ACFW Virginia Writer’s 2018 Conference – Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for ACFW Virginia Annual Writer’s Conference. Our fourth year will bring you keynote speaker, Ronie Kendig. Join us as she gives a keynote speech and then opens with a general class session: Digging Deep with Characters. Afterward, we’ll break for The Crown Award Luncheon and announce the winners of The Crown writing contest (submissions close Friday so hurry and enter). You’ll have your choice from nine classes for the afternoon sessions and will close with a discussion panel for all.

Find more information on our conference page.

The Crown 2018 Contest Now Open

We are now accepting entries for The 2018 Crown Award.

This writing contest gives unpublished writers a chance to have their first ten pages judged by authors, editors, and agents.

Finalists will be announced September 28, 2018 via blog and our Facebook page.

Winners will be announced at the ACFW Virginia Annual conference on November 3, 2018.

Go here for more information and to enter the contest.

The Crown Finalists

Announcing The Crown award finalists!

Young Adult/Speculative/Thriller

In the Middle of the Whirlwind

Water’s Break

Drafted to Deceive

Historical/Historical Romance

Counterfeit Love

The Red Canary

The Duke’s Refuge

Contemporary/Contemporary Romance

Take Two on Love

Remember Not

Red Carpet Summer


Congrats to the finalists! 

Autism Awareness Month – Asperger’s in Writing

If you’ve been a reader for a very long time, like I have, then over time you’ve no doubt loved many quirky characters in the stories you’ve read. They’re like the salt added to a recipe you’re cooking, to give it more flavor. The character whose lack of social insight gets him or her into trouble with others, often with comic results. The hero’s handsome geeky friend who somehow attracts females but once they get chatting with him they drift off in his direction.

There is argument within the field as to exactly what constitutes Aspergers Disorder and is it truly on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. I was a psychologist for twenty-five years during which time there initially was NO diagnosis of Aspergers. The fact that Aspergers has now moved on the latest Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) to the Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the code removed for Aspergers, doesn’t convince me that the diagnosis will stay there. There is a movement among people some to not consider Aspergers or mild autism as a condition but simply a variant in functioning. That is how it was treated in the past. Quirky kids, unless there was indeed a developmental impact (and per the diagnosis there is supposed to have been significant developmental impact) weren’t labeled.

Think about some of these characteristics and whether you have observed them in others, for example readers, writers and librarians: Excessive (obsessive) single interest, (books!), difficulty in social interaction (too busy reading or writing!), tendency to predominate conversations with long one-sided topics of their interest (usually their latest or favorite book), excessively involved in routine and order – ok, well that last one might only apply to the librarians! As a former psychologist, I’ve found these characteristics to be with some frequency observed in all those groups. But unless these individuals also manifested a significant developmental delay, they wouldn’t be diagnosed. Furthermore, you wouldn’t say they are on the ASD spectrum! They simply manifest some traits which can both help them in their vocations but possibly affect social relationships. Check out this online summary.

If you check out that article on Wiki, you’ll see that there are many more difficulties involved with those diagnosed with the disorder. I get concerned that writers who choose to include a character in a story, should be sure they’ve got it right as far as the criteria. I usually prefer to write stories where we have characters with all types of characteristics and issues and it isn’t necessary to identify the disorder. I’ve also noticed other authors doing the same. Readers comment in Christian readers Facebook groups things like, “I thought this character might have Aspergers.” I don’t think for the reader that having a label or diagnosis is that helpful in the vast majority of cases. The descriptions of the behaviors can allow the reader to draw her or her own inferences. After all, people have reading those kinds of books for hundreds of years without the need to have a character diagnosed!

What do you think? Do you prefer to draw your own conclusions about characters without an author spelling it all out? In my novel, Saving the Marquise’s Granddaughter (White Rose/Pelican, 2016) my heroine has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which she overcomes with God’s help. And since she lived in the 1740s we don’t have a diagnosis – just a manifestation of her symptoms!

ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at

National Volunteer Month

April is officially National Volunteer Month. April is dedicated to honoring volunteers in our communities and to encourage volunteerism.

Think about your community. People of different ages volunteer to help others locally, nationally and globally. Friends and strangers come together with a goal of helping those in need. There are volunteers in animal shelters, too.

Volunteers share their time and hearts by feeding the hungry, donating clothing, visiting nursing homes, giving blood, helping raise funds for various illnesses such as cancer and arthritis and in many more ways. They provide for others with their selfless acts of love and kindness.

Have you heard about youth groups who rake leaves for seniors? Or volunteers who greet folks as they enter the hospital doors? Also the friendly greeters standing by the door at conferences waiting to give directions? There are people who help with animals at the local shelter by walking dogs, cleaning kennels and showing love to the animals.

People travel long distances to build or rebuild homes after devastating conditions occur. Some people fly to other countries to help dig wells to give fresh water.

There are companies who encourage their employees to volunteer.

April is a time to recognize volunteers and thank them for the time and effort they give to help the world. There are ceremonies and recognition luncheons held throughout the country, highlighting the awesome blessings that volunteers provide to others.

Do you volunteer? Would you like to help others? Ask your friends and family for ideas. A group project might be a good idea. There are many ways to help others. Find out how you can be a blessing.

1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (NIV).


Melissa Henderson

Bio here Melissa Henderson lives in Mechanicsville, VA. She was born in Hampton and has lived in various cities in VA. She and her husband, Alan, have been married for over 37 years and have one son(Mike) who is married to daughter-in-love(Christine). Melissa was taught the love of reading and writing at an early age, from her parents. She is now working on her first inspirational fiction novel. Her passions are volunteering, Bible Studies and reading and writing. You can find her online at