Monday, October 6, 2008

Christian Writers of the West CWOW

Saturday the local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) had their tenth meeting. Thirteen people attended. Thirteen is not a bad luck number. It's a wonderful number. See, all thirteen attendees were motivated, engaged, and thirsting for knowledge. We run the gauntlet when it comes to what we write and why. We have attendees who are still figuring out what they want to write. We have YA. We have science fiction. We have western. We have suspense. We have chick lit. Ruth announced that she'd sold her first children's picture book. Brenda shared that during the ACFW conference she'd had a request from an agent. Our speaker, Michelle Sutton, glowed as she held up her first release: It's Not All About Me.

Sitting among their number, I felt honored to be a part. I think sometimes sitting admidst other writers I get a reminder of why I do what I do: write Christian fiction.

Here's a brief idea of what a typical CWOW meeting is like...
1) Arrive at Marie Callendar's. Smile because have no small children to order for and make sit still. For the first time, not the first to arrive. Wind up sitting on the other side of the table and like it. Walk in with brand new attendee met in the parking lot.
2) The first forty-five minutes is justing talking and eating. This is when Brenda shared about the western. This is when Ruth told about selling. There are updates. Sherri had definitely decided on a pen name. Tracy wonders about whether to use pen name or not. Michelle says in her opinion only 5% of authors use pen names. Amy Jones says she would probably change names only because Amy Jones is such a common name. I tell her that might work in her favor. We start talking about Jenny B. Jones. My comment, of course, is that Jenny B. Jones reminds me of Junie B. Jones. Both Michelle and Ann Miller gush about Jenny's writing. Food arrives; talk dwindles.
3) Business meeting consists of core items. We decide to meet every other month instead of every third month. We have outgrown Marie's. We do a quick demographic comparison and decide to move the meeting north. Our newsletter editor steps down from her post. Sherri and Sandy are thinking about taking over and sharing the duties. We have money. We have minutes from the last meeting. Ah, business over.
4) Our speaker was the lovely Michelle Sutton. Her first book is newly released and she's as excited as can be. Her topic was Marketing Yourself Before the First Sale. I have to say. I've not seen anybody market themselves as successfully as Michelle. I first met her through ACFW when CWOW began. See, she's an Arizonian. Yeah! Her talk started with her magazine. If you haven't checked it out, go to her Edgy Fiction Writer Website. It's the Christian equivelant to Romantic Times. Then, there's her website where she has posted reviews and given away books for years. She's grown so well known that publishers send her book. Wow. She talked about My Space, Facebook, and Shoutlife. She talked about making a name among people who are not necessarily writers or readers.
5) Afterwards there were tons of questions. Michelle mentioned some of the blogs that she knew were successful. She seemed most impressed with writer savvy ones. She spent a little more time on pen names: why and why not to do it. She talked a little about successful writers and their journeys. Wow, what a meeting.
6) Afterwards, six of us drove to Berean's for her booksigning. There is not a Berean's close to me so I was like a kiddie in a candy store. I bought two books. The new Potluck Club (Boy, I wish I'd had this idea.) And Kathryn Springers (I love her voice). I purchased a book for my husband (called Daddy Promises). I bought my son a train book. I also purchased a cross necklace that lasted one day before the chain broke (sigh).

All in all, what a blessing to have a local chapter of ACFW. We're going to have our first Christmas party this year.


Debby Giusti said...

Sounds like you had a great meeting. I love getting together with other authors! Love to talk non-stop about books! I just came back from the GA Romance Writers' Moonlight and Magnolias Conference! I'm still on, what I call, a writer's high! :)

Thanks for sharing your meeting with us!

Michelle Sutton said...

Hey there. I just found this post. Gee, you make me sound cool in your notes, Pam. :) Hehehe. I had fun. I love books and I love CWOW!