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Testimonies of the Recently Published, by Deb Raney

Many times at the ACFW conference, we ask the members who have landed their first contract that year to stand and be recognized. I’m always amazed at how many people get to their feet at that point. I thought I would ask a few of those people to share their experiences in today’s blog post. The response overwhelmed me! Here are just a few testimonies from members who have been published since joining ACFW:

After spending years of writing “in the dark” with great stories and very little knowledge of the craft, I joined ACFW and attended my first conference in 2006. There I learned what I lacked. At the 2007 conference, Barbour presented me with a contract. Without the hands-on knowledge I gained from the conferences, I believe I would still be floundering, taking only baby steps toward my goal.
~ Cynthia Hickey, Fudge-Laced Felonies (2008 Barbour Heartsong/Mysteries) www.cynthiahickey.com

I’m convinced ACFW and winning the 2002 Noble Theme contest played a large role in the publication of my first Inspirational novel Pieces of Silver. Without that contest and this organization’s encouragement, I probably would have set that novel aside to start something else. Instead I believed in it enough to keep submitting. Pieces of Silver was accepted for publication shortly after that and became a Christy finalist. Thank you, ACFW!
~ Maureen Lang, Pieces of Silver (2006 Kregel Publications) www.maureenlang.com

I met and talked with my agent, Terry Burns, at the ACFW conference in Nashville. He wasn’t an agent then, but he remembered me more than a year later when he became one and I submitted Rhapsody in Red for his representation. Beyond that, I’ve learned many details about CBA and submissions from the ACFW loop and courses.
~ Donn Taylor, Rhapsody in Red (2008 Moody) www.donntaylor.com
Through my involvement in ACFW, I have gained critique partners, mentors, prayer warriors, an agent…and freedom. In the “prayer room” at the Denver conference, God responded to the pleas of a prayer warrior named Brandilyn to release me from the burden of shame that crippled me emotionally and physically. I’m convinced that were it not for ACFW, not only would I not be published, I would not be whole.
~ Kim Sawyer, My Heart Remembers (2008 Bethany House) www.KimVogelSawyer.com
I went to my first ACFW conference a few years ago with the goal of taking advantage of every opportunity. I went to the prayer room, I got a critique, I got prayed over, I bought CDs, I took detailed notes, I went to late night chats. I went in knowing NOTHING and came away with my head ready to explode with info and a direction confirmed by God. It was during that conference that I had a paid critique with a favorite author, and not only did I learn a lot, but that experience opened a door for me that eventually led to a contract on that piece of writing. [Jenny's novel, In Between, is a 2008 Christy finalist!]
~ Jenny B. Jones, The Big Picture (2008 NavPress) www.jennybjones.com

Through ACFW I formed relationships with editors who bought my first eight books. I also learned the craft of writing and formed friendships that have been invaluable as I walk this road.
~ Cara Putman, Sandhill Dreams (2008 Barbour/Heartsong Presents) www.caraputman.com

I’m convinced I would not be published if if weren’t for the ACFW conferences where I met my mentor and critique partners face-to-face. It opened up our relationships to really work well together. The workshops taught me how to hone my skills and practice my craft. I don’t believe I would have landed an agent, much less a fabulous editor, had I not attended the ACFW conferences I did.
~ Robin Caroll, The Bayou Series (2009 Steeple Hill) www.robincaroll.com

I’m convinced I would not be published if if weren’t for the 2003 ACFW conference where I met Jim Peterson and brainstormed with him about the needs for the Heartsong Presents book club line. He gave me personal pointers, advice and encouragement that piggybacked on his wife’s (Tracie Peterson) kick in the pants a few months earlier. I have since attended every ACFW conference and don’t plan to miss a single one if I can help it.
~Amber Miller: Promises, Promises; Quills & Promises; Deceptive Promises (February; July; December 2008 Barbour/Heartsong Presents) www.ambermiller.com

I believe the 2006 ACFW conference played a huge part in my publishing success. During the last meal of the conference, I met Jan Stob, acquisitions editor for Tyndale House, and she requested a proposal. At that same conference, I took Randy Ingermanson’s continuing session and used his model to write my book proposal. Tyndale liked the proposal, requested a full manuscript, and gave me a contract in early 2007.
~Megan DiMaria, Out of Her Hands (2008 Tyndale House) www.megandimaria.com

Networking at ACFW conferences is responsible for my books being sold. Attending convinced industry professionals I was serious about improving my craft and proved that I’m this for the long haul. Face-to-face meetings led to requests that resulted in the sale of my debut novels (five!) to Steeple Hill, my dream publisher. Wings of Refuge Series started releasing from Love Inspired in Jan of 2008 and will continue on through 2009. I also met my critique partners and author mentors face to face and I garnered an agent thanks to contacts I made at the conference. Thanks ACFW! It wouldn’t have happened without you.
~ Cheryl Wyatt, Ready-Made Family (2009 Steeple Hill Love Inspired) www.cherylwyatt.com

I’m convinced I would not be published if it weren’t for the 2004 and 2005 conference and the classes of Jim and Tracie Peterson, DiAnn Mills, Deb Raney and Gail Maymer Martin and Randy Ingermanson. Their instruction, direction and support for unpublished writers was awesome!
~ Brenda Lott a.k.a. Maggie Brendan, No Place for a Lady (2009 Revell) http://southernbellewriter.blogspot.com
I’m certain my novel would not currently be under contract if if weren’t for the 2007 ACFW conference where I met and signed with Tamela Hancock Murray of Hartline Literary. Despite my nerves and naivity, she took me under her beautiful blonde wing, helped me shape up my work-in-progress, and sold my novel a mere 7 months later. Big things happen at ACFW conferences, not only in regards to craft and networking connections, but to hearts. The conference is always the highlight of my year! One never knows what God might do there.
~ Betsy St. Amant, Return To Love (2009 Steeple Hill Love Inspired) www.betsystamant.com
The networking through ACFW helped me tremendously to sell my first book. At the 2003 conference, Rebecca Germany handed me my first contract. I think I was the first to ever receive a contract at a ACFW conference.
~ Rhonda Gibson, A Connecticut Christmas (2008 Barbour Books) www.rhondagibson.com

At DiAnn Mills’s urging, I joined ACFW in the very beginning. That was the beginning of our friendship and our novella. I know I wouldn’t have an agent had it not been for the Kansas City conference where I met Tamela Hancock Murray. Her bubbly, outgoing personality impressed me and the next year when I sought an agent, I was drawn to her, queried, sent a few sample chapters and then signed on with her.
~ Martha Rogers, Sugar and Grits (2007 Barbour Books) www.marthawrogers.com

The connections I’ve made at ACFW Conferences have been a wonderful help to me! I met my agent Joyce Hart there as well as the co-authors for several of my books. I’ve received sound advice and encouragement from paid critiques by Deb Raney and Linda Windsor, and been inspired by classes taught by Trisha Goyer, Randy Ingermanson and many others. Attending the ACFW Conference is always the highlight of the year for me! I come away blessed, refreshed, and inspired.
~ Carrie Turansky, A Big Apple Christmas (2007 Barbour) www.carrieturansky.com
How awesome God is in directing our paths! At my first ACFW conference I submitted a critique to Tracey Bateman. On Thursday morning before the conference began I took a carload of people out to eat. Susan Downs was in the backseat and mentioned that she was rooming with Tracey Bateman, and they had sat up until the wee hours reading critiques submitted to Tracey. I told her I had sent one to Tracey. My friend sitting next to Susan said this very guarded expression came over Susan’s face as she said, “What was it about?” When I told her, she breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Oh, that one is wonderful.” From that, a friendship began, and she bought my first book when she became editor of Heartsong Presents Mysteries. I’m convinced I would not be published if it weren’t for the 2005 ACFW conference where all this took place.
~ Sandra Robbins,
Pedigreed Blood Lines (2008 Barbour Books) www.sandrarobbins.net

If it wasn’t for the support I received from ACFW, I don’t think I would be published today. After a particularly hard rejection where my first book almost sold, I took my sorrow to the ACFW loop. I received prayer and encouragement. Also, other authors who were farther down the publishing road than me, shared their war stories about their books that almost sold. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone in my pain.
~Sharon Dunn, Ruby Taylor and Bargain Hunter mysteries (Kregel, and Multnomah Books) www.sharondunnbooks.com

I learned craft from classes Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Gail Gaymer Martin and Deborah Raney taught. I experienced the “can-do” from relationships formed face-to-face at our conferences.
~ Eileen Key, Dog Gone! (2008 Barbour Books) www.eileenkey.com

I believe that my tie to ACFW was a contributing factor in my work being considered for Barbour’s new Heartsong Presents: Mysteries bookclub. ACFW has been a fantastic resource for writers of all stages, and I’m grateful for the writing partners, contacts and friendships I’ve developed. Although the annual conference is a special opportunity, offshoot regional conferences tied to ACFW have been a wonderful experience to develop skills and network, as well.
~ Lisa Lickel, Where Your Treasure Is (2008 Barbour Books) http://lisalickel.com

I’m fully persuaded I would not be published if it weren’t for my attending the 2004 ACFW conference where I pitched my story to Jim Peterson. I learned valuable writing tips sitting in Traci Peterson’s Plotting class, Randy Ingermanson’s Male POV workshop, and Gail Gaymer Martin’s Characterization class. Plus, several published authors talked with me one-on-one at the conference which helped tremendously as well.
~Debra Ullrick, The Bride Wore Coveralls (2008 Barbour Books) www.debraullrick.com

At the 2005 ACFW conference, I relaxed in the lobby late one evening with Lisa Harris where we brainstormed about a proposal we hoped would help me finally break into the publishing world. The conference brought us together and created the right environment. If not for the face-to-face time with her, the story idea wouldn’t have come to life, nor the manuscript requested by then Heartsong Presents editor, Tracie Peterson.
Beth Goddard, Seasons of Love (2007 Heartsong Presents)
www.bethgoddard.com

Amazing testimonies! But that’s not the whole story. I know for a fact–because I’m one of them–that many of the authors who were already published when they joined ACFW, have learned and grown in their craft more than they ever imagined through the workshops and continuing sessions, and who made connections within the industry th at we’d never have made outside of a conference setting. Not to mention, the wonderful gift of friendships and writin g partnerships with other writers who truly understand what this crazy writing life is like.

Come to the conference! You will never regret it!

Deborah Raney
NEW! LEAVING NOVEMBER, a Clayburn Novel from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster
REMEMBER TO FORGET is a 2008 Christy Award finalist & HOLT Merit Award recipient
A VOW TO CHERISH the novel that inspired the award-winning World Wide Pictures film
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