By Carrie Fancett Pagels
As a fairly new zone director (spring 2011) I keep getting asked questions about newbies to ACFW or to Christian fiction writing. The best advice I got four years back when I joined was from Rachel Hauck. I will try to offer my own take.
1. If you are not an ACFW member – JOIN.
2. Explore all the venues available through ACFW in a systematic manner.
a. Start with the main loop. If all that email is too overwhelming, then just start taking the courses.
b. SIGN UP for the free monthly courses on writing offered. RECOGNIZE that the suggestions given are not the “be all” nor the “end all.” You will learn the craft of writing and you will meet other writers on the journey with you.
c. Get connected in your zone. Go to the ACFW main page and follow the trail to getting hooked up with your zone. IF you do not hear from your Zone Director within a month or so CONTACT your Zone Officer (Eileen Key).
d. Your Zone Director should direct you to your Area Coordinator who MAY have a local group for you to plug into. No local group – ask your AC to let you know who lives within an hour or so of you and see if YOU can get folks together for a small group.
e. http://mybooktherapy.ning.com is a website founded by ACFW members Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck. The ning community is a great place to meet other novice writers and some established authors. There are Monday night classes on romance writing and other topics that are excellent.
3. Write and Write some more!!!
a. Join one of the critique groups through ACFW. Keep in mind that this is a little like dating, which is what Camy Tang told me – sometimes it works out and many other times it does not. It took me years to find my current crit partners. One caveat – make sure you have people who write in your own genre. Regardless of what others may say, you pretty much should like the genre that you are critting – it shows.
4. READ!!! Read all the comparables you can get your hands on. Don’t know what a comparable is – go check the ACFW archives and pull up previous classes and learn the craft including how to search and select comparable fiction to what you are writing.
5. Don’t think you can skip steps. I recently had someone ask me what she had to do to get her book published. She had no agent, had not connected on any of the ACFW loops, indicated that she was not social, and had been a member of ACFW one whole year!!! One whole year, oh my. Apparently there was the thought that someone would appear out of the blue and connect her with someone who would publish her stellar book. Not sure. Miracles do happen. Usually though it seems to take hard work and quite some time as well as systematically writing and honing your craft.
6. Sign up for emails from blogs by agents and editors. Chip McGregor is back blogging again, Hartline Literary has a top 100 website as listed in Writer’s Digest, Michael Hyatt, and many others share their wisdom – learn from them.
7. Begin doing what you learn in the classes. Get books recommended by writers whose work you admire.
8. Start to plug in socially if you never have before. For instance, I signed up for Facebook four years ago. Admittedly it was to spy on my daughter. Um, I mean stay connected with my then college freshman daughter. Now I use it more than she does and would never have considered that it would be a great way to hear what is going on with other writers. We have an online group for our MidAtlantic Zone now, for instance.
9. Take a deep breath – now slowly start with number 1 and proceed systematically!
Many blessings on your writing journey!
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is MidAtlantic Zone Director, Represented by Joyce Hart, Founder of Colonial American Christian Writers and Administrator of Colonial Quills group blog and Overcoming Through Time – With God’s Help