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What Write2Ignite Conferences Taught Me

My first attendance at a W2I Conference was in March of 2017.  I landed a scholarship which helped me enjoy the whole weekend. 

I brought a notebook of questions that God answered in every workshop I attended.  I still have that notebook with notes.  Reflecting on that wonderful weekend, I wonder, should I have been so surprised by how God showed up? I mean, as believers, we know God’s Word is truth and we can recount those scriptures that read, “Seek God’s Kingdom first and all these things will be added unto you.”  God does help us have the desires in our hearts as we live for Him.  The first thing I gleaned from this conference was a personal renewing of a desire to write about godly things for children and their families. 

CONNECTIONS

The second thing I learned about writing, and freelance writing in particular, is that people you meet at conferences can help change your life. Asking a question about poetry led me to meet with Brenda Covert during our one-on-one time.  Brenda introduced me to Union Gospel Press and she urged me to apply with them as they were open to new authors.  Months after submitting my application, I was offered an assignment.  They asked me to write devotions for singles.  So, I did.  Yes, this was a “paid and published” opportunity for me, a small step into a much larger world of writing and publishing.

RESOURCES

A third benefit is learning about various links, resources, and publications where I can continue to pursue writing projects. Currently, I have no assignments with a publisher, but I have been busy this summer entering writing contests and submitting poetry and short stories to magazines. I have been able to re-ignite my personal blog, and I have had some critiques done on a YA fantasy novel I ‘ve been writing for most of my life.  So my writing journey continues even to today.  Who knows what God may have for me around this corner of my life?

Diane Buie's pubs
Some of the magazines Diane Buie has been published in.

Diane Buie celebrated when she saw her articles in print. These included devotionals for children and pre schoolers; beginning with ages PreK up to  4th and 5th grades.  A few of the submissions to Union Gospel Press were Bible related games or activities to enhance faith development.


What about you: How have writing conferences impacted your writing or creativity?  How did attending this year’s W2I Conference in September change your life?  

 

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The Minimalist Writer

Along the city wall in York, England – a bow window used in the time of war. It’s all about focus!

As a writer, I can get caught up in FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Each time a new blog post or newsletter alerts me of a webinar I must attend, a book I should be reading, or a social media task I need to engage in, I get panicky.

Which is the most important? What if I make the wrong choice?

 

There is too much to do in a limited timeframe. Authors have families, other jobs, people and pets to care for, let alone places we’d like to go – just like anyone else. How do we fit it all in??

Can I make a suggestion?

We don’t need to!

As far as I’m concerned, there are only seven things we authors MUST do . . .

READ. WRITE. CONNECT. CRITIQUE. SUBMIT. INSPIRE. MENTOR.

Sound easy? It is!

 

#1 READ

Books that

– intrigue
– inspire
– inform

In addition, you must read in the genre you are writing in. And occasionally, to shake things up, choose a genre you would not normally read, or try an e-book or an audiobook. You’d be amazed at how a story gains another dimension when you listen to the words.

Join Goodreads, and find fellow readers who will share their favs. And you, in turn, can recommend yours.

 

#2 WRITE

For obvious reasons, if you are going to be a writer, you need to, well, write!

Every day, in some way.

It could be a letter. A blog post. A one-page prompt. An entry in your diary. Some creativity needs to flow from your pen.

I find having a weekly blog post forces me to write. Sometimes, being part of a challenge like NaNoWriMo brings out the creative juices. Or perhaps you work better with prompts. You can find prompts online or in a book. Take your pick.

 

The Charles Dickens Museum

 

#3 CONNECT

Connecting with others is a must — readers, writers, and professionals (agents and editors).

How is that done?

Through Social Media — pick one!

Facebook: if you love to post links, ask questions, share your travel pics, post cute animal photos, and share FB posts with others.

Pinterest: if you love to categorize images in a visual file for future reference, collect images for your next book, or writing tips to use later.

Twitter: if you can be succinct, love to connect with professionals, use GIFs and images, and ask questions or participate in pitch parties, etc.

Instagram: if you are all about a single photo, love to go live, to inspire others, and can tell a story in one image, but don’t necessarily care to share.

Also, writers’ groups like 12×12 are a great way to connect. You will find your friend list and writing skills growing faster than you ever thought possible! Memberships to professional organizations like SCBWI and ACFW are a must.

 

#4 CRITIQUE

Every writer needs a critique group. You can’t write in a vacuum. You need others to point out flaws in your writing, so you can perfect it. If signing a contract with an agent or editor is on your wishlist, then you need critique buddies to help you get that manuscript in shape.

The groups I’ve mentioned above will have critique groups to join as well as Word Weavers International, specifically conceived to help writers perfect their manuscripts in a friendly environment. They gather online or in person to encourage one another in their writing pursuits.

 

#5 SUBMIT

Of course, if you are going to be published, you need to submit! Here is a comprehensive guide to help you. Find the Writer’s Market 2020 here. The guide gives you tips of all sorts, and the categories are divided according to genre, subject, and type of publication. For those who write faith-based works, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide is a must-read.

And don’t forget the importance of writers’ conferences such as our own Write2Ignite and others like The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.     Each year, you have the opportunity to schedule appointments with agents and editors who might be waiting to publish your story!

 

#6 INSPIRE!

I don’t know about you, but I need to get out every so often and be inspired. Since I am a historical fiction writer, nothing gets my little grey cells working more than a trip to a historical town or museum. When I visited Bath, England years ago, my daughter and I had tea at this famous bun shop.

When we finished our treats, I visited the tiny museum in the basement of the shop which you see below. There was a small sign indicating that the woman who started the shop was a Huguenot girl who escaped persecution and fled to England. That tidbit of info was all I needed to begin my story, which I titled “Because of a Bun: Soli’s Saving Grace”.

 

 

#7 MENTOR

Just as the Brontë sisters mentored each other, and modern-day writers, too, as their classics wind their way into our hearts, we as writers need to find someone a bit farther behind us to come beside us on our journey. Have coffee with them and ask about their projects. Give them links to helpful resources. Offer to critique a story for them. They will thank you, and someday, do the same for another.

Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments below!


 

The Heart Changer - MG Historical Fiction
Jarm Del Boccio’s debut MG Historical Fiction, “The Heart  Changer”

Jarm Del Boccio’s debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer, released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/  Purchase The Heart Changer HEREJarm loves reviews, as does any author! 

Here’s a handy Teachers’ Guide to use with The Heart Changer as a unit study.


Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on the lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history. Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

 

 

 

 

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What About Rejections–Part II

Following up on Monday’s blog, here are more rejection stories from our 2019 faculty.

VIJAYA BODACH

Rejections! Oh yes! Thank God because I only want my best in print, but in my haste and excitement, I’ve sent out pieces too early, before they were truly ready. It’s only in hindsight I can appreciate these form rejections.

But the personal ones have been so educational. The first is encouragement to keep at it–it is good to receive a letter saying that while they cannot use this particular piece, they want to see more from me because they enjoy my style of writing. The second is pushing me to dig deeper into a story. And third, realizing that although a story is just right, they feel they cannot sell enough copies to make a profit, that they hope another publisher will see it differently.

Marketing can shoot down many proposals; it *is* a business after all, but even marketing can be wrong. It’s a guessing game, a gamble. Nobody knows if a book will soar or tank. Some books make a splash, other books grow in readership steadily, and some books tank even after throwing good money into advertising.

Publishers are often averse to taking a risk on an unknown author. So what’s a writer to do? First believe! Have the courage of your convictions. Focus on the craft. Learn the business. And try again. Thank God the big Five aren’t the only options. There are mid-sized, smaller, independent publishers as well as self-publishing. This is a great time to be writing, shining, reflecting the Light of Christ. In an ever-darkening world, your light needn’t be big to dispel the darkness. Be salt and light. Be “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” ~ I love this title of Cal Newport’s book and taking it as my motto for this writing life God has given me. Follow Vijaya on her blog.

ANDREA MERRILL

The road to publication can be a long, arduous journey. While many press on ahead and overcome the obstacles and setbacks, others lag behind wondering if they’ll ever make it. They might even wonder if it’s worth the price they have to pay. I’ve seen a few give up and walk away from their dream and passion.
Let’s face it, rejection can be difficult. And criticism—even given constructively—is no picnic. And the waiting can be torture. Watching others rise to the top can make us envious and cause us to question our own talents and abilities. We begin to doubt ourselves and focus on our weaknesses, wondering if we even have what it takes.
When that discouragement sets in, we are faced with the decision to quit or keep moving forward, trusting the One who empowers us to do whatever He has called us to do. God has a plan for us, and His timing is always perfect. Take to heart these words by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling:
“My plan for your life is unfolding before you. Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens up so painfully slowly that you must hold yourself back. Then, when the time is right, the way before you suddenly clears—through no effort of your own. What you have longed for and worked for I present to you freely, as pure gift.
Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly. As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you, depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly. “
  If God has given you the gift of words, trust Him to open the right doors of opportunity in His perfect timing. While you’re in the waiting stage, do whatever you can to hone your skills. Take a class. Attend a conference. Join or start a critique group. Study books on the craft of writing. Start a blog. Update your blog. Enter a contest. Submit a magazine article. Write a devotion and submit it to www.ChristianDevotions.us (that’s where I got my start).
Whatever you do, don’t quit. Keep writing for the Lord, and remember the words of Jeremiah 29:11: “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (MSG).
How have you overcome obstacles and conquered discouragement on your own road to publication? We would love to hear from you.

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What About Rejections? Part I

Now that we’re ready to dig into our various writing projects and (gulp!) even think about submitting a few…we face a common enemy: Fear of Rejection. To encourage your hearts, our faculty shared some of their rejection stories. Now you can say to yourself, “If they were rejected and look how far they’ve come… I can submit my work too.”

Terri Kelly

“My first rejection letter said my picture book didn’t meet the editorial needs of Peachtree Publishing.Poof…my great idea didn’t turn into a children’s book that kids adored, parents raved over, and teachers chose for story time. Instead of giving in, I geared up. Within a year, I attended my first writing conference where I learned all writers experience rejection. Eleven years later I don’t send out a manuscript until I’m confident the writing is my personal best. Yes, I’m cautious, but I’d rather take my time than send a weak manuscript. Before submitting, I share my manuscript with a writer’s group for critique, hire writing coaches to work with me one-on-one, and read, read, read. Don’t concede when rejections come. Gear up to learn how to write for the market, the publisher, and the reader.”

Lori Hatcher

“As I look back on the book proposals I’ve had rejected, they were rejected because something wasn’t quite right. Maybe the focus wasn’t strong enough, the concept wasn’t fresh, or the writing was mediocre.  But every rejection has made me refine my concept, polish my writing, or scrap the whole thing altogether and start over. Then, when the acceptances come, it’s a glorious thing—a book I can be proud of and one that would represent the Lord in the best way possible. I’ve learned to receive acceptances and rejections as divine redirection that pushes me further into God’s will.”

Edie Melson

Rejection can be brutal. At my very first writing conference I took a Bible study I’d written to pitch. It was the late 90s and no one but Kaye Arthur and Beth Moore were publishing Bible studies. Even though this was a huge Christian Conference, no publishers were taking pitches for them. But the conference staff suggested I talk to a nonfiction editor and take his continuing class. I met with him in a 15-minute appointment and it was tough. He suggested I take my in-depth Bible study and rework it into a cross-stitch or quilting gift book.
I wasn’t rude and thanked him for his time, but I was so upset I left my proposal on the table. When I got to his class the next day, he proceeded to use my proposal (with my name blacked out) as an example of how not to write and not to follow God in publishing.
 I was devastated and when I got back home, I locked away my writing. I was certain I’d heard from God and that dream was dead. Then the next year a got an anonymous scholarship to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Since it was anonymous, I had to go or risk wasting someone else’s money. Once there, God showed up in a big way and I sold my very first article to Focus on the Family.
God resurrected the dream I thought was dead. But God did more than that. He also birthed a passion to shepherd other writers as they try on the dream God has given them. As much as the enemy meant this for evil, God has used this for good in my life and in the lives of others. I praise Him for all He’s done and continues to do.

Steve Hutson

I wrote my first book back in the 1980s, and pitched it far and wide to dozens of publishers. Much to my dismay, fewer than half of them responded (and all rejections). No one gave a reason why.

When I started working as an agent almost nine years ago, I decided that I would be the nice guy. I would always give a reason for my rejections. Within a week, I discovered that most writers don’t REALLY want to know. They just want to argue with me.

Writers, if you should ever receive actionable feedback from an editor or agent, thank them for it and consider it gold. Even if you disagree. These are the people who could make all the difference in your career.

In the Bible, even for the prophets, God sent them human teachers. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.
.

********
On Thursday we’ll share more rejection stories from our faculty to encourage you to keep on, keeping on! Do you have a rejection story (or two) that you would like to share to encourage other writers? We want to hear them! Please leave your contact information in the comments, or send Carol Federlin Baldwin a private message on Facebook.
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How Write2Ignite is Unique

Most of you know that Write2Ignite is a conference to equip adult and teen writers of Christian-worldview literature for children and young adults. But what else does W2I provide?

One-on-One Consultations

Some conferences charge to schedule a one-on-one session with a faculty member. As a participant in Write2Ignite, you are entitled to two FREE consultations with the faculty member of your choice. This is a great opportunity to pitch your story, share your illustrations, or simply ask your burning questions!

Sign-ups for the 15 minute appointments with authors, agents, and publishers will begin at 5 PM on Friday, following the panel presentations. That gives you the opportunity to attend bonus and warm-up sessions and decide which professionals you want to talk to.  Brenda Covert will be available in the bookstore from 5-5:30 for those with questions about signing up. With the link to be announced on this website and W2I social media, you’ll be able to sign up on the electronic device of your choice (phone, tablet, laptop).

To sign up for an appointment, click on the link and scroll down the page until you see the (1–2) names of people you want to consult. (If you don’t have a way to do that, we’ll have staff available to help you.) Then check the available times, and type your name into an open space. Be sure to show up at the right time and place! Participating authors, editors, and agents will need to check the schedule for appointments!

If editors, presenters, or agents you prefer don’t have appointment slots available, you can still speak to them at the informal reception after Friday evening’s Session A workshops or visit with them during meal times. (The reception is scheduled for 8:45 – 9:30 pm in Hayes Ministry Center.) So don’t be shy!

Headshots

How many writing conferences have you attended where you had the opportunity to receive 4 to 6 professionally taken headshots suitable for business cards, book jackets, and social media at the nominal cost of $35.00? This is a great bonus for all W2I attendees.
Contact Cathy Biggerstaff at hiskid410@gmail.com to make an appointment. Check the workshop schedule before making your appointment to avoid missing part of a workshop you really wanted to take in. You’ll be able to sign up at the conference, but signing up ahead of time secures your time.

Silent Auction

A Silent Auction will be set up in Hayes Ministry Center. Items and services have been donated by supporters of Write2Ignite, with the proceeds to help provide conference programming. Stop by often to place your bids and check competing bids. Bid sheets will be taken up before the conference ends on Saturday and the items will be awarded during the final session giving you time to pay for and collect your treasures before you leave.
Auction items include writing critiques and writing books; a basket of home made soaps; a gift basket with Sentsy items; a pillow that a writer will love; and a gift certificate for a free painting opportunity with Truth Be Told Art. Rumor has it that Tony Snipes is donating a mystery prize!

Editors’ Choice Award

Another feature at W2I 2019 is the Editors’ Choice award. Editors, agents, or authors meeting in conferences with attendees can nominate a manuscript they deem worthy of publication. W2I Team or a designated third party will either select or draw names from eligible nominees. The manuscript must be for a children’s or YA publication and must reflect Christian worldview values.
 The nominee selected will win a certificate for Christian Book Proposals that provides a winning author with free use of the proposal service ($98 value). Christian Book Proposals, formerly Christian Manuscript Submissions, is a service of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).
Writers, this is a great time to work on polishing your best manuscript as you look forward to individual appointments with two presenters!

 

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“Writing a Book Can Be Easy”

http://intro2res2014.blogspot.com/2014/10/scientific-writing.html

Increasingly writers are bombarded with advertisements for writing courses or programs claiming to help them produce a book in timeframes as short as 24 hours or a few weeks.

Anyone can come up with ideas that can be copied into sentence-generating templates or outlines and compiled as a “book” – but is this really writing?

At W2I our vision includes fostering in Christian writers (and ourselves) excellent writing skills that will glorify the Lord. We believe that writing is intentional, crafted, and produced through a deliberate creative process:

  • finding, researching, ordering, and developing subject material
  • writing a draft
  • obtaining feedback from trustworthy readers (editors, critique partners, coaches)
  • diligent revision and editing
  • finally, pursuing publishing, if the writing is intended for wider distribution among a group or market.

We asked several W2I presenters for professional opinions on these proliferating speed-writing systems. Here are their replies:

Lori Hatcher

Author of the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year winner, Hungry for God … Starving for Time.

The process of writing a book is so much more than putting words on a page, more than filling up chapters, more than writing a table of contents and an epilogue. It’s honing your craft, finding your voice, connecting with your potential readers and fellow writers, and growing spiritually. These things can’t be rushed or squeezed into a template or 6 weeks. For the Christian writer, it’s about partnering with God to create and publish your book “in the fullness of time.” This fullness is as much about the work He’s doing in you than the work he’s doing through you in your writing. There’s no formula or short cut for this, only hard work and patient persistence. And a whole lot of Holy Spirit leadership.

 

Brenda Covert

Freelance Author, Editor

I don’t understand the appeal of speed-writing. When I’m working out a plot, a scene, or a section of dialogue, I need time to mull over the possibilities and consider the consequences for the characters. I love the creative process. It can’t be rushed! I can’t imagine anything truly meaningful coming out of a formula or generator.

Jean Hall

Picture book writer, Blogger

Many Christians dream of having a book in print (or on an e-screen). I’m concerned that we are confusing our dreams with God’s call to write for publication. They are not the same thing. Following God’s call for anything means preparation, study, paying our dues and the blood, sweat and tears of hard work.

Shortcuts bypass those necessary ingredients.

I used to tell new writers that it is not a publisher’s job to make my dreams come true. But lately I see many “dream-makers” creating all sorts of shortcuts for people with the dream of publication. Shortcuts seldom create enduring works that change lives.

Carol Baldwin

Author, Blogger, Writing Instructor

There’s no two ways about it: writing takes time, energy, and work. Formulaic writing does not result in rich, layered stories.

As I’ve worked on HALF-TRUTHS, my young adult novel, for over twelve years, I often thought that I was writing from the inside out. I had the kernel of the story even before I thought it was a YA novel (It actually started out as a picture book and then grew—but that’s another story.) Yes, I read books on writing (like Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas);  learned about The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet (of Save the Cat fame), and went to writers conferences where I learned about the Hero’s Journey. But these were tools to help me plan, develop, write, and rewrite. Each time I re-wrote my book, I drew closer to my characters’ motivation and goals; as well as to a deeper understanding of what I was trying to communicate to my readers. Each critique I received offered me insight into my story and the writing process. Over time I added layers of meaning to the characters’ relationship and personal stories.

That couldn’t have happened in a week, a month, or even in a year.

HALF-TRUTHS is richer as a result; and I’m a better (albeit older!) writer.

 

Deborah DeCiantis

Write2Ignite Director, Retired English Professor, Freelance Editor

The idea that writers would simply plug content into a basic template instead of crafting creations carefully designed for specific audiences and situations (God’s method from the first day of Creation), doesn’t fit the pattern of God’s interactions and relationships with individuals. Jesus didn’t tell just the same basic format for every parable, even though the genre is fairly straightforward and specific. There’s always symbolism and a kind of punch line/revelation, but also significant variety in tone.

Here’s an assessment of the Al Text Generator at The Verge, a generator that will help you “write stories, poems, news articles and more: “…you’ll soon see that, at a fundamental level, the system doesn’t understand language or the world at large. The text it generates has surface-level coherence but no long-term structure. When it writes stories, for example, characters appear and disappear at random, with no consistency in their needs or actions. When it generates dialogue, conversations drift aimlessly from topic to topic. If it gets more than a few responses, it seems like good luck, not skill.”

A really good writer who takes shortcuts is going to risk loss of quality and reputation. There  is no way to equate the quality of workmanship with that of someone who fills in the blanks.

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The Finishing Touch

Here’s a sneak peek at conference presenters with descriptions in their own words. We’ll be posting a teaser page each  Monday.

To register, visit: https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

 

Vijaya Bodach – Writing a Book that’s Controversial

 

Come to this workshop if you feel called to bring the Light of Christ to problems in this fallen world. What events in recent months have lit a fire under you to do something about them? Go ahead…list them. Pick ONE thing. Now, what can you reasonably expect to do? What can you do with the might of God supporting you? Dream. Write His Dream.

 

 

 

Attention Teens!

Carol Baldwin – Out of This World Fiction & Fantasy

Following up on Daniel Blackaby’s keynote and our previous workshops, we’ll consider important details to empower and invigorate your fantasy and science fiction stories. Consistency and believability are key!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Williams – Connecting With Kids

We were all kids once. Should it really be that hard to relate? Sadly for writers, childhood sometimes seems far away. We will explore some specific characteristics of three age groups between 4 and 11 years old that will remind you of the struggles and joys of being a kid. More than that, we’ll look at creative writing strategies that can target those childhood traits in ways that will excite and energize their minds.

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Matthew Hall – “The Challenges of Writing Fiction Picture Books”

Join us for Jean Matthew Hall’s workshop, “The Challenges of Writing Fiction Picture Books” as we dig into great picture books to search for nine elements that can make your picture books great.

 

 

 

 

Andrea Merrell – Turning Pain Into Prose

Have you ever experienced pain? You know, the gut-wrenching kind that makes you feel as if you’re going under for the third time with no life preserver? Maybe it was a chronic illness, abuse, or a prodigal child. Perhaps it was divorce or even death. Pain affects us all to some degree, but God doesn’t waste a single thing that goes on in our life. He wants us to share our stories to offer hope to those who are hurting. “Turning Pain into Prose “will show you how to dig deeply into those painful experiences to find inspiration, passion, and purpose for your writing.

 

 

Steve Hutson – What NOT to Say to an Agent or Editor

No how matter how good your story, or how awesome your execution, it might not be enough. You still have to sell this thing. Learn what to say — and, very importantly — what NOT to say, when pitching your book.

CONGRATULATIONS to Diane Buie who won an autographed copy of Maiden of Iron: A Steampunk Novel from last week’s giveaway.