Good News: When Mountains Move Wins 2014 Carol Award!

AmandaBostic_JulieCantrell_2014ACFWThis weekend, I traveled to St. Louis, Mo. to join nearly a thousand folks for the 2014 Carol Awards Gala.

When Mountains Move had been shortlisted as one of three finalists in the Historical Fiction category, alongside two extraordinarily talented authors: Liz Tolsma for Snow on the Tulips (a stunning WWII tale), and Diana Wallis Taylor for Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate (a fresh look at this historical icon).

I was stunned (to say the least) when Millie’s story was selected. The Carol Award was formerly known as “ACFW’s Book-of-the-Year Contest” before being renamed in honor of editor-extraordinaire, Carol Johnson.

What an honor it was to join so many talented authors who were being recognized for the LONG hours and HARD work they have put into building works of fiction.

Because I never expected to win (and because I’m a complete ditz and usually make a total fool of myself in public), I stuttered and stumbled my way through the acceptance speech, huffing and puffing in a flawed effort NOT to cry. My hands were shaking and I was trying to talk super-fast so I wouldn’t bore everyone in the room.

Needless to say, the entire event is a blur to me, but when I viewed the video — I realized I had failed to mention so many people who deserved recognition, including my sweet friend and brilliant critique partner Lisa Wingate, my devoted and dear publicist, Jeane Wynn, and my incredible tribe of author pals, especially the ones who blog with me daily at Southern Belle View.

If my head had not been spinning, I would also have thanked my faithful friends who have saved me this year, again and again, in ways too large to measure: Chris Greissinger, Kerri Greene, Gina Beltz, Ken and Teresa Murray, Larry Wells, Christa Allan, Carol Langendoen, and others (in no particular order).

Because I’ve had a few requests from folks who wanted to see the acceptance speech, I’ll post it here — for those who are curious, or who need a good laugh, or who simply want to make fun of me to break up the workday. (I’m game. It’s all in good fun.)

But before you begin, let’s add a little lagniappe to this “good news” report. (I’m a Louisiana girl after all and we always like to add a “little something extra.”)

I’m THRILLED to introduce y’all to my new editor, Amanda Bostic (see her celebrating with me in the photo above), who will be working with me to produce a third novel with Harper Collins Christian under the direction of publisher Daisy Hutton and her BRILLIANT team.

We are hoping the book will be released November 2015, and it will be a contemporary work of women’s fiction set in my home state of Louisiana. Please stay tuned for more information to follow in the months ahead, and thank you all for your tremendous support.

 

The Christian Left: Yes, We Do Exist

More than 700 attendees enjoyed the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference 2012

I just returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Dallas, TX. I admit, I was a little worried about what I might find at my very first ACFW event. Would everyone be eating a certain franchise’s chicken sandwiches with or without a pickle? Would I be expected to donate stacks of cash to some gilded offering plate? Would I have to walk to a stage and let some shiny man in a purple suit touch my head and bless me?

In a world of spray-tanned, bleached-teeth televangelists selling credit-card salvation, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Not to mention the onslaught of angry Facebook missives and vicious talk-radio chatter that sadly shines a hateful spotlight on the Christian worldview.

So…after boarding a plane and bulleting myself through the atmosphere (in what amounts to not much more than a metal sleeve with pretty wings and a drink cart)…I am happy to report…all the Christians I met at ACFW were wonderful, compassionate, fun folks! Better yet, I was reminded that liberal-minded Christians aren’t such a slim minority after all.

I’m VERY lucky to have the most wonderful literary agent, Greg Johnson (Left) and the most amazing acquisitions editor, John Blase (Right) who dared to take a chance on Into the Free. I can’t imagine two better guys to have at my side for this journey.

I’m grateful I published Into the Free with a fabulous Christian publishing house, David C Cook. I’m thankful I got to know many wonderfully talented writers who choose to write work that inspires people. I’m excited to return home to use the skills I’ve learned, and I’m humbled by the many people who approached me about the impact Millie’s story has had on them.

I’m so impressed by the people I met this week, I’m eager to introduce them to you. So…watch for tons of fun interviews. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek.

Meet: Lisa Wingate, my friend and ACFW roommate whose brilliant novel, Dandelion Summer, earned the very first PERFECT SCORE and sent Lisa home with a Carol Award.

You’ll LOVE these two brilliant debut authors, Nicole Quigley (Left) whose YA novel Like Moonlight at Low Tide is a must read, and Jordyn Redwood (Mid) whose suspense novel Proof is one you won’t be able to put down until the end. Plus, they are absolutely the sweetest most amazing people you will ever meet. I’m very, very lucky to call them my friends.

And just in case you thought Christian parties weren’t any fun…Meet the werewolf and the robot, two speculative fiction authors who brought the Gala up a notch. (And yes…they’re both super nice guys. I promise!)

Meet the CBA’s Newest Star – Katie Ganshert!

I met Katie Ganshert through an online writer’s support group with WordServe Literary Agency. We hit it off right away, and I have thoroughly enjoyed having her share this journey with me as our debut novels both hit shelves this spring.

Katie’s first novel, Wildflowers from Winter, will release May 8th, but YOU CAN GET A FREE COPY BEFORE IT EVEN HITS SHELVES (see below for details).  I had the privilege of getting an advanced copy of the book and thought many of you who enjoy inspirational reads might enjoy Katie’s work as well.  Her book is a work of Christian fiction and is published by WaterBrook Press.

JC: Let’s start by discussing your journey as a debut novelist. Tell us a bit about how this story first came to be and share a quick glimpse of your experience in finding an agent and a publisher.

KG: When I was up nursing my son in the wee hours of the morning, the voice of a twelve year old girl came into my head and refused to leave. So I sat down at the computer and I wrote this prologue. I had no story to go with it. At the same time, I’d been toying with the idea of telling a story that explored the bonds of friendship. So I decided to squish the ideas together and Wildflowers from Winter was born.

This was the book that landed me an agent and a publisher. Before Wildflowers, I’d written two other novels. When I wrote this one, I knew it was different. I knew it was better. So I signed up for the ACFW conference in 2009 and pitched it to my dream agent, Rachelle Gardner, and the senior editor at Waterbrook/Multnomah. Two months later, Rachelle called to offer me representation. A year after that, my book made it through pub board and Waterbrook/Multnomah offered me a two book deal.

JC: You begin the book with a prologue written in first-person narrative, but then you switch to third person. Throughout the novel, first-person segments are peppered in, bringing the reader back and forth across time and space. How did you decide to use this unique technique and did you find it challenging? Are there other books you used as models as you experimented with this method?

KG: I have a brilliant editor, Shannon Marchese. The original version had a first person prologue and the rest of the story was told in third person. Shannon thought the prologue felt orphaned. So she encouraged me to write six or seven more first person scenes and intersperse them throughout the novel. I loved her suggestion. And I loved writing these scenes. The end result was a novel with a lot more depth and texture than the original version.

JC: Your main character, while likeable, is a bit stubborn, and she tends to make things harder on herself than they need to be (like many of us). She has a difficult relationship with her mother, in particular. I’m fascinated by mother-daughter relationships and am convinced they are one of the most important of all human relationships. What led you to write about this mother-daughter duo, and what did you learn from examining the relationship from Bethany’s point of view.

KG: I’m also fascinated with mother-daughter relationships (one of the many, many reasons why I was so captivated with your story, Julie!).

Bethany’s ashamed of her mother. She sees her mom as weak. Yet as the author, I knew things about Ruth that Bethany didn’t. It made me realize how easy it is to judge others, especially when that other person is our mom. It’s so easy to be critical of our parents. We forget that they had lives before we were born, with goals and dreams and disappointments and failures. 

JC: Readers often assume a novel is based on real events in the author’s life. What, if anything, in this book was drawn from your real life?

KG: The back story of Robin and Bethany’s friendship is inspired by real life events. I had a best friend growing up  and like Bethany and Robin, we lost touch in college. Our lives went separate ways. I remember wondering if anything could bring us back together again. It’s a question that helped me with the plot of Wildflowers. So that aspect of the novel is definitely entrenched in real-life experience.

JC: What are you working on for the future and when can fans expect more of your work?

KG: Right now, I’m working on revisions for book 2, Wishing on Willows, which releases March 19, 2013. This is Robin’s story. Readers will get to see a lot of familiar places and familiar faces.

JC: Finally, what advice do you have for folks who are interested in writing a novel?

KG: Ecclesiastes 7:8 comes to mind: Finishing is better than starting…

There are so many people out there who want to write a novel, but very few follow through and finish. So my advice would be to find an idea you’re passionate about. A story you would love to read.

Then sit down and make yourself write every day until it’s finished. When it’s done, read some craft books and start editing.

If you want to be published, find another story that stirs in your heart and start the process over. Read a lot. Write a lot. And persevere.

 

JC: Thanks so much for taking time to share your thoughts with us. I’m sure everyone will enjoy getting to know you as much as I have. 

ONE LUCKY COMMENTER will win a free copy of Wildflowers from Winter. It’s as easy as this:

  1. Leave a reply to let Katie know you want to win a free copy of Wildflowers from Winter.
  2. One winner will be randomly selected Friday, April 20.

Good Luck!

 

 

Learn more about Katie and her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, by following her blog: www.katieganshert.com/blog