Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Next Up!

ACFW Conference. Nanowrimo. Elections

ACFW Indiana has a lot activity coming up.

While we won’t send out a ballot until early December, our board elections hold top priority on the to-do list. After several years, Michele Harper is stepping down from the treasurer position to devote more time to her writing career and publishing business, L2L2. So…we need a new treasurer. The treasurer collects dues, manages the checking account, and pays any fees related to our meetings. Michele plans to pass on her knowledge to whomever accepts the position and will remain available for questions.

PLEASE email me if you are interested in serving ACFW Indiana in this capacity. The same goes if you are interested in running for president, vice president, or secretary. We take nominations for all board positions when it comes to elections.

With National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) in November, we’re turning our November meeting into several meetings—by region. If you are interested in hosting a meeting in your area, again, email me. I will be sending ideas to host/hostess volunteers on activities you can do with your small group. It doesn’t matter if your meeting contains two members, or five, or ten. If you have ever been part of a Nanowrimo group, things can get zany. Nanowrimers meet for the main purpose of writing, but three hours plus of concentrating on a computer screen or a pad of paper will bring on a headache if you don’t have some entertaining breaks!

This could also be a meeting where we can invite non-member writers, kind of an unofficial meeting. A time to get to know other Christian writers. An encouragement to join ACFW in 2020.
Finally, the ACFW Conference starts next week in San Antonio. I am so envious of those of you who get to attend. (But I’m aiming for next year in St. Louis!) If, like me, your schedule or finances couldn’t get you to Texas, ACFW has been advertising the at-home conference, which I heartily recommend. No, you won’t be there, but you’ll be able to participate in some online workshops, watch the gala mainstreamed, and join the Facebook group. And you can do all that for free.

Our three official meetings this year were so beneficial: Hallee Bridgeman’s fabulous presentation on newsletters, our panel of agents who critiqued our work, and a panel of authors in all different stages of their writing journeys who shared successes and setbacks with their queries and proposals. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can come up with for next year that will be just as beneficial.

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:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

In the Beginning

The high school student positioned his fingers above the laptop keyboard, to type the less-than-one-page English assignment. Despite the simple nature of the topic and the fact that he possessed a more-than-vague idea as to what he wanted to include in the brief essay, the words refused to make an appearance.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash
I suggested he begin with a specific thought he wanted to include. “Start typing with that,” I urged. 

He was no-less-than horrified. “But that’s not the beginning.

“Oh, that’s okay. You don’t have to start with the first line.”

“My teacher said we have to start at the beginning.” The firm set to his jaw cast doubt on my ability to convince him otherwise.

What did I know? I was just the substitute teacher. Still, I lauded the features of composing prose on a computer, noting the ease of rearranging paragraphs, of cutting/copying/pasting. I reminisced about the “old days” when typing on a plain ol’ typewriter didn’t allow for such luxuries. But no amount of suggesting, cajoling, or urging could convince him to simply begin typing. Because the opening line remained just beyond his grasp, the fifty-minute period ended without a single keystroke.

Photo by Luca Onniboni on Unsplash

Unbeknownst to him, I had written an 85,000-word novel in scenes that I later “stitched” almost seamlessly (pun intended!) into a very coherent, well-flowing story. I’ll admit I worried how, and if, the pieces would come together to form a complete picture. But they did. And with just one “piece” leftover for use in the continuing saga. Honestly, I don’t think I could have written the story any other way.

Somehow, I wrote the second book in this YA series in chronological order. Yeah, surprised me too! That’s simply how the story came to life in my brain. Now, the third and final book is promising to be a mix of the scenes vs. chronological process. And I’m totally fine with that.

I learned long ago that demanding the all-important opening line be the first words written can stifle all creative juices. Even to the point of abandoning the work all together. My suggestion? Begin with the part that has taken over your brain, that refuses to be silenced. Get that part down first.

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, a blog post or a full-length novel, I advise the same strategy. For short non-fiction pieces, I do attempt to get the opening thought in place as soon as I can, so to keep the focus and tone in line. But the final tweaking of even that first sentence often takes place in the last moments of composing. I lost count of how many times I either tweaked or completely rewrote the opening scene for books one and two. I anticipate the same scenario as I tie up the series in book three.

Now, it’s time to capture the thoughts filling up my brain today . . . in the continuing YA saga and the next big project to follow—the one that doesn’t understand it’s not her turn for center stage yet.

Happy writing.  

Beth immerses herself in the world of YA via substitute teaching, by connecting with the teenage staff and patrons at the fast food joint where she claims the back booth as her office, and by reading YA fiction.

She's a "cheerleader" for saving sex for marriage and an even bigger supporter of "renewed waiting" because it's never too late to make wiser, healthier choices. She welcomes questions and topic suggestions for the “Waiting Matters … Because YOU Matter” blog that inspired the Waiting Matters series.

Check out her Choices Matter series that follows Preston and Maggie as they navigate the choppy waters of high school, guy/girl relationships, and sex.

Beth is also active in the adoption community where she writes and speaks about her experiences as a "foundling" who located her birth parents and is enjoying making up for lost time with her biological family.

Connect with her at BethSteury.com for all the news on upcoming releases. Find her on Facebook at BethSteury, Author; on Twitter @Beth_Steury; and on Instagram and Goodreads. She loves to hear from readers! Write to her at waitingmatters@gmail.com.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Writing As Prayer

While leading a writer's workshop, Dan Wakefield said that writing is a form of prayer. One participant objected, saying that writing is plain hard work. "Well, prayer can be hard work, too," Wakefield answered.

Soon after, he came across a biography of Franz Kafka in a used bookstore. While browsing its pages, he discovered that the famed nineteenth-century writer had already said it: "Writing is prayer." He had to smile.

Think about it: Faithful writing is an act of devotion to God because it requires us to focus our full attention on God's redemptive purpose in our world. It is an act of supplication because we seek God's help as we write. And it is an act of faith because we find ourselves describing what we think God's help will look like.

The outcome of our writing can be just as surprising as the outcome of prayer, too, especially when we can't anticipate what our characters will do. We may grope for a clear vision of their future until, by the grace of God, an unexpected turn of plot leads them to a satisfying resolution of their problem.

That's what inspired writing does. I believe it's what inspired praying does as well.

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.