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.