Monday, June 25, 2018

Getting Serious About the Craft: How ACFW Indiana Helps Me

I've been trying my hand at writing novels for eight years. For the first three of those years, I explored and played and enjoyed the world of writers and writing. I met people who were published, I met others who were unpublished. Some were weird. Some were practical. I learned from them all.

Number One Lesson: if I wanted to get published, I'd better get serious about the craft.

I joined ACFW, learned about the critique loop, and joined that. A small critique group specializing in YA asked me to join them after I offered a sample of my writing. When I attended my first ACFW conference,  the YA critique group covered this terrified baby chick with their wings and helped her survive her first pitch session. My forever gratitude, dear Scriblerians.

As I practiced, entered contests, and submitted to the critique loops faithfully, a family of authors continued to encourage me, mostly online. By joining the state chapter of ACFW, I was able to meet other writers in person a few times a year.Not only did those meetings further educate me, they were fun! Sharing experiences of the writing life let me know I wasn’t alone in the struggle to carve time to write. People shared how they handle interruptions during their writing hours. Speakers taught me about the business of writing and the pros and cons of self-publishing as well as traditional publishing.

I'm not alone in my gratitude. Here's a quote from a note I received recently from a first-year ACFW Indiana member:

"I really appreciate being able to fellowship with other writers since I am so new to the game. The one-on-one time is great. I enjoy asking questions and meeting others who are on the journey with me. I am looking forward to August."

While I love attending the national conference, distance and finances come into play so it's not always possible. But the Indiana meetings are less than a half day's drive away, and cost me nothing more than the $15 annual dues and my lunch. Those three or four days each year are inked on my calendar (yes, I use a hard copy calendar). I eagerly look forward to the fellowship and the opportunity for "writing talk." Only a funeral, a wedding, or the birth of a grandchild can keep me away.

Earlier this month we enjoyed a meeting in Fort Wayne with Jim Watkins as our featured speaker. He had a great message on allowing God to manage our dreams of writing, as well as our dreams in life. We also presented member Abbey Downey with a check for winning our Masterpiece in  a Day Contest held in March. She's published two books under the name Mollie Campbell. The second, Orphan Train Sweetheart, released a couple weeks ago (

I am so thankful for the more experienced writers who take time to travel across the state on a quarterly basis to share their expertise and cheer new writers to greater and greater endeavors. Their generosity inspired me to accept the role of secretary for the Indiana chapter. Even though I don't have a lot of experience to draw upon, I want to give back in some way.

The frenetic pace of our society has contributed to a loss of members, most of whom are the experienced pros that new writers need to come alongside and help them climb the steep learning curve called "Writing to Publish."

Thank you, thank you, to all those who have assisted us newbies along the path toward publication. I only hope I can be as helpful to others some day.

If you'd like to give a shout-out to any ACFW Indiana member who helped you on your way to publishing, this would be the place to do it. I can think of several who have helped me, but I'll limit my kudos to the first person who came to mind. Rachael Phillips made me feel so welcome at my first meeting, and it was  easy to ask for writing tips from her.

Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft. She still visits the school and teaches creative writing workshops.

Where Linda can be found on the web:

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