|Johnnie Alexander Donley|
The 3C Highway
by Johnnie Alexander Donley
Though I’ve lived over half my life in the Sunshine State, I was born and raised in the state of the 3C cities – Ohio. The early U.S. Highway 62 was known to Buckeye old-timers as 3C Highway because it ran from Cincinnati through Columbus to Cleveland.
My publication journey travels along a different 3C highway – conferences, critiquers, and contests.
Perhaps following this route will benefit you, too.
After I attended one major conference, an editor encouraged me to finish a manuscript. Another year, I met an agent who referred me to a colleague who sent me a contract.
Just a few weeks ago, I attended one day of the Florida Christian Writers Conference so I could chat with my agent and editor. Being able to talk to them face-to-face, catching up with writing friends, and the workshops made the trip worthwhile.
Conferences can be expensive, but the networking opportunities are priceless. You can take workshops from publishing professionals, meet editors and agents face-to-face, and share meals with amazing writers. If a multi-day conference is out of your price range, consider attending for just one day.
On my drive to my first major conference, I asked God to help me find a friend. He gave me four. These ladies became my first critiquers.
Later, I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and was placed in a critique group, now known as Imagine That! Writers. I couldn’t ask for more talented partners.
If you’re not in a critique group, ask God to lead you to the best people for you. Perhaps you’ll meet them at a conference, or you’ll find compatible writers in an online critique loop. You might find someone in a local writers organization. Pray without ceasing until God answers this prayer.
In the past few years, I’ve entered four contests with three different stories. I didn’t do very well in the first one. In another, two judges loved my entry, but the third did not. In 2011, I won the ACFW Genesis Historical Fiction Category, and last year I placed as a Bronze Medal Finalist in the My Book Therapy Frasier Contest.
Of course, it’s affirming to get high scores in a contest and gratifying to win.
But my primary reason for entering contests was for the judges’ feedback. A judge who points out weaknesses is worth the entry price.
A professionally-run contest is a great way to get feedback on your manuscript. If it’s among the high-scoring entries, it may be seen by agents and editors who volunteer as final round judges. And that’s almost like taking a shortcut!
It takes a few hours to drive the old 3C Highway through Ohio’s major cities.
A publishing journey, for most of us will take years. But by traveling our own 3C Highway, the trip may be a little easier, perhaps a little shorter, and absolutely a lot more fun as we attend conferences, participate in critique groups, and enter contests.
Join the Discussion: What has been the most positive 3C experience for you? What are your 3C goals and priorities?
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Author Johnnie Alexander Donley writes stories of suspense, intrigue, and romance set in World War II. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest for Historical Fiction in 2011. A history enthusiast, Johnnie has also edited nonfiction manuscripts and textbooks. She is a founding member and current president of the ACFW Central Florida chapter. A longtime Florida resident, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, stacks of books, and her papillon Rugby.
Treasured Moments blog: http://www.johnniedonley.com