Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A First Contract Story - Rhonda Gibson

Today I'd like to welcome guest blogger Rhonda Gibson, who is here to tell us her story of receiving her first contract at the ACFW Conference. Thank you, Rhonda, for sharing your story.

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 New Mexico with her husband James. She has two children and two beautiful grandchildren. Reading is something she has enjoyed her whole life and writing stemmed from that love.  When she isn’t writing or reading, she enjoys gardening, card making, and playing with her dog, Sheba. She speaks at conferences and local writing groups. You can visit her at where she enjoys chatting with readers and friends online. Rhonda hopes her writing will entertain, encourage and bring others closer to God.


  1. Love these types of stories! Coolest moment ever for me at the '09 ACFW conference was watching the two ladies get contracts for the first time. It made me all verklempt!

  2. I love, love, love success stories. They're full of hope! I'm excited about attending my first ACFW conference this fall. :)

  3. What a great way to get your first contract! So fun and exciting!!

  4. Thanks for sharing Rhonda's story with us, Erica. It's so inspiring to read how other writers made it to the Published Land.

    I would love to attend the ACFW conference. Can't afford it this year, but maybe someday.

    Appreciate your blog, Erica.

  5. What a wonderful story! That's must've been incredibly exciting!!
    Like Katie, I remember the '09 conference. Seeing dreams come true made me want to cry!
    Thanks for such a great post! I can't wait to read more of them. :-)

  6. A very uplifting post! Dreams do come true if we're persistent and do the hard work!

  7. I enjoyed reading your story!

  8. Hey girlfriend,

    Did you know I was at that Houston conference too? I didn't know you then and was probably green with envy at the time you got that contract. I've never heard this story before. Loved it!

    That's a great picture of you! Congratulations on the upcoming new releases!!!

  9. I remember that night very well.

  10. Hey Rhonda,
    What a great story! And what an honor to be the first! I love working with Barbour, too. Becky and JoAnne are so easy to work with. I have to say, however, that we have a great conference story, too. I will never forget kidnapping the author who was looking for the ice machine. Have a great one! And hey to you, too, Erica!

  11. Thanks Vickie, this is one of the pictures Marty took of me in Tulsa when I was home. We weren't friends then? Gasp! I thought we've always been friends.

    Lena-You know I love ya! and always will. I remember your hugs that night very well.

    Hey Aaron - I too will never forget the night that a strange man, wonderful brother kidnapped me either... what a story we have to tell :) Love ya, little brother!

  12. Erica thanks for having me! This is so much fun!!

  13. I too remember your special night, Rhonda!

    The giddy excitement as we gather for Becky and JoAnne to give out those contracts sets a magical tone for the entire conference!!!

    Can't wait to hear who is blessed this year!!!


  14. What a great story! Thank you for sharing it with everyone! :)

  15. Hi Rhonda! I was in Houston and I remember that night so well! I was thrilled for you! These kinds of stories are the kind that give new authors hope and encouragement to keep going, keep trying. Now I always look forward to seeing who is going to get their first contract at conference! So glad I got to see you get yours!

  16. I love the 1st contract awards at the conference each year, especially when I know the person who received it. I can't wait to hold A Biltmore Christmas in my hands. Wishing you were coming to conference this year. Thanks Erica for this great blog.

  17. Thanks for sharing your story, Rhonda. Can't wait to read your new Christmas novella.


  18. What a wonderful story.

    Jodie Wolfe

  19. Thank you everyone for coming by. I love when contracts are given away each year. I know the excitement that is in everyone's throat and hearts. It is an awesome feeling!

    If God will give me a contract, He will you too. I'm soooo blessed that He has used this experience to inspire others to keep working on their books!

  20. Great "backstory," Rhonda! What an exciting beginning to your career. Thanks for sharing. :)

  21. Anonymous4:46 PM

    I love that story. I can't blame you for remembering every detail. I know I would.

  22. kecogan@gmail.com9:55 PM

    Great story, Rhonda, and fun to read.
    Karen Cogan