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By Chandra Lynn Smith

I sat at my desk in January writing the blog post and I shared a little about my current project. Then the project was put on hold for a little while. What happened? Life. This winter has been one of heartbreak and my personal grief created a writer’s block. Last Fall I would have told you that even in difficult times nothing blocked my writing, that I actually write more during my struggles. But I had not lost a precious grandchild. And, by the twelfth of February this year I had lost two precious grandchildren.

Progress on that manuscript halted. I did a lot of writing in my journal and talking to, yelling at, turning from, and running back to God. I started writing scenes, the angry scenes or the sad ones or even the frightening ones. I wrote them in first person and poured my emotions, feelings, and thoughts into them. There is some good stuff there and a lot of not-so-good stuff. I will have to ‘mine’ those scenes and put them into third person before placing them within the manuscript. There definitely was some catharsis in the writing. But I still faced a very real block.

Years ago in a class at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference I learned about writing through deep emotions and trauma. The instructor taught us how to use our life situations and feelings in our characters’ lives. But she also cautioned against trying to do so while the heartache, emotional or physical trauma was fresh.

While nothing about my characters’ story related to my current situation, my heart was projecting, which created the writer’s block. I put the manuscript aside for a time and because, as Allen Arnold teaches, I am writing with God, I asked Him to tell me what to work on. I pulled out a finished but not-yet-published manuscript and began working on its rewrite.

And here’s why writing with God is so amazing. I found one sentence last night, just one sentence I wrote a few years ago that spoke to my mourning heart. My character, MaryRose Elliott, spoke these words in her prayer time; “Joy despite heartbreak and sorrow. I want that. I want to find the joy no matter what happens.”

Writing through grief and trauma whether emotional or physical is difficult, heart wrenching, and healing. I’ve learned to not be afraid of this emotional, even when it is raw grief. While those words may not ever find their way into a manuscript the healing only God can provide will work through your characters and thus your readers—even when the reader it helps is yourself.

Writing Through Grief or Trauma @ChandraLynnS #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #writingcommunity #ACFWcommunityi
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Chandra Lynn Smith writes contemporary fiction filled with inspiration, intrigue, romance, and dogs. Her most recent novella, Turtle Box Memories, won the 2015 Genesis Award in the novella category. Her first book, The Light Holding Her is one of seven novellas by seven authors in Coming Home: A Tiny House Collection. Chandra’s career as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer provides her with a variety of canine characters and challenging situations. She and her husband live on a small farm in South Central Pennsylvania. They are proud parents of four sons and grandparents to three, one living and two in heaven with God. Their house is often filled with their two dogs, all four sons, wives, fiancés, granddaughter, friends, and as many as nine “grand dogs.” You can find her at www.amazon.com/author/chandralynnsmith or  www.chandralynnsmith.blogspot.com

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By Lynne Pleau

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the benefits of carrying an old-school, hardbound portfolio to conferences. In this post, I’ll talk about what that portfolio should look like and what it should contain.

The job of a writing portfolio is to present your work in its best light. That means it should be simple. Let’s start with the portfolio itself. Buy the best you can afford. Itoya has a great product for about thirty-five dollars. (But a thin, three-hole-punch binder will work.) You want it to be sturdy and black, with nothing on the front or back. Why black? It’s easier on the eye, doesn’t detract from your work, and contrasts nicely with white pages. Essentially, it looks professional without drawing attention to itself. It’s makes your writing pop.

The binder should have removable poly-glass page protectors. Being able to move pages around makes it easier to shift the order of your work. Poly-glass pages give your work that polished look, while protecting your pieces and making pages easier to turn. The inserts within the poly-glass protectors should also be black. An eight-and-a-half-by-eleven-inch portfolio actually measures ten-and-a-half-by-twelve-inches on the outside, and the insert pages are one-quarter inch taller and wider than a standard piece of paper. That provides a thin space of black around the white page, which gives a nice frame to your work.

The next thing to think about is how you present your work. Clean and consistent is what you want—nothing that detracts from the writing. So tear sheets are not a good idea, neither are fancy graphics. Print your work on good quality white paper, using one-inch margins and a standard black, twelve-point type (like Times New Roman). Include a standard heading throughout so page turns are consistent—whether the page is a writing sample or your resume. For writing samples, consider a footer with your name, the title, and the page number of the piece. Footers can be grayed down, so they don’t detract from the rest of the page. Also, think about listing word count in the footer, which can be helpful when talking about your work with an editor.

Now, let’s look at what goes inside your portfolio. A standard portfolio is designed to handle about twelve two-sided poly-glass pages, or twenty-four pages of writing. Anything more would be overwhelming. Following is a list of items you may want to include.

  1. Table of Contents. Consider starting with a page that lists your name and possibly the contents, in order (categories only). For instance: Flash Fiction, Novel Samples, Resume . . .
  2. This is a short, third person factual blurb about you and your writing. It acts as an introduction to who you are and what experiences you’ve had. Google “How to write an author bio” for good examples.
  3. Writing Samples. In this section, include one to three short samples of the different types of writing you do, two to three pages each. The object is to make each sample short enough for an editor to be able to read in just a few minutes. Keep in mind it’s a Choose only your best, edited work.
  4. Your resume can include your education, writing experience, awards, conferences attended, organizational memberships, social media numbers, personal blurb, and interests. One thing you should not include is your address or phone number. An email address in the footer is fine.
  5. List of Published Writing. This is a list of everything you have published in recent years. It’s looks more professional if each published piece is numbered and kept to a single line.
  6. References can be short paragraphs from industry professionals who have known you in different capacities so they represent a range of your strengths.

Your goal when creating a portfolio is to attract potential editors. If you keep your portfolio clean, sleek, and well-organized, your writing will sell itself.

Lynne Pleau has published articles, reviews, poetry, and flash fiction in publications like Marriage Partnership Magazine, War Cry, Christian Communicator, and in Havok, Splickety, and Spark Magazines. She has won multiple awards for her flash fiction.

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By Lynne Pleau

Are the days of the hardbound portfolio gone? Cool on-line portfolios make a lot of sense, but are they the only option for face-to-face meetings with editors during a conference?

Carrying a portfolio is a great way to promote yourself, not just as a writer, but as a professional. A few years ago, during a last-minute conference meeting, a mentor asked me for a writing sample. I stuttered, fishing around in my briefcase for something, anything to hand over. I finally produced a very rough draft of a story I’d been working on. Ugh. That day, I vowed I would never again attend a conference without a professional sample. I borrowed a trick from my art school days and created a hardbound writing portfolio.

Why a hardbound portfolio? Technology is dependent upon a charged battery and a WIFI connection. And we all know those fail unexpectedly. When you’re sitting across from your dream editor, you don’t want to be dependent upon a device that isn’t working. In addition, it can take time to connect to your website, time wasted when you have only fifteen minutes with an editor. And if you don’t have a strong web presence, a physical portfolio is a great option.

Putting your writing in a portfolio is like putting artwork in a gilded frame. It suddenly looks impressive. When you see your writing in a clean, sleek portfolio, in poly-glass pages, with a thin black border around each page, your writing takes on a new professionalism. You’ll experience a confidence boost—a good thing to have when you’re nervous about pitching.

A clean, professional-looking portfolio speaks well of you. The moment you hand it to someone, you’ve told them a lot about your knowledge of the industry, your respect for your craft, and your organizational skills. Within a well-organized portfolio, an editor has instant access to everything he or she needs to know about you: your bio, your resume, your list of published writing, your references, the types of writing you’re pitching with a few samples of each—all within the covers of one book. You don’t have to sort through papers or folders in your hands, or worse, within your briefcase.

An editor meeting may pop-up unexpectedly, and with it the chance to pitch something you’re interested in but hadn’t planned for. No problem, if you have a wide range of recent samples in your portfolio. Those samples can include everything from novel excerpts to articles and poetry.

In addition, organizing your work in a portfolio and creating a list of published writing give you a new perspective about your work. Your list can help you track and capitalize on trends in your writing you may not have noticed otherwise—revealing strengths and areas of experience you can maximize, making it easier to pitch to new markets. It can also inspire you to write more, to fill in where you see gaps, or update old samples.

The job of a hardbound portfolio is to grab and hold an editor’s attention. To do that, it needs to be clean, sleek, well-organized, and professional. In my next post (tomorrow), I’ll talk about ways to create a portfolio that helps you sell yourself and your writing.

Lynne Pleau has published articles, reviews, poetry, and flash fiction in publications like Marriage Partnership Magazine, War Cry, Christian Communicator, and in Havok, Splickety, and Spark Magazines. She has won multiple awards for her flash fiction.

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By Sarah Hamaker

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my ideal reader.

Who is she?
What does she like to do?
What does she read?
Where does she live?
What is her family life like?
What draws her to pick up a book?
What does she like to feel after reading a book?

I don’t have the answers to those questions yet because I don’t have a fiction book published (that’s coming later this year!), but I do plan on filling in the answers based on who I think my ideal is now—and will correct those once I have actual readers to query.

Why am I concerned with who my ideal reader is? So that I can make sure all of my marketing efforts are targeting a specific person, rather than the entire reading world. If I’m spending precious writing time promoting my work, I want my marketing efforts to be as effective as possible. And for that, I need to know my ideal reader intimately.

As a parent coach, I’ve developed my ideal client. I know a lot about this ideal client. For example, I know that it’s a mom who’s married. She’s a Christian and has multiple children. Her oldest child is still in elementary school. I know that her pain point is that one child is disrupting the household and it bothers her that she can’t seem to reach this child’s heart. She has read many parenting books, but doesn’t know how to translate that into helping her be a better mom to her kids.

Why is it important for me to know who my ideal client is? Because that’s the only person I’m focusing on when I write my blogs, post on social media, record a podcast, and send a newsletter. I’m thinking of her when I develop online courses. I keep her top-of-mind when I consider Facebook ads.

Could I meet the needs of any parent? Of course! But here’s the secret to having an ideal client—or ideal reader—in mind when thinking of marketing: When you specifically target that ideal client, the cost of your service (or book) is no longer the first thing on their minds. In other words, when you market your book to everyone, you become a commodity to potential readers. And when you’re a commodity, people view you first through the lens of cost.

I don’t want to be a commodity as a parent coach or as a writer of romantic suspense. I want to connect with my ideal client and my ideal reader so that I can speak to their pain points and make a connection that will transcend the price point.

But it’s hard to get out of the mindset that we can reach everyone with our writing, isn’t it? While it’s true I could help any parent, I find my greatest joy working with moms who are concerned about reaching their child’s heart (my ideal client). That means I don’t fight the marketing aspect as much because I’m thinking of my ideal client. That means I have a specific person in mind when I write blogs or marketing material.

I can’t wait to fully develop my ideal reader so that I can keep her in mind when I write, when I develop content for my website, and when I think about marketing my book and connecting with readers. For now, I’ll work on who I think she is, but one day soon, I’ll meet her, and then the real marketing fun will begin.

Who is your ideal reader? I want my marketing efforts to be as effective as possible. And for that, I need to know my ideal reader intimately. @parentcoachnova #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #writingcommunity #pubtip
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Sarah Hamaker’s first romantic suspense novel will be published in November 2019. Her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She won the 2015 ACFW Genesis contest in romantic suspense. She’s represented by Tamela Hancock Murray with the Steve Laube Agency. Visit her online at https://sarahhamaker.com/wp/.

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by Elizabeth Musser

In my other life, as a pastoral caregiver to missionaries, I had started an online Skype study with a small group of women from our mission using the Companion Guide to Sharon Garlough Brown’s novel, Sensible Shoes. Although I did not know Sharon personally, since we were both novelists, I got up my courage and asked her if she would be willing to meet with my girls for our last Skype call. Sharon said, “Yes, I’d be delighted to do that.”

I was immediately drawn to Sharon’s depth of character, evident in her writing and life. I had appreciated the introduction into spiritual direction in the book and enjoyed practicing some of the suggested spiritual disciplines.

Sharon and I corresponded a bit over the next months and, at some point, Sharon asked me if there was a prayer group for novelists that she could join—she was new to the whole fiction writing world, having been a pastor and spiritual director before she began writing novels.

I thought this was a great idea, but didn’t know of any such group that existed solely for authors to pray together. As Sharon and I talked, we both felt a stirring in our spirits that this was something inspired by our Lord.

So, I began to ask the Lord to direct me to a few women who would be interested in a monthly Skype prayer group. Because I had lived overseas for thirty years, I didn’t have regular contact with many other Christian writers. But as I prayed, the Lord brought to mind wonderful authors whom I’d had the privilege of meeting in person during my occasional time back in the States.

I thought of Deb Raney who, back in 2006, had offered to be my roommate at a writers’ conference where I knew hardly anyone. (Little did I know that Deb was one of the main organizers of the conference!) Robin Grant, whom I had met at a book signing earlier, also attended that conference.

A year later, in 2007, I had attended a writers’ retreat and met, among many others, Susan Meissner.

Fast forward a few years, and I had the privilege and honor of doing a book tour in Germany with Lynn Austin.

I knew each of these women loved Jesus and wanted their writing to reflect Him, but I had no idea if they already belonged to a writers’ prayer group. When I proposed an online monthly prayer call to these four gals, I was blessed by their enthusiastic responses of “Yes! I’m honored to be invited,” and “I love the idea and don’t know of anything like this!” Counting Sharon and myself, that made six novelists, which seemed like just the right size.

We talked about our vision—having a prayer group over skype with the goal being to encourage each other in our spiritual walk and pray for each other and our stories. We didn’t want this group to be about writing techniques or marketing or publishers or deadlines. This would be a safe place for our souls.

We’ve been meeting for three years now. We’ve walked each other through many traumas in our personal lives such as the death of parents, our husbands’ job changes, illnesses, our children’s and grandchildren’s challenges and successes.

And of course, we’ve shared about our writing journeys, encouraging each other to persevere through rejection and disappointment and the crazy demands of social media and self-publishing. We’ve applauded manuscripts completed in time, awards won, and new contracts signed. We’ve laughed at some of our missteps during signing and speaking tours and rejoiced at the love and support our dear readers give us.

The writing life is a roller-coaster ride. What a privilege to have a small group of sisters in Christ with whom we can be real about our fears, jealousies, hardships, successes, and joys.

Our main desire is to help each other keep our gaze fixed on Jesus in the midst of all the twists and turns in our personal stories and the stories we put in our books.  It’s a delight to watch the Lord answer these prayers and to celebrate together.

Do you have a safe place for your soul within the writing community?

We didn’t want this group to be about writing techniques or marketing or publishers or deadlines. This would be a safe place for our souls. @EMusserAuthor #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #writingcommunity
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Elizabeth Musser writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. For over thirty years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with One Collective, formerly International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.  Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.

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By Grace Hitchcock

Sometimes it is tempting to allow drama and heartache to swamp our stories. Years ago, a favorite professor of mine would say over and over how “only trouble is interesting.” Today, I’d like to talk about how happiness can be just as moving/interesting as tragedy and that it is okay to let our characters be happy. Trouble gives the heroine a journey, but those moments of happiness give the heroine the hope and courage she needs to see the journey through.

3 Uses for Happy Moments:

    1. Contrast.  Happy moments can provide us with a baseline for plot   development to show where our heroine longs to be again or wishes to go. This contrast brings light to the darkness of a story’s present trouble. Everyone has ups and downs in life, but it’s important to remember the ups.

    1. Balance. Having too much heaviness in the story will bog down your reader. I enjoy getting lost in a story, laughing with the heroine, having my heart race at moments of danger and rejoicing with the heroine when she is given a flower from her love in the midst of said danger, making the reader pause and focus in on that special moment. You need to have happiness to add balance to the story and give the reader’s heart a break.

    For my recent release, The White City, the plot revolved around an evil true crime and I had to look for ways to apply happy moments to the plot so as not to allow the story to become consumed in the darkness that surrounded America’s first serial killer, H. H. Holmes.

    1. Hope. What greater motivation is there to get through trials for a heroine than that of hope for a “happily ever after” with her prince? Now, for the heroine, her idea of a happy conclusion might be that her family is fed, she lands a job that keeps her out of the poor house, she meets her true love, or finally has the long-awaited child. Whatever their trial, use their hope to add light to their journey.

    Example: Think of Anne of Green Gables. Was there ever a happier daydreaming girl? Her only troubles were her red hair, the spelling of her name and her longing to being called Cordelia. She didn’t suffer horrible tragedies all the time. Her greatest loss was of her parents and Matthew, but Lucy Maud Montgomery didn’t allow the loss to consume Anne; rather, Montgomery used it as a tool to bond Anne and Marilla together all the more. Memories of Matthew, though sad with his parting, were all happy.

    Don’t underestimate the power of a sprinkle of happiness!

    Happy Writing!

    Trouble gives the heroine a journey, but those moments of happiness give the heroine the hope and courage she needs to see the journey through. @grace_hitchcock #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #writingcommunity
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    Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com, on Twitter: @grace_hitchcock and Instagram: @gracehitchcockbooks. For author news, sign up for Grace Hitchcock’s newsletter here. 

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By Henry McLaughlin

I experienced two what might be called failures recently. In the space of three days. On Saturday, I received a rejection from an agent. On Monday, a publisher declined to consider my manuscript. It was the same book in both instances.

To me they were failures. Something about my writing did not strike either the agent or the publisher as worthy of representation or publication. And they added to  a string of rejections.

I allowed myself a brief pity party. And then I went to the Lord, asking for direction and strength if he wanted me to continue writing.

I’ve entered a time of prayerful reassessment of who I am and how he bests wants me to serve him. Then I received a blog post from a former pastor in the stewardship ministry at my church.

And I’ve discovered or been reminded of a few things.

One is—it’s unreasonable to think I can achieve success without some failures along the way. Remember learning to ride bike? Or driving a stick shift? Striking out with a cute girl?

Failure can either stop us completely or it can teach something about who I am and what I’m trying to do. Failure doesn’t determine my future. Unless I let it. What determines my future is what I do after I fail.

I am not a failure unless I decide to quit and let the failure define me. Before I make this decision, I need to make sure I’m hearing from God and not my self-pity.

Here are four things I’ve discovered thus far:

  1. Embrace the fact that failure is part of the journey. When something doesn’t work there are often other ways to achieve my goal. Including learning to be better at what I do. The cliché is “back to the drawing board.”
  2. Failure is not about me as a person. Failure is the result of an action I took or did not take.
  3. Don’t quit. Failure is not a reflection of who I am. Failure is part of life, of growing. We’re all in good company. The only one on this earth who got it right the first time is Jesus.
  4. I can’t change the past. So move on. Assess, learn, make corrections, and get back to work. Don’t play the role of victim.

How do you handle failure?

Failure or Success: Our Choice @riverbendsagas #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #pubtip
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Henry McLaughlin’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. He serves as Associate Director of Story Help Groups (formerly North Texas Christian Writers). Besides writing fiction, Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.

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By Ane Mulligan

In this world, there are problems and there are conundrums. They do differ. Problems are your ordinary, garden-variety bugaboos. A pro-blum or a pro-blem, depending on where you live. Either way, whether a hitch, snag, or quandary, they all differ from a conundrum.

co·nun·drum [kuh–nuhn-druhm] noun

  1. a riddle, the answer to which involves a pun or play on words.
  2. anything that puzzles. A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma.

And I have one. My conundrum, thus far unanswered, is how to silence an inner editor with tenacious tendencies. A conundrum because, well, I love the editing process. I enjoy the creative part well enough. I do! When the page is new and the story takes first form. Sometimes my characters even highjack the plot and take it directions I never imagined. That’s thrilling.

But for me, the magic happens in the editing. That’s when a simple description becomes a metaphor, a cliché with a new set of clothes, character traits wax allegorical. That’s where prose morphs from song to symphony.

And therein lies my problem. Getting that first draft down so I have something to edit.

I read a blog once, The Blood-Red Pencil, where Kim Person wrote a post, Voices in your Head, part II. In it she talks about “Aunt Irene,” who invades her home and mind.

Oy, I only wish Aunt Irene were the voice in my head. I could shut the door and ignore her. My office space may only be a small room of my house, but it’s a well-equipped one. Any pleas for food can be ignored—I keep a stash of chocolate and other snacks in my file cabinet. Right next to my desk. I don’t even have to get up. Coffee? Piffle. The Keurig sits on my side table.

No, Aunt Irene’s isn’t a voice I’d listen to.

Anyone remember Sergeant Vince Carter from the Gomer Pyle Show? “Move it! Move it! Move it!” You got it. That’s the one. His is the cantankerous voice of my inner editor, Sergeant Snark. Only instead of “move it,” he tells me “Edit! Edit! Edit! That stinks. Cliché! Change it! Lame! Boring!” No, scratch the boring. That’s what my cheeky critique partners tell me if I dare linger on a point too long.

I tried explaining to Sergeant Snark that I’m throwing up on the page. Vomiting the story down for a first draft. He gagged. Turns out undercooked sentences make him sick. In desperation, I decided to do the NaNoWriMo and set a goal for 50,000 words. I should have realized earplugs wouldn’t silence Snark. I didn’t make it to my goal, but those 9,342 words were lyrical.

In a final frenzied attempt to silence my inner editor, I borrowed a Beretta 9mm from Ronie Kendig. It helps to have friends who write military thrillers.

I laid it on my desk.

Right next to my laptop.

In plain sight—a bold move of intimidation.

Did it work, you ask? No.

Sergeant Snark picked it up and shot an adverb.

Which kind of blows a hole in that conundrum.

How do you silence an inner editor with tenacious tendencies? @AneMulligan #ACFWBlogs #pubtip #writing
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Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall sweet tea. She’s a novelist, and playwright. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her husband and a rascally Rottweiler who demands play dates with a whippet. You can find Ane at her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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By K.W. Bounds

Why do I even bother writing?  Threatening to torpedo my work in progress, this thought surfaced leaving a wake in its path, as I scrambled to stay afloat in a sea of self-doubt and frustration. The compulsion to write God-honoring words never left, but my confidence in producing such waned. You’ve been there. It’s a universal struggle for all writers. We question our sanity as we fight to move the blinking cursor across the page. The words trickle. We try to force them out of hiding, but they retreat in the recesses of our minds. Our inner critic hurls devastating accusations at our fragile egos. Why am I writing this story? I am wasting my time. No one will ever read this post. Does this story even matter? It’s difficult not to flee the battlefield when these mental artillery shells are whistling past us, but we must hold our ground. How can we continue in moments like these?  If we all face writer-lows, remembering the impact of our craft and the reason we write will keep us from going AWOL.

Remember the Impact of Your Craft

When my inspiration evaporates, I turn to a favorite quote. Martin Luther wrote, “If you want to change the world, then pick up your pen and write.” We do not know Luther for writing fiction, but he knew the weight of words. The printing press proliferated Luther’s words – along with words of others – across Europe. He witnessed the impact of his words. Not bound to a geographic location Luther’s words traveled great distances setting hearts and minds ablaze of Europeans he would never meet. His words still speak to us today! Luther realized words possess the power to shape minds, hearts, and actions. Have you considered their influence?

To prove my point, let’s play a game. Here goes… red apple… black dog… calico cat? Did you see them? Did you imagine a red apple, a black dog, and a calico cat? This exercise shows why I love to write. Writers can place images, ideas, and concepts in the minds of readers with their words. This capability is the power of our craft.

Recall the Reason

Being created in the image of God, God gives the gift of imagination to everyone. However, sin distorts this powerful ability. Sin darkens our hearts and we cannot see the Creator and creation as it is (see Romans 1-3). As Christian writers, our calling is to use words that ignite the imaginations of our readers, inviting them, to see the world as God intended.

Eugene Peterson, in his book Under the Unpredictable Plant, writes, “For Christians, whose largest investment is in the invisible, the imagination is indispensable, for it is only by means of imagination that we can see reality whole, in context.” (Peterson, 169). Christian authors act as literary apologists harnessing the power of a redeemed imagination in the stories they write. C. S. Lewis testifies of  his imagination baptism while reading George MacDonald’s Phantases. MacDonald, a Christian, gave Lewis the mental imagery to connect with the reasonable claims of Christianity.

So, why should you bother with writing? First, remember your words have the potential to impact the world around you. Therefore, choose every word with prayer while crafting your sentences and stories. Second, remember you’re called to aid people in envisioning God’s will on earth. Through well-crafted stories we connect people with God’s story of redemption. I hope this article helped you realize the importance of your readers connecting with God through your writing.  Go write your story! They’re waiting.

As Christian writers, our calling is to use words that ignite the imaginations of our readers, inviting them, to see the world as God intended. @kwboundswrites #ACFWBlogs #amwriting #pubtip
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K.W. Bounds serves as the pastor of West Green Baptist Church and teaches at Citizens Christian Academy in Southeast Georgia. You can follow his writing at www.kwbounds.com and on Facebook and Twitter at @kwboundswrites. He, and his wife Amber, have two children.

 

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March 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Children’s:

The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog by Daphne Self — Majesty, the firehouse dog, is missing. Willie and Jax are on the case to discover who is the dognapping culprit. Could it be their neighbor, Mr. Applebee? Or maybe it is Ms. Thornton? Join the Pintail Duo, Wilhelmina van der Coup and Jackson Barnaby, as they follow the clues to rescue Majesty in The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog. (Children’s from Ambassador International)


Contemporary Romance:

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin — With his career and faith in tatters, a disillusioned baseball player falls for an optimistic single mom secretly battling cervical cancer. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

His Secret Daughter by Lisa Carter — He just found out he’s a father… But is he ready to be a dad? When veteran Jake McAbee learns he has a daughter, he’s determined to raise the adorable toddler. But Maisie’s foster mom, Callie Jackson, insists Jake stay at her orchard until he’s prepared for fatherhood. While Jake and Maisie bond, the trio begins to feel like family. Could the best home for Maisie be the one Jake and Callie create together? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington by Annette M. Irby — Liberty Winfield lives with loss every day. She’d rather leave her history behind her, but when faced with moving back to her hometown, the past becomes unavoidable. She takes a job at the florist shop owned by her ex-boyfriend’s family from a decade ago. Now he’s unavoidable. Clay Garrison knows the pain of ruing his mistakes. Most of his regrets center around Liberty. If he could undo his poor choices, he would. Liberty is back. He has one more chance to make things right. She doesn’t believe anyone could love her unconditionally, so he sets out to prove her wrong. He must also try to right the biggest wrong of their past, knowing that in doing so, he could lose her forever. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Her Colorado Cowboy by Mindy Obenhaus — Lily Davis agrees to take her children riding…despite her fear of horses. But now widowed cowboy Noah Stephens is determined to help her get comfortable in the saddle. And, at her children’s insistence, Lily finds herself promoting his rodeo school. As Noah and Lily work together, will Noah continue to shield his heart…or can they discover a love that conquers both their fears? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her Last Chance Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe — When pregnant single mother Hannah Vincent shows up professing to be the half sister of the Maxwells of Big Heart Ranch, horse trainer Tripp Walker is wary. Wounded before, he doesn’t trust easily. If only Hannah and her feisty five-year-old daughter weren’t so impossible to resist. Now, despite his doubts, joining this little family is quickly becoming the cautious cowboy’s greatest wish. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Buried Mountain Secrets by Terri Reed — Desperate to find her missing teenage brother, Maya Gallo ventures into the Colorado Rockies expecting rough terrain–not deadly treasure hunters. But when she’s caught in their crosshairs, rudely handsome mounted patrolman Alex Trevino come to her aid. The deputy sheriff knows what these bandits are capable of, so getting Maya–and her brother–home safely may be his hardest mission yet. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Cozy Mystery:

Like a Tree by Danny & Wanda Pelfrey — The movie making industry spreading across Georgia has finally made its way to the little foothill village of Adairsville. Bookseller and police chaplain Davis Morgan along with a young female clerk discover the body of a member of the movie company on a historic site at the foot of a large oak tree. Davis despite his promise to his wife cannot resist investigating the mystery. He and his young friend, policeman Charley Nelson, quietly dig into the case even though it is officially under the jurisdiction of the county sheriff. There is no shortage of suspects: the mysterious red headed man, sister of the victim, the fiancée and others. During the investigation an already troubled Charley is framed for a drug crime, and Davis receives word that an old enemy is on his way to Georgia after escaping from prison to make good a threat against him. Late one afternoon it comes to an astounding conclusion beneath the same sprawling oak where it all started. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink)


General Contemporary:

Within This Circle by Deborah Raney — After a tumultuous courtship, John and Julia Brighton have a second chance at happiness! With tragedy behind them and their children grown, they’re looking forward to a new and promising era in their lives. Only, such a promise is never guaranteed. And life can change in a moment. The Brightons’ lives are turned upside down when John’s daughter Jana abandons her husband, Mark, and three-year-old daughter. John and Julia reach out to young Ellie, to give the young couple time to heal, but how can they help this child, so confused and longing for Mommy? And how much sorrow and stress can both fledgling marriages endure? (General Contemporary from Raney Day Press)

Grace & Lavender by Heather Norman Smith — Recently retired Colleen Hill is always busy, constantly on a quest to make life more interesting. When the ladies’ group at her church partners with the local children’s home, Colleen jumps in as usual, volunteering to share her passion for cooking with a troubled teenager named Grace. Colleen must balance the new project with her pursuit of becoming a contestant on a television game show, along with all the other ideas her brain continually spins out. Colleen’s daughter Melody is quite different. She lives a calm, simple life and is content with who she is. That is, until an unexpected opportunity to work with Grace, too, pushes her to reevaluate life and dare to take on bigger dreams. The path starts with a newly-found interest in soap-making and leads her to responsibilities she didn’t even know she wanted. (General Contemporary from Ambassador International)


Historical Romance:

The Erie Canal Brides Collection by Johnnie Alexander, Lauralee Bliss, Ramona K. Cecil, Rita Gerlach, Sherri Wilson Johnson, Rose Allen McCauley, Christina Miller — Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, and soon other states like Ohio created canals linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Suddenly the Midwest was open to migration, the harvesting of resources, and even tourism. Join seven couples who live through the rise of the canals and the problems the waterways brought to each community, including land grabs, disease, tourists, racism, and competition. Can these couples hang on to their faith and develop love during times of intense change? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

This Daring Journey by Misty M. Beller — The only hope to keep her newborn baby alive is to reach the safety of her Indian people… This mountain man is the last person she should trust to get her there. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin — In spring of 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries at the front, receives an unexpected message by carrier pigeon: it is an urgent summons from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life—a woman he believed to be dead. Leaving Britain’s shores to return into war-torn France, he hopes his reunion with her will ease his guilt and this mission restore the courage he lost on the battlefield. Colin is stunned when he arrives in Paris to discover the message came not from Jewel, but from a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna. Johanna works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence; having found Jewel’s diary, she believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them. When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, however, that trust is at stake, as danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

A Tender Hope by Amanda Cabot — As far as Thea Michener is concerned, it’s time for a change. Her husband murdered and her much-anticipated baby stillborn, there is nothing left for her in Ladreville. Having accepted a position as Cimarron Creek’s midwife, she has no intention of remarrying and trying for another child. So when a handsome Texas Ranger appears on her doorstep with an abandoned baby, Thea isn’t sure her heart can take it. Ranger Jackson Guthrie isn’t concerned only with the baby’s welfare. He’s been looking for Thea, convinced that her late husband was part of the gang that killed his brother. But it soon becomes clear that the situation is far more complicated than he anticipated — and that he’ll need Thea’s help if he’s ever to find the justice he seeks. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy — City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons’ supposedly lost grandson. But now that he’s out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She’s not like any woman he’s ever met–comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun. When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don’t have, both realize they’ve stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape. When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won’t stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

To Win Her Heart by Candee Fick — Despite Emma Richards’ fanciful dreams growing up in the shadow of King Arthur’s castle and the manor on the cliff, the orphan is now trapped inland serving her wealthy cousins with no hope for her own future. Sir Grayson Wentworth spent his years at Cambridge dreaming of the Cornwall coast and wishing he could return to the happy days of his youth. Called home to his father’s deathbed, the young baron soon learns he has inherited a title, a neglected estate, and a betrothal agreement he knew nothing about. When the new Lord Danvers travels to execute the last matters of his father’s will, he finds himself promised to one woman and falling for another. Can he keep his vow to find a wife and win her heart? Or will honor be sacrificed in the name of love? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The White City by Grace Hitchcock — While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Ian Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard. Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Highest of Hopes by Susan Anne Mason — After her beloved grandfather’s death, Emmaline Moore is shocked to discover that her “deceased” father is actually living in Canada. Having no other family, Emma decides she must find him, and so embarks on a journey across the ocean, accompanied by her best friend, Jonathan. Unfortunately, Randall Moore and his well-to-do family aren’t thrilled by her arrival, fearing her sudden appearance will hinder his chance at becoming mayor of Toronto in 1919. Despite everything, Emma remains determined to earn their affection. Jonathan Rowe has secretly loved Emma for years and hopes that during their trip he can win her heart. Concerned that Randall might reject her, Jonathan is ready to console Emma and bring her home. When she informs him that she has no intention of returning to England, Jonathan begins to despair. Can he convince Emma to find value within herself rather than seeking it from a virtual stranger? And will she ever come to see that Jonathan is her true home? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Katelyn’s Choice by Susan G Mathis — Katelyn Kavanagh serves the famous George Pullman and President Grant in the enchanting Thousand Islands. Yet the transition proves anything but easy when she falls in love and can’t tame her gossiping tongue. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh by Carolyn Miller — Can a very proper young lady of noble birth find love with a mysterious, fossil-hunting scientist in the smuggler-plagued coasts of Devon, England? (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)

Sand Creek Serenade by Jennifer Uhlarik — Dr. Sadie Hoppner is called upon to nurse the gunshot wound of Cheyenne brave Five Kills after tensions erupt between the braves and the soldiers at Fort Lyon. Even as Sadie and Five Kills form an unlikely bond, danger threatens the fragile treaty that ensures peace for both their people…and their hearts. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

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