Tuesday, May 17, 2022

From the Archives: Life-Proof or Life -Resistant Writing?

 

It's usually my (Linda's) turn to post on the third Tuesday, but I'm in Florida visiting family and wanting to make the most of my time with them. Life happens, both good and bad, and I know many in our family at ACFW Indiana are dealing with life's divine interruptions. H.T. Lord has a beautiful analysis from the archives analyzing how to handle those times when writing is just about impossible.


Even though we are 20 or so years away from it, my husband and I have been talking about retirement plans lately.

I want to move to Iceland where there are no mosquitoes. He wants to move to Florida where there exists more mosquitoes than in any other state in the U.S.A.

Besides the prolific insect populations (and alligators), the other reason I am hesitant to move there are the hurricanes. How often have we been hearing about people who have lost everything because of a hurricane? Often!


If you can’t tell, I did not grow up near a large body of water. My husband did; it’s called the Atlantic Ocean. We have been living in a part of the country I’m used to for the past 20 years surrounded by corn fields, green grass, tall trees and cricks, otherwise known as “creeks.”

He’s given up what he loves for my comfort, so it’s only right I at least consider living out our golden years where he feels most at home.

That said, I’m still uneasy. So I prayed, “Lord, is there anything out there that can stand up to a hurricane?” It turns out there is. There are a few options actually, but the one that caught my eye is a round home.

Believe it or not, round homes are tornado, earthquake and hurricane resistant. I guess no one can claim hurricane-proof, because, let’s face it, stuff happens. But the few companies I found that make round homes have testimonials of round home owners who have lived through recent hurricanes and their houses emerged unscathed. Cool, huh?

So all this got me to thinking about whether or not it’s possible for writers to “life-proof” their writing.


I’m coming off a three-week unscheduled, unwanted hiatus from my cherished writing schedule. Life happened.

My father-in-law could no longer live on his own, so we found a way for him to move in with us until better arrangements can be made. I contracted a stomach virus that left me incoherent for 10 days. Our youngest daughter caught a cold that turned into a lung infection. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Maybe for some, life-proofing their writing is possible. What does that really mean but to choose writing every time something comes up? I commend everyone with that kind of determination and discipline. You rock! My hope is to join your ranks someday.

But for me, now, I’m thinking life-resistant writing is a pretty good option. So what does that mean? I think it means to have a writing schedule, to have a plan, but also to be flexible so when life happens you can resist the guilt and hopelessness that inevitably comes.

Your heart for writing hasn’t gone away, it’s just weathering the latest storm. And when the wind calms and the water stills, you pick up where you left off.

Humbly submitted by H.T. Lord

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Invest in Your Writing Journey on June 25

   Calling all ACFW Indiana Chapter members to a fabulous day of in-person indulging in our collective love of the written word!

The DAY: Saturday, June 25, 2022

The TIME: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The PLACE: Kokomo Public Library – South Branch, 1755 E. Center Rd. in Kokomo

The AGENDA: Fun, fellowship, and insightful instruction from experienced authors and editors . . . and lunch too!

In the morning, we’ll hear from award-winning, best-selling, author of more than 35 books, Cara Putman, on the nerve-wracking topic of pitching. Cara will be our “pitch coach,” giving us tips and pointers as well as critiquing our pitching efforts. Stay tuned for the details on how and when to submit your pitch for an anonymous evaluation from Cara.

Then, we’ll break bread together and chat over a catered lunch from Mancino’s, or attendees may choose to bring their own brown-bag munchies.

The afternoon will be host to our 3rd (or is it 4th??) “First Page Follies.” We are excited to hear from an esteemed panel of authors/editors/teachers including Tish Martin, Linda Taylor, and Jim Watkins who will critique and review as they instruct and encourage our attempts to create the perfect first page for our WIPs. Again, watch for the specifics on how and when to submit those uber important opening scenes for an anonymous consult from our experienced panelists.

A bonus to this day of connections and instruction will be the opportunity for authors to display/sell their books and for attendees to peruse/buy said books.  

In the next couple of weeks, all the details about this awesome opportunity to be with people “who get it” will be posted on the “Upcoming Events” page on our Hoosier Ink website, on our ACFW Indiana Chapter Facebook page, and sent to members via email.

See you June 25!    

 

              

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Silencing the Inner Critic

Prolific author Barbara Brown Taylor admits being a perfectionist. This can be a real handicap if we keep revising and tweaking, unable to let go. Taylor was asked recently what she does to silence this inner critic. “I give it $50 to buy a pair of shoes and tell it to come back later,” she said. 

I had to do this with my first book, which I kept polishing and enlarging until my late wife Judy appeared at my shoulder to watch what I was doing. She eventually said, “I think it’s time to let this child go out and play in the street.” I knew she was right, so I sent the manuscript off to my publisher and didn’t look back.

Don’t get me wrong. I think every writer needs enough objectivity to evaluate and improve a manuscript; but if our inner critic paralyzes us, our work will never speak to the world. It becomes like a floundering swimmer who grabs an able swimmer and pulls him underwater. How do we get the benefit of our inner critic without allowing it to drown us?

I suppose there’s no hard and fast rule, but try this: Heed your inner critic as long as it builds your confidence, clarifies your meaning, and engages your reader. But when the inner critic becomes a voice of self doubt, pay it no mind. Take that as the cue to let your child go out and play.


Joe Allison writes both fiction and nonfiction, and has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. His most recent book is Hard Times (Warner Press: 2019). He lives in Anderson, IN, with his wife Maribeth.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Eat, Write, Shoot the Breeze, Critique. Then Repeat.

 

After a lo-o-o-o-ng covid winter and feeling almost as frigid as Narnia’s spell-frozen, snow-covered landscape, I was more than ready to meet with other writers in person. I’m sure anyone reading this post understands the emotional impact after so much isolation. For a community of mostly introverts, we writers yearn to spend hours with, talk nonstop with, and truly connect with other writers.

 

A few days ago, I was finally able to attend a retreat in-person with my local critique group, Heartland Christian Writers. We spent three days and two nights at Shepherd’s Gate Inn where we were pampered with lavish meals and the luxury of writing for as long as we wanted to. 

 

No cooking, no cleaning, no day job, no errands to run. Ahhh.

 

We could write new material, revise old material, meditate on what comes next on our writing agenda, or do absolutely nothing, allowing our souls to refresh. The labor of writing could start again once we returned home. 

 

The days naturally fell into thirds: mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Each portion of the day contained in some order: a meal, a writing session, sharing what we’d worked on, and chatting about anything and everything. (Eat, write, shoot the breeze, critique. Then repeat.) The entire experience met or exceeded my expectations. Perfect! Except for the cold and snow outside. In April.

 

We left the retreat inspired and energized, affirming what we knew to be true: WE. ARE. WRITERS.


 

Daily life will get in the way, and our energy will eventually ease into more ho-hum levels.When I slide back to that point again, I’ll be casting about for a new retreat. It won’t have to cost a lot of money, maybe only the price of meals, but I know (for me) a retreat can’t happen at home. Too many distractions.

 

What has been your experience with a writing retreat? Have you taken yourself to a solitary place, or must you have other writers around? Have you designed a retreat at your home, or invited other writers to join you in your home? I’d love to know how you made it work.

 




 Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She has completed a  middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister and is currently working on a women’s fiction series.

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, and grandmother to eight, 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:

www.lindasammaritan.com

www.facebook.com/lindasammaritan

www.twitter.com/LindaSammaritan

 

 


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

From the Archives: Life is like my Bottom Office Drawer

 Because I totally spaced writing a post for Hoosier Ink this week, we're reposting this gem from Mary Allen. And what a timely message for where I'm at in my journey. Thanks, Mary! 

Life is like my Bottom Office Drawer

by Mary Allen 

My bottom office drawer is filled with items which once had purpose. Short, white phone jacks; thick, yellow USB cords; blue cords with funny square ends to them that no one knows what they do; enormous grey plugs that look as if they mean business; and, six surviving cords from deceased laptops and printers roil about in my bottom office drawer. Each one was carefully placed in the drawer by me at some time in the past. Some of them are even labeled.

I didn’t throw them away because I expected them to be used again in the future. Plus, after laying out so much money, it felt wasteful to pitch them when the computer died, the monitor remained black, or I changed service providers and they didn’t want the old modem returned, a definite red flag as to why I shouldn’t have bothered to keep it any longer, either.

Recently, I reached into the bottom office drawer and the cords came out en masse. Also entangled in them was the cup heater, the direct line house phone (in case the power goes out), various program start-up-rescue disks, and several miles of thin, flat, black phone line. All that and I still couldn’t find the cord I needed. I was sure I’d labeled and stored it there.

I have a theory how this happens. It’s an enchanted drawer. Once the drawer closes the cords come alive and entwine like baby rattlers in a snake pit. The big nasty snake-cords eat the more benign snake-cords and have hybrid baby snake-cords that don’t belong to anything, which is why the drawer remains messy and full of useless cords that spring out at me when I open it.

A writer’s life is a lot like that drawer. We each have items we keep that were once useful. It could be articles we’ve written when we started out or blogs and activities we do that no longer serve a constructive purpose. When we try to keep all these once-useful things life gets messy, tangled, and bogged down.

A writer’s life, like that bottom office drawer, needs spring cleaning. What no longer has a direct use, makes a connection, or serves an immediate purpose must go. It’s not as simple as hacking away what was once a joy, but now is a chore. Sometimes “chores” feel that way because we’ve crowded them with other activities that cause us to lose focus. This means we have to lift each activity to God and ask what He wants to do with it. Only He has the foresight and insight.

How about you? What in your life needs to go? What needs straightening? What needs to be rescued from the bottom office drawer and moved to a place of importance on your desk top?

May God whom I serve, bless you, guide you, inspire you, and speak through your writing this year.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

And There's More!

Spring has come—a time for renewal and growth. Warmer weather makes travel easier, and relaxing pandemic guidelines open doors to gatherings that have been unavailable for the past couple of years. So this is a perfect time to reserve a slot at a writer’s conference.

Beth Steury's blog, "It's Conference Time, Baby!" whetted our appetite with several nearby Christian writer's conferences. I encourage you to revisit that page and delve into these opportunities.

And there's more. In Indiana, we have access to several writer's conferences that are not tailored to Christian writers but are nonetheless helpful. Here’s a sample of such conferences coming up soon. I hope they'll entice you to get out of isolation and learn some new skills.

April 23 – 2022 Gathering of Writers. Sponsored by the Indiana Writer’s Center, the Gathering is keynoted by Angela Jackson-Brown, author of When Stars Rain Down (Thomas Nelson: 2021) with workshops in a wide variety of writing genres. Tuition is $99 for IWC members, $175 for non-members. Held at the Indiana State Library, Indianapolis. Details at https://www.indianawriters.org/product/gow-2022/

April 23 – Pen It! Writer’s Conference. Sponsored by Pen It! Publications, a Columbus publisher owned by Pastor Ray Stanton and his wife Debi, this conference features workshops on realistic dialogue, believable scenes, and more. The conference will be held at the Brown County Historical Society building in Nashville, IN. Tuition is $45 in-person or $35 via Zoom. Details at https://penitpublications.com/2021-virtual-writers-conference/

April 30 – Riley Children’s Author Workshop. Children’s authors Annie Sullivan and Chadwick Gillenwater present a day of seminars on writing children’s and YA books. Tuition is $100 and the event will be at the James Whitcomb Riley home, 528 Lockerbie Street, Indianapolis. Details at http://alturl.com/5bvra

June 2-5 – I.U. Writer’s Conference. Indiana’s most prestigious writer’s conference, this program has featured several Nobel and Pulitzer winners, National Book Award winners, and New York Times best-selling authors. All presentations are held on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington. Tuition is $375 for classes (your choice of 3 per day) or $750 for workshops (including a manuscript critique, limited to 15 participants each). Details at https://iuwc.indiana.edu/

If your life has been enriched by writer’s workshops, I encourage you to support the Indiana Prison Writer’s Workshop, which offers twelve weeks of classes to inmates of three Indiana prisons. Consider making a donation, hosting a reading at your public library, etc. Details at http://inprisonwritersworkshop.org/


Joe Allison writes both fiction and nonfiction, and has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. His most recent book is Hard Times (Warner Press: 2019). He lives in Anderson, IN, with his wife Maribeth.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

From the Archives: Spring Cleaning For Your Writing

When we have five Tuesdays in a month, or if one of our regular contributors is unable to make a deadline, we've been digging out some gems from the archives. Today's post was written by Cara Putman, as timely now as it was four years ago.

 

I've been feeling the itch to spring clean. There’s something about the feeling of order coming from chaos. The fact that everything has a place that it belongs. There's also something therapeutic about throwing old things away that truly don't serve a purpose anymore. It's hard to do, but it's good. That means I've been tackling a drawer here and a hutch there. I pulled all the out-grown kids clothes from various stashes and separated them for four families. Crazy!

What does this have to do with writing?

Sometimes our writing needs a spring cleaning. We've hit a point where we just need to go through and cut some words. We've gotten a little flabby with our sentences and need to exercise the delete key.

Maybe there's a character that needs to be punched up. A scene that's unnecessary. A chapter that needs to be enhanced.

We need to take a fresh look at what we've written and critically evaluate it.

How?

Maybe it's time to read an award-winning or much talked about book in your genre. How does that writer craft their story? What can you learn from them? 

Or it's time to crack open that craft book you purchased years ago and remind yourself how to put tension on every page or create three dimensional characters. to crack open that craft book you purchased years ago and remind yourself how to put tension on every page or create three dimensional Could it be time to pray over your writing and ask God how you're doing?

Or maybe you need to step way back and take a break from writing. Try another creative endeavor. Give your subconscious a chance to noodle the plot points that are giving you fits.

Whatever you do, take a few minutes or hours to spring clean your writing.

 


The award-winning, best-selling author of more than 35 books, Cara Putman graduated college at 20 and completed her law degree at 27. FIRST for Women magazine called Shadowed by Grace “captivating” and a “novel with ‘the works.'” Cara is active at her church and a full-time Clinical Associate Professor on business and ethics to undergraduate and graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and was a second-generation homeschooling mom for twelve years. Putman obtained her Master’s in Business Administration from Krannert and her J.D. from George Mason University Antonin Scalia School of Law. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. You can connect with her online at: caraputman.com.