Congratulations to Timothy Owens, Summerville, SC, whose The Search Committee was announced as the winner of the 2010 Operation First Novel contest at this year’s Writing for the Soul conference.
Tim, a Guild member, came up with the idea for the book after serving on a search committee. “Write what you know, right?” he said, when asked about his inspiration. “The personal lives of the committee members weave through the committee’s weekend trips to visit churches. Much of that came from personal experience and observation.”
Karen Watson, associate publisher for fiction at Tyndale House, which will publish the novel, said that personal touch is one of its strengths. “Tim’s story portrays in funny and poignant ways how life as part of a church community can change us for the better,” she said. “Readers will see themselves or people they know among the seven unlikely members of The Search Committee.”
Tim is married (for 29 years) to Ruth. They have a daughter and three sons. He is an engineer and is currently part owner of an environmental engineering company.
As most new writers, he wrote during whatever time he could find. “I worked on this book over a one year period, mostly late at night after our kids were asleep,” Tim said. “That was five years ago. I sent the book out and received 39 rejection letters. That was a character-building experience. I put the manuscript aside and picked it up a little over a year ago. I polished it a little, sent it out, and an agent called me a couple of weeks later.
“There are several themes associated with the characters, but the overall theme is the same as for my life—it’s all about God’s grace.”
Many at the conference commented that Tim seemed so calm and confident when he accepted the award that he must have already known he’d won. He said the truth is quite different. “I had no idea. As for the calm and confident appearance, it was because I was having an out of body experience and was not anywhere near reality at that point.”
The 2011 Operation First Novel contest is open. Visit online for the details.