ACFW Contest Awards & Barbour Contract Awarded

Novel Journey would like to congratulate all the finalists in the Genesis and Book of the Year contests. The winners of each contest are:

Marian Merrit won the Genesis. For the complete list of the winners, click here

and Colleen Coble won the Book of the Year. For the complete list of the winners, click here

One tradition Barbour Publishing started in 2003 is to award a contract at the conference to a first time author for their debut novel. This year, the recipient was Cara Putman.

Cara, you received your first contract live at the ACFW conference with 400 of your fellow writers in attendance. How did that feel?

It was incredible to receive that first contract in such a public way. The best part was being able to share it with so many of the people who have helped me along the way since I started writing last year. And Colleen Coble’s excitement and hug made it so real! She and so many others have encouraged me and believed in me when I wasn’t sure why I was writing.

Tell us about this particular journey with Barbour.

At the 2005 ACFW conference, I had the privilege of hosting Jim and Tracie Peterson’s workshop. As Jim and I chatted prior to the worship, I realized we had a lot in common. He’s from Kansas; I’m from Nebraska. He was a history major; I’m a history minor. We both love WWII history. Because of that love, I asked if he’d ever heard of the North Platte canteen that served over 6 million service people between December 1941 and April 1946.

The wheels started turning. The next night I ended up at his table for dinner, and not because I planned to pitch a novel idea to him. But wouldn’t you know, the words popped out of my mouth. He sent me to talk to Tracie, and Jim said he’d like to see a proposal. This story poured from my heart for two reasons: 1) I believe the WWII generation made sacrifices that would be difficult to duplicate, and 2) the love story is based on my maternal grandparents. So it became a way to honor a generation and one very special couple from that generation.

I turned the proposal in to Jim in October, the complete manuscript in January, and made a couple requested additions in February or March. Then the waiting began in earnest. I really didn’t hear anything until Thursday night at conference.

I signed the contract this morning. And my mind is already plotting two more WWII stories from Nebraska that I hope to pitch to Barbour as additional books.

What was your family’s reaction?

I called my husband while I was still hyperventilating. He was thrilled. He’s been such a support and encouragement to me. My six-year-old daughter was very excited, but my two-year-old was oblivious. My parents and siblings have been thrilled. I haven’t told my grandparents yet though I really need to since I’m using their names!

My dad did say one interesting thing. I kept saying “God is so good.” While he agreed, he also said, “But you sat down and you wrote the story He told you, too.” And he’s right. I could very easily have focused on my other books, but when God said write, I did. And now I can say He is so good regardless of whether I have a contract or not.

Has anything changed for you?

There have been two changes. The first is that I’ll get to see my first book in print in October 2007. But it’s only the first book, so I still have much to learn and do before I see a second contract.

The other change is that this confirmed I am right where God wants me for this season in my life. I went to conference desperate to hear from Him. I’ve spent sixteen months writing in the evenings after work once the kids are in bed. And I went to conference exhausted. Now I know that God approves of my efforts, and though I have no guarantees about what the future holds, I know who holds the future. And as I press hard after Him, I can’t wait to see what He has for me next.

The Rumblings of Revolution

This week PW announced the price for the long-awaited, long-anticipated Sony Reader. I confess, I tend to be more enthusiastic about this product than the average person. I’ve been lurking in a Sony Group, so as not to miss any of the gossip. I’ve spent hours online trying to learn about its Japanese counterpart. Why? It’s my opinion that the entire market is about to change, like music did with MP3 players.

So I am dying to know what you guys think. I’ve heard predictions that the product is doomed to fail , while I’m certain it’s going to revolutionize publishing.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1.) I love that you can take ten books or more on vacation. Do I need ten books or more on vacation? Absolutely.

2.) I have waited a year and three months to read Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian because it’s not available in paperback until October 3rd (yes, I know the exact date.) I just spent over $50 on fiction in Barnes and Noble, and even though The Historian is at the top of my ‘wish list,’ I was not willing to pay $25.95 for the hardcover. If publishers are willing to convey the savings to me (as in they have no printing cost, no shipping, and whatever else is saved) I am willing to read on a device. And, if I love the book (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,) I’ll most likely go out and buy the real version as well.

3.) As a writer, don’t we all dread people passing around novels? While I might not hesitate to share a book, there’s no way I’m going to lend out my $350 Sony Reader. This has potential to increase sales.

4.) Recently, a woman told me that she only buys e-books because she can’t see print like she used to. She told me about an online group of senior citizens who read e-books and discuss them. Why only e-books? They make the font larger and see the words. I imagine there’s a good-sized market here.

5.) Editors, agents, reviewers, and authors ought to love this–we can take Word documents and read them on the Reader. Reviewers won’t have to wait for the galley that the publisher won’t have to pay for. I’d be able to download all my campaigns into memory stick and read them quicker. Imagine how compact a slush pile could become.

I’ve spent some time this afternoon talking to a Sony customer rep. I’ve learned quite a bit about the Sony Reader and am expecting more information soon. While we wait for that…. What do you guys think?

Returning Home

Gina is as good a friend as there can be. She still loves me. I don’t deserve it, though. Not after what I did to her. I don’t really know how it happened. Call it Sometimers.

I made the flight reservations for Reni, Gina and me, so we could all fly together. Reni was already in Atlanta for another conference, and Gina drove to my house from Virginia on Tuesday. Therein lies the problem. I think I was thinking about her state, and listed her as Virginia Holmes on the reservations.

Well … it’s possible for Gina to be a nickname for Virginia! Okay .. maybe not. Anyway, we had no inkling of trouble on the way to Dallas. But coming home … well that was another story.

After arriving in the nick of time at the airport, Reni and I sailed through security, but not Gina: V. Holmes did not match her drivers license. They made her go to a security desk elsewhere. Then, to add insult to injury, she never knew Ane is a nickname. Not too many people do. So when they asked her about it, she said her friend, Ane Mulligan, made the reservations. They said there is no Ane Mulligan.

They finally straightened it out, but poor Gina was near tears with sleep deprivation. Add to that thunderstorms over Atlanta which delayed our flight 4 1/2 hours. Two of those hours were spent sitting on the tarmac. Well, we sat on the plane. The plane sat on the tarmac. We were supposed to get to Atlanta at 7:15, time to have a nice dinner when we got to the house. Right. We landed at 11:00 P.M.

Dinner? Oh, certainly. A nice cup of ice water and a pretzel.

But thankfully, Gina still loves me. Don’t know why. :o)