Only one more day until the Grand Rapids mini-workshop - and it's not too late to come! Meet us at the Bob Evans' on 28th Street by I96 at 11:30 tomorrow, and hear Chris Jager, fiction buyer for Baker Book House, share what buyers and readers are looking for in books! Email me to RSVP, and click here for more details.Welcome to Meet the Member! (If you're interested in being featured, email me and I'll add you to the queue. Also drop me a line if you have any exciting news to share in your writing life so I can share it here on the blog.)
Today we have a special treat - we get a chance to learn a bit more about one of the founding members of ACFW! Read on to learn more about multi-published author Gail Gaymer Martin.
GAIL: I'm a lifetime Michigander and live in a small northwest suburb in Oakland County with my husband Bob who is my biggest cheerleader, assistant, and love of my life. I grew up in the same area with Christian parents and a sister and brother.
I wanted to write even as a child. My third grade teacher wrote "Gail is a good writer" on my report card, but I didn't begin writing for publication for nearly 50 years. I began my post high school education at Wayne State University in Detroit with a journalism major but switched almost immediately to a secondary education teacher. I finished with a degree in English and public speaking.
I always wrote materials for my church---plays, skits, programs, puppet scripts, and as a child I wrote my own Nancy Drew stories and later very tragic romances (so they weren't really romance). I received my master's degree in counseling and after a few years moved from teaching into the counseling department when I continued post-masters courses in group counseling. I worked in that capacity until I retired.
Since I was younger than many when I retired and knew I wanted to do something more with my life I submitted a church resource book of four of my Christmas programs written for my church. In January (four months after submission), I'd sold my first book.
JOANNE: What a journey you've had! What do you like to write?
GAIL: Although I write romance, I prefer to write women's fiction which often includes a romance and romantic suspense. No matter what genre, I want to write real---real life characters with real life problems. I watch them grow and change and in the process, the stories touch readers hearts and draws them closer to Jesus.
JOANNE: How long have you been writing? At ACFW?
GAIL: Besides all my childhood writing, as I teen I wrote for two, one a city paper and the other, a county newspaper where I wrote features and news stories on the teen page, but the more serious writing for publication began in 1994 with the submission of that first church program book. I continued to write magazine articles on parenting and teen issues using my counseling expertise. I wrote short stories, devotionals, poetry and everything I wrote found a home and was published. In 1997 I decided to try what I really wanted to do---write fiction. The next year spring of 1998, I'd sold my first novel to Barbour Publishing for the Heartsong Presents line. I sold another to Barbour in 1999, and that year Love Inspired contracted my first novel with them
As far as my membership with ACFW, I've been with it since day one. Six writers of Christian fiction met in a chat room in February 2000 shared our dreams and hopes for a Christian organization for romance writers. We had all been members of RWA. Within two years, so many writers of all Christian fiction genres wanted to be part of the organization, we re-incorporated and become American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). We had no idea what God had in store for this amazing organization, and I'm honored to be one of the six cofounders.
JOANNE:So very cool. I know we're all thankful you six got together and founded this wonderful organization. Tell us about your publishing history.
GAIL: Today I have signed fifty-one book contracts with over three million books in print. My books have won numerous national awards , including a Carol Award for A LOVE FOR SAFEKEEPING, a romantic suspense. My next Love Inspired release is June 2012, A DREAM OF HIS OWN (4-1/2 stars from RT), and the next release is the first in a new series, HER VALENTINE HERO to be released in February 2013. I'm now working on the proposal for the final books to finish that series. I have other books in the works that my agent is busy submitting for me. I always say since I starting writing at an older age than most, I think the Lord gave my career an extra push.
JOANNE: You sure are prolific! What are you working on right now?
GAIL: I'm working on the second book in The Sisters series which I call GEARING UP FOR LOVE. The story is about Ashley, sister of the heroine in the first book, and a firefighter. Ashley is a widow with a three year old son who never met his father who was killed in Afghanistan. I plan two books to follow.
JOANNE: What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
GAIL: Before I was published, Karen Ball told me a novel opens as if someone leaps from a train and keeps on running. I still believe this. Action. Hooks, and Pacing. But along with this, remember that honing the craft never stops. After writing and having contracted so many novels, I continue to read magazines and books on writing, attend workshops at conferences and try new techniques in my writing so I can be the best writer I can be. The Lord gave me the talent and the success, and I want to give my best to Him.
JOANNE: It is so encouraging to me to know you are still learning. What a great example. To you, what is the best part of ACFW? The GLC chapter?
GAIL: ACFW is a place where like minded people sharing the same faith can support one another in our love of writing, learning our craft and being there for each other when things get tough. I love the camaraderie that is found online and seen at our amazing conference each year. Worship, workshops, meal time and fellowship weave together to offer novelists the sense that someone else understands their crazy world as they listen to imaginary people in their heads. The Great Lakes Chapter offers the same kind of support and learning but at the local level which makes it nice for those who can't always get to the conference.
JOANNE: How can folks connect with you?
GAIL: I am available in many places. My website is www.gailmartin.com. I have a blog at www.gailmartin.blogspot.com where I send out book tours, ideas and thoughts, fun things in my life, conference news and much more. Writing Fiction Right www.writingright-martin.blogspot.com is a comprehensive writer's blog that provides information on writing techniques, tools, resources and creative prompts for writers. Those interested can sign up to be notified when a new post is published.
I'm on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gail.g.martin.3
My Readers group on FB is at: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/groups/110543112472/
JOANNE: Anything else you want to add?
GAIL: I'll add a thank you for inviting me to be the first keynote speaker and one of the workshop presenters at the first Great Lakes Chapter meeting a couple of years ago. Being a co-founder of ACFW and then being part of the new Great Lakes Chapter was a special honor and joy.
As you pursue your calling as a writer, it's good to test your efforts by asking yourselves periodically these questions. Is the work and heartache worth it? Could I stop writing today and still enjoy life? Am I willing to sacrifice many things that I enjoy to be a writer? Has God called me to write and be published? (There's a difference.) If you cannot honestly answer yes to each of these questions, then ask yourself what else you can do to serve the Lord. Where is he calling you now? If you can say yes, then be ready for the long haul to earn the battle scars of the publishing business until you honor God with the best writing you can offer him. That's my prayer for you.
JOANNE: That is incredible, wonderful advice. Thank you so much, Gail, for sharing your heart, and your talent, with us!
(If you'd like to be featured here, email me and I'll put you in the queue.)