Friday, July 30, 2010

Funtastic Friday

Apparently, I write The Second Cellar in the style of James Joyce (left), but Up the Rutted Road like Stephen King (right). At least, those are the results of "I Write Like" analysis. Click on over there and try it out. I wouldn't take it too seriously, if I were you--I'm certainly not--but it's a fun diversion for a Friday.

Note to my critique partners: One of you also writes like James Joyce, while another favors Stephen King.

Fellow writers, what does the analysis reveal about your style? Do you agree with the results? Why or why not? How accurate do you think this tool is? Please respond by clicking "Comments."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two Days + Two Days = Two One-Sheets

Like many of my colleagues in American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), I'm scrambling to get ready for the convention coming up in September. (See the ad in the right sidebar of this page.) Usually, it's held in places far away from the heartland, but this year it is in my backyard, making it accessible. I know of several Hoosier and Buckeye writers who are also ecstatic.

I'm making a list and checking it thrice to make sure everything is quite precise. After registering, I carefully chose sessions and agent appointments (praying all the while that I get the ones I need). I designed and ordered business cards.

The awards dinner, a semi-formal affair, had me in a quandary until I talked it over with fellow writers who have attended several conferences. They set my mind at ease by telling me that, yes, while some don formal gowns and tuxes, others wear their Sunday best, and our Anabaptist brothers and sisters maintain their usual simple, modest elegance.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, the real work of preparing for a conference of this magnitude commences. For the past four days, I have been fairly incommunicado, avoiding the telephone and time-gobblers like email, Facebook, and Twitter. I've huddled over my keyboard and written, re-written, and re-rewritten copy for one-sheets. When I began conference prep, they weren't even on my to-do list. It's something of a futile exercise, since, from what I've read, most editors and agents won't accept them at conferences, trying to keep their paper load to a minimum. They may peruse it briefly, but will likely hand it back. Nonetheless, we need to have a few on hand. Just in case.

Reader response: Are you attending the ACFW conference this year? What concerns you most about getting ready for it? Please click "Comments" to respond. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Racing through Summer

This has been one very busy summer. In late May, I began preparing Bible lessons for  a mission trip. In June, several from my church joined other 1Way Ministries team members in Arizona, where we held vacation Bible schools in various villages of the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation. What a great joy that was! Even the 113-degree days couldn't wilt the enthusiasm of the team or the kids. I'll confess to shedding more than a few tears when it was time to leave.

Once back in Indiana, I made ready for our own VBS, as well as for a few upcoming storytelling gigs. My original plan was to prepare the same set of biblical accounts for both VBSes, but God changed those plans. (Storytelling has taught me to be flexible, a skill that comes in handy when trying to follow the Lord's leading. He knows best the composition of each audience.)

The next big thing on my Summer 2010 list is the ACFW Conference, coming up in September. This will be my first time to attend, and I can hardly wait. But one doesn't sit idly by, checking off the days until the downtown Indianapolis Hyatt Regency throws open its doors to us. Judging from the emails on the ACFW loops, Christian writers around the world are working wildly to prepare. There are elevator pitches to be composed, one-sentences to be written, business cards to order, one-sheets and synopses to obsess over--and for crying out loud, what earrings should I wear to the awards dinner? [gasp for breath]

Expect to see at least a few blog entries related to the conference. It's cathartic, so please be patient. I've learned from seasoned writers--those who already have an agent and have multiple books published--that they too get nervous at the prospects of conference. It's key to focus that eager anticipation into productive enterprises. As for agents and editors, they really are "just folks." I keep telling myself that over and over.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oh, the Places I Will Go

Read Teresa's story at Make Way Partners

When I begin a writing project, I seldom know where the research will lead me. I'm a hybrid plotter/pantser. In other words, I know the general path I will take, but I try to be open to the leading of the Lord to alter my course. He did that as I wrote my first novel manuscript, and He's doing it with this work-in-progress.

I write middle-grade novels primarily. Even in the case of fiction, for it to ring true, it must spring from truth. This work, The Second Cellar, does that. At its beginning, however, I did not imagine that my journey would take me to Darfur and beyond, albeit vicariously.

A friend involved with foreign and domestic missions, upon learning about my wip, is serving as a liaison between me and the founder of another ministry--this one involved in rescuing children and women from modern-day slavery in Islamic countries.  I look forward to talking with such a courageous woman. As any interviewer worth her ink knows to do, I will first thoroughly study her website and blog, so that I won't waste time asking questions she already has answered on those sites. Such perusal usually gives rise to other deeper, more probing questions.

Another likely stop on my research odyssey will be a visit to the immigration office in Indianapolis. Only the Lord knows where else I will travel in my quest.

Dear writing colleagues, what strange and unexpected turns has your research taken you? Please click "Comments" and tell of your experience.

Write on!

Because of Christ,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Double O, No! Part 2

NPR's "Weekend Edition: Sunday" (July 3) presented an interesting segment about the children of the Russian spies. Just in case . . . just in case you happen to be the writer who is plotting a tale about this kerfuffle, I've posted it for you to hear here.

Write on!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Have a Blessed, Safe, Meaningful Independence Day!

Please take time to consider what this hard-won freedom has cost through the three centuries of our existence. Ponder also what our freedom in Christ cost the Savior.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Double O, No! What about the Kids?

Imagine what it would be like to wake up one morning to the news that your next door neighbor, the guy who borrowed your hedge trimmer last week and has yet to return it, has been arrested for being a Russian spy. Chances are pretty good you won't be getting the trimmer back. And isn't this the week his wife is supposed to drive the kids to soccer practice? Well, she's been arrested, too. What about the kiddos? Where are they? What's happening to them? Who are they? Apparently, they weren't born where they thought they were. If you think you're confused, try to imagine what it's like for them. It's challenging enough to be a teen without learning that you've been living a lie--one contrived by your very own parents. Or are they? Is that part of the lie?

As a mother, grandmother, educator, Sunday school teacher, former kid, and regular compassionate person, my heart cries out to those children. I wish I could somehow shelter them from all the flashing cameras, probing news reporters, and uncertainties they face.

But as a writer of middle-grade fiction, my imagination slammed into overdrive as soon as the story broke. What fuel for a series! I'm not the one to write that collection. I know that. But I'm absolutely certain that some writer out there already is drawing snowflakes and plotting scenes, fleshing out characters and developing minor and major crises.

Open wide the back door and kick out the vampires, pseudo-angels, wizards, zombies, and ghouls. Here come the spies!