“A Cry From Egypt” has been awarded “Christian Small Publisher 2014 Book of the Year”!!!

Yes!! You read that correctly! My book, “A Cry From Egypt,” received the “Christian Small Publisher 2014 Book of the Year” award!! Ahhh!!!! :-)

Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK you so much to everyone who voted and who passed on the word about my book! I couldn’t have done it without all of you faithful fans and friends! :-) This is such a huge blessing to me, and to the Great Waters Press family, who now has two award-winning books in their catalogue! :-)

The crazy thing was that I really didn’t think I was going to win. I barely had any hope of receiving the award. I promoted it a ton on my blog and Facebook and other places when it was first announced, but I hate having to ask people to vote for things and didn’t push it too much. I meant to do another wave of posts on April 1st, when I suddenly realized (on April 1st!!) that the voting was closed!! No!!!!! Terrible planning on my part. ūüėõ So I just assumed that I hadn’t received the award and blamed myself for it.

On Saturday night, my dad got a phone call from my publishers saying that they wanted to come by our house. Now, my publishers live over an hour away. They don’t just come by. I had no clue why there were coming. My first thought was, “This is either really, really bad, or really good.” Since we’re still working through the editing/publishing process with book 2, I prepared myself that this would be pretty bad. Either that, or they just wanted to bring me a contract or let me know that I’d been accepted by a big distributor or something. So I prepared myself for the worse and was really nervous. They didn’t get to my house until over one-and-a-half hours after they had originally called. At this point, my nerves were fried!!

Then all of a sudden the doorbell rang. I immediately jumped up to answer it. My publishers and their son came in, and Mr. Young had a purple folder in his hand. Mrs. Young was holding something behind her back, and told me to scoot away from the door so that I couldn’t see what it was. My mind was kind of in a whirl at this point, and I didn’t know what to expect or what to do. Mr. Young simply said, “We received this email today about your first book and we really thought that you needed to read it.” He said it with such a straight face!! I don’t think I even said anything. I just took the folder that he offered me and flipped it open. My heart was racing! And then I read this:

Congratulations!

A Cry From Egypt, Hope Auer, Great Waters Press,

has won the 2014 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award in the Young Adult category!”

I still can’t remember how I responded. I think I gasped and screamed and said something along the lines of, “I got the award??” And my mom screamed. And my dad and brothers cheered. And my heart started racing in a completely different way and I had a hard time breathing. And I couldn’t stop smiling. :-) And my grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousin who were visiting for the night all ran up to congratulate me! And Mrs. Young presented me with flowers that she had been hiding behind her back. And I was laughing. Oh my goodness. Sometimes my heart still pounds thinking about it! To go from expecting the worse – or at least something not NEARLY as good! – to getting the best surprise of my LIFE!!

I want to again thank all of you for your votes and for spreading the word about my book! You all are so amazing! And I want to give a HUGE shout-out to my publishers, Hal and Melanie Young at Great Waters Press! They have worked SO HARD to get my book into the hands of so many people, and they worked hard to get it nominated for this award and get enough votes for us to win! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU everyone!! :-)

And finally, all glory and praise to God! This book is completely based off of His story, and as I’ve said before there were so many times that I know that He wrote through me. It was nothing I did of my own accord. It was all Him. Thank you, Jesus, for this wonderful gift to me! :-)

Click on the link below for the official announcement!

http://christianbookaward.com

Yep. That smile says it all! :-)

My publishers and I!

My publishers and my incredibly supportive and amazing parents. :-)

 

Meet “Lemuel”!!

Hello All!

I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite fifteen-year-olds in the world, Brandon Hall.¬†Brandon is playing the role of¬†“Lemuel” in the radio drama. There is a very interesting story for how he got cast as that role.

Brandon is in my acting group, and I soon found out that he lived very close to Tori, who’s playing our “Jarah.” I was already bringing ¬†Tori back and forth to CYT, and so I eagerly offered to bring Brandon along for the ride, as well. I had noticed his love for the Lord and how he was a true servant-leader in the class and really cared about people. He was also fun to be around, and liked writing. It would also make two boys and two girls in our carpool (Brandon and my brother, Caleb, Tori, and myself). We love our awesome carpool, and it’s never complete without all four of us there. We have so much fun! :-)

Brandon Hall as “Lemuel”

But anyways, back to the casting story. I was impressed with Brandon’s audition and saw that he was really diligent and dedicated to his work. As I was thinking through which guys I knew could play which roles, Brandon came to mind as Lemuel. For the very first cold-read I did for the radio drama, I asked Tori and Brandon to read one of the scenes together (chapter 2, as a matter of fact). While I didn’t show this to Brandon and Tori at the time, I was literally jumping up and down inside. As I heard them both speak, I could hear my characters. It was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever experienced!

Several guys tried out for the role of Lemuel. And while they all did a great job, I kept coming back to Brandon because of how his voice sounded in the role. We talked it over, and while Brandon was worried that he wouldn’t do a good job for me, everyone was impressed by how well he pulled off the part. There are some intense, and some very serious things that he has to act out! And he nailed it! :-)

Brandon is a also fellow writer. He’s got a great story idea going right now. Hopefully he’ll get it published in just a few years! :-) But instead of doing the traditional “introducing you to the character,” I actually interviewed Brandon and had him write up almost everything himself. Here’s what Brandon says about himself and his portrayal of “Lemuel”:

Brandon: “I am a 15 year old sophomore attending my homeschool, Royal Oaks Academy. My favorite subject is English. My favorite hobbies include running, video games, and creative writing. Ideas for college and beyond are hopefully to write novels, or to use the talents God has given me that are related to English; be it teaching, publishing, editing, or writing, I’m planning on spending my life around words a lot. They can be very powerful.

“Probably the coolest thing about Lemuel is that he was around my age. However, he had the mindset of an adult and wisdom beyond his years. It was very cool to explore and portray a character who had been forced into adulthood so early, due to his slavery. Experiencing a sliver of his life led me to wonder how a modern 15-year-old would cope nowadays under that kind of pressure. Lemuel’s life has been an encouragement to me to stay strong and trust God in the hardest of times.

“The entire recording process was incredible. Being surrounded by friends and siblings in Christ, while making a novel come to life, was an experience I won’t forget. It may have included many crazy late nights, and copious amounts of whipping and screaming, but it was a very positive and amazing experience.

“I for one have always struggled with the Old Testament. Some chapters and books have always been tedious for me. Growing up, I heard the story of Moses over and over. I had the “John 3:16 syndrome”; while I could rattle off a verse or story from memory, some things had become stale and bland in my eyes. The process of reenacting the lives of Hebrew slaves really made Exodus come alive for me. In turn, it’s helped me appreciate and better understand the lives of many more Old Testament characters.

“A recurring theme that I noticed throughout this process was how well History and Fiction were blended. For example, when all of the plagues struck Egypt, it was interesting to see the Hebrew point of view and how they reacted. I especially liked the character of Mariel, Jarah‚Äôs mother. Viewing the plagues from the lens of a Hebrew who believed in the Egyptian Gods was something I had never considered. I suppose the diversity of beliefs in general was what stuck out in the story; it would have been easy to simply make everyone a devout follower of Yahweh, or a rebellious Hebrew.

“One of my favorite experiences was when Hope was recording the beating scene. The script said that I was supposed to be thrown into a wall, and then beaten. So, we started recording, and I threw myself against the mattress and fell to the floor. Patrick, the overseer, started whipping the pillow next to me, and I began to scream bloody murder. Apparently I was very convincing, because everyone outside of the recording closet was freaking out, thinking that Patrick was actually beating me up!” (Note from Hope: That was probably the scariest moment of the whole recording process! When Brandon hit the wall and cried out, I almost screamed. It sounded so convincing! I really thought he was hurt!)

“I sincerely believe that God brought this specific group of people together, under Hope‚Äôs direction, to do something awesome for his Kingdom. The Bible says that ‚Äúhe who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.‚ÄĚ He has brought us this far, and I am looking forward to how he will use it in the future.”

Meet “Eitan”!!

Hello All!

Let me introduce you to Jonathan Walton, who is playing our “Eitan” in the radio drama. I’ve known Jonathan for nine years now. He’s been a great friend and role model to me in so many ways. I’ve enjoyed our conversations about music, school, life, acting, and the spiritual discussions we’ve had during plays and Bible studies. It’s very obvious that Jonathan puts God first in his life, and that has been a huge blessing to many. Jonathan is also a phenomenal actor. I’ve had the privilege of acting with him in a few plays. I was his gun-loader in the spiritual twist version of “Les Mis,” and when he was “Jesus” in the Christian Youth Theatre production of “JESUS!”, I was the woman who anointed his feet with perfume. He always worked so hard in his roles and I enjoyed acting with him.

When we started with this process and I knew I needed to find a talented guy to play “Eitan,” Jonathan immediately came to mind for two reasons. First, he’s a great actor, a good friend, and had many similarities to Eitan. The second reason is actually rather comical… When Mike, my illustrator, was trying to finish up the cover for “A Cry From Egypt,” I couldn’t stand the way he kept drawing Eitan. He made him look like Moses from “Prince of Egypt.” I kept trying to get Mike to change the way Eitan looked on the cover, but Mike was having the hardest time finding a picture in his mind to help him make the switch. I was trying to think of people we both knew that could possibly look like Eitan. Nothing was clicking for either of us. I finally said, in exasperation, “Ok! Think Jonathan Walton with longer hair!” When Mike brought the revised cover back to me, I was like, “NO WAY!! That’s it!!” So, Jonathan ended up on the cover as Eitan, and it made perfect sense that I should try him out as the part. :-)

Jonathan Walton as “Eitan”

The day of the cold read, I was camping out in the Campbell University library working on the radio drama. It was finals week, and I had somehow managed to grab a group study room. When Jonathan got out of classes, he met up with me in the library. I knew that I didn’t have a ton of time to decide who was which role, so I immediately threw Jonathan into the middle of everything and asked him to do a cold-read of the proposal scene to see how he did. I read for Ada, and he read for Eitan. He nailed it!! I remember listening to his voice and getting so excited that I forgot to try and act, myself! He even sounded like he was really, truly crying! It was amazing. Just wait until you hear it! That and the whipping scene. Oh goodness! Chills! :-)

Jonathan Walton was home-schooled all through grade school and is currently studying Criminal Justice at Campbell University. He has a passion for music and acting, and has been involved in musical theater for eight years. During that time he performed in more than sixteen productions, and was a stagehand for over twenty productions! Jonathan plays a variety of instruments including the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, banjo, piano, mandolin, and harmonica. Jonathan currently leads worship for the youth group at Sovereign Grace Church in Apex, North Carolina, and also helps play music for his small group and, occasionally, for the worship time at the Sunday morning service. Here’s what Jonathan said about playing his role:

“I really enjoyed playing the part of ‘Eitan’ because of his strength of character. I can relate to the struggles that Eitan deals with, and it made the role easier for me to portray. ‘A Cry From Egypt’ is a book that people of all ages can relate to and learn from. I was encouraged by reading the book, and even more when I actually working on the audio book. The rest of the cast are Godly examples to me, even though many of them are younger than I am. I’ve known all of them for many years, and I have grown to love them even more through the time spent recording. I hope you enjoy the story, and more than that, I hope you learn by listening to it.”

 

Meet “The Queen”!!

Hello Everyone!

I would like to introduce you to “Her Majesty.” :-) Julia Johnson¬†has been in our church for over eight years now and is one of my very good friends. We were practically neighbors for several years, and we’ve had so much fun growing up together and doing ministry work and acting together. Julia is an amazing actress. From the roles she’s played in Christian Youth Theatre plays with me, some evangelism skits that we did, and her roles in short movies such as “California Johnson and the Second to Last Crusade,” I knew that I would have so much fun trying her out for a part in my radio drama. She nailed her cold-reading as The Queen, and did such an amazing job in the recording room. Her crying and screaming scenes were amazing! I was shocked by how well she did and how realistic it sounded.

Julia is a 2012 home school graduate. She is a professional actress whose work so far includes background acting in film and TV. Her favorite subject in high school was science. Julia loves traveling and linguistics. She has a passion for acting, dancing, singing, playing piano, and all things musical. If she were stuck on a desert island with one food of choice, it would be ‚ÄúCurried Beef a la Tim.‚Ä̬† Julia hopes to one day go wingsuit flying. This is what Julia says about the whole recording experience:

“When I first read ‘A Cry From Egypt,’ I was able to see the story of Exodus in a light I never had before. Hope‚Äôs writing style is so engaging and vivid that it was easy to imagine the characters and places in the book. When she asked if I would be interested in being a part of the Radio Drama, I was ecstatic. At first, I was a little unsure about how I would portray the screaming scenes. One night I told God that I knew I was nothing on my own, but that with His strength I could do anything. After giving it over to Him, He gave me such a wonderful peace about the process. As Isaiah 40:31 says, ‚ÄúBut those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.‚ÄĚ ¬†¬†I pray that those who listen to ‘A Cry From Egypt’ will be as blessed by hearing it as I was by being a part of it.”

All That I Need

It seems as though my most thoughtful blog posts come out on Mondays…. Not quite sure why that is….. But oh well. Here’s a rambling author’s thoughts for the day. :-)

These past couple of months have been incredibly hectic and crazy around here. What with having three birthdays in our family, the Christmas season, my parents going on a 2-week long mission trip to Africa, the recording of audio for my book, my grandparents needing some extra care…. Ahh! Not to mention that I’m trying to get my speaking schedule lined up for next year and somehow make head-way on all of this audio editing and working on ideas for the study guide and my second book. Oh, and teach piano to fourteen amazing students and enter a few in a competition. Whew! Life is never boring!

But as I’m trying to make all the decisions and sort through things, today I kind of realized that I wanted a normal life. Just for a little while. It just doesn’t seem like there’s enough of me and there’s always so many things for me to do. But this phrase kept coming to me…

God is all that I need.

He is everything that I will ever need.

We say that all the time. I say that all the time. I say it when I write, when I speak, when I teach piano. I know you home schooled moms say it many times each day as you teach your children and take care of the home. But today I realized…. I don’t believe it. I know it, but I don’t believe it. Deep down in my heart, I can’t seem to accept it. And now I know why.

I rely too much on myself and on my family and my friends. Today, I had to think about what my life would be like if I didn’t have my family or my friends. I realized that I might not be able to handle it.

This year, I’ve made it my commitment to learn to trust completely in God, to make Him my best friend first. Jarah’s journey is so similar to mine in all of these books. She’s learning the same thing – making God her best friend first. And obviously, both of us need some more work in that area. :-) Thankfully we still have three books to go and we can learn together! :-)

Here’s some verses to meditate on if you’re still struggling with trust and Jarah and I seem to be. :-) And just keep saying “God is all that I will ever need” to yourself. And then maybe, we’ll all be able to believe it together. :-)

Psalm 9:10, “And those who know Your name will but their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass.”

 

Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am¬†afraid,¬†I will¬†put my trust in You.¬†In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust;¬†I shall not be afraid.¬†What can mere¬†man do to me?”

Psalm 62:8, “Trust¬†in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is¬†a refuge for us. Selah”

Psalm 73:28, “But it is¬†good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust¬†in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.”

Meet “Acenith”!!

Hello All!

Meet one of my closest friends and accountability partners, Lindy Meeker! Lindy Meeker is playing “Acenith”¬†in the radio drama, Jarah’s Egyptian friend who lives in Rameses.

Lindy is an amazing and beautiful young lady. Her heart is devoted wholly to seeking God and His plan for her life. Lindy is a constant source of encouragement and support to me. She always points me back towards Christ and His word. Lindy helped me edit my first book, and has provided great insight for what I have of book 2! She is also an amazing actress. I met Lindy briefly at a homeschool conference almost six years ago, and then got to know her that Winter when we were in a play together. Our paths crossed for years, but we began to get closer after we both graduated high school and found out how much we had in common! She is such a blessing to me, and I know you’ll be blessed by listening to her in the role of “Acenith”!

Lindy Meeker as our “Acenith”!

Lindy was homeschooled all through school, and graduated in 2010. She attended Ellerslie Leadership Training, an intensive discipleship program in Colorado, during the Fall of 2011. Now she is¬†working as a part time nanny for a precious two year old girl, and loves being “Miss Lindy”!¬†She has been a part of Christian Youth Theatre for 7 years, as an actor, class assistant, stage director, and is now assistant directing. Lindy enjoys singing, acting, playing piano, laughing, being with family, and Christ-centered conversations with wonderful friends! Although she has a few ideas, she doesn’t know right now what her near future holds. She is trusting that God will make the next steps clear in His perfect timing! This is what Lindy says about playing her character:

“I learned a lot from playing Acenith, not necessarily from the character herself, but certainly through the process of bringing her to life! God faithfully helped me see that I could never do it in my own strength. I’ve never even tried to scream like that before! As I prayed, God enabled me to trust Him to do it through me. He always gives us grace for what He calls us to do. If something is challenging, it gives me an even greater opportunity to rely on Him, and to know in the end that is was only by His grace that it happened! “And¬†God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency¬†in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

My Book is Coming to Life! :-)

Hello All!

It is with great pleasure that I announce to you that we have decided to start recording my book and turning it into an audio drama! Trailers and promos are first on the list of production, but maybe one day it will actually be completely finished and you can listen to my book as dramatized and acted by my friends and family members!

We’ve had several recording days and have made many wonderful and amazing memories. I’ve pulled people from my family, church, and local Christian acting group to play the parts in my book. We are very far away from having anything listenable, but over the next months you will be seeing sneak-peaks of behind the scenes footage, get some previews of the recorded audio, see lots of pictures, and get to meet the cast and crew! :-)

Please be in prayer for us. A lot of this is super intense. Though I’ve done some acting coaching in my time, I was not completely prepared for this task. It’s a completely new medium of acting to me! And the editing and recording process is a very long one. It will take a lot of work, perseverance, and prayers from you all in order to have some finished products.

Thank you for your prayers and support! I can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on with you all!

Here’s the first picture for you all! This is part of our recording set-up. I’m working with our “Jarah,” played by one of my dear friends Tori MacDonald. Can’t wait to show you all the rest! :-)

 

Writing, Music, and Life

So you all know that I’m a writer. But what you might not know is that I’m also a piano teacher. I currently have fifteen wonderful students. They keep me busy and on my toes. Some of our conversations are hilarious! In order to increase my piano skills and be a better teacher for my students, I take piano lessons at a local college from a Christian professor.

I had a rough piano lesson this week. It wasn’t bad. But it was a stretch! I just finished learning one of my songs (Schubert’s Impromptu #3 in Gb, for those of you who want to know :-) ), and my piano teacher was asking me to do some difficult things. I was supposed to play one passage faster than I’d ever played it before, hit the right notes, AND have one hand getting gradually softer while the other is getting gradually louder, all at the same time! I was getting frustrated. This is not easy stuff. My teacher kept saying, “You need to follow what it says on the score!”

Well, I eventually got it, but not without a good bit of frustration. As we were wrapping up our lesson, my teacher summarized what I’d learned that day:

“You just need to look at what’s on the score and play it the way that Schubert meant you to play it. Schubert was a brilliant composer… A genius! If you follow the marks in the score and Schubert’s rules, you’ll find in the end that it is truly more liberating than playing it how you would want to play it.”

That got me to thinking. That’s just like Christianity! “How so?” you might ask. Well, we have a rule book straight from God, the ultimate Mastermind, Genius, Composer of our songs and Writer of our stories. However, all of us (myself included!) have issues following those rules. We think we can make up our own rules, or tweak His just a bit to fit our circumstances and our lives. What I’ve been learning and studying is this: When we obey God’s rules, we are made really and truly free.¬†That doesn’t make sense to us. It doesn’t completely make sense to me, either. But here’s what I know. I know that God has an amazing plan for each of our lives and for all of history. I know that the rules are there to protect us, to guide us, and to draw us closer to God. If we didn’t have those rules, where would we be? We wouldn’t need Jesus. We wouldn’t want Him. For a little while we might feel “free,” being able to do whatever we want whenever we want. But in the end, what’s left for us? Emptiness. There would be no delight, no peace, no joy, no Best Friend, heavenly Father, and Lover of our souls! Life would be meaningless. Without rules‚ÄĒwithout Jesus‚ÄĒthere would be no meaning to life.

So how does this apply to writing? Well, here’s how it applies to¬†my writing. It might not apply the same way to you. But I promise you that somehow and some way, you’ll be able to benefit from this.

I’m working on book two. I’m having a difficult time not adding to the Bible in several places. I think, “What would be wrong with Moses saying this here?” Or… “Could I make this more exciting?” Or… “How can I envision this in a way that will make more sense to my readers than what’s written here?” But here’s the thing. The Bible is sufficient for all of our needs and wants. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correct, for training in righteous; so that the man of God would be adequate, equipped for every good work.”) It doesn’t need to be more exciting. It doesn’t need to be more relatable. The Bible is timeless. It applies to all centuries and to people in all walks of life. How am I supposed to make the Bible better? I can’t! And I shouldn’t! Silly me to think that I ever could!

Maybe that’s not your struggle. Maybe for you it’s being willing to write something blatantly Christian with a good moral. Maybe you’re writing a historical or biblical fiction and you’ve been having similar struggles to mine. But just know that the Bible is sufficient. God’s word is sufficient. Rules are there to point us to Christ, not away from Him.

So back to my piano situation. My piano teacher was right. When I played what was written on the score, the music sounded so much better! If we let God have control of our lives and obey His rules, imagine the possibilities that could open up for us!

Next time you get frustrated by rules or boundaries, go back and read God’s word and ask Him to make it obvious to you what you’re missing in Himself and His word that is making you upset. God wants to reveal Himself to you. But He wants you to be willing to ask and to listen. So please, join me in listening to what God says about His rules and how we need to apply them to our lives. I know you’ll be blessed for it!

Do you know how I know you’ll be blessed?

Well… This is what happened.

I had just finished writing all of the above yesterday, feeling pretty guilty. I mean, I had wanted to change God’s plan for His people in His word. I had wanted to change the Bible! That’s pretty bad. So, I sat down to read my Bible, reading a few chapters in Proverbs as a Bible study I’m doing, and then turned to Exodus to study the passage in my Bible that I was about to write that day. I decided that I wasn’t going to add or embellish anything and that I was going to take that section straight from God’s word. (So you see, I was preaching to myself, not just you all! :-) )

And guess what happened?

Well, in my last study of that section of Exodus, I studied using two different Bibles – my big study Bible and my little travel Bible. In doing that, I had somehow¬†skipped an entire chapter in Exodus – Exodus 34! It was the chapter where Moses sees God’s presence, receives His commandments once again, and then comes back down to the mountain. But what Moses doesn’t know is that his face is shining brilliantly from the glory of the Lord! He comes down the mountain and all the Israelites panic because they’re so in fear of Moses and in fear of the glory of God! I don’t think I need to make that any more exciting, do you? :-)

Exodus 34:29-30, “It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.”

So you see, God really does bless those who seek His plan first in their lives. Pretty neat story, huh? :-)

Week 18, Conclusion: “Titles”

Well, since no one emailed me questions this week, I found something else to talk about, instead! This question was asked of me at the NCHE conference in May:

“How did you come up with the title for your book? Also, should you do chapter titles or not?”

So, here’s my answer. :-)

Actually, to start off with, I picked a different title for my first book. My original idea was “God Will Deliver Us,” because that was what all the characters were begging and praying throughout the course of the book. My publishers didn’t really like the name, though. It was very catching, and it didn’t reveal anything about the nature of the book. After a lot of discussion, we decided on “A Cry From Egypt.” It let prospective buyers know that the book was placed in Egypt, and it made people wonder what happened in the pages.

I’ve had a very hard time picking a title for my second book, which covers the crossing of the Red Sea and goes all the way to Mt. Sinai. I thought about “Following the Cloud,” but that sounded cheesy. We came up with “A Nightmare at Sinai,” and “Trial at Sinai.” But “A Nightmare” sounded too scary. I didn’t want parents with young children to be scared off from reading my book. “Trial” made me think of a court session with a judge in a big white wig with a gavel. So I didn’t like that one.

Then my dad and I were talking about my book and the themes in my book. We were also discussing how so many people today say that God in the Old Testament is completely different than the God of the New Testament. That is so not true! God is just as merciful and loving in the Old Testament as in the New Testament. The Israelites are just humans who failed, as we all do, to listen to God’s instructions. And that is even more obvious in the Old Testament! Even at Mt. Sinai, God could’ve killed all of the Israelites right there! Instead, He was merciful. So that gave us the idea for our book two title: “Mercy at Sinai.”

So, tips for coming up with a good book title:
1. Make sure it makes people who read it ask a question. It should grab their attention immediately. Book titles will make or break a book!
2. Keep it short. Try not to use more than eight words. Generally speaking, titles should be between two and six words.
3. Pick something that hints at the main theme of your story.
4. Even picking a quote or line for your story might work!
5. If you’re stuck, have some people read it and give you suggestions. It’s ok if you don’t have a title until the very end, by the way. If you don’t know what your theme is, you don’t necessarily need a title.

If you’re wondering whether or not to give your book chapter titles, here’s some thoughts.

If you’re writing for younger children and teens, book titles help them keep track of where they are and keep them engaged. If you’re writing for older teens or adults, chapter titles aren’t really necessary. However, they can be very fun to write! If you’re going to write chapter titles, make sure you do it right! Don’t give away major events. Don’t write out a summary of the entire chapter. Give us a little snapshot of something. Some of my chapter titles are as follows:

Rameses
Jarah’s Question
What Happened at the Nile River
Frogs?
Thank You
A Hardened Heart
Trapped in the Darkness
Back in the Palace

They either summarize events, ask questions, or make you want to keep reading. :-) Do NOT write chapter titles if you write them like G.A. Henty. For example: “A Captive.” Me: “NO! I didn’t want to know that he got captured!” OR…… “Marie Arrested” or “Escape.” Me: “Well thanks for ruining the whole book!” Do not write chapter titles like that. Or like this:

“Chapter Six: When Harry Goes on a Wolf Hunt to Find the Great Wolf and Ends up Getting Injured.” Don’t give away the whole chapter like that, either. :-)

Thank you all for reading my blog series! I hope that I’ve been able to help you and encourage you along your own writing journey. I will continue to update my writing blog with new events and happenings with my first book and second book, and other writing tips and news. Thank you so much! Happy writing!

Week 17, Step 17: “The Summary…..” :-)

And now we come to the closing of our blog post series. I’m going to summarize the points I’ve made through this series right here so that you all can look back at them and see if there’s anything you missed or that you want to look at in more detail.

But before I summarize that, there is one point I would like to make.

I know that I have a variety of people reading these posts. I’ve heard from people as young as thirteen and as old as retired adults. This point is mostly geared towards young, single people.

I know a lot of you unmarried people are busy with school, family life, serving Jesus, spending time with friends, etc. Some of you probably really like writing but think, “I don’t have time to write. I like it, but I only work on it sparingly because I don’t have time. I’ll work on it when I’m older.” Well, I hate to break it to you, but life doesn’t become easier as you get older. Really, it gets much harder – AND busier! These single years before you’re married and staying at home with your children or working full-time is the BEST time to focus on your writing and see where God leads. Don’t put it off! Do it right now! Don’t wait until it’s too late. If God really is calling you to write, make it a priority and do it! I promise that you will regret it later.

Now, the summary…. :-)

Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain… No, that would take too long. Let me sum up.” :-)

1. Always write for God’s glory, putting His sacrifice and His desires above money, status, or fame.
2. When trying to get an idea, spend lots of time in prayer. Rely first and foremost on God’s inspiration. Remember to ask your family and friends for help, ideas, and other inspirations.
3. Find at least one writing buddy to keep you accountable and make you finish writing.
4. When starting your book or story, limit all detail. Introduce people and events slowly. Have a very, very grabbing opening that will force people to buy your book and read it!
5. The first sentences are crucial to catching the attention of your reader. Make them grip the reader!
6. Make sure you write a complete first draft. It is very important to God to finish what you’ve begun and to make sure all of your thoughts are tied together.
7. When it comes to firming up your plot-line, write out your main character(s) journey and make sure their are dips when your characters have conflict and ultimately a climax and resolution.
8. Remember to have the moral to your story be one that honors God. The main character also needs to have a spiritual journey where they learn to become more Christ-like in some way, shape, or form.
9. When you’re writing the middle, persevere! It will get better. Get your writing buddies to help you. Skip around in the story if you have to.
10. Make your climax huge and suspenseful! Keep the resolution short, or even have NO resolution if you’re writing a series of books.
11. As you start to revise, find people who know what they’re doing to help you and work with you to accomplish your goals.
12. Make you have readers, editors, copy-editors, and possibly a professional editor. They are invaluable!
13. Avoid pride as much as possible. Be teachable. Learn from others.
14. But don’t be too humble! Don’t fear man more than you fear God.
15. Pay about what publishing route you need to take. Where is God leading you?
16. For short stories, limit your use of characters. Make them all unique and different. All of the same rules apply, but condensed! :-)
17. Remember that Jesus is the one who gave us the gift of writing. He deserves all the praise we can give Him!

So there you go! That’s the summary of my blog post series! Please email me any questions you have that I might not have answered in the series. I’d love to hear from you!

Next week will be the Q&A week to wrap everything up. Please email me at hope@hopefulstories.com if you have a question that you want answered!

Happy Writing! :-)