Wednesday, February 28, 2018

“The More That You Read…”

Did you know that March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’s birthday? In his honor, it’s also National Read Across America Day. I remember celebrating all things reading at this time of year when I was a kid in school and it was wonderful. Now I get to enjoy the experience all over again with my kids.

I think writers can learn so much from Dr. Seuss’s example, even those of us who write in completely different genres. Here are a few things I take from his writing:

Keep it short
Did you know that The Cat in the Hat is only 236 words long? But it’s still a complete, imaginative story that draws readers in. Dr. Seuss was a master at picking just the right words, just the right rhythm, just the right visual to get his point across to a wide audience while remaining succinct.

This is just as important in 80,000-word novels. It can seem like a lot of space to get around to the story. But we can easily get bogged down in meandering descriptions and pointless subplots. Keep that writing tight and clean to keep your reader engaged. Take the time to make each word convey the perfect message and every scene advance the story.

Keep it simple
I love how The Cat in the Hat came to be. In response to worries over falling literacy rates in young children, Dr. Seuss was given the challenge of writing an early reader that would be more interesting for children than the ones that existed. Yes, that incredibly creative story contains only the most basic vocabulary, meant for kids just learning to read.

Beautiful prose is wonderful to read. But using big words for the sake of it can come across as trying too hard. So, go ahead, throw in that awesome, huge word you learned last week that you’re dying to use. But try not to do it in every sentence.

Keep it up
To continue using the example of The Cat in the Hat, how long do you think it would take you to write a 236-word story for kids? A few hours? A week? Dr. Seuss thought so, too. But it ended up taking him a year and a half! I’m pretty sure I would have given up a few months in and chalked it up to a good experiment. But he persisted and the story he struggled to write helped foster a love of reading in multiple generations of children.

Dr. Seuss’s first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, received some twenty or thirty rejections before an editor friend took a chance on it. Haven’t you heard story after story like that from authors? Try to take it as an encouragement. Let it motivate you to finish another manuscript, send one more query, pitch that book again. You never know when the next time will be the one that works!

Here’s a challenge for you: take a page out of Dr. Seuss’s book and try something short. Come to the ACFW Indiana Masterpiece-in-a-Day event on March 10th, write a short story, and get a chance to be published in Spark magazine! More info in this post. RSVP right away!

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

Friday, February 23, 2018


We’ve seen it. Often felt it. Perhaps we’ve even been the cause of it.

Tension is most often the strain of a relationship, or the anxiety we feel when people react negatively, or a situation gets topsy-turvy when we’d prefer something straight forward. 

Tension is not exactly a happy place whether it pertains to a relationship or a circumstance. Though as writers, we weave it into our plots, and into the lives of our characters because we know it’s the best course to creating a story that insists another page is turned in search of resolution.

Though I love the suspense, I not only anticipate everything being wrapped up by the last page, I expect it. Thank goodness God chose to give us the book of Revelation, which reminds me of another definition of tension. And one I’ve heard used quite frequently lately—the act of, or state of being stretched. 

When you apply this definition of tension to our faith, you might say as Christians, we live in time period that stretches between the finished work of the cross and the coming King. Our hearts have been washed yet we must continually seek grace. We are not of this world, but are not yet living in our promised one. Faith by definition is the substance of things hoped for, but not yet seen…so to live by faith means we live in the state of being stretched to not just anticipate but expect what will be.

I just love that. I hope you do, too, because I expect the coming King and His Kingdom will be beyond our wildest imagination.  

 Penelope makes her home in Indiana, where she lives with her family and serves in her church. A student of the Word, she occasionally teaches Bible studies or Precepts. She holds a BS from Methodist College and a MS from Boston University, but is pursuing the life of a writer.

A Powerful Voice and A Furrow So Deep are Christian Romances published through Anaiah Press, LLC. She recently signed another contract for the publication of a Christmas novella.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Opportunity to Publish

ACFW Indiana's next meeting will be March 10 in Fort Wayne. 

Instead of a regular meeting, we're adding a little competition: can you write a flash fiction romance in five hours, a masterpiece in a day?  

From 11a.m. until 4 p.m. we will meet at Don's Guesthouse Grille, enjoy some lunch, and start writing!

You don't write romances? Don't let that terrify you! I'm not a romance writer either. But last summer, I jumped in with both feet at a local arts fair that conducted a similar contest. 

What an enjoyable day discovering how much I could accomplish in so little time. Then there was the added boon of sitting with writer friends while we typed away, occasionally consulting one another for a light critique. I won second place! And a cash prize!

Masterpiece in a Day judges realize your "finished" product will be little more than a rough draft, but they'll base their decision for a winner on the story's potential . Three finalists will be notified within thirty days of the contest so they can polish their submission before the winner is announced at the June 9 meeting, which will also take place in Fort Wayne.

At that time, he or she will be awarded $50 and the edited story will be sent to Spark for publication. (An added note: Doc Hensley will be our featured speaker in June.)

Since this kind of event creates additional expense for our chapter, we're charging $10 for each story submitted from ACFW members, and $15 for any guests who wish to join in the fun.

Here's how you can expect it all to work on the day of the contest:          

1. You will be given 3 writing prompts.
2. In the next several hours, you will write a 500-700 word sweet romance based on a theme given to you on that day.
3. When you finish, email it to the addresses on the instruction sheet before you leave.


Please RSVP to as soon as possible.

Your officers have selected a menu of salads or sandwiches, providing for vegetarians, those who eat light, and those who enjoy a hearty meal. I expect our Facebook page will have a map link to get you to  1313 W. Washington Center Road in Fort Wayne.

So get your creative juices flowing! And I hope to see you there!

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: