Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Words God Gives

When I was in high school, my favorite teacher pulled me aside after English class one day to give me some advice about a writing project we were working on. During the course of the conversation, he mentioned that it was clear to him that I was a romantic. At the time, I couldn’t figure out what that had to do with anything since the project was a research paper.

That comment has stuck with me all these years and I mull it over now and then. For quite a long time, I had trouble reconciling the idea I had of a flighty, head-in-the-clouds romantic with the more serious, realistic person I saw myself as. It was almost embarrassing to think others saw that much of a starry-eyed dreamer in me.

But what’s so bad about that, anyway? The label has grown on me with time. To the point that I don’t even flinch a little when I tell people I write inspirational romance. Now, I’ve read romance for many years, since I was quite young. I’d pick up a Janette Oke novel my mom had just finished and get hooked. But I always felt like there was a bit of a stigma around the genre. Like it wasn’t serious enough to be real literature.

Since I started writing, it’s crossed my mind many times that maybe I should write about more serious topics. Even compared to others within the romance genre, I write light stories. Sweet books. Easy-to-read. And honestly, that’s the type of books I like to read, too. Does the lightness make them less valid than deeper books that delve into the hard parts of life?

I don’t think so. I believe that God gives writers different focuses for a reason. Many writers, in romance and other genres, handle heavy issues beautifully, touching hearts and healing wounds. But there are others who handle life’s problems with humor or sweetness. Are any of those better than the others? Nope.

Just like God created people to perform different functions within the church and likened it to the human body working together, I believe He made different writers to perform different functions. Together, we make up a whole, a spectrum of writers all writing the multitude of words God gives them. Between us, we can touch hearts with serious words or funny ones, deep words or light-hearted ones. No one way is better because each reader will respond to something different.

So, write what you feel led to write. The words that God gives you will find their mark in His timing. Isn’t that a wonderfully freeing thought?

I’d love to hear from you. Where does your writing fit in? 

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

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Me? Contribute to a Writers’ Blog?

It’s been eight years since I dove into National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). Since that time, I’ve published short stories, contributed to blog posts, and created my own website. I’ve written seven books—each one a little more polished than the previous as I learn the craft. But I still feel new to this business of writing.

During the first ACFW-IN meetings I ever attended in 2013, one of the officers voiced a plea for writers to contribute to the Hoosier Ink blog. No way, I thought. I’m too inexperienced. I’m not published. What could I possibly contribute?

This year, I became one of the officers! It was kind of expected that I should contribute to Hoosier Ink. I thought, I’m still too inexperienced. I’m barely published. What can I contribute? Others in this organization know far more than I do.

Notice the difference in the italics above. While I may question my worth to the organization, no way, is no longer part of my vocabulary.

God directs us in every stage of our development. With the talents He’s given me, I’ve been obedient to teach school, lead worship in church, and direct a nonprofit agency. Currently, I’m a writer. He has walked beside me in life, guiding me in the roles of  daughter, sister, wife, mom, and now grandma.

I become a blessing to others as I depend on Him. Since He has sent me on this roller coaster adventure of writing, I’ve discovered that I can create a blog post out of any slice-of-life episode and offer Light to readers. Not only that, I can take the same blog post and relate it in such a way as to create a completely different article and use it somewhere else, offering another ray of Light.

For example, I wrote a spiritual metaphor, Wound Therapy, on my personal blog. I compared the medical steps taken in cleansing and repairing deep puncture wounds to God’s ministrations when we are deeply wounded in spirit. How could I relate Wound Therapy to a post for writers in Hoosier Ink? No problem! Within the Wound Therapy post is the message to writers that anything can be used to communicate Truth.

Truth? Why I just completed a third article on the concept of Truth for another blog! See how this goes?

Those of you who feel you have little to contribute, rethink your possibilities. You are members of ACFW. God directs your lives in a thousand different ways from mine. He’s taught you lessons that you could pass along to me and others. 

Hoosier Ink has several blog post openings throughout the month. We don’t feel pressure to fill every slot for thirty days a month, but two or three times a week would be nice. If you’re a beginner like I am, committing to a monthly post is fantastic practice. I’ve gained a lot of confidence and a bit more skill. If you are way beyond my experience in the writing life, we need your wisdom.

Like a dog nosing her sleepy puppies to get up and move, the Holy Spirit had been nudging me toward writing for Hoosier Ink for a year or more before I obeyed.

Maybe God is already prompting you toward contributing more of your talent via this blog site.

If He is, may you be   quicker to obey than I was! Be a blessing. Let your Light shine.

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: 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Embracing the Editor Among Writers

by Jean Kavich Bloom

I once attended a writers’ conference where, in a lunch group made up of all writers, I was asked what I write. That's a question I commonly get in such settings. When I answered that, although I write, I’m primarily a book editor, one new-to-the-whole-world-of-publishing woman said, “Well, then, I don’t understand why you’re here.”

Ouch. That felt more like a challenge than curiosity, as though I were a fish who'd jumped out of her assigned body of water, a flopping curiosity on the other side of the table.

Bu like many editors, I’m also a writer. I write professionally, I write personally, and I write for a few blogs. I write nonfiction, and I write a little fiction (also my long-term goal). Some authors with whom I have an ongoing, trusting, author/writer relationship even allow me to write a paragraph as I’m editing to show what I have in mind to fill in a gap or flesh out a scene (subject to their changes, of course), and they seem to like many of those entries. That's especially fun in novels.

But mostly, I love to hang out with writers, people who love books and words, including the small writers’ group at my church. And though I, like many editors, attend writers' groups in part to encourage writers and provide information about editing and the publishing process when asked, I'm also there for encouragement and growth in my own writing and to soak up the pure joy of the craft. But sometimes I do feel like that fish out of her own water, and I imagine others who are primarily editors in those settings might feel that way too.

Now, I’m not talking about physically embracing the editors among you, unless you're the hugging type anyway and think hugging a fish makes sense. But I do suggest making them feel welcome, as though they have something to offer, even as a writer.

Most of the times we editors are with writers, no one says, “You’re an editor? I don’t understand why you’re here, then,” and we feel just fine. But any editor who even sometimes feels like a fish out of water can use some depth of welcome and support anytime you’d like to offer it. Whether you come across the species at a writers’ group, writers’ conference, or your own American Christian Fiction Writers chapter meetings—even if their presence seems a little fishy to you—make some emotional space for them. My guess is more of us are swimming among you than you know, even if we don't travel in obvious schools with you other fish in the sea!

Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries

(Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with nearly thirty years' experience in the book publishing world. Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she sometimes posts articles about the writing life. She is also a 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, have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren, with foster grandchildren on a regular basis.

Photo credit:

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Death Comes to a Bookstore

I am in shock. My seminary bookstore has closed. After local Cokesbury, Berean, and Family Christian Stores turned out the lights, I comforted myself with the thought that my seminary store was still a place where I could browse and buy the newest Christian books. Then came an email announcement that the store would close September 21. The store’s website now reads: "CTS Leadership has discussed at length how to balance the enjoyment and convenience of having a bookstore with whether it is good stewardship to draw away significant resources from other needs in order to keep it open."  Their decision? "The Bookstore has now closed. Students should contact Follett Books for their textbooks this semester."

When business news commentators noted the demise of general bookstore chains such as Dalton’s and Walden’s, they predicted that specialty bookshops would weather the storm. Stores devoted to local history, crafts, sports, and other niche interests have loyal clienteles, and it seemed safe to assume these folks would  buy their wares at a premium for the privilege of having a place to read and converse with like-minded people. But things haven’t turned out that way. (After all, what could be more specialized than a seminary bookstore?)
The outcome reminds me of a conversation I once had with Christian college president. He told me that the future of his institution depended on nurturing its source of income, but noted that most faculty members were indifferent to donors. With homespun sarcasm he said, “Ticks should be powerfully interested in the health of their sheep.”

I think we’ve reached that point as Christian authors. We need to be powerfully interested in the health of bookstores that carry our work. How might we do this? A few suggestions:
  • Patronize your local bookstores. Yes, you can save money by buying books online, but you can save your bookstores by buying through them. This assures that you'll have places to discover books that aren't touted online and "mission stations" that introduce books like yours to the general public.
  • Recommend these bookstores to others. The excitement of discovering a new author or new book can be contagious. Talk about your excitement as freely as you talk about the latest episode on your favorite sitcom.
  • Volunteer to coordinate special events for these bookstores. Offer to organize a book reading by several local authors on a "hot topic" such as racism or terrorism. If you know how to write an effective press release, do that promote the event. Bake some cookies. Provide folding chairs from your church. Enlist others to help with the logistics.
  • Encourage your local bookstore staff. Offer a word of thanks for a particularly good book recommendation. Send a "thank you" card for a job well done. And of course, pray for these frontline workers as they strive to make good literature available in your community. Make them aware that someone does care about their success.

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.





Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Freedom for Writers

There's a lot of debate about how and when a writer should publish. Today I want to encourage you to think about these four things before you decide where you are on the road to publication.

1) Know your goals. Why do you want to write indie? What is motivating that decision? The same questions should be asked if you're pursuing traditional publishing. For me, I'm pursing indie for my books where I have received the rights back from the publisher. It's been a huge learning curve, but I know these are good books and there are readers who haven't discovered them. Indie publishing is a way to get them back out there, update them and more. I love traditional publishing, because I love the partnership aspects. I know they have a platform I don't have on my own. They have the team to help me with all the elements that are overwhelming to consider on my own. That's why I love being with the big houses.

2) The most important relationship is between reader and author. Regardless of how you publish, you have to think about how you will build that relationship. Part of it will be writing more, great books. Then there will be websites, social media, booksignings, etc. you will have to think deliberately about how you will build this relationship. It also requires you to know and listen to your reader. Involve them in the process. Help them acquire ownership of your books. How can you help them become your biggest advocates?

3) Hire an editor. This step is so often overlooked. If you are traditionally published, then you should have three rounds of editing: macro/story edit, line edit, and proofing. If you are indie, you need the same. Even though the book I have put up were edited at least three times, I still hired someone to proof each one. It's amazing what is caught each time. The quickest way to lose a reader is to have a poorly edited book. Don't skip this step. It is worth the expense to make the book is done well. As James Scott Bell says you're best marketing is the book the reader is currently reading.

4) Don't rush. Let's face it. We all get important. But let's not rush into print before we're ready. I have friends churning out 4-6 books a year. I can't do that with everything else going on in my world. Three is about my max; four if I'm writing two with Tricia Goyer. I know that's my pace, and I know this after writing 27 books. What's your pace? How fast can you write and still do a good job? Seriously stop and think about. How much time do you need to make sure you're going through the rounds of edits and putting out a great book? Is your first book really ready for the world to read?

What would you add?

An award-winning author of more than twenty books, Cara is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.