Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ACFW...The conference of the year!

Joining ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) was the best decision I've ever made when it comes to the crazy hobby that I've self-inflicted upon myself...writing. I can attribute most of what I know about this passionate subject to some aspect of ACFW membership. Members have recommended books on the craft, critiqued my work, and celebrated with me when I signed my first contract.

The wealth of information is astounding. No matter what question I have, someone has an answer. Do you have a question about what would happen to your heroine at the emergency room? The doctor is in. A question about farming? The farmer is in residence. How about the weather in 1910? Yep, you got it. There's someone somewhere within ACFW ready, willing, and able to advise.

Let's not forget the encouragement. At some point, we've all felt like quitting. I'm amazed at the response a down-and-out author gets when they share this with the loop. I'm sure that many have gone on to sign contracts that they never would have signed if the ACFW troops had not rallied and encouraged them to pull up their boot straps and continue on.

Membership in ACFW has more benefits than I can list. Here's just a few from their website:

For Everyone:
Subscriptions to ACFW Private Email Lists
Access to ACFW Private Forums
Monthly E-zine
Critique Groups
Resources, Tips, and Archives on the ACFW Members Only Site
Exclusive Online Writer Courses
ACFW Book Club
Member Rates for the Annual ACFW National Conference
Local and Regional Zone Groups

For Published Authors:
Free Advertising of New & Upcoming Books
Group Book Signings and Promotional Efforts
Host Online Author Chats in Our Public ACFW Chat
Author Interviews Posted Online
Eligibility to Win the ACFW Book of the Year Award
Teaching and Mentoring Opportunities
Best of all, you become a member of a large family of Christian writers like yourself!

I have recommended that several people join ACFW and am happy to say that they've told me that it's the best decision pertaining to their writing they've ever made. Even though membership has great benefits, I've found the biggest blessing is that I've made so many wonderful friends. People who don't write, don't understand a writer's life. It's nice to have people to talk to who actually understand the challenges we face, the joys we celebrate, and the tears we cry. I'm so excited about meeting my friends at the conference in Indianapolis, Indiana in September! Speaking of conference, here some highlights from the ACFW website here:

The Registration fee includes:
* Conference Workshops, Continuing Education Sessions and Program activities
* Meals (Friday night dinner, breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, Awards Banquet on Sunday, and light breakfast on Monday).
* Many appointments are available on a first pay, first slotted basis: editors, agents, mentoring, and media training.
*Applicable materials

Need an agent? The following will be present:
Sandra Bishop
Terry Burns
Rachelle Gardner
Tamela Hancock Murray
Joyce Hart
Steve Laube
Amanda Leudeke
Chip MacGregor
Mary Sue Seymour
Karen Solem
Les Stobbe
Etta Wilson

Looking for a publisher? The following will be present:
Abingdon Press
B&H Publishing Group
Bethany House Publishers
Guideposts Books
Harvest House
Howard Books
Marcher Lord Press
Steeple Hill
Summerside Press
Thomas Nelson
Whitaker House

As you can see, there will something for anyone who's ever entertained the thought of writing Christian fiction. This is THE premier conference and one you don't want to miss. I'm looking forward to the workshops, the contacts, and meeting the friends I've made through membership in this wonderful organization. For more information, visit their website at I hope to see you there!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Joyce Magnin's "The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow"

We're happy to have Joyce Magnin with us today talking about her book, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow.To learn more about Joyce and her book, read on!

1) How did this story come to you?
Agnes walked into my bedroom late one night, sat on my bed, I felt the thud, and said, write my story. It really just kind of happened.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
Oh, this is neat. My dear friend Nancy Rue told her friend Barbara Scott who had just taken the position of acquisitions editor at Abingdon Press about my novel. Barbara requested it and a week later I was offered a contract. Pretty sweet. But this only happened after about a year of going down the usual publishing path of query and submission and rejection.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’ve never eaten a scallop.
I play RPG video games and own my own XBOX 360.
I once worked as a dog groomer—for one day. I wasn’t very good at it. Those poor Scotties.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I am working on the fourth Bright’s Pond novel—Blame it on the Mistletoe. The second Bright’s Pond novel, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise will release September 1.

5) Parting comments?
Thanks for letting me share your blog space. Just remember, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. So if you write, keep writing. If it is meant to be it will. And eat your veggies.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
Joyce can be found at or

Melissa Lea Leedom's "To Forgive Divine"

We're happy to have Melissa Lea Leedom with us today talking about her book, To Forgive, Divine. To learn more about Melissa and her book, read on!

1) How did this story come to you?
I think all stories start out with a couple of “What ifs…?” I worked on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity when I lived in Alabama. The Board President who was rolling off just as I was coming on was a man I greatly admired, but who I could see had real privacy issues in dealing with being a pastor. What if, I wondered, this pastor were single and he and a woman equally reluctant to be the subject of public scrutiny, suddenly found themselves alone together in a restaurant—just as one of the biggest gossips in their church is passing by? What if every circumstance seems, at one and the same time, constantly to throw them together when seeing each other has suddenly become awkward and painful? To Forgive, Divine, as its title implies, explores how two people can find their way back to each other through forgiveness.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
Having attended a number of writers’ conferences at which the constant refrain was how next-to-impossible it is for an unknown writer to find an agent or get published, and having also been told that even if one DID manage to get published, one would still be largely responsible for marketing the book, I thought, “Well, if I’m going to do my own marketing anyway, let me just go ahead and publish it myself.”
And To Forgive, Divine has been received by readers and reviewers just as it would have been had it come from Harvest House or Tyndale (check out the reviews and reader comments on my website). I sell and sign books at book stores and other author events, I speak at writers’ conferences, and I have people contact me via my website, just like a “real” author. While I haven’t made the New York Times Bestseller List, To Forgive, Divine is still selling, six years later.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1. Even though I’m very much a “word” person, I minored in math; this was enough to allow me to teach math at community colleges for 11 years.
2. I’m a “late bloomer” who once despaired of ever earning a college degree. I now have a Master’s degree in English. Never say never!
3. I was heavily influenced by Jane Austen in writing To Forgive, Divine. See if you can see some of her plotting elements (Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion) in the story.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I wrote a small book called The Story of the Bible for a group of teenage girls I work with at my church, which I subsequently posted on my website. Last fall, with the help of two women from my church, I translated it into Spanish, and that version is also on my site. I recently translated it into Portuguese for our minister of youth, who is fluent in the language and who is going to be conducting a mission trip to Brazil this summer. As soon as he has proofread it for me, I’ll prepare hard copy books for him to bring with him, as well as post it to my site. My goal is to have it translated into French and Arabic by the end of the year. It’s by far the most visited part of my website.
Also, there are two sequels to To Forgive, Divine planned.

5) Parting comments?
To Forgive, Divine is the kind of book that makes a great gift to the non-Christian reader. Anyone who loves a good romance will love it. But I’ve had readers, both Christian and non-Christian, tell me they appreciated how the story gets the message of Christianity across without being preachy. And isn’t getting the message of Jesus across really the ultimate goal of inspirational fiction?

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?

Marybeth Whalen's "The Mailbox"

We're happy to have Marybeth Whalen with us today talking about her book, The Mailbox. To learn more about Marybeth and her book, read on!

1) How did this story come to you?
The story came through my personal interaction with the real mailbox that sits on Sunset Beach NC. I have been visiting for years and one day I realized what a unique premise it would make for a novel. I began to structure a love story around it.
2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I started writing the book in August of 08, wrote til April of 09. My agent submitted it in July of 09 and I had a contract by August of 09-- so it was a fast process! The book came out June 1, 2010, not even 2 years after I began writing it!

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I have 6 children. I have always lived in the town I was born in. I don't eat cheese. At all.

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
There's some discussion about a sequel to The Mailbox-- we'll see if that happens. I just turned in my second novel and it's slated to come out next June.

5) Parting comments?
I feel very blessed to be living my dream of becoming a novelist. If you have a dream, I urge you to chase after it, no matter how far away it seems!

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?

Michelle Sutton's "Never Without Hope" is too hot to handle!

Michelle Sutton's new book "Never Without Hope" is not for the faint hearted when it comes to romance or the things that go on behind closed doors. This book is very intense and pretty steamy for an inspirational novel, but Ms. Sutton handles the topics of lust, sin, and an extra marital affair with a grace that only she can. Ms. Sutton's story shows us that God, through his tender and redemptive mercy can reach down and restore us wherever we are and no matter what we've done.

Never Without Hope is much steamier than what I normally read, but since Michelle Sutton is one of my favorite authors, I had to give it a read. It's good, but beware, Ms. Sutton's love scenes are more sensual than most Christian books. Her writing style is edgy enough to portray life just like it is.

I read somewhere that Ms. Sutton intends this book to be a ministry for women who struggle with sexual problems in their marriage and also for women who've had affairs. Never Without Hope is the perfect title because since God loves us with an unconditional love, we are never without hope.

Book description:
Hope believes she is above sexual temptation; that she would never break that commandment like her husband's previous wives had done. After all, she is a good Christian and a loving mother. She has no reason to stray . . . until her husband starts neglecting her needs and things begin to look hopeless. Though she clearly communicates her pain to her husband, he refuses to get help. She starts to wonder...Will she never have sex with her husband again? She soon learns that she, too, is capable of such betrayal when she succumbs to the unthinkable. But things that first seemed sweet and reasonable given her painful situation soon produce a bitter taste when combined with the overwhelming guilt. No substitute will ever replace her love and desire for her husband. If only he would touch her like he used to. If only they could make love again. She misses him so much and wants to tell him the truth hoping it will propel him to do something to fix their problem, but she fears his rejection. Yet, she can't continue living such a hypocritical life. She knows it's wrong even though she continues to crave physical intimacy. Steeped in the quagmire of adultery, Hope must find her way back to solid ground to save her marriage. But will she lose everyone she loves in the process?