Friday, March 23, 2018

Always and Never

Always and Never—The words are dramatic, often added to emphasis a point, or express the fervency of an emotion. An effective tool when used in dialogue, or showing a character’s internal thoughts, mood, or actions. 
For example: 

     "You never listen." She flung her hand out in frustration.

     His gaze wandered past her shoulder to latch on the television screen once more. “What?” 

     Barely able to keep from rolling her eyes, she snatched the waded socks from the floor and stomped away. “Nevermind. I always have to do everything."

It's a cliche╦Ő scene of a couple fighting over household chores, but you get the picture of those words—how they can amplify the message. And though effective, they are likely and exaggeration of facts.

When I was in college, most of my writing was in the form of college papers; informative, research, and the persuasive approach. Persuasive papers were the most challenging. The goal of a persuasive paper is to present facts of a subject, then lay the groundwork that can and will sway the audience’s mind by means of suggestion, and implication. In other words, you have to present a viable argument then tap into a reader’s emotion, thereby persuading them to agree.

The challenge was you could not use adverbs with absolute meanings, unless they were empirically true. Meaning, words like always and never were generally out. If you wanted to emphasis a point, you had to stick with words less dramatic. Words like often, or usually, even sometimes. Unfortunately, those words substantially dilutes the punch of emotion, and writers understand the importance of choosing a word that will deliver that punch when we need it.

Unlike college papers or fiction, the writers inspired to pen the Bible didn’t hesitate when it came to expressing events that took place. Why? Because they were empirically true, and they were witnessed by the people affected by them. So we can have confidence in those assertions.

Acts 5: 42.
…and they were all healed. ALL—every single person—no one excluded. No one. 

I love that.

I'm grateful for the certainty of God’s word. And though I accept each account as truth on faith, there are empirical records for the skeptics. Numerous records exist, preserved for thousands of years. No small miracle. 

Prudence may temper our use of absolute declarations in writing, but may it never temper our faith to believe in the absolute promises of God at work in ALL our lives as His hand directs our individual journeys as writers!

Penelope grew up in Tennessee, but has lived in various states and a few countries outside the United States. She holds a BS in Business/Political Science and a MS in Multinational Commerce from Boston University. 

After working in the field of banking and finance, she left to invest her time with her children at home, and occasionally worked as a substitute teacher. Today, she resides in Indiana with her family where she serves in her church, and occasionally teaches a Bible study or Precepts.

An avid reader of fiction and perpetual student of Biblical truth, she is pursing the life of a writer. She believes her roots, faith, and her experience with other places and cultures, all meld into the voice that splashes onto the pages of her novels.

A Powerful Voice and A Furrow So Deep are Christian Romances published through Anaiah Press, LLC. And her Christmas novella, My Christmas Hope, will be released November 16, 2018.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Food, Fun, Flash Fiction. FUTURE? Feedback Needed.

Everyone attending agreed. ACFW Indiana’s March meeting showed why writers of all levels benefit when they get together and have fun. On March tenth, a small group met for lunch, shared their latest endeavors, then went to work on a flash fiction challenge. To sweeten the day even further, the winner of the challenge would receive a cash prize and guaranteed publication in Spark, an imprint of Splickety Publishing Group.

These were the contest parameters: Write a flash fiction romance with the theme “The Aww Factor.” Each contestant blindly picked three prompts—a person, a place, and a cute or cuddly  object. The prompts could be integral to the romance, or merely mentioned. And our authors met the challenge beautifully!

Member-contestants ranged from new writers to agented to published. Unlike most contests,  everyone was free to seek ideas and advice from others as they worked, so the fun and fellowship never stopped. After a career in education for forty years, the atmosphere reminded me of my students’ most productive times, when they worked quietly, consulted with someone nearby, and returned to their task. 

Five hours later, each contestant succeeded with a completed, sweet, romantic flash fiction. Judges have the rest of this month to score the submissions. So not only did members get the opportunity to perform a writing exercise together, they will also receive feedback on their work, whether they win the contest or not.

We’ll announce the winner at the June 9 meeting. You can RSVP for that meeting with featured speaker Dennis Hensley by emailing

Because few members chose to attend this month's meeting, the Board of Directors has some questions.

1. I queried members who are more experienced in the writing industry than I am. They suggested established authors might feel the meeting would be a waste of their time. They can always write at home. Why drive quite some distance to do the same thing?
If you agreed with their assessment, does my description of the day change your mind?

2. Those who did attend enjoyed the workshop-atmosphere interaction and the opportunity to write side by side with other writers. When asked for constructive criticism, they agreed a flash fiction challenge without the strict parameters associated with a specific publication would have been preferable.
If the topic were wide open, would you be more likely to attend a similar future event?

3. Another group participation-style meeting could be a “read-in” event, where writers would bring a few pages of their WIPs, read it aloud to the group, and seek feedback.
Would you be willing to attend such an event?

4. Each year, the board plans four meetings. Three of them include a speaker or a panel of experienced authors/editors/agents. But we would like the fourth to contain something different--more doing and less listening.
Do you agree with the board’s vision of what meetings ought to be? If not, what would you prefer to see happening in ACFW Indiana? 

5. What other participation events are you aware of and would like to see implemented in ACFW Indiana?
The board exists to help Christian writers improve their craft. We need your input to do our job well.

Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.
Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft. She still visits the school and teaches creative writing workshops.

Where Linda can be found on the web: