What a delight to participate in the early posts of ACFW Colorado’s first website. Wahooo! I love it when I can see the hand of God shaping something, and it’s been obvious from the “Get Go” that He is in on this one.
My position with ACFW Colorado is as president of the Denver chapter, HIS Writers. HIS Writers was the first chapter to incorporate in the Rocky Mountain Region and it has been a pleasure to be a part of the journey from the beginning. (I invite you to check out our page on this website for specifics about where we meet and what we have to offer.)
By way of introduction I’m a homeschooling mother of four who is also called to the writing journey. I’m passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus and write a free, weekly devotional, called Soul Scents, on those themes. I also share random thoughts, review books, have an on-going series on the Song of Solomon on my blog, GraceReign. I enjoy doing “work for hire” projects for David C. Cook Publishing, writing curriculum for churches and Sunday Schools. My writing has also appeared on Crosswalk and Emphasis on Moms, as well as in other on-line and print magazines, and in several devotional and personal experience books. My two novels are as yet unsold, but few things are as fun to me as writing a story.
ACFW has been a large part of my writing journey teaching me to hone my craft, opening networking opportunities, and even, on ocassion, providing connecting points that have led to publication. But the best part of the ACFW experience has been the spiritual and personal support of a loving community. ACFW is full of quality people who are committed to prayer and encouragement. I’m not sure I’d still be in this business if not for the prayers and kindness of my ACFW friends. I believe strongly in the good work ACFW does and am honored to give back to it as HIS Writer’s President. If you’re not part of the ACFW team, let me encourage you to not only join us, but to take the time to get to know the ACFW community. You’ll be glad you did.
Please indulge me as I give a little history of HIS Writers and the development of ACFW Colorado. I’ll mostly focus on the Denver chapter and leave the rest to those more involved at the state and regional level. But I think it is cool to look at the whole picture, see what God has been doing with us, and celebrate! So here goes!
For many years I’ve participated in a critique group with author Kathy Kovach–even before the publication of her first book when she officially claimed that title. :o) One day she shared with me that God had given her a vision to see writer’s groups start up and down the front rage. Not long after that the American Christian Fiction Writers launched a program to establish local chapters, and Kathy was asked to be the Colorado coordinator. She believed this to be the vehicle for the earlier vision God had impressed upon her.
The first official meeting was with Kathy Kovach, Sharen Watson (co-founder of Words for the Journey), and myself. We sat at Armadillos in Thornton and dreamed. Sharen offered her experience, which helped us shape our dreams into practical reality. We were off and running. We had several meetings in South Denver, which pulled from people in ACFW across the front range and included a large contingency from the north Denver area and Colorado Springs. We meet at restaurants for fellowship and had our first Christmas party in the home of Megan DiMaria. Our first big author event included a booksigning and teaching time with Donita K. Paul, author of the popular DragonKeeper series.
Eventually Kathy focused on starting a local chapter, established it in Denver, named it HIS Writers, and set up officers. The first person to serve HIS Writers with Kathy was Bonnie Doran, who acted as secretary/treasurer and helped with the initial technical set-up of banking, etc. Eventually Kathy prayed in HIS Writer’s first officers: Margie Vawter, president; Yours Truly, vice-president; Jill Hups, secretary, and Bonnie Doran, treasurer. Choosing to serve as vice-president was a big deal for me. I remember feeling drawn to the position, but wondering if I was crazy due to my already full life homeschooling four children, teaching part-time at an umbrella school, and writing. I asked my husband what he thought about the position, sure he would say I didn’t have time for it. When he said he thought I should do it, I was a bit surprised, but firmly convinced that God was calling me to serve in that capacity.
Margie’s leadership for the Denver chapter was powerful–her consistency in prayer and the support she offered her leadership team made her a trusted leader and treasured friend. We joked about warning anyone interested in leadership in HIS Writers that they would be stepping into the fire as all of us on the board, including Kathy as overseer, went through difficult circumstances in our personal lives that first year. The trials brought us together and many of our emails and work sessions included support and prayer for each other. God truly bound our hearts together, and Margie persevered as president through the loss of her dear mother and personal health issues that affected her eyesight–not an easy thing to swallow when you make your living as an editor who is required to read for hours a day.
That summer Margie organized the first board retreat for HIS Writers and invited us to her family cabin deep in the mountains. We’re talking four-wheel drive access only! Our goal was to spend some time in prayer and then to get to work. The work part never happened. God met us on the mountain and spoke deeply into each of our hearts, promising healing, refreshment, and His directing hand no matter what each of us would face in the coming year.
HIS Writers began to grow and some of our early speakers included the board members, emerging authors Tina Forkner and Megan DiMaria, Barbour author Darlene Franklin, best-selling author Lisa Tawn Bergren, and Rachelle Gardner, then an editor, and now an agent with WordServe Literary.
It was especially fun to see HIS Writer’s members release their first books. Among those who published first novels since HIS Writers began are Megan DiMaria, Debra Ullrick, and Nancy Wentz. We also saw Donna Schlachter and her husband publish two devotional books, and several of our members publish in book compilations and devotionals. We love to celebrate our author’s achievements, and give glory to God for opening the doors of service in our chosen field.
Since those early years HIS Writers has been a jumping off point for the establishment of other local chapters, the second incorporating in CO Springs. Other chapters, including one that meets in South Denver will soon be starting as well. Each time a new chapter begins those of us in HIS Writers feel like part of our family has moved out and set up a new home, but the wonderful connection provided through the state organization keeps our hearts happy. A highlight last spring was a state-wide ACFW retreat, and we look forward to that being a yearly experience.
Last summer our fearless leader, Kathy Kovach, was asked to move up to the Zone Director position, and Margie Vawter was asked to replace Kathy. That left HIS Writers without a president, so Yours Truly took the plunge. We enter 2009 with a strong board: Niki Nowell, vice-president, Jill Hups, secretary, Donna Schlachter, treasurer, and Darcie Gudger, Publicity Officer. We covet your prayers as we seek to encourage and equip writers who share the marvelous truth of our Lord. It is my prayer that HIS Writers be a safe place where God’s grace binds us together and strengthens us for the journey of writing for publication.