Rejections! Oh yes! Thank God because I only want my best in print, but in my haste and excitement, I’ve sent out pieces too early, before they were truly ready. It’s only in hindsight I can appreciate these form rejections.
But the personal ones have been so educational. The first is encouragement to keep at it–it is good to receive a letter saying that while they cannot use this particular piece, they want to see more from me because they enjoy my style of writing. The second is pushing me to dig deeper into a story. And third, realizing that although a story is just right, they feel they cannot sell enough copies to make a profit, that they hope another publisher will see it differently.
Marketing can shoot down many proposals; it *is* a business after all, but even marketing can be wrong. It’s a guessing game, a gamble. Nobody knows if a book will soar or tank. Some books make a splash, other books grow in readership steadily, and some books tank even after throwing good money into advertising.
Publishers are often averse to taking a risk on an unknown author. So what’s a writer to do? First believe! Have the courage of your convictions. Focus on the craft. Learn the business. And try again. Thank God the big Five aren’t the only options. There are mid-sized, smaller, independent publishers as well as self-publishing. This is a great time to be writing, shining, reflecting the Light of Christ. In an ever-darkening world, your light needn’t be big to dispel the darkness. Be salt and light. Be “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.” ~ I love this title of Cal Newport’s book and taking it as my motto for this writing life God has given me. Follow Vijaya on her blog.
The road to publication can be a long, arduous journey. While many press on ahead and overcome the obstacles and setbacks, others lag behind wondering if they’ll ever make it. They might even wonder if it’s worth the price they have to pay. I’ve seen a few give up and walk away from their dream and passion.[spacer height=”20px”]
Let’s face it, rejection can be difficult. And criticism—even given constructively—is no picnic. And the waiting can be torture. Watching others rise to the top can make us envious and cause us to question our own talents and abilities. We begin to doubt ourselves and focus on our weaknesses, wondering if we even have what it takes.[spacer height=”20px”]
When that discouragement sets in, we are faced with the decision to quit or keep moving forward, trusting the One who empowers us to do whatever He has called us to do. God has a plan for us, and His timing is always perfect. Take to heart these words by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling:[spacer height=”20px”]
“My plan for your life is unfolding before you. Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens up so painfully slowly that you must hold yourself back. Then, when the time is right, the way before you suddenly clears—through no effort of your own. What you have longed for and worked for I present to you freely, as pure gift.
Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly. As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you, depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly. “[spacer height=”20px”]
If God has given you the gift of words, trust Him to open the right doors of opportunity in His perfect timing. While you’re in the waiting stage, do whatever you can to hone your skills. Take a class. Attend a conference. Join or start a critique group. Study books on the craft of writing. Start a blog. Update your blog. Enter a contest. Submit a magazine article. Write a devotion and submit it to www.ChristianDevotions.us (that’s where I got my start).[spacer height=”20px”]
Whatever you do, don’t quit. Keep writing for the Lord, and remember the words of Jeremiah 29:11: “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (MSG).[spacer height=”20px”]
How have you overcome obstacles and conquered discouragement on your own road to publication? We would love to hear from you.
We prepare, plan, and pray for a year and then quickly the conference is over! As a team, we are thankful for each attendee and presenter and are already looking forward to the 2020 conference on September 18-19. SAVE THE DATE! More details to follow.
If you weren’t able to attend, here are some snippets and photos.
“I took many notes via pen and paper. I have been looking over the notes and am excited about all the valuable wisdom the presenters shared. What a great conference!” Melissa Henderson
Melissa Henderson with Tony Snipes
“My first-time experience with Write2Ignite2019 was supportive, inspirational and well worth my time. Networking and meeting new friends is always a plus at writing conferences, and there is nothing a writer loves more than coming away with new ideas and fresh inspiration. I am thankful for the people I connected with who either shared similar interests or encouraged me to think outside my own box.” Linda Phillips
Linda Phillips, Karen Wallace, Vijaya Bodach
“Everybody was engaged when I spoke about writing a controversial book. It was gratifying to speak with several people privately about their own stories. I am going to develop it some more because it’s an important topic. It was a great conference and I love our shared vision.” Vijaya Bodach (See Vijaya’s blog post about the conference here.)
“Once again our wonderful God has supplied our needs and multiplied our efforts. Through extra staff and volunteers, an amazing NGU college intern (Charissa Garcia), and His Spirit infusing grace, patience, and love, we saw an outpouring of enthusiasm for learning and practicing the disciplines and craft of writing and publishing. We have a growing list of writers and others asking to present at next year’s conference, from as far away as Australia!”
Deborah DeCiantis working during the conference. (Did she ever stop working??)
“Although not a writer by trade, I consider writing much the same as breathing in that I need to do it continuously to stay alive. The W2I conference afforded me the opportunity to confirm again and again how essential it is to show rather than tell stories to build bridges instead of walls within our relationships.
“Daniel Blackaby’s book beautifully illustrated by his wife, Sarah, Two Thankful Turtles, is a refreshing, other-worldly, look at differences among siblings that frames the strengths of each twin without using the more common hook of unfavorable comparisons (building bridges not walls).” Karen Wallace
Karen was excited to find this book for her grown son, Trevor.
“As a first-time writing conference attendee, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, Write2Ignite went above and beyond my expectations from the first session on. The chance to talk and interact with authors and editors who were truly interested in me and who gave me advice or tips on pursuing my own career in writing was awesome. I really can’t say enough good things about Write2Ignite. I’m very thankful that I was able to attend this year and I hope to attend next year as well!” Charissa Garcia
Charissa Garcia, an English major at NGU and our college intern enjoyed the beautiful weather along with Olivia Rollins, a fantastic teen writer.
“This year at Write2Ignite, I really enjoyed getting to listen to and socialize with different presenters. My favorite session was on learning about developing characters with Carol Baldwin. I also learned about persevering in a topic with Tessa Emily Hall.” Kathryn Dover
Carol Baldwin brainstorming a sensory fantasy world with the teens.
“At this year’s Write2Ignite, I learned a great deal of information, including world-building, painless editing, and completing query letters. I gained valuable knowledge and wisdom from the presenters and especially loved meeting them in person. I also enjoyed getting the chance to talk with other aspiring authors about writing. Overall, I really enjoyed attending Write2Ignite and I can’t wait until next year!” Olivia Kirkland
Olivia Kirkland with Tessa Emily Hall.
“I was truly honored to receive the award. But the best part of the conference was connecting with and learning from everyone there, from the presenters to other first-time attendees. I hope to keep up with and see them again next year!” Tina Hartig
Brenda Covert awards Tina Hartig with the Editor’s Choice Award made possible by Christian Book Proposals.
What did you learn at the conference? Leave a comment — we’d love to know!
Do You Wish You Had Been There?
THEN SAVE THE DATE FOR NEXT YEAR![spacer height=”20px”]
Vijaya Bodach – Writing a Book that’s Controversial
Come to this workshop if you feel called to bring the Light of Christ to problems in this fallen world. What events in recent months have lit a fire under you to do something about them? Go ahead…list them. Pick ONE thing. Now, what can you reasonably expect to do? What can you do with the might of God supporting you? Dream. Write His Dream.
Carol Baldwin – Out of This World Fiction & Fantasy
Following up on Daniel Blackaby’s keynote and our previous workshops, we’ll consider important details to empower and invigorate your fantasy and science fiction stories. Consistency and believability are key!
Todd Williams – Connecting With Kids
We were all kids once. Should it really be that hard to relate? Sadly for writers, childhood sometimes seems far away. We will explore some specific characteristics of three age groups between 4 and 11 years old that will remind you of the struggles and joys of being a kid. More than that, we’ll look at creative writing strategies that can target those childhood traits in ways that will excite and energize their minds.
Jean Matthew Hall – “The Challenges of Writing Fiction Picture Books”
Join us for Jean Matthew Hall’s workshop, “The Challenges of Writing Fiction Picture Books” as we dig into great picture books to search for nine elements that can make your picture books great.
Andrea Merrell – Turning Pain Into Prose
Have you ever experienced pain? You know, the gut-wrenching kind that makes you feel as if you’re going under for the third time with no life preserver? Maybe it was a chronic illness, abuse, or a prodigal child. Perhaps it was divorce or even death. Pain affects us all to some degree, but God doesn’t waste a single thing that goes on in our life. He wants us to share our stories to offer hope to those who are hurting. “Turning Pain into Prose “will show you how to dig deeply into those painful experiences to find inspiration, passion, and purpose for your writing.
Steve Hutson – What NOT to Say to an Agent or Editor
No how matter how good your story, or how awesome your execution, it might not be enough. You still have to sell this thing. Learn what to say — and, very importantly — what NOT to say, when pitching your book.
CONGRATULATIONS to Diane Buie who won an autographed copy of Maiden of Iron: A Steampunk Novel from last week’s giveaway.
Sidebars fill the pages of magazines, our computer screens, and even some TV shows. Sidebars are short articles that accompany and relate to a larger work, yet they present a different angle. With today’s online and “everything now” mentality, these high-demand mini pieces often serve as the article. Come to this workshop to learn why editors, writers, and readers love sidebars. We’ll also examine the different types, how to be creative in assembling a sidebar, and how to write these snappy pieces to entertain and inform readers. You’ll soon be providing the extras your editor craves.
Vijaya Bodach – Writing Memoir (Part II): Being a Witness—Writing the Most Important Story
Can you think of any modern-day witnesses? These are people who questioned Christianity and found it to be true! And they will do anything to keep this Pearl, this Treasure, this Gift. Can you state the reason for your hope in Christ? Allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you. We are now living in a post-Christian society. We have the greatest number of people who have no religious affiliation. They are the “nones” (not to be confused with nuns). It is YOUR story that will make a difference in their lives, as you sow seeds of faith and hope in them. Yes, I’m looking at YOU!
Terri Kelly – How to Write Devotions for Children
Turn yourself into a writing machine. Don’t you want to publish a children’s picture book or a magazine article for teens? How about a middle-grade chapter book or nonfiction for children? There is a surefire way to sharpen your story: Write Devotions. In How to Write Devotions for Children, you’ll learn a simplified method that you can apply to all writing. Not only will you walk away with a plan for a publishable devotion to the best audience in the world—our children, you’ll gain a writing tool belt to wear for life.
Edie Melson – Writing for the YA Audience
We live in a world with a savvy and sophisticated young adult population. In their young lives—through media and the ready availability of digital information—they’ve been exposed to a lifetime of experiences. The first rule of YA writing is respect—respect for our audience, and respect for their experiences and opinions. The second rule is authenticity. Our YA readers can spot a fake a mile away. This workshop will cover the mindsets and expectations of this audience. We’ll discuss how this mindset affects our writing in multiple genres and for different age groups.
Tessa Emily Hall – Create Book Buzz by Coordinating a Blog Tour
Marketing isn’t always an author’s best friend—but in today’s publishing landscape, it’s a requirement. What if I told you it could be both exciting and cost-effective? And that, even with no prior marketing experience, you could reach readers from the comfort of your own home?
This is what I have found to be the case through coordinating blog tours for my own books. Coordinating these tours have proven to be a powerful strategy to reach target readers and spread online buzz surrounding a new release. By tapping into my passion for the book, I have discovered how to create unique tours that invite my target readers to share in this excitement.
Come to my workshop, Create a Book Buzz with a Blog Tour, and learn these five steps on how to kick off your virtual tour from the ground up—in a way that is both organized and efficient. You will also discover secrets on how to infuse your passion with creativity to brainstorm unique and fun content for your tour.
Who knows? After coordinating your first blog tour, you might realize that marketing isn’t your worst enemy after all.
Steve Hutson – Why You’re Not Getting Published: Rejection-Proof Submissions
Have you sent off your manuscript to dozens of agents and editors, only to be rejected again and again? Learn the things they won’t tell you; discover the most common problems, and how to avoid them. Hint: It may have nothing to do with the quality of your writing or your story.
Are you making a list of the workshops you want to attend at the conference? Leave a comment about your favorites. Then subscribe to the Write2Ignite newsletter (link on the right side) and share this post on social media. You will earn one, two, or three chances to win Edie Melson’s YA steampunk fable, Maiden of Iron. Bring your winning copy to the conference for Edie to sign. She will be presenting two fabulous workshops during the conference and the final keynote.
Contest ends August 31. The winner will be announced on next Monday’s teaser blog — so enter soon!
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![spacer height=”20px”]
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?
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!
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
Fellowship with my tribe. And if I should find a kindred spirit to work with? Even better.
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 Boundby 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 Boundwill be a meaningful tool that counselors will use with young women experiencing an unwanted pregnancy.
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-Truthsor 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!