Monday, July 6, 2015

ACFW June Luncheon with Linda Glaz and Gail Gaymer Martin

We had a fantastic time at the luncheon in Fort Wayne on June 20! If you weren't there, maybe this little re-cap will give you a good peek into what we experienced. 

Our first speaker of the day was Linda Glaz, literary agent with Hartline Literary Agency (and my agent and Rick Barry's agent as well). Linda spoke on "Everything You Wanted to Know About Writing but Were Afraid to Ask." Some of the highlights of her talk included anecdotes of her experiences both as a writer and an agent. Especially insightful was the information she shared regarding POV (point of view), especially writing from a male point of view. 

"People want character-driven books with constant motivation. Every single thing that happens to a character must have a motivation." She also stressed the difference between "preachiness" in books or having an agenda. Our books should influence in subtle ways just as Jesus's parables did. 

Linda also reminded us that readers today want "instant gratification and they want it by page one. Page one has to catch the reader." Also, the characters need powerful opposition and they must have two paths to choose from. Readers need to wonder which one they will choose. 

Gail Gaymer Martin delighted us with her presentation on "The Sagging Middle." Here are some of the tips she shared about elements of a great story:
  • When one conflict is solved, a greater one arises and tension builds
  • Characters placed in impossible situations
  • Characters forced to do something they'd never do
  • Secrets
  • Subplots
  • Red herrings

My favorite tip was "twisting the premise." Examples of this are situations such as a bad first date instead of a great first date, rain instead of sunshine and "no" instead of "yes." Good examples of twisted premises are the movies Under the Tuscan Sun, No Country for Old Men, Sixth Sense and The Village.

Other movies with great premise twists are Rosemary's Baby (instead of a happy pregnancy resulting in a happy human baby...), The Secret Window (Johnny Depp), and Shutter Island (DiCaprio).

The more I learn about writing fiction, the more I realize how clever and brilliant good writers must be. It's harder than ever to captivate an audience, and we'll only learn to do so by continuing to study the craft. Another thing I'm impressed with among Christian writers, is how generously information is shared. This is because our writing, as Christians, carries with it the precious responsibility of bringing hope to as many as possible before the soon and coming return of King Jesus. Being a member of ACFW helps us to keep our calling sure and our craft fresh.

I'm truly grateful to have been a part of the meeting June 20. I learned a lot and was reminded of things I'd forgotten. The only thing that would have made it better was to have all of YOU there with us! 

Until next time -- write on! Jesus is coming soon!

Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots and countless short stories, biographies and other books for middle grades. She currently serves as Vice-President of ACFW-Indiana Chapter and resides in North Manchester with her pastor-husband, twin adult sons with autism and her mother-in-law with Alzheimer's. Her three dogs and two cats serve as attentive editors.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Amazon Says, “Bigger Is Better!”

As of July 1, changed its compensation schedule for authors who participate in the Kindle Select and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library programs. These programs pay authors out of a monthly pool of royalty money; heretofore, each author got a proportionate slice of the “kitty” based on the number of times a book was used. But now the slice is based on the number of pages that are read.

So authors of big books (epic novels and technical manuals) will be paid more than authors of short books (poetry and children’s stories) if their books are used by the same number of readers. 

In a blog post on June 24, the Authors Guild observed, “At first glance, it appears that tying royalties to pages read will only incentivize authors to produce books that compel readers to keep reading. It’s not so clear whether that will result in better books.” Indeed not!

Who knows? Amazon's scheme may inspire a new generation of Tolstoys and Dostoevskys to spin yarns that run over 1,000 pages. Want to try your hand at it?


Joe Allison and his wife, Judy, live in Anderson IN, where Joe serves as Editorial Director of Discipleship Resources & Curriculum for Warner Press, Inc. Joe has several nonfiction books in print, including Swords and Whetstones: A Guide to Christian Bible Study Resources. He's currently writing a trilogy of Christian historical novels set in the Great Depression.

Visit Joe's blog at

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Printers Row Lit Fest 2015

Rubbing shoulders with other book lovers is a heady experience. In June I attended my first Printers Row Lit Fest. I’d heard about this annual event before, but never attended because I was intimidated by its location in the South Loop of Chicago. This year, I’m striving to be bolder so I left the green cornfields of Indiana with my travel-wise daughter and headed west. With an easy hour and a half drive, Mapquest put us at a parking garage one block from the festival.

The street was cordoned off for tented vendors. We passed booths of books sold by genre such as cooking or mystery and publishers booths representing multiple genres. Other booths sold photos or posters, T-shirts or book bags. Excitement filled the air as the crowds grew. There was not enough time before the scheduled activities to see everything, but one book caught my eye.


 "Hey, there a book by my author friend Lisa Lickel," I said.

                                                        And there’s Lisa!”

I was thrilled to meet Lisa after being crit partners years ago on this very book series and being part of the Barn Door blog which she hosts. After a brief chat with Lisa, we rushed to the first cooking demo.

Summer Miller, author of “New Prairie Kitchen” showed us how to make fresh-off-the-cob corn chowder. The hour passed quickly and my daughter stayed in the Good Eating Stage for other demos with such noted author cooks as Rick Bayless, “Mexico One Plate at a Time”, who also appears regularly on PBS TV.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed a panel discussion by Chicago’s top dramatic podcasters Keith Ecker, Erin Kahoa, Ryan Duke, and Clayton Faits. I learned audio podcasting can be done well with simple or sophisticated equipment, depending on your purpose, but mostly it is a team effort of combined skills.

Only one program disappointed me. When the emcee gave a profanity-and-topic disclaimer, (in response to the look on my front row face?) and proceeded to break my 3 F-word rule in the next sentence, I left. So many other exciting sessions remained, such as the photo below shows.

Three actors from the Bruised Orange Theater Company performed dramatic readings of real, uncensored personal ads from the Chicago area such as, "I saw you on the corner of Dearborn at 2 am in the morning and was drawn to your wavy red hair glowing in the street light. I really only wanted to help you fix your bicycle. There was no need to run away. I'd forgotten I was in that Zombie costume. Anyway, would you like to meet?" As billeted, they were so real you’d think they were fiction. We laughed heartily.

Chicagoans read their Mystery Writers Flash Fiction contest submissions and I participated as a 'Q' in a Q & A session with authors Sara Paretsky and Clare O'Donohue.

The day passed far too swiftly. With staggered performances and activities I had to choose programs. I didn’t attend any poetry or writing workshops. I missed the children’s book readings and fun activities and YA programs, as well as all of the various evening sessions. Yet, what a satisfying, pleasurable experience.

The memory of the day still warms me, including our lunch experience at Amarit, a Thai restaurant at 600 S. Dearborn. They served the freshest, most amazingly delicious sushi we’d ever tasted. It was so good we stopped again for a second order before we headed home and my daughter returned this past weekend. If you don’t care for Thai food, there’s plenty of other choices within a block or two of the Fest. After all, it is Chicago.  

Printers Row Lit Fest runs two days with pay-for activities and workshops as well as numerous free events, such as what we attended. We had such a good time that I’m sure we will visit future Lit Fests. Perhaps INACFWers  should plan a trip next year. Anyone up for it?

Mary Allen has authored numerous articles and three books of poetry. She speaks at the La Porte Christian Women's Club in July and performs poetry at the La Porte Arts in the Park programs June 26 and July 23. 

After the past year’s planned hiatus, she looks forward to again contributing to Hoosier Ink. Follow the link on her name to like her page.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Trademark Etiquette

As I mentioned in my April post, writers can use brand names in their fiction without worrying about copyright infringement. If your character wants to drink 7-Up, let her. You don’t have to call it lemon-lime soda if you don’t want to.

When someone uses a trademark to identify the actual product, that is called a nominative use. The trademark law doesn’t impose any requirements on writers and others who use trademarks this way. Still, a respectful author will honor the trademark owner’s rights as much as possible.

Several years ago, I saw a Formica® advertisement asking writers to “circle their Rs.” (The ® indicates that what precedes it is a registered trademark.) A registered trademark can lose its protection if consumers use it generically to refer to other brands of competitive products. After people started calling all facial tissues “kleenex” and all photocopies “xeroxes,” the owners of those trademarks spent a lot of money educating consumers on the proper use of the terms. Formica is trying to prevent the same thing from happening to it.

Unfortunately, Formica’s solution has its own problems. Although word-processing programs include the ® among the available symbols, its absence from the keyboard means that inserting it slows down the writing process. More importantly, the ® interrupts the story for the reader, so most publishers don’t use it. The ® is not legally required, and there are other ways to help trademark owners protect their property. One is to use generic terms. Or if you think “the real thing” will add authenticity, just capitalize Coke.

When trademarks are mentioned in fiction, it is normally a nominative use. A careful writer will also make it a respectful one.


Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Her most recent book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal (KP/PK Publishing 2013), is a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection. Kathryn is also the author of In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion (FaithWalk Publishing 2006) and numerous articles. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Playing with Peripety

from Fotolia by Mr Doomits
I love the word “peripety.” Not only is it a literary tool, it’s just so fun to say - \pə-ˈri-pə-tē\

I can just say it over and over in my mind. It makes me happy for some reason.

I first learned the term “peripety” during a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Esther. For those who know they know this word but can’t place exactly what it means, peripety is the English form of the Greek word “peripeteia” and means “a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation especially in a literary work.”

Back in Aristotle’s day peripeteia was used more in tragedies. Greek tragedies frustrate the dickens out of me. I know those stories were used to teach people what is and is not appropriate behavior, but come on! Can people really be that obtuse? I guess history proves they can.

I like the way God used peripety in the Bible. When Haman is exposed for the really, really bad guy he was, and favor fell on the Jews to defend themselves in the face of annihilation – that’s just awesome storytelling.

And Saul, so determined to wipe the earth clean for God of those new followers of The Way who were blaspheming everything he “knew” to be true, was changed in a brilliant flash of light into who would become the Apostle Paul.

Now that’s peripety.

Peripety is so well orchestrated in the scriptures. Leave it to God to do it right. If you read through the two stories I mention above, you’ll notice these sudden turns of events are very organic to the core stories themselves. There are no unknown or surprise characters, simply changes of heart.

And quite frankly, the coolest part about peripety in both these stories is that it wasn’t just a literary tool – it’s history. Let’s not forget that what is words for us was reality for those who believed in God and His Sovereignty. And because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, peripety on the upswing can be our reality, too.

I know I can never master anything as well as God, but perhaps with His help I, too, can play with peripety in my stories and show in a memorable way the kind of change in a heart only God can make, and make it resonate with my readers. So let it be.

Humbly submitted by H.T. Lord