The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual national conference in Nashville is coming up on Aug. 25-28. I’m particularly excited because The Beekeeper’s Son is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards romance category. Whether I win or not, I know I’ll have a wonderful time with the pomp and ceremony that’s involved in being a finalist in a national contest. I bought a new dress for the gala, I’m going through clothes and starting to pack. I’ve registered, reserved my hotel room, double-checked my airplane itinerary, and requested wheelchair assistance at the airports involved. All with gleeful anticipation of a great conference where I’ll see people I only get to see once a year and spend three days soaking up writerly stuff with about 500 of my closest writer friends. The one thing I haven’t done is write an acceptance speech that thanks the people who make my wonderful writing life possible. I know it seems totally presumptuous to think about it, but the ACFW folks sent out a set of instructions for the awards gala that specifically say to prepare a speech “just in case.”
And if you’ve ever watched the Emmys or the Oscars, you know why. It’s tough watching some of those winners stumble through their special, most exciting moment of their careers not able to articulate the thanks they know they owe to so many people.
All this got me to thinking about how it doesn’t matter whether a writer wins. The same people deserve a heartfelt, public thanks for supporting a writing career. Not matter how much we promote the illusion of the solitary writer laboring all alone in her office, no writer does this alone. It seems unlikely that I’ll stand on the stage and accept an award next Saturday, but if I do, I’ll feel as if an enormous crowd is standing up there with me.
Last year I wrote a speech “just in case” when Love Redeemed was a finalist. I never gave that speech. So I’ve decided to give my speech for this year’s Carol Award in advance because no matter what happens these people made it possible for me to write this book—to write all my published books. They have been with me through thick and thin, rejection and success, heartbreak and celebration. No matter what happens, I’m blessed to have them in my life. I want them to know how much I appreciate them each and every day, not just on gala night. So here goes:
My husband Tim has supported me in every way possible for the last thirteen years of my fiction writing career and twenty-eight years of marriage and through recent enormous health challenges. Building and maintaining my website, taking my professional photos, creating my business cards, ordering my swag, and most of all, offering a shoulder to cry on when I needed it and cheering me on to success. My son Nicholas and daughter Erin were right there with him and with me. I owe them a great debt of gratitude for their patience and support.
My agent Mary Sue Seymour, without whom I would not be a published writer, was with me every step of the way. She passed away earlier this year so it’s bittersweet to even think about going to the gala without her. She took me on when I was unpublished. She stayed with me for years when it seemed I would never get a contract. She urged me to write outside my comfort zone and it has paid off in unimaginable ways. She was an eternally optimistic, kind, generous person. I miss her.
My editor Becky Monds at Zondervan/HarperCollins is a gem. She sees the trees and the forest. She has an unerring eye for what a story needs. Her advice and support and encouragement are invaluable. She polishes the rough off, letting the beauty shine through. The Beekeeper’s Son would be a much poorer story without her touch.
Eileen Key and the Alamo Christian Fiction Writers San Antonio Chapter of ACFW. Eileen, Valerie Goree and I started the chapter about ten years ago. My life would be poorer without this monthly get-together over breakfast at La Madeleine Bakery. We talk about writing, our lives, our hopes, and our dreams. We lift each other up and pray for each other. Without people like Eileen, Valerie, Allison Pittman, Kristi Holl, Linda Davis, Maritha Burmeister, Cheryl Williford, Linda Owen, and all the other members of this group, I don’t think I would’ve persevered through the painful rejections and potholes on the writing journey. In the early days, Eileen and I used to exchange emails threatening to quit and the response was always the same, “Not today.” We didn’t let each other quit. We stayed the course.
Because of that, I’m packing my suitcase and heading to Nashville for a writing conference, looking forward to the fun of being a finalist in the Carol Awards and knowing that no matter what happens, I’ve made great friends and learned important things about writing and about life.
I would remiss if I didn’t mention all the readers who buy my books and read them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
So many more could be mentioned and should be mentioned, but the ACFW folks said to keep it to sixty seconds. How is that possible?
I’m eternally grateful to my God and Savior, who has blessed me with this writing life, my family, and these friends. All good things come from Him and my cup overflows. I can’t wait to report back after the conference. Talk to y’all then.