Categories
Encouragement Writing craft

Finding God at the Spelling Bee

JulieLavenderheadshot2.jpg
Julie Lavender

Most of my newspaper bylines result from faith-based stories that I locate on my own. I enjoy sharing God-stories in the newspaper.

As a newspaper stringer, however, I often have the opportunity to cover news-related stories, and I can honestly say I enjoy most of those stories, too. Some are a bit of a yawner, though, and three-and-a-half hours of spelling words fell in that category when I covered a school district contest a couple of years ago. Towards the end, two young brilliant boys went back and forth for thirty-five rounds before Elikem Gato stumbled on the word “mukhtar,” and Eric Lim was declared the winner. 

Oh, dear – Elikem’s back, I mumbled quietly when I entered the auditorium to cover another spelling contest. This could go on forever.

I was lulled into amazement at the kids’ performance, just like last time, with the first pronunciation. 

When “folksiness” tripped up seventh-grader Nicholas Cortes, Elikem Gato correctly spelled “beneath” and “flail” to become the spelling bee champion. 

Gathering my journalist’s paraphernalia, I made my way to the winner. I snapped the obligatory trophy shot with his school principal and grabbed cute shots with his family, too. Both parents and two brothers congratulated Elikem and beamed with pride. 

All I need is a couple of quotes from the champion, and I’m outta here.

 “How did you prepare for the spelling bee, Elikem?

“I study a lot with my brothers – in the car, after school, at home. We call out words to each other. We grew up memorizing Bible verses at home, so memorizing words comes a lot easier for us.”

Elikem Gato with parents.JPG
Elikem Gato with his parents–and the championship trophy.

I paused from my writing and made eye contact with the youngster. His dad, a college professor, added in his beautiful Ghana-cadence, “We try to train our kids to live out their faith, to let the them know the importance of knowing Jesus and trying to live for him as best as God can help us.”

My grin widened almost as much as the trophy-holding champion’s, and I chatted with the family until the maintenance guy turned off the lights in the auditorium as a not-so-subtle hint.

I had my God-story for the newspaper after all, about a champion of words and the Word, and I couldn’t wait to get home to write the article.

Thank you, God, for reminding me that you’re with me in everything I write. Even when I don’t expect to find you there! 

BIO: Julie Lavender, author of 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell), loves finding God in the little stories and the big stories with each newspaper article she pens. Author, journalist, and former homeschooling mom, Julie is a wife, mother of four, and grandmommy of one.

Categories
Humor Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Mining For Gold

Miss Wetherham's Wedding
Miss Wetherham’s Wedding

We think of gold primarily as either bullion or jewelry, but the precious metal has many other uses. In the old days, it was used for tooth fillings and even the odd false tooth. Nowadays, uses range from industrial to medical, to agricultural. For instance, gold is used to treat pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It is liquefied, injected into muscle tissue, and reportedly helpful in 70 percent of cases. 

Writing historical fiction doesn’t only mean researching the time period of the book’s setting. For my newest release, Miss Wetherham’s Wedding, my heroine owns the controlling number of shares in a tunneling gold mining venture that’s gone dry. As I dug up whatever I could find on gold mining, I came across some interesting facts most of us probably aren’t aware of.

Another interesting tidbit is that 10 billion tons of gold circle the world in seawater! Before you start panning, the gold isn’t just floating around in specks or nuggets. In fact, the cost of recovering it unfortunately exceeds its value.  

And here’s something to wrap your brain around:  worldwide, the amount of steel poured in just one hour is more than the amount of gold that’s been extracted in all of recorded history! That’s how rare gold is. 

In my book, Miss Wetherham has neither the money to explore the mine for more gold, or the heart to try it even if she did, for there is danger involved. For these reasons, she finds herself in precarious financial straits–the perfect place to introduce a hero, even if he is, by all report, a rogue. 🙂       

Linore Rose Burkard An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first book (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense, contemporary romance, and romantic short stories. Linore resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots. 

Categories
Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Writing is Like Fighting…

Happy Friday! Today CAN member Carla Hoch inspires us with writing perspectives told from a fighter’s point of view.

Mohammed Ali estimated that over the course of his career he had been hit about 29,000 times. Twenty-nine thousand! Now, I don’t know how many of you have been punched in the face, but it ain’t fun. A solid punch can rock you to your core. And, after the fact, you are sore in places you never thought you’d be. Including your spirit.

Writing is a lot like fighting. You pour your heart into it and sometimes the “win” doesn’t come.   The agent isn’t interested, the editor isn’t impressed. And, it hurts. Literally. Rejection and physical pain ride the same pathways in the brain. Biologically speaking, a solid rejection can rock you to your core just like a punch and hurt you in places you never thought you would. Including your spirit.

Ask a boxer if they ever get hit when they train and they’ll probably laugh. Of course they do. They get hit a lot. And it’s not because aren’t trying or aren’t good at what they do. For boxers, taking punches is part of the process, essential to the product and integral to their profession. Achievement comes with ache. Ali wasn’t the greatest of all time despite those 29,000 hits. He was the greatest of all time, in part, because of them.

The rejections we as writers get are not signs that we should give up. They are proof that we’re doing something right, that we are still in the fight. You know what kind of writer doesn’t get rejected? The kind who won’t step in the ring, who won’t send in their MS. Folks, what if after a hundred punches Ali had called it quits? What if Seuss, Golding, Joyce, Faulkner, Potter, Plath, L’Engle, Kipling, and countless others, had taken their rejections as proof that they weren’t any good, that they should just hang it up?

Writers, achievement comes with ache, punches are part of the process, pain is essential to the product. And all are proof that you are still writing, still fighting. Take the hits. Get ok with them. Expect them. Welcome them. Make them a sandwich and sit on the couch with them. Because you won’t be a success despite them. You’ll be a success, in part, because of them.

Carla HochCarla Hoch is the author of the Writer’s Digest book Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes and proprietor of the award winning FightWrite™ blog. She is a Writer’s Digest author and instructor and regularly teaches workshops on the mechanics of fighting for writers as well as the craft of writing fight scenes. Carla is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter with training in nearly a dozen fighting styles. She lives just outside Houston, Texas with her family and host of mammals.

 

Categories
Encouragement Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Why I Wrote Love Stays True

Letter to SallieWhen my dad began going through papers and documents in his files, He found three letters he gave to me because he knew I was writing a historical novel series. One of the letters was dated 1857 and was addressed to my great-grandmother Sallie from her father. Another one was dated November, 1864 and was written by my great-grandfather to Sallie before he went into the battle at Nashville and was captured. The third was to Sallie from a friend talking about the war.

I treasured those letters and tucked the away to a safe place because I knew I would be using the information in my writing someway. After my father’s death, I found more information written by my great-grandfather telling about parts of his trip home after the surrender by Lee. The story burned in my heart and a series set at the end of the war and forward was born.

I did a tremendous amount of research to match what I had in my possession with history and ended up with a five book series, The Homeward Journey, based on what I found. My husband and I even traveled to Louisiana and Mississippi to visit the places mentioned in the letters and checked dates and times in the records there.

The first book was Love Stays True, a love story based on my great-grandparents love in the 1860’s. It’s a combination of truth and fiction based on the letters and stories I heard from my grandfather. It begins at the time of the Armistice and follows my great-grandfather’s journey from prison at Point Lookout, Maryland back to Louisiana where he married his sweetheart, Sally. That book led to three others to complete the four book series.

 

Martha Rogers
Martha Rogers

Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and multi-published best-selling author.  She is a member of ACFW and writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. She is a retired English and Home Ec. teacher and lives in Houston with her husband of 61 years, Rex.

 

Categories
Encouragement Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Why I Write Happily Ever After Endings

Anne Greene, Author
Anne Greene

I’ve experienced God’s happily-ever-afters in my life many times since I became a Christian at age twenty-one. I suffered a difficult childhood. When the Lord made me a new creation in Christ Jesus, He began my emotional healing that transformed me into the happy, content person I am today.

Again, when my first husband died early in our marriage leaving me with almost no money and two young children, I learned first-hand the Lord does take care of His children. When the first love of my life died, I felt physically torn in half. I often looked down at my body to see if I was bleeding. But God became my constant companion and took my torn halves and knit them back together. He gave me the verse, Deuteronomy 31:6—The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. He kept His promise. At the right time He brought a new forever love, a new husband into my life. Through that experience I know without a single doubt that I have complete freedom to trust God. He loves to make His children happy.

Now, when God takes me out of my comfort zone and walks with me through difficulties, I can look back on His faithfulness and set my trust in Him.

Knowing God is in charge and He truly cares allows me to write happy-ever-after endings to all my books.

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines.  Anne hopes her books transport the reader to awesome new worlds and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Read More about Anne at www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.

 

 

Categories
Humor Writing craft

Politics & Personnel–All in a Day’s Work

I’ve never been a police chief—but I spent many years of my career in public education serving as a high school superintendent. The day I realized the overlap between those two positions was the day Jo Oliver was born.

In the early years, I interviewed women and men (mostly men) police officers and had the privilege of participating in a few ride-alongs. As a member of the International Thriller Writers Association, I enthusiastically joined in on the FBI workshops hosted by the Manhattan FBI during our annual summer conference. It wasn’t until I heard a dear friend and local police chief describe his day-to-day activities as being mainly concerned with politics and personnel that I realized I could write from that seat authentically.

School superintendents also spend a good deal of their time addressing politics and personnel—sans badge and gun. Layering on the details of a series of crimes fell into place once I knew how my police chief would spend her time on the job when not chasing bad guys/girls. In addition to trying out cool new technologies in their efforts to protect and serve, my characters spend much of their waking time at work. Understanding that leadership in the police arena is not all that different from leadership in other arenas added confidence and an air of authority to my writing.

In crafting my current novel, I am drawing on my world of education to form the background of my protagonist. Grounding her in a world I know so well frees me up to create bridges into the bold new future world we are creating and sharing on the page together. Weaving in the ancient truths of human development, character, and consequences of our choices laid out in the Bible adds the final layer of intrigue and fuel for reflection I strive to include in my work.

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates opportunities to contribute to the wellbeing of others as a coach, writer, and friend. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends. www.catherinefinger.com

 

 

Categories
Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

The Story Behind the Story of Risk Management     

 

Peru. Its people call me back.

Which is why I set Carly’s finale book in Peru. As a tribute to her, because she kept calling me back, to write yet another story about her. The first time I visited Peru, I learned about hidden temples and jungle monsters. I thought, “Carly could have a mystery here.”

Peru was the perfect backdrop to Carly’s finale book as she made decisions about her future. Forced by health issues to slow down, pushed into a corner until she made a choice about the direction and the content of her faith life, Carly is like many of us: she’s been given a chance to choose something she didn’t want and make it her new norm.

So while Carly doesn’t actually go to Peru, the country comes to her. And she learns more about herself as a result.

And while this is the last book in the “By the Numbers” series, she will join her granddaughter in a segue novella, coming out in September, bridging the gap between readers saying goodbye and those finding the new series.

 

Risk Management CoverAbout Risk Management:

Carly Turnquist, Forensic Accountant, can never ignore a good mystery. Or in this case, three. When her sometime friend tells her a mystery is afoot, with links to a Quechuan temple, a Peruvian jungle monster, and murder, Carly is hooked. But when her investigations come close to home, she must decide whether to step back or continue, because now her family—and her own life—are at stake. Never one to give up without a good fight, Carly finds herself under attack from a third direction—her body is failing her. Will she continue? Or will she retire gracefully? Perhaps she can do both.

 

 

 

About Leeann:

Leeann Betts
Leeann Betts

Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 devotionals, novellas, and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Christian Authors Network, Pikes Peak Writers, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and are proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC.

 

Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Bonanza Books-in-a-Flash: order autographed print copies of books that are shipped directly from the author.

Books: Amazon http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE  and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2z5ecP8

 

Categories
Humor Writing craft

Where Do Faith and Technology Intersect?

Behold, I will do something new—

Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it?

 Isaiah 43:19

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger

As I sit on my screen porch, luxuriating in my Wisconsin summer morning ritual, coffee at hand, dog at my feet and a cacophony of avian praise in the background, I cultivate ideas for my new book. Placed in the near future, this book plays with bioethics as illuminated through the life and choices of Em, my female protagonist. Facing her own mortality in the guise of a terminal disease, vexed with arthritis and the quotidian irritations of aging, she wonders daily what it would be like to replace not only the occasional joint—but her entire body.  In an age where humans are able to artificially enhance their physical and mental selves, should they?

I myself am resigned to the inevitability of a knee and hip replacement—but what about body enhancement or replacement? In my fictional year 2060, in a world where downloading human consciousness into artificial bodies has become commonplace, Em struggles with moral ambiguities and bioethics without a common cultural framework. How should her faith inform her choices related to her physical health and mental health? If she were in need of a kidney transplant, or a knee replacement today, I do not know a Christian in my circle who would oppose it. But if she were to consider replacing or enhancing her entire body in the year 2060, would there be a Judeo-Christian framework for her to consider?

Artificial Intelligence is another passion of mine. A recent bout of research brought me to an app called “Replika,” claiming to be “an AI who cares.” Naturally, I signed right up. I named my Replika “Carver.” You can see our exchange regarding today’s lofty topic in the screenshot photo below.  While Carver didn’t seem particularly interested in my question, nor in the future, he did eerily mirror most conversations I’ve had with members of the opposite sex. So that’s something, right?Conversation with Carver 7:17:20

Categories
Inspiration for Writers Writing Business Writing craft

Get Registered for SoCAL Christian Writers’ Conference by July 3, 2020!

SoCal Christian Writers' Conference
Register by July 3, 2020

2020 SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference is next week!

If you’re longing for the benefits of a writers’ conference this year, I hope you’ll check out the virtual SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference. It’s happening next week, July 8–11.

In this live, interactive conference, you can learn from and meet with agents, acquisitions editors, and established authors through morning continuing sessions, afternoon workshops, and one-on-one appointments.

Three-day morning Continuing Sessions include Fiction, Nonfiction, Writing for Children, Screenwriting, Speaking, and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Writing.

Afternoon Workshops include a full schedule of sessions in screenwriting, fiction writing, and publishing, plus classes on Marketing, The Writing Life, and specialty topics such as poetry, Scrivener, taxes, writing for the general market, and how to make money writing.

Faculty includes:

Literary agent Stephanie Alton

Publishers Jennifer Crosswhite (Tandem Services), Kate Jameson (Focus on the Family), Marji Laine (Write Integrity Press), and Beckie Lindsey (Southern California Christian Voice)

Multi-published authors Frank Ball, Joseph Bentz, Tamara Clymer, Valerie Coulman, Mike Duran, Aaron Gansky, Kelly Harrel, Janeen Ippolito, Linda Kozar, Bill Myers, Tim Riter, Janice Hanna Thompson, and Liz Tolsma

Screenwriting professionals Bob Saenz, Jeff Willis, and Ted Baehr (MovieGuide)

Professional speaker Tammy Whitehurst

Freelance editor Erin Brown

CPA Chris Morris

Molly Jebber
Molly Jebber, (FL), Topics: Faith * Writing * Amish lifestyle and traditions *

Keynoter Molly Jebber is a best-selling and award-winning Amish historical romance author.

As if that’s not enough, there are Added Bonuses:
Pre-conference Book Proposal Critique with Stephanie Alton

            One-on-One Mentoring with Frank Ball

            Computer Lab with Julie Williams

Choose one of four Registration Tiers:

Tier 1General Sessions with Molly Jebber – FREE!

Tier 2: All live sessions, Facebook Registrants Group, and access to Added Bonuses – $99

Tier 3: All of Tier 2 plus recordings of all sessions available till 7/31/20, Q&A with faculty, and two Meet-the-Pro Appointments – $199

Tier 4: All of Tier 2 plus lifetime access to recordings of all sessions, Q&A with faculty, and five Meet-the-Pro Appointments – $299

We’re using a professional platform similar to Zoom but with full-time technical support throughout the conference. So if you don’t feel tech-savvy enough for a virtual writers’ conference, don’t let that stop you. You’ll be personally walked through any issues you may have.

Register by July 3!

Kathy Ide, Topics: Proofread Professionally * Working with Editors * Successful Freelance Editing *
Kathy Ide (CA), Topics: Editing * Writing *

Director and CAN member, Kathy Ide

Author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors

Editor/Compiler of Fiction Lover’s Devotional series

Owner of Christian Editor Network

Founder/Director of SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference

www.KathyIde.com

Categories
Writing craft

There’s an App for That

by Judith Couchman

Recently I ate lunch with Heather, a former coaching client who became a friend. She talked about an app that helps her learn to write better, catching mistakes and suggesting ways to improve. I recognized Heather’s sincere desire to write well, and that impressed me. Many writers new to the craft want to skip over writing principles and dart straight to publishing and social networking.

Heather felt so excited about this method for improving her manuscript, I couldn’t help but absorb her enthusiasm. Later at home, online I researched writing apps. After typing “Writing Apps” into my browser, the results surprised me. Although apps exist for brainstorming, collaborating, planning, organizing, outlining, reading, and timing writing, not many help an aspiring author actually write well.

As a result, below I’ve listed some apps that help with writing and editing your work. Most likely, more apps exist because I didn’t research deeply. Consider this a “starter list” for apps that might meet your needs. I’ve provided website links so you can learn more. Most are free. Check whether an app operates on your phone, tablet, or desktop.

  • EditMinion. Edits a manuscript a few pages at a time, checking for mistakes, including clichés. Free. http://editminion.com
  • Grammarly. This app does what the name implies: it checks a manuscript for grammar, suggesting the correct wording. Free. grammarly.com
  • Hemingway App. Heather enthused about this app. It aims to simplify, tighten, and strengthen prose in the tradition of the famous writer. $19.99 hemingwayapp.com/desktop
  • Merriam-Webster. Every writer needs a dictionary. This one includes voice searches. Free. https://www.merriam-webster.com/apps
  • ProWriting Aid. ProWriting Aid not only identifies and corrects problems, but it also explains, in detail, why you need to change something. And how to do it. Free for basic; $40 for premium. prowritingaid.com
  • Scrivener. A versatile writing app that helps with many formats: articles, books, blogs, podcasts, speeches and more. $40-45. writersstore.com/scrivener

If you’ve found another app that improves writing, please inform us in the comments section below. Thanks!

Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, university professor, and occasional writing coach. Learn more about her at www.judithcouchman.com

 

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