Thursday, March 21, 2019

Worth the Sacrifice

“We’re admitting you.”

My fevered mind couldn’t quite process those words from the ER nurse.  They were putting me in the hospital? I had pneumonia? Me? The person who had been blessedly healthy her entire life? Any resistance to the notion of a hospital stay faded as some kind of medication was inserted into my IV, and my six-day headache vanished. 

Two days later, they sent me home, fever-free, almost headache-free, and with a week’s worth of antibiotics. My instructions: “You’ll want to take it easy until you get your strength back.”

“You think by the end of the week?” I asked.

The doctor laughed.

Hmmm. I had five days to build up strength to make it to ACFW Indiana’s March meeting. With only four meetings a year, I didn’t want to miss it. And Hallee Bridgeman was speaking about newsletters, a topic I desperately needed to improve upon.

So I rested and rested and rested, cutting my to-do list by more than half. I drank water and water and more water, and I’m not a fan of plain water. By Saturday, I figured I had the strength for the Big Outing.

Listening to Hallee was worth it. So many ideas to implement (as soon as I regain all that energy I spent at the meeting!). She gave tons of examples as to how her newsletter ideas have worked for her. She also added an hour speaking on author platform, in general. Our collective heads were spinning. 

All RSVPs showed up, plus a couple of extras. They came to Plainfield from as far away as Ohio and as near as Avon. All were inspired by Hallee’s knowledge and Christlike attitude, and they headed home, eager to practice these newfound skills. Our two newest members expressed gratitude, not only for the information, but especially for the opportunity to get together with other authors.

That’s why we meet in person four times a year. Something wonderful happens when writers gather in the same room. While our families and friends support our endeavors and cheer us on, other writers totally understand the joys and frustrations of creating story, the obstacles to gaining an editor’s attention and the euphoria upon publication. We connect. 

As Christian writers, such connections are as vital for our spirits as they are for our emotions. Of course, if I’d still been running a temperature of 103.5, it would have been physically impossible to attend. And sometimes, life crises get in the way, and all our plans blow away like dust in the wind. 

But under ordinary circumstances, whether it requires a three-hour drive or concentration to build up enough energy to leave the house, joining with other writers to glorify Christ is worth the sacrifice.

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.
A wife, mother of three, grandmother to seven, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!
Where Linda can be found on the web:

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Turning Negatives into Positives: A Positive Post

by Jean Kavich Bloom

I’ll admit it one more time—I can be the glass-half-empty person in any room, and I’m good at it. This is the tendency to be negative far more often than positive and far more readily. I’ve tried, however, to learn to turn lurking negatives into firm positives. 

For instance, I’ve still not (once again) reached an ideal weight range for my height and build—and maybe age—but I tell myself how much less I weigh than I once did, how much less I weigh even since the first of this year. I respond better to that assessment than a focus on how far I have to go, and I’m encouraged to stay on a good, positive eating plan.

This weekend I’m presenting at my church’s writers’ group, addressing some mistakes writers should avoid (and there’s that should word!). I’ve chosen the title “A Watch-Out List for Writers.” Watching sounds much more pleasant and do-able than avoiding, doesn’t it? I’m also working on making the presentation more encouraging than defeating.

But when it comes to progress on my own writing, which I publicly announced has changed in focus from nonfiction to fiction (was that a positive or negative move?), negative thoughts are already at work:

I have so many editing projects to complete before my vacation. They’re more important than my own writing.

I spent all day revamping my work-in-progress, and I think I made it worse! Maybe I should start a new writing project.

I’ll just take care of my volunteer editing. I don’t want to be late with it.

Do I know how ridiculous this is? Yes, I do. This is another area where I need to turn negatives into positives, excuses into action.

My editing projects are all scheduled with plenty of time to complete them. I can take designated time to write for myself.

Are you nuts? (Okay, that question is a touch negative too.) You know writing is all about rewriting. No author gets it right the first time—or the second, third, or fourth. Keep at it.

Is the volunteer editing due? No. Is it needed right away? No. Enough said. Get to work.

Here’s a bonus positive thought:

Do you like writing fiction, even though it’s challenging and it’s easy to make excuses not to do it? Yes. Then just do it. Stop letting all these other pulls get in the way.

Country music’s philosopher Willie Nelson said, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.” Now there’s a thought! But there's no use beating yourself up about negative thoughts. That's why I also like the quote on this chalkboard image above: "Never a failure, always a lesson."

What negative thought might be keeping you from as much progress in your writing as possible? What lesson can you turn into a positive? 

photo credit:

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. She is 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.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Zero Probability

Sometimes, I just don't know what to write.

Sometimes, I hear the words of Ecclesiastes in my head and wonder what the point of it is at all:
"Everything is unutterably weary and tiresome. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied; no matter how much we hear, we are not content. History merely repeats itself. Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before. What can you point to that is new? How do you know it didn’t exist long ages ago? We don’t remember what happened in those former times, and in the future generations no one will remember what we have done back here" Ecclesisates 1:9-11, The Living Bible Translation.
My head knows this is exactly the type of discouragement the enemy wants me to play over and over in my head. But the chances of me being a human being alive on this planet are 1 in 10 2,685,000. 

Uhm, that's a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes, people. The chances that we are alive at this moment in time are basically zero. (Source: Dr. Ali Binazir.)

So there has to be a reason I'm alive at this moment in time writing on this planet right now. I have to remember when I'm down in my writing pity party that I was born a writer because someone needs to hear what I have to say. Someone will be helped by my words.

And that doesn't apply only to me. It goes for you, too.

Get out there, you miracle, you, and write on!

This post originally appeared on 

Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots and A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith and Determined Parenting Her hobbies are book-hoarding, swimming, and riding her motorcycle. She is represented by Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency. Currently, she is a special education teacher and curriculum designer. She has a BA in Special Education, a Masters of Education in Learning and Technology and a Doctorate in Christian Education.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Those Other Christian Writers

If I were to take a straw poll of everyone reading this blog, most would give ACFW an enthusiastic “thumbs up.” We appreciate the information, training, and camaraderie we share in this organization of evangelical Christian writers. We feel at home here.  However, here’s an important fact we might overlook:

Not all Christian writers are evangelicals.

Some are devout Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Christians while others come from mainline Protestant denominations. They may have beliefs quite different from ours, but they write for the glory of Jesus Christ. For example, this month Christian Theological Seminary will sponsor a Christian writers’ conference in Indianapolis in which none of the conference leaders will be ACFW members. I doubt that any of them would call themselves evangelicals, yet they are all best-selling Christian authors.

We should not ignore or shun these other Christian writers. Let’s remember what happened when Jesus’ disciples complained that some unaffiliated preachers and healers were working in their territory. Jesus told them to treat these other Christians as Christians nonetheless. (See Mark 9:38-41; John 10:14-16.)

Here are some ways that I believe we can respond more constructively to Christian writers who are not like us:

Seek opportunities to learn from them. Other writers can teach us a great deal about the discipline of writing, techniques for marketing, and so one. We don’t have to agree with their theology to learn writing skills. (If you’d like to know more about that conference in Indianapolis, follow this link.)

Visit their worship services. Be a keen observer of differences between their manner of worship and  your own. It’ll help you appreciate how these writers think. It’ll also enable you to create more authentic characters from these traditions.

Affirm the diversity of God’s family. Unbelievers pay close attention to what we say about other Christians, and so do those we talk about! Instead of criticizing their beliefs or behavior, let’s express wonder at the breadth of Christ’s love. We can say, “I’m so glad the Lord brought us together. I believe we can learn a lot from each other, don't you?”

Joe Allison writes both fiction and nonfiction, and has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN, with his wife Maribeth and daughter Heather.