Friday, May 25, 2018

Becoming a writer

I’ve been working through a Bible study that has me evaluating the way I see myself, the descriptors I use to define who I am from a temporal and eternal perspective. If we default to the temporal lens, most everyone wears different hats in various stages of their life. 

For instance, I am—a wife—a mother, which I blogged about recently (Confessions of a Mom)—a friend—and a writer. Objectively, we are more than our roles, even in this temporal world, but I would like to focus on something we share—being a writer. And while this post may only speak to a few, I thought I’d use this opportunity to share the onset of my journey of becoming a writer in hopes it might encourage someone.

There was a time I wouldn’t have referred to myself as a writer, even though I was writing. I wrote poetry in high school, and love stories later on. Though it wasn’t something I usually shared about myself. Sitting in a college computer lab one day, I was typing the beginning of a romance. When I discovered the person next to me was eyeing what was on my screen, I was embarrassed. At that stage of my life, writing was a “pipe dream”, a long shot of it ever being more than some document I stored on a floppy disc. I couldn’t imagine anything I wrote would matter to anyone, but me.

Years later, and long before publication, I had completed two manuscripts a Bible study, and was actively working on other material. The words “I’m trying to become a writer” was my explanation for anyone who inadvertently learned about my closet activities, which makes me think our friends, and family have access to an arsenal of information they shouldn’t sometimes, but I digress. 

Arguably, what I wrote then wasn’t ready for market, because I had much to learn about techniques. But isn’t it a shame I felt I had to be secretive about writing, or that I thought I had to be published to justify calling myself “a writer”? 

I’ll be honest, having your work published does tend to validate spending hours spent in front of a computer, but it doesn’t change the balance of being a writer versus becoming one. In my opinion, if you write…You are a writer. Whether you write anecdotes in a journal, spill your thoughts in a spiral notebook, or record your day in diary you never anticipate anyone will read, even then…I’d say you’re a writer. 

People often talk about writing a book, but most never write a word. Doesn’t anyone who puts pen to paper, or more likely, keystroke to computer screen, prove they have what it takes to be a writer. There are naturally gifted writers who need little training, but most writers concur that time, practice, and a good editor have contributed to the development of their skills. 

Final word, no matter the pace, or where you are on the journey to publication keep writing, because you are writer, and you have a story to tell. Besides, someone needs to hear your voice. It might even be me.😉

 Penelope grew up in Tennessee, but has lived in various states and a few countries outside the United States. She holds a BS in Business/Political Science and a MS in Multinational Commerce from Boston University.

After working in the field of banking and finance, she left to invest her time with her children at home, and occasionally worked as a substitute teacher. Today, she resides in Indiana with her family where she serves in her church, and occasionally teaches a Bible study or Precepts.

An avid reader of fiction and perpetual student of Biblical truth, she is pursing the life of a writer. She believes her roots, faith, and her experience with other places and cultures, all meld into the voice that splashes onto the pages of her novels.

A Powerful Voice and A Furrow So Deep are Christian Romances published through Anaiah Press, LLC. And her Christmas novella, My Christmas Hope, will be released November 16, 2018.

To follow Penelope on social media:
Facebook: PenelopePowellAuthor
Twitter: @penpowell89

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Summing It Up

An author’s palms start to sweat. The task ahead seems impossible. Turn 80,000 words that were agonized over into three pages? No, there must be some mistake. Even the cruelest person wouldn’t force a poor writer to do such an outlandish thing.

But, back in real life, agents and publishers do require a synopsis. Instead of letting that dreaded document hang over your head through the entire book-writing process, maybe we should put it to work! Here’s how.

First, look at it as a tool, not a chore.
Instead of leaving the synopsis for the end, try writing it as you’re brainstorming. Or, I often start it after writing a couple chapters. Once you’re published and can submit proposals instead of full manuscripts, you’ll have to write it now anyway, right? Right. It’s a good habit to start.

It also provides a wonderful opportunity to write out all that backstory we’re so tempted to dump into the first chapters. It can always be cut out of the synopsis later but having it all out there makes it easier to pick what pieces should be revealed when.

Now, make it work for you.
So, you have a bunch of backstory, but now what? The synopsis is a great outlining tool. This can work for plotters or pantsers. Either before you start or as you write, plug the major plot points into the synopsis. The inciting incident, turning points, climax, resolution, all of it. Use those points to begin your synopsis. Once you have a little backstory and the major parts of the plot down, you pretty much have the whole synopsis written!

You also have an overhead look at your story. Are there plot holes? Is every scene realistic and logical based on the characters goals and motivations? Do any characters fall flat? Stepping back from the story through a synopsis reveals issues that can make or break a book.

Finally, put your best foot forward.
A solid synopsis shows an author is willing to put time and effort into doing things the right way. It’s well-known that a synopsis is hard to write. But agents and editors have reasons for needing them, different ways they utilize them. Therefore, they all have their own requirements. An author who checks into those requirements and fulfills them will make a better impression than one who doesn’t. Sending a ten-page, single-spaced synopsis when the guidelines ask for three pages double-spaced will make it look like the writer doesn’t care or isn’t capable of working within constraints. You don’t want either of those to be the first impression an agent or editor has of you!

Okay, I want to know: do you love writing a synopsis or hate it?

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 Be sure to
look for her newest book, Orphan Train Sweetheart, in stores or online in June!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Writing Lessons from a Baseball Mom: Savor the Moments

My initiation into the world of sports began thirty-five years ago when my oldest son ventured into the world of t-ball. As each brother reached the grand old age of four, he joined the ranks of youth baseball teams. I admit that sitting on uncomfortable bleachers for hours was no picnic, but some of my best “Mommy” memories  spring from those  balmy evenings in June as I cheered my little boys to victory.

With May's arrival, we leapt into all things baseball. Visiting the baseball card shop. Practices. Washing uniforms. Games. Washing uniforms. Junk food. I even sold an article to a magazine extolling the agony and the ecstasy of a six-inning Little League game.

We instituted baseball traditions at home. The season opened with our favorite videos. The Sandlot was an annual must-watch, and my husband rediscovered his childhood favorite, It Happens Every Spring. To gain relief from hotdogs and nacho dinners fresh from the concession stand, I could be counted on to bring the boys’ favorite sub sandwiches to their games. By the time, the youngest was in high school, those subs had won the distinction of a home run meal for the team between doubleheaders.

Years passed. The oldest boy developed a successful high school sports career in swimming. The next son reluctantly said goodbye to the game when he entered the premed program at his university. With one child left in baseball, I cherished every inning. We were able to attend games through all of his college years and beyond as he followed his dream to become a high school coach.

My boys will tell you that I never truly learned baseball. (“It’s not a hit, Mom. He only made contact with the ball.”) In one sense, they’re right. My sports lingo  is filled with malapropisms, but I’ve learned a lot about baseball and life while raising my sons. 

PleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod, don’t let him strike out. PleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod, help him to pitch over the plate. Not every one of those prayers was answered with a yes from the Almighty. Through God’s grace, my boys and I learned how to handle the success of RBIs and sacrifice bunts, as well as how to endure the humiliation of fielding errors and hitting the batter with a wild pitch.

My years as a baseball mom have trained me for writing as a second career. Where baseball consumed our leisure time every spring, I now spend my retirement hours every day either writing or learning some facet of writing. Instead of baseball games, I attend conferences, and I’ve gained a wonderful, new pool of friendships through those meetings and through ACFW.

I’ll work and rework a sentence until it sparkles with the exact meaning I desire, which leaves me with the satisfaction of making it safely to first base. Seasons pass, and I’m delighted at each new activity I try—entering contests, adding short stories and blogs to my noveling efforts, and serving in writers’ organizations. 

PleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod, may this editor love my book. PleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod, help me pitch this story perfectly. Again, I don’t get a yes from my heavenly Father all the time. I receive a lot of rejections, and He’s given me the strength to keep writing, keep learning. I also see His hand in my life as He provides mentors and helps me develop the craft. 

I possess a wealth of family memories from our seasons in baseball. In twenty years, I’ll own a treasure trove of writing memories. Positive or negative, each is to be cherished.

Savor the moments. In family. In work. In writing. In life.

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: