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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.

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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).

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The Dreaded Elevator Pitch

elevator buttons

When I worked as a Human Resources executive, one of my responsibilities was to offer outplacement training—a fancy term for helping people who lost their jobs find new employment. Outplacement training included creating a resume, polishing interview skills, and developing an elevator pitch.

The elevator pitch is something writers need as well. A pitch is a summary of your book project and information about why a publisher or agent should be interested.

What does an elevator have to do with a pitch? A typical elevator ride lasts twenty to thirty seconds before someone exits. An elevator pitch should be concise enough to include all your pertinent information in under thirty seconds.

Why does a pitch need to be this brief? Consider the opportunities you may have to meet editors and agents at a writer’s conference, such as the Write2Ignite Conference in March. You might meet an agent while waiting on line in the cafeteria. Or you may sit next to an editor at a meal. What do you say when they ask you to describe your project?

You have less than a minute to hook them before someone else comes along with a question, a comment, or a pitch of their own.

What do you include? An effective pitch will include your story as well as why and how it differs from similar published projects. What makes your project unique? Why should the publisher invest in your book? What is the reader’s take-away?

What should you not include in your pitch? Don’t include clichés or exaggerated claims of grandeur (e.g., “This is the next Harry Potter series!”). Don’t make financial demands (e.g., “This is so good that I require a minimum advance of $10,000!”). Don’t cite reviews by family members (e.g., “My mother loved it!”).

Know the person to whom you’re pitching. Does the agent represent fiction or nonfiction? Does the editor publish only Young Adult projects? Don’t waste your time and theirs by pitching a picture book if the editor specializes in middle grade curriculum.

Practice your elevator pitch until you can communicate it naturally and confidently. And be prepared to provide additional information—such as a complete book proposal—when asked!