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Site Changes Underway: Pardon our construction!

   Write2Ignite Conference is in the process of updating our website with the addition of e-store functions, in order to facilitate online payments for books, critique services, webinars, conferences, or other programs and products. In the process, we’ve discovered that our previous design templates appear to be incompatible with the e-commerce plugin. As we work through design adjustments, we know that our website appearance has changed temporarily in ways we didn’t design. Bear with us, please! And watch for future announcements about programming, resources, new bloggers, and our finished website and store design!

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Whatever your situation, Write2Ignite has an app for that!

Many of us love our phone cameras, but how adept are we at getting the best shots?

Rank novice?

Learn how to get the shots right  side up!

  Selfies spoiled?

Get tips on the best perspective!

Seeing the bigger picture?

Get professional recommendations for new goals!

Still finding your settings, need more light?

Practice makes perfect at workshop sessions!

Something holding you back?

Find inspiration for success, and encourage those who aren’t quite ready to advance!

Need peer contacts for critiques and pep talks?

Connect with others for fun, fellowship, and common interests!

Short on time?

Friday afternoon and evening, Saturday 8:15 – 5, one short part of a weekend to take time for yourself, cultivating your interests, talents, and creativity, mastering new skills, meeting new people, and taking steps toward the vision of excellence you’ve imagined.

Pack your bag, get a sitter, trade shifts, work out details, and join those making their way to  W2I tomorrow ! Need more information? https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

Conference Schedule

Contact Cathy John Biggerstaff, Registrar: hiskid410@gmail.com with questions about pro-rated fees for partial attendance. Don’t delay!

 

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July 4: A Teen Track Historical Fiction Creative Writing Contest**

Photo credit: The National Archives  Teens and Tweens! In honor of the Fourth of July, this post is for you! Whether you’re a history buff or just someone who loves a challenge, here’s a holiday contest that will stump most adults in the U.S.! See entry details and rules after the questions to enter!

How many of us think about why we celebrate July 4 (also known as “Independence Day”)?

We may think of barbecues, picnics, sparklers, fireworks, or family trips. But how often do we remember the document which marked the start of a new nation?

Here are 10 Questions to test your knowledge of U.S. history and events connected with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. How many answers do you (and your family and friends) know?

Adults may help students find resources, but students should read information and write an original story, poem, or journal entry/entries in their own words. **Creative writing pieces must include specific answers to at least FOUR of the 10 questions, listing the source(s) where information/answers were found. Entries without sources will not be accepted.

  1. In what year was the Declaration of Independence written and signed?
  2. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
  3. Was the original version of the Declaration the one that was signed?
  4. How many men signed the Declaration?
  5. What was the name of the group/meeting where the Declaration was discussed and signed? In what city did the meeting take place?
  6. Was this a publicly announced meeting? Why or why not?
  7. How many colonies were represented?
  8. What were their main reasons for wanting independence? What country had authority over the colonies at this time? What was the name of the king?
  9. Name the first battle which preceded the Declaration and the war which resulted from the decision to declare independence.
  10. Was the Constitution of the United States, which was completed and signed September 17, 1787, the original document governing the newly established country?

Answers to these questions, as well as many other facts related to July 4/Revolutionary War history can be found at the following online sources:

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/downloads  and other pages of the National Archives

http://www.ushistory.org/    http://www.ushistory.org/documents/confederation.htm

https://revolutionarywar.us/  https://www.myrevolutionarywar.com/

https://www.historyisfun.org/learn/learning-center/colonial-america-american-revolution-learning-resources/american-revolution-lesson-plans-activities/

Original creative writing entries received by July 25 will be entered in a drawing to win a Teen Track scholarship to Write2Ignite Conference September 20-21, 2019! You must be a rising 6th through 12th grader or have just completed 12th grade this year to enter.

Three ways to submit your answers on the attached entry/submission form at  https://write2ignite.com/category/2019-conference-updates/

  1. Email your entry to write2ignite@gmail.com by July 25,2019
  2. Mail your entry to Mrs. Cathy Biggerstaff, 410 Aydlotte Rd., Rutherfordton, NC 28139
  3. Bring your completed entry (on paper or saved on a digital device) to Art SLAM! Live /Write2Ignite Conference event July 20 from 2 to 5 pm at Haywood Mall, Greenville, SC https://www.simon.com/mall/haywood-mall/map/#/

Include complete name and contact information on the entry form with your submission!

Drawing results [and answers to “10 Questions”] will be posted by July 27, 2019.

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10 Questions about the fantasy genre and YA literature:

 While not every publisher accepts fantasy manuscripts, strong interest in this genre exists among children, teens, and young adults well beyond college age. This interview is the first in a series to explore fantasys appeal to younger readers, and to look at connections between this genre and Christian faith. Q: Before we start, how do you define YA literature? A: Literature written specifically to appeal to an audience from teens to young adult, up to 30 or beyond. Single [YA fans] can often be older, still in early stages of developing their adult career, delaying marriage, etc. Whether a person fits into the “YA lit” audience may be somewhat self-defined. There’s no age limit for enjoying YA lit.

  1. Q: What draws young adults beyond college age who continue to be fans and love to read fantasy? A: Fantasy explores a number of timeless themes. It allows the imaginative reader to engage with the impossible, experiencing things beyond mundane life. Additionally, not all fantasy is primarily for YA audiences. Young adults can enjoy and appreciate stories from Ursula K. Leguin (1929-2018) or Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), but they’re often not as simplistic as garden-variety fantasy. And as stories get older, they become less accessible to younger readers, but remain beloved to the adults who grew up with them.

The Dune series (Frank Herbert) is also fantasy (though often considered ‘science fiction’) but is not YA lit. YAs may read it, but many of its themes are oblique rather than obvious. In an early scene of the first book, protagonist Paul Atrides, then a young child, is subjected to a test that would certainly be considered cruel. His grandmother, a high-ranking member of an ancient, mystical, and politically powerful order causes him to undergo intense pain (the Gom Jabbar “Test of Humanity”). This is a scene I have considered multiple times since I first read it, and it remains compelling.

  1. Q: Besides Harry Potter, what are well-known YA fantasy series?

A: I sometimes hesitate to label something YA, because the term to some suggests simplicity and lack of rigor, but quite a number of excellent authors have written for younger audiences. A primary example is C. S. Lewis, who explicitly wrote The Chronicles of Narnia as a children’s series, while many of his other works are intended for adults. His space trilogy offers an intriguing escalation of complexity. Out of the Silent Planet might be considered a YA entry, as on its surface it is a tale of adventure in a fantastical setting. Perelandra, following the same protagonist to a second solar destination, is more a vehicle for philosophical and theological reflection than an adventure. As for That Hideous Strength, I still need to go back and re-read it (probably several times) because it was well over my head as a young adult.

Stephen Lawhead’s early stories are unquestionably YA, though his later novels grow in complexity as he grows as an author. J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) is often considered YA, though the generational gap makes his writing less accessible to younger readers. Frank Peretti writes both kids’ stories (The Cooper Kids Adventure Series) and books for YA or adult readers (e.g., This Present Darkness).

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind also fit under the YA heading, as do Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and subsequent works.

[A search for dragons and fantasy produces another long list of fantasy authors named by fans. A search for Christian fantasy series yields this list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/4258.Best_Christian_Fantasy_books ].

Q: What about todays popular series (turned film or TV show), like Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games? A: Game of Thrones, the first book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin), may be more adult than YA. I have only read the first several chapters of the first book, but from the outset it delves into complex themes and difficult situations. The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) aims at younger audiences, particularly considering the age of the main characters.

  1. Q: What features do young adults (through 30-somethings) appreciate most in the fantasy genre? A: For me, it’s two things: impossible things being possible and an alternate existence.

Q: Do these elements connect to Christianity? A: Many people who don’t believe in God still want to believe in the supernatural; this is one reason fantasy is broadly popular. People are dissatisfied with limitations in their actual lives and want to go beyond those. From wishing they could accomplish certain things to being seriously depressed and imagining other roles or abilities, they gravitate to the theme of wanting to be the hero.

Q: Is this a link to current interest in superhero stories? A: It can be, but there’s also just the idea of regular people performing heroic acts. One example is 300, the graphic novel turned movie loosely based on an ancient Greek historical event. No one in that tale has supernatural powers, but that feat performed well over two thousand years ago will likely continue to be celebrated for a long time.

  1. Q: What elements would discerning fans dislike in a YA fantasy book or series? A: A hero that can literally do no wrong. Some authors fall into the trap of creating impossibly good heroes, often to the point of writing “Mary Sue” characters. [Mary Sue or Marty Stu – a character inserted into the story that doesnt necessarily fit, an idealized (unrealistically perfect) figure, sometimes a self insert representing the authors opinions. https://www.writerswrite.com/fiction/characters/mary-sue/ ].

Another problem is significant, unexplained change in how characters behave from one book to another. A turn-off for me occurs when Terry Goodkind’s original protagonist, Richard Rahl, suddenly appears at the end of Pillars of Creation. That story had intrigued me right up until the end, as the first in the series that didn’t follow the original cast of characters. Then Richard Rahl showed up, saving the day, and speaking with words that, to me, did not sound like his own. Goodkind seemed to be using Rahl as a puppet, compromising the character’s integrity to make a point. This was particularly frustrating because the preceding book in The Sword of Truth series (Faith of the Fallen) was, in my opinion, his best to that point.

  1. Q: Of the most popular fantasy writers since 2000, which are most compatible with Christian worldview values? General themes that are common in much secular fantasy may include a “moral universe” (though not necessarily biblical), clear right and wrong, a creator, and an evil one. The Wheel of Time series features types for God and Satan (“The Creator” and “The Dark One”), and appears to suggest that there are clear standards for right and wrong, but some moral standards vary widely from culture to culture.
  1. Q: Give brief examples of fantasy content illustrating what todays readers find most significant in this type of story. A: The hero’s journey is always a big thing. Otherwise, someone who is marginalized suddenly becoming important, gaining a larger role in society, etc. Readers often see themselves in stories they read, and I’d argue that this phenomenon is more common in fantasy than in some genres.
  1. Q: How do todays fans see themselves and their experiences in fantasy novels or short stories? A: Most people are (or feel) marginalized in one way or another, disenfranchised literally or metaphorically. Characters in a story may not be intentionally limited by another party; their lack of influence may simply be a fact of their circumstances –e.g., growing up on a farm. But regardless of the reason someone lacks agency, people often want to move beyond their current situation.

Readers want to feel they are part of the journey – fighting against evil, whether supernatural in origin or just the result of people being people. They might not directly imprint on the main character (“this character is me”), but can imagine themselves as part of the situation (“this is somewhere I’d like to be, and something I’d enjoy doing”).

  1. Q: What do you see as the future of the genre? Is it trending in a particular direction in terms of content, types of settings and stories, themes, etc.? A: I honestly have no idea what the trend will turn out to be, but I wouldn’t mind if werewolves, vampires, and zombies were forgotten for a couple of decades. That said, I would like to see more genuinely new, creative entries rather than continual “remakes,” or resurrecting old series. The fantasy genre, to me, is all about going somewhere new and different. I can enjoy a particular destination for three books or a dozen, but when I pick up a new author, I want to experience something different enough that I see it as its own world. I am more convinced now than I once was that stories should have definite ends. Plenty of serial works (from TV shows, to book and movie series, to webcomics) have gone from stupendously amazing to “jumping the shark”[refers to criticism of the sitcom Happy Days.
  1. Q: What classic fantasy books are, in your opinion, the best models for fantasy writers?

A: None of them and all of them – don’t follow one particular novel. Read multiple, diverse things and see what grows out of that. Someone writing about 1950s America can go to a library or archive to view film footage or read books and newspapers in order to research the setting. When you write fantasy, you can’t research your setting in the same way; instead, you have to create the world. Research by a fantasy/sci fi writer is twofold. One component is the work you do creating a fictional fantasy world. The other part is reading existing stories (not only novels). In my experience, I get many more ideas when I’m actively reading than when I’m not.

When it comes to creating your world, as when you’re writing the actual stories, try to do a little work every day. Add things to your world that you’re not going to use – this creates flavor, a living, breathing world for the characters to inhabit. And you might find yourself using some of it anyway. Some authors will start the world-building process by drawing a map; others by creating characters.  Of course, not every story needs a map, but every story does need believable characters. Seek authenticity in how characters react to situations.

[ #Write2IgniteConference2019 will feature Worldbuilding workshops by Edie Melson and Daniel Blackaby! https://write2ignite.com/category/2019-conference-updates/

  1. Q: What caveats or suggestions, if any, would you give to parents of tweens and teens who are drawn to reading and/or writing fantasy literature?

A: Read some of it yourself. Talk with them about it, not to lecture, but to initiate discussion. Say things like “I thought this was interesting,” or “I didn’t quite get this.” Ask them questions, and be genuine. Parents who try to prevent their children from being exposed to something specific can’t afford any gaps in their defense; if kids want to make an end run around you, in most families, they’ll eventually succeed. I would not personally suggest restricting kids to reading only Christian literature. There are plenty of excellent Christian authors, but if your only criterion is “author and publisher must be Christian,” quality varies. Some publishers focus on iterations of the same tale, requiring that every story hit certain bullet points: a common example is “someone not saved gets saved.” While a story that fits a formula can be good, restricting oneself to only stories that fit a certain formula can stunt a reader’s growth.

An avid reader as a child, Paul DeCiantis grew up on The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. The latter cemented his interest in the fantasy genre and helped form his preference for book series over stand-alone entries. Other favorite series include Stephen R. Lawhead (The Pendragon Cycle; The Song of Albion), Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time), and Frank Herbert (Dune). He has been writing off and on since finishing high school. He finds his pre-graduation writing embarrassing, but greatly enjoys the creative bursts involved in world-building and hopes to finish some of his current projects. Professionally, Paul has worked in Information Technology doing some form of Technical Support, including four years in the U.S. Army. He earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (North Greenville University 2009), with concentrations in Linguistics and Literature. He believes knowledge of literature is an expansion of language, as simple references to commonly-known tales can conjure up whole worlds of information in the hearer’s mind. (Consider phrases like “strong as Hercules” and “Cinderella story.”)

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“A True Witness” – Write2Ignite 2019 Conference Theme

    Scripture makes many references to the concept or term “witness” in both Old and New Testaments. Christians know Jesus’s “Great Commission” words in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NKJV) In church lingo, this is usually referred to as “witnessing,” sharing the good news of the gospel.

During Creation, God gave witness to the nature of His own created works, calling each day’s creation “good” or “very good.”

Similarly, Bible references to the created world as a witness are frequent. In some cases, the Creation or created object serves as witness to God’s judgment on human sin and guilt (Dt 4:26, Joshua 24:27, Romans 1:18-25). In others, the Creation testifies to God’s glory (Psalm 19 and other psalms).

From Genesis forward, “witness” occurs often in references to covenant agreements between persons or between God and a person or group (see examples in Genesis 21:30, 31:44 – 52, and Judges 11:10). The tabernacle, also called the “tabernacle of witness,” was a perpetual visual reminder of the covenant relationship between God and the nation of Israel (Numbers 17:7-8).

Write2Ignite Conference formed as a group for “Christian Writers of Children’s and Young Adult Literature” to encourage and equip writers to inspire Christian worldview thinking in young readers – a type of witness. Through prayer and discussion, we’ve identified Witness as an organizing theme for the 2019 conference September 20-21. This doesn’t mean every article or book for kids should contain a direct gospel invitation, but as we draw upon biblical principles, our writing should reflect God’s character, standards, and role in every area of human life.

I John lays out foundational doctrines and supporting evidence for Christian faith: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – . . . we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you . . . that you also may have fellowship with us . . . .”

John further states his purpose in sharing this gospel of “eternal life . . . . that your joy may be full.” (1:1-4, NKJV) He then lays out various signs, behaviors, and spiritual principles that demonstrate the truth of his claims about God, Jesus Christ, faith, and fellowship.

The Bible describes [fallen] human condition as lostness – of fellowship with God due to sin, of the Garden paradise, of peace and health. Results include perpetual seeking as people try to earn favor with God or a god, through sacrifice or good works. The gospel message is one of finding and being found. As we see God pursue the lost sheep (parables in Luke 15), the witness of lostness is exchanged for the witness of foundness. Through Jesus Christ, we have an Advocate, Mediator, Savior, Father, restored fellowship with God and the community of faith.

#Write2Ignite2019 will help us explore various facets of witness in God’s Word. As we gain insights into their effects in our own spiritual walk, we will also examine ways in which our writing in any genre or platform can serve as witness, proclaiming God’s truth and equipping young audiences to follow and serve Christ.

∞  Deborah S. DeCiantis

(photo courtesy of Jolee G. http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/witness-concept-background-photo-p262938)

 

Debbie DeCiantis first connected with Write2Ignite Conference when she was called on to act as liaison between North Greenvile University and Write2Ignite in 2009. She accepted the role of acting director in 2016 and the role of director in 2017. Debbie currently does freelance editing and critique writing. She enjoys living in the country and spending time with her husband, four adult children, six grandchildren, and too many dogs.

This and future discussions of biblical witness will be found in Author Resources.

 

 

 

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Kristi Butler’s 2019 Questions: Inspired or Just Tired?

A new year is upon us. Chatter of resolutions and goals echo in conversation, sermons, and on social media.

Have you chimed in? Have you made your list? Posted your plans?

Does the thought of 2019 and the clean slate before you cause you to feel pumped…or in a slump? Inspired…or just tired? Motivated…or debilitated?

If you find yourself on the left side of the ellipses, your invigoration probably propelled you to jot those goals into a brand spanking new journal or planner, perhaps even posting them ever so creatively on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

If you’re in the latter category, thoughts of facing that blank page, of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys), daring to breathe life into dreams…and the risk of setting yourself up for failure seems daunting and pointless.

In either place, you are not alone. There are others in the boat with you!

First of all, Emmanuel…God With Us, has come! Seek Him first. Allow Him to be the prompter of your plans. Let Him be all that He intends to be in your life. Helper. Encourager. Prince of Peace. Comforter. Equipper. Guide. Whether you’ve jumped on the resolution bandwagon or you’re straining along behind, seek Him first. (Matthew 6:33) Then all the things will be added.

Secondly, pursue your tribe…your sojourners. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that “two are better than one”. We need each other! As the tide of our year ebbs and flows, what a blessing to have fellow passengers cheering us on! Taking turns with us in the pumping and the slumping, the inspired and the tired, the motivated and the debilitated. We’re stronger together!

Here at Write2Ignite Conference, we want to wish you a blessed new year! We desire to join with you on your writing journey…inspiring you, encouraging you, challenging you, and equipping you as you seek to follow God’s plan! It is our prayer that you will see His faithfulness as you take each step of faith!

How can we cheer you on today?

Kristi Butler is passionate about her faith in Jesus Christ, her family (including husband, daughters/sons-in-law, and grandchildren), and educating children. As a writer, she continues to pursue “putting pen to paper” and sharing the adventures of Gracie and Grover Groundhog. Two of her books, Groundhog Day in Amazing Grace Acres and Christmas in Amazing Grace Acres, have been illustrated by Samantha S. Bell and published by Guardian Angel Publishing. Samantha’has also illustrated Kristi’s first nonfiction rhyming alphabet book, G Is for Groundhog! They’re also collaborating on Gracie and Grover Go to the Beach. Please visit Kristi’s site for all things groundhog: http://amazinggraceacres.blogspot.com/

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Write2Ignite Conference Publishes “Too Big for a Band-Aid”

  a service project of Write2Ignite Conference  devotional book with covers

In September 2017, the Write2Ignite Team was meeting to plan the 2018 Conference and explore other possible programs. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, shortly followed by Maria, were fresh on everyone’s minds. The subject of a service project came up, and we wondered, what can we do?

Because other, much larger organizations were in place to deliver money and supplies to affected areas, we focused on what writers have to work with – writing and books. The idea of a devotional focusing on kids going through hard times like storms, fires, injury, school shootings, and other traumatic events began to take shape, and the W2I kids’ devotional was born.

The project proved a lot more complex than we expected. First, it turns out that writing a devotional (which most of us hadn’t been doing) is a lot harder than we expected! We chose a format similar to that used on the Keys for Kids website [ https://www.keysforkids.org/ ] and set our first deadline.

Nothing.

We tried another deadline.

Nothing.

We prayed and recommitted to the project, and gradually, met later deadlines for turning in the stories. Two of our Team members, Brenda Covert and Grace Geide, edited these.

Then, we complicated the project further by deciding it would be a good idea to (1) add a plan of salvation and (2) make this collection bilingual. Fortunately, several Team members knew people who are fluent in Spanish. They agreed to donate their time and expertise to translate different portions of the devotional. Translations are the work of retired North Greenville University Instructor Rebecca Deal, former missionary Ellen Garcia, and artist Annel Lilly, all busy women involved in multiple ministries.

Team member Robyn Grage, who was already up to her elbows in work on the #Write2Ignite2018 Resource Manual, graciously accepted the challenge of working up a layout and cover for the devotional book. Over time, this project had morphed from what we thought would be a stapled booklet of 10 to 12 pages to a book of over 50 pages, with a heavy stock cover and perfect binding. Did we mention that adding (and obtaining translations of) credits, translator bios, and Bible copyright statements added still more time and pages?

Down to the wire, as the September 21-22, 2018 Conference approached, we aimed for devotional completion so that we could give the finished books to presenters and participants.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Gary Southern and Timm Artus of the Print Hub at North Greenville University, we received not only completed Resource Manuals on September 20, but also completed devotional books September 21!

Here it is! Too Big for a Band-Aid has a first printing of 500 copies. They are currently being given to churches, mission groups, and individuals.

Our plan has always been to distribute it free, primarily as a pdf file to be shared and downloaded as widely as possible to individuals and groups. The book’s purpose is to benefit kids who need encouragement and reminders of God’s love as they navigate the tough events that they, their families, and communities, encounter.

Please enjoy this collection, share the file widely, and watch for additional links where the pdf may be displayed in coming months. To God Be the Glory! His inspiration led us to the idea and helped us plan and carry out the book’s content, to produce a digital and print book that we pray will bless many young people around the world.

Sincerely,

The #Write2Ignite2018 Conference Team