Speaking at CHAP this weekend! Come see me!

Hello Everyone! I’m going to be speaking at the CHAP Convention is Harrisburg, PA, three times this weekend! The dates of the conference at May 13th and 14th, and I’ll be there with my publishers and their booth, Great Waters Press. Here are the topics and times for my talks!

Friday, 1:30, “How To Write A Book: A Homeschooler’s Journey to Becoming an Author”

Saturday, 9:30, “What Do I Do With the Rest Of My Life?”

Saturday, 2:30, “A Field Trip to Ancient Egypt”

I hope to see many of you there! Have a wonderful week, and Happy Writing! :-)

Are We Like The Israelites?

I was reading a devotional on “Trust” this week, and found this post about anxiety and how it affects our trust in God. And then it linked that all back to the Israelites wandering around in the desert, which is what I’m writing about right now… So I wanted to share it with you all! I hope it’s an encouragement to you as it was to me!

“The underlying source of our anxiety – most, if not all, of it – is unbelief in God and a corresponding unwillingness to follow Him. That’s what the author of Hebrews was getting at in his letter. The Old Testament Israelites, about whom he was writing, had God’s presence to guide them by day and by night; they had all the food they could possibly need miraculously provided in the manna that God rained down from heaven, and they had the guarantee of God’s protection. Despite all this – God’s presence, provision, protection, and promises – the Israelites were constantly fearful about what might go wrong. As a result they were unable to find the heart rest that was available to them every moment. The author of Hebrews didn’t think it necessary to point out how hard it was for the Israelites to cope with life in the wilderness; instead he laid the source of their inability to enjoy peace squarely on their unbelieving hearts.

“If we would only believe that what is right here for us – life with the God who protects and provides – is sufficient, we would quickly discover that we have no need to seek our fulfillment anywhere else.” – Lydia Brownback

 

Underwater Ancient Egyptian City Discovered!!

This is soooo cool! A ton of new artifacts from Ancient Egyptian has been found…. UNDERWATER! It’s a whole lost city! And all of these neat artifacts are being brought up to the surface for research! I can’t wait to read more about this. :-) I hope you enjoy this new discovery as much as I have!

http://boredomtherapy.com/ancient-sunken-city-thonis-heracleion/

Building a Pyramid out of Sugar Cubes!

Have you ever made a pyramid out of sugar cubes with your kids? If you’re looking for something fun and educational on your summer break, make this craft! It’s fun for all ages! Watch this 3 minutes tutorial below for a list of ingredients and instructions. You can pretend to be Jarah and Lemuel and Eitan while you’re building it, too! :-) Share your pictures of your new creations on my Facebook page!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGB3Wr6bQDU

 

 

“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. :-)

 

Meet “Paki”!!

Hi Everyone!

I’d like to introduce you to Jamey Meeker, who is playing the role of “Paki” in the radio drama! I’ve known Jamey for six or seven years now. He’s a great actor, as well as a great singer, songwriter, and baseball player. I needed a ton of guys for this radio drama, and since I was already planning on recruiting Lindy (our “Acenith”) and their little brother, Zach, to help out, I wanted to ask him to do it, as well. But we had two problems. First, I couldn’t figure out what role he should be. And second, Jamey just graduated from high school and is heading off to Appalachian State University in the Fall. So if I’m able to do a radio drama of the 2nd book, it would be incredibly difficult for him to be in it. His sister asked, “Why not have him try out as Paki?” I thought about it, and tried Jamey out as some of the soldiers and then as Paki. When I read the scene with him where Ada is witnessing to him, he nailed it! It was awesome! And from then on, I knew I had the right guy in that role.

Jamey is 19 years old, and he’ll be heading to college this year and studying business at Appalachian State University. He loves to play guitar, write music, and play sports, baseball in particular. He spent 5 years acting with us at Christian Youth Theatre before helping out with the radio drama.

Jamey enjoyed playing Paki because he got to be a “manly man” and get in a fight. He told me that he also learned from seeing the Egyptian perspective and the Israelite perspective of the plagues in this book. He said that he can relate to Paki in the sense that, “I feel like Paki is who I would be if I didn’t have Christ in my life.”

Jamey and Megan played really well off of each other. There were many funny moments as they worked on the fight scene with Patrick, who was playing “Heru.” Jamey and Patrick practiced going at each other with butter knives, a very memorable experience. :-) I can’t wait for you all to hear it! We’ll be uploading small clips to the website soon!

Thank you so much, Jamey, for doing such a great job! You nailed the role, and it was fun working with you!

What If My Child Isn’t A Writer?

Many people want to know how to make their children love reading and writing. But unfortunately, it’s very hard to find a motivating factor to get your children, young or old, to enjoy reading and writing if they just don’t seem to be bent that way. But writing is essential to all of life, so eventually they will have to learn! So how can we help jumpstart this process while making it fun and easy?

First of all, in order to be a writer, you need to be a reader. I know that there are many children who struggle with reading, and now-a-days the hard thing to do is to find books that are fun and enjoyable but aren’t at a basic level. (Which is one of the reasons that I’m a writer today!) I would encourage you parents to do a few things here.

You as parents need to be reading books and screening books for your children. You set a huge example for your children. So if you read and enjoy it, they will start to pick up on that. You’ll also be able to find books that you can pass off to your children to read and then discuss it with them.

One of the most important things you can also be doing as a parent is to read books aloud to your children. Story books, the Bible, biographies… Anything! Our family has read tons of books aloud. We’ve read so many Lamplight books, biographies from the Then and Now series, books on family life and church life, classics, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. Reading to your kids help fuel them in a love for learning and helps build quality relationships.

Once you get your kids reading, then you can introduce writing. My parents started me off by writing short reports about the books I was reading, field trips that we went on, etc. These were very short and basic, but I learned how to put thoughts together and organize paragraphs and apply the little bit of grammar I had learned.

As your children get older, the projects will obviously get bigger and longer. We’ll save that topic for another day, though. :-) But there is something I want to talk about here.

I have a younger brother who is definitely more science and numbers oriented. My parents asked me to help him learn how to put some of his thoughts onto paper. We started going through a curriculum, and then I gave him a situation and asked him to write a very short creative story. I wasn’t expecting much. But what he brought back to me was amazing! Of course it needed work, but he simply needed an idea to get him rolling. Now, he can write!

So for your children in middle school and high school that struggle with writing, vary their reports and essays with creative writing. If they can’t think of anything, give them a situation. Here’s some ideas to help get you thinking:

  • Make up a story about an outing with some of your best friends.
  • Make up a story about your family.
  • Make up a story in medieval times about a squire who is about to become a knight (this would also combine history research and writing together!).
  • If they have a favorite character from a book or book series, have them write more about that character.
  • Make up two fictional best friends and put them in a different state so that they can have fictional lives and you can write whatever you want about them.
  • What about a story about someone lost in the woods?
  • People stranded on a desert island?
  • A medieval princess growing up?
  • A hunting expedition, either in current times or another century.
  • Think about time travel!
  • Younger children often like to write stories about animals.
  • A story about a person in the Bible or someone in Bible times, like I did!
  • Have them write down stories that their grandparents or aunts or uncles tell them.
  • Stories of people with exciting jobs, like firefighters, police officers, astronauts, etc.
You can also give them situations like this:
“Ok, write about a cashier in Wal-Mart who’s working and tired and all the power goes out.”
“Write about finding a purse and having to return it to someone.”
“Write about a person rescuing an animal.”
“Write about seeing some little kids being bullied.”
“Write about observing a car accident.”
Also, I would highly recommend having your older children email frequently with “pen pals.” When your children have to put their thoughts down on paper to communicate with their friends, they’ll quickly pick up on spelling errors, grammatical errors, and other things that it’s hard to do when you’re just writing on paper. It also gives them some motivation to write and to get better at it.
There’s my thoughts for the day! :-) I’ll continue to post about motivation and teaching writing over the course of this blog, as well. :-) Thanks for reading! Happy Writing! :-)

 

 

I’m Speaking at a Writing Retreat!! Come Join Me!!

So…. I just got some amazing and exciting news!! One of my favorite places in the entire world is a beautiful Christian retreat center in the Appalachian mountains called Cherokee Cove. Cherokee Cove has tons of family campouts, youth retreats, volunteering and service opportunities, and focuses on allowing the campers and volunteers to spend time focusing on Christ and encouraging people to “Be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10) For the past few years, I’ve been able to go for a little while during the Summer months and “recharge” and get my focus on Christ before I launch into another year.

I emailed the Stephens family (homeschoolers who run Cherokee Cove!) and asked if a friend and I could come for a long weekend and what would be happening during that weekend. I was told that they were having a writing retreat on Saturday, the 24th of August, just when we’re going to be there!! I couldn’t have been happier! And then when I offered to speak if they needed anyone to help with a program, they asked me to give my “How to Write a Novel” talk!

So… I’m speaking on “How to Write a Novel: A Homeschooler’s Journey to Becoming an Author,” on August 24th at Cherokee Cove! Not only that, but all the attendees will have tons of time to ask questions and interact with each other and write together! Cherokee Cove is located in Locust Gap, Tennessee. It’s a 1-2 day retreat. The cost is $50 for the day of the retreat, from 10am-7pm, including lunch, dinner, and the program. It’s $80 for Saturday night lodging and breakfast Sunday morning before a checkout by 10am. I would LOVE to have others join me for the day and we can talk all about writing!

If you’re interested in joining us for this mini Writing Retreat, please contact Cherokee Cove through their website:

http://www.cherokeecove.org/

It’s going to be an amazing experience! And I know that you all will love Cherokee Cove as much as I do! :-) Hope to see some of you there!

Encouraging Parents – Post #3

“My Story Doesn’t Bring Glory to God”

Earlier in this series of posts, I mentioned that I spoke at a homeschool conference in May and shared some scripture verses about doing everything – including writing – for the glory of God. After my session, I was down at the Great Waters Press booth selling my book and talking to some amazing young writers. One young lady came up to me. She said her name was Sarah, and she was really shy. I could tell she was almost scared to talk to me, but yet she wanted to talk to me so desperately. She told me that she didn’t have a network of people who helped her with her writing, and she really wanted to tell me about some of her ideas for books. I tried to be as warm and welcoming as I could and help put this young lady at ease. Sarah started telling me about her idea, and I felt my heart sink. Sarah obviously had talent, but she was writing a ghost story. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to crush her hopes and dreams, but I knew that I couldn’t remain silent in this area. Sarah finished telling me her idea, but before I could say anything, she told me this:

“But, as I was listening to your talk and those Bible verses, I realized that my story doesn’t bring glory to God. So, I decided that I wasn’t going to work on that story any more, and instead, I have an idea for a girl who’s going to public school who has a really hard time, but in the end learns about God and ministers to kids in her school. What do you think?”

What did I think? I was ecstatic! The Word of God had pierced this young homeschooler’s heart. One day I hope this book will be on shelves in bookstores everywhere because it would have such a big appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike. While I could tell that it was hard for Sarah to lay down her ghost story, she was still excited for the future and what God has in store for her. In the end, I know that she will feel more fulfilled and joyful and be more in love with Christ than ever before because of her decision.

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’s 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’s direction, to do something awesome for his Kingdom. The Bible says that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” He has brought us this far, and I am looking forward to how he will use it in the future.”