Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Grape on the Floor

by Jean Kavich Bloom

Honestly, I was listening to the day's leader talking about psalms with our church writers' group, but I was also a bit distracted. We were all sitting at a circle of tables in a classroom, and in the middle of the floor, right in front of me, was a lone, green grape. I assumed it had been dropped by someone in the class that always meets in there just before we do, the class that always has goodies to keep them, I guess, fortified while they study the Word. 

But it looked so lonely, that grape. 

To get my mind off it, and because I do odd things, I wrote at the top of a blank piece of paper, “The Grape on the Floor.”

The fellow writer next to me saw it. Later she said, “You’re going to write about that grape on the floor, aren’t you?”

Yes. Yes, I am. Because, you know, what was going to happen to that perfectly good (except for, you know, being on the floor) grape?

Would someone pick it up, wash it off, and eat it?

Would someone pick it up and just throw it away?

Would it be kicked around and end up in the hallway somewhere—or even down in the kids’ wing of the church before anyone else noticed it?

Would it be tragically squished by an inconsiderate and oblivious human foot before it had a chance to somehow save itself?

Didn’t anybody care about that grape? Did it miss its bunch?

Okay, it was just a grape, and I later left the room without giving it much more thought. I would have had to move a table or (gasp) crawl under one to get the grape myself, and I knew the cleaning crew would soon be there. (I could find a lesson in that too. Leaving a problem for someone else to deal with?) But my point is that imagination can take us fiction writers so many places if we just let those brain cells fly.

             What (or who) do you see “out of place”?

Why do you suppose it (or that person) is “out of place”?

How did it (or that person) get there?

What will happen to it (or that person)?

Who will care? Will anyone care?

If you see a “grape” that intrigues you, take a moment to do the odd thing. Write down what you saw. Who knows? What you saw might lead to some fruit of your own. 



Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries (Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with more than thirty years of experience in the book publishing world. Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she has posted articles about the writing life. She is also a regular contributor to The Glorious Table, a blog for women of all ages. Her published books are Bible Promises for God's Precious Princess and Bible Promises for God's Treasured Boy. She and her husband, Cal, live in central Indiana. They have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren.


photo credit: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=35481&picture=bunch-of-grapes

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Zeilschmerz


John Hoenig is not your typical lexicographer. For the past seven years, John has been writing The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which attempts to define emotions that are not currently described by any English word. Unlike Samuel Johnson or Noah Webster, who collected and analyzed words in common usage during their day, John makes up words to fill the gaps in our cultural lexicon.
One of his favorite concoctions is Zeilschmerz (pronounced “ZEEL-shmertz”), a German word that means the dread of getting what you want. “Being German, I know exactly how that feels,” John says. Perhaps you do, too—not because you’re German, but because you’re a writer.
It’s the feeling you get when you toil and sweat over a particularly elusive bit of dialogue until you hit upon a perfectly natural expression of it. You should feel happy, right? Instead you feel dread because now you’re obliged to bring the rest of the story up to this standard.
It’s the feeling you get when you’ve had countless interviews with agents at writers’ conferences, then have one of them offer you a contract. You should float out of that conference on cloud nine. Instead you fret about why this agent said yes when so many others said no. Is this fellow a newbie? a has-been? an incompetent?
This is a perfectly natural human emotion and now we have a word for it. Most times it’s a false warning, like a defective low tire pressure light that keeps flickering on your car’s dash. When you feel it, call it what it is, then get on with your life.
I wish you all the best with your writing this month. May you be productive and effective, with an uncommon number of days when you accomplish exactly what you set out to do. Then don’t fall prey to the curse of Zeilschmerz.

Joe Allison has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN. His non-fiction books include Setting Goals That Count and Swords and Whetstones.



Friday, August 24, 2018

Inspiration


With so many novels to choose from, and only so many ways to present a common plot, what sets one story apart from another?

I believe inspiration plays a significant role.

Christian novels often point towards the gospel, or may nod at the development of a character’s faith. And those works surely come from a source of spiritual inspiration. But I want to talk about inspiration that is more basic, or perhaps less spiritual than that:-)
 
There’s a creative stimulus behind every story. And that is what makes a story as unique as the person telling it.
 
I often read the letters pinned to the readers inside of a novel. Not all authors do this, but some will share what inspired them to write that particular story in the first place. 

Inspiration comes from many and sometimes unlikely sources: news articles, fictionalization of real people who lived centuries before, famous events, even vague recollections of a dream. (That last one is mine.)

Sometimes, an author’s inspiration will come from recorded events like wars or other tragedies, and how people living then would've been affected. For example, in the opening season of “Downtown Abbey”, Mary’s fiancĂ© was said to have died in the sinking of the Titanic. It was a minor reference, but it set the backdrop of a family having to deal with the loss of the heir for which their estate was entailed to. Hence, the uncertainty of their future unfolded before us in dramatic flair, and hooked us for several seasons. 

New novels are often born from the retelling of folklore and legends like Camelot or Robin Hood. Dystopian books and fantasies create new worlds for us to get lost in. But what inspired those worlds, or makes the retelling of a well-known story different from a previous one? A fellow author once mentioned that in creating a dystopian series, the question of “what if” was posed—from it, nations were divided differently and certain laws were imposed.

Inspiration can make each story inherently different, because similar stories, and novels with basic plot lines set them apart as the author’s unique vision shines through the characters, and the events that set the story in motion.

As always, your voice matters so keep writing.


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.

To follow Penelope on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PenelopePowellAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@penpowell89
 


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Keep on

I’ll admit, I loved the first day of school as a kid. All those new school supplies, a new classroom, new teacher, new things to learn. For the first couple of days, it was all pretty exciting.

And then the first week turned into the second and third week. Homework was assigned. Classes fell into a routine. The newness wore off. When the real work started, I struggled.

It can be the same with writing. At first, the idea is so exciting. New characters! A new plot! So many possibilities ahead!

But after the initial rush wears off and those first few chapters are written, the real work begins. Writing the middle chapters can feel like slogging through mud. The characters cause problems and the plot sags. The words won’t come, or they do come but they’re clearly terrible.

Honestly? I’m tempted to quit at that point every time and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. If, like me, you wonder how you can keep going to the end, here’s some encouragement.

First, remember that what you’re writing isn’t permanent. It can always be changed so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make it perfect in one try. The important part is to get it on the page and it can always be fixed later. That’s gotten me through a lot of rough chapters. I’ve even written notes about what I think a section needs instead of writing it, giving myself some space to come back to it later. Take some of the pressure off yourself and it might go easier.

Also, remember that all writers struggle with something. I completely expect that I’ll still be trudging through the middle of books even if I write 100. That’s just a hard part for me. Maybe for you, it’s the beginning. Maybe it’s character development, grammar, writing a synopsis. There will always be something hard. But God calls us to put our full effort into what we do (Colossians 3:23) and that includes writing. He will be faithful to help us through, no matter how hard it is.

It’s definitely not easy to put together thousands of words along with characters and plots to get to the end of a manuscript. But it is worth the effort. Breathing life into a story God planted in your heart is an incredible blessing. So, keep at it! Refresh yourself as needed and continue pushing through. I believe in you!


Abbey Downey never expected her love for writing to turn into a career, but she’s thankful for the chance to write inspirational romance as Mollie Campbell. A life-long Midwestern girl, Abbey lives in Central Indiana, where her family has roots back to the 1840s. She couldn’t be happier spending her days putting words on paper and hanging out with her husband, two kids, and a rather enthusiastic beagle.

You can check out Abbey’s books at www.abbeydowney.com

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Business Cards

At our recent ACFW Indiana meeting, we talked about how to get ready for the ACFW National Conference.  It was mentioned that every author needs a business card.  Here is a reprint of the information if you were unable to attend.

Enjoy! I know I had a lot of fun creating a business card after I had all the information I needed.


Business cards must have:

·           Author’s Name or Pen Name
·           Email (author name if possible)
·          Website (no Weebly or Wordpress), have SM handles linked
·          Professional Headshot (People remember faces.)
  If you include SM handles, it should be the same across all platforms and be the author's name.


Ideas to make your card unique:

  Your business card is a way to show your personality and put a spotlight on your writing!
  You can include any of these fun ideas to make the card your own:
·           Show your genre or style through your design
  If you write:
  • Vintage? Design a vintage card.
  • Romance? Consider pink and light blue with flowing fonts.
  • Mysteries? Add bold colors.

·         Use the cover art or a setting from your book.
·         Create a tagline to describe you as an author.
·         Don’t be afraid to use both sides of the card.
·         Author biography, short blurb.
·         A phrase from a review, a blurb about your newest book, or a quote that describes you as a writer.
·         QR code: Create one at Kaywa QR code.

Ideas on how to share your business cards:

      Give them to the person who asks you what you write.
      When networking at a writing conference.
      Promote yourself at book readings and signings.
      Give them to attendees when teaching a workshop.
      Attend events related to your subject or genre.
      Meeting with editors or agents.

Where to get them printed:

      Print your cards locally at Office Depot or Staples.


     Print your cards online through:
     VistaPrint.com 
     UPrinting.com
     Zazzle.com
     Moo.com
     GotPrint.net
     OvernightPrints.com

For inspiration or great ideas, check out these blogs: