Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Case of the Crusade Wars

Plagiarism is illegal, right?

Wrong. Most people would agree that it is unethical, and it can ruin a writer’s career. But it is not illegal.

In 1949, Twentieth Century Fox produced a television series called “Crusade in Europe.” The series was based on a World War II book by then General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The copyright for the series expired in 1977, and it entered the public domain.

In 1988, Dastar Corp. produced and sold a series of video tapes that borrowed heavily from the earlier television series. Since the series was in the public domain, Dastar had every right to use that material. But Dastar did not credit the original series, which made its use plagiarism.

There was no law prohibiting plagiarism, and Twentieth Century Fox knew that it didn’t have a case under the copyright laws. So it tried a different tact.

Twentieth Century Fox argued that Dastar’s unattributed use violated the trademark laws. Those laws prohibit “reverse passing off,” which is the practice of putting your own label on someone else’s goods. Twentieth Century Fox argued, in essence, that by using footage from the series without attribution, Dastar led consumers to believe that it had produced the material.

The theory sounds good on its face, but consider this.

Copyrights last for a limited duration. And although people argue over whether the length is too long or too short, it is still limited. (For most works created after 1978, the term is life of the author plus 70 years. In 1949, the term was 28 years unless renewed, which Twentieth Century Fox failed to do.)
Trademarks last as long as you use them, which could be forever. Because of this difference, Twentieth Century Fox’s reading of the trademark laws would make them conflict with the copyright laws, and courts don’t like that, especially since the framework for the copyright laws is included in the U.S. Constitution.

So what did the Supreme Court say? “[O]nce the . . . copyright monopoly has expired, the public may use the . . . work at will and without attribution.” (Pgs. 33-34.)

Plagiarism is not illegal, so Dastar won the case.

Still, that doesn’t make it right, nor does it make it prudent. It's never a good idea to pass someone else's words off as you own. Writers can lose their jobs and their reputations that way.

It’s easy to avoid plagiarizing: simply give the author credit. Or if you don’t know who wrote it, attribute it to “author unknown.”

Join me next month for the final post in this series: The Case of the Obstinate Movie Star. And anyone from my generation will recognize the name.

* * * * *

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interview with Adam and Andrea Graham

by Jeff Reynolds

I frequently attribute my role models as being Dopey, Goofy, Eeyore, and the Cookie Monster. But I keep forgetting one -- the Riddler. My first crush was the Cat Woman (partially because I always liked cats). In other words, the TV series that impacted my life forever was Batman.

Okay, when I became a teen-ager, I started reading other comics, with my favorites being Iron Man, Hawkeye, Mr. Miracle, the Beast (from the X-Men) and the Black Panther, with the Rhino, Kraven, Two Face and the Cavalier joining the Riddler on the bad guys list.

But is there a Christian novel that fits the fun, spoofish views of superheroes the '60's series was? The answer is yes. I'd like to interview Adam and Andrea, the creators of the Powerhouse series. Okay, I'll give a little more to Adam the writer, but Andrea joins in with a couple of questions as well.

I had the honor of reading Powerhouse Hard Pressed this year. I found it to be a very fun and enjoyable read. In that installment (the third in the series), Powerhouse gets to face The Boomerang Bloke, Silver Medal, and Mr. Manners.

Jeff:  Welcome to Hoosier Ink. Let's start with how you to got involved in the loves of your life: Each other, Christ, and writing.

I grew up deeply immersed in Bible and came to Christ when I was seven. However, growing into a relationship with Christ and understanding how to live that out is a lifelong process. I met my wife on the Internet. We fell in love over writing. I flew out to Columbus, Ohio to meet her. We got engaged my seventh day out there and were married in 2002 and have been together 11 years now.

 Jeff:  Could you tell us about your Powerhouse series? (Let's see -- what are the odds of you saying no?) How long does it take to recover from having your tongue surgically removed from your cheek afterward? What was the influence for your novel?

Adam: Tales of the Dim Knight was the first book. It began in 2006 when I saw the DVD of The Tick v. Season One which was a great superhero parody, and I thought that I could do a story like that but with some Christian themes worked in. I also have to give credit to another cartoon from the 1990s Darkwing Duck for planting the idea of a superhero with a family in my head.

So I set down to write a book where I parodied every possible superhero trope I could. My character was Dave Johnson, a huge superhero fanatic and a janitor who works at a facility inspired by the warehouse at the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Dave opens a crate and finds an alien symbiote who turns him into Powerhouse. However, the whole situation causes a big strain on his marriage as he tries to keep secret identity from his wife. She fears he’s losing weight and gaining muscle to impress a mistress.

I wrote the sequels for three reasons: First, I hadn’t covered every superhero trope in the first book. Second, Dave converts to Christianity at the end of Tales of the Dim Knight, and I loved the idea of exploring how you live out the Christian life as a superhero. Third, I came up with a new threat for Powerhouse to fight: the ever-growing corrosive cynicism that’s so dominating society. In the Adventures of Powerhouse, cyncism is symbolically represented by villains who are pushing it so that people will be less likely to resist an alien invasion.

Jeff: Do you have any favorite superheroes and supervillains?

In terms of favorite superhero, it’s a tie between Superman and Spider-man, though I don’t like everything writers have done with those characters. In terms of supervillains, it’s got to be Doctor Doom. He’s extremely intelligent and also ruthless and audacious. Everyone in the entire Marvel universe has to gotten to battle him.

Jeff:  Your latest release seems to be a change of pace, at least in genre. I'd like to hear about it. What did you different in writing this one?

I host "The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio" podcast and I’ve always been a fan of detective fiction, so I’ve wanted try my hand at it. My short story “An Ounce of Prevention” combines detective fiction and science fiction with a time travel angle. That story was inspired by child abuse cases where police can only pick up the pieces and the thought of, “What if you knew someone was going to do something horrific to a child before they did? How would you deal with that?” It’s a tough question. I don’t know if my hero comes up with the right answer, but I think it’s a thought-provoking question.

Jeff:  You also have a book titled, All I Needed to Know I Learned From Columbo. My assumption is that this is more non-fiction, or at least an analysis of fiction. And please tell me that one of the detectives you looked at is my hero, Poirot.

Adam: AlI I Needed to Know I Learned from Columbo is a short nonfiction e-book that takes a look at life lessons from great fictional detectives. Each chapter begins with an examination of the detective’s history and then we take a look at a life lesson (or five) that can be garnered from it. Among those included are Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Father Brown, and Adrian Monk.

Unfortunately, Poirot didn’t make the cut. Poirot is a great detective so he deserves it. However, my acquaintance with him was quite limited back when I wrote this, so I hadn’t yet seen any great life lessons to be drawn from his work. To make up for it, he will get the first chapter in the new book All I Needed to Know I Learned from Dragnet, which will also include chapters on Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Adam-12, and Cannon.

Jeff:  Time to let Andrea get some thoughts in. Is there a difference in editing your husband and somebody else?

  Yes, it is different to work with my husband. He trusts me more, so it’s easier to give in to the temptation to rewrite for him, since I’m far more likely to get away with it. On the flipside, it’s harder for us to be objective with each other when we do disagree.

Jeff:  I believe marketing your book is a bit similar to, perhaps, running for elected office. Have you noticed any similarities and differences? Any lessons from one that apply to the other?

  One lesson I garnered from politics that is relevant to book marketing is that it’s all about finding your audience. I knocked on more than 2000 doors when I ran for office. However, I thought every part of the district and every house deserved to be heard and to have a chance to speak. It was high-minded and noble—and stupid in retrospect. I was running in a primary and needed to reach voters who would be likely to vote in that primary. I ended up losing even though less than 1500 people voted in the primary.

Marketing books also requires targeting. In many ways, it’s more challenging. I could have gotten a list of people who voted in the last primary but finding people who read the books you’re writing can be more challenging, particularly when publishing genres that are a little less popular.

Jeff:  My first contact with you, Adam, is when you pointed out you were recieving several negative reviews on your Audible version of Tales of A Dim Knight. What was the major complaint? Any advice on writing in the current environment/culture we live in? And where do you go to for encouragement?

With Tales of the Dim Knight, most of the complaints were that the book had Christian themes. Most of the reviewers of the audiobook version were of the mindset that believes Christian work should be required to carry a warning label.

Christian authors respond in various ways. Some seek to graciously oblige by labeling their work as “Christian” on the cover and in their promotional materials. Others seek to write books where the Christian themes are buried very deep. I don’t seek to hide it when my books have Christian content. The blurb for Fly Another Day mentions that my hero is a new Christian. However,  I don’t go out of the way to warn readers. I read books all the time where I find myself exposed to ideas with which I vehemently disagree and the books didn’t have such a warning label. If you’re going to read widely at all, you’re going to read things that you disagree with.

Readers of science fiction do not have a general objection to religion in fiction. If in Tales of the Dim Knight, Powerhouse were to meet with a pagan goddess and swear loyalty to her, or if he went to a Shaman who gave him a spirit guide who taught him wisdom, this would have been fine. You can find pagan religion in all sorts of fantasy and science fiction stories The same thing goes for denying the existence of God. It’s only Christianity that produces the red flags.

Until I start reading books that have, “Warning: New Age Content” or “Warning: Atheist Content,” Christians complying with these sort of requests will only end up ghettoizing Christian fiction even more. And I turn to fellow Christian writers for support and help because we definitely have to hang together or we’ll hang separately as the saying goes.

Jeff:  What's next? A follow up to “An Ounce of Prevention”? More Powerhouse? Or are you going to try your hand at historical romance?

Lord willing, I’m hoping to release the next Powerhouse book Ultimate Midlife Crisis by June of 2014 and get the second to last book in the Powerhouse series, Speed Trap out before the end of 2014.

In addition, I’ve written a political thriller/detective novel, Slime Incorporated, which Andrea’s editing right now. It’s a great mix of modern and classic detective elements and I hope to have it out early next year. The lead character is Cole Ustick, a secondary character in “An Ounce of Prevention” who also made a cameo in Powerhouse Hard Pressed

Finally, I hope to have All I Needed to Know I Learned from Dragnet out next year probably in the Spring or early Summer.

Jeff:  Thank you for your time. Can you refer us to how we can keep in touch with what's new with you all?

You can visit my blog, Christians and Superheroes at Notes on the mystery novel and my old time radio podcast are available at .

 Andrea: You can visit my editing website at

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Life Stinks...And Then You Die {Book Review}

You were pulled in by the title, weren’t you? J

Me too.

Except it’s not my title. It’s the title of a book I just finished by Bob Hostetler about the book of Ecclesiastes.

I particularly wanted to read this book because I tend to have a depressive spirit. {But who doesn't when one looks around at all that is wrong in the world?} Ecclesiastes appeals to me because of that. Misery loves company, and I've wondered if King Solomon and I could have been best buds. But a much more careful reading than I've ever conducted reveals a silver lining to Solomon's cloud of despair. It’s a silver lining I think we all could use when everything seems meaningless.

Bob writes, “This life can knock you down like a Whack-a-Mole and kick you around like a bull does a rodeo clown (you can file that under ‘Great Theological Truths’). Ecclesiastes never paints life any other way. It is gritty and straightforward. But it also shows us conclusively that God loves the hard questions, and he doesn’t insist on pat answers.” (p. 59)

You can see that Bob’s style is witty and conversational. It wasn’t difficult to imagine that Bob and I sat down over a cup of coffee and had a long chat, sharing our miseries in life but infusing the conversation with hope and wisdom. Bob and I also, I imagined, prayed together. Each chapter ends with a prayer, and it’s great to pray it right then, aloud, to ask the Lord to help you apply wisdom to your life.

I feel like I read it too quickly for the purpose of getting this review to y'all. Bob quotes Ecclesiastes extensively, but I want to highlight and make notes in the margin of my Bible. In the near future, I think I'll go back and reread, more slowly, taking time to contemplate and pray and apply the truths. How can we, in our everyday lives, be less concerned with acceptance and approval and more concerned with worship? What do we need to do to let go of the pursuit of wealth and cultivate contentment? When are we going to realize we ought to pray for wisdom above all?

So what is the one essential in all of life? What really and truly matters? If you've read Ecclesiastes, you know the answer. But I like the way Bob says it as well. And now you'll just have to read his book.

I was given a copy of this book by Bob Hostetler – himself! – in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

And they called it puppy love... by JoAnn Durgin

Thank you, Donny Osmond. I can say in part that I owe my romance writing career to him. He prompted that first spark of infatuation in a young girl’s heart (well, someone had to do it eventually). I’d better explain. Yes, they called it puppy love (the name of one of his songs). When I was a teenager, Donny Osmond was it. My first celebrity crush. Because of Donny’s win on Dancing with the Stars a few years ago, most of you in the younger generation might actually have heard of him. Personally, I think he’s every bit as handsome now as he was then. But, back in the day, Donny was the epitome of the cute, wholesome guy-next-door. Think Justin Bieber for the early 1970s, and you get the picture (or just look at this photo; I think there’s actually a resemblance, don’t you?). With those silky dark locks, sparkling eyes, smooth voice and famously humongous Osmond chops, I was convinced Donny was crooning to me, and only me, when he sang – even from the television – with an audience of millions.

Should it be any surprise that one of the best dreams of my life (I still remember it all these years later) involved summer camp, Donny and a big shade tree. But that’s not all. We talked, he asked about my life and really seemed to care, and then (gasp!) he kissed my cheek. Ever so gently and tenderly. SIGH. Alas, yes, it ‘twas all a dream. A few years later, I had a dream about jamming with Kenny Loggins in his environmentally-friendly home built into the side of a hill with solar panels. Oh, and yes, let’s not forget Brooke Shields was there (she was my roommate, you see, although not at Princeton). Brooke, Kenny and I (and a few members of his band) were groovin’ and movin’ to the tunes, baby. Just gettin’ high on life (seriously, that was all). Okay, I digress…

I’ve been told it’s one of those pesky, unwritten “rules” that you don’t incorporate dreams into your fiction writing. And whatever you do, do not–I repeat, do NOT–start out a book with a dream. It’s like the kiss of death. I remember starting one of my manuscripts that way a few years ago, and I thought it was a great hook. What’s so wrong with having a god-like guy ride up on a white horse, on a cliff, by the ocean, all blond and Nordic-looking, with riding breeches and one of those white, billowy shirts ruffling in the sea breeze and whipping through all that hair…it was a prelude to the heroine actually meeting this guy in-the-flesh. Brilliant, right? The guy was her dream come-to-life, you see. So what if that same story, or a variation of the same, had already been told a thousand different ways in the history of romance novels? This was my story and it would be amazingly distinct from all the rest.

Ahem. So, I bought one of those books that supposedly explains dreams a few years ago. I haven’t spent much time looking through it. I think it was a bargain book somewhere, and I picked it up. My bookshelves are full of such bargains, but you never know where books filled with strange, odd or fun facts might come in handy. From my brief perusal of it, I found this particular book fascinating. Of course, dreams have been around since biblical times. Dreams (which occur at night when one is in deep sleep) and visions (which occur when one is awake) are mentioned many times in the Bible. God certainly used dreams to give warnings, to encourage, and to reveal prophecy.

The dreams we usually remember are those right before we wake up. Some who study dreams suggest that even though our bodies slow down to rest at night, our minds continue to work. It’s also said that we often dream about things we see, hear or read right before we fall asleep. I know that’s the case with me. Most of my dreams are of the boring variety, however, and usually involve me being late for an event (like a college exam, airplane flight or the like) or I can’t find something and I’m in a panic.
I can’t help but wonder what, if anything, God wants us to learn from our dreams. If we remember them, surely they mean something important in our lives? Did my dream of summer love with Donny Osmond at camp when I was 13 mean I’d grow up to marry him? Of course not. For one thing, he’s Mormon and lived in Utah. I lived in Indiana and am not Mormon. It would never have worked, anyway. I did, however, serve his brother, Jimmy, and their mother, Olive, ice cream at a Farrell’s ice cream parlor in Louisville. I only worked at that place for two weeks (let’s just say I was never cut out to be a waitress–but I quit of my own volition, just so we’re clear), and yet I served Donny’s sibling and their revered mother. God’s timing.

I think the most important thing is to remember those sweet dreams with fondness. Maybe they’re a gift in disguise. Maybe I’m also out-in-left-field here. I honestly don’t know what, if anything, dreams mean. But that book purporting to explain them sure is fun even though I don’t take a lot of stock in it. I think it’s like everything else in life–if we dream something that disturbs us for some reason, we need to take it to the Heavenly Father, lay it before Him and ask Him to reveal to us its meaning or else give us resolution. Then we move on. But for those dreams that make us smile…well…

Sorry, Donny. It was great while it lasted, but it was time to live my life. You sure gave me an experience I’ll never ever forget, and for that I’ll always remember you with a smile. Thanks for the memory. It was a very, very sweet dream. How about you, readers? Care to share a dream? If you have any thoughts or comments about what dreams mean in our lives, I’m open to suggestions. I don’t have the answers, but I always love to hear your thoughts!

Blessings until next time, my friends. 

JoAnn Durgin
Matthew 5:16

Author of The Lewis Legacy Series, Books #1-4 (2010-2012)
Catching Serenity (2013)

Christmas Novellas: Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (2012)
and its sequel, Starlight, Star Bright (2013)
I Choose You (Short Story/Romance Anthology 2012)

(Previously posted on Reflections in Hindsight, July 11, 2011, with the title “Thank you, Donny Osmond”)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

When words won't come

“In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart.” -John Bunyan

  I don’t know how your writing process works for you, but when I sit down in front of my computer to begin writing I do it with the intention of being brilliant. Every time I fully expect something to magically pour from my fingertips onto the blank page. So often though, I sit there staring at the page with a blinking cursor silently beckoning me begin, but the words are stuck and they won’t come.

  Isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to be brilliant word smiths to approach our heavenly Father in prayer? That he doesn’t require us to compose perfect verse before he will listen, or answer?

  The other day my heart was heavy with a situation that could alter a family’s lives permanently, a family I deeply care about. I was as blank as a new piece of paper. I had no words. Finally, I said, “Father, I don’t know how to pray.” Immediately, Philippians 4:6 came to mind: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT)

  Then I said, “But God, I don’t know what’s needed.” The last part of the verse came to me again, “…thank him for all he has done.” So I began thanking God for the things I knew he has done for them. It was really awkward at first; I was grasping for straws – he still has his hair, she still has her health - but I kept at it. Then it was as if someone turned the faucet handle from drip to pour. Words began rushing out of my mouth! Then I couldn’t speak at all because I was so overwhelmed as I recalled God’s goodness and grace, over and over again in their lives. Instead of words, tears flowed.

  After the second time I blew my nose and I found my voice again, it was Jesus’ model for prayer that I finally prayed: “…Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matt. 6:10, NKJV)

I found out later that day that their situation completely turned around. Enemy voices were quieted and favor was given where none was found before. God showed up again and proved himself faithful! Faithful to work all things together for good as his word says in Romans 8:28.

  So tomorrow when it’s time for me to work on my story again, I’m going to pray and thank God for all that he’s done for me. For the opportunity to write. For the story idea he’s given me. For the freedom to choose the genre with which to tell it. For salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. For the privilege to be called His child.  

  And if beautiful prose should appear on the page, I will thank him for that, too.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: The Hero's 2 Journeys

"Every story should have an inner problem and an outer problem, an inner journey and an outer journey." --Christopher Vogler

I'd heard of the 3-CD set The Hero's 2 Journeys long before I ordered my own copy. Now I wish I had ordered them sooner. In this audio workshop (also available on DVDs for group showings), Hollywood script consultant Michael Hague and producer Christopher Vogler talk about the heroes of stories. More specifically, they talk about what happens to heroes as they travel from their normal, familiar settings to the adventure world of the story.

In this point/counterpoint discussion, each discusses the deeper storyline that makes a story truly great. In other words, no matter how fast the action, no matter how sympathetic the main character, no matter how high the stakes, and no matter how powerful the villain, if the hero is not struggling, growing and changing on the inside, the story will suffer a certain amount of hollowness.

Naturally, two story experts from the realm of film-making often refer to movies for examples. However, the principles they discuss will prove valuable writers of any type of fiction, whether they be novelists, playwrights, or screenwriters. Each man discusses the topic from his own viewpoint, using his own insights. But both of them will cause multiple light bulbs to pop on as you listen to this discussion of both the inner journey and the outer journey in each truly enduring story.

Do you craft fiction? Then don't wait for Christmas. Do yourself a favor and learn now how to strengthen your tales via the 2 journeys of each memorable hero.

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Post-Conference Syndrome: More Like Herding Cats Than Wrestling a Bull

Conference is long ago and far away. The first film of Star Wars seems more real. The thrill of being asked for a proposal has waned into a dreamy non-certainty. You have entered the Twilight Zone of the six stages of post-conference syndrome:

1.      Relief. Conference is over. You are faintly surprised to find, having emerged from the den of lions of agent and editor meetings, that you have lived to tell about it. Solution: Congratulate yourself and move on.

2.      Frenzy. Still riding the post-conference energy wave you rise early, fast favorite TV shows, ignore chores, and stay up late in order to get the requested proposal and/or manuscript to the editor or agent by a decent deadline. Solution: Pace yourself. Don't neglect the important for the urgent.

This is my kitchen counter.

This is my kitchen counter on deadline. Any questions?

Simulated Real Life Drama: 

“I thought you said you’d have more time after the conference.”

“There are a few simple changes I learned at conference that I want to make.”

3.      Shock. You realize the “few simple changes” to improve the fruit of your previous labor can be accomplished in twelve forty-hour weeks. Solution: pick and choose what really needs done.

4.      Obstacles. Like a legion of Storm Troopers delays arise to prevent you from finishing revisions on the proposal or manuscript. They take many forms such as fear, life, or procrastination.

a.       Fear will dog you as you face all the new changes you want to make. Your literary baby that glowed with genius pre-conference now wears the Halloween costume of a mindless zombie. Solution: Resist the urge to throw your work in the trash. Remember a basic truth of Christianity: Feelings aren’t Facts. Have faith and keep honing.

b.      Life will cause you or those nearest and dearest to have major surgery, change state of residence, endure computer or car crashes, theft, find a new job, marry, and walk in different ministry directions, usually all in the same month or in consecutive weeks for several months that will feel like a millennium. Solution: Trust in God.

c.       Natural procrastination will kick in. You will reach a point where something must give. Often it will be the manuscript. Accept that sometimes delay is good. Solution: Take a breather and then get back to it. Chances are your subconscious will have been resolving story problems and drawing characters while you were off doing something else.
5.      Prevailing. The writing life is not so much grabbing the bull by the horns and wrestling it to the ground as it is herding cats. I could go on for years about this, but I know you know what I mean. Solution: Find a support group on-line and locally face-to-face. A successful book is most often a team effort from family, friends, agents, editors, and everyone in between. Set bite-size deadlines for yourself and refine those until they are doable. You can do this.

6.  Commitment.Take the Last Step. You have written the proposal. The manuscript is ready. Everything is primed to go. The only thing left is actually hitting the send button. At this point, an evil Jedi knight will wave his hand over your eyes and tell you that you should forget about it, return to your normal life, and think of this no more. Solution: Pray. Then, press send. The Force may not be with you, but Someone far better is. God will cause his will to be done in the right place and at the proper time. Results are in his hand. All you can do is be obedient and open to the lessons he teaches.

      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. She blogs monthly for, a fun site about the Midwest. Like her at 

Monday, November 4, 2013

You are more than you know

Last month I had the enormous pleasure of being mentored by one of my favorite writer-speakers, Patsy Clairmont, at a "Shaking Your Tree" small group workshop in her home.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from Patsy is this: "You are more than you know."

I'd never thought about this before. I never considered the possibility that there is more inside of me that I haven't discovered yet because I think I know myself very well.

Realizing there are hidden gems inside of who I am gave me permission to try out new ideas. Think in new ways.

One of the new ways that Patsy is shaking her own tree is to take art lessons. And she's discovered that she's really good at painting!

It took courage to start painting when she had never done so before. I can't help but wonder -- what if she'd never tried? She'd never know the beautiful things she could create. Just look at that beautiful rooster!

What if you never try to write something you've never tried to write before and inside of you is something beautiful? You're robbing the world of that beauty. Don't just sit there. Shake your tree!

Patsy led us in several activities that helped us to share our own stories. I met some fascinating ladies. There were only eight of us at her table. What an honor it was to not only be in Patsy's presence, but also in the presence of so many talented, beautiful women. Each one had a story of overcoming great obstacles to be where they are today. As I writer, I soaked up every morsel. People's stories fascinate me.

Patsy has a new book coming out in January 2014 entitled Twirl. She generously gave each of us a copy.

My take-aways from spending time with Patsy:

1. I am more than I know (can't wait to find out what and who all I am!)

2. I enjoy mentoring others in the art of writing.

3. My road has been hard, but I am not alone in that fact.

4. I crave beautiful words, well-fashioned turns of phrase, lovely prose.

What about you? Are you ready to delve deep to discover those parts of yourself you haven't met yet?

Click to Tweet:

You are more than you know. 

Find a fresh pallet to help you tell your story. 

Don't just sit there -- shake your tree!

Patsy and Karla

Karla Akins is the author of  The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots, and narrative biographies for middle grades. You can follow Karla's blog at