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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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Faculty Focus

 

Lori Hatcher is an author, editor, and vibrant Christian. She enjoys her grandchildren, her grandpuppy, and can be impatient as she awaits to see the cover of her next book! As a writer and editor, she has sat on both sides of the writing table. If you want to learn more about how to impress an editor (and what NOT to do) join her 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.

 

 

 

 

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Sneak Peek: Lori Hatcher’s Workshop, “The Day I Wanted to Quit”

Your proposal is rejected—again—and your head swirls with doubt, disappointment, and confusion.

You pour your heart out in a blog post, take hours to format it just right, click Post, and wait. The only buzz you hear is from the ceiling fan above your head, and the only comments you receive are from your mother and Aunt Fran.

Every writing conference you attend seems populated by successful, profound writers and brings new battles with jealousy and insecurity. You compare your blog, book, or platform with that of your superstar colleague and wonder whether you’re deluded in thinking that God could ever use you or your story to influence someone else.

I felt this way at my very first writers’ conference. I sat there as a new writer, the ink still wet on my fingers. I’d written quite a few articles for our homeschool newsletter, had two published in a local magazine, and had no clue what a blog was.

To my left was a two-time Christy Award winner. To my right was an author of fifty (not fifteen) books.

And then there was me.

Stuck in the middle like the ketchup in a ketchup sandwich. Colorful, but not much substance.

They talked about POV—first person, second person, and third person. And third person limited, third person multiple, and third person omniscient. I didn’t know whether I was in a theology class or in a psychology class, studying schizophrenia.

“What am I doing here?” I thought to myself. “I’ve never wanted to write a novel. I don’t even understand half the words they’re tossing out, and Google Translate is no help! What if they find out I’m a poser? They’re going to sit me in a corner and put a dunce cap on me . . . or worse—write about me in their next novel: The Girl Who Thought She Was a Writer.”

I wondered how quickly I could excuse myself to go to the bathroom and never come back. That was the first day I wanted to quit.

Have you ever felt this way? Perhaps you’re feeling this way right now.

In my 2018 Write2Ignite workshop, “The Day I Wanted to Quit: Tackling the Mind Games That Discourage and Defeat Writers,” we’re going to talk about comparison, insecurity, and competitiveness. We’ll examine the biblical roots of each issue, walk through a three-step personal evaluation, and craft a unique mission statement designed to silence the voices that imprison our writing potential. After attending this workshop at another conference, one attendee confided, “I didn’t just identify my writing mission, I identified my life mission!”

Most writers leave a conference pumped up and empowered. Then they go home. The doubts, fears, and insecurities they left behind begin to whisper in their ears again. Head games—writers play them every day. Is winning the battle in our minds really just a matter of positive thinking, or does God have something to say about it? I look forward to examining these thoughts with you at the 2018 Write2Ignite conference.

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Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books: Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women (the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year) and Joy in the Journey: Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, Lori seeks to help women connect with God in the craziness of life.

You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).