First Published Article! “My Kid Hates Writing – Help!”

My first written article got published in the CHAP (Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania) in their last issue! So many of my friends and family wanted to read it, so I’m posted it here, as well! I hope it encourages you in all of your writing and teaching endeavors. :-)

My Kid Hates to Write – HELP!

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Do you have those children who just really don’t like to write? Where it feels like you’re pulling their teeth every time you try to make them sit down and get something on paper? Want to know how to fuel a love for reading and writing in your children? Well, homeschooling led to me becoming an author!
My name is Hope Auer. I’ve loved writing and reading from an early age, and I’d have to attribute that love to my parents. As long as I can remember, parents read books to me and told me stories. This started me telling myself stories, inventing worlds and characters, and falling in love with writing to eventually writing my own books! “A Cry From Egypt” and “A Stand At Sinai,” books one and two of “The Promised Land Series,” started off as a homeschool project that my dad assigned me when we were studying Ancient Egypt!
Here are a few things that my parents and others did to help give me a passion for creativity and learning, particularly in the areas of reading and writing.
Read books aloud! My parents have read entire book series to me and my little brothers. They would read to us while we did chores, while we got ready for bed, or would just set aside a special time for us to sit and play quietly and listen. Reading aloud builds children’s vocabularies and makes them many, many times more interested in reading for themselves and in writing their own stories.
Introduce writing at an early age. Sure, in 3rd grade they won’t be writing essays. But they can be writing short book reviews! Did you just read a book for school? Have them write out a paragraph or two about the book. Did you just take them on a field trip somewhere? Maybe the farmer’s market, or a different historical site, or a museum? Tell them in advance to find something to write about. Have them look for a person to talk to, or a favorite exhibit, or to think about something new that they learned. It doesn’t have to be big or long. They just need to have something that they want to write about that makes them excited. Even if it’s just a few sentences, at least it’s something to show what they learned and to get them involved in writing. As they get older, the sentences will turn into paragraphs, and then into pages! It’s fine to let them dictate if handwriting is a barrier. The point is to create!
Get them into descriptive writing. Have them look at pictures and get used to describing them in detail. Have them try describing things from left to right, top to bottom, from the center outward, and then pick just one thing to talk about from each picture. Have them look up words in the thesaurus to find the best word (or words) for each thing they are describing. This way you can study art and photography, too! Have them find pictures that they like to give them extra motivation and save you time.
Make creative writing a must in your homeschooling. My dad asked me to write a short historical fiction story placed in Ancient Egypt. He didn’t know at the time that I’d be writing a series of books today! But creative writing provides an outlet for growing imaginations, for learning about grammar and spelling in a fun way, and for having something to share with friends and family. Maybe even one day, they’ll write books that make an impact on the culture and bring glory to God. You can use this to supplement what your children are studying in history by writing short historical fiction stories, or just to give them a break from the essays, tests, reports and let their imagination run wild.
Anything you study or anything you do in your day-to-day life can be used for ideas in creative writing. I often have parents ask me for suggestions for writing prompts to challenge their children’s creativity. There are ideas for creative writing all around you! Here’s some examples of creative writing prompts that I’ve used:

  • A story about a family vacation
  • A story about a lost animal
  • A story about your favorite character in history
  • A story about knights and dragons
  • A story about a trip to visit a different country
  • A story about you and your best friend
  • A story about animals out in nature
  • A story about people lost out in the woods
  • A tale of princes and princesses
  • A story involving outside classes (like music, dance, sports, etc.)
  • A story about orphans in a medieval culture…
  • The list is endless!

I hope these writing tips are a blessing and an encouragement to your homeschooling! If you have aspiring writers or would like more writing tips, please check out my website (www.acryfromegypt.com). I love doing what I can to inspire young writers or provide information for parents as they seek to school their children. Happy Writing!

3 Things To Do For Proof-Reading

So I’ve been doing a lot of proof-reading recently, and I’ve found these 3 tips to be very, very useful and save me a lot of time editing!

  1. Copy your text into a different editor or change fonts.
  2. Read your text backwards.
  3. Read your text out loud.

Check out the blog post below for further directions on how to use these three tips in your writing!

http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/3-things-you-should-do-when-speed-proofreading/?sf&utm_campaign=Blog_Augment_1&utm_source=Facebook_org&utm_medium=link_postthinking-kid-1428260-639x505

 

Commonly Confused Words

Are you or your kids having problems with some of these commonly confused words? Like “affect” and “effect”? “Hear” and “here”? Check out this blog post with a huge list of all of these confusing words!

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http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/affect-vs-effect-and-some-other-commonly-confused-words/?utm_content=CT-Blog_I-Landscape+Photo_PT-Intellectual_Su-Grammar_C-Grammar+Basics&utm_source=Facebook_org&utm_medium=social&sf23325696=1

Do You Know the Difference?

I just stumbled across this amazing article about words that are spelled similarly or have similar meanings. Do you know the different between “Affect” and “Effect”? “Compliment” and “Complement”? “Cite/Site/Sight”? There are so many! Get a quick and helpful grammar lesson here! I always get “affect” and “effect” mixed up. :-)

http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2015/25-homophones-that-most-spell-checkers-wont-catch/?utm_source=next

Descriptive Writing Exercise!

Is school work and/or writing getting a little hard as the weather gets warmer and Summer seems to be rapidly approaching? Try this fun descriptive writing exercise to take a break from the routine but still teach a better way to write! Look at the picture below:

There are several different methods we can use to describe this picture. We can describe the picture from left to right, top to bottom, or from the center outward. Let me show you three examples:

Left To Right:

“In a blur of rainbow colors, the train speed away down the track, not even pausing for a break on the way to its destination. The tattered advertisements on the walls were covered up for a brief moment as the train raced along. The roar of noise echoed through the tunnel and bounced off of the white tile floor and concrete walls. The man walking closest to the track barely seemed to notice the noise as he headed towards his next stop to wait, determination in his stride. Others walked slowly besides him, underneath the white florescent lights, trying to stay out of the way. A few paced the floor, the tap of their shoes only heard once the train left the station. It was the monotonous day’s commute. Trains racing too and fro, people standing with their backs up against the wall, waiting. Others rushing about in a desperation to make their connecting trains. No one was really friendly. It was just a sea of faces doing what they did every single day of their lives.”

Top To Bottom:

“Bright white lights shone on the white concrete ceiling and walls, making the underground train station appear unnaturally bright and almost hostile. Some of the commuters squinted a little as they watched the train race past. People hugged their coats to themselves as they made their way to their appropriate stops. The tunnel was a less than a warm and friendly atmosphere, but one that everyone was used to. The hustle and bustle of tons of moving feet on the dirty tile floor made a constant shuffling noise as everyone tried to stay out of each other’s way.”

Center And Out:

“A man with a heavy coat and a backpack slung over one shoulder walked quickly through the station. The train rushed past him in a whirl of noise and color, but he scarcely noticed as he looked down the long, bleak tunnel full of harsh light. No one really noticed anyone as they made their way along. He was vaguely aware of the people on his left that were standing and waiting, or pacing back and forth, or slowly following him to the next train stop. That’s all the mattered. Getting wherever you had to go quickly and getting out of the bleak and lonely tunnel and back to work.”

Do you see how every time I tried a new descriptive style the subject of the paragraph changed? The first paragraph (left to right) had the subject as the train because that’s what was seen/described first. The second paragraph (top to bottom) had the subject as the whole atmosphere of the train station with the focus being derived from the harsh light. The third paragraph (center and outward) had the subject being the man with the backpack and showed things from his perspective.

Go over these different ways of describing pictures with your children and show them the difference. Make sure they use as many big and expressive words as they can! Use a thesaurus if it would help!

Happy writing! :-)

I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP! – Part 4

And now… Question #4 of the blog post series, “I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP!” Read the other blog posts here:

Introduction

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Question #4: “Aren’t you emotionally involved?”

Nope! I’m not! And of course, it’s taken me a little while to get here. But I’m so glad that I learned these lessons early on so that now that I’m older I know how to interact with people of the opposite gender. It makes my life – and the lives of those around me – much easier and definitely not as awkward as it would’ve been if I had shut myself off from boys at a young age. Because the fact is…

If you don’t know how to talk to guys (or girls!), what happens when someone wants to court/date you? You’re not going to know what to say, what to talk to them about, or if you even like this person! What if you aren’t even compatible? Wouldn’t it be smarter to at least have some friends of the opposite gender who are really just your friends, so that you know how to interact with them, and your potential spouse, in the future?

And this doesn’t necessarily have to be in groups all of the time, either! I love spending time in big groups of people. I feel you get to know people really well that way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a one-on-one conversation with a member of the opposite sex. I’ve been able to do this, cultivate good friendship, and not get married! :-)

For example…

I was taking music classes at a local college. I had several friends there, and we would often meet for lunch on the one day a week that I was going to school. On several occasions, I ended up just having lunch with one of my guy friends. Or at least having thirty minutes to an hour of time with a guy friend before others joined us. Did we plan for that to happen? No, we didn’t. Was it a date? Definitely not! It was just two friends eating sandwiches on the front porch of the music building, catching up on life and talking about classes. We never got super in-depth. Neither of us shared our hearts. We were open and had fun and had great conversations and got to know each other better. We were in a public place and got to meet some other college students, as well. It was a great time of refreshment and fun and getting to know each other. But no, we’re not getting married.

At Spiritual Twist Productions, we often have late night play practices or performances or stay out late going to get food because we’re starving. :-) The guys always make sure that the girls get to their cars safely, which we greatly appreciate it! On several occasions, I’ve ended up talking with a guy who’s having a hard time or who just wants to catch up on life. People know where we are. We’ve never shared anything inappropriate. We aren’t getting married. We’re just friends.

Several of us really like to contra dance! Recently, our contra dancing hall moved to a creepy area of town, and then moved to another building where the only parking was a parking garage. Being a girl, I don’t like to go to parking garages by myself at night. I actually don’t like going anywhere in the dark by myself for reasons of safety. My guy friends always make sure I’m ok getting to my car. Not because I’m not a capable young lady, but because they want me safe, and I want me safe. So, in order to not be stuck in a creepy/unsafe parking garage by myself, I met one of my adopted little brothers for dinner at Wendy’s and we both drove the ten minutes to the dance together. Was it a date? No. We’re just looking out for each other and eating cheap food and having a good time! :-)

Some of my friends and I wanted to support a locally made Christian movie. When I got to the theater, it ended up only being me and one of my guy friends. Did I get up and leave because it was awkward and uncomfortable? Nope. I trusted him, he trusted me, and we had a good time supporting a good movie. It wasn’t awkward at all!

Since I speak and travel to conferences, there has been several times when I’ve taken a road trip with one of my publisher’s sons. We drove for several hours together, listened to music, talked, sang, even had dinner and ice cream together. His parents knew that we were coming to join them. My parents knew that we didn’t want to drive two cars several hundred miles there and back and were totally fine with it. We both had a great time and got to know each other better. Again, no one thought we were getting married. We were two friends going to work at a conference.

In all of these instances, again, you have to communicate and be careful.

I communicated to my parents when we needed to go to conferences together. I told my parents every time I ended up being alone with a guy eating food or talking, even if it was just for a few minutes. They knew where I was, what I was doing, and who I was talking to. There’s accountability there. There’s trust built there. And most importantly, you learn how to be friends and how to encourage each other in Christ.

But of course, use common sense and young ladies, don’t go anywhere with a guy you don’t know or are barely acquainted with. Instead, invite them to your church, your home, other group events. Guys, don’t go off with young ladies, either. Show you want to be friends, but again, communicate and be careful.

I’ve had many guy friends who have had to correct me on things. There have been times I’ve been too judgmental, or actually been unkind or unfeeling. There’s been times that I’ve been gossipy, or down in the dumps and self-pitying, and I needed someone to pull me back up. There have been times when I’ve had an emotional break-down with a guy friend of mine on the phone when I called to apologize or talk about something. There have been times I’ve been struggling in my walk, and the only people around at the time were my guy friends. I’ve been sick and had guys pray over me and comfort me. All of these times have been wonderful periods of growth for me. The guys all handled themselves respectfully in pointing me back to Christ, encouraging appropriate and Biblical behavior, protecting me, or just giving me a hug when I needed one. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had shut guys out from interacting with me. I know I wouldn’t be the person or the Christian that I am today.

Allow God to use the people in your life, guys and girls, to teach you how to interact with people and how to grow into the person that He means you to be.

Stay tuned for the final part of this series, Question #5, coming in just a few days!

 

“A Stand At Sinai” is Available for Pre-Order!!!

YES!!! You read that right! “A Stand At Sinai,” book 2 of “The Promised Land” series and sequel to the award-winning book, “A Cry From Egypt,” is now available for preorder!! Yay!!

We’re printing a limited number of galley editions right now!! Galleys are the first printed version of the book that we send to reviewers, other authors, endorsers, etc. While there might be a few typos or little things that we didn’t catch, it’s essentially the same as the final version of the book which will be available in Fall! We only have a few copies available to sell from these galley editions, so order now if you want to be guaranteed to be one of the first to read “A Stand At Sinai”!!! I can’t wait to know what you all think of it!!

Click on this link to learn more about “A Stand At Sinai” and purchase the book!

By the way… Right now shipping is FREE! And you also get a free bonus download of my writing workshop, “How to Write a Novel: A Homeschooler’s Journey to Becoming an Author.” Don’t miss out on this great offer from Great Waters Press!

And…. Here it is!! The cover!! 😀 Doesn’t it look amazing? Mike Slaton, my homeschooled friend who illustrated “A Cry From Egypt” also illustrated “A Stand At Sinai”! Any guesses as to who is on the cover? :-)

 

“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. 😛 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. :-)

 

Big News!! Would You Like to Be Featured on Our Website??

Hello Friends!

Big news!! We just made a new page on this website entitled “What Do Readers Say?” (http://acryfromegypt.com/what-do-readers-say/) We want to know what you as readers thought about my book, “A Cry From Egypt”! Would you like to be featured on my website and on this page? You can! It’s really easy and fun! Send an email to me at: hope(@)hopefulstories.com.

I know we have a lot of new readers coming up since A Cry From Egypt has been added to Tapestry of Grace’s First Year as a Primary Read Aloud and is one of the books recommended for Cornerstone Curriculum’s new The Grand Story ancient history curriculum. We’d love to hear from you!

Let me know what you or your children liked about “A Cry From Egypt”! You can write up a review, have your kids write up a review, talk about a favorite part or favorite character. You can send me pictures of your kids reading the book, acting out the book, drawing pictures of characters, doing different projects inspired by the book, or send on other resources that would complete the book well! We’ll even accept videos! I can’t wait to see what you all say!

 

First Illustration for Book 2!!

Look at this!! Isn’t it awesome?? Mike Slaton, my illustrator who did such a great job on my first book, “A Cry From Egypt,” is already diving into the illustrations for book 2, “Mercy at Sinai!” Here’s a sneak peek for the first illustration! I love it! Mike has been taking college level courses for art and it’s obviously paying off! Doesn’t it look great? Can you guess who’s in the picture and what she’s looking at?