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From the President: 2012 Conference

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

The theme of this ACFW conference is “letting your light shine.” That’s what I want for ACFW, its members, and Christian fiction. I want to let the world know about our organization, members, and Christian fiction.

These past few years a lot of things have changed rapidly in the publishing industry with ebooks taking a large share of the market and the growth of self-publishing. But ACFW is changing also. In the four years I have been on the board we have gained almost a thousand members, while offering more and more for our members.

ACFW Journal: October 2012This past year has been exciting for ACFW. Our magazine, the ACFW Journal, launched. The first edition arrived at members’ homes in April. Michael Ehret, Ken Raney, and the staff have done a great job. The magazine is professional and full of good information to help a writer in this business.

But that isn’t all that was new. The First Impressions Contest began in October. This contest is a chance for an unpublished writer to see if their first five pages have what it takes to grab a reader’s (judge’s) attention. I have heard many editors, agents, and readers mention how important it is to pull readers into the story in the first few pages. With first chapters available at online bookstores for readers to see if they like the book, the beginning of the novel is paramount.

Genesis AwardSince the Genesis Contest next year will require that the author has completed the novel they are entering, the First Impressions Contest will give writers feedback before they enter the Genesis or in lieu of entering the Genesis. Your board realized some writers wouldn’t have a completed novel although they are actively writing. We also felt the contest could help a person decide which of his/her stories to work on or whether the writer should try a different genre.

We are also doing more webinars this year and hope to have them regularly on topics of interest to writers from social media to promotion to aspects of writing that fit better in a webinar than in a monthly online course.

These new programs are part of a great line up ACFW has for its members from online courses, The End program, genre loops, chapters and zones around the country, and the premier Christian fiction conference. I want to highlight two programs because of how much they are growing within ACFW.

The first one is Scribes, our critique group, which is comprised of a large group of 340 members and 40 small groups. Members join existing small groups or begin their own groups as they make friends within the large group. This was the vision we had several years ago when we knew we had to revamp the system. It’s exciting to see it happening. Fay Lamb, one of the coordinators, told me that people are joining ACFW because their agents want them to join a Scribes critique group.

Another program that is evolving and growing is Novel Track. Jeanne Leach, the coordinator, now has three assistants to help her. They are gearing up to run both editing and writing tracks every month starting in October. The membership is up over 160 on each loop. Novel Track is helping members learn to write something every day and to give them accountability. Novel Track has become a community of writers from the beginner to multi-published encouraging and cheering others in their writing. They have even formed a Novel Track Hall of Fame page on the website.

I’m excited about what ACFW can do for a writer whether published or not. ACFW is strong because of the members involved in the organization. And Christian fiction is strong. We are spreading the Lord’s word to others. We are the light shining in the industry.

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