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:


  1. Linda, to whom or to what email address would you like answers to these questions sent? Also (unless you have and I missed it), could you post a link to this post on the ACFW Indiana Chapter Facebook page so anyone who hasn't signed up to receive Hoosier Ink posts by email will see it there? Thanks!

  2. Answers can be sent as comments right here, or email them to
    Hmmm...I thought I used the link above to post it on our Facebook page. I'll recheck that.
    Thank you, Jean!

  3. All of these suggestions sound wonderful! I joined ACFW in mid-2017 hoping for just such interactions with other Christian writers. I was disappointed to learn that meetings seem to always happen on 2nd Saturdays when I already have two group meetings. I am still hoping there will be additional meetings specifically for Indianapolis or central Indiana that I might be able to attend.
    As far as suggestions for future meetings:
    Perhaps some sort of virtual meeting via Google Hangouts or something similar.
    Could the meetings be streamed live so those who cannot travel could attend perhaps?
    Could they be video-taped so we would be able to watch them later if we weren't available to attend that day?

    I'm still so new to writing Christian Fiction (or any other fiction for that matter) that I would love to gather with a group to learn more about my craft.

    1. Those are all great suggestions and proves to me just how steep of a learning curve I am on personally as regards technology! If we can find a member skilled creating live streams or posting videos to the web, it would be great.
      As for Google Hangouts, I think there's a limit as too how many can participate, but it's something to consider.
      Thank you, Karen!

  4. I was disappointed to not being able to attend, but had scheduling conflicts. I think your vision for the group is admirable. I hope to attend future meetings, but already know that I'll miss the next one due to two grandchildrens' graduation parties on that same day. I do think established writers tend to think 'why bother', but I've found the interaction a real boost. Plus sometimes it's not about getting, but giving. Allow your ideas time to draw attention and gain member participation. I know it's hard. You all are doing a great job. When I have another year of health behind me, I hope to re-engage and be more active. Meanwhile, you have my applause. Well done.

  5. Thank you, Mary. Your words are a great encouragement.

  6. It might be informative at one of the larger gatherings for writers to meet in a smaller group with those who are geographically closest to where they live, or with those who write the same genre they do, or with those who have some other common interest. One goal could be to enter into some kind of joint writing project, or travel to a writers' conference together, or something else they think could enhance their writing efforts.

    1. That's an interesting concept. I'd like to mull that over and discuss with the board how we might run such a meeting. Thank you.