How to Engage with the Writing Community: Join an ACFW Chapter

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By Jill K. Willis

You’ve finally decided to write a novel. Yay! But you have so many questions about the publishing industry. What software do I use? Which editing guidelines are the standard? How many words should I write for my genre?

You’ve taken your first step by connecting with the American Christian Fiction Writers. You may even have joined its online critique loop. You’re on your way!

Now you need to find your tribe. “What? A tribe?” you ask. “Is that really necessary? I’m a little shy and work well by myself.”

Those were my thoughts when I began to write fiction in earnest. But I had so many questions that needed answers. My family and friends were zero help. They didn’t even understand why I always kept a book tucked in my purse.

Then I met Creston Mapes, an award-winning writer of Christian thrillers, at a book club meeting. He said, “Oh Jill, you need to reach out to our local ACFW chapter.” I’ve never received better advice.

Once I joined the N. Georgia Chapter, I met a welcoming group of serious writers happy to share their knowledge. Wow! You’d think writers would be competitive. Maybe they are in the secular world but not in Christian publishing.

After I paid my first $15 annual dues six years ago, I:

  • absorbed the presentations of respected speakers who covered almost every aspect of birthing a book,
  • met other writers of young adult fiction (here’s where I found my tribe),
  • attended recommended conferences and returned home motivated,
  • learned how to use Scrivener, which has turned out to be a huge time-saver,
  • served on the board, which helped me build contacts and leadership skills,
  • and gained an understanding of how to weave my faith into my manuscripts.

Since COVID, most chapters now meet online as well as in person. So, no worries if you live in a remote area; you can still learn from the best. Many chapters also offer a fellowship time online before and after Zoom meetings.

Our chapter is merging with the NW Georgia Chapter January 1 to form the ACFW Georgia Chapter. We did this so the writers in the southern part of our state, who didn’t have a local chapter, wouldn’t feel neglected.

After paying your local chapter dues, you can spend an extra $5 annually and become an affiliate member of any other chapter, attending meetings but not voting (a few chapters may charge more). Visit chapter websites to learn more about each group and view lists of past and future presenters. You’ll find some big names.

We’d love for you to join our newly merged chapter. We plan to Zoom 10 months of the year and hold in-person meetings at least twice a year.

If you’re already a member of a local ACFW chapter, what has been its greatest impact on you?

Got publishing questions? Learn how to connect with Christian writers. @JillKWillis #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Jill K Willis is the author of The Demons Among Us, winner of the ACFW Genesis Contest-YA Category in 2020. The first page of that manuscript also won the ACFW SC Chapter’s First Page Novel Contest in 2020. Jill’s a co-founder of the Storyteller Squad blog.


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