Sunday, October 10, 2010

ACFW Contest News

     The 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, was held the third weekend in September. I knew I was one of five finalists in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category of the Genesis Contest, so I figured I had a 20% chance of winning, right?

     Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend due to a conflict, but some thoughtful conference organizers arranged to have a live blog feed posting the award banquet happenings. So it was Sunday afternoon at an inn in Sonoma, California, where I watched the blog postings flow by, announcing the genre categories, the list of finalists, the runner up, and then the winner of each category. About 650 people were at the awards dinner, and another 120+ like me tuned in online.

     As they say at the Academy Awards, it's an honor just to be nominated. It really is--and lot's of fun, too. And it was fun as my name came up on the list of 5 finalists: Rich Bullock, Storm Song (my latest book and my entry for the contest). Seeing the book's title in print on the computer screen makes it that much more real. You see, I've lived with this story for over a year, laboring over every line, crafting every character's past, present and future. I know the people in Storm Song better than I know many of my live friends. So, because it's only a manuscript on my computer (and dozens of backup copies!) and not a printed book, sometimes it doesn't feel quite real. But here it was, my book title flowing by on a national blog post.

     Then they announced the runner up: wasn't me. Then they announced the winner:

     Rich Bullock, Storm Song.

     I had a little trouble breathing. Sheryl let out a little scream (didn't want to disturb the other guests at the inn). Wow. I'd actually won the contest category. We went out to a very nice dinner that night!

What it means:

     Well, it doesn't guarantee a publishing contract, nor is there a sizable check in the mail. But a lot of key people saw and heard about it. I have hope that the agents and editors I've contacted will take a second look now.

     Thanks for everyone who says they can't wait to read the book. That's exactly what I want, too!

     Thanks for all the support and congrats from so many. You are so incredibly valuable to this whole writing process.