Friday, September 28, 2018

Transitions in Writing and Life

The first writing rule I learned was to tailor each chapter to specific character’s point of view within a story, or use things like scene changes and/or time differences to smoothly switch between them. Before, I tended to jump heads amongst my characters. 

Following the guidelines, I can still voice a character’s inner most thoughts😟 in the midst of tension or change when my characters interact, which is essential if I want readers to connect with what is happening.

Why does it matter? 

Because like the conflict in our stories, real life is full of change, and just as we endeavor to smooth the way for our characters to be understood, life change requires a little finesse, too. 

Transitional life changes have the tendency to cause a ripple effect in once still waters. Marriage, re-marriage, divorce, death, job change, and retirement are just a few common curves in everyday life. Any of those events usually reaches beyond the people directly involved, to touch the lives of relatives, friends, and even co-workers.

For example, the move of a family across town may affect the children more than the adults. Probably because while most adults maintain their friendships even after a move, for children, a new school zone typically means they need to start over—make new friends.

The death or divorce of a couple affects the children, regardless of their age. The repercussions invariably differ—meaning handling the hurt might be a little easier for those out of the house than for those still at home, but the loss of a once intact family unit still affects everyone attached. 

Like learning a character’s thoughts through their point of view, effective communication with everyone involved can help them deal with change as it occurs. Interestingly, time and/or a scene change can aid in that process, too.😉

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, September 26, 2018

Give it a chance

I was blessed to be able to attend the ACFW national conference this weekend in Nashville, along with many other wonderful writers. It was a great time of learning, worshiping, and making real-life connections.

But, of course, it was also a time for many to take steps toward selling the writing they’ve labored over. One of my goals for the trip was to get feedback. In a tough market, is my idea viable? Is my writing good enough?

Any time we open ourselves up to a critique of that sort, it can be scary. Confirmation is exhilarating, or it can be painful if the response isn’t as good as we hope. So, what’s a writer to do when the conversations we hope will affirm end up letting us down?

First, don’t respond with emotion. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” It’s so easy to let those emotions get the best of me when I’m disappointed or hurt! But, along with being unprofessional, that isn’t the way God wants His people to handle life’s twists. Dig deep for the strength to respond with grace.

Then, take a step back and process the critique. Yes, it’s
possible that the opinion you received isn’t valid. Maybe the person didn’t have the whole picture or didn’t understand your vision for your writing. But, then again, you may find with time that even comments that seem harsh at the moment have value. Really give the ideas a chance to process. Often, I’ve found there’s a way to incorporate those critiques, after all.

This is a valuable skill whether you're published or not. It's always hard to open a document, knowing there will be critiques from an agent or editor. But it's not personal. They want to produce the best stories possible, the type of books people will read over and over for years to come, just like I do. So, if you've come up against a criticism that stings, give it a chance. Really think and pray over it. And you might find wisdom buried inside.

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, September 8, 2018

The Grape on the Floor

by Jean Kavich Bloom

Honestly, I was listening to the day's leader talking about psalms with our church writers' group, but I was also a bit distracted. We were all sitting at a circle of tables in a classroom, and in the middle of the floor, right in front of me, was a lone, green grape. I assumed it had been dropped by someone in the class that always meets in there just before we do, the class that always has goodies to keep them, I guess, fortified while they study the Word. 

But it looked so lonely, that grape. 

To get my mind off it, and because I do odd things, I wrote at the top of a blank piece of paper, “The Grape on the Floor.”

The fellow writer next to me saw it. Later she said, “You’re going to write about that grape on the floor, aren’t you?”

Yes. Yes, I am. Because, you know, what was going to happen to that perfectly good (except for, you know, being on the floor) grape?

Would someone pick it up, wash it off, and eat it?

Would someone pick it up and just throw it away?

Would it be kicked around and end up in the hallway somewhere—or even down in the kids’ wing of the church before anyone else noticed it?

Would it be tragically squished by an inconsiderate and oblivious human foot before it had a chance to somehow save itself?

Didn’t anybody care about that grape? Did it miss its bunch?

Okay, it was just a grape, and I later left the room without giving it much more thought. I would have had to move a table or (gasp) crawl under one to get the grape myself, and I knew the cleaning crew would soon be there. (I could find a lesson in that too. Leaving a problem for someone else to deal with?) But my point is that imagination can take us fiction writers so many places if we just let those brain cells fly.

             What (or who) do you see “out of place”?

Why do you suppose it (or that person) is “out of place”?

How did it (or that person) get there?

What will happen to it (or that person)?

Who will care? Will anyone care?

If you see a “grape” that intrigues you, take a moment to do the odd thing. Write down what you saw. Who knows? What you saw might lead to some fruit of your own. 

Jean Kavich Bloom is a freelance editor and writer for Christian publishers and ministries (Bloom in Words Editorial Services), with more than thirty years of experience in the book publishing world. Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she has posted articles about the writing life. She is also a regular 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, live in central Indiana. They have three children (plus two who married in) and five grandchildren.

photo credit:

Saturday, September 1, 2018


John Hoenig is not your typical lexicographer. For the past seven years, John has been writing The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which attempts to define emotions that are not currently described by any English word. Unlike Samuel Johnson or Noah Webster, who collected and analyzed words in common usage during their day, John makes up words to fill the gaps in our cultural lexicon.
One of his favorite concoctions is Zeilschmerz (pronounced “ZEEL-shmertz”), a German word that means the dread of getting what you want. “Being German, I know exactly how that feels,” John says. Perhaps you do, too—not because you’re German, but because you’re a writer.
It’s the feeling you get when you toil and sweat over a particularly elusive bit of dialogue until you hit upon a perfectly natural expression of it. You should feel happy, right? Instead you feel dread because now you’re obliged to bring the rest of the story up to this standard.
It’s the feeling you get when you’ve had countless interviews with agents at writers’ conferences, then have one of them offer you a contract. You should float out of that conference on cloud nine. Instead you fret about why this agent said yes when so many others said no. Is this fellow a newbie? a has-been? an incompetent?
This is a perfectly natural human emotion and now we have a word for it. Most times it’s a false warning, like a defective low tire pressure light that keeps flickering on your car’s dash. When you feel it, call it what it is, then get on with your life.
I wish you all the best with your writing this month. May you be productive and effective, with an uncommon number of days when you accomplish exactly what you set out to do. Then don’t fall prey to the curse of Zeilschmerz.

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.