CONTACT: Dave Sheets, President, Christian Writers Guild

COLORADO SPRINGS, COThe Covered Deep by Brandy Vallance was announced February 13, at the Christian Writers Guild “Writing for the Soul” conference, as winner of the 2013 Operation First Novel. Vallance receives $20,000, plus publication by contest co-sponsor Worthy Publishing.

Vallance, a mother of two from Colorado Springs, is the first graduate of the Christian Writers Guild’s Apprentice writing course to win the annual contest.

In her novel, an incurably romantic bookworm from Appalachia wins an essay contest and travels to England and the Holy Land in search of the perfect romantic hero.

Jeana Ledbetter, vice president of editorial at Worthy, says, “A strong narrative voice telling a captivating story is more important to us than perceived marketability or a distinctive genre. We are looking for fiction that movesus.”

Vallance says, “Every summer as a child, I visited family in Southern Ohio and Kentucky. The cadence and beauty of that region planted seeds that became Bianca’s backstory. When I merged that with my love of the Victorian era and all things British, I had the beginnings of The Covered Deep. Though I had the beginnings of my novel, I still didn’t have the tools I needed to write it. The Apprentice course taught me to write scenes and the importance of meeting deadlines. I developed a thick skin. I began to understand the business side of writing.

“The Apprentice course led to my first staff writing job and 50 publishedarticles. That led to other writing milestones, which led to Operation First Novel. But none of it would have happened without the confidence and knowledge the Guild gave me. I can truly say that the Christian Writers Guild taught me how to write.”

CWG president Dave Sheets says writers should be inspired by Vallance’s perseverance. “She rewrote her novel 10 times over the course of 14 years. Learning your craft and perfecting a story takes time and dedication.”

Since graduating from the Guild’s Apprentice course, Vallance has served on staff with Miss Kitty’s Journal, a magazine focusing on the Victorian era. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she won its 2012 Genesis Contest for historical romance.

Christian Writers Guild owner and New York Times bestselling novelist Jerry B.Jenkins began Operation First Novel in 2004. The contest is open to Guild members who have not yet had a book released by a traditional, royalty-paying publisher.

Details of the 2014 Operation First Novel will be released this Spring on the Guild’s website:

For 50 years, the Christian Writers Guild has trained people to sell their writing, offering mentor-guided courses, a critique service, and online seminars. The Guild is affiliated with 1Source, a consortium that offers comprehensive independent publishing services, including editing, design, marketing, marketing coaching, book production, and distribution.

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