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What Led Me to ACFW

01 Oct Posted by in Writing Life | 2 comments
What Led Me to ACFW

Me writing 1st book and thinking I knew what I was doing.

Me writing 1st book and thinking I knew what I was doing.

When I started writing, people advised me to join a writers’ group. I thought why get together with writers and talk about writing, when I can just write. After two years of going it alone, I’d gotten 102 rejections and one POD book published. When the book released, I learned what Print On Demand publishing means: no editing unless you pay for it and overpriced books that aren’t in stores.

I finally decided maybe I did need some help. I attended a local writers’ conference, joined a group, and helped form another. And the learning began. I learned you should join a writers group because more than likely you don’t know a thing about writing when you start out and there are people in writers groups farther in the journey who know more and can help you. I learned there are rules to writing. You don’t just do it. You have to learn how to do it.

Three years of intense learning followed. I attended two monthly meetings and one to three local conferences a year. After a dozen or so local writing contest awards and a couple of honorable mentions in a writing magazine contest, I realized I needed something more intensive and specific to my genre. None of the writers I’d met wrote Christian romance. So I googled Christian romance writers conferences. And found American Christian Romance Writers. The conference was in Denver and it seemed way out of my budget.

The next year, I learned that my grandmother had left me a savings bond. It wasn’t much by today’s standards – $500.00. But it meant the world to me that my grandmother had scrimped and saved to put something back for me. I didn’t want to pay a bill or buy something frivolous with it. I wanted to do something special that would have lasting effects. The conference popped into my head.

It had changed to American Christian Fiction Writers by then and it was scheduled to be in Nashville. Only six hours from me. The savings bond would pay my registration and all we’d have to come up with was gas, food, and hotel money. My husband, always my biggest supporter, agreed and I registered. With our three year old in tow, we headed to Nashville that September. While I attended the conference, my husband babysat and shopped. In the evening, we checked out Nashville.

I realized I still had tons to learn, brainstormed with Tracy Peterson on how to fix the conflict in my story, and sat with Lenora Worth for breakfast with my jaw hanging open. I attended for the next two years, pitched half a dozen books, got requests, and rejections. In 2008, I pitched, got a request, and a three book contract.

I’ve attended every year since, until 2013. It was in Indianapolis this year. I attended there once before, but this year I had deadlines to meet and nothing new to pitch, so I decided not to go. But for the next four years, it’s in my neck of the woods again. Come September, guess where I’ll be.

I’m so proud we have our own, active, local group now. Though something always seems to come up and I don’t get to attend as many meetings as I’d like, I always love when I manage to make it. There’s just something about being around other writers. It keeps the fire lit inside me to be around other people who hear voices and think that’s normal.

  1. Nichole Hall10-04-13

    Great post Shannon! Isn’t it crazy wonderful the way The Lord leads us to people who can help us accomplish His goals? I’m so thankful we have all found each other!

  2. Shannon Taylor Vannatter10-04-13

    Me too, Nichole. For several years, our local ACFW group kind of limped along. So glad there’s no more limping going on.

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