Thursday, December 24, 2015

Calling Scrooge a Miser

Today is Christmas Eve, so I’m going to pretend that Scrooge is a real person and you are getting ready to write an article or a biography or some other non-fiction piece denouncing him as a miser. From what we know, Scrooge acted like a skinflint, and a statement can’t be defamatory unless it’s false. But for our purposes, assume it is. Since I’m trying to stick with a Christmas theme, our Scrooge is a secret Santa who gives liberally to the poor.

Obviously, lots of people write memoirs, biographies, and other non-fiction manuscripts that say negative things about living people. These writers take a calculated risk that they can defend against a defamation charge, and they hope the defense is so obvious that the person won’t bother to sue in the first place.

So where do you start when writing about Scrooge? With research, of course. Research, research, research until you are comfortable that your sources are trustworthy and the information is true. Even if it turns out to be false, your good faith, reasonable belief in its truth is a defense.

In most circumstances, calling someone a miser is an opinion, and opinions are not defamatory. But the nature of the statement must be clear from the context, and merely saying that your words are just an opinion is not enough. If you label something as an opinion and go on to imply that it is fact, the jury will look beyond the label.

That brings me back to a point I made in an earlier post. It isn’t what you say that matters. It’s how a judge or jury interprets it. So be especially careful in how you say it.

My final suggestion works for both fiction and non-fiction: get the person’s consent.

What? Why would someone agree to be defamed? For the same reason people agree to go on reality television shows where they come across looking like jerks. Some individuals will do anything for publicity or money. Or they don’t realize how their conduct looks until they read about it on paper, see it on tape, or hear their friends’ comments.

Consent is a defense to defamation. Just make sure you get it in writing and that the consent is broad enough to cover everything you want to say.

Of course, you can’t really defame Scrooge. Not only is he a figment of Dicken’s imagination, he is also long dead. You can’t libel the dead, so if you are looking for an interesting person to write about, try Grover Cleveland or Emily Bronte or Michael Jackson.

God’s blessing as you write on in 2016.


Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal was a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection for April 2014. The second edition of Kathryn’s first book, In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion, was released on September 30, 2015. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The elusive writing schedule

They seek it here, they seek it there
Those writers seek it everywhere
Is it in heaven or is it in hell?
That doggone elusive writer’s schedule.

Borrowed from Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel (with minor adjustments)

I have included “Establish a writing schedule” on my New Year’s resolution list every year for a number of years, which I did each year.

I just couldn’t maintaining it the whole year which produced guilt, which then lent itself to frustration, self-doubt, <insert emotion here>.
from Fotolia by Ivan Nikulin

I wanted 2015 to be different so I changed the resolution to “Establish a writing schedule that I, and my family, can live with.” Ah, that’s a whole different animal, isn’t it? And it’s proven to be about as easy as finding other elusive things like say, a yeti, for example.

But found it, I have (and yes, I am a Star Wars fan).

It took me until the end of October, but I did find my schedule – the one I and my family can live with. I have stuck to it through the month of November and I’m still doing it. Plus, I look forward to it.

Before I share what changed, I must praise Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, for His part in this. He must get the credit because as He said, “… apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NLT).

Okay, so what changed?

Two things: my perspective and my expectations.

The truth is there are people better qualified, more creative and way more articulate than I am who could be writing the story I am writing right now. The problem is God didn’t give this story to them, He gave it to me - the least qualified person.

Why? After much prayer and Bible study, I have concluded this is a pattern with God. He chose a stutterer to speak for him to the King of Egypt. He chose a small, young shepherd to slay a giant, just to name two examples, there are many more.

Okay, God, I admit I need You to write, but things still aren’t coming together. What am I missing?

What I was missing was that God never intended writing to be just for me. He had always intended “writing time” to be “Father/daughter time;” He meant it for us. Just like a loving Father, He chose an activity I love that we can have fun doing together.

The second thing was my expectation. I had to change how I define a successful writing session.

My new definition of success is simply get up half an hour early, read devotions and pray for a few minutes then spend the rest of the time writing with my heavenly Father.

from Fotolia by blinkblink
It’s a slow process. One day I wrote only 20 words, but the point is I’m moving forward. It is inevitable that I will complete this story, and finish it the way I have always imagined because I have the best co-author ever!

So with God’s help, I found my schedule. I have no plans to try to find a yeti, but with God I could write a story about it.

Merry Christmas everyone! And God bless your New Year!

Humbly submitted by H.T. Lord

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How Sarah Sundin inspires me

By Kelly Bridgewater

What draws readers to the World War II historical fiction genre? Maybe it is learning about the past in a fun way. Maybe it is reading about different parts of the world. For me, it was learning about a part of history that always fascinated me, but the way the history books at school teaches it bored me to death. The Nazi’s Holocaust tugs at my heart. How could anyone be so cruel to someone else just because they believed in a certain God or looked a certain way?

From Amazon
I am a book reviewer for Revell Books, and when they gave me a chance to read Sarah Sundin’s In Perfect Time. I picked it. At the time, I did not know anything about Sarah Sundin’s writing. Usually I ignore historical fiction. Still do for the most part. If there is a picture of a woman in a bonnet, on a prairie, cowboys, or an old western setting, I ignore the books. Nothing grabs my attention there.

But for some reason, World War II historical fiction is genre that I have come to love. After reading and reviewing Sundin’s In Perfect Time, I found the first two books in the series, With Every Letter and On Distant Shores.  I loved those books too. Doing an Amazon search, I found she wrote another three books series called the Wings of Glory. I checked them out at the library and lost myself in the World War II era. I have always been fascinated with the music and the lifestyles of the forties and fifties, so it makes since that I’m drawn to these books.

Sundin has taught me that reading historical fiction can teach me about a time period by giving an inside look into the brave women and men who populated our world during that era. I love learning about the horrors of the Holocaust from the eyes of survivors or nurses who bravely went across the front line to help our soldiers. I am extremely grateful for Sarah Sundin’s ability to bring history to life in an engaging format.

I truly am a fan of Sarah Sundin’s writing and am looking forward to any other story that God has laid on her heart to write.

What books in the World War II historical genre have you read? Have you discovered any new treasures that you can recommend for me?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

In a Word, Anachronistic

by Jean Kavich Bloom

Readers who enjoy historical novels also love learning about actual events or past eras right along with their favorite fictional romance, mystery, and adventure. So they expect authors to have done their homework, ensuring historical details are accurate. But then there is the pesky problem of potential anachronisms. 

As noted on, “anachronism is derived from a Greek word anachronous, which means ‘against time.’ Therefore, an anachronism is an error of chronology or timeline in a literary piece. In other words, anything that is out of time and out of place is an anachronism.” For instance, an author should not have a character driving a make of car that was not manufactured until the following decade. Furthermore, contemporary novels are in danger of anachronistic missteps because of the rapid development of communication technology. It would be easy to have a character texting in a time before texting became common practice.

Even Shakespeare failed to make all his works anachronism-free! But though authors and their editors make every effort not to follow his lead, what might still slip through several rounds of edits are words (or phrases and sayings) that were not yet in common use during a novel’s time setting. I recently spotted a few in a novel set in the late 1860s.

·         pep talk (first known use in 1925)

·         starstruck (first known use in 1968)

·         autopilot (first known use in 1916)

·         truth serum (the compound that could be called a “truth serum” was not developed until the 1930s)

Here are three tips for avoiding anachronistic words:

1.       Make it a point during one of your editing rounds to watch for words that could be anachronistic. Or ask a beta reader if they will specifically do that for you.

2.       Use a dictionary for information about the earliest date a word is known to have been used. I found the "first known use" dates above by consulting Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Note: Sometimes I am surprised to learn how early some modern-sounding words were put into common use!

3.       Google what would have been developed or invented to learn when it was commonly available or known. I deduced that no such compound as truth serum would have been known in the 1860s from the Wikipedia entry that came up. No further research was required, I decided, to let the author know the mention of truth serum was probably suspect for an 1868 character.

Do you have any anachronistic words that either slipped into your first drafts or that you have spotted in a book you read? 

After twenty-four years with publishing house Zondervan in Grand Rapids, Michigan, most recently as an executive managing editor, Jean Bloom returned to Central Indiana to be near family and take her freelance editorial business full-time (Bloom in Words Editorial Services). Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she often posts articles about the writing life. She and her husband, Cal, have three children and five grandchildren.

Photo credit:

Monday, December 7, 2015

In other's words

Christmas is cuh-razy time for me as a Pastor's wife, Christmas Pageant Director, mom and grandma. Instead of coming up with new material, this month I'm going to share some read-worthy blog posts from other writers.

First, if you love A Christmas Carol (especially the Muppet version) and you love to write, Kristen Lamb's post is a must-read:

If you want to know what to get your writer-friends for Christmas, you can read my blog post here:

Click to buy!
I really enjoyed our ACFW-Indiana president, Rick Barry's, blog posts on editing and pride. I think you will, too:

God Wants to Edit You

My Name is Pride

I was actually writing a post like the one below for Hoosier Ink before I read this one by Anne Garboczi Evans. I'd changed my mind because I didn't want to come across negative. But thanks to Anne, I might anyway, because I love this post!

5 Ways to Justify Scrooge-ness in a Christmas Elf World

How about you? Are you feeling overwhelmed at Christmas? Do you write much in the month of December? If so, what do you write? Weigh in!

Karla Akins is author of the best-selling Jacques Cartier (that went #1 on Amazon in its category)O Canada! Her Story Sacagawea and The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker BootsWhen she's not writing she dreams of riding her motorcycle and looking for treasure.