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Welcome to The Inkwell, the blog site of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) of Colorado.

Each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you can find a wide variety of topics and insight
from inspiration to instruction to humor and more!

For detailed information on ACFW, click here to visit their main website.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hope for a New Year



So here we come to the end of 2009. One day left. Then onward into 2010.

Wow! Who would have thought 2010 would come so soon? Thinking back to my childhood, reaching 2010 was as improbable as living next door to the Jetson’s in a floating home, while a robotic maid cooked dinner at the press of a button. But here it is…the future…and I’m still living in a house grounded by a foundation and cooking dinner with my own two hands.

It’s interesting how mankind looks at the future with anticipation and promise. Sure, there’s still a fair share of doomsdayers lurking in the crevices with their movies and books projecting Armageddon in skewed fashion, but overall the New Year is a time when people contemplate their future…with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 says:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future . Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity…”

How cool!

If 2009 was a bit rough around the edges, if you feel tired and worn out by life, if there are parts of your past or present you’re having a hard time dealing with and/or forgiving yourself or others for, remember God promises us plans for hope and a future. A clean slate. A new year. For …as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalms 103:12)…therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

M
ay the LORD give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.* May He richly bless you, lead you, provide for you, pour out His grace upon you, give you peace, and provide for you hope and a future in the coming New Year!


* Genesis 27:28

Monday, December 28, 2009

First Story

About a week ago, my five-year-old wrote his first story—the tragic tale of Yummy the Crab who needed a new home and couldn’t find any food. Talk about tension! My son’s a natural! He dictated the sentences beyond his handwriting ability, illustrated the tale with crayon, and stapled the pages into book form.

But then he insisted on giving his first work of fiction to an eight-year-old friend of the family. I begged, bargained, and fake-cried, but I couldn’t convince my son to let me keep his precious little book. He simply could not understand that while his buddy might appreciate his efforts, I, his mother, would treasure them forever.

To me, his first story was a masterpiece made all the more special because he and I worked on it together.

I confess that lately I’ve been riding the what’s-it-matter-if-no-one-reads-it train with my own fiction. I desperately want to share my words with people. I’m so anxious for their good opinion. And subconsciously I think that if they like me and say I’m a good writer, then I’ll really be something.

But there is Someone else who sees my work and places immeasurable value on it simply because He loves me. And my story is all the more priceless to Him because He helped me form each word. Is He asking me to please, please give my words to Him?

Wow!

Makes me thankful that God uses my five-year-old to teach me lessons rather than the two-by-four I deserve.

If your wondering what I did about my son’s story, I’m happy to say I found a solution. I let my five-year-old give away his very first book, but I pulled his friend’s mom aside. “I want that book,” I told her. “When your little boy is done with it and tosses it aside, please give it back to me.”

She nodded and instructed her son to be careful with the stapled pages. She knew as well as I that worth is measured not by applause, popularity, or material value, but by love.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dream the Impossible Dream

I believe dreams are a necessity to life. They give us hope and direction. Without hope we die inside, and without direction we flail. Don’t be afraid to dream. Big and small, dreams can be achieved by setting goals.

I like to encourage people to set goals for the coming year. Don’t just make a mental list. Write them down and post them where you can see them daily. Your subconscious will work on them even when you’re not aware of it.

So think and pray about what your goals should be for 2010. Then write out three spiritual goals, three family goals, three personal goals, and three professional goals.

3 Keys to Successfully Achieving Goals
1) Make them realistic: Don’t set a goal so unachievable that you give up on it before you start.
2) Make them measurable: Reading more is a good goal, but how will you know if you succeeded? Rather set a number of books or pages you will read weekly/monthly.
3) Make them within your control: Setting a goal that is dependent upon someone else to reach it leaves you helpless.

Stretch yourself with some of your goals. Some goals you’ll want to make very attainable, but set one or two that will stretch you. Don’t be comfortable where you are.

Then trade your goals with a friend or among your critique group or Bible study and pray for each other during the year. Accountability is great to help you reach your goals. Be each other’s cheerleader. Get pompoms if you have to.

I hope you each set some awesome goals to reach your dreams and glorify the Lord.

May you have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aim for the Heart

The most important thing I learned in journalism school was that I did not want to be a journalist. It took me two years of laboring and sweating my way through a master’s degree program to realize that I would not make a good reporter. I did well, academically speaking, but every time I thought of making a living “reporting the facts” my heart would hang heavy. It wasn’t long before I discovered that I am too empathetic to be a journalist. Too emotionally involved in what is happening around me. I struggle with being objective, especially in regard to my faith. And I like to embellish the details. (Facts without flair are so boring.)

So, after I graduated with my master’s degree in journalism, I decided to start writing fiction. I have to admit, I was a little perturbed that I had done all that work for nothing, but God uses every experience in our lives to shape us and teach us, doesn’t he? Journalism school was no exception for me. While many of the classes focused on the inverted pyramid style (answering the questions who, what, when, where, why and how), objective reporting, ethics, and law, one class I took has impacted the way I write fiction. In this class we read a book called “Aim for the Heart” by Al Tompkins. While the book was written for newsroom reporters, I took some very critical elements from it that I apply to my fiction writing. I wanted to share them with you:

- “You reach the viewer’s [reader’s] heart by sneaking up on it. Great writers embrace the element of surprise.”
- “Surprises make viewers [readers] feel something.”
- “What you say and show at the end of the story is often what lingers in a viewer’s [reader’s] heart.”
- “Characters are usually people, but they can be objects such as an old church, an overgrown cemetery, a pristine lake, or a dying swan. Characters are the mechanism we use to deliver information and tell the story. After all, people remember what they feel longer than what they know.”
- “Sweat the lead. The first sentence of your story sets the main conflict in motion.”
- “Your first sentence creates the viewer’s [reader’s] first impression of the story. The lead should not overwhelm; it need not be the peak action of the story. But it should cast a wide net that captures as many viewers [readers] as possible.”
- “Precision writers use active verbs.”
- “Go on a ‘search and destroy mission’ for verbs that end in ‘ing.’”
- “When writers lean on worn-out adjective clichés to describe a scene, the viewer [reader] gets the sense that this is not a unique or singularly important story.”

Well, there it is. Just some of the wisdom I gained during my detour in journalism school. What about you? What fiction writing wisdom did you gain during a detour in your life?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Season to Share

All around us we see ads for things to buy, places to spend, reasons to give gifts. Every family has its own traditions for this Christmas season, and each new generation will develop its own special blend of traditions and ways to celebrate.

My family is spread all over Canada, and my husband's family is spread all over the States. A few years ago, we made the decision we would provide support to worthwhile causes instead of mailing gifts hither and yon. At the time, it wasn't a popular decision to make, at least not in my family, where if you can see the tree, there aren't enough presents.

Each year since then, instead of getting caught in the rush to shop and mail, we have relaxed and enjoyed the season, carefully selecting which causes to send extra money to. This year we were able to send six solar-powered radios to communities in Venezuela, eight shoeboxes to Mexico, three gift packages to children with a parent in prison in this country, and extra money to a Bible School and Mission in India. The money we sent out will reach many more people than the same money spent on presents.

This is truly a season to share, not just in gifts or charitable giving, but in time, compassion, encouragement, and hope. The God we serve is mighty to save, slow to anger, quick to forgive, and has shared a most precious part of Himself with us -- His Son.

As we contemplate this season and the Reason for it, please take some time to share yourself with those around you. Sometimes the best gift can be a phone call to someone you haven't talked to in a long time, a plateful of cookies for the cranky neighbor who always shouts at your kids, a visit to a local homeless shelter to just sit and talk with the lonely and broken.

All around us, people are looking for a reason to want to go on for another day. Share your Reason for the Season with them, boldly, in love, and watch their lives change. I recently had a conversation with a lady at Walmart who had a t-shirt she was buying that said Merry Christmas on it. I commented it was nice to find shirts to buy that weren't afraid to mention the name of Jesus. We chatted for about fifteen minutes, and I know we were both blessed to meet another believer in a world where the name of Christ is whispered.

I would love to hear from each of you as you seek ways to share your hope with others this season. If God hadn't been willing to share His Hope with us, we would still be lost.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Celebrating Traditions and Seeing Life Anew

Last month, I shared about the thankful season and one of the main reasons I'm extra thankful this year. Not only do we have the many blessings of family, friends and the opportunity to share God's light to others we meet, but we also have the gifts that God has given us so we can touch lives with our talents too.

For years, I never thought my love of children or my skills with caring for them meant much more than the fact that I enjoy them. That is...until I had a child of my own. :)

It's amazing how often the years of caring for other children gave me the skills I now use on an almost daily basis. That, along with a super-duper dose of patience and love have kept me going with my daughter even when I feel like I'm near exhaustion. It's those times when I rely on God's strength to keep me going. I know I'd never make it on my own strength. There simply isn't enough of that to last.

One of the best aspects of this Christmas season is having the opportunity to revisit all the wonder and joy of Christmas through the eyes of my daughter. Far too often, we get lost in the hustle and bustle or the hum-drum of repetitive traditions year after year. Seeing a child discover everything for the first time brings all the excitement back once more and even introduces a whole new perspective on certain aspects.

Traditions are explored on a whole different level, the hum-drum becomes woo-hoo as even the most mundane tasks are given a new dimension. This is only the beginning. There are many more years of enjoying a new lease on life as we celebrate the seasons with our daughter, making new traditions and continuing a few old ones.

So, this Christmas, take the challenge to see even just one tradition or aspect of the season through new eyes. You might just be amazed at the difference it makes in your life.



Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart. They have 1 daughter and a border collie. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing, is a columnist for the ACFW e-zine and writes other articles as well. Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Celebrating Gifts

In the last two days, I have attended Christmas parties for two Christian writers’ groups. A couple weeks ago, I attended a celebration party for a secular writing group. Today I am thinking about the blessings of writing for the Lord. One of the greatest blessings is the people He has brought into my life as I write. The people at the secular party are nice and there was lots of laughter at the party. But I never heard anyone’s heart during that time. No one asked what was on my heart. At the last two parties, there were very nice people and lots of laughter. But at both these parties, I heard people talk about what was on their hearts. Several people asked what was on my heart. This month we are celebrating many gifts, especially the gift of God’s Son. In addition to His Son, God has blessed me with a gift of writing to glorify Him, but He knows I can’t do that alone. He knows I need someone who understands the struggles of writing and who care about what is in my heart. I am very thankful for the gracious and wonderful gift of writing brothers and sisters who care what is in each others’ hearts.

Friday, December 4, 2009

NaNoWriMo recap

Well, November is over. Can you believe we're only three weeks from Christmas? Yikes! How does the year go by so quickly?

NaNoWriMo 2009 is history. . . . Along with my own major shortfall of words. However, I'm that much farther along in this wip, so not all was lost.

Congratulations to all those who finished with 50,000 words. I know how incredible that feels. Even if they aren't all "good" words. That's okay, too.

I learned some things about my writing last month. The main thing is that I either have to dive into a wip with very little pre-planning or a complete detailed plan. There's no middle of the road for me.

Recently I took a little quiz to determine left brain vs. right brain, and which is more dominant. (Can't remember where/why I found this quiz, though.) It explained so much about me and how I approach every area of life: I am over 90% left-brained.

Now that won't come as a shock to those who know me, but it sure made me understand the dichotomy that is me. And I'm learning to accept it and I'm working to find ways to write that work for me.

What have you learned through your experience with NaNoWriMo this year? I know many of our ACFW Colorado members were participants. Please leave a comment with your answers.



Marjorie Vawter is a freelance editor and writer, who loves to encourage others to Christlikeness. She currently serves as ACFW Colorado Area Coordinator.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hope to see you on Friday or Saturday!

Just a quick reminder that THIS Friday and Saturday is HIS Writer's big Used Book and Media Sale and Author Book Signing. That's Friday the 4th and Saturday the 5th of December. Though the temperature outside is predicted to be "frightful," the warmth of friends, good coffee, and books will be "delightful." (Sorry, one of my favorite winter songs plays through my head as I type this with the snow falling outside my window and temperatures lower than they've been this year!)

I talked tochairman extraordinaire of the Used Book and Media sale, Niki Nowell, last night. Donations have been generous, and the sale has much to offer. We have lots of Christian fiction, but we also have non-fiction, DVD's, CD's and VHS. For you writers out there, we have several writer's conferences on tape and MP3. We even have children's movies and books. So stop by, chat with us over a cup of Joe, pick out a few things, and help start a scholarship fund for HIS Writer's members!

We're also excited about our 16 ACFW authors who will be signing their latest releases. (Click over to our events page for specific signing times and listing of authors and books.) Our authors love to chat with readers, and we're looking forward to good fellowship. While you're there, pick up a signed copy of a book for a loved one. What better gift than a personalized book that shares the love of Jesus? So come and see us. We're going to have a blast and want to see YOU there!

Join us at Daz Bog Coffee, 1050 104th Avenue, Northglenn, CO from 9 - 3 each day. (Daz Bog is located just west of I-25 and 104th ave. Take 104th west past Huron. The next left is Croke. Daz Bog is on the corner of Croke and 104th Ave.)

A writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus. Paula serves as president of HIS Writers, the north Denver chapter of ACFW, and enjoys leading a Bible study group for high school girls. Her writing appears in magazines, book compilations, and devotionals. Most recently she’s written curriculum for David C. Cook publishing. Her devotional website, Soul Scents, offers a free weekly devotional. A devoted Pride and Prejudice fan, Paula loves good conversation, peppermint ice cream, and walking barefoot. Her greatest desire is to be close enough to Jesus to live His fragrance.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Fishing for Word Pictures

Recently a sweet but slightly delusional friend of mine suggested that I teach a workshop on word pictures. I laughed. She said she was serious. I laughed like a talk show host with a dud guest.

“I don’t really know how I come up with word pictures,” I told her. “How could I possibly teach someone else what I don’t know myself?”

But in the following weeks the notion kept surfacing. I tried to reel in the flopping idea only to lose it once again to the depths of my murky subconscious.

Finally, when I’d given up fishing for inspiration, it landed in my boat all shiny and slick. The only problem? Well, it was a Minnow of an idea. Not some big, impressive Marlin leaping from the ocean with power and grace.

With a smirk, I told my friend I’d discovered the evolution of my word pictures.

“Great,” she said, “I’ll get on the phone and set up a workshop.”

I snickered. “Don’t you want to hear my brilliant idea first?”

“Sure!”

“Okay.” I gave her a classic you-asked-for-it grimace. “You think about the object, emotion, or action you want to describe. You get it squarely in your head.”

“Uh huh.”

“The first thing that comes into your mind is a cliché.”

“Uh huh.”

“Don’t use that.”

At this point I deserved a smack, but my friend—who is Wal-Mart truck loads nicer than me—simply said, “You’re going to have to come up with a little more than that.”

Awhile later, we went out to dinner and she helped me brainstorm my “workshop.” It’s still in progress. It doesn’t even get to wear a “Coming Soon” banner. But, eventually, I hope to have something to share—maybe on the order of a rainbow trout—a teaching model that’s interesting, digestible, and beneficial.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

This month I decided to do NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, my life decided to do something else. So much for progress. *sigh* Because of these turn of events, I’m now officially pegging the end of my NaNoWriMo days as “Black Friday.”

The phrase “Black …” was originally associated with catastrophic events, such as the stock market crash of 1929 (Black Tuesday) and the great financial crisis of 1869 (Black Friday). The first use of “Black Friday” in retail terms occurred in 1966, when the Philadelphia police department dealt with a mad rush of shoppers and traffic in Center City (downtown) the day after Thanksgiving. However, the term didn’t catch on nationwide unit 1975 when retail madness spread throughout the country, causing several well-known newspapers to coin the day “Black Friday;” thus, the tradition began.

So what does all this have to do with NaNoWriMo and my writing? Nothing, really. Except, in order to make my 50,000 November word goal, I would have to type as quickly and madly over the next few days as shoppers shop on Black Friday. And that, my fellow writers, just ain’t gonna happen.

I have given myself grace, however. I made it to approximately 20% of my writing goal. As far as shopping? I’m at 0%. One Black Friday is all I can handle for now.



(If you have a “Black Friday” experience to share—whether it be writing or shopping—I’d love to hear about it.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Forgetful Things

This has been a crazy month. I've been participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For anyone who might not know what that is, it is where you go crazy for a month with a purpose. You lock your I.E. (Internal Editor) in the basement, even if you don't have one. If necessary, use Duct tape. Then you write 50K words as fast as you can and hope you hit that words count before running out of the days in November. They don't have to be good words, just words. You have to be highly focused to reach that goal. Well, at least I have to be highly focused.

So I've been looking at my calendar and reminding myself that I was up to blog on the 23rd. I even thought about it that morning. But my focus was centered on NaNoWriMo and my words count (I was behind and trying to catch up), and so I spaced it.

It can be like that with God too. We get so busy with all the things going on in life that we space God. We are so focused on the task at hand or the current crisis or whatever else is swirling around us that we forget to look to God.

I'm reading a book by Max Lucado called Facing Your Giants. In there he talks about David. How when David focused on God, it didn't matter how big his problem was or how big Goliath was, he knew God was bigger. As long as his gaze was on the Lord, there was no giant too big. But when he took his eyes off of God, even a munchkin was too much to handle.

Often we don't look to God when there is a munchkin standing in front of us because we think it is just a small problem and we can handle it. But God wants to help us handle all our problem, big or small. He also wants to share in our joys and triumphs.

So during this busy season of the year don't forget God.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fear Not

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman…”
A few days ago, as I was studying Genesis 3:15a, (NASB) and I realized God decreed there will be and enmity – antagonism and hostility – between me and Satan. He didn’t decree fear. Fear is a product of Satan. This week I started a new project with my writing and I am terrified because it is one that puts me in a position of great vulnerability. It has taken me weeks to start because of my fear, but I was reminded in this verse fear doesn’t come from the Lord. My gift as a writer comes from the Lord and as long as I am writing for Him, I have no reason to fear. It really doesn’t matter who likes or approves of my words, as long as I am writing what He wants me to write. So I challenge you, my fellow writers, to remember for Whom we are writing and not to allow our fear to slow us down.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On the Trampoline

First of all, let me admit this -- I have never actually jumped on a trampoline. But, I have seen people doing it, and I have heard them talk about it. And, I consider myself to be highly observant and a great listener.

Jumping on a trampoline looks like a lot of work, a lot of excitement, and a whole bunch of pain.

Face it, you have to climb up there and get the momentum going to get the jumping started. And, as your feet leave the surface and you soar up, up in the air, reports are that you feel like you are being propelled into space. And, of course, if you aren't careful, and you hit those nasty metal springs on the edge, or miss the edge at all and hit the ground, well -- you know that hurts. And, even if you do manage to land on that rubber surface, you still need to pump those legs, flex those muscles, and work to get back up in the air again.

So, what does this have to do with writing and the writing journey?

I have talked to a number of writers these last few weeks, and the general consensus is that this writing life is tough. You have to have faith in the calling God has placed on your life to even consider putting pen to paper, in a literal or figurative manner. You have to be able coordinate everything else that is going on in your life to make time and energy to take on just one more thing like writing.

That's like climbing up on this flimsy rubber surface for the very first time. You don't know for sure you are going to like writing. You don't know you are going to be any good. And, you don't know but that everyone is going to end up laughing at you as you make a fool of yourself.

And, once you do get started with the writing process, oh, the ups and downs. Up, up -- you managed to string together three logical sentences. Down, down, your critique group hates it. Up, up -- you're going to a conference. Down, down -- you have so much to learn. Up, up -- you've finished the book. Down, down -- no one is looking for this genre. Up, up -- you send it off. Down, down -- now what?

You get the idea. Every step of this journey is like a trampoline ride. And, what if you miss the mat on the way back down -- you get a rejection? Rejections hurt. They can crush your spirit. They can undermine your faith in your calling, and cause you to question whether you really heard God or not.

So, what to do? Get back up on the trampoline. Learn from your mistakes. What can you do differently so that doesn't happen again? And, if it does happen, how can you learn to fall so you don't get hurt so badly? How do you get over the fear of getting hurt? How do you get past this down time?

You need to start writing. Immediately. Like, right now. Write right now. Start with plotting the book that's been swimming around your head. Do some goal-motivation-conflict charts of your characters. Do some research. Write with a pen -- it stimulates different areas of your brain.

And, spend some time in prayer, some time with the Lord. Ask Him to confirm His calling in your life. Call a friend who supports your writing. Go back and read a good review of your book, an email from someone who read it and said they couldn't put it down.

Yes, this writing life may be like jumping on the trampoline, but here's the important thing about trampoline jumping -- without the downs, there wouldn't be any ups. You need the downs to build the momentum to carry you up, up, up again.




Monday, November 16, 2009

The Thankful Season

Well, the Thanksgiving season is upon us, and while it's not yet the week of that special day, my thoughts are still turning to the many things in my life for which I'm thankful.

I am currently participating in a Beth Moore Bible Study on the Fruits of the Spirit, and this past week, the focus was on faith and how it fights for us when we're getting attacked. One of the key points was to get down on our knees and give thanks for everything God has done for us and what He's going to do. He is faithful, has always been there, and He always will be there. We don't have any reason to doubt that...even though we do when times get tough.

Giving thanks is the same as claiming the truth that God is right there with us, fighting when things seem like they're at their worst. And it's amazing when we take the time to give thanks for all that we have, just how easily our current situations seem to fade into the background and become less of hindrance. We take our eyes off the temporary struggle and focus more on the eventual outcome we know will happen.

This week, I'm realizing that in a very personal way. My little daughter is teething again with more than 1 of her top teeth, and she's leaking out of every available hole in her face. :) Poor little tyke also has a sore throat, so coughing and even crying isn't comfortable at all. She's quite the trooper though, despite the lack of sleep and the constant runny nose. It's exhausting both of us, and as much as my husband would love to help, my daughter won't have anyone but me.

How easy it would be to allow the exhaustion to take control, but instead, I'm giving thanks that God has provided for me to be home with my little girl when she needs me, and that we can nap together when she does succumb to the much-needed rest and sleep. I'm thankful this is only temporary, and that it isn't anything worse. And I'm thankful for a supportive husband, who is doing what he can to help when he's home. But most of all, I'm thankful for the blessing of a little girl who is still a bright spot in my life, and whose little smile amidst bleary eyes and red nose makes the lack of sleep pale in comparison to the love I feel for her.

So, remember when you're going through those difficult times, that giving thanks for what you have and for God being right there with you to fight for you and help you through it, well it's usually the best defense you have.




Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author in beautiful Colorado Springs. They celebrated the birth of their first child in April and have a vivacious puppy named Roxie, a Border Collie/Flat-Haired Retriever mix. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing. Other credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to the books: 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage and Grit for the Oyster.

Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Signing and Used Book and Media Sale


Join HIS Writers and 15 wonderful ACFW authors on December 4th and 5th at Daz Bog Coffee, 1050 104th Avenue, Northglenn.





Enjoy this double event that is all about the books you love! Shop for the holidays by buying a signed book from one of our authors (schedule below), or stock up on your favorite books or other media for killer prices at our Used Media Sale.
(Profits will be applied toward scholarships for writers!)

Friday December 4

9 - 11 am: Women's Fiction

Megan DiMaria and Alison Strobel Morrow

Megan DiMaria is the author of Search
ing for Spice and Out of Her Hands, both of which are set in the Denver area. An energetic speaker, she enjoys encouraging women to embrace life’s demands and delights. She also serves writers as the assistant director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild Rocky Mountain Region. Before penning her first novel she worked as a radio and television reporter and wrote for newspapers and magazines.

Alison Stro
bel established herself as a powerful voice in Christian fiction with the release of "Worlds Collide" in 2005. Her second release, "Violette Between" was a Rita Award nominee two years later. Both books have received accolades from reviewers and readers. Alison Strobel combines thought-provoking themes and relatable characters to create un-put-downable contemporary fiction.


When they're little, our kids are on our feet. When they're big, they're on our hearts. How will Linda manage when she realizes it's all out of her hands?

What if you had the chance to relive your life with a loved one you'd lost--but had to give up your future to do it?








11 am - 1 pm: Romance


Kathleen Kovach and Amber Stockto
n

Kathleen E. Kovach
is an award winning author and the Rocky Mountain Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Her first published novella, Merely Players, landed her on Heart Song Presents' list of favorite authors and is included in the anthology, Florida Weddings. Kathy also placed in the Faith, Hope, and Love Inspirational Reader's contest. She has two sons, five grandchildren and one on the way. She loves writing spiritual truth . . . with a giggle.

An author and Website designer, Amber Stockton lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Stockton. They delight in their baby daughter, Victoria, and chase after their border collie. Amber's eight Christian romance novels show how God can sustain his people through difficult experiences. She enjoys weaving her stories into an historical backdrop.



Romance sings as two people learn to forgive with the help of a melodious alpaca.




Journey back to Colonial Delaware, where love blossoms with the dawning of a new nation.




1 - 3 pm: Fantasy/Speculative/Supernatural


Donita K.
Paul, Stuart Stockton, and Nancy Wentz

Donita K. Paul crafts her award-winning fantasy stories from a Hobbit Hole in the shadow of Pike's Peak. She retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored--and thus was born several romance novels and the popular Dragon Keeper Chronicles. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year contest and were nominated for the coveted Christy award.

Stuart Vaughn Stockton is a website designer by day and a science fiction author by night. He has been building the mythos of Galactic Lore and Sauria for twenty years. Stuart lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Tiffany, and their baby daughter. Stuart is the basis for "S-Man," a science fiction novelist character in the popular Kanner Lake novel series by Brandilyn Collins.

Born and raised in Colorado, award-winning author Nancy Wentz graduated from the University of Colorado. Two of her short stories were winners in the National Writers Association Short Story Contests. Nancy has a great love for history and English literature, and, in their pursuit, found her creative outlet by incorporating aspects of both into her writing. Her voice is unique in that it reflects a classic nuance not typically seen in modern writing.

Tipper, a young emerlindian, soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own?


On an alien w
orld on the verge of war, one young warrior discovers the weapon that can save his Empire, but may also doom his world.

A young prophet battles a powerful mafia family with a generational curse of demon possession dating back to the 16th century . As he navigates the spiritual world and the streets of Depression-era Colorado, he has only one weapon.

Saturday December 5


9 - 11 am: Nonfiction


Candee Fick, Patrick and Donna Schlachter,
and Kimberly Woodhouse


As the wife of a high school football coach,
Candee Fick has climbed metal bleachers in all
kinds of weather (with three children in tow) to witness firsthand the battle for field position and points. In addition to discovering the benefits of a comfortable stadium chair, she has seen many lessons about life illustrated on the playing field.

Patrick and Donna
Schlachter believe the best way to strengthen your faith is to life it out. As such they are active in various ministries to the community. They've written Quiet Moments Alone with God, 100 Answers to 100 Questions about Loving Your Husband, and Living By Faith.

Kimberly Woodhouse's enthusiasm and positive outlook on difficult circumstances makes her a sought after speaker around the country, and a well-loved author. Her family's story has been on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, but when they were chosen for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, they were catapulted further into the public eye inspiring many with their perseverance and faith. Their story, Welcome Home: Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy, offers hope and triumph.

Explore what life and football have in common through the eyes of one who has to -- er, gets to -- watch a lot of games. For football lovers and those that love them.


Explore and expand the depths of relationship with God as you step into the peace of His presence

It can be “Pure Joy” to be a parent. But, how does joy evolve out of devastating reality? Journey with the Woodhouse family as they cope with rare medical disorder, mountains of bills, and loss of their home in this poignant, heart-warming story.

11 am - 1 pm: Historical, Military and Political Sagas

Mike Angley, Erin Rainwater, Steve Wright

Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Christian mystery/thriller series, The Child Finder Trilogy. When his debut novel, Child Finder, launched in June 2009, the Library Journal placed it on its Summer Reads List and called it, “a compelling debut novel,” and “a real find.” Child Finder also won the 2009 Silver Medal for fiction from Military Writers Society of America. A retired Air Force Colonel and Special Agent, Mike draws upon his 25-year career as inspiration for his writing.

Erin Rainwater is a nurse and author who writes wholesome historical stories that stretch beyond the confines of formula Romance. Her novel True Colors (set in the civil war era) was awarded the 2009 Gold Medal for Historical Fiction by the Military Writers Society of America, and 1st Place in Historical Fiction by Branson Stars & Flags Book Awards. The Arrow That Flieth By Day is set in post-Civil War Colorado. As a former Army nurse, Erin was privileged to care for the bodies and spirits of soldiers and veterans, including repatriated POWs and MIAs. Her military experience has helped in writing her novels.

Stephen E. Wright is a fanatical off-roader and high-power rifle competitor living in Colorado. He has written for both television and film and now enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains with his wife and two daughters. As both a Christian and a political junkie he finds the current divisiveness in the American political landscape fascinating, and it's from this rift he drew the inspiration to write his latest novel, Off Road.

When Air Force Special Agent Patrick S. O’Donnell discovers he has a psychic ability f or finding missing children, he’s drawn into a Top Secret government program that exploits his skills. But this secret community has an even darker underbelly, and when those close to him die mysteriously, his own family gets trapped in a twisted web of government intrigue.

Her war is not with enemy soldiers but with battles of the heart and will. Only truth can conquer this type of foe. And truth is in short supply.

Off-Road is a uniquely American novel about God, guns, big trucks ... and the Archer family, caught in the middle of the new civil war of red state vs. blue state. It's bad enough camping with your"redneck" family, but what's up with the guns?


1-3 pm: Romance

Mary Davis and Debra Ullrick

Award winning author Mary Davis has published over a dozen books, including Newlywed Games (a Crossings Book Club alternate feature selection), The Captain’s Wife (a Readers Favorite 2009), Reckless Rogue (2009 ACFW Book of the Year finalist), and Love Notes (2008 ACFW Book of the Year 1st place historical novella). She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and enjoys teaching writing at schools and writer's groups. An avid crafter, Mary lives in Colorado with her husband of over 25 years, her three grown children, and a zoo of pets.

After thirty-five years of marriage to her real-life hero, Debra Ullrick still feels like a newlywed. An award winning author of Christian romance, she loves to weave humor, real-life drama, and inspiration into her stories, helping her readers find hope in a chaotic world. Debra, her husband, and their daughter worked on ranches for over twenty-eight years. Her passions include mud bog racing, monster trucks, classic cars, and watching Jane Austen movies.

In the mist of Washington's cascading waters, three young women dream of love. Can trust be restored and dreams fulfilled so that love can move into these women's lives?
Due to a devastating past and present, Olivia Roseman no longer believes in a loving God. When she's hired to airbrush paint Erik Cole's monster truck, she's determined to resist her handsome employer's charms and his God, but Erik doesn't make either one easy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Writer

Like many of you I've joined the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel during November.

I did this last year, and hardly anyone I knew was doing it. This year, all but one of my nine-member face-to-face critique group have signed up and are writing away. And many more on the Colorado loop have joined the challenge as well. (I still haven't added everyone to my buddy list; I will!)

Then I started with a premise and a very basic knowledge of my main characters (I knew their names and one characteristic/fact about them), and I knew who the villain (murderer) was and his motive. Other than that, it was total seat-of-the-pants. This year, I have well-developed main characters and villain, thanks to Jeff Gerke's Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist. And I have a three-page synopsis outlining the plot.

Last year, I wrote every weekday, mostly meeting my goal of 3000 words per day. I took weekends off. This year so far, I've written two days for a grand total of just less than 5000 words. Sigh. Most of it is timing. Before I committed to NaNoWriMo, I took on several editing projects that were supposed to be done earlier this week. For various reasons, I'm still working on two big ones, with extended deadlines. And that has me backed up into other originally well-spaced deadlines. So . . . already I'm struggling.

When I bogged down last year in the middle weeks of writing, I took an entire day just to write. It worked well: hubby was working in Mesa, AZ; our son who lives at home was away that day and evening; and our daughter was living/working in London, England. No distractions. And I wrote myself through the slump and into the final third of the book where it flowed easily to the end. This year, I'm hoping to schedule at least three of those days . . . just not sure when yet.

It can be done. The Lord urged me into this at the last minute last year, and He enabled to meet that seemingly impossible goal. Sensing the Lord's nudging again this year, I signed up a little earlier, got my mind more organized, and had great hopes for accomplishing this goal again. It didn't seem so impossible this year. But guess what? Here I am on November 6, wondering how I'm going to hit 10,000 words, let alone over 50,000!

And this morning in my quiet time, it hit me that once again I've set out to meet a goal in my own strength. But, thankfully, this time I realized it much sooner than I have done in similar situations in the past. I cannot do anything without Christ. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So . . . with God's help, I'm going to relax. My editing schedule changes are not a surprise to Him. He knew when He nudged me into this that I would be facing different challenges. He knows this book is way over my head and abilities to write. That's the way He planned it. And it won't be me who accomplishes the goal to get this rough draft written this month. It will be Christ who does that, through me.


Marjorie Vawter, the ACFW Colorado Area Coordinator, is a freelance editor and writer.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Love You, You Love Me

You know the look. You're jabbering happily along to a non-writer type and suddenly she goes into zombie mode. Her eyes glaze over, face becomes expressionless, and she starts edging away.

You should have known she wouldn't care about every minutia in the development of the interior journey of your favorite movie character . . . or of your struggles with plot development, or even your angst about the writing journey. But you went off, talking about your passions, and in that moment your best friend would have preferred Barney to your company (even though he is big, purple, sappy, and sings irritating songs).

It used to really hurt my feelings. I mean I love my friend, she loves me, and I thought we were a happy family. So why doesn't she care about what I care about?

I even got this kind of stuff from my family. I mean why didn't the kids what to hear me read the next chapter of my WIP? And why hasn't my husband read my novels? Sure he prefers football to chick flicks and biographies to romances, but shouldn't he care that my hero and heroine finally found their way past all the obstacles?

And so what if I'm sobbing at the computer? Does it really matter that the kid who got nailed by a speeding car exists only in my imagination? He's in a coma for heavens sake! Shouldn't I get a little sympathy?

Thankfully the writer's journey has taught me a few things about relationship over the last eight years. First, I now know my friends and family really can love me to pieces even if they don't want to read my latest manuscript or have a philosophical discussion about why a character responds to life as he does.

Non-writer types just don't have the capacity for all this. They love me, not my world, and want the bottom line. Am I okay? Did I sell something? Get a good (or bad) review? They care how I'm managing this crazy world called a writer's journey even though they don't want to know many details about what that looks like.

Another thing I've learned is there are strange types who don't hear voices in their heads. They never discover a whole story line in the way the gal scanning their groceries glimpses discreetly over her shoulder at the buff guy moping aisle 4. And it really does take massive amounts of effort for them to relate to those of us who do.

My husband may not read every chapter I write, but he has to put up with my brooding as I'm discovering a new character or waiting for that rejection letter or fighting writer's block. And my kids my not want to hear about what I write, but they believe I'm a writer even when I don't. Maybe all that pounding of the keyboard convinced them something real is going on and they believe it even on the days I don't.

And my friends? They give me wide berth when I'm under a deadline. Despite my neglect they believe that I really do still love them and will come back to the real world when I wrap up the one I'm creating. Until then they wait patiently for me to return to them.

The other really important thing I've learned is I have a great need for people who DO hear voices. Some of my happiest, safest places are wherever writers gather. They get me. They understand my angst. They, too, wonder about interior motivates and strange plot twists. And it's probably 4 a.m. before their eyes start to glaze over when I talk about such things.

See, while we need those weird creatures who live firmly grounded in reality, we also need a place where we make sense to our fellow sojourners.

So, my dear friends who hear voices, be patient with the non-writers in your life. Save most of that word count about the writing world for your writing buddies. Take time to develop healthy relationships in your writing community.

And the next time you go to crit group or your local ACFW chapter meeting, greet those buddies with a great big hug and a kiss from you to them.

And they'll say they love you, too.


A writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her devotional website, Soul Scents, offers a free weekly devotional and you can visit her blog at GraceReign. Paula serves as president of HIS Writers. A devoted Pride and Prejudice fan, she loves good conversation, peppermint ice cream, and walking barefoot. Her greatest desire is to be close enough to Jesus to live His fragrance.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How Big Is Your Goldfish Bowl?


Funny thing about goldfish. They only grow to the size of their bowl. At least, that's what I've heard. I'm not a fish person.

You can feed them Ben & Jerry's Double Chocolate Gummy Worm ice cream, and they still won't outgrow their bowl. Why? I don't know. This isn't an article about fish.

It's an article about writing. And more specifically, your writing, and your place in the writing world.

Are you content to call your writing a hobby? If so, then that's fine. You will be very happy in your bowl with plenty of room to swim. But if you want to bust out of that bowl, there are steps to take, and they don't involve eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream, with or without worms.

First, you must start calling yourself an author. Seems a pretty simple step, but you'd be surprised at how hard that is for some people. Do you write? Anything? For publication, hopefully, someday? Then you're an author.

Second, treat it as a job. No, you can't write only when the muse hits you if you are an author. Set a time and place to do your job. If you can only manage an hour on Saturdays at the local McDonalds while your kids are in McPlayland, that's fine. But stick to it. That's your part-time writing job. I suggest clocking in and out as you would any job. You can do that in a notebook or you can create a spreadsheet. I have directions on how to set up your own on my blog.

Third, network. No, this doesn't mean spending all your time on Facebook. Um. . .don't go looking at my profile. By network, I mean meet people who can further your career. Go to conferences to talk to editors and agents. Join ACFW and other writing organizations. Talk to successful authors to see how they got as far as they did.

Hobbies are fine. And if you're content with writing an article here, a devotion there, playing with your novel, no one is saying that's wrong. But if you feel deep down into your soul that this could be a career for you, start calling yourself an author.

Learn. Grow. Leap out of that bowl!

***
Kathleen E. Kovach is the ACFW Rocky Mountain Zone Director and has published four books with two more contracted. For tips on organization, go to http://www.kathleenekovach.blogspot.com/ and find "Organize Yourself as a Writer" in the label section.

Picture above is attributed to
http://www.flickr.com/photos/anothersarah/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NaNoWhatO?


The first time I heard of NaNoWriMo I thought, what in the world is that? So I asked a friend who told me it stood for National November Writing Month. My response was, hmmm…a month dedicated to writing. Sounds like a good idea. Yeah. Real good idea.

Guess my kudos to the program should have ended there, because as I continued to converse with this person I discovered NaNoWriMo wasn’t something just placed on the calendar for writers to look at and get all wishy-washy about; it was something they needed to actively participate in. And when I say “actively,” I mean 50,000 words worth of actively. All in one month.

Blobs of sweat converged under my fingernails and hives erupted inside my mouth as my friend asked, “Are you going to participate?”

Participate? Me? Can’t I just circle it on my calendar or something?

Nope. You gotta go all the way, she said. Persevere. Run the race…and all that jazz. It will be fun!

Fun? Since when did writing a 50,000 word novel in one month sound like fun?

Knowing this was beyond my scope, I sighed and walked away feeling defeated.

50,000 words? In one month? Are these people crazy? I kept mulling that last question over and over in my mind until I could only come to one conclusion: yes, they were.

That was two years ago.

Since then I have discovered these crazy people, who sit in front of their computer and hack out a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, actually like doing it. Not only do they like doing it, but they have discovered writing like a madman every day is actually therapeutic. So, being that I could always use some good therapy, this year I’ve decided to take the plunge and sign up for NaNoWriMo.

Thirty days of abandoning my inner editor. Thirty days to come up with 50,000 words. Thirty days to write a novel.

Am I nuts??? Yeah, probably. But at least this time I’m not alone. This time I’m joining a handful of other nuts who are just...like...me.

For more info on NaNoWriMo, or to sign up to be one of the “nuts,” go to http://www.nanowrimo.org.

Monday, October 26, 2009

We Want You!

It’s time once again to search your heart. Prayerfully consider a leadership position in your local chapter.

It’s been a privilege and honor to serve the Colorado Springs chapter. Though I was one of many to help get the Springs chapter going and have served as head of the chapter, it is not “my” chapter. The chapter belongs to all of us. Just as the Denver chapters do not belong to the officers but the whole membership. These chapters are your chapters.

Being an officer is such a great way to give back to your local chapter, to ACFW, and your writing friends. You may think you’re not qualified to be an officer. None of us are perfect, and we have all done some on-the-job learning. And you are not alone, you will have the support and help of the other officers.

So know this, I am praying for YOU! If God is nudging you to run for an office, OBEY! Please don’t let it stop you if someone else is running for that office. If the Lord says run, then run. I believe the Lord has something to teach you whether or not you are elected. Step out of your comfort zone and run. See what the Lord wants to do in your life.

Last year I felt the Lord pressing upon me to run for president of our local chapter again. And then He has spent the better part of this year persuading me to let go. I whined a lot but in obedience, I am not running for an office this year. And I have peace about it.

Nominations for chapter officers will wrap up Nov. 5th and then elections will follow. E-mail Margie Vawter (shevetwrite@pcisys.net) with your nominations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What are you reading?

At our recent chapter meeting, I brought the devotional and shared some thoughts about how God has chosen us to go forth and bear fruit. (John 15:16)

Then I gave each person at the meeting a Bible marker from a lady in Texas who makes these as a ministry. The point was that the most important fruit of our writing ministry is going to be the Word of God that comes through in our writing.

And the most important reference book we can own is our Bible.

Of course, like most reference books, it doesn't do us any good if it sits on the shelf gathering dust. We need to open our reference books, read them, and then apply the information, if we want to get anything out of them.

Our Bible is the same way. If we don't read it, then apply the information found within the covers, we might as well not own one at all.

Reading our Bible should be natural for Christians. And for Christian writers, where for most of us our number one pass-time besides writing is probably reading, the Bible should be our primary source.

However, I am going to confess right now, it's not always where I go for a good read.

As a writer of mysteries and romantic suspense, that's what I like to read.

But, when I consider the Bible, it is full of mysteries and romantic suspense. I mean, the first verse says, "In the beginning God" -- this has been voted one of the Best Opening Lines of any book ever written. I wish I could come up with something that good for one of my mysteries.

And what about all those unanswered questions? Where did God come from? Where did Melchizadekk come from? Where did he go? How about the virgin birth? Not to mention the resurrection. Talk about great plot lines.

And then romantic suspense -- Adam and Eve. What if they hadn't liked each other? Would God find another woman for Adam? Then there was Rahab the harlot. Did she ever get married? How about Solomon. How did he manage all those wives? And Leah -- what was her life really like as the unloved one? The woman at the well -- did she ever get it right.

For those of you who write romances, science fiction, young adult, fantasy, military, westerns -- whatever you write, you can be sure the plot is in the Bible. The characters you wish you'd created are in the Bible.

I encourage you to pick up your Bible this week, just for the love of reading, and ask the Lord to show you a passage you've missed before, or to open your eyes to a new understanding of an old passage.

And then, go forth and bear fruit for our Kind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Linking In with ACFW Colorado

We recently made an announcement on the ACFW Colorado and ACFW Rocky Mountain email loops for those who live in the area and are subscribed to those groups. However, we also want to reach out to anyone and everyone else out there with this opportunity.

For those who aren't aware, we have a unique feature on this web site contained on each of the chapter pages. It's a sidebar on the right made up of nothing but author links to personal web sites, services and blogs. This feature became a reality as a result of discussion last year regarding content on the site. Our local boards decided we wanted a way to connect everyone online who in any way was involved with ACFW Colorado.

So, whether you live in Colorado, reside in the Rocky Mountain Zone, or are a reader of this blog and like to keep up with what's happening with our bunch, we'd love to partner with you in promotion.

Do you have a web site or blog you'd like to advertise? If so, drop by one or all of our chapter pages and follow the instructions to advertise with us. It's only $5.00 per year, a true bargain for the potential exposure and new audience you might reach.

All links and payment must be submitted/received by November 1st. So, come on and link with us!

If you have any questions about this, feel free to leave a comment. I'll be sure to return to respond.

And if you're reading this, leave a comment to let us know what you think of this feature. Would you make use of it? Have you visited the chapter pages in the past and any of the web sites listed in the sidebars? Is there a manner in which they're displayed or featured that you'd like to see done differently to perhaps entice or encourage you to visit the sites or make use of the feature? Let us know. We'd love to hear from you.



Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author in beautiful Colorado Springs. They celebrated the birth of their first child in April and have a vivacious puppy named Roxie, a Border Collie/Flat-Haired Retriever mix. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing. Other credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to the books: 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage and Grit for the Oyster.

Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.
 
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