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Reflecting with Award-Winning Author and Speaker, Karen Whiting

Karen Whiting is an international speaker and award-winning author of eighteen books, including The One Year Devotions for Active Boys.

Her writing experience includes more than 600 magazine articles in more than sixty periodicals. She has had more than one hundred children’s dramas and puppet scripts published.

Sought-after speaker Karen speaks at Christian writers’ conferences and will present three workshops at the 2015 Write2Ignite! Writers’ Conference in March.

Until then, let’s get better acquainted.

Karen, what were three of your favorite moments in 2014?

  1. Working with children at the I-FEST (at ICRS)
  2. Retreat with the Midshipmen from the Naval Academy
  3. Enjoying Christmas with my family

What is the ICRS?

ICRS is the International Christian Retail Show (where the industry gets together once a year to display the new releases to retailers). I signed my book, Nature Girl, there with my daughter and co-autor (Rebecca White)

Congratulations! I’m sure that was a special time for you and your daughter. Tell me more about the Naval Academy retreat.

The retreat was an OCF (Officer Christian Fellowship retreat) held at the OCF conference center in Mann’s Choice, PA. I help with the OCF fellowship and Bible studies twice a week and I’m always available to talk and encourage mids. I’ve been in OCF for 49 years (late husband was a Coast Guard Officer). I cook the meal for Thursday nights and bake cookies for Tuesday nights during the Academic year.

Karen, what a wonderful gift of you time and talents.  At what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue writing?

I never wanted to be a writer. My degree is in mathematics and I love numbers. God called me to write after my first child started college.

Looking back over your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?

How many adventures I would have and how much fun it would be to connect with readers.

Is there anything particular you hope to learn this year?

A little more about writing fiction.

Do you remember one of your favorite books from your childhood? What made it special?

Five Little Peppers and How they Grew. My mother read it to us, and we laughed together as we listened.

What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?

Flatland by a Square. It opened my mind to relativity and other wonders of science and math.

If awarded one day to talk with three authors (from any time period), whom would you choose?

Lewis Carol, Paul, and Pearl S. Buck

What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?

  1. Use strong verbs and then find stronger ones to replace them.
  2. Use sidebars and other pizzazz factors to add fun elements to your book.
  3. Be creative and let your imagination go wild.

Karen, thank you for sharing with us. We look forward to seeing you and gleaning some of that pizzazz from you in March!

Readers, you can connect with Karen at her website: www.karenwhiting.com

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenHWhiting

Twitter handle: karenhwhiting

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Sally Matheny leaning on a treeEncouraging others is Sally Matheny’s mission in life. She enjoys “reflecting on ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light.” A member of SCBWI and ACW, her articles have appeared in children’s magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr., Cobblestone’s Appleseeds, and in the international devotional Keys for Kids. Sally also writes articles on parenting, homeschooling, and Christian living for on-line publications as well as print publications such as Practical Homeschooling, The Greenhouse Report, and Homeschooling Today. One of Sally’s most rewarding projects was writing Who is Jesus?, a VBS evangelism curriculum for missionaries introducing Jesus to children. A former public school teacher, with an MEd, Sally has homeschooled for over fifteen years. Married for over twenty-five years, she and her husband make their home in western North Carolina. Their greatest blessings are their two daughters and one son. Find encouragement from Sally on her blog: www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com/ and Twitter: @sally_matheny.

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Reflecting with Speaker and Author, Tim Shoemaker

Tim Photo 2014by Sally Matheny

Eight weeks until “Shine!” time. Are you registered for W2I yet? You don’t want to miss our keynote speaker, Tim Shoemaker. He is the author of eleven books and a regular contributor to Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine.Tim is also a captivating speaker. We’re excited he is teaching several workshops in addition to presenting the keynote address. Today, Tim shares some of his reflections.

 

Tim, tell us three of your favorite moments from 2014.

There were so many good moments… it’s hard to narrow it to three.  Here’s a short list…

  • Finishing Below the Surface… getting the series finale in the hands of friends.
  • Seeing Super Husband, Super Dad come out… and hearing how it helped others.
  • Started speaking at schools in a bigger way… and found I loved it.
  • Youngest son graduated paramedics’ school.
  • Down time with my wife and family on Lake Geneva, WI this past summer.
  • Vacation with the family in Florida.
  • New baby granddaughter born in December… Claire Rose.

Claire Rose. What a beautiful name! Is she your first grandchild?

Claire Rose is our 4th grandchild… which is unbelievable.  But they are all three years old and under… which is a riot when they’re all in the same room.

I bet they are! I’m sure it’s all play and no writing when the grandbabies visit. Tim, at what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue writing?

When I was younger, I never dreamed I’d pursue writing.  It wasn’t even on my radar.  After I started a family, I used to love telling stories to my kids… and to nieces and nephews.  I’d like watching their faces… seeing when I totally had them wrapped up in the stories.

They often asked me to write the stories down… and at first I resisted.  But when I finally did—I found I loved it.  I wrote more and more on the side… writing for my kids, mostly.  I had one son who struggled with reading… so writing in a way that held his interest (but at his reading level) was a challenge.  Eventually a dream began to develop… I hoped to move to part time status at my work and devote more time to writing.  By God’s grace and in his time, and through circumstances I couldn’t predict, I was able to pursue that writing dream.

Looking back at your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?

There are so many things… but here’s one.  I didn’t realize that writing was a skill that I could strengthen and develop.  I used to think that writing was a “gift”.  It was a talent that was deep inside… something I had or I didn’t have.

When I went to my first writers’ conference and got my first critique… I was devastated.  The chapter I’d sent in was really slashed up with red ink… and at that moment, I thought I didn’t have the “gift” at all.  I thought I’d better just forget about writing and go back to my job… back where I belonged.

I decided to leave the conference early.  Since I didn’t have the “gift” of writing, there was no point staying.  Thankfully, someone caught me in the hall on the way out… and that little encounter changed everything.

Oh, that is something to remember the next time we attend a conference—not only to be encouraged but also to encourage others.

Do you remember one of your favorite books from your childhood? What made it special?

I loved the entire Hardy Boys series.  A bunch of Alfred Hitchcock ones, too.  I loved some of the biographies… guys like Davy Crockett.  I also loved WWII stories… read many of the Landmark series of great battles.  I loved adventure… mystery… suspense… and the way I got swept away with the story as a reader.

What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?

Here’s a half dozen hints…

  1. Really get your head into the perspective of your POV character and stay there. Don’t write anything other than what your character sees, hears, thinks, feels, etc.
  2. If you’re writing for kids… don’t talk down to them. They’re smarter than you think.  You don’t want to sound like a parent.
  3. If you’re writing Christian fiction… resist the urge to get hokey. Characters  recalling and reflecting on whole sections of a recent sermon, for example.  Keep your spiritual footprint subtle… and real.
  4. If you’re writing fantasy, I’ve got some thoughts to help you relate better to your readers… but too many to write here. Catch me in the hall or at a meal and ask me what I mean by these…
    • “Lose the magic sword.”
    • “Give it to me in English…”
    • “Be fair to readers… ”
  5. Pray. He’s the creative one.  Ask him to help you.
  6. Keep your hands clean. If we aren’t living the life we should… what do we really have to offer others?

Fantastic advice! Thank you, Tim. I look forward to asking you about “losing the magic sword” when I see you at the conference. Thanks for sharing with us.

Readers, you can connect with Tim at the following social media outlets-

Website: http://www.timshoemakersmashedtomatoes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tim.shoemaker.923

Twitter: @TimShoemaker1 https://twitter.com/TimShoemaker1

 

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Reflecting with Award-Winning Actor & Author: Torry Martin

Torry JRO 2by Sally Matheny

It’s ten weeks until “Shine!” time at the 2015 Write2Ignite Writers’ Conference. We’re preparing for fantastic workshops, led by bright stars of the writing profession.

While we’re waiting for the big weekend to arrive, we’ll feature some reflections of those stars on the blog.

This week’s shining star interview is with award-winning actor, screenwriter, and producer, Torry Martin. He’s also a talented author and comedian.

A former Alaska resident, Torry now makes his haven in Tennessee. He kindly took a short break from his busy schedule of speaking, instructing, and filmmaking to answer a few questions.

 

Torry, the year has flown by since we saw you at last year’s Write2Ignite Conference. What were three of your favorite moments in 2014?

  • Getting the opportunity to act in the movies “Mountaintop” written by Robert Whitlow and “Skid” by Rene Gutteridge.
  • Completing the romantic-comedy screenplay of “So Broken Up” [and] that my writing partner and I were hired to write for Vetter Brothers Production.
  • Receiving a book contract from Harvest House Publishers for my book “Of Moose and Men”.

 

What was your first paying job? How old were you?

My first paying job was cleaning horse stalls. I was twelve. If you mean as a writer, my first book was published by Lillenas Drama Publishers when I was not twelve. Both jobs still involved sifting through manure.

 

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to pursue writing?

When I wrote my first spec script for the TV show “Roseanne” and it was received favorably. Roseanne said in a very monotone and very nasal way- “Yer funny.”

 

Looking back over your writing journey, what is one thing you wish you had known earlier?

That you don’t need an agent to get published and that networking is a vital skill.

 

What do you hope to learn this year?

How to focus more on God and not get distracted with my career.

 

Do you remember one of your favorite books from your childhood? What made it special?

My favorite book of all time is “Anne of Green Gables”. L.M. Montgomery told a fascinating and funny story and created a whole community that I still love. Her characters felt so alive to me that I could almost hear them breathing.

 

What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?

“The Chosen” by Chaim Potok. I must have read it 4-5 times. I loved the language and the emotional depth of the characters. Plus, it was a book about friendship and since I was a nerdy loner, I liked living vicariously through the characters.

 

If you were awarded one day to talk with three authors (from any time period), whom would you choose?

L.M. Montgomery, Jane Austen, John Wayne. (Okay, so John Wayne never wrote a book but he has had a lot of them written about him and I think that should count.) If you are going to be a stickler then I will change that answer to Beatrix Potter. (But only if she looks like Renee Zellweger in the movie “Miss Potter”.) If she doesn’t look like Renee, then I change the answer to Mark Twain.

 

The theme for Write2Ignite 2015 is “Shine!” What three helpful hints would you recommend to writers to make their work shine?

  • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
  • Be willing to make yourself vulnerable in what you write. It will have a more sincere emotional connection with the audience.
  • Don’t think of your book as your baby. You will have to do things to your book that are illegal to do to babies.

 

Torry, Roseanne was right. Yer funny. Thanks, for taking time out to share with us. We look forward to seeing you in March.

Friends, you can catch more of Torry’s comedy and wisdom in the following workshops at this year’s conference:

“Comedy Shorts for Stage or Screen” (Teen Track & Adult Track)

“Creating a Compelling Protagonist and Antagonist” (Teen Track)

“Write For Your Life”  (Teen Track)

To catch up with Torry’s latest antics and God’s blessings visit Torry’s facebook page.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://write2ignite.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Sally-Matheny-1F1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Encouraging others is Sally Matheny’s mission in life. She enjoys “reflecting on ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light.” A member of SCBWI and ACW, her articles have appeared in children’s magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr., Cobblestone’s Appleseeds, and in the international devotional Keys for Kids. Sally also writes articles on parenting, homeschooling, and Christian living for on-line publications as well as print publications such as Practical Homeschooling, The Greenhouse Report, and Homeschooling Today. One of Sally’s most rewarding projects was writing Who is Jesus?, a VBS evangelism curriculum for missionaries introducing Jesus to children. A former public school teacher, with a M.Ed., Sally has homeschooled for over 15 years. Married for over twenty-five years, she and her husband make their home in western North Carolina. Their greatest blessings are their two daughters and one son. Find encouragement from Sally on her blog: www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com/ and Twitter: @sally_matheny [/author_info] [/author]

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Writers Giving Back and Building Up: Interview with Authors Janice D. Green and Soraya D. Coffelt

Occasionally, writers, both beginning and seasoned, will donate a portion of their work. Some writers forgo payment in order to build their publishing credits. Others desire to give back to their communities. Several view it as a “tithing” of their talents. This is a tale of two writers who give back: one self-published and the other traditionally published. Their stories vary, but each writer is making sacrificial choices to build up God’s kingdom.

Janice D. Green

Janice Green, a retired school librarian and hand appliqué quilter, desired to write children’s Bible storybooks. Initially she began writing a Bible storybook, using an ABC format. Overwhelmed by the vast number of stories to choose from, Janice narrowed it down to one story—God’s creation of the world.
She says, “I planned to use quilted illustrations from the very beginning. I have a vision of children sleeping under quilts with Bible story pictures on them, and asking to hear the stories at bedtime. I could use this book to test the waters. ”
 
Janice persevered. Finally, in 2011, Janice self-published her first book, The Creation. She learned many things during her first publication.
 
IMG_2427e-TheCreation-200-150x150“When I published The Creation I followed the advice of a well-intentioned friend and ordered over 2,000 copies to get a better per-copy price,” Janice says. “What I didn’t understand was how difficult it is to get self-published books into Christian bookstores. And, I totally underestimated the importance of expensive publicity. I still have about 1,300 copies stored under my bed and under the bed in my guest bedroom.”
 
Eager to get her book about God’s amazing creation into the little hands of children, Janice made a sacrificial decision. She says, “I would rather see these books in the hands of children whose parents can’t afford to buy them, than under my beds. I have sold cases (62 books) at ridiculously low prices to several groups who were going on mission trips. Because of my shallow pockets coupled with SC sales tax laws, I cannot afford to ‘give’ them away or I have to pay sales tax on each book. But if I sell them, the sales tax is based on the price we agree upon.”
 
Janice’s books are making their way across the country. One case of books went to Red Bird Mission in Kentucky with a team of volunteer workers from Bennettsville, SC. Another case went to Helping Hands Ministry in McAllen, Texas. Several books traveled to a VBS in one of the poorest areas of western North Carolina, and more arrived at a large VBS mission near Janice’s home. She has also supplied several copies for fundraisers and for a children’s hospital.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA missionary, while on a trip to Vermont, witnessed children receiving Janice’s books. “Many of the children in the rural area, where we served, knew nothing about Jesus Christ. Most had never heard of a Bible. Eager to learn more about God, they were thrilled to receive Janice’s book. The children were amazed we cared enough to bring each of them a brand new book.”
Janice says she learned a great deal from her first publishing experience and did things a bit differently with her second book, The First Christmas. It released in 2012, as a print-on-demand book.
“It didn’t require as much up-front investment, and I don’t need to store them under my beds,” Janice says. “I did not create quilted illustrations for my second book. My illustrator, Violet Vandor, is from Romania, and I am thrilled with her illustrations.”
However, because this book is print-on-demand, Janice can’t be as liberal with greatly reduced prices. Knowing her books are making a difference is a blessing. There are other blessings as well. Often, when Janice has given The Creation at reduced prices for missions, VBS and Mission Team volunteers purchase additional copies at full price for their own children.

Soraya D. Coffelt

Soraya Coffelt photoThe second writer, Soraya D. Coffelt, is a lawyer and former judge. While serving in children’s ministry for over fifteen years, Soraya discovered a love for sharing the gospel with children.

Her first book, It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus, was originally written as a play for her church. One of Soraya’s two sons played a young boy who writes a letter to Santa and narrates the story of Jesus’s birth.

Soraya thought about self-publishing but found an agent (Ms. Karen Hardin of Priority PR Group & Literary Agency) who located a publisher. James Morgan Publishing released the book in November 2014. Two more of Soraya’s books are slated for release in 2015.

It's Not About You, Mr. Santa ClausOne unique aspect of Soraya’s book sales is that all proceeds will go to a nonprofit foundation Soraya formed. Her foundation, As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc., seeks to help meet the needs of children in the US and around the world. Soraya’s missionary work in Honduras and the Amazon River region of Peru prompted the foundation’s creation.

Janice and Soraya are two writers who have a heart for building God’s kingdom. Each goes about it differently but has the same purpose in mind.

What about you, dear writer? How are you giving back and building up God’s kingdom?

Connect with Janice D. Green at www.JaniceDGreen.com and at www.honeycombadventures.com.

Visit Soraya’s website at www.asthestarsofthesky.org.

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Sally Matheny leaning on a treeEncouraging others is Sally Matheny’s mission in life. She enjoys “reflecting on ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light.” A member of SCBWI and ACW, her articles have appeared in children’s magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr., Cobblestone’s Appleseeds, and in the international devotional Keys for Kids. Sally also writes articles on parenting, homeschooling, and Christian living for on-line publications as well as print publications such as Practical Homeschooling, The Greenhouse Report, and Homeschooling Today. One of Sally’s most rewarding projects was writing Who is Jesus?, a VBS evangelism curriculum for missionaries introducing Jesus to children. A former public school teacher, with a M.Ed., Sally has homeschooled for over 15 years. Married for over twenty-five years, she and her husband make their home in western North Carolina. Their greatest blessings are their two daughters and one son. Find encouragement from Sally on her blog: www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com/ and Twitter: @sally_matheny.