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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.


Saturday, April 30, 2011


This past Wednesday was my day to blog about “resurrection.” But no matter how long I sat at my computer, nothing decent seemed to come out. So I closed up shop and decided to wait until Thursday. Surely Thursday I would feel inspired.

Thursday came and went. Nothing. Same with Friday. Nothing. Now it’s Saturday. In desperation I prayed, “Lord, where is my resurrection piece?”

His answer? “Your resurrection is in May.”


“Okay, Lord," I said. You should know more than anyone else, we celebrated Your Son’s resurrection last week. That would be April, not May.”

“Yes, I know," He answered. But your resurrection is in May.”

Now, I’ve always been a fan of a good mystery, but not when it has to do with my life. So I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear me say I wasn’t satisfied with God’s answer. I wanted…no needed…to know more.

“Lord, we’re talking about my life right now, not some fiction book, so I really need to know what the heck is going on in May that would cause You to say that.”

In my mind’s eye I saw Him smile. Not a broad grin, but that quirky little smile He gives me whenever He has something special up His sleeve.

“What?” I asked. “Why are you smiling like that? What's going on in May?”


And that's all He said.

Suddenly my mind started filling with all the happenings of next month: one daughter will be graduating from high school and moving on to college, another daughter will be graduating from college and moving on to the career of her dreams, my only son will be asking his girlfriend of four years to marry him, and I will be on the road to becoming a grandmother…again.

So many old seeds dying. So many new seeds coming to life. And my life will change with each one.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. –John 12:24 NIV

Then the picture became clear: All these seeds of mine were falling to the ground—seeds from my tree of life, seeds that needed to fall away so that they could burrow deep within the richness of God’s soil and become healthy trees of their own, bearing fruit and seeds from which many new trees would come. And with the falling of these seeds came another simple truth: God was clearing my plate so that He and I could write. So that He could resurrect the story He gave me over ten years ago.

It’s hard to let go. To let those seeds fall. But if they’re going to fall to the ground, who better to trust than the LORD Himself, Gardener of Life.

Yup, my resurrection month is May. And though my heart aches for the seeds that are passing on, I rejoice in knowing that another seed will soon be sprouting from my soil: The seed of writing His story.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Present and in Awe

This may sound strange, but I have never liked the traditional Easter call and response of “He is risen, He is risen indeed.”

It took me awhile to figure out why I got uncomfortable every Easter Sunday when the pastor said, “He is risen,” and all around me voices droned, “He is risen indeed.” Finally it occurred to me that this rote response lacks meaning. For me, that is. I know I’m probably in the minority, and I am certainly not advocating the removal of this part of Easter Sunday service. But for me the wonder and awe of the resurrection cannot be expressed in an automatic response.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get annoyed with the Bible for not giving me enough details. Something horrendously interesting will happen, and the scribe gives it one summary verse, and I’m going, “Hey, what happened next?”

Not so with the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I cannot help but be moved by the details of the event. Crowds chanting, a purple robe, a crown of thorns, darkness that came over the land, wine and vinegar, a tomb cut out of rock, spices, sunrise, a man dressed in white with a message for Mary Magdalene. Wow! It’s so much more than words. I can see it in my mind and feel it in my heart.

As writers, it’s our job to never lose our wonder in the world and its Creator, in humankind, in sound and sight, in touch and sent, in love. Anne Lamott puts it like this:

This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of--please forgive me--wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious. Try walking around with a child who's going, "Wow, wow! Look at that dirty dog! Look at that burned-down house! Look at that red sky!" And the child points and you look, and you see, and you start going, "Wow! Look at that huge crazy hedge! Look at that teeny little baby! Look at the scary dark cloud!" I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world--present and in awe.

Why does the account of Christ’s crucifixion have the power to affect us thousands of years after it was written? Because the vivid details make us see it anew every time we read it. The words make us present. And, most importantly, the story of the resurrection cannot fail to draw a completely personal response from our very core—awe.

Evangeline Denmark has storytelling on her heart and in her blood. The daughter of novelist, Donita K. Paul, Evangeline grew up living and breathing good stories. She has co-authored two children’s books, The Dragon and the Turtle (Waterbrook Press, 2010) and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari (Waterbrook Press, 2011) and also writes adult fiction. Evangeline is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, serving as chapter secretary. You can find Evangeline online at and

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When Your Writing Needs Resurrection

We've all been there -- we have written ourselves into a corner and don't know where to go now.

This happened to me on the first book I ever wrote -- I got down to the second to last chapter, and still didn't know whodunnit, or why. No motive, no suspects, no alibi, no idea.

At this point, you can do one of the following:
1. Dump the entire book because it was a stupid idea to think YOU could write a book.
2. Send out a survey to 100 of your closest friends to ask them if they think you could write a book.
3. Read 100 blog posts from published authors who will confirm you couldn't write a book.
4. Read 100 newsletters from multi-published authors who will tell you that even if you did write a book, you wouldn't get it published because it's much too difficult and your skin isn't thick enough and you don't know the right people.
5. Read 100 success stories about published authors who were rejected dozens of times before getting published, then go back to work on your book.

I chose option 5. Okay, first I prayed. I went to my source, the One who gave me the story to begin with. I figured if God wrote the story through me, He knew whodunnit. And okay, I didn't read 100 success stories, but I did read a couple of books on writing mysteries, something I should have done before I ever sat down to write one. Then I went back into my book, set up some red herrings, some clues, some alibis, increased the tension, and WHAM! The killer jumped off the pages at me. The person with the least apparent reason to do it, the person nobody would suspect, but when I wrote in several clues and some hints and innuendoes, WOW! It made sense. And later, when I had several independent readers read my book, they were all satisfied with the ending, and did not suspect the killer.

That's what you want to hear!

So, when your writing needs resurrection, go to the Source -- pray. If you don't have time to pray, you don't have time to write. Then, don't be ashamed to go back to basics. Don't be too proud to learn some more, to ask questions, to ask advice of people in the writing business.

We're all in the same business, the same situation, and we all write for the same reason -- God has given us the story, and if we don't write it, He will find someone who will. So write, pray, resurrect the passion in you for the story. To God be the glory!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Recycle, Reuse, Resurrection

(Well Paula took my idea for a post, sort of. But it’s well worth repeating. Mine is more the resurrection of an idea in general whether it’s a full manuscript like Paula’s, a partially written story, or just a germ of an idea.)

I think we all have story ideas we have started and for one reason or another have abandoned. Whether we became disinterested in the idea, the idea fizzled out, or it had gotten rejected one too many times.

An editor recently mentioned to me she might be in need of historical series ideas and would be interested in seeing what I might have. No guarantees.

If an editor says this, you bet your booty I’m going to send her something as quick as my daughter’s woodpile cat can disappear. He may be big but he is lightening fast. :-)

Starting a series from scratch takes a long time, even to just get the overall idea then each individual novel in the series.

The key words with a time sensitive project are recycle, reuse, and resurrection. Since this editor didn’t need chapter samples from me, just the synopses, the work was cut in half, but still a lot of work. By recycling, reusing, and resurrecting, my work was again cut in half.




And they were off. One I recycled a series idea and tweaked it for this different market. One I reused a single story idea and built on it for the other two stories I wanted to propose in the series. And one, I resurrected a story that had previously been rejected as a single title.

In a short time, I was able to send off three series proposal to this editor. Now I’m waiting to see if she bites on any of them.

What ideas do you have lurking or hiding in a drawer (or computer file) that need a facelift to give them new life? Go mining for gold.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dying to Live

This time of year is bittersweet for me. Over the years, the month of April has brought tests and challenges that were painful and difficult. My emotions remember that traumatic path and want to shy away from the memories. My mind wants to block out the events themselves.

One event happened 19 years ago. I was in the middle of dealing with a family-wide bout of the chicken pox while trying to adjust to a recent move to an apartment with four children ages 9, 6, 2 1/2 and 8 1/2 months. The day after my husband was able to return to work, our 6 year-old son was involved in an accident near the playground of the apartment complex. I remember it vividly. The innocence of the oldest twirling obliviously with a stream of yellow caution tape. The horror of seeing my 6 year-old unconscious on the ground with no one around to help. The frustration of wanting to rush out but concern over leaving the two younger ones in the apartment by themselves. Having to leave my children in the care of a stranger while I went to the hospital.

Several years ago I found myself seeing a Christian counselor trying to understand where “I” had gone. I couldn’t understand why my zest for life had abandoned me. It felt like I had been swallowed by a black hole. I had been enjoying new energy and health after having lost a great deal of weight when my normally optimistic self seemed to ooze out of every pore never to be seen again. If you have never been clinically depressed it is something that is hard to explain. Feeling that you are sitting in a tiny boat in the middle of a vast body of water with no shore in sight and no clue as to where that shore or any safe haven might be.

Even as I remember the pain of my son’s accident and the struggles that followed as he worked to overcome his brain injury, I rejoice that he is now finishing college and has taken the recovery skill of learning to play instruments and turned it into a passion. I marvel at his gift for music and am thrilled that he will graduate next May with a degree in Music Composition.

As for me, I rejoice that God had a way out of the pit that I was in. Thankfully, doctors were able to diagnose the cause of my depression which enabled me to find “me” and to see that there was indeed light and a way back to feeling whole again.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Aside from believing that life’s trials and challenges give us insight that we would never experience otherwise for our writing, they also give us perspective. As important as our writing is to us and even to God, He has a life journey for us. It lasts more than a moment be it of pain or trauma or even joy. Part of that journey is to resurrect those moments and bring something new out of our life.

So, while part of me still doesn’t look forward to the death of anything in my life, I know that it truly isn’t the end but rather the beginning of the life that He has planned. God is faithful to resurrect our dry bones and breath new life into them. (Ezekiel 37:5-6)

Elaine serves as Secretary/Treasurer for Mile High Scribes, the ACFW Southwest Denver chapter now meeting at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch. She is currently working on a series set in the world of professional ice hockey. Elaine and her husband are rejoicing in the thought that 2 out of 3 of their children will graduate from college in 13 months.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Resurrecting that Manuscript

I'm a firm believer that my first two books will publish. Yes, I wrote them years, not months, ago. Yes, I'm a better writer now than then. Yes, they will take a lot of work. But they will resurrect. I know it.

Maybe you have an old manuscript that needs resurrection. Let me tell you what I've learned:
1) It's good for a manuscript to lie in the grave awhile. Even in the grave it changes.
2) Unlike Jesus, sometimes a manuscript resurrects more than once before fully coming to life.
3) Like Jesus, newness of life for the manuscript itself and those who read comes with resurrection.

Let's take my first novel for example. I wrote it from my heart, loved it, won contests with it, rewrote it many times, learned from it. Finally I sensed the Lord telling me it was time to lay it down. Into the grave it went. Waiting was good for it. It needed me to grow up--as a writer and as a person--to do it justice. Before it went to the "grave," I was given some advice about the manuscript I resisted. The advice went with my manuscript to the grave. What I didn't know is that advice was changing the manuscript even as it slept.

Then, one day, someone who loved the manuscript asked me to resurrect it. I poured over it, rewriting the first few chapters to bring it up to my present understanding of craft and my more fully developed voice. Low and behold, I realized the advice I'd buried with the manuscript had been right! I made sweeping changes and took it to a writer's conference where an editor requested a full! Excited, I dug into the rest of the chapters, ready to bring my story to new life. But--you guessed it--things didn't go as I planned. Some of it was my skill level, and some of it was life circumstances. Eventually I had to put it away and take care of the crises at home.

Fast forward a couple of years. It's again been requested that the manuscript be resurrected. I prayed and felt the Lord say it was time to learn a little more, to bring newness of life into my beloved story. On my to-do list is another round of polishing those first chapters so I can take it to someone more advanced than I for advice. I don't know if this will be a final resurrection or just another groaning hinting of the new life it will someday lead.

But I do know resurrection day will come. The Lord planted the faith within my heart to believe it will someday come fully to life and bring new life with it for others.

Until then I wait, in eagerness and expectation.

If you have a manuscript that just won't die, don't be afraid to resurrect it. Each time you pull it from the dark recesses of your computer, look at it with new eyes, revisit past advice, and rewrite with the newness of life that's grown in you since the last time you tackled it!

And wait in expectation. Sunday's on the way!
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