Thursday, March 31, 2011
Sometimes it is difficult to sort out who we are and what makes us tick. A common way of considering what God did when he made us in His image is to think in terms of humans as triune beings; that is, we live in a body, have a soul, and we are a spirit. It is easy to understand the body component: the “shell” we, the individual, present to the world around us. We are unique corporeal entities easily recognizable to one another; but what about the soul and the spirit.
In Genesis we read that after God formed man of the dust of the earth (the body), He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Since the formation of the body and the process of man becoming a living soul are described, it seems that “the breath of life” must refer to man’s spirit. Theorizing that man can be described as three distinct parts combined to produce a living, breathing soul inhabiting a recognizable body allows us to discuss who we are and what makes us the unique individuals we are forever becoming.
So what is this soul – this distinct component of humanity that develops over our lifetime? You may have heard it described as the mind, the will, the intellect, the emotions, and that place in each of us that learns, develops values, and becomes the center of our character; but where is it? How do we get in touch with the “who” we are now? Perhaps the soul can be better understood when visualized as a garden. A garden produces exactly what is sown; and reflects most precisely the amount of work that has gone into it. Its health and productivity requires weeding and tilling, feeding and watering, time and much care. A good crop demands the removal of rocks that block the seed as it is sown. Stubborn old roots must be pulled out to make way for new, healthy growth. Carefully chosen seed is required for the prepared soil; and the gardener must be on the alert ready to protect all that has been planted. The well-tended garden provides food for the gardener with enough left over for others who are hungry or are in need of the encouragement a perfect bloom can provide.
Have you checked your garden lately? Have weeds grown up to choke out your choice flowers or vegetables? Is tilling in order? Has an insignificant plant overrun what could be a prizewinner? Have pests entered and destroyed the harvest? Perhaps it is time to go to your garden – alone and while the dew is still on the roses. Talk to the Master Gardener there and discover who you are now and what He would have you do to prepare the garden of your soul for the coming harvest.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Christine Harder Tangvald’s mentoring track overflowed with valuable pointers. For example, special features sell books. To increase the appeal of a children’s book proposal, she suggested including at least two or three special features in the design. These might include an activity page, such as a word search, crossword puzzle or connect-the-dots. The book could have a unique shape, perhaps the outline of an animal, a hand, or a clock.
Brainstorm for ancillary products relating to your book’s theme. Use them as selling points when pitching the book to an editor. The proposal of a coloring book, activity book, game, or character toy will make your book more appealing and show that you have done your homework. Special features will make your proposal stand out from the rest.
~ Laura Allen Nonemaker
TO BE CONTINUED...
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
While the entire Florida Christian Writers Conference was brimming over with valuable content, the most rewarding of all for me was the mentoring track with Christine Harder Tangvald. Christine, who is the author of over 100 published children’s books, taught with enthusiasm and amazing energy. Her information-packed workshop challenged me to take a fresh look at writing for children. I must remember what it was like to see the world through a child's eyes.
Christine emphasized showing, in preference to telling, what our characters are experiencing. When we allow dialogue, rather than narration, to describe action and setting, we energize our writing. By using action tags, we move the story forward in a more lively way. In addition, she pointed out the value of engaging children and holding their attention with onomatopoeia, the use of words that imitate natural sounds, such as buzz or hiss. Children love this! Other techniques she suggested are the use of rhyming words, as well as words and phrases in groups of threes, to create rhythm and emphasis.
Laura Allen Nonemaker
TO BE CONTINUED...
TO BE CONTINUED...
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
As Paul and I drove to the Florida Christian Writers Conference in Leesburg, Florida, I felt excited and blessed. I had found out only ten days before that this premier conference for writers was taking place less than four hours away. I prayed about attending and a peace dropped in my spirit, along with an inner urging. As if to confirm God's leading, when I called, there was still room in Christine Harder Tangvald’s mentoring track for children’s writers, which was my main reason for wanting to attend. In case you are not familiar with Christine, she is one of the foremost children’s writers in the country, with more than 100 children’s books to her credit.
My anticipation increased as we drew closer to Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, Florida, not far from Disney World. Along with the anticipation came some butterflies. This would be the largest writer’s conference I had attended thus far. Previous conferences had been only one or two days and I wondered if I would feel overwhelmed. I would find out soon!
We checked in at the Raintree building, where our workshops were to be held. Then we took our bags to Willow building, one of several large two-story complexes that lodged conferees in motel units. We had arrived the day before the conference officially began, and we hurried to get ready for an early-bird session geared to getting the most from the conference.
Christine Tangvald led that first session. After welcoming us, she spoke about preparing for appointments with visiting editors, agents, and authors. She included what I think is one of the most valuable pieces of information of the whole conference, a handout that guides the writer through the process of “pitching” manuscripts for publication. By using those guidelines, I was able to pitch two of my manuscripts successfully.
~ Laura Allen Nonemaker
TO BE CONTINUED…