Friday, August 24, 2018


With so many novels to choose from, and only so many ways to present a common plot, what sets one story apart from another?

I believe inspiration plays a significant role.

Christian novels often point towards the gospel, or may nod at the development of a character’s faith. And those works surely come from a source of spiritual inspiration. But I want to talk about inspiration that is more basic, or perhaps less spiritual than that:-)
There’s a creative stimulus behind every story. And that is what makes a story as unique as the person telling it.
I often read the letters pinned to the readers inside of a novel. Not all authors do this, but some will share what inspired them to write that particular story in the first place. 

Inspiration comes from many and sometimes unlikely sources: news articles, fictionalization of real people who lived centuries before, famous events, even vague recollections of a dream. (That last one is mine.)

Sometimes, an author’s inspiration will come from recorded events like wars or other tragedies, and how people living then would've been affected. For example, in the opening season of “Downtown Abbey”, Mary’s fiancĂ© was said to have died in the sinking of the Titanic. It was a minor reference, but it set the backdrop of a family having to deal with the loss of the heir for which their estate was entailed to. Hence, the uncertainty of their future unfolded before us in dramatic flair, and hooked us for several seasons. 

New novels are often born from the retelling of folklore and legends like Camelot or Robin Hood. Dystopian books and fantasies create new worlds for us to get lost in. But what inspired those worlds, or makes the retelling of a well-known story different from a previous one? A fellow author once mentioned that in creating a dystopian series, the question of “what if” was posed—from it, nations were divided differently and certain laws were imposed.

Inspiration can make each story inherently different, because similar stories, and novels with basic plot lines set them apart as the author’s unique vision shines through the characters, and the events that set the story in motion.

As always, your voice matters so keep writing.

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:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Keep on

I’ll admit, I loved the first day of school as a kid. All those new school supplies, a new classroom, new teacher, new things to learn. For the first couple of days, it was all pretty exciting.

And then the first week turned into the second and third week. Homework was assigned. Classes fell into a routine. The newness wore off. When the real work started, I struggled.

It can be the same with writing. At first, the idea is so exciting. New characters! A new plot! So many possibilities ahead!

But after the initial rush wears off and those first few chapters are written, the real work begins. Writing the middle chapters can feel like slogging through mud. The characters cause problems and the plot sags. The words won’t come, or they do come but they’re clearly terrible.

Honestly? I’m tempted to quit at that point every time and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. If, like me, you wonder how you can keep going to the end, here’s some encouragement.

First, remember that what you’re writing isn’t permanent. It can always be changed so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make it perfect in one try. The important part is to get it on the page and it can always be fixed later. That’s gotten me through a lot of rough chapters. I’ve even written notes about what I think a section needs instead of writing it, giving myself some space to come back to it later. Take some of the pressure off yourself and it might go easier.

Also, remember that all writers struggle with something. I completely expect that I’ll still be trudging through the middle of books even if I write 100. That’s just a hard part for me. Maybe for you, it’s the beginning. Maybe it’s character development, grammar, writing a synopsis. There will always be something hard. But God calls us to put our full effort into what we do (Colossians 3:23) and that includes writing. He will be faithful to help us through, no matter how hard it is.

It’s definitely not easy to put together thousands of words along with characters and plots to get to the end of a manuscript. But it is worth the effort. Breathing life into a story God planted in your heart is an incredible blessing. So, keep at it! Refresh yourself as needed and continue pushing through. I believe in you!

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

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Business Cards

At our recent ACFW Indiana meeting, we talked about how to get ready for the ACFW National Conference.  It was mentioned that every author needs a business card.  Here is a reprint of the information if you were unable to attend.

Enjoy! I know I had a lot of fun creating a business card after I had all the information I needed.

Business cards must have:

·           Author’s Name or Pen Name
·           Email (author name if possible)
·          Website (no Weebly or Wordpress), have SM handles linked
·          Professional Headshot (People remember faces.)
  If you include SM handles, it should be the same across all platforms and be the author's name.

Ideas to make your card unique:

  Your business card is a way to show your personality and put a spotlight on your writing!
  You can include any of these fun ideas to make the card your own:
·           Show your genre or style through your design
  If you write:
  • Vintage? Design a vintage card.
  • Romance? Consider pink and light blue with flowing fonts.
  • Mysteries? Add bold colors.

·         Use the cover art or a setting from your book.
·         Create a tagline to describe you as an author.
·         Don’t be afraid to use both sides of the card.
·         Author biography, short blurb.
·         A phrase from a review, a blurb about your newest book, or a quote that describes you as a writer.
·         QR code: Create one at Kaywa QR code.

Ideas on how to share your business cards:

      Give them to the person who asks you what you write.
      When networking at a writing conference.
      Promote yourself at book readings and signings.
      Give them to attendees when teaching a workshop.
      Attend events related to your subject or genre.
      Meeting with editors or agents.

Where to get them printed:

      Print your cards locally at Office Depot or Staples.

     Print your cards online through:

For inspiration or great ideas, check out these blogs:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

That's Relationship

While I know our next newsletter will give you the full report on ACFW Indiana’s August  meeting, I want to share one take-away with you. 


Our wonderful panel of Cara Putman, Sarah Forgrave, and Michele Israel Harper touched on the word “relationship” off and on throughout the energetic back-and-forth between members and guest speakers for over two hours. Apparently, no one wanted to go home!

1. Relationships between the writer and the readers.

One definition of success as an author is: “If we have touched one life, our efforts are worth it.”

“Touched.” That’s relationship. Maybe the reader sends a note of appreciation. Wonderful! Encouragement for the writer! Or, we may never connect personally, but our words deeply affected the reader.

2. Relationship between the writer and the agent/editor. 

“Mine the passion.”  
That’s where the relationship starts—in the first interview or query. Even earlier. Writers can always send out a feeler to a prospective agent/editor if they expect to meet with them one-on-one at a conference. When we put our hearts into describing our work, the agent or editor can tell, and it gives them goosebumps.

“Have fun with pitching.”
Consider every pitch session as a practice run. That attitude will help the writer de-stress,  and once they’re relaxed, the agent/editor can get a sense of who he or she is as a person. They will find connection. And that’s relationship.

Once a writer has a contract, either with a publisher or an agent, the business relationship begins. The spark that brought both sides together needs to build. The agent will be diligent to promote the author’s work. The writer will make sure to follow through with deadlines. The publisher will provide the necessary expertise in creating and directing a marketing plan. Each successful communication strengthens the ties among professionals.

3. Relationships between writers.

Meetings like ours on August 11th drive the point home. Old friends reconnect. New friendships are forged. Writers learn from other writers. Established authors share their expertise with  budding authors. The energy in the room can power the electrical grid in three states!

4. Relationship between writer and God.

 God called you to write. Right? The relationship between God and you—His child—is vital. He has the long-term perspective. He knows your writing road. He knows the detours and the rest stops and the final destination of your manuscript. Trust Him. That’s relationship.

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: