Just Write

ProfessionalPic1 - Laura ZimmermanBy Laura Zimmerman

Last year I attended the “Write His Answer” Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Although excited to attend, I also had my reservations since I hadn’t published anything traditionally. For months my heart had been heavy at the thought that it might not happen.

My first morning at the conference, I heard a message from a published pastor. He mentioned that after he’d released his first book, he attended a writers’ conference thinking people would line up for his autograph. But they didn’t. He found that he was a tiny fish in a huge sea of authors, and when it came to notoriety, he’d missed the boat.

Then it occurred to him—Maybe publishing that book wasn’t where his worth should reside in the first place.

His words hit home.

Two weeks prior I’d felt God speak to me in prayer. ‘Why do you write? Is it for fame or for Me?’ He had spoken His message to me before the conference, and now He confirmed it. As I sat on that bench and listened to the pastor, I fought back tears of joy and peace. God had spoken to me.

But God’s nudging didn’t end there. I attended a class with a similar theme—then another, and another. God had a message he wanted me to hear.

‘Write for Me, not for them.’

This idea was liberating.

To write God’s words—and not my own—takes away the pressure of having to attain the world’s idea of success. It releases me from the burden that I must see my name displayed in some bookstore window to gain worth. Not to give up those dreams all together, but realizing that the pressure of attaining them belongs to God alone.

Maybe I will see my work traditionally published—maybe not. It’s possible my work will be read by many, or that it’s intended for an audience of One. The important thing is that I write what the Lord has laid on my heart, regardless of fame or fortune.

That’s my job. To seek the Lord, write His message, and share it.

Just write. 


Laura L. Zimmerman resides in Phoenix, AZ and is a homeschooling mom to three beautiful daughters. She just moved there from Pennsylvania. She is thankful for a supportive husband, who is always quick to encourage her love of singing, reading and drinking coffee. Laura writes young adult and middle grade fantasy fiction. You can learn more about her at http://www.lauralzimmerman.com, on Twitter @lauralzimm, and on Facebook. Laura is represented by Cyle Young through Hartline Literary Agency.


Praying for Readers

wessel-HR-8by Cass Wessel

My Canadian friend, Rev. Katherine Burgess, writes the best prayers. Today’s prayer for readers spoke to my writer’s heart. The reason? Readers are among the reasons we do what we do.

Oh yes, we love writing. That flow of ink across parchment, the clicking of the keyboard as words appear magically on the screen in front of us. We simply love to put words down for others to read. The satisfaction that fills us when we complete a project. Even more, we love having our readers respond. Positive responses rock, but negative ones morph into rocks thrown. Not nice . . . besides, good boys and girls play nice, right?

My friend, Katherine, posts a new prayer on Facebook almost every day. I’m grateful for her posts. I pray her prayers, even if I omit stuff because I believe differently. Always, I ask the Lord to change the hearts and lives of those who live contrary to His Word as presented in the New Testament. After all, as another friend’s post read, “forever is a very long time.” So in my mind, I always add a line to her prayers for those who don’t yet know Jesus Christ. I pray they open their hearts to Him, because, eternity is forever. I really, really think withholding the way to heaven isn’t playing nice, so with permission, I’m sharing my friend’s prayer. And that’s my take on writing for today.

A Prayer for Readers
by Rev. Katherine Burgess

I pray, Lord, for readers
For young readers
Who are still mostly
At the stage of picture books
Who tell stories
Instead of reading them
Who like bring cuddled
While they are listening
To a book being read to them
May they always find a thrill
In reading

I pray for those readers
Who have just begun
Chapter books
Books with more
Words than pictures
Who now prefer reading
By themselves
May they still want
To share their books
To talk about what they have read

I pray for adults
Who are often hard-pressed
To find the time to read
In the way they used to
Grant them space
In every day
To spend a few minutes
Or hours
Lost in the world of books

I pray for seniors
Who may be finding it
Difficult to read
Due to failing eyesight
May there always be someone
To read to them
And to spend time with them

Most of all, Lord,
I pray that all who read
Will read your word
So that they will find direction
In a world where
Many are lost


Bio: Cass Wessel is a member of ACFW and ACFW Pennsylvania State Chapter who spends her time reading, writing and critiquing stories to win the heart. A multi-published devotional author, she lives in Tionesta, PA. She’s a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Mark Your Calendar!

CONFERENCE LOGO-1Mark your calendars for the Second Annual Keystone Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference, Saturday, November 5, from 9-5 in Harrisburg. Check back in mid-July for updated information posted under our Conference tab.

We’re excited, because we’ll have a wonderfully inspirational keynote speaker, two agents, two publishers, and hopefully, a couple published authors as workshop speakers, to also take appointments.

Last year, three of our attendees were signed by Hartline Literary Agency as a result of our conference. I’m hoping for much more this year.

So…mark your calendars for Saturday, November 5, Harrisburg, PA. More information coming soon.


Oh, What a Metaphor (or Simile) Can Do

Robin Archibald

Robin Archibald

by Robin Archibald

As a fiction writer, my job is to engage readers and draw them into my stories. Using metaphors and similes helps me because they put two familiar things side by side, thereby heightening readers’ experience or understanding. Click to Tweet #simile #metaphor

The following simile from my novel “Nanie Glatfelter’s Garden” helps readers see a field of daffodils in a new way:

“Each flower poised demurely atop its stem like a lady accepting a compliment on her beauty. With each gust of wind, the heads bobbed as if in lively conversation.”

But metaphor and simile can do even more in our stories.

Using metaphor to add suspense or enhance mood

Romantic suspense writer Mary Stewart creates a wonderfully spooky metaphor by combining a couple of interesting images together:

“Long, transparent drifts of vapor wreathed up from the water and reached slow fingers across the narrow shore toward the trees.”

Stewart also uses metaphor to enhance mood. When the heroine and the man she loves meet in a grand salon after a terrible misunderstanding, her lover’s cold silence convinces the heroine she’s lost his love. To her, the chandelier’s light becomes ice:

“The light of the big chandelier dripped icily from its hundred glittering prisms. It fell coldly on the white shrouds that covered the furniture, and struck back from the pale marble of the fireplace . . .” (both excerpts from Nine Coaches Waiting)

Using metaphor as story symbol

In The Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wallace Stegner opens with 20 year-old Elsa on a train. She makes an interesting observation:

“The wires dipped, lifted, dipped, in swift curves like the flight of a swallow. She felt her stomach dipping and lifting with them.”

Stegner shows the image of the dipping and lifting wires three times in his opening, searing the image into the mind of his reader. The swooping wires are in fact a story symbol and a prophetic metaphor for Elsa’s life after she marries the unstable Bo Mason.


Robin Archibald lives in Lancaster County, PA. She writes Garden Fiction inspired by her love of the land and the people who work it.

Lots of Exciting News Coming Soon

from Flickr

from Flickr

It’s an exciting time for our ACFW Pennsylvania State Chapter.

We passed our first anniversary in March as a chapter, with our first online meeting in April of 2015. We continue to meet monthly, but we will take a short break this summer.

Watch for a new blog post late Tuesday evening or Wednesday that announces the winners to our Keystone Great Beginnings Contest. I’ll give one hint: I’m pleased that a chapter member won 1st prize.

Also – mark down Saturday, November 5th, 2016 on your calendars and join us in Harrisburg for our 2nd Annual Keystone Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference. We are fiction only, and fiction first. We are the only Christian writers’ conference that is all fiction. We’re nailing down the details as this is being written. We think you’ll like what we’re planning.

If you have any questions regarding chapter membership, please let one of the board members know.

We’ll be unveiling more information soon!

My Top 5 Writing Tips for Christian Authors

KelleherBlogger: Ellen Kelleher writing as Elle E. Kay http://www.elleekay.com/

There is so much useful information available on the internet that it is difficult to narrow the list to a manageable one, but here are the most helpful tips I’ve discovered. #amwriting #writingtip

  1. Prepare spiritually. Yes, it sounds like common sense, but how often do we sit down at our computers or open our notebook without having first taken the time to pray. Click to Tweet How often do we neglect our daily Bible reading? If we prepare spiritually, we will be writing with Jesus on our minds and in our hearts. There is no other single step that will produce a more fruitful result.
  2. If you get stuck use a prompt. There are websites devoted to providing prompts to kick start your writing. There are picture prompts and word prompts, full sentence prompts, and even story starters. Don’t just sit there starting at your computer. Use a prompt. Some of the best writing I’ve done started with a prompt.
  3.  Edit. Once you have a beautifully written masterpiece, put it aside. Come back a few months later (sooner if you are on a deadline) and look at your work with fresh eyes. Tear apart that manuscript and make it better. You may be surprised at the number of errors you find. Once you’ve done that, share it with your critique group (ACFW has a good one called Scribes). Then after all of that, pay for a professional editing.
  4. Market. Yes, you need to market. It isn’t fun for introverts. I get it. We still have to do it. You should have a presence on social media. At the very least, you should be on Twitter and Facebook. You should also seriously consider a website and a blog.
  5.  Reviews. Most reviews will be positive, but there will be some negative. Don’t dwell on the negative. Sometimes you can even wear them as a badge of honor, like when someone accused me of proselytizing. Well, thank you. Yes, I followed my Lord’s command and told people about Him. Amen. I’ll take that one star review. If you can’t handle the negative reviews, don’t read them. Click to Tweet Whatever you do, don’t respond to them.

There you have it. A simple list of the most helpful advice I’ve found. #writingtip #amwriting

Registration is Open!


Registration is now open for the Keystone Christian Fiction Writers Conference to be held Saturday, November 7th, from 9-5 at The Penn Stater in State College. #acfwpa #kcfwc Click to Tweet

Early Bird prices are in effect from now until October 1st. On October 2nd, the price goes up. If you’re a chapter member, your current price is $70 for the day. This includes: all the sessions and lunch. The Penn Stater is a state-of-the-art conference facility and we will have a terrific day.

All writers interested in writing fiction are welcome, whether you’re a member of ACFW or not.

Scholarships are available, both full and partial. As you register for the conference, there is a question about a scholarship. If you answer yes, we’ll contact you and discuss your needs.

All the pertinent information is on this website under the Conference tab, but if you have any questions we have not addressed, please let me know at dlhswriter@windstream.net.

See ya in November!

July 2015 ACFW Pennsylvania State Chapter News

Fourth of JulyI hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend for July 4th. We have some fun and educational events to discuss this month.

Next Online Meeting

This month’s regular online meeting through AnyMeeting will be held Thursday, July 23 at 7:00 p.m. Dwight Kopp will be speaking on “Building Muscle in Fiction: Tips, Tricks, and Traps” Included in this workshop will be a writing exercise, so come prepared to listen, learn, and participate!  Click to Tweet

Upcoming Meetings—Mark Your Calendars

August—Sandra Byrd, “Setting the Rhythm: Pacing Your Novel,” Thursday, August 27th at 7:00 p.m.

September—DiAnn Mills, “Dialogue”, Thursday, September 24th at 7:00 p.m.

October—Mary Connealy, “Five Things You Need to Start Your Story”, Thursday, October 22nd at 7:00 p.m.

November—our 1st Annual Keystone Christian Fiction Writers Conference. More information will be forthcoming as it is available. Saturday, November 7th, from 9-5 at The Penn Stater in State College, PA.

Decemberspecial date! Thursday, December 17th at 7:00 p.m. online. Come prepared to share a page or two from your WIP or a short story about Christmas. More details coming later.

#amwriting #acfwpa Click to Tweet