Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ane Mulligan ~ Guest Blogger

To date, Ane Mulligan has published four scripts with LifeWay's NDS® and Lets Worship®; six with Christian Creative Arts Association, both online and in two CD compilations; and ten with DramaShare. She has four articles published in two drama e-zines and two devotions accepted for a daily devotional book. Her novel When the Wind Blows is a 2007 Genesis finalist and When the Bough Breaks is a 2006 ACFW Genesis finalist. She's also got a blog:
A website:
And is part of the terrific Novel Journey blog:,

Whether it's novels or plays, writing is her passion, but using her talent to serve the Lord is her grand passion.


The Writing Journey
Quills of a Feather Should Flock Together
By Ane Mulligan

I'm having dinner in a restaurant with some friends, when a snippet of a conversation at the table behind me catches my attention. Tuning out my friends' chatter, I lean back in my seat to get closer.

A female voice hints at panic. "I left my camera in the taxi."

It sparks a "what if" moment. What if the film contained photos of national secrets? I glaze over as a scene begins to play out inside my head, and I plot the demise of the known free world. Who would my heroine be? And her sidekick—gotta have a quirky sidekick. I grab a napkin and start making notes.

"Ane? Earth to Ane …"

I blink. My friends shake their heads, and when I try to explain, they look at me like I've gone around the bend. They don't hyperventilate over mere words, and not one of them has characters talking inside their heads.

Before you call for an exorcist, these "voices" are the stories God gives a writer. But the gift of a creative mind comes wrapped in idiosyncrasies and beautifully tied with oddities. Everything you see and hear becomes a story. Try explaining that to your spouse or best friend. No one but another writer understands those voices.

By necessity, a writer's life is singular. You have to sequester yourself with your characters to get the manuscript written. But when you've finished and come up for air, what then? With whom can you share the joy of its creation? Who's interested in hearing about the great metaphor you used, or how you set the parable of the talents in a twenty-first century college town?

Whether it's scripts or books, writing is a lonely life—except of course, for the voices—and your family and friends, unless they're writers, won't understand you. I wouldn't waste much time trying, just accept it. So where do you find other writers who will share all your foibles?

Writer's groups.

If you're writing to publish, a critique group is as essential as air. And so are the fellowship groups. There are a number of great Christian writer's groups online, and you might even find a local, in-person group.

A critique group (better known as "crit" group) will help you grow in your craft. While your Aunt Mary thinks your writing is brilliant, unless she's an editor, I wouldn't give much credence to her opinion. Even your friends think you're wonderful. Get the opinion of other writers. We're too close to our own work to see its flaws. A crit group will hone your writing, making it shine. Develop a thick skin and incorporate the suggested changes.

A fellowship group is a great place to learn the business of writing and publishing. If you go to Yahoo and click on Groups, then put Christian writers groups in the search box, you'll come up with a lot of possibilities. Most have email loops where you can ask questions and receive answers. I've listed some of the best online groups. These are all Christian groups. I belong to each of them.

American Christian Fiction Writers: (ACFW has an email loop with published and unpublished authors, agents and editors as members. They also offer free online writing courses, and they hold an annual conference with the largest number of editors and agents in attendance.)
Christian Writers Fellowship International: (this group is for both fiction and non-fiction writers)
The Writers View: (this group has 2 levels; one for professional/advanced writers and one (TWV2) for beginners. Both have a panel of experts – editors, agents and published writers – to help with topics and questions.)
Kingdom Writers: (This is a critique group. If you've never been in one, I suggest you start here.)

The important thing is to connect. As writers, we need community. So join a crit group, and go to writers conferences.


  1. Hi, Ane. Thanks for a great article. Thanks for visiting with us today at Seekerville, too. God bless you.
    And only Ane knows how much I truly mean God should bless her. She really helped me out here.

  2. Whoa, Ane, what a fun post! You sound like the kind of author I'd like to read!

    And the subject? Yes, networking is so crucial! And, of course, I sooooo relate to OBE -- out-of-body experiences where you're smiling at a funeral mass because you've just mind-clinched a great scene in your head. It's not uncommon for me to be scratching notes down in one hand while driving a country-curvy road in the dark with the other. Some people think we are possessed ... and we are ... with great passion and imagination!


  3. I loved this. I was just explaining to someone this am--the whole WHAT IF thing.

    Isn't it strange to think everyone's mind doesn't work like this?

    I sold a short story to Woman's World based on the what if theory.

    I used to take my kids to school with a coat over my jammies. Then I thought, 'what if I had a fender bender dropping them off..and I was in my pink flannel?'

    And so we are off...haha.

    Thanks for sharing, Ane!!

  4. I think "what if" a lot. Have to my technical job. Love to for writing.

    My son says I scare him.

  5. Suzanne Brockmann does a worshop where she discusses this. It is quite entertaining. I am paraphrasing here of course...but she apparently inherited the worse case scenario gene from her mother. So everything goes through that filter which turns up some pretty amazing plots.

    Frankly, Patricia, we all scare me.

  6. "the gift of a creative mind comes wrapped in idiosyncrasies and beautifully tied with oddities" Yes Ane, I will attest to this gift in you. Your article explains alot. Ha! Ha!

    No seriously I have seen you in action and read your work. You make it look and sound so easy as you make music with words on the page. The Lord is at work in your heart and it spills out to the new writers that you are mentoring.
    Thanks for the great article it's rich in information.

    Keep Close to Him

  7. Mary, we're a lot alike! LOL I'll leave it at that and let the rest wonder. ;)

    Julie, thanks. From your lips to God's ears. I hope you get the chance to read me soon, too! Those OBE can be a lot of fun, depending on who you're with and where you are. Other times? Well ... laying Aunt Tillie to rest probably isn't the best time to give in to them. LOL

    Oh my, Tina. When my kids were young, I always drove them to school in my jammies. LOL It has to be a writer thing. And you're right - you have to explain the what-if thing to non-writers. They just don't get it, do they?

    Patricia, my son says a lot of things about me, and yeah, scary is among them. ;)

    Hey, Nora, now I'm not really odd am I? On second thought, don't answer that. :o)

    Y'all, Nora is a lady all y'all should get to know. She leads 3 book clubs at a LifeWay store. Talk about promoting Christian fiction! She's the best. And she's working on a book herself. It's a non-fiction and it's going to be good, too.

  8. I do this 'what if' thing too.
    I had this whole 'what if' thing about a phone call my mother got.
    She's thinking, 'hmm...that's weird.'
    I'm thinking...'dark alley...
    stolen cell phone...
    beautiful single woman received phone call and overhears a murder in progress...
    killer finds the cell phone and tracks down the most recent call...
    handsome, single, incredibly tough, trouble police detective called in after murder attempt on poor, beautiful, single woman who's done nothing to be killed over.
    Ah, what if.

  9. Ane!

    Great post and definitely in sync with this group.

    And I can attest to Mary's OBEs because she rags on them all the time.

    I think God made her without one of those special filter device thingies, you know, the kind where you can mute the sound? Imagine how much fun that would be, Mary in motion, but no sound.


    Effective for Dolby, but not so much for Connealys.

    At least this Connealy. I have a feeling it's not necessarily a trait her children brag about, but they're okay spending the royalty checks on weddings, showers and college expenses.

    And I love that you aptly named this form of dementia as a gift from God, for it surely is that.

    So nice of you to come and hang with us and our stoppin'-by-to-meet-you buds. Welcome to Seekerville.

    Ruthy (Who isn't snarky now but might turn that way if she doesn't find some chocolate soon.)

  10. Hi, Ane! So glad to have you with us today. Great post! I often do that zone out thing. I did it just today while riding with my son on the way back from the orthodontist's office. It had something to do with a cell phone call. But I can't remember! I'll have to retrace my steps and see if it comes to me. :)

    Tina, I have the disease Suz was talking about: worstcasescenarioitis. :)
    It drives my kids crazy. :)

    Nora, I'm glad you stopped by today. I hope you'll come back!

    And Patricia, it was great to see you again.


  11. Thanks, Ane.

    I bear scars from sweet, little Annie. That chick is a CRIT-TER.

    But when the wounds stop smarting, the value becomes very obvious.

    Even now, I'm second guessing my comma placements. What would Ane do?

  12. Such a great post, Ane. I can't wait for your books to sell so I can read you and your what-if's all the time!


  13. Ane, loved your story about slipping into "what if" mode at the table! I do that a lot when I'm driving, particularly on the long stretches of lonely highway between Las Vegas, NV and Monrovia, CA!

    As for crit partners, I met mine at the ACFW conference. They've brought my writing to a whole new level. What a blessing!

    Thanks for a great post, Ane. Bless you!

  14. Ruth, I loved joining y'all here. And hey, ya gotta have someone to blame the insanity on. LOL

    Good to see you, Missy. :o) And y'all, be watching for Missy on Novel Journey! I interviewed her and it posts on Jan 30th.

    Kelly, you're a peach. And a good critter in your own right.

    Cheryl, I sincerely hope you have that pleasure really soon!!! LOL

    Thanks again, Mary, for having me. This has been a blast.

  15. Amen, amen. You know that I know that crit groups are a gift from God (as long as you're in a good one!) And the voices? Yeah, that's um a writer thing. Surrrrrre Ane. :) Just kidding. I hear them too.

  16. Hey, Ane! You red-headed dynamo!

    I have to keep my voices down to a minimum. I've found if more than two stories are in my head at one time, I can't function. And since I need to function, well. . . . So when I start what-iffing about anything that doesn't pertain to the two stories already percolating, I have to nip it in the bud. :-)

    Funny story. I was watching Stranger Than Fiction with my hubby and I looked over and said, "I wish so bad I could meet my characters." He gave me this look that said, "Oh, my, she really is crazy."

  17. Hi Ane, Loved the topic. We do zone out as writers. My favorite is the time I had a tough scene to work out and I was fussing out loud a little--okay a lot and asked hubby to pleeeease give me some time alone with no interruptions. He's a gem and he did. But an hour later he comes through the house and there I am stretched out on the bed working the scene through my head and of course his exclamation is: "You're sleeping???? I thought you had all this work to do????"

  18. You know what happens to me? I get the ending to almost all movies before they happen.
    And of course I see the black moment coming long before it comes.
    I mostly keep quiet about it, but I just guess I think like the screen writer's thing. What's the worst that could happen?
    My greatest achievement? I called the ending to 'The Sixth Sense'

  19. Mary, you called Sixth Sense??!! Man, I bow down to you. I can call most movies, but that one totally flipped me out. I had no idea AT ALL!!


  20. Hey, Ane!

    Great article . . .

    A lot of writers knew they always wanted to be a writer, but for me the memory of playing the "what if" game as part of my earliest memories is my only hint that the desire to create stories was always a part of me.

    The journey of each writer is every bit as interesting as the stories they write. I love watching your journey.

    What if an energetic red head met up with a Brit? Hmmmm, the event might even change her name.

    Wait, that's been done; but the story is finished yet;-)

    See you soon!

  21. Janet, Janet, Janet ... I seem to remember a night during the ACFW conference - about 3:00 AM I'm trying to sleep adn Janet sits yakking with Gina and Jessica about what ifs. ;) We do have the best crit group going, don't we?

    Melanie, haven't you ever seen them? I have, at least a couple of them I have. Shocked the living daylights outta me! People around me had no idea what to think as I stood there gapping in the mall. ;)

    Too funny, Sandra! Just like a man, huh? ;)

    Mary, I need to watch movies with you. I get way too scared unless I know the end. LOL Bu then, I'm the Queen, you knwo. Queen of the Big Honkin' Chicken Club. Just as Jill Nelson - she crowned me. :o)

    Cindy, as a child, alolo my what-ifs came out in my play. My girlfriends and I made up these elaborate tales and acted them out. Well ... I made them up and forced them to act them out. Fortunately, they forgave me. Sorta.

  22. You know, Tina, I think I read that story about the jammies...that was before I knew you were you, you know.

  23. Great post, Ane! You've got us writers tagged, that's for sure.

  24. Excellent article, Ane! You mean those characters rolling around in our heads aren't REAL?

  25. Thanks, Pam, and Di, uh ... we need to talk. LOL

  26. Ane,

    I had the privilege of sitting near you at the awards banquet at the ACFW conference this year. I SO enjoyed hearing you talk and I can so "hear" your voice in this post.

    I'd known of you from the ACFW loop, but what a blessing to finally get to meet you in person!

    I must say I cannot wait until you sell, so I can hear your "voice" come through your books.

    Such a fun lady and full of wisdom. Love, love, love it!

    Cheryl Wyatt