Sunday, April 10, 2011

Writers Learn to Navigate the Digital World

ACFW Indiana Chapter Spring Meeting
More than 40 Hoosier writers and a sprinkling of Buckeye scribes gathered Saturday, 9 April, to hear Amanda Luedeke (pronounced LEE duh kee) speak on "Navigating the Digital World."Luedeke is an agent with MacGregor Literary

How is it that we can eagerly anticipate an event for weeks, but when it actually arrives, it is ephemeral. A few brief seconds in time, and it becomes history, preserved in the memories of those who were there, in meeting minutes, and on a smattering of blogs.

We had only a few moments to greet old friends and meet a couple new ones. No sooner had we asked, "What do you write?" than we found ourselves moving along the serving line of Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria in Greenwood. (Why do they place the salads at the beginning of the line and follow them immediately with a huge spread of desserts: cakes, pies of all kinds, puddings, ooey-gooey brownies . . .? Come to think of it, half the salads could pass for desserts, too. Why is that?)

A few seconds later, after we got refills on drinks, stashed leftover tidbits in little white Styrofoam to-go boxes, and exchanged business cards with those at our end of the table, our special speaker began.

Amanda Luedeke admits she looks twelve. Though she's slightly older than that, her credentials and experience would lead one to think she must be 40-something at least. She isn't. It's just that she began writing at age five. Her first ms, The Cat, never quite made it to the shelves of Barnes & Noble, but it did distill in her a passion for things literary. You can read more about her career on the MacGregor Literary website.

Speaking on "Navigating the Digital World," Luedeke said a writer should determine his identity, a.k.a., his brand.Writers who pursue several genres end up confusing their readers. "Pursue what you're best at," she said. The writer's website or blog should reflect that brand. To prove her point, she cited a few websites, including that of Jenny B. Jones. (One glance, and you know Jones doesn't write dark, Gothic mysteries or westerns. IF she does, she uses nom de plumes and has separate websites for each genre.)

Luedeke also took her audience sailing among the various social networking sites, including Twitter, Facebook,, and, giving the pros and cons of each and demonstrating how they can help the writer. "Be selective," she adjured, since it's unnecessary to use them all.

Finally, she spoke in great detail about blogging, offering five rules for the blogger:
  • Never talk about blogging. (Just do it.)
  • Don't make promises you can't keep. (If you say you're going to write daily, you're committed.)
  • Find a way to make each post worthwhile. (Don't fill it with meaningless fluff.)
  • Never apologize. (See "Don't make promises" above.)
  • Never talk about your day. (Who really cares that you had toast for breakfast, unless it's a food blog and you have an amazing way to prepare toast. Which I do, by the way. Use orange juice instead of milk when making French toast. Delicious!)
Luedeke presented us with much useful information, inspiring me to revamp my strategies.

And then too soon it was over.

L to R: Rick Barry, ACFW Indiana Pres.; Amanda Luedeke, and Crystal Laine Miller, V.P.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

At the Cross

I huddle at the foot of the Cross,
My arms stretched to encompass it around,
My head bowed,
My eyes pinched so tightly they hurt.
Silent sobs wrack my being.

The men are gone.
The Brotherhood, save one, has forsaken the Master.
Other women stand,
Lie prostrate nearby,
Each alone,
I hear their weeping off in the distance,
At the perimeter of my own sorrow.

Roman soldiers stand silent,
Trying to understand,
Yet bound merely to a duty.
Scribes, Pharisees, Sadduccees
Cluster together and mutter into their self-righteous beards,
Rehearsing their excuses.
Their mumbling blends, segues into the rumbling of a gathering storm.

Messiah, on the Cross, lifts His head to Heaven.
With one last lingering remnant of strength,
He pushes against the spike that holds His feet,
Pulls up on the nails that pierce His wrists,
Draws in a gurgling breath,
Licks His lips to moisten them, to make speech possible,
And cries out to the Father Whose Face is turned away.

"It is finished!"

A pronouncement that will echo throughout Eternity.

I look up as His weary, abused head
To His bosom,
Where so many children had rested their heads
And received His blessing.

A drop of His vermilion Blood
Rolls down one of the thorns
That comprises a crude crown.
In one interminable moment,
I watch it
I tip my face downward in shame,
Knowing my own unworthiness,
Yet yearning for His anointing.
That Sacred Drop
Splashes on my head and covers me over.

The Earth begins to tremble.

~Copyright 2007 by Sharon Kirk Clifton