image: header

image: inkwell header

Welcome to The Inkwell, the blog site of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) of Colorado.

Each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you can find a wide variety of topics and insight
from inspiration to instruction to humor and more!

For detailed information on ACFW, click here to visit their main website.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Being the new kid on the block

My heart was racing as my eyes quickly scanned the screen in front of me. My name was there somewhere. I knew it had to be. After all, I had been warned. Could I do it? Was I capable of handling the pressure and the deadline? What if I stuck out or said something wrong?

You can do this! screamed my inner cheerleader, her pom poms flailing madly about.

You already have too much on your plate and you’ll end up procrastinating, yawned my inner critic, bored already with the latest adventure.

Ignore her, you’re amazing and fun and have a lot to offer, the cheerleader reassured me.

Whatever, came the dull reply.

There it was. It was the very last name on the schedule. I heaved a sigh of relief, thankful to have an entire month to plan what I was going to say and how to say it. Why was I nervous? I’ve been doing this for years. But these were professional women I was writing alongside now. Women with experience and rules and agents and editors and book contracts and lions and tigers and bears…oh my!

Slow down and take a breath, you’re going to hyperventilate, chided the critic.

Be yourself, you’ve got this, soothed the cheerleader. You have a whole month.

That was a month ago. I am officially one day late in posting on this blog and keeping my commitment. I procrastinated and when I still had a whole day to get it done, I got busy with school, little kid messes, and a flooded bathroom that kept us busy mopping up water and cutting up carpet until we fell into bed exhausted. Some days are like that. Writing is fun, but it can also be a challenge when it’s vying for attention in an already busy life. So I’m taking Mary’s advice and setting some goals. Posting on time is at the top of my list. What’s next? Oh yes, accountability. I guess that would be the other contributors to this blog and you, the readers. I CAN do this. :)

Since it’s the cheerleader I’m listening to today, I’m pulling out the pom poms for you. If you are new and feeling intimidated, overwhelmed, or even unsure of how to proceed with your writing life, this is the place for you. Though I’ve been creatively writing for years, I am new to “writing with a purpose” and I have so much to learn. I’ve been stretched in unexpected ways, and encouraged by people who want to see me succeed. I recently had a short story published in an anthology. It was my first submission and I excitedly told everyone I knew. A friend, who already has several books gracing shelves across America, took the time to share my joy and urge me on. She was happy for my success as I begin this journey, and that has been my experience with everyone I’ve met so far, from the novice to the expert. So let’s learn together as we join the ranks of people “writing with a purpose”. Grab your pom poms and silence that inner critic. The world is waiting for what we have to offer.


Niki Nowell serves as Vice President of HIS Writers in Denver. Niki is Co-founder of SEVENS, a ministry to homeless and at-risk youth and young adults in Boulder County. She lives in Denver with Benny, her husband of 16 years, and their three incredibly funny children, Max, Zoe, and Pete. Her passions include homeschooling, mentoring younger women, and blogging about relevant social issues. She is a speaker, worship leader, collector of heart-rocks, and so much more. Join her on her journey at,, and Facebook.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blog: A Four-Letter Word (Part One)

(blŏg) n. A weblog; intr.v. blogged, blog•ging, blogs To write entries in, add material to, or maintain a weblog.(1)

Four letters. One word. Who would guess it could instill such fear in me? But it does. Why? Because I don’t blog.

I’m sure the above statement will ensure a few raised eyebrows, some gasps, maybe even a question or two on how in the world one could call oneself a writer yet not blog. Friends say it’s only a matter of time before I start blogging. Others chuckle knowing that, as an officer of HIS Writers, I am now required to blog on this site. Monthly.

Oh joy.

My fear of blogging is an oddity, considering I’m secretary for ACFW Denver’s HIS Writers and have been since 2006. It’s an oddity because I like taking notes, I like writing, and I LOVE computers and cyberspace. Even keep a journal. So why then do I look at blogging like a trip to the dentist?

Thinking doing a little research on blogs might help me get to the root of this fear, I started with the world’s most “reliable” source—Wikipedia—and moved on from there. This is what I found:
•Online diaries (pre-blogs) became popular shortly after the World Wide Web hit the consumer scene in the early 1990s.

•By the mid 90s, a number of servers offered “homepages” to their subscribers. These homepages allowed consumers to post tidbits about family life, personal interests, etc.

•Then in the late 90s (December 17, 1997, to be exact), Jorn Barger of Robot Wisdom coined the term "weblog" to describe the daily list of links that logged his travels across the web.

•Shortly thereafter, the “we” was dropped and word “blog” evolved.
Needless to say, although I found the above facts interesting, my fear of blogging still remained.

Double joy.

Maybe I’m afraid of being transparent. Maybe I’m concerned that, by blogging, I will find out my life isn’t nearly as interesting as I thought it was. Or maybe…just maybe…it’s a deeper, much deeper, issue I have with the Lord.

When God called me to write back in 1998, I didn’t want to. I was not one of those women who had dreamed of writing my whole life. Sure, I enjoyed it. I had written a number of songs and poems over my lifetime—even mentally jotted down a handful of bedtime stories that I read to my children. But writing was something “fun” done during my leisure—not a goal or dream. So it was a shock when “the call” came.

Not only did the Lord call me to write, but three years later He handed me a specific project—an ENORMOUS project—gave me the plotline, along with a thimble full of characters, then said, “Write, Jill, for such a time as this…”

Unqualified and unmotivated, I did what every good Moses archetype would do: I fled.

Running from God is a funny thing. No matter how far you run or how deep you hide or how many “not me, Lord” excuses you come up with, He is always there—patiently waiting when you return home. So after a year of desert walking (and running and hiding), I realized God was not going to let up. He gave me this task regardless how long it would take, and told me I was the one responsible for completing it—I was the one whose hands would be bloodied by the souls of those who missed redemption due to my disobedience. The ones Providence called to read the books I was to write that had not been written.

“Apprentice yourself,” He said.

So in the winter of 2001, I did.

* * * * * * * *

Since there is much more to this story than I have time to share right now, I think I’ll save it for next month. At least then I’ll have something to blog about. And who knows? If I get wordy enough I might even try to stretch the story into a third month. Ha! Wouldn’t that be a hoot? A blog-a-phobic actually blogging! In the meantime, I will leave you with two things I keep on my PC desktop at home: a quote from Elizabeth Eliot and a verse from the Bible. May they give you hope, boost your faith, and help keep your eye on God’s goal as they have done for me.

Love you guys!

“The job has been given to me to do.
Therefore it is a gift.
Therefore it is a privilege.
Therefore it is an offering I may make to God.
Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.
Therefore it is the route to sanctity.
Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way.
In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.
The discipline of this job is, in fact,
the chisel God has chosen to shape me with—
into the image of Christ.” –Elizabeth Eliot

“When you bow down before the Lord, and admit your dependence on Him,
He will lift you up and give you honor.” –James 4:10

* * * * * * * *
(1)"blog." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 14 Jan. 2009. [].

(2)Barger, Jorn. “Top 10 Tips for New Bloggers From Original Blogger Jorn Barger.” Wired. 15 Dec. 2007. 14 Jan. 2009. [].

Monday, January 26, 2009

2009 Goals

Wow. The year has gotten off to a roaring start. I can’t believe that January is almost over.

I’m sure those of you who know me are waiting with baited breath to see if I succeed at this blogging thing. I’m holding my breath that this works. And if it doesn’t, I’ll probably pass out soon. ☺ I think I’m getting light headed. ;-P

Since this is my first time posting on the Inkwell, I’ll start with a bit of an introduction. I have been writing for twenty years and have books fourteen and fifteen coming out this year. I have a Web site and am trying to figure out this blogging thing. Technology is not my strong suit but I am trying to learn. Really I am.

Also, I am the president of the local ACFW chapter in Colorado Springs. Kim Woodhouse is our VP, Evangeline Denmark is our Secretary, Tiffany Stockton is our Treasurer, Heather Tipton is our Industry Liaison, and Daneen Padilla is our Publicity Office. I have a great team to work with. I couldn’t run our chapter without them.

We are hosting our first annual writers conference, Peak Writing Conference, at the end of February. This is going to be a great conference with Donita K. Paul, Lisa Tawn Bergren, and Beth Jusino. If it is the success I hoping it is and I haven’t gone crazy, we’ll do it again next year.

As this new year begins, I have asked the members of my local ACFW chapter to write down their writing goals for the year so I can pray for them throughout the year. I did this last year and enjoyed being able to pray for them.

I asked them to write out three or more writing goals. They needed to be realistic for them, measurable, and within their control. Here are some examples:

Don’t write, “I’m going to get an agent this year,” because you have no control over this. Rather write, “I’m going to send out one proposal a month until I get an agent.” You have control over how many proposals you send out but not if an agent accepts you.

Don’t write, “I’m going to write one book a month this year,” when you haven’t been able to finish one in your lifetime.
Rather write, “I’m going to complete one book this year.” If you complete twelve, great! It is fine to exceed your goals.

Don’t write, “I’m going to write more this year,” because how do you define more? More than what? How much did you write last year?
Rather write, “I’m going to write one page a day or a thousand words a week.” You can measure that.

Other goals you might want to think about putting on your goal list would be to read a certain number of books on the craft of writing, or going to a writer’s conference, or getting into a critique group, or starting one, start a Web site or blog. Stretch yourself.
And if you are not a writer, set other goals for yourself like reading books, or gardening, or volunteering, but do set some goals.

One of my goals for this year is to blog two to three times a week. That will be a stretch for me. I’m hoping once I get in the habit of it, it will come easier. I have actually start posting again on my blog. I have even started posting a chapter of a novella each Friday.

Then trade your goals with a writing buddy or among your crit group and pray for each other during the year.

“Reach for the stars. You may not get there but you will soar higher than if you had never reached at all.” Unknown

If you have no goals, any road will get you there. (Or rather nowhere.)

So I challenge you, set some long term and shorter-term goals for the year then focus on meeting them. Even if you don’t reach them all, you will get closer than if you never reached at all.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Musings on My Writing Journey

Hello. My name is Daneen Padilla. I am the publicity agent for Worship! Write! Witness! in Colorado Springs. I came to WWW through the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference in Estes Park. Three years ago I attended my first CCWC. I left there with so much great information my mind felt as if it had just taken in the mental version of a bountiful Thanksgiving feast! The next year a fellow attendee told me about ACFW and WWW. I joined and have found it to be rewarding as well. Have you explored the website and seen all it has to offer? If not, I recommend you do—but be prepared to spend some time enjoying it.

Lately, I've been thinking about my writing journey. I began writing songs and poems as a child. I don't know where those items are now, and I probably would not want to read them. As a teen, friends told me my writing was good, and an English teacher suggested I take Creative Writing the next year. I did and enjoyed it! About 10 years ago I began writing with the desire to becoming published. In 2008 I was finally able to call myself "a published author."

Were the journey and the long years of hoping and waiting worth it? I believe it has been. During that time I have worked to develop my writing skills. I've asked God to use my hands to write His words. (Be careful what you ask for. There's a reason Paul says in Romans 12:4 that we are many parts but all one body. Those hands I prayed about function along with a head, a heart, and many other parts.) I have come to recognize the difference between when He is guiding me as I write and when I'm writing out of my head. Not surprising, He is a much better writer than I am!

Not only have my skills improved, so has my purpose in writing. As I think about the affect I want the words to have on those who read them, I'm reminded of the words in Luke 14:23, "So his master said, 'Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.'" NLT

Since I surrendered my writing to Him and His purpose, the desires of my heart for being published have changed. The new desires are being granted. Psalm 37:4 states, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." That doesn't mean if I delight myself in God He will give me whatever I want at the beginning of the journey. Rather, I've come to see it means He will plant His desires in my heart, and the granting of those desires will bring greater fulfillment than anything I could imagine on my own. (Isaiah 55:9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." NKJV)

So if the journey has been long and discouragement is pounding at the door, remember His words in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." NKJV

God bless you!

Daneen Padilla
Kingdom Adventures

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Treasurer's Report

Hi, my name is Donna Schlachter, and I am the 2009 Treasurer for HIS Writers, the Denver chapter of ACFW.

And before your eyes glaze over, forget your preconceptions that anyone dealing with money must be a boring bean counter. I assure you that is not me or my counterparts. It takes a lot of imagination and creativity to get those budgets to balance, to figure out ways to hide offshore assets and not have to pay taxes and to – oh wait, that's not me. That's a character in one of my upcoming mystery novels.

As Treasurer for the Denver chapter, I am responsible for keeping money in the bank account, reminding members of when their dues are due, checking for checks, and accounting for the accounting. Oh, and don't forget, depositing the deposits.

I told you accounting people are not boring.

I live in Denver, and have been married to Patrick for nine years. We actually met on the Internet, but that's a story for another time. We have two adult daughters and seven grandchildren who live in Kansas and Florida. We are owned by a cat named Sarah, who thankfully has not followed in the footsteps of her namesake and become the mother of nations.

I am currently writing two mystery series, and have taken the brave step (at least in my humble opinion) of asking complete strangers to read and review these yet-to-to-be-published novels. So far the reviews have been promising. They seem to want to read more – now if I could just get the time to write.

Besides writing mysteries, Patrick and I have two devotional books on the market. We also wear other occupational hats, since we all know how much writers earn! Patrick is a computer programmer, and I am a court reporter and legal transcriber. And an accountant, of course.

We attend New Life Church of Denver, a small non-denominational church in the Lakewood area, and are active on the worship team, and in the children's church. I act as the church's secretary/treasurer, and Patrick is the church's webmaster.

I am looking forward to serving the Denver chapter for this coming year as Treasurer. We have a lot of exciting events and speakers planned, and we hope to see you at some of our meetings. Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or comments.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Opportunities with Our Web Site

Yes, yes, it's me. The illustrious...or perhaps *infamous* web designer for our brand new ACFW Colorado web site. It's been an exciting venture to get it set up and established, not to mention handling all of the little tweaks and updates. And of course, with several different "cooks" offering input on the recipe that would eventually become the site, it's been at times harried to keep up with everything and make sure all requests were handled.

Like so many others here among my fellow board members, my life is a busy one. But it was just like God to allow me time to make it through my THREE book deadlines this past week before it came my turn to post on this blog. Yes, that's right. If you haven't figured it out yet, we're on a rotating schedule that is shared by all of the board members for the currently existing chapters of ACFW in Colorado. As we form new chapters, we'll add the new board members.

In my "other life" when I'm not doing web design, I'm a published author and the treasurer for Worship! Write! Witness!, the Colorado Springs chapter of ACFW. Last year, when it came time for elections for the board positions for 2009, I had a momentary lapse of sanity in considering the position of publicity officer and handing over my position to someone else. It was our very own Mary Davis, president of the Springs chapter, who talked some sense into me. :)

For those who aren't aware, I'm pregnant and expecting our first baby in March. It's going to bring about a lot of change, and I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I thought I could take on anything more than I already do. So, thank you, Mary, for being a somewhat sane person during my brief spell of insanity!

Now, let's get back to this fantastic web site. Yes, I can say that, since I designed it and maintain it. LOL!

How about a peek in what's coming in the next week or so? Would you like that? Yes, I thought you would.

But first, here's what we have to offer right now:
  • A blog on the main page that you can follow, posted to by the board officers for our existing chapters
  • Individual chapter pages featuring their upcoming schedule and speaker line-ups for 2009
  • Links along the sidebars on the chapter pages to member web sites and blogs
  • A preview of other groups in Colorado who may or may not be in the process of forming an official chapter, so if you live in that area, you can get in touch with others who live nearby (if they become chapters, they'll have their own page)
Next up is a page spotlighting current and upcoming events that will be taking place in Colorado. These will include our one-day conferences and our annual retreat for now. However, if there will be multi-author book signings or speaking events, we'll also highlight those as well.

In addition, we'll soon be offering the opportunity for you to request critiques of your fiction writing by professional critiquers. There will be a page where you can fill out a form with your request and submit your pages. Proceeds will benefit the chapters in Colorado.

That's all for now, but stay tuned to all of the exciting things happening. We've just launched, but already, we're buzzing and hopping.

And don't forget, our national conference this year is coming to DENVER! It's been 5 years since it's been here, and we're all excited. If you're a fiction writer and are able to attend, you don't want to miss it. Of course, your favorite board officers here in Colorado will be there to greet you too. *winks*

That's all from me for this month. Thanks for stopping by.

* * * * *

Tiffany (Amber Miller) Stockton is an author and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author in beautiful Colorado Springs. They are expecting their first child in March and have a vivacious puppy named Roxie, who is half Border Collie and half Flat-Haired Retriever. She has sold six books to the Heartsong Presents line of Barbour Publishing. Other writing credits include several writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, nine contributions to the book, 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage and 2 contributions to Grit for the Oyster. Read more about her at her web site:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Writing In Our Technology Age

Our house has been in upheaval as we moved furniture, computers, routers, modems, and other techie paraphenalia that I have no idea how to pronounce. Needless to say, we were without internet for thirty hours - something which proved to create more than one slight problem.

Of course, today would be the day that I needed to post on this blog, and received important emails from TV producers, my agent, and editor - all of which needed to be dealt with in "pronto" fashion. Let me tell you what fun it is to write a lengthy, and highly important email on my tiny little blackberry keyboard - it's not. Fun, that is.

So, as I was contemplating all the things that couldn't be done, I thought about how dependent we have become on our technology age. I can't say that I'm complaining, it's all highly useful (as long as you don't waste lots of time) - but I also understand that it has created more "work" for us to get involved in. Marketing, twittering, facebooking, networking, blogging, the list could go on forever.

Many things in this techno-world have made life much easier. For instance, we set up a dual monitor desktop for me today. As I am looking at edits for my fall release, I know this will save time going from one document to another. (Less clicking is always a time-saver isn't it?) Internet is so fast nowadays that research can be found in less than a second. (Anyone else remember the days when it took ten minutes to load a new page?)

Anyway, I believe there are pros and cons to living in this time of constant updates and upgrades. A lot of it depends on the decisions and priorities that we make.

Writers in the Colorado area can now find our amazing writer's groups via this website. Amazing to think that we are always just "a click away."

I encourage you all to use the best of our technology and put it to good use as you write. There are lots of wonderful tools out there to make writing easier and even faster. The abundance of knowledge within our ACFW group will astound you, and I hope that everyone takes the opportunity to get to know everyone here, join the National group, the Colorado group, and your local group.

Be watching the blog here as I'm sure we will be sharing tidbits that we've learned, great resources, and helpful hints. This is a great place to be!

Welcome to!
Kimberley Woodhouse VP Colorado Springs Chapter W!W!W!


Kimberley Woodhouse is a wife, mother, author, and musician with a quick wit and positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. A popular speaker, she’s shared at more than 600 venues across the country. Kimberley and her family's story have garnered national media attention for many years, but most recently her family was chosen for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Montel Williams Show, and Discovery Health Channel’s Mystery ER which premiered in 2008. Her story releases in September 2009 from Focus on the Family. Kimberley lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and two children in their truly “extreme” home.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You never stop learning

I made a horrible discovery about a month or so ago. I apparently can’t write in third person. Which really stinks since that is how my latest wip wants to be written. It looked like a beginner had written it, not someone who had been writing for a very long time.

I’ve always written in first person. Even before I knew the difference between first and third, it was always first for me. It’s where my voice fits naturally. By no means, am I an expert on writing in first… my crit partners will tell you that… but I’m certainly not a beginner.

One of my crit partners was in desperate need to slice and dice something (sick woman that she is) and the good friend that I am, sent it to her… telling her, “Now, just remember, this is still rough, I’ve never written in third before.”

I opened her crit when I got it back and was devastated to discover a crit, which bore a remarkable resemblance to the crits she used to send me when I first started writing. And everything she said was right.

I’ll be honest, I considered completely given up writing again. I can’t go back to square one! That would be crazy. Almost everyone I started out writing with is now published. How can I start over? I was already “behind” when I write in first but would be even farther behind if I wrote this next wip in third.

But then, my own words came back to haunt me. Whenever a beginner wants to quit writing, I encourage them by saying, if you ever stop learning how to write, you might as well give up now. The best writers in the world are always learning. Always honing their craft.


On a personal note. I'm the Industry Liaison of the Colorado Springs Chapter, WWW. I've been a member of ACFW since 2004, back when it was still ACRW. I set up blog tours for authors when they have new books coming out and I also assist a number of authors.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Come play with me!

Hey Margie, I thought a platform as a bunch of boards nailed together on which people stand while waiting for vehicles of mass transportation.

Platforms are a hot topic right now. Chip MacGregor, a literary agent, blogs about it here. Several people posted a link to this in-depth article on the subject on Twitter.

Okay. I couldn't let that one get away with a few relevant link. Now, time to play.

Last Tuesday night, my behind-the-fence neighbor took me to her writers' club that meets at DU. The writer's club is mostly women from the Women's College on campus. Always on the lookout for some kind of adventure, I agreed to go.

In the car, my neighbor described the facilitator as ethereal and "flitty like a butterfly" with brilliance. The only thing I could think of was, "Oh no, a bunch of poets waxing eloquent on the universal powers of the naval." I was first runner up in Chip MacGregor's bad poetry contest. Sarcasm is my language and I write it well. Was I going to take the meeting seriously?

Carol Zak-Dance, on faculty there, passed out photocopies of some short stories from literary publications and anthologies. Out loud the stories were read, and the group talked about the devices and patterns employed by the author of the piece. Or, how did the author play with language?

Here I am, a writer of commercial, young adult fiction, tyring to make sense of this whole other world. One I've avoided since college. The -ly words alone made my right face-cheek twitch.

"How to set a house on fire" a short story by Stace Budzko.


Budzko wrote a 150-200 word short using only instructive sentences. Every sentence a command or direction to a listener. Through the instruction, readers can figure out the context and relationship to the direction giver.

We read. Then Carol gave us 10 minutes to write. We had to write our own short using Budzko's example.

After my pulse slowed, and the sweat on my brow dried, I typed. Three sentences in and I was having a blast! Woah! This literary-style writing thing is kinda fun! It was like playing a word puzzle game. I was shocked at how creative my spontaneous words were.

So. Your turn.

Below is the piece I wrote. Once you read it, you have ten minutes to write a similar piece. You can't stop and edit, you just have to free-write your way through. When the timer is up, you put your knives (Oops, not Top Chef), your fingers down. Let's play with language. Ready?

Sleeping bag, toothbrush, tent and clean underwear. Got 'em? Follow me into the woods. Watch the ground, or you might trip on a rock, a root or rotting remains of the last hiker who dared touch the wildebeast that roam these woods. Don't' stop. Keep moving. Blazes of pink and red cut the sky. Darkness will consume you before you know it. Toss your watch. Time doesn't matter out here. Over there. See that ridge? Follow me. Off the trail. Don't be scared, the abominable snowbeastie is vacationing in Hawaii. He told me to tell you, "hi". Pee in the bush. Shake it off. Climb higher. Almost there. Pitch your tent. Count the harmonies in the wolves' cries. Keep your boots on. A pot and pan in your sleeping bag may be useful if a bear comes. Pound the pot and pan together and scream "icky, icky bear feet. Of my flesh you will not eat. Huzzah." Anything else may confuse the bear making him more angry. Go on, get in your tent. Be sure to pull out your compass and map. You're gonna need it in the morning. Bye-bye!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Author Platforms

The dreaded word for authors: platform.

Do you have one? Is it necessary for fiction authors? Why do we need one? These are a few of the questions I've asked on this touchy subject over the years.

Can't say I like the answers, either. Especially since I'm not a push-myself-into-the-spotlight type of person. In fact, my friends from high school and college (especially those in my [required] freshman speech class) would probably tell you that I am the last person they expected to ever stand in front of groups of people (some of them large) and speak on any subject. Yet, I do. And while I'm always nervous beforehand, I enjoy speaking—especially when I'm leading a Bible study.

I know that's God answering my hesitant and reluctant prayers to give me a platform if this call to write was truly from Him. I don't know that my platform or my area of influence and expertise will ever be a large one. But that suits my personality just fine. Leave me in the background! That's fine with me. But that's not always where I find myself. The Lord seems to delight in pushing me forward, forcing me to depend on Him. And that's good for me.

If you want to read more about platforms and how to develop one, check out this link.

Tomorrow (Jan. 10) at W!W!W!'s January meeting, I'll be speaking on "Self-Editing Tips for the Grammatically Challenged"—part of my platform in the writing world. I hope to see many of you there. Please check out W!W!W!'s page on this site for information on time and place.

HIS Writers Then and Now

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.

Monday, January 5, 2009

God's Calling

Hi. I’m Kathy Kovach, the ACFW Rocky Mountain Zone Director. I help organize local chapters in Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota. I’ve been a member of ACFW since 2002, although then it was called ACRW, American Christian Romance Writers. After serving in various small capacities, God opened an avenue for me to truly give back to this great organization.

Let me first begin by reminding you of God’s call on Moses’ life.

In Exodus 3:10, God said to Moses, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

And how did Moses respond? Yes, Lord, send me your willing servant? NO! He said, “Who am I…?”

God then answered back, “I will be with you.”

The conversation went downhill from here until God’s anger burned, and ultimately, Moses ended up doing what he was asked to do anyway.

Three years ago, in 2005, God gave me a vision -- writer’s groups dotted all along the front range of Colorado. On my own, the prospect seemed daunting. I argued that I wasn’t equipped for such a task, but God said, “I will be with you.”

That very year, ACFW announced that because of their growth, they were going to break up into regional zones. They asked for zone director volunteers as well as area coordinators to work within their own states. With an organization to back me in my vision, I felt a rush in my spirit. And fear -- yes, despite the fact that God had already assured me that He would be with me. I’d learned my lesson through Moses, so I didn’t continue to argue with God until His anger burned, but also didn’t jump on the bandwagon right away. I decided to pray about it, asking God which (if any) position I should volunteer for -- zone director or area coordinator. I wasn’t sure I could handle six states, but again, knew that God would equip me if it was His will.

I learned within a couple of months after that conference that Tracie Peterson had become the zone director for the Rocky Mountain Zone. She soon contacted me to consider the area coordinator job. You would think this would be confirmation for me. Right? I’m sure God was standing behind me as I read her email saying, “Take it, already!” But I asked her instead if I could pray about it and get back with her in a week.

That’s how seriously I took this honor. I wanted to know beyond any doubt that God had called me to that position. Even though I’d had the vision before the announcement, even though everything slid into place, even though the timing was right for me on a personal and professional level, I still needed that one thing to prompt me to say yes.

It finally came. That absolute peace, the assurance that God wanted me, only me, as area coordinator. And that He would do as He promised, “I will be with you.” I accepted the position within five days instead waiting until the end of the week.

I share this because many have been called, but few accept. Fear, timidity, busyness, all become excuses when the fallible human being is asked to do something for the Kingdom. And believe me, I’ve used every one of those excuses and more at one time or another.

If you are called to volunteer for ACFW, or anywhere else, know that just as in the case of Moses, who boldly told God, “Here I am, send Aaron,” God will equip you. You need not fear, for He will yoke Himself with you to get the job done.

In May of 2008, Tracie Peterson asked one more thing of me. She was stepping down from her Zone Director position and asked me to pick up the mantle. This time, instead of an email, she bought me a Mexican dinner. Maybe that’s why it was easier for me to say yes. Hey, it certainly didn’t hurt! Perhaps Moses would have accepted more readily with a spinach enchilada to entice him. During the same meal she bribed. . .er. . .asked Margie Vawter to move up from President of the Denver chapter to fill the Area Coordinator position I would be leaving. I’m sure she went through the same process that I did. Margie, your Colorado Coordinator, kicked off our new blog on January 2.

The vision God had given me three years ago is starting to see fulfillment. Colorado has two official chapters, Denver and Colorado Springs, with Pueblo, South Denver, Frisco, and Loveland all waiting in the wings.

And I have learned an important lesson. NEVER argue with God because He will have His way. And equally as vital: God keeps His promises.

May you also be encouraged by God’s words, “I will be with you.”


On a personal note, I’m a mom to a couple of great guys and Gramma to three awesome kids. I married my best friend, Jim, back in 1975, and we continue to pal around Colorado together in our Coleman camper equipped with fishing gear.

Professionally, my work has won awards, and I have three books out with Barbour Publishing, with three more contracted. For additional info, please stop by my website,, or check out my writing blog,

I will be speaking TONIGHT, Monday, Jan 5, with the South Denver group. Come out to the Barnes & Noble at Park Meadows, 8374 S. Willow Street, Lone Tree CO at 7:00 PM. My topic is:
Five Fireproof Practices for your First Five Pages
Have you submitted your manuscript only to have it come back in ashes? Are your contest scores rife with blazing comments? I will discuss five fireproof practices guaranteed to snuff out the negativity and put the sizzle where it belongs--in your excellent writing.

Friday, January 2, 2009

ACFW Colorado Goes Live

Back in November, ACFW Colorado launched their own Web site, thanks to Tiff Stockton, our resident Web designer. And with the new year, we are finally ready to blog. We want this blog and the Web site to be helpful to everyone interested in writing Christian fiction. It's specifically geared to promote the American Christian Fiction Writers who live in or near Colorado.

I'm the Colorado Coordinator in the Rocky Mountain Zone, and I have the responsibility of helping the established chapters keep going and aiding new chapters getting started. I've been writing for a long time—over twenty-five years! But I've wanted to be a published author since I was very young. Raised in a Christian home and living in other countries the first few years of my life (my parents were missionaries), I've always had a desire to point others to Christ through my writing. As far as being published, I've had several articles published in magazines and newsletters; I maintain my own blog, The Writer's Tool; and I've had several devotionals published, with many more coming out in devotional collections from Barbour later this year. As for fiction, I write cozy and historical mysteries—none of which are published . . . yet. *smile* I've been a member of ACFW since 2004, and I served as president of the first chapter established in Colorado, HIS Writers, for nearly two years before moving on to the position of Colorado Coordinator. By day, I'm a freelance editor, working for two Christian publishers and several individual clients. I live in Westminster with my husband, Roger, of over thirty years, and we have two adult children: Kathy and Randy.

Take some time to check out the rest of the Web site. We'd love to hear from you, so please use the contact page to let us know of your interest or concerns. Leave a comment on the blog to let us know what you would like to see us talk about in our posts.

We have a rotating schedule of bloggers each month. Kathy Kovach, the Rocky Mountain Zone Director, and I, along with our chapter officers will be blogging at least once each month on various topics related to the writing life and writing Christian fiction. So check us out each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as we blog through 2009. We'll start the official rotation on Monday, January 5. In these first-time blogs we will be introducing ourselves, telling you a little about us and our responsibilities within ACFW Colorado, and keeping you up-to-date with conferences, workshops, and chapter meetings.

If you're not already a part of one of our chapters, please check out each chapter's page and find out where they meet and what they will be doing each month. I look forward to meeting many of you, if I haven't already.

May you all have a blessed and wonderful New Year!~

Marjorie Vawter
Copyright ACFW Colorado | Layout and Graphic Design Eagle Designs