Tag Archives: ACFW

Top 10 Save-the-ACFW-Journal fundraiser Ideas

Several months ago I shared this list on the ACFW email loop, but never put it on my blog. Sooooo, in light of the announcement from ACFW’s Executive Board about discontinuing the Journal due to cost concerns, I’ve decided to post the list here. Many ACFW members have enjoyed reading the Journal, and I still consider having an article in the premier issue a highpoint in my writing life. But the only way to save the Journal is for money to be raised to keep it in publication. Therefore I humbly submit:

The Top 10 Save-the-ACFW-Journal fundraiser ideas:

# 10:  Request a grant from the Federal Government…they seem to have unlimited amounts of “free” money to give away.

#  9:  Create a “Mug-of-the-Month” Club where ACFW members sell their unwashed coffee mugs to each other, with the proceeds going to the Journal.

# 8:  Sell a CD of the ACFW Executive Board singing their favorite show tunes.

# 7:  A telethon featuring ACFW authors acting out scenes from one of their books, while viewers call in and pay them to stop it.

# 6:  An online auction of the “dancing elephant” from the conference in St. Louis a few years ago.

# 5:  Open a museum of “floating body parts” and charge admission. (However, it shouldn’t cost an arm and an leg….bwahahaha…uh hmmm…I digress)

# 4:  Instead of the traditional pitching sessions that happen at every conference, make each writer pay an entry fee to stand on stage and read their manuscript out loud in front of a panel of agents, editors, and cranky reviewers. Panel members get to scream, “Rejection!” and shoot red paint balls at the writer when they spot a problem in the manuscript. The writer that survives the longest gets a contract and also wins one of the mugs mentioned in #9.

# 3:  Have me, Michael Ehret, and Peter Leavell do a benefit opera. We’ll call ourselves the Track-Change Tenors and dress in red tuxedos, complete with red cowboy hats and red cowboy boots. Undoubtedly Michael will demand that red bow ties be optional.

# 2:  A pay-per-view Mixed Martial Arts octagon challenge between writers and the agents or editors who have rejected them in the past (complete with tights and stage names)

# 1:  As much as this one gives me the dry heaves, I recognize that it may work since the majority of ACFW’s membership is female…How about selling a Men of ACFW Kilt Calendar?

I hope this helps. And I pray that #1 will never be necessary.

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Filed under books, Christian Fiction, editing, Larry W. Timm, Top 10 List, Top Ten list, Writing

Top 10 Reasons People might be glad I’m not going to the ACFW Conference this Year.

The American Christian Fiction Writers Conference is less than a week away. People are packing bags, picking wardrobes, pressing kilts, and preparing one sheets. But not me. Sniff…sniff. This year I will not be attending. And that got me to thinking (ouch!).

Here are 10 reasons people might be glad that they won’t see Larry W. Timm in Indy.

# 10:  No one has to watch the pathetic display where I stand in a corner and try to work up the courage to walk up and talk to one of my favorite authors.

#  9:  There will be a few less dumb questions asked in the workshops.

#  8:  None of those awkward, “I’ve got one ear lower than the other…what’s deformed about you?” conversation starters.

#  7:  Michael Ehret or Peter Leavell won’t have to introduce me with the phrase, “I’m sorry for doing this, but have you met Larry Timm?”

#  6:  No one will have to witness me get on…off…on…off…on…off the elevator until I remember which floor my room is on.

#  5:  The local pizza delivery people won’t have to “stand by for emergency delivery to the crazy guy who claims the voices in his head are hungry.”

#  4:  No murmured questions about the misuse of plaid.

#  3:  There’s much less of a chance of hearing, “Hey, look what I can do with this pudding!”

#  2:  No one has to see my Salute-to-Spandex outfit at the costume dinner.

And the #1 reason people might be glad I’m not going to the ACFW Conference:

#  1: More BACON for everyone!

Hey, have fun everybody. I hope you have a great time.

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“Carefully & Prayerfully”

Yep…I know I just used two “ly” words. I did it intentionally and happily [Larry snickers gleefully]. Seriously…(that makes 6!)…the two words I used for the title of this post are my answer to the question: “How do you approach your responsibility as a writer?”

Carefully and Prayerfully.

But, today, I’m going to concentrate on the second word. The more I am blessed to be around other writers, the more I am feeling a conviction that we ought to be praying for one another. Specifically. By Name. We are, after all, a band of brothers and sisters toiling together to impact our world with the light of truth. Yes, we want to deliver a strong emotional experience. But we are CHRISTIAN writers, which makes us brothers and sisters with the same Lord and children of the same Heavenly Father. The strong emotional experience we offer should be delivered in words soaked in spiritual awareness.

As Christian writers, we are dealing with a spiritual reality that secular writers can not possess or reveal. And regardless of the genre–or even the market–in which we seek to publish our stories, we can call upon a power that no unbeliever can claim: the power of God!

Of course no writer can prayer for every other writer…there are too many writers. But we can pray for some. And we should. If you are in a writing group, do you pray for those other writers? To you take time to pray together at your meetings? Do you pray for your favorite writers–the ones whose books have blessed you? ACFW members could take a minute to pray for the names of the new members when they are posted on the loop.

Let’s hold one another up in prayer to a God Who has promised to hear our prayers. Let’s tap into the power that awaits us. And let’s intercede for one another.

 

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A Chapter of Blessing

Call it a fellowship gathering, a support group, or a monthly injection of writing adrenaline, and you’d be right on the mark. The American Christian Fiction Writers Chapter that I am blessed to be a part of is all those things and more. Quite frankly, now that I’ve been a part of the South Central Kansas ACFW Chapter that meets in Wichita, Kansas, I can’t imagine my life as a writer without this group.

Last Thursday we went around the table and each writer spoke about the writing project that they were working on. I was blown away by the passion that was expressed by my fellow writers. They spoke openly about the joys and struggles that they faced. And I understood what they meant.

And on my hour-long drive home, I praised God for the group, and for the fact that He has entrusted us with the stewardship of story. We encourage each other along the journey.

If you are part of a writers group, I’d love to hear from you. I’d be thrilled to hear what you like the most…and about how important being a part of a group is to you.

And if you are a writer of Christian Fiction, and are interested in belonging to a group, ACFW has chapters all across the country. I promise you will not regret the time you spend with other writers. It may just take your writing to a higher level. And just as importantly, it could make you–the writer–a more fulfilled person too.

Fellowship has a way of doing that.

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Bad Book Ideas

Let me bounce a few book ideas off you. Let me know what you think, and feel free to share some of your own.

These first two were part of an article I wrote for The ACFW Journal.

I’m think of writing a book about Amish Vampires, and calling it Buggy Bites. Do you think that would be a book that readers could sink their teeth into?

Then there’s the story idea I have which revolves around the lives of old maids in a church sewing circle. I’m thinking of calling it The Jilted Quilters.

Then there’s the rather risky thriller about a group of Nuns who rob banks and are on the run from the law. Oh, it will be titled Bad Habits.

Next will be the contemporary fiction adventure about men who are in charge of snack food at a monastery. The working title for this sure to be best seller is The Chip Monks.

How about a book that puts the reader in a high seas experience? Yep, got that covered too. I’m secretly working on a story about elderly pirates. It’s going to be called Sunken Chests.

Then, for those who want a story with more Biblical relevance, I’m thinking of stepping into the non-fiction world with a devotional book for people who love Chinese food. The title of this masterpiece will be Wok Through The Bible.

And finally, I’m returning to the realm of fiction with a soul-searching book about an Austrian body-builder turned actor who secretly pursues his life-long passion to be a classical composer. This book will be called I’ll Be Bach.

Okay, your turn. Any thoughts? Book ideas?

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Is it wrong to be “Star Struck”?

I’ve had a chance to meet many of my favorite writers. And I’m star struck most of the time it happens. Sometimes my brain goes into temporary hibernation, refusing to allow my tongue to work properly. Ever been there?

It’s just so doggone cool to meet these published authors, especially if I’ve read their books as a fan. I still remember my fist ACFW Conference (St. Louis 2011). I knew that Brandilyn Collins was going to be there. She’s one of my favorite authors. I really wanted to meet her. Shouldn’t be that hard, right? I’m a grown–relatively mature–adult with workable social skills. Then the moment came…and went. I was preparing to get off the elevator. The doors opened, and there stood mulitpublished, award-winning, Brandilyn Collins. And I had no idea what to say. I had to look down at my name tag to remember my own name. Awkward.  I wandered off the elevator, she got on…and the opportunity was gone. Later, however, after a few rounds of Christian stalking, I did get to meet her. Then, at the same conference, a new friend introduced me to Terri Blackstock. I’m not sure what I said to her, but chances are it resembled that Chris Farley skit on Saturday Night Live. I’m sure you’ve never felt such nervousness in the presence of someone you admired. I’m riding solo on the goofball express, huh?

I just get tongue-tied around people I admire from the standpoint of a fan.

And when my tongue does work, it’s not always a good thing. I’ll spare myself the embarrassment of telling you what happened the first time I met Nancy Mehl. (Picture me slapping my forehead). And don’t listen to the members of the South-Central Kansas ACFW chapter when they say that they think I have a man-crush on Ted Dekker. I’m sure I’ll be just fine if ever given the opportunity to meet him…

And what’s really ironic is that as a preacher/teacher I talk for a living! Yes, God is a God of wonders.

seriously, it is really a thrill to meet so many talented writers whose books I’ve read. I was nice to meet Collen Coble and Rene Gutteridge at this past ACFW conference, then to have Rene come and speak to our local chapter, and sign a book for me. And to be friends with published authors like Nancy Mehl, Karl Bacon, and Deborah Raney is a blessing that has made my writing journey more enjoyable.

But do you know who else has blessed my enormously? The unpublished writers that attend my local chapter, or go to conference. These fellow stewards of story work hard to reach their goals and achieve their dreams. To them I say, “It’s an incredible honor to know you. You make me proud to be a writer. And when you get published and I become a fan of your books, just forgive me if I walk up and get tongue-tied or something dumb comes out of my mouth.”

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How “CHRISTIAN” should our stories be?

Christian story tellers write Christian fiction. I proudly belong to a national group called American Christian Fiction Writers.

What makes Christian fiction different from other types of fiction?

Is it the words we use? Is it the issues we tackle or the way we deal with them? Is it the amount of Bible references we put in our books? Or the subtle Christian themes we fold into the pages?

But what makes a book, theme, or scene Christian?

I’m convinced the answer to that question can liberating. Or dominating. Perhaps it depends on attitude and agenda. We like “black & white” answers, and that’s okay, but not everything can be so designated. For instance, here another question that stirs discussion in churches–even causes splits:  what makes a worship service a “real” worship service? Some demand the old hymns, while others want the newest praise songs. Some want a pipe organ and others get all giddy when they walk into a sanctuary and see a drum set and guitars. So which is it?

See what I mean?

When it comes to Christian Fiction, who decides what is and isn’t Christian? And what standards do they use to make such a judgment?

My opinion, formed through observation and experience, is that Christian Fiction can be defined as much by what is not a part of the story as by what is part of the story.

I believe our story should leave people thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute…(Phil 4:8a). But I also believe that we have a responsibility to keep in mind that all the things mentioned above–along with the source of our salvation–is specifically revealed in the name of Jesus. But does that mean that I have to include His name in every book? Keep in mind that there is an entire book of the Holy Bible in which God’s name never appears! Yet God included it in His collection of “books” called the Bible.

If I use Philippians 4:8 as a guide, then I’ll be careful to include story elements that honor God, AND I’ll keep from using profane things that dishonor him (such as explicit sexual content, profane language, and any other elements that celebrate “evil” instead of exposing it). But even deciding how much to hint at sexual attraction/activity, foul language, etc… isn’t always “black & white”.

I very much want to hear your comments on the questions in this post. Please take a minute to share your thoughts. Thank you.

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A Matter Of Interpretation

Some time ago I went to the doctor. With that experience still in my mind, let me offer the following interpretation to a few medical phrases.

  • When the nurse says, “This may sting a little” what she really means is, “This has been outlawed in three other countries.”
  • When the nurse asks, “How would you rate your pain?” what she’s really asking is “On a scale of one to ten, how big of a sissy are you?”
  • When the person weighing you says, ‘Wow!”, what they really mean is “Oh, Wow! Can you say Jenny Craig?”
  • When the nurse says, “I have to shave you in a few places,” what she really means is “The doctor has no idea I’m doing this, but I’m bored and I found a razor.”
  • When the doctor says, “Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle” what he really means is [insert evil scientist laugh here].
  • When the doctor offers to “pull that tape off for you” what she really means is “Have you ever been skinned alive?”
  • And when they say “You’re going to feel a little pressure” what they really mean is “This will hurt until you cry for your mommy.”

I offer this gift of interpretation for the betterment of humanity (plus that, I don’t often get to use the word “betterment”). But seriously…the whole “what did he/she really mean by that?” quandary often causes undue stress in many areas of our lives. We can become suspicious of another’s intent, thereby making us seek for the hidden meaning between the lines.

We can do this as writers too.

In fact, writers are one of the more susceptible groups because we seek critical feedback so often. Not to mention the editorial comments offered without invitation too. If you don’t already have thick skin, you’ll need to acquire it pronto. Otherwise your imagination can run wild, draining you of the creative energy needed to be a good steward of story. If a friend says “not bad” you can get tough enough to ask them to explain, or you can just assume that what they’re really saying is, “I barely know how to read and you didn’t have enough pictures in the book.” And when an agent says, “I don’t think I can sell this,” you can either learn more about the problems that are hindering the future of that project, or you can just decide that what the agent is saying is “I don’t have the skills or contacts necessary to get this obvious bestseller to the right people.” Or when a contest judge gets snarky and misses the brilliance of your entry, you might be tempted to think that what they’re really saying is, “You’ll never amount to anything as a writer. What were you thinking by even entering this contest?”

Friend–and fellow writer–the only way to grow as a writer is to be able to control our tendency to look for hidden messages in every comment we are given. And we have to be able to separate who we are as a person from the particular piece of writing being discussed. Most people–especially other Christians–are not trying to hurt you. They’re just assuming that when you said you wanted honest feedback, you really meant it and were prepared to handle it. They want to see you succeed. (At least I believe this to be true of the members of American Christian Fiction Writers).

As a Christian writer, I want to create the best stories I’m capable of writing. And I want to stay teachable and open, able to listen to the educated opinions of others. I’ll accept some. I’ll give a polite nod to others, but respectfully disagree with them. Because none of us knows everything.

And I’ll keep writing for the Lord. Because when Jesus said, “Be on the alert,” what He meant was, “I’ll be seeing you.”

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Why don’t YOU give up?

No one is born a published author.

I’ll wait while you slip back into your chair.

Brace yourself, because I’m going to rephrase it: Every published author was unpublished at one time. So how did they eventually get published? What do you think were the common denominators for them?

As an unpublished writer, I’m working hard to study the craft, sharpen my writing skills, and build my “networking” muscles. I’m investing in my writing by entering contests, hiring a freelance editor to edit my just finished book, driving an hour to the closest ACFW chapter, going to conference, buying books, etc…. Why do I do all of this? Because it’s part of the journey.

And there is one thing I know with absolute certainty:  I’ll never be published if I give up.

Let me check my calendar/planner…just a second…nope, no plans to give up penciled in anywhere! Nor will I invest a lot of time and effort in whining about how hard it is or how unfair the process can be or whatever else would make for one whale of a pity party. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with venting and snacking on huge amounts of comfort food, or of crying on a trusted friend’s shoulder. But I don’t think any agent or editor would ever say, “I decided to publish that writer’s book just to shut them up.”

What do YOU plan to do to keep pushing for publication? Share your thoughts, please, because your words may just be the encouragement that another writer is needing. Thanks.

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The Right Source

Have you heard about the young lady who was nervous about an upcoming knee surgery? One day during a slow time at the veterinarian clinic where she worked, she reminded her boss that she’d be off work for a few days while she recovered. The she asked him if he had any advice that might help her heal faster.

He thought for a minute. “Well…get plenty of rest, and don’t lick the incision.”

It really does matter where you go for advice.

Where should a Christian writer go for advice?

It’s hard to overstate the importance of reading good books on writing. Thankfully there are many great books available (comment and leave a suggestion or two). But as useful as books can be, nothing takes the place of spending time with other writers.

American Christian Fiction Writers offers several good opportunities…from a once-a-year national conference to local chapters that meet monthly. There is also the email loop and online courses.

There is nothing better than spending time with people who have “been there and done that.” No one understands the journey better than those who’ve walked, stumbled, crawled, walked, fell, ….you get the point.

Who’s given you the best advice as a writer?

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