruct.

So, my question is two fold for different journeys.
One: What obstacles have you overcome to persevere in your writing whether you are published or not.

Two: What is keeping you from that writing journey? Can you overcome it?