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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.
.

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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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Part III- What is Our Faculty Looking Forward To?

For the last two Thursdays, we’ve been hearing what our team and attendees are looking forward to at the 2019 Conference. Today we hear from some of our faculty. For more information about each one of these workshop leaders, please consult our Faculty page.

Tessa Emily Hall, Author and Associate Agent Hartline Literary Agency

Since I began attending this conference as a teen writer, Write2Ignite holds a special place in my heart! Every year I look forward to returning to this campus, which is cozied in the mountains, and being surrounded by people who share my passion for writing for the youth. I am always shocked at how much this conference can pack into these two days—inspirational keynotes, informative workshops, encouraging meetings with professionals, and more. This year, I especially look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. And, of course, hearing from the social media expert, Edie Melson! If I have a chance to glean from the other sessions, I would love to hear Daniel Blackaby’s workshop, “Tolkein, Lewis, and Christian Imagination,” as well as Tony Snipes’ workshop on jumpstarting your writing business. But it looks like I wouldn’t go wrong with attending any of these workshops! 

Lori Hatcher, Author and Editor of Reach Out Colombia 

So many kind people have shared their knowledge with me over the course of my writing journey. What I’m most looking forward to is sharing some of the tips and tricks of the trade I’ve learned with others so they don’t have to figure it out on their own. I love helping writers polish their writing, so the 15-minute critique times are always fun. I get to read what others are writing and (hopefully) add some sparkle or shine.

Edie Melson, Author and Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

I call it eavesdropping on God. Because I’m part of the faculty, I get to hear some of what God’s doing in ways others don’t. It’s so encouraging to see the care our Heavenly Father takes with each dream and calling. I also look forward to “geeking out” on technical discussions of grammar, publishing and the writing craft!

Jean Hall, Picture Book Author and Blogger

I’m looking forward to spending time with old writing friends and making new ones. I’m also excited to help attendees hone their skills at writing picture books. I relish every opportunity to teach people about something I love as much as creating picture books.

Kim Peterson, Writer, Freelance Editor, Writing Mentor

I am looking forward to meeting aspiring writers and helping them find answers to their questions about writing. I also enjoy seeing how their ideas develop and their writing skills grow during the conference as they learn new techniques and they make new writing friends. I also enjoy hearing from returning conferees. Many share how God provided a great contact for them, or they’ve sold an article, or their new picture book or novel is now in print. I love rejoicing with them!

Kenzi Nevins, Junior Agent at C.Y.L.E

I’m super excited to talk about this exciting and constantly-growing industry I’m so passionate about, as well as hear pitches from some amazing writers and illustrators! I love spreading awareness about the illustration industry and some of the changes in it in regard to publishing. Also, I adore hearing about people’s books! Whether it’s the genre I represent or not, I’d love to talk to you and help you figure out what your next steps are. 

Terri Kelly, Author

On Friday, what sounds fascinating to me is Tony Snipe’s talk on five things he learned in corporate America. Who doesn’t want to learn how to jumpstart their writing business?

Since I’ve written strictly non-fiction, I want to hear all about how to deepen your Middle Grade/YA Novel from Kim Peterson. I’m ready to dip my toe into fiction for kids.

And of course, Jean Hall’s going to give me everything I need to know about writing picture books for children in her class on Saturday afternoon. I expect I’ll be ready to pen a picture book as soon as Write2Ignite is over.

Can’t wait to go! How about you?

Linda Phillips

I have heard about W2I conference for years, especially through the eyes of good friends Carol Baldwin, Jean Matthews Hall and Donna Earnhardt. Now I finally have the opportunity to experience it myself and I am totally excited!  I agree with Carol’s assessment that this conference exudes “encouragement and helpfulness” and I hope my contribution, “Using Verse to Get to the Heart of Your Story” fits into those themes.  I am enjoying learning about the wonderful staff, and can’t wait to meet Deborah, Diane, Gail and Brenda. I always come away from conferences with new insights, great inspirations, and a host of new friends. I know this conference will offer all of that and more, and I can’t wait!

Vijaya Bodach

I am so excited there are times I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. What am I looking forward to? In a nutshell:
catching up with old friends, making new ones, soaking up all the goodness, learning from you all, and sharing what I know generously.
What a grace-filled weekend it’s going to be with my fellow Christian soldiers!

God bless, Vijaya

Steve Hutson

Fellowship with my tribe. And if I should find a kindred spirit to work with? Even better.

 

 

 

 

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Decisions, Decisions

Here’s a sneak peek at conference presenters with descriptions in their own words. We’ll be posting a teaser page each  Monday. You still have time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

Visit: https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

 

Kim Peterson – Deepen Your Middle Grade & Young Adult Novels

In this hands-on workshop, explore how to make your MG and YA novels more compelling. First, determine your novel’s theme and learn ways to reveal that message to the readers, making it memorable. Then, get to know your characters better by deepening characterization: explore your characters’ goals, what motivates them to pursue those goals, and how conflict grows your characters as they overcome obstacles. Finally, transport your readers into your
novel’s setting. Whether your characters visit the past, the present, the future, or a new land, learn how to create a place your readers want to visit often.

 

Nancy Lohr – Read Like a Writer

Just as athletes watch game tapes to study other athletes, writers need to analyze the work of other writers. You should read widely and read well both for inspiration and instruction. Whether intuitively or intentionally, writers need to read with a different focus and greater awareness than the average reader does. This workshop will examine various techniques for reading like a writer.

Attention Teens! Carol Baldwin – Creating a Sensory Setting

The Lord has given us five senses. So, why do we just describe things which our characters see? In this hands-on workshop we’ll touch, taste, hear, smell, AND see things that our characters may experience in different settings.

 

 

 

How I Turned a Facebook Page Into a Weekly Storytelling Medium.

I  give you a box with an “ON” switch in the palm of your hand.
I then tell you to close your eyes and think about a couple of those
publishing ideas you’ve been kicking around. While your eyes are still closed, I task you to choose one of those ideas…the one story you feel most people have the most excitement for.

You choose that one topic and then you open your eyes! Now you immediately flip the switch and you discover that what you’ve actually launched with that switch was…your own weekly magazine with content based on the idea you chose! This magazine you just published is full color, distributed all over the nation and has an audience that loving greats you each week, ready to consume more content related to your story.

If something like this is real, it simply couldn’t be free. And it’s not. What it costs is a little time, in exchange for your first 1,000 readers. Attend “How I Turned a Facebook Page Into a Weekly Storytelling Medium” and you will leave with a roadmap that reflects how Tony converted a Facebook business page into a weekly publication with an audience of readers from 0 to 5,000 people. No tricks or internet shortcuts, but proven steps applied to a modern reading platform.

Samantha Bell – Polishing Your Picture Book

You finally have the text of your picture book down on paper. You’ve heard every manuscript should be revised, but yours is only a few hundred words long. What more could it need? You’ll find out in Polishing Your Picture Book! In this workshop, attendees may bring along a copy of their works-in-progress. As a group, we’ll read as many as time allows. Then we’ll consider ways to polish the manuscript to get it ready for submission. Even if your story is still in the idea stage, you’ll learn valuable tips for writing your own picture book!  

 

 

Daniel Blackaby – Tolkien, Lewis, & Christian Imagination

Daniel Blackaby

How would you feel if your best friends called your book “almost worthless” or a “carelessly written jumble”? This was J. R. R. Tolkien’s review of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The two dear friends are forever linked together as fathers of Christian fiction and Art, but each had a radically different idea of what Christian fiction should be. Their greatest legacy was not to establish a narrow template for Christian writers to follow, but to demonstrate that there is no template. In this seminar, Daniel Blackaby will explore these two vastly different approaches and showcase the great freedom you have as a Christian writer. 

 

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Finally Friday AND TWO GIVEAWAYS!

Here’s a sneak peek at conference presenters with descriptions in their own words. We’ll be posting a teaser page each  Monday. You still have time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

Visit: https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

Tony Snipes – 5 MORE Things I Learned in Corporate America

 

What do you and CBS have in common? You create stories for an audience to consume…and so do they. You try to grow your audience with those stories while staying true to your values…and so do they. You have a need to generate resources that support the creation of those stories…and so do they.

There are practices that corporate content creators have been putting in effect for decades that allow them to distribute their stories and generate a profit while they do it.

This workshop will give you access to an insider’s view of corporate
storytellers. Corporate storytellers such as The Greenville News and local CBS affiliate WSPA have a lot in common with you as a writer: the need to create stories and earn a living in the process.

In my workshop, “Five MORE Things I Learned from Corporate America that Help Your Writing Business Pay for Itself ” we’ll unpack what I learned from corporate America that help your writing business pay for itself.

 

Edie Melson – Love the World You Build

As fiction writers, we are world builders. It doesn’t matter what genre we pursue, we are still creating an imaginary place for readers to hang out and experience our stories. These worlds are limited only by our imagination. But just like in the physical world, there are rules we must follow—a lot of the time we get to make up the rules—but there are still rules.
In my workshop, “Love the World You Build,” I share how to build a consistent world that makes sense for your reader. We’ll discuss the power of language and invented words, research for places that have actually existed and how to make your setting an important character in the story you tell.

 

 

 

Linda Vigen Phillips – Using Verse to Get to the Heart of Your Story

                                       

Writing a verse novel may not be your intention or even your cup of tea, but writing in verse can be good for your writing health.  As writers, we all mine our past, and capturing difficult or sensitive memories in verse is a therapeutic exercise that can lead to strong story elements.  Suffering from writer’s block? Throw rules out the window and jot down whatever comes to mind in a free-verse format. Want to probe deeper into your characters?  Have them write their hearts out in verse. This method is particularly effective in capturing the depth and voice of a protagonist on a spiritual journey.  

In, “Using Verse to Get to the Heart of Your Story,” we will explore a variety of formats that authors have used successfully in their verse novels.  Participants will have the opportunity to turn an emotionally charged memory or idea into free verse, and to use a shape poem to show setting, action, or mood.   

 

Kenzi Nevins – An ILLUSTRATOR’S Market: Portfolio, Platform, and Proposals

 

Imagine walking into a bookstore and seeing a line of stuffed animals above the children’s book section…but these aren’t just any animals, they’re yours! The illustrations from your book, brought to life. What does it take to stand out in today’s increasingly freelance illustration market? What tools does an illustrator need once the drawings are finished to have kids, adults, and EDITORS begging for more? Come to “An Illustrator’s Market: Portfolio, Platform, and Proposals” to find out!

 

                     

Nancy Lohr – The Plot Thickens

 

An idea, an emotion, a hero or heroine (the protagonist) all are necessary elements to include in a novel for children, but none of these are suitable for a strong and compelling plot. My workshop. “The Plot Thickens” will look at a variety of ways to develop a plot that will hold a reader’s attention and deliver a satisfying forward-moving story.

 

 

                                     

                                      Attention Teens

Carol Baldwin – Let Your Characters Do the Heavy Work

 

Try this recipe for story success: Start with a memorable, authentic protagonist. Add a complicated, believable antagonist. Put them into a sensory setting and watch what conflicts ensue.  In this workshop, we’ll complete several writing exercises that will help you deepen your unforgettable, true-to-life characters.

 

                                                     

 

Two Giveaways

 

 

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Sneak Peek: Carol Baldwin’s Presentations for W2I 2018

Ready for Write2Ignite 2018? I’ll be leading three workshops at the conference: “Strangers in a Strange Land,” “Fiction Writing” (Teen Track), and “Writing Historical Fiction.” Let me describe them for you!

“Strangers in a Strange Land”

In Exodus 2:22, Moses names his son Gershom because Moses was a stranger in a strange land.

Christian writers, in some ways, are also “strangers”—in the secular publishing world.

How can we, if we’re Christians, honor Christ as writers in a largely non-Christian domain? What’s our calling as Christian writers? What’s our privilege? How do we fit—or fail to fit—in the secular publishing world? There are no easy answers. Nevertheless, in my interactive workshop “Strangers in a Strange Land,” we’ll examine ourselves, this “strange land,” ways to integrate our faith into our writing, and our presence in the secular world.

“Fiction Writing” (Teen Track)

I love teaching teens; they have out-of-this-world ideas for their characters and plots. True, sometimes their lack of inhibition must be tempered by plausibility, but their enthusiasm is contagious and inspirational!

In my Teen Track workshop, “Fiction Writing,” I’ll teach teens the following:

  • how to exercise their muscle words (All groans aside, this skill does involve actual exercise!)
  • how and why writers should use mentor texts
  • how a red pencil is their best friend
  • how to jazz up their writing by showing rather than telling
  • how details make a difference in crafting genre fiction

“Writing Historical Fiction”

I love historical fiction almost as much as I love teaching teens!

My hands-on workshop “Writing Historical Fiction” will involve the following topics:

  • R—Research. Should you read newspapers? Magazines? Books? Should you read fiction or nonfiction? Microfilm? How do you know when your research is done?
  • E—Experts. How can you find experts to consult about your story? What should you ask them? How should you use an expert’s story to inform your story?
  • A—Arrange. How can you create a system to keep track of notes, interviews, and photos?
  • D—Details and drafts. What details do you need to create an authentic story? How do you move from writing rough drafts to homing in on your story?

If you plan to attend this workshop, please bring your favorite historical novel. If you’re working on a project, bring one or two pages of your work.

Looking forward to seeing you at the conference in September!

***

Carol Baldwin

Carol Baldwin loves teaching writing and has presented at many educational, library, and writing conferences. She taught in the continuing education department at Central Piedmont Community College, coordinated the Charlotte SCBWI group for over twenty years, and co-publishes Talking Story, a newsletter for educators and media specialists.

Carol’s most recent book is Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4–8 (Maupin House, 2008). Currently, she’s working on her first young adult novel, which is set in North Carolina in 1952.

Find Carol’s book reviews, writing tips, and classes at CarolBaldwinBlog.blogspot.com, and follow her on her Facebook page or Twitter (@CBaldwinAuthor). You can also contact her at cbaldwin6@me.com.

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Sneak Peek: Samantha Bell’s Presentation for W2I 2018

You’ve finished your picture book manuscript. You’ve read it over and over again, and you’ve revised it several times. The children in your life love it. You’ve even had a writing friend or two critique it for you. Finally, it’s ready to submit . . . or is it?

In my workshop “Polishing Your Picture Book,” we’ll read manuscripts and discuss how they can be polished even more. At the start of the class, brave attendees may submit their manuscripts; we’ll go over as many as time allows. We’ll examine things like word count, word choice, dialogue, pacing, story arc, illustration possibilities, and more. We’ll also discuss possible markets for the stories. If you’re not quite feeling up to the challenge, don’t worry—you don’t have to submit anything! Come to this informative discussion, and learn what makes a good picture book manuscript even better.

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Author and illustrator Samantha Bell signed her first contract to illustrate a picture book in 2007. Since then, she has illustrated twenty more, including four of her own. She’s also the author of numerous nonfiction books for children and a regular contributor for Clubhouse Jr. and Kid’s Ark. You can find her online at SamanthaSBell.com

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Sneak Peek: Jean Matthew Hall’s Presentations for W2I 2018

Hello, everyone! This year’s Write2Ignite conference is coming up fast. As one of the presenters at the conference, I’ll be leading two workshops: “Children’s Book Categories” and “Writing from Childhood Memories.” Let me tell you about them.

“Children’s Book Categories”

Foundational to writing successfully for children is a clear knowledge of children’s literature, including knowledge about the distinctions among book genres and the different categories of books for children.

You might have many questions about book genres and categories. For example, maybe you’re thinking, “How is a picture book different from an early-reader book? After all, both are written for similar audience ages and include plenty of illustrations.”

My workshop “Children’s Book Categories”—which includes Q&A time—will help you gain a fuller understanding of how book genres and categories work. I’ll explain the difference between book genres and book categories and then define the commonly accepted categories of books for children and young adults. After attending this workshop, you’ll be better equipped to create stories, describe them, and pitch them to agents or publishers.

“Writing from Childhood Memories”

Remember the time you jumped off a dock and almost drowned? So embarrassing!

Or that time you tried to rescue your cat from a tree and got stuck while the cat jumped down to freedom? Really scary, huh?

How about that awful, terrible, messy divorce your parents went through when you were eight years old? Remember how you just wanted to curl up and die?

Remember the year your family moved to Texas? Remember how you had absolutely no friends all summer, and boredom, anger, and resentment filled your heart?

Inspiration often comes from our memories of childhood or from events in our children’s lives. But times change, cultures change, toys change, and technologies change. As a result, stories that we base on our childhoods, which might have happened twenty or thirty years ago, must also change.

Here are some tips to help you shape stories that are based on events from your childhood:

  • Don’t try to capture details of a remembered event in your story. Rather, capture the emotions you felt before, during, and after the event. Show your characters experiencing those same emotions. Change the details but keep the feelings.
  • Don’t try to accurately portray real people from a remembered event (unless you’re writing a biography). Rather, seize one or two traits of each person, and make those traits bigger, better, uglier, smarter, faster, slower, and more beautiful than they were in real life. Doing so will enable you to create memorable characters your readers can relate to.

That’s how to translate your own childhood experiences into stories that today’s kids will love.

Attend my workshop to learn more! I can’t wait to see you there.

***

Jean Matthew Hall, who served as founding director of Write2Ignite Conference from 2008 to 2016, is a retired educator and administrator. Her experiences listening to “the hearts of teachers, children, and parents” have led to her goal of crafting “stories that encourage and edify both children and the caring adults in their lives.” This passion has fueled both her writing career and her past service in leading Write2Ignite Conference, which is designed to inform and equip Christian writers to create and publish quality reading materials for younger audiences.

To read more by and about Jean, check out her blogs and book reviews at her website, JeanMatthewHall.com. You can also read an interview about her pending book series with Little Lamb Publishing at LittleLambBooks.com.