Christian Fiction Writer


Blogging from ACFW Conference September 17-20

"The Premier Christian Fiction Conference"
Indianapolis, Indiana
September 17 - 20, 2010
"Serving Him in WORD and Deed"

If you aren't attending the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference in Indiana next month, check back on this blog. I'll be attending and keeping you updated. With pictues! (I hope).

Here we are at Susan May Warren's MBT Pizza Party Line Dance!(BTW, that's Susan in center wearing the blue dress and calling the moves :) and, look at the back line behind the lady in pink, that's James Scott Bell DANCING! Too much fun!)

If I were you, and other expressions contrary to fact

In my work as an editor, I’ve noticed otherwise good writers avoiding ideas that express the subjunctive mood of the verb were. Perhaps it’s because of confusion over subject and verb agreement, number, passive constructions, or any number of reasons. I can empathize. Each time I read a sentence with a singular subject attached to the verb were, I have to stop reading and check its accuracy. Chicago Manual of Style best defines the subjunctive mood as “expressing an action or state of being not as a reality but as a mental conception, a condition that is doubtful, imagined, desired, conditional or otherwise contrary to fact.” The following examples show the subjunctive mood in three of its (six) contexts. I’ll tackle the other three in another post. And be aware that grammar checkers may mark most instances of subjunctive mood for correction. Trust your writing, not grammar checkers.

Expressing conditions contrary to fact
A perfect example of the subjunctive mood is expressed in a famous first line of a poem by Fran├žois Villon, “If I were King and you were Queen.” Anyone living in the fifteenth century (when the poem was written) knew that, in reality, only a few of those born to royalty became kings or queens. It wasn’t a position just anyone could apply for.

Later, playwright Justin Huntly McCarthy expands on Villon’s poetic desire (play and movie) in grandiose terms not rooted in everyday life.

If I were king--ah love, if I were king! / What tributary nations would I bring / . . . / Beneath your feet what treasures I would fling:-- / The stars should be your pearls upon a string /

Expressing suppositions contrary to evidence
M-W Dictionary defines supposition as the “mental act of supposing something to be the case, or ideas that result from supposing, especially as opposed to ideas based on evidence.” In the following example, the singular subject (soldier) takes the verb’s subjunctive (were):

• “The fingers of his right hand remained half curled even when empty, as though the soldier were unable to relinquish his sword’s haft.” (The Centurion’s Wife, Bunn, Oke) [Not was unable.]

Even multi-published fiction writers sometimes fail to use the subjunctive mood. I love Bodie and Brock Thoene’s novels, but the following sentence (if we apply the definition supplied by CMOS) while presenting the Countess’s state of being in “doubtful, imagined, or conditional” terms, fails to use the subjunctive mood:

• “Looking at the world with infinite weariness, she pivoted her head slightly, as though she was only vaguely aware of Josie’s presence.” (Twilight of Courage)

• “Looking at the world with infinite weariness, she pivoted her head slightly, as though she [were] only vaguely aware of Josie’s presence.” [subjunctive mood]

Expressing wishes contrary to reality
Sentences beginning with “I wish that I were able” express a wish that is opposite of reality or of what the writer believes that he or she can do.

• “I wish that I were able to direct the hearts and minds of all to You and, together with them and for them, love You perfectly in return . . .”—Communion prayer at

More familiar expressions using the subjunctive mood
“As you were, soldier,” said the sergeant.
“Long live the king,” shouted the group.
“Be that as it may,” said Mrs. Thompson, “we will continue with our plans.”
“Would that it were true,” said the poet.
“Be they rich or poor, young or old,” he said.

For more on the subjunctive mood, see Garner’s Modern American Usage, CMOS, The Little. Brown Handbook, or at

Vicki McCollum (c) 2010


Writer's Wisdom

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." - Anais Nin

Freelance Editor Scam Dependra Santha

Beware of a scam directed at freelance editors. It's a "fake check overpayment take-you-to-the-bank and get-your-money" scam.  Below is Dependra Santha's (the scammer) first email contact:

From: Dependra Santha
Subject: In need of an editor
Date: Tuesday, August 3, 2010, 5:49 PM
My name is Dependra Santha, I will require your service to assist me in proof reading the two documents I have attached to this email. I will like to know how much you will charge for both document. Once am sure of the price, I will instruct my associate in the USA to mail out a cashiers check payment to you for the service since I am out the country now a short course in the United Kingdom. The document will be due by the 20th of August as am trying to submit them to an accessor over here. I will be waiting for your reply,
Regards, Dependra Santha

Then he sends a "cashiers check"(mine came in a plain brown envelope and appeared to be from Wells Fargo bank in North Carolina). The check was for 3,800 dollars, rather than the amount agreed upon for the work, 350 dollars. Next came an email about the overpayment:

Dependra Santha
My associate just contacted me today that he mistakenly send the whole amount he is owing me ($3800)instead of sending the amount for the job as I directed him. Please I will want you to deduct your service charge and help me send the difference via western union money transfer service. The sending charge should be deducted from the balance after you might have deduct your service charge. The information to send the money to is;
Name; Dependra Santhamano
City; London; Country; United Kingdom.
Please note, you can deduct additional $100 for your running around to the western union location, thanks Once done with the western union, you will need to provide me with a 10 digit money transfer number known as MTCN. for the assistance.  Dependra Santhamano

Of course, after you receive the fake cashiers check, you will be contacted several times (once per hour) to send him the Western Union money transfer number. The problem: the check is a fraud; he'll take your money (had I not caught on, it would have over $3000 from my own checking account).

After emailing him to tell him I wouldn't transfer any money until his check cleared my bank, I googled his name (suspicious of his 3,800 check) and found a couple of hits about the scam. I notified my bank, which turned the check over to its fraud department. They called later the same day to say the check is a fraud.
This same group is also scamming translators. Since there wasn't a lot of detail on this particular scammer, Dependra Santha of the UK, I'm posting this to help sound the alert. I also turned him in to the FTC since he's using Western Union, misusing Wells Fargo bank material (or counterfeiting it), and the scam is international (surely breaks several laws). His IP address does show that he's at yahoo in Europe, and the envelop may have been mailed from North Carolina.