Friday, June 28, 2013

Interview with Heidi Glick

by Jeff Reynolds

Today, my interviewee is from outside the state of Indiana -- just barely. Heidi Glick hails from the Cincinnati area. I discovered her on the large ACFW critique group, and her stories were among my favorite to read (including the one that's the main topic of conversation). We're also co-contributors on the Sleuths and Suspects blog -- me at Heidi's invitation.

Jeff Reynolds:  Heidi, welcome to Hoosier Ink. I know this is an eventful year for you. I believe your second most exciting achievement of 2013 is the release of Dog Tags, your first novel. Please give us a story summary. What inspired it?

Heidi Glick:  The story is about a marine, the woman he loves, and the stalker who is obsessed with her.

At first, Dog Tags started out as a romance novella. I subbed it to a publisher, and it was rejected. But the story wasn't ready for publication. I revamped it as a suspense novel. I wanted a hero with real struggles, and I wanted a villain who would capitalize on the hero's weaknesses. The book's themes include forgiveness, loss, and fear. Because these are common themes that most people deal with, I'm hoping that the book will speak to many readers. In 2011, my father died from ALS, and so I've used that experience to help me write this book as well as another work in progress (Ten Degrees from Normal).

JR:  You might disagree with me, but I believe the real star of your novel is Sparky. Could you tell us about him and his real life counterpart? Is he involved in the marketing of the book? If I remember correctly, he had been interviewed once, correct?

HG:  In the novel, the hero owns a Schipperke named Sparky. In real life, I have a Schipperke named Sparky. He is a rambunctious dog, hence the name. He is involved in the marketing of the book. You are correct. I did interview him once:

JR:  Are you an outliner, a blank pager, or somewhere in between?

HG:  I'm somewhere in between but more of an outliner. I'm a planner by nature, and so I like an outline. When I first started out as a writer, I was more of a blank pager, but as I studied the craft of writing, I found that outlines save me time because I rewrite less when using an outline. Nonetheless, I still like to allow my characters to speak to me, and I like a few surprises.

JR:  I've had the honor of critiquing this and a couple of your other stories in the ACFW's large critique group. Could you share how both the critiques of others on your writing and your critiques on your writing peers have helped your work on Dog Tags?

HG:  Singlehandedly, crits have helped me grow the most as a writer. I would not be published were it not for the crits of others. Other writers showed me areas of improvement.

JR:  People compare finishing and releasing a book with childbirth. Which brings me to your most exciting achievement of 2013. Would you like to tell us about that? How does this affect your writing and marketing? What is Sparky's take on this?

HG:  Let's back up a year. In 2012, I signed a contract with a publisher, but even more exciting than that was finding out I was pregnant (after infertility). In Februrary 2013, I gave birth to Aaron Samuel Glick. For more info. on the miracle baby:  I'm leaving my job to spend time at home with my son. He is my priority right now, so writing takes a backseat, which is fine with me. I still jot down ideas and work on writing while he naps, but I am allowing myself time to enjoy being a mother. Sparky whimpers when Aaron cries and likes to rush into the nursery to check on the baby. 

JR:  Okay, enough about the important things in life and back to writing. Am I correct that you have three blogs that you work on? Could you tell us about these, and how do they help you develop as a writer?

HG:  The Ohio State Parks blog is about some of my experiences visiting Ohio State Parks with my dogs. The Queen City Quill is a hodgepodge (posts on writing, authors, book reviews, etc.). Sleuths and Suspects is about mysteries, suspense, romantic suspense, thrillers, and anything related (book reviews, author interviews, and book giveaways).

JR:  I know you've been working on a couple of other stories. Do you work on multiple stories at the same time? How do you prioritize which one to focus on? Is there any "separation anxiety" with the stories you set on the shelf?

HG:  Sometimes I work on multiple stories at once. I prioritize by working on the story that I'd like to submit to a publisher next. So for example, I love working on my "Ten Degrees" novel, but I need to work on the Dog Tags sequel/spin off. I feel separation anxiety from the Ten Degrees characters.

JR:  Thank you for your time. Please share any websites you have, and any other information you'd like us to know.

HG:  I'd be glad to. Here they are:

Also, be sure to check out the trailer for Dog Tags at

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Case of the Aging Protagonist

A troubled male leaves an institutional setting, wanders around New York City, and eventually returns to a different institution. That's an idea that cannot be copyrighted. So when it shows up in books by different authors, what's the problem?
Let's flesh the two stories out. One male is sixteen and the other is seventy-six. Both protagonists are sarcastic, uncouth, depressed, and have trouble connecting with people. So far the second author hasn't crossed the line between ideas and expression. But let's continue.
At the beginning of each book, the protagonist leaves his institution (a boarding school and a nursing home, respectively) and wanders around New York City. While there, he almost has sex but ultimately decides not to, finds himself in Central Park, ponders where the ducks go in the winter when the ice freezes, stands on a hill next to a cannon while watching a sporting competition, and thinks about the metaphor that life is a game. Each protagonist also has a vision of himself saving children in a field of rye. As the story ends, the younger protagonist is in a mental institution contemplating his entry into a new boarding school and the older protagonist is in a different nursing home than the one he left.
Would it surprise you if these two protagonists shared the same memories and family background? In fact, the elderly man is the teenager fifty years later. But other than the physical process of aging, the protagonist has not changed in those fifty years.
J.D. Salinger believed in protecting his words. He was already a seasoned litigator when Frederick Colting wrote and published 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, which Colting advertised as a "tribute" to Salinger and his classic novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Unfortunately for Colting, Salinger was not pleased with a tribute that he believed used his copyrighted expression.
As you can tell from the above description, 60 Years Later didn't just share a plot with The Catcher in the Rye: it was essentially a paraphrase. (In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't read either book. My summaries are based on the judge's summaries in the written decision, which I did read.)
The judge felt that Salinger was likely to prove copyright infringement, so she granted Salinger a preliminary injunction ordering Colting to stop selling the book while the case was pending.
This happened before a trial was held. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed the preliminary injunction but did not disturb the judge's finding that Salinger was likely to succeed on his copyright infringement claim. An educated guess says that Salinger would have eventually won the case. No one will ever know, however, because Salinger died and his executors settled the dispute.
The judge also rejected Colting's argument that 60 Years Later was a fair use of Salinger's book. But what makes something a fair use? Join me next month for the case of the President's words.
* * * * *
Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Her new book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal (KP/PK Publishing 2013) is available from and other retailers. 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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Watch Your Language, for Jesus' Sake!

By Sharon Kirk Clifton
Author of Up a Rutted Road, released May 2013

I just closed the book I am reading to come write this article.

The author is one I’ve read before and liked. I’ve even heard her speak in person. She’s a well-known ACFW member and author of a prodigious number of books—both fiction and non-fiction. Most of her works are published with CBA houses, including the one I’m reading. She appears to be in her forties or early fifties. I surmise that her critique partners and editors are under fifty-five.
“What has age to do with it?” you might ask. Perhaps a lot. It might explain some naïveté among younger writers.
It doesn’t take a lot of discernment to realize that slang words and phrases such as gosh, golly, jeez (or geez),  cripes, judas priest, and the like are actually euphemisms for God, Jesus, Christ, and Jesus Christ, and are therefore as profane as using the actual names of deity loosely and without reverence—in vain. Other words are fairly obvious: heck, shoot, darn, tarnation (a form of damnation), for example.
Then there are the words that have insinuated themselves into common usage, even among Christians, including the one that prompted this piece. Here’s where age comes into play. I’m over fifty-five; I remember the original words and their meaning. The enemy has done an excellent job of disguising some of that language—drop a letter here, change a letter there, you get the idea—so that people either really don’t know what they’re saying, have forgotten, or don’t give a flying fig. (Did you catch that? Insidious, isn’t it?)
The word that sent me off to write this is ragging. If you’re about my age, you may be blushing  now because you remember its original usage. Today it means nagging, giving a hard time, being downright hateful. As a woman with PMS might be?  It was meant to be insulting, crass, and vulgar. Do I think for one minute this godly author would have used that word had she known what she was saying? Absolutely not! Further, it was the Christian main character who said it. Ms. Writerly simply didn’t know.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, any slang word beginning with the letter “f” –I needn't list them—probably is a euphemism for the great-great-granddaddy of “f” words. Do you really want that in your manuscript? (Side note: when a student would use that ancient word in my English classroom, I assigned them to do a thorough etymological study. That deflated their sails quickly.)
My advice to writers is this: If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit indwelling. Listen to Him. Listen for that still, small voice. He’s really good at waving red flags. Pay heed to those, and “if in doubt, CHECK IT OUT!” is a good source, though I don’t recommend it as recreational reading, since it has plenty of extremely offensive content by nature of its purpose.Also, like Wikipedia, it's written by its readers.
Our words matter, and they have power. The Bible tells me so. With the help and discernment of the Holy Spirit, let's watch our language. For the Lord's sake.

“. . . keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings . . .”
 ~1 Timothy 6:20

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”  ~Psalm 19:14

Write on!
Because of Christ,

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Participate in Blog Link-Ups to Grow Your Audience

So, you’ve spent what feels like too much time brainstorming, writing, and editing your blog post. You’ve clicked Publish and then sat back with your choice of caffeinated beverage to watch the page views add up. Right?

Congrats if that’s your blog!

As for mine, in the early days I might have had twenty page views on a single post. And that was a high. No amount of caffeinated beverage could make me enthusiastic over that.

Enter blog link-ups, a chance to share my blog post on someone else’s blog.

What is a link-up? Any blogger can use a link tool to allow others bloggers to link-up their own individual blog post permalinks, often with a photo. Many link-ups are offered weekly or monthly, allowing you, as a blogger, to link-up your week’s blog posts.

Where to link up?

Making a Living Writing hosts a link-up for writers on the first Friday of every month. So far as I can tell, it’s not a *Christian* blog, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t see an increase in traffic from it. I’m planning on linking up this blog post there in July.

Lisa Jo Baker hosts Five Minute Friday every…wait for it…Friday. She describes it as a flash mob of writers all writing about the same one word. At midnight on Thursday, she posts that one word for that Friday’s writing. Then, you write for five minutes about that word, without editing, and post it on your blog. Once yours is posted, you link it up on her blog.

If you keep a journal, you might want to participate in Random Journal Day at Beneath the Surface on the first Friday of every month. I haven’t participated in this, but you open an old journal of yours to anywhere and then post a bit of it and write about it. Be sure to include a picture of the journal. See the site for further guidelines.

Reading List hosts Cozy Book Hop to link up your posts about books you’ve been reading. This is where I link up my book reviews.

My blog genre is primarily homeschooling mom. There are many link-ups available for that type of blog post. I’ve listed only a few. Just be sure to check the host blogger’s guidelines or requirements.

One more idea for you! If you homeschool and want to post a weekly wrap-up, you could start with iHomeschool Network and the Homeschool Journal link-up. As always, be sure to read the guidelines.

Happy blogging!

Q4U: Do you participate in blog link-ups? Which ones would you add?

Meghan Carver is a 2013 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the author of several articles and short stories. After achieving a Juris Doctorate from Indiana University and Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Millikin University and completing a brief stint in immigration law, Meghan heard God calling her to be at home. Now homeschooling her six children with her college professor husband, Meghan has returned to her first love of writing. She blogs about homeschooling and homemaking at

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Self-editing with an iPad by member blogger Dawn Crandall

Did you know there's a way to self-edit your WIP without using ink or paper? 

I didn't think so. 

Not that I invented this or anything, but I did discover this on my own over a year ago. I just wasn't sure how it was going to work out and thought I'd run an entire book through the process before spouting off about it. 

At the time, I had a Kindle with a keyboard. Probably the coolest thing I found out about my Kindle after purchasing it was that I could send my own documents to it. Cool, right? Well, who of us can actually just read our own work? Not me. I found that as I read my WIP on my Kindle, I would find things I wanted to change... things I'd never noticed while looking at it on my computer. 

Real quick, I want to mention something. I heard once that when you do all of your self-editing, critiquing and such on a computer screen, you miss about 30% of the mistakes and changes you would otherwise have caught by either printing it out or reading it upon a device in which you couldn't simply make an easy fix. I don't know where this info came from originally, but I have found it to be 100% true. 

Okay, back to what I was saying... I went ahead and began using my Kindle to read through my chapters as I wrote them. Before I write a book, I make a pretty extensive outline made up of scenes I already have in mind with characters I've been thinking of and getting to know for at least a few weeks and then a three-page synopsis. Once that's finished, I begin writing chapter one. However, before moving on to chapter two, I go about editing my chapter between five and ten times on my Kindle, or how ever many times it takes to get to the point that I don't want to change anything. After writing about a third of the novel, I send it to my critique partner to read. After I get it back and administered her edits, I read through the chunk of chapters again on my Kindle. Only then would I move on to write the second third of the book, and so on.    

I followed this process through most of my second book, which I finished last fall. Sadly, I was beginning to notice that my poor little Kindle just couldn't keep up with all the notes and highlights I wanted to add and would become bogged down. 

Easy fix--I had the Kindle app on my iPhone. Haha, that didn't last long. 

I really liked the compact size of my Kindle and thought that a regular-sized iPad with the FREE Kindle app was just too big for me. Fortunately, just as I needed it, Apple came out with the iPad mini... which is the exact same size as my Kindle keyboard. 

<-- As you can see from the photo to the right, this is what this article looks like in the Kindle app on my iPad mini. You have the option of highlighting in four different colors, as well as taking any number of notes. The notes can be as longs as you want, they just cannot be copied and pasted into another app on the iPad.  

Okay, so now that I have your attention, would you like to know how this all happens? 

Good, because I'm going to be the one to tell you. 

1.) Set up your Kindle or Kindle app with your Amazon account. Amazon will make an email for your kindle. It will most likely use your standard email account's name but change the handle to You can look up what the email is both on your device and online at your account. 

2.) You'll need to go to your My Kindle account. Under the "Digital Content" section you'll need to click on Manage Your Kindle

3.) Along the left side of the screen will be a list of options, and you'll need to click Personal Document Settings

4.) Scroll down to the end of the website to where it says Approved Personal Document Email List and add the personal email that you'll send the document from on your computer. Remember, if you plan to have any of your friends or critique partners email you their documents, you'll need to add their email to this list as well.

5.) TO SEND: Go to your email account. Type in your Kindle email address, attach the document file you want to read or edit and push send. Easy. :)

I've never considered myself a very technologically-advanced person, but once I realized the possibilities of what the Kindle could do to help with my writing career, I worked hard until I figured it out. I live by this one-chapter-at-a-time process of editing from my iPad now and use it to edit and polish through every book I write.     

Dawn Crandall writes long inspirational historical and contemporary romantic suspense from first person point of view and is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. All three of her completed manuscripts have made it to the semi-final round of the ACFW Genesis Contest so far. She has a BA in Christian Education from Taylor University and lives in northeast Indiana with her ever-supportive husband and two cats, Lilly and Pumpkin. Dawn hosts a book review blog called A Passion for Pages at and tweets those reviews at @dawnwritesfirst. Visit her website at

Friday, June 14, 2013


Q: Do YOU identify?
A: You'll just have to read on to see!

Seems like when I’m in an EXTRA writing (or speaking) mode, I’m also in an EXTRA reading mode. Seems like pouring out EXTRA words makes me crave to take in EXTRA words.

So what EXTRA words do I gulp? I am very selective! I read every word in my two favorite writing craft magazines (below), the only two I still subscribe to after years of many writing magazines.

Here’s something to ponder and apply from this mag:
“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. . . . It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”
(Michael Crichton, p. 10)

And this too:
“Published authors will tell you it’s all about perseverance, the one characteristic all successful writers share.”
(James Scott Bell, p. 14) 


Writer's Digest! What an extemely difficult magazine to put down! It’s kept me reading until midnight numerous nights, even before I retired and I couldn’t sleep in late like now. In this issue, my favorite article is also by James Scott Bell (see above quote), “The 5 Biggest Fiction Writing Mistakes + How to Fix Them.” Don’t miss this article! He gives at least five secrets (OK, reasons) his books are bestsellers.

My word craving is also appeased by author auto/biographies. I’ve recently enjoyed these two Grace Livingston Hill ones. While I can’t say I’m a fan of her books (nor that I’m not a fan), I’m definitely a fan of her writing life and Christian principles. These two biographies inspired me in my writing for Christ. The first author, Robert Munce, is her grandson, and I'm assuming you know Betty Steele Everett.

I also read LOTS of books about China and Taiwan, both fiction and non-fiction, since they are the main settings of my trilogy: Hungry River, Dragon Wall, and Jade Cross (wip). My other book is Women of the Last Supper, so that drives me to read lots of biblical fiction and other resource books about the time period of our LORD.
SOOO, do YOU identify?

Millie Samuelson

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Are you a writer? My #1 tip!

If you've been around me any length of time in a writer capacity, you know I am a huge proponent of American Christian Fiction Writers. I firmly believe I wouldn't be the writer I am and published like I am but for ACFW and attending its conference. I've also served for years on the operating board and now executive board because I believe so much in the organization that I want to give back to Christian writers and ACFW.

I could wax eloquent about the workshopseditors and agents who attend, or about the ways I'll serve as a mentor and with first time orientation. It could be all the friends I'll get to reconnect with. Or celebrating at the awards banquet. All of those are pieces of the conference that make it a highlight of my year. But this year I'm super excited about the keynote speaker, the radiant Robin Jones Gunn.

In addition to being a prolific writer, Robin is a woman who radiates Jesus -- to the extent that when I'm in her presence I long to be more like Him. I LOVE that!

This is what Robin has to say about the upcoming conference: “Are you ready to dream big? I mean, really dare to dream about what might happen if you fully surrender your gift of writing to the Lord? I can’t wait to be with you in September because I know God is going to shake up your heart and ruffle your imagination. I’m already praying that at the conference you will catch a glimpse of what He had in mind when He created you to be a storyteller. See you soon!”

Intrigued? Then check out the conference website. And prepare to join me in Indianapolis, Indiana, September 13-15 for an amazing conference!

Cara Putman is the author of 16 novels with more on the way. A homeschool momma of 4 who is also an attorney and lectures at Purdue University, you can learn more about her crazy life at her website.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Oh, God, Please.

Back to the writing table you come. 
It's full and you're empty. What to do?


Oh, God. You yourself know my frame. You are mindful that I am but dust.
(Psalm 103:14)

I am looking up, searching the horizon for help. Where will my help come from?
I say confidently, boldly: my help comes from the LORD, Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121:2)

Oh, Lord. My soul blesses you. Everything within me blesses your holy name.
Oh, my soul, bless the LORD and forget none of his benefits.
He pardons all of your iniquities,
He heals all of your diseases.
He redeems your life from the pit.
He crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.
He satisfies your years with good things so that my youth is renewed youth, like an eagle.
(Psalm 103:1-5)

Some days I do not know what to do, much less what to write. Teach me to number my days so that I may present you with a wise heart.
(Psalm 90:12)

When You lead me to write, oh, satisfy me with Your lovingkindness so that I may sing for joy and be glad all of my days.
Let your favor be upon me.
And confirm for me the work of my hands.
Yes, Lord, I ask it again: confirm the work of my hands.
(Psalm 90:14, 17)

And when my heart overflows with a good theme, make me write to You, my King. Make my tongue the pen of an eager writer.
(Psalm 45:1)

I know that no good thing dwells in me naturally, but by your grace I am Your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which You prepared beforehand so that I would walk in them. Lead me as Your humble creation into all you have prepared.
(Romans 7:18; Ephesians 2:10)

If writing success comes, no glory to me, Lord, no glory to me. But to your name be glory because of your lovingkindness and because of your truth.
(Psalm 115:1)

Writing or not, make me like David, whose soul panted for You like a deer pants for the water brooks. Keep my soul thirsty for You, the living God. Create in me a longing to come and appear before You.
(Psalm 42:1, 2)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Luke Skywalker: Reconsidered from an Author's Viewpoint

Ask any editor or literary agent, and they will confirm this truism: too many coincidences make a story too unbelievable. On the other hand, a skillful storyteller can stack up quite a few coincidences and make it work just fine. Enter Luke Skywalker.

Luke is an ordinary farm kid in outer space. He doesn't like his lot in life, but he is faithful to do his duty. Now let's count the coincidences:

1. When the two 'droids that the Princess sends to Obi-wan land on the planet Tatooine, they get picked up by scavengers and sold to whom? Luke's uncle. (But Luke spends more time with them than the uncle.)
2. The all-important schematics that reveal the weakness of the Death Star are hidden inside the R2D2 'droid and are now in the possession of whom? Luke.
3. Although Tatooine must be a fair-sized planet, Obi-wan happens to live relatively near to whom? Luke
4. Obi-wan knew Luke's father and tried several times to give his father's light saber to Luke (the  uncle had forbidden it).
5. Luke now has the Death Star plans, and a guide, and a cool weapon, but wait--that's not all! Despite what he has been told, Luke is the son of a powerful Jedi knight. In fact, by sheer coincidence, the Force is also strong in Luke. Now, if only someone could teach Luke the ways of the Force... Oh, Obi-wan can do that? Wonderful.

See what I mean? Luke is a classic reluctant hero to whom we can relate, but he's also the recipient of a truckload of concidences. He's an ordinary kid who refuses to blast off to adventure among the stars because of the coming harvest. Then storm troopers kill his aunt and uncle, thus propelling this son of a Jedi into a series of inevitable events that all revolve around him. True to form, humble Luke has little confidence in himself and for a long while doubts he will ever get the hang of using this Force thing. In this way, George Lucas made Luke a larger-than-life individual, but a hero with universal appeal because of his humble beginnings and lack of self-confidence. Even without the Force, we "become" him to save the universe.

Are you an author? If so, you might need to inject a coincidence here or there. But do so with caution until you become a Publishing Master. Too many random coincidences might Force angry readers to hurl your book all the way to a galaxy far, far away.

Now a new question comes to mind: Did George Lucas purposely embed himself in Star Wars by naming the hero "Luke S."?

Rick Barry is the author of over 200 published short stories and articles, plus two novels. Visit his personal blog at

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

An Effective Use of Visual Aids in Writing

Have you ever cut a picture out of a magazine and posted it near your workstation because the model looked just like your imagined hero or heroine? Then whenever you struggle with a scene, a quick look at the posted image helped recall the character and his or her true motivations and mannerisms. That is one way to use a storyboard while writing a story, but have you ever considered accumulating materials for a story that is no more than an idea?

I suspect every writer has some place where they hoard ideas for future books. Perhaps it’s a notebook or a physical file where scraps of church bulletins or tattered napkins with jotted notes bulge. Perhaps it’s a computer document or maybe an entire file. I have all of them, but hopefully every hard copy has also made it to my computer folder. The wonderful thing about filing story ideas in computer is that you can attach photos which act as a visual backup.

For instance, once I was clearing out a house to use as a rental. It was quite a job because the previous owners had been pack rats since the late 1940’s. When the heaps and piles were cleared, the house revealed its personality. It felt as if I’d walked into the pages of a story I’d written. The tiny kitchen had the torn linoleum, Formica and chrome table, and chipped porcelain sink that I’d imagined as the domestic, well-used backdrop for father-son confrontations when the wife and mother was no longer there to referee.

With the permission of the current owner I snapped shots and filed them for when I develop that story. Even now as I think about the photos the smell and texture and atmosphere of that place rises, stirring up pseudo-memories of conversations and interactions between characters.

Do you use your own photographs or pictures from catalogs and magazines to create mood, place, or characters? Do you have a physical item to see and touch, such as a medal or a hand mirror that stimulates imagination? Do you make a notation in the file, "It was a summer evening like that Silver Hawks game we saw in 2008"? Or, do you simply hold an image in your mind as a backdrop?  Personally, I don't trust anything to memory these days. How about you?

Mary Allen, a lifelong Hoosier, has authored many articles and two books of poems, “Journey to Christmas” and “Ten Days to an Empty Tomb”. She also contributed stories to “Kernels of Hope” published by Majesty House. Allen was named La Porte County Poet Laureate 2010-2011. Follow her online at She blogs monthly for

Monday, June 3, 2013

So you want to be a writer? Then you better get a thick hide.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
For as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a writer.

And for as long as I can remember I've had issues with rejection.

We all have them, really. But my issue is more pronounced since I was abandoned at birth, and for other reasons I'd rather not share, I feel rejection to the core.

Of all the occupations to long for, I managed to pick the one where rejection is more the norm than the exception. Especially when starting out.

If you want to be a writer, you're going to have to grow a thick hide. You're going to want to be a writer more than you hate the feeling of rejection.

I started submitting stories back in the 1970s (you know, when the ice was just beginning to thaw from the ice age). I received more rejection letters than acceptances. In fact, I'm not sure I received any acceptance letters from any magazines of major importance. But I continued to write. I enrolled in writing courses. I kept practicing the craft. The passion was still there. The rejections hurt, but my unction to write was stronger than that hurt.

I truly believe that it's not the most talented that get published but those that are the most persistent. It's the ones who refuse to give up and who are open to criticism and willing to learn how to master

their craft that make it.

Get yourself in a critique group that will filet you, and you'll learn to write well. It will do you no good to surround yourself with people who pat you on the back. Iron sharpens iron. Pens sharpen pens. Create an environment for yourself that stretches you and demands more from you.

Recently I was asked by a major magazine to do an article. I had longed to be published in such a magazine during the 1990s but my submissions were consistently rejected.

Now the magazine has come to me, not me to them.

I do not boast in myself. I only share this to say that it has nothing to do with my brilliance, but it does have to do with my work ethic and my willingness to learn all I can and to work like a dog. When I'm not doing something else, I'm writing. I'm not kidding. When I'm not writing, I'm usually researching or learning about writing. (I'm also a full-time college student, pastor's wife, Mama, caregiver of a mother-in-law with Alzheimer's...) But when I'm not doing those other things in my "other life," I'm working on my craft. I sacrifice personal free time to do so. (Naturally, in balance with keeping God my God and not putting the writing before Him.)

My point is this: Work Hard. Learn to take it on the chin. Grow a thick hide.

And never, never quit.

This post is cross-posted from Karla's Blog.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Writing From the Seat of My John Deere

Where does my iPad plug in?

By Darren Kehrer

Ok, so you might be wondering if this is even possible (or you might be thinking that I just sit in my garage or in my backyard on my tractor while writing). Now I’m not saying that this is a guy thing, but when I’m out mowing the grass, the world fades away and my mind clears. My only task is to follow the grass lines, avoid running into trees, and watching out for a previous visit by one of the many neighborhood pets.

Through out the act of mowing the lawn, the stress of my day flows away and my right side, brainstorming mind has a chance to breakthrough the storm clouds of a stressful day. Actually, many times, I just starting writing “what if this happened” scenes in my mind. Other times, on the movie screen in my head, I start filming the motion picture adaption to something I’ve already written (awesome surround sound, outstanding special effects, and the cast of my choice at no cost to me).

Stress is to creativity what water is to fire. Stress kills your ability to create, it blocks the flow of ideas, and it extinguishes the flame and passion of why you write. For me, my daily (non-writing) work life soaks up most of my time, so I’m happy with whatever, wherever, and however creative writing ideas get a chance to fan the creative flame.

But the other day, yes while mowing, I found myself wondering if any other of my writing friends might have “strange” or “odd” places that they brainstorm. That said, I wonder what your answer might be to that question, keeping it family friendly (of which I had no doubt).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How to Write Prolifically

More than forty years ago, my Aunt Mary gave me a little paperback book by William Manners entitled, Wake Up and Write: How to Write Prolifically. She knew how much I longed to become a writer, so she gave me this thin volume advertised as "An 'Inspirational' Book for Writers and Would-Be Writers."

I wondered why the word inspirational was in quotation marks until I started reading it. Manners' brand of inspiration was of the drill-sergeant variety. He made clear that the only way to become a prolific writer is to write every day, even if your output is not voluminous. Of course, the more volume, the better. So he advised getting up an hour earlier in the morning, staying up an hour later at night with martini in hand (Obviously, Manners was not an evangelical Christian writer!), or, better yet, do both!

He quoted a maxim that now should be familiar to all of us: "Writing is simply a matter of application: Apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair and write!"

I was in my late teens when Aunt Mary gave me that book. Years later--after much hankering and praying and studying how to be a writer--I did what Manners said. I got up an hour earlier in the morning, stayed up an hour later at night (sans martini), and finally completed my first book. Six months later, Thomas Nelson published it.

I've been blessed to have several books published since then, and I've learned there is no substitute for Manners' method: Every day in the chair, at the keyboard...writing.

I gave my copy of Manners' book to another aspiring writer years ago, but writing this article has reminded me that I need to read it again, so I just logged onto and bought a used copy for a dollar. The next time I'm spiraling downward in self-pity, I'll set my alarm a bit earlier so I can Wake Up and Write.

Joe Allison and his wife, Judy, live in Anderson IN, where Joe serves as Coordinator of Publishing for Church of God Ministries, 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