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The Blessings of Fall

Jean Matthew Hall founded Write2Ignite in 2008. For ten years she and I have encouraged one another in our writing and publishing pursuits. I was delighted when she received a contract for four picture books with Little Lamb Books; one for each season. The first  one, God’s Blessings of Fall in the Bountiful Blessings Series just came out in September; here’s a sneak peak into it with some of Jean’s words and some of Olya Badulina’s illustrations.

Sounds!

One of the first things I noticed about God’s Blessings of Fall are the sounds which Jean included. “A squirrel steps lightly, slightly on crisp leaves. Crackle. Crunch. He snatches fallen acorns nuts, and stuffs them into his chubby cheeks. His little nose twitches. His bushy tail swishes. His tiny feet leap and scamper to the top of the tallest tree.” Besides the onomatopoeia of the sounds of the leaves, do you hear the alliteration of chubby cheeks and tallest tree? How about the internal rhyme of lightly and slightly; twitches and swishes? Every spread includes one or more types of poetic language that will tickle the reader’s tongue and will keep a young reader’s attention.

Smells!

Not only are the sounds of fall represented, but also the smells, tastes, and textures. “Piles of leaves red, gold, and orange huddle around the roots of trees, then take to the sky! The rusty, dusty smell of musty leaves floats over fences and fields. Ah-choo!”  

Sights!

This sensory book includes some of the visual details one would expect in a book about fall such as geese flying in a V and owls hooting in a tree. But, there is also the unexpected prowling raccoon and spider hanging from dry cornstalks.

Tastes!

“Baskets sit piled high with apples ready for baking breaks and pies. Yellow apples, green ones with a sour thing, blushed ones that crunch with every bite. Some are shiny, red, and sweet. All so good to eat!”

Textures!

“Pumpkins rest at a cozy farmstand. Some fat and smooth as your skin. Some bumpy and warty, some tall and thin.”

This beautiful picture book will be a addition to your child’s or grandchild’s library; or as a classroom resource in a church library or Sunday School. For as the book concludes:

 

 

Look for two more books (probably winter and spring) next year. You’ll be sure to hear about both of them right here!

 

 

 

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Faculty Focus

Jean Hall is very excited about her debut picture book. We’re excited for her since she’s a Write2Ignite success story! We’ll feature a blog post about The Blessings of Fall in the fall along with a GIVEAWAY!

 

 

She’s also thrilled to be teaching about picture books at the 2019 conference. Watch her video here. If you haven’t already signed up to hear Jean and the rest of the faculty share what they are passionate about, here is the link.

If you have dreamed of writing a picture book and don’t know where to start, or have a beginning but don’t know how to finish it, join Jean Hall at Write2Ignite 2019.

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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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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.