Saturday, July 4, 2020

"The Book Was Better"


Have you ever seen a movie based on a book you loved? You probably left the theater telling your friends, “The book was better.”

Even if the movie featured some of your favorite actors and jaw-dropping special effects, odds are you remembered the book as a more colorful, emotionally engaging version of the story than what you saw on the big screen.

That’s how I felt when I saw Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 version of “The Great Gatsby,” starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. The novel was a real watershed experience of my high-school years. It gave me an immersive experience of the “Roaring Twenties.” But the movie was disappointing. Why?

Best-selling author Jerry Jenkins would say it was because the book had triggered the theater of my mind. It sparked my imagination instead of telling me in detail what happened. My imagination supplied a much more vivid picture of the story than what Hollywood could give me in the theater. This is a key advantage that a book has over a movie.

It’s also a clue to what you and I must achieve in our writing. Instead of giving the reader a detail-laden description of every scene and every character, we need to suggest these things to the reader and allow her to enjoy the fun of imagining it for herself.

“The best description suggests just enough to ignite the reader’s mind,” Jerry says.

So how much is enough? Just enough to point a reader in the direction the characters are going, then gets out of the way. Put your reader in the driver’s seat. Evoke the reader’s feelings about your characters, setting, and time period. The reader will see a somewhat different picture than you do—and that’s OK. The reader now owns the story as much as you do.

Your book is the reader’s ticket to another world, not an illustrated encyclopedia of that world. Just point the way and let your reader paint the scene.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Details on the June 20 meeting: THE SLUSH PILE

The Slush Pile
(Online)

June 20, 2020

Noon - 3:00 p.m. 
RSVP to acfwindianachapter@gmail.com 

Here's your invitation link: 
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 872 9078 6818
Password: slush


Welcome to “The Slush Pile!” 
The average work day in an editor's or agent's life involves tackling the submissions in her overflowing inbox. You, the writer, have the first page, first paragraph, first sentence to grab the attention of this all-important person who has the power to move your book forward into publishing.
Our Slush Pile meeting gives us a game show-style peek into the workings of an agent's/editor's mind when they read hundreds, if not thousands of manuscripts in the course of a year. You'll be able to hear an agent's thoughts on your first page--what slowed her down, what grabbed her attention. 
This is how we do the Slush Pile.
The reader reads the first anonymous submission UNTIL two members of the panel raise their hands. The agents and editors then explain why they indicated for the reader to stop.
Occasionally one or none of the panel raises a hand, so the reader completes the submission. At that point, the panel explains why they would want to read more.
The same procedure will be followed for every submission that is sent in.
Discussions amongst the panel members can get pretty lively. Last year, they had us so entertained, we just had to have them back! 
Once all submissions have been read and discussed, the host will accept questions using the chat icon at the bottom of your screen. She can relay those questions to the panel. 
To submit your first page, send it as a Word Document to lindasamaritoni@gmail.com by June 18.
To be able to join the meeting, make sure to RSVP. Due to the possibility of nasty "Zoombombers," we need to recognize your name from the RSVP and that you are a member of ACFW. 
While we're delighted to have the advantages of technology to get “together” this way, it will be so good to see everyone in person again someday, enjoying the atmosphere of an excellent meal and the camaraderie of writers together.
Meet Our Panel
 Alyssa Roat has worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry, as an agent, editor, writer, and marketer. Along with being a literary agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, Alyssa is the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, an editor with Sherpa Editing Services, and a freelance writer with 175+ bylines. She holds a degree in Professional Writing from Taylor University. Her debut novel, Wraithwood, releases Nov. 7, 2020 from INtense Publications. She would love to connect on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @alyssawrote or on her website alyssawrote.com.
Tisha Martin writes historical fiction and nonfiction but edits full-time for beginning and best-selling writers and publishing houses. Since 2017 she has worked on over 250 books. She has a bachelor’s in Professional Writing, a master’s in English Education, and an editing certificate from the PEN Institute. She enjoys speaking at writer’s conferences and supporting writers in the self-editing process. Her nonfiction essay in The Horse of My Heart: True Stories of the Horses We Love is forthcoming in September from Revell. Learn more at www.tishamartin.com.
J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history.
For many years she worked as an editor for Abingdon Press, and currently she is the publisher and editorial director for Sheaf House Books located in Elkhart, Indiana.  Her award-winning historical fiction has been endorsed by bestselling authors such as Lori Benton, Laura Frantz, Jocelyn Green, Michelle Moran, and MaryLu Tyndal.
Hochstetler is the author of the American Patriot Series, the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award.
Due to the possibility of Zoombombers, an RSVP is required so the host will admit you to the meeting. This meeting is for members only. 
                  

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Questions of a Wondering Mind


Who would have dreamed that 2020, the year toting the coolest label ever, would turn out to be such a wash? As the second half of the year looms ahead, the number of cancelled events continues to rise, leaving me with a deepening case of the blahs.

While I could be using this down time to pen the next great American novel—or at the very least get crackin’ on the third and final installment in my YA fiction series—I find my myself squandering a disheartening amount of time. When the course of Preston and Maggie’s senior year in high school should be ruminating through every segment of my brain, their existence has been shuffled to a back corner in favor of such pressing-matter questions as—

WHAT day is it?

When little distinguishes one day from the next, keeping track becomes a task. We have resumed a semblance of church, so that helps a bit. But those middle-of-the-week days try my wondering mind on a continual basis. Is it Tuesday? Maybe Wednesday? Even when I firm up in the morning the day’s place in the week, I may forget as evening draws nigh. While I appreciate the opportunity for engagement on several topics I enjoy via teleconferencing, too often I’ve forgotten to “attend” because I forgot it was Tuesday when 2:30 rolled around or Thursday when 6:30 arrived.

WILL I ever get to show off my new kitchen?

Our five-year-delayed kitchen remodel got underway just prior to the Covid-19 lockdown. The monumental undertaking progressed well, especially considering our luck when it comes to projects around the house. Although we waited four extra weeks for the counter tops to be installed due to the quarantine, we lived through the upheaval and are loving the finished project. Which will make entertaining exponentially easier. If we ever get to host events again.

WHO is Rose to the Walton family?

An admitted fan of “series” in general, whether in book form or as a television program, I like the chance to really get to know the folks involved. The series “The Waltons” has long been a favorite of mine for decades. And with the series airing in back-to-back episodes late at night, their long-running family saga nestles perfectly with my night-owl ways, especially during this pandemic, when  I find myself sorting boxfuls of pictures, scrapebooking long ago events, or wading through long-neglected drawers full of stuff. Instead of writing. 

Those familiar with the show will remember Rose and her grandchildren who moved into the Walton household the last couple of seasons, conveniently when mama Olivia was away recouping from tuberculosis. While I’ve heard the terms cousins and uncle tossed about, I somehow, in at least twenty-some viewings of the entire series, missed the explanation as to WHO Rose is to the Walton family. Oh, I know she was added to the cast to expand the story line, but I push aside such thoughts as they mess with my immersion into the lives of these dear folks. And WHO she is to them matters to me, so if anyone can help me out, I’d be appreciative.

DID Fonzie do more than make out with all those girls?

I was reminded just this past Sunday of a much-pondered question concerning the Lengendary Fonz of “Happy Days” fame. While baking rhubarb cream pie and rhubarb crisp, I “listened” to a couple of episodes of this favorite series from days gone by. I was a big fan of this hit series when it first aired and continued to engage with the characters through the final teary-eyed episode. And all through the first run seasons and the many years of reruns, I pondered the extent of Fonzie’s fooling around with all those girls. Surely, he didn’t sleep with all of those girls? I mean, it was the 50s and this was a family show and seriously, how bad would that be? 

I waffled back and forth, picking up clues to support either one premise or the other throughout the entire series. This long-time advocate of and cheerleader for saving sex for marriage worried about the example this uber popular, sitcom character might be having on impressionable young people. 
I honestly hadn’t thought about this particular question for years, but it immediately sprung to mind again as I topped chopped rhubarb with a layer of sugary crumbs. If you care to weigh in with your thoughts on the Fonz’s love life, I’m all ears.

Now, do you understand why the word count on book #3 refuses to grow? I’m hoping now that I’ve shared these pressing concerns with all of you, I can push them to the recesses of my mind to make room for my characters Preston and Maggie to take center stage.

I will leave you with pictures of my flowers. Because who couldn’t use a little beauty in your life right about now?






Monday, June 8, 2020

Look Who's Coming to Our June 20 Online Meeting!

Our first ever online meeting will be an adventure for everyone.

If you haven't done a Zoom meeting yet, email one of the board members, and we'll be happy to guide you through the simple process -- at least, as simple as computer tech can get!

If you're well-acquainted with Zoom, it might be the first time you've ever submitted work to public scrutiny. Have no fear! Your name won't be mentioned (the panel won't know who the authors are), and the agents are kind as well as entertaining. And please be patient in return. While the each board member has participated in Zoom meetings, we are not as well-versed in hosting them.

If you participated in last year's meeting with the same objective, welcome back to The Slush Pile. We hope you enjoy it as much as if we could all meet face to face.

Let me introduce you to our panel this year. J.M. Hochstetler and Tish Martin are delighted to return for the fun, and Rose Tussing, who was our third member last year is wishing she didn't have a conflict preventing her attendance. In her place, we welcome Alyssa Roat.

~


 Alyssa Roat has worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry, as an agent, editor, writer, and marketer. Along with being a literary agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, Alyssa is the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, an editor with Sherpa Editing Services, and a freelance writer with 175+ bylines. She holds a degree in Professional Writing from Taylor University. Her debut novel, Wraithwood, releases Nov. 7, 2020 from INtense Publications. She would love to connect on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @alyssawrote or on her website alyssawrote.com.



Tisha Martin writes historical fiction and nonfiction but edits full-time for beginning and best-selling writers and publishing houses. Since 2017 she has worked on over 250 books. She has a bachelor’s in Professional Writing, a master’s in English Education, and an editing certificate from the PEN Institute. She enjoys speaking at writer’s conferences and supporting writers in the self-editing process. Her nonfiction essay in The Horse of My Heart: True Stories of the Horses We Love is forthcoming in September from Revell. Learn more at www.tishamartin.com.




J. M. Hochstetler is the daughter of Mennonite farmers and a lifelong student of history.
For many years she worked as an editor for Abingdon Press, and currently she is the publisher and editorial director for Sheaf House Books located in Elkhart, Indiana.  Her award-winning historical fiction has been endorsed by bestselling authors such as Lori Benton, Laura Frantz, Jocelyn Green, Michelle Moran, and MaryLu Tyndal.
Hochstetler is the author of the American Patriot Series, the only comprehensive historical fiction series on the American Revolution. One Holy Night, a contemporary retelling of the Christmas story, was the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year and a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A Prayer before Writing

O Creator of the universe, 
who has set the stars in the heavens 
and causes the sun to rise and set, 
shed the light of your wisdom 
into the darkness of my mind. 
Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you, 
that I may bring your light to others. 

Just as you can make even babies 
speak your truth, 
instruct my tongue and guide my pen 
to convey the wonderful glory of the gospel. 

Make my intellect sharp, 
   my memory clear, 
      and my words eloquent, 
so that I may faithfully interpret 
the mysteries which you have revealed. 
                --Thomas Aquinas

Source: "Prayer before Writing or Preaching"

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Mark Your Calendars! ACFW Indiana Meeting Online




Glimpse inside an average day in the life of an agent or editor.

Join a panel of agents and editors from your home on June 20th.
Your anonymous first page will be read aloud and given feedback. You will get an inside peek at what makes an agent or editor say "yes" or "no" to a manuscript.


What you need to do to participate:
1. Download a zoom account at zoom.us
    If you need help, email Linda at lindasamaritoni@gmail.com
2. Join us from 12:00-3:00
3 Send your first page of your manuscript to Linda Samaritoni at lindasamaritoni@gmail.com by June 18th.

Additional details will be coming in an email this week.