I’ll always remember Friday, Sept. 18, 2003, as a special time in my life. I was a new writer, excited to be at what was then known as the American Christian Romance Writers (ACRW) conference, but is now called American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). At that time, the young organization didn’t boast a conference of 700 as it does today, but about one hundred people were in attendance. We gathered in Salon B of the Houston Airport Marriott, for a the first event of the conference, a meet- and-greet. The fact I remember the specific room shows how much this night means to me!
Who doesn’t love a meet-and-greet, Texas style? We loaded our plates with fajitas and fruit, and then mingled; chatting and laughing with people we’d grown to know and love through email.
As I moved about the room, I visited with co-writers, Tracey V. Bateman, Janet Spaeth, and Lena Nelson Dooley. These ladies held my hand through my first book. They were patient, kind, loving and above all friends. Each assured me that our collection was good and more than likely I’d be holding a contract soon. I couldn’t wait to talk to Becky Germany and find out if this was true. I looked for Ms. Germany and never could find her in the crowd. What my friends neglected to tell me was that this night would be a night I’d never forget!
The entire evening created warm memories, but the highlight for me came when Rebecca Germany was called to the front of the room. There, before the group of writers flush with the excitement of the conference, , she presented me with my first contract for my story, “Love of a Lifetime,” which appeared in the novella collection, Scraps of Love, September 2004.
I was so surprised! This was a first for the conference! My heart was in my throat as I went to receive the contract that I’d waited all my life to receive. Ms. Germany was all smiles and hugs, I was speechless. At least I think I was speechless, I don’t remember what I said to her. Tracey, Janet, Lena were on the sidelines to give me hugs and congratulations.
People often ask when I got the call. I smile and say, “I didn’t. My first contract was handed to me by an angel. Rebecca Germany will always hold a special place in my heart. She was the first editor who saw how devoted I am to being a writer and she was willing to give me my first break.
The ACFW conference will always be special to me as well. For me, the ACFW conference is where my dream of being a contracted author came alive. This conference is a place where God blesses.
Since that night, Barbour Books has been my home publisher. I have written three more novellas for them and have two more scheduled for release in the next two years. I’ve also been blessed to write a Heartsong Presents stand alone title for JoAnne Simmons, at Barbour as well.
My next title, A Honey of a Christmas, will be coming out September 2011 in the anthology collection, A Biltmore Christmas. Not only have I been blessed through my interaction with editors and fellow Christian writers, but my fans as well. Each letter and email I receive from someone who appreciates my work is a God-kissed gift. I am grateful to ACFW and to Barbour for bringing me into the fold.
Rhonda Gibson lives in