Write2Ignite

Christian Writers of Literature for Children and Young Adults

Category: Success Stories

COMBAT!

Do you have an idea for a nonfiction book but you’re not sure what goes into finding the right publisher and writing the proposal? In this post, Dennis Peterson, a W2I 2018 attendee, shares the backstory for his forthcoming book, COMBAT! Lessons on Spiritual Warfare from Military History

 

CAROL: Please tell us about COMBAT! that recently went under contract with TouchPoint Press. What is the backstory behind writing it? What was your inspiration?

DENNIS: I’m a history buff with a special interest in military history and a student of the Bible. Those two interests merged as I saw parallels between the Christian’s daily struggles and military history. I thought that held possibilities for a book.

But I wanted my book to go beyond the typical treatment of Ephesians 6:10–18; there’s so much more to spiritual warfare. My book discusses parallels of chain of command and control, communications, logistics, weaponry, strategy, and tactics. It surveys the major military engagements of Israel’s history and modern warfare.

CAROL: That sounds fascinating! What qualifications prepared you to write this book?

DENNIS: I’m a Christian, study God’s Word, taught history for nineteen years, and have been published widely.

CAROL: What did you include in your proposal to TouchPoint?

DENNIS: The proposal included a synopsis, a statement showing my book’s uniqueness, my credentials, a market analysis, an annotated table of contents, a statement concerning documentation, a blurb about my artist, and three sample chapters. I sent out five initial queries simultaneously, but I sent a complete proposal package only to the publishers who requested one.

I researched various publishers to identify those that were most likely to publish material like mine. After several rejections from other publishers, TouchPoint requested a full proposal and later the complete manuscript.

CAROL: What attracted you to TouchPoint?

DENNIS: I liked the fact that they refused to consider manuscripts that contained what both of us consider “objectionable elements.” Only a short time earlier they had entered the Christian marketplace, and I figured that they might be “hungry” for new writers with a Christian message. They said that they published history and military as well as Christian living, and my book combines all of those topics. They are small, and I figure that they will have more time and motivation to promote my book than a large or mid-sized publisher would. I had studied their web site and the books they’ve already published, and I liked what I saw.

CAROL: Was the manuscript complete when you queried?

DENNIS: I had essentially finished writing the manuscript before I submitted it. I knew that if publishers were interested they would request sample chapters. Not knowing which chapters they might request, I decided to write the whole thing before submitting.

CAROL: What is next in the publishing process? Do you expect it will be edited?

DENNIS: I’m proofing the manuscript, writing captions for the illustrations and photos, and waiting for the artist to finalize his illustrations. Then I’ll scan and send them plus the completed manuscript to the publisher. I don’t know the level of edit the book will receive. I always aspire to write so well that the editor has an easy time of it.

CAROL: Can you tell us about some of the illustrations? Is the illustrator also doing the cover art?

DENNIS: The illustrator I hired is creating nine watercolor illustrations of such things as military vehicles, armor, weapons, and other equipment, both ancient and modern. I also plan to include several photographs of historical military subjects.

The illustrator will not be doing the cover art; the publisher will do that. They asked for my input–what I did and did not want the cover to show–and requested any photo possibilities. I did a mockup cover to show what I envisioned. Not sure if they’ll use it, adapt it, or come up with something entirely different.

CAROL: Can you give us an example of one of your lessons?

DENNIS: Although I can’t provide the actual text, one of the lessons in my book deals with logistics, or the supplying of troops with food and equipment. In the Christian life, the individual “soldier” must eat properly and regularly on spiritual food. That includes the encouragement of communion, fellowship, and prayer with others.

CAROL: Do you have a pub date?

DENNIS: I’m not yet sure of the publication date. The publisher says “within 18 months of acceptance.” My experience with my first book indicates it might be sooner than that. The publisher’s editor is scheduled to begin work on my manuscript the first week of August and has scheduled two weeks. I suspect she has a built-in buffer and am hoping that she will get through it faster than that. I’m hoping that the entire production process will be completed by November or earlier. But who knows?

CAROL: How did your conference experience at Write2Ignite in 2018 help you move forward in your writing career?

DENNIS: The most important thing the Write2Ignite conference did for me was to motivate me to take a chance and submit my work. I struggle with the fear of failure. No one likes to be rejected! The conference sessions inspired me to submit despite those fears and to leave the results with God.

CAROL: We all struggle with that! Thanks for this interview, Dennis, and best wishes on your forthcoming book. I think it will be one that will inform and inspire adults and teens.

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If you have questions about how to write a nonfiction proposal, leave them here and Dennis will do his best to answer them. Look for a review of COMBAT! next year.

 

Dennis L. Peterson is an independent author and historian and a former editor and educator. His first book was Confederate Cabinet Departments and Secretaries (McFarland, 2016), and he has had articles on historical, educational, and religious topics published in many journals and magazines, including The Writer, Blue Ridge Country, True West, Smoky Mountain Living, and Nature Friend. Find out more about Dennis’s books and the writing process on his blog.

BOUND by Vijaya Bodach

Disclaimer: Although we support this book because it is strongly pro-life and addresses several serious issues, the main character in Bound occasionally uses language that some Christians might find offensive. 

Within the first pages of Bound by Vijaya Bodach, the reader realizes that this is going to be a book that deals with serious issues. The main character, seventeen-year-old Rebecca Joshi, who was adopted from India at birth, was burned six years earlier over 50% of her body; her older sister, Joy, is intellectually impaired; their mother died a year ago and their father has emotionally withdrawn from his daughters. To be honest, I thought, is all that drama necessary in one novel? 

Guess what?

It is.

Rebecca struggles for freedom. She wants to get rid of her burned skin–a constant reminder of how freakish she looks. She remembers her first “so-called cosmetic surgery… At age eleven-and-half. Yes, sir. Cosmetic. Because nobody ever died from looking hideous.” (p. 13)

And she wants to get rid of her time-consuming and emotionally-draining responsibility for Joy. Rebecca, not their father, is the one who makes sure Joy gets to work. Rebecca is the younger sister who sticks up for her big sister when Joy is called a “retard.” Their father, Rebecca concludes, is his own god. 

One evening Joy urges Rebecca to come folk-dancing with her. 

“I’ll hold your hand,” Joy says. “I’ll never leave you.”

That’s what I’m afraid of sometimes. I don’t want us to be like a binary star system–circling each other forever. (p. 6)

Rebecca wants desperately to go to medical school so she can return to India and help impoverished children. Hand in hand with this desire is her yearning to fling off the burden of always watching over Joy.

Rebecca helps Joy become more independent which relieves her of some of the responsibility she inherited after their mother’s death. But as a result, Joy spends more and more time with a man from work and gets pregnant. Although Joy feels letdown by her boyfriend who wants no part of being a father, she quickly becomes attached to her unborn child. Rebecca sees the baby as one more obstacle to her leaving home for medical school and takes Joy to an abortion clinic. 

At the abortion clinic Rebecca removes the ultrasound gel from Joy’s belly and remembers her burn treatment.

They soaked me in a warm tub and my dead skin would peel off. What didn’t come off had to be scrubbed off. They’d hold me down and rub away the stinking flesh. The nurses always said they knew I didn’t have inhalation injuries because of my strong lungs. I wonder how I survived as I scrape the paper towel over Joy’s beautiful belly one last time. She doesn’t realize how lucky she is the pregnancy is not permanent. She can return to her normal life after this crisis is over. I have not been so fortunate. The massive burns have changed me and my life forever. I’m not even the same person I used to be. (p. 94)

Joy rejects abortion–much to Rebecca’s and their father’s disapproval. But gradually, Rebecca changes her mind as the unborn child becomes more real to the family. The three return to India to visit a beloved grandmother. In the familiar country of her birth, Rebecca thinks about why her mother put her up for adoption. After she considers the possible scenarios, she concludes, “Whatever the cause she didn’t want me. But at least she didn’t deny me my life.” (p. 165) 

The dichotomy between Rebecca’s high intelligence but deformed body, and Joy’s simplistic thinking yet voluptuous body runs throughout the book.  An additional thread is the mystery of the events surrounding Rebecca’s accident. The reader discovers bits and pieces of what happened when Rebecca was 11–but the true story is not revealed until close to the end.

This beautifully written story shows a realistic portrayal of a young adult facing many personal, family, cultural, and moral dilemmas. The satisfactory ending–including the father’s change of heart and accepting responsibility for Joy’s future–will leave the reader feeling hopeful for Rebecca, Joy and her baby, and their family. 

In our present socio-political climate, I applaud Vijaya Bodach for her brave pro-life position. I hope Bound will be a meaningful tool that counselors will use with young women experiencing an unwanted pregnancy.  

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By the way– Vijaya will be leading three workshops at our fall conference!

For a look into what inspired Vijaya to write this book, see Author Interview – Part I. For her decision to self-publish please see Author Interview- Part II. The review was first published on my blog.

When Carol is not working on her YA novel Half-Truths or blogging, you’ll find her traveling, trying to improve her golf game, or playing and reading books to one of her six grandchildren. A new member of the Write2Ignite Team, Carol seeks to serve the Lord with the writing gifts He has given her. She has published two non-fiction books and dozens of newspaper and magazine articles and enjoys teaching writing to teens and adults. For more information, please visit her blog where she reviews and gives away gobs of books!

Life After a Writers’ Conference

How can I capture in words what last year’s Write2Ignite conference meant to me? Attending my first-ever writers’ conference left me feeling (and probably looking) like a deer in headlights! I left with an overwhelming conviction of the need for Christian writers and with a vast amount of information gleaned from each workshop. God lit a fire in me to pursue writing as I never had before.

At Write2Ignite, I had a conversation with Brenda Covert about poetry and Union Gospel Press. That conversation led me to apply to write for Union Gospel Press after the conference. Months passed, and I received an acceptance to write for the press’s Sunday school curriculum. What a small but positive step in the large world of writing and publishing!

Another opportunity opened when I created a writers’ club with friends at my church. This August, our team will celebrate its first-year anniversary as Women of the Word: Overcomers Writing Group.

You know, I still have my folder of notes from last year’s conference; and every now and then, I glance through the pages of inspiration that first ignited a drive in me to truly go for it! The 2017 conference still speaks life into my writing.

I think it’s safe to say that God will surely amaze us with all He wants to accomplish in the many creative people He’ll bring to this year’s conference. I hope to meet you there so we can see what God does!

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Want to know more about Diane and her writing? Connect with her on Facebook.

Contest: Teen Track Comments Wanted!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Jenna Turner, the winner of our teen contest!

Keynote presenters, workshop choices, editor and agent appointments, professional critiques, and contests—these benefits are available to both students and adults who attend the Write2Ignite Conference on September 21–22, 2018!

Carol Baldwin, who’s returning as a presenter, chose students’ potential as her “success story” focus: “When I taught the teens several years ago, I was impressed with their enthusiasm and maturity. Whenever I attend W2I, I’m excited that there are so many fellow Christians who want to serve the Lord with their writing talents.”

Teen Track participants: It’s your turn! Submit your comments about your experience at a previous W2I conference OR your hopes and goals for attending W2I 2018!

Submit comments by

Each week, we’ll draw from the Teen Track comments submitted. The winner of each week’s drawing will receive a free book!

CONTESTS and CRITIQUES reminders and announcements:

  1. Don’t forget to check the guidelines for entering the “Faith and Freedom” writing contest that EA Books Publishing and W2I are co-sponsoring. Winners will be announced at the W2I Conference on September 22! (This contest is open to both adults and students attending W2I on September 21–22. The deadline for submissions is August 20!)
  2. Watch for another “FLASH” contest announcement coming soon! That contest will be open to middle and high school students only.
  3. Teen Track participants are eligible for PRE-conference two-for-one critiques and conference critiques. If you have a manuscript, check out our Critiques tab for details!

Write2Ignite Conference Celebrates Success Stories!

Maria Bostian: author of What Should Daisy Do? and Firefighters’ Busy Day

As Write2Ignite Conference 2018 approaches, we want to highlight what we’re calling “Success Stories”: stories of past participants whose attendance at W2I led to specific contacts, published work, and even jobs! We often emphasize the benefits of attending a writing conference—benefits that include networking, learning, honing skills, and gaining inspiration and encouragement—and it’s time to celebrate some W2I benefits that our attendees have shared!

Maria Bostian, Fire & Life Safety Educator at Kannapolis Fire Department, first attended in 2014 and credits both professional and personal gains to W2I:

“[The] most important thing that happened as far as my writing is concerned: I met [Brenda Covert, Editor at Ambassador International] during one of the ten- minute critiques. It was fate! I missed my first session [ . . . ] I didn’t know to interrupt when someone was taking up my time. (It was my first conference and I just didn’t know these things.) I was upset and didn’t know what to do so they let me sign up again and I signed up with [Brenda, who] suggested that I make a few changes to my manuscript and submit it to Sam [Lowry]. I did and went on to publish it and another fire safety book with Ambassador International.

“[The] most important thing personally: I met Laura. She and I were both a few minutes late and we registered at the same time. We had to practically run in the rain to the next building to get to the pre-conference workshop. We forged a friendship that is still going strong. We are each other’s sounding boards, pillars, shoulders to cry on, cheerleaders, and most importantly . . . each other’s Friday accountability partner! That’s something unique and special that I believe has something to do with the true magic that takes place at Write2Ignite.”

 

To learn more about Maria Bostian, you can find her books and read reviews on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2qbhcXp; visit her author website, https://mariabostian.com/; or check out her author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MJBostian.

 

A Case of Grace at W2I!

In this post, author Kristi M. Butler shares how her new books about Groundhog Day and groundhogs emerged from attendance at Write2Ignite Conference, a vacation cabin, and meeting illustrator Samantha S. Bell.

Write2Ignite is one of my “happy places”! Perusing the website and blog brings back sweet memories and never fails to bring a smile to my face. Ah . . . the scrumptious Italian smorgasbord with the W2I team on the night before the conference . . . chauffeuring well-known authors from the Sleep Inn to NGU . . . belly laughs with friends, old and new . . . hanging out with faculty and attendees over coffee and cookies . . . listening to and learning from some of the best in the business . . . being encouraged and encouraging others . . . growing in my walk with the Lord . . . watching God work in lives to further His kingdom as [participants] write and illustrate for children and young adults!

I was privileged to be at the first Write2Ignite conference! As I had the joy of watching W2I grow and develop over the years, little did I know that God had been at work since that very first meeting to forge a relationship—a friendship and a working partnership—to bring fruition to His plans for our futures.

If you’re a follower of Write2Ignite, you should be familiar with my sweet friend Samantha Schweizer Bell. She’s a part of the W2I planning team. She’s also a fabulous artist and has written and/or illustrated over one hundred books for children!

Now, long before I met Samantha, groundhogs started running amuck in my brain. That craziness began in a mountain cabin named “Amazing Grace.” I’d actually never given much thought to groundhogs until the weekend I spent there, but since that time, my life has been forever changed! A groundhog burrow and its inhabitants just outside the door quickly became fodder for stories that led to adventures I’d never dreamed of . . . traveling not just once, but twice, to Punxsutawney, PA (the home of the famous weather prognosticator Punxsutawney Phil), and cuddling cheek to cheek with North Carolina’s own predictor of winter’s length, Sir Walter Wally! These events gave a new meaning to Habakkuk 1:5, which says, in part, “Be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

The groundhog playground in my mind and in my writing is called Amazing Grace Acres. Samantha has brought that place and its many creatures to life through her beautiful artwork. Guardian Angel Publishing has contracted with us for the series of Amazing Grace Acres books.

This is the beauty of God’s work to me. His grace. As the hymn “Come Thou Fount” says, “Oh to grace, how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.” Those words are so piercing. So profound. Yet, in my desperate need for grace, He sees fit to work in and through me to lead others to fundamental truths in His Word and to spiritual life lessons—even in the antics of two little groundhogs. Amazing Grace. The uniting of two women seeking to use His gifts to further His Kingdom, and the joy of working together. Grace upon grace.

I give thanks to the Lord for Write2Ignite and the case of grace He gave me there!

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Kristi Butler has been promoted after over 20 years in the elementary classroom to full-time Grandmommy to the cutest groundhog-loving grandbabies you’ve ever seen! In her free time, 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’s currently illustrating 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 at Amazing Grace Acres!

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