Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Putting the Cover BEFORE Writing the Book

Ok, you've heard of the expression "putting the cart before the horse, right?"  

Well, I've been having fun using Book Brush to design covers and back page matter to generate story ideas and THEN working the story from that point. Essentially, I've been coming up with story ideas from what I've been building onscreen. It's a unique approach...similar in concept to building the airplane while already flying.

I start with a front cover idea and then noodle on the story concept while working through that.

For me, the visual is MOST powerful. It's like the smell of writing.

After finishing the cover, I turn my attention to the back page and start working on that blurb..all with the front cover prominently displayed on the screen.

Maybe this is just a high level of plotting, but it's way more fun.

This is how I've developed several projects I'm working on.

It can even be used for short story ideas (with the idea in mind that a short story could be expanded into a fuller version, novel length creation.)

This is how my current WIP (non-fiction) project came into being "The Adventure Guide to Leadership," which is my FIRST venture into the world of non-fiction.

If you do not have access to Book Brush, there are other options out there.

So, give it a try. It is just a different way of brainstorming, but more visual in nature.

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.