Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Our Once a Year Is Almost Here!

You know how difficult it is to get everybody to a family reunion? With few exceptions, the organizers are lucky to get a third of the group there when generations have been scattered across the country and even the world. At least one person will have a conflict on the reunion date. Many in the oldest generation are no longer well enough to travel. Others have teens working summer jobs or sports dominate, and no weekend will ever get them to rejoin the extended family for a day.

ACFW Indiana is like the average family. We're scattered throughout a very long state. Even when we have our one meeting a year in a central location, most of us endure long drives in order to meet with the other writers we've learned to know on Zoom meetings. Then, like family reunions, life gets in the way, be it health issues or another celebration that happens to fall on the same date.



I'm so excited that approximately half of you have committed to getting together in person and enjoying our day of activities!

Our pitch expert is ready for the challenge of analyzing what you've provided. The panel of agents and editors is eager to play the game at First Page Follies. And we all get to enjoy lunch together!

Prayers for a safe trip to Kokomo and back, and that you'll find the day to be a blessing.


Thursday, June 16, 2022

The Intersection of Writing and Music

Tears pricked my eyes as I drove to a neighboring town yesterday. With just three unique notes, my ears—and my heart—recognized the song streaming from the radio. A song that I had liked for years but that held no specific significance until suddenly one day it did.

I can’t remember the events of the day or my state of mind the moment when this particular Crosby, Stills & Nash song took on an incredibly personal meaning. I was in the car that day, too, coasting down the driveway when the 1982 hit “Wasted on the Way” began to play. I parked by the garage, the engine idling, as the lyrics washed over me pulling raw emotions from deep within me and bringing tears that more than pricked my eyes. They flowed unchecked, soon dripping from my chin.

Photo by Ranurte on Unsplash
In the coming days and weeks, “my” song seemed to surround me, cementing the bond I felt with this now dear melody. Had it always played this often? Without my noticing?

I’ve longed to share with followers of my adoption/search/reunion journey how this song has become the theme song for the sentiments surrounding my relationships with my paternal birth family, specifically my half-siblings. How it still brings tears each time its unique lyrics and tune play within my earshot. Unfortunately, the rules governing the use of copyrighted song lyrics prohibit me from a line-by-line explanation, comparison, and unpacking of the profound emotional experience these words stir. Despite a promise that my goings on would most definitely not cast a negative light on this special-to-me song, I am not permitted to quote the lyrics while expounding on their virtues without official permission, garnered via a complicated process.

I hope to creatively share my bond with this tune in a way that adequately conveys the emotional meaning it has for me while causing the familiar lyrics to waft through the minds of readers, all without violating copyright laws. Sounds like a writing challenge, don’t you think?     

All of this has me pondering the relationship between writing and music.  

  • Do you listen to music when you write?
  • Does music feed your muse OR distract you from the story and characters’ journey?
  • How does it impact your daily/hourly word count?
  • Do your characters enjoy music?
  • Do you intentionally listen to your characters' fav tunes to help you get “inside their head”?
  • Does music play a major role in your storyline(s)?

My answers:

  • Often yes, in the background
  • I tend to like background noise in general, but if it’s too loud, it distracts me. And if the afore mentioned song plays? I allow myself to sit back and let the words and emotions take me away. Then, I get back to work.
  • I don’t believe that music can be either blamed or credited where it pertains to my word count.
  • They do! A favorite song has special meaning for them. And on one occasion, the song wafting about at just the right moment, impacts the already emotional scene.
  • I have on a few occasions brought up a particular tune to help me get into the right mood for a particular scene.
  • No

Now it’s your turn. Share in the comments how music intersects with your writing, if it does, OR why it doesn’t. And please, oh please, if you have personal experience with obtaining permission to use song lyrics, send me a message!

NOTE: There's still time to RSVP for our June 25 PITCH PARTY and FIRST PAGE FOLLIES in-person event in Kokomo! Check out all the details HERE. RSVP to acfwindianachapter@gmail.com by JUNE 20.

Beth’s combined experiences teaching the high school Sunday School class, substitute teaching in the public school, and connecting with the teenage staff at the fast-food joint where she claimed a “back booth office” helped inspire her young adult “Choices Matter” fiction series. She's a "cheerleader" for saving sex for marriage and for "renewed waiting" because it's never too late to make wiser choices. Her “Waiting Matters … Because YOU Matter” blog helps people of all ages navigate the choppy waters of saving sex for marriage while her “Slices of Real Life” posts find GOD in the day-to-day moments of real life.
 As a genetic genealogy enthusiast and "search angel," she writes and speaks about her experiences as a "foundling" who located her birth parents. Her journey to find and connect with her biological family is chronicled in the blog series “A Doorstep Baby’s Search for Answers.” She also serves on the executive board of the National Association of Adoptees and Parents. All of her writing endeavors can be found on her website, https://bethsteury.com.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

See Something...Say Something

You’ll recognize that slogan from a popular crime prevention campaign, but forget that connection for a moment. Think with me about what it means to see the significance of something and put that significance into words. Too often we’re guilty of passive observation, or, in biblical terms, we “have eyes but do not see” (Jer. 5:21). That leads us to write a meaningless description of it.

Creative coach Eric Maisel offers a good example of this. “One Saturday morning in Paris I step out from the apartment building where I am staying onto the rue Saint Gilles,” he writes. “Across the street is ‘something’—now, how shall I describe that something? I could say ‘on the other side of the street a father and his three children are approaching.’ How little that description would capture of what I feel to be true about those figures! If I wrote such a phrase and left the matter at that,…I would be playing it safe. I would bore you to tears” (A Writer’s Space, 165-66).

Since Maisel is a Jew, he immediately realizes that this is a Jewish family returning home from temple. (“Though I don’t know how I know that,” he admits.) He notices there is no mother in this group—why? They are in a hurry—why? The children are laughing—why? As a writer, he has a choice: He can notice these details and deduce their significance, or not. And if he doesn’t grasp the significance of what he sees, he can’t describe it to us.

“Writing is interpretation,” Maisel notes. “You are obliged to offer yours. If you want to say nothing, offend no one, tell a happy little tale, and otherwise act the innocent, that choice is available to you. Just remember that even then you are saying something and that we are watching” (A Writer’s Space, 169).

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.