Friday, August 31, 2012

Magnificent Hope Attends the Catch the Wave Conference

This past weekend, I, Magnificent Hope, attended the Catch the Wave Conference sponsored by the Christian Author’s Guild. I got to hang out with some great writers, make many new friends, and left the conference inspired and encouraged.

The Facility

Simpsonwood Conference Center, located in Norcross, Georgia, was beautiful. It was not as plush and luxurious as some expected, but it was clean, comfortable, and modern. The staff was exceptional – everyone helpful, friendly, and smiling. It was refreshing – for this nature-loving girl anyway – to be surrounded by trees as we moved from one building to the next. (Sleeping rooms and some meeting rooms were in one building; main meeting room, dining hall, and registration desk were in another.) Wireless internet was readily available all over the facility, and meeting space was more than adequate. The meals were buffet-style, with healthy options like fish, baked chicken, vegetarian lasagna, and an abundant and fresh salad bar.

The Conference

The conference itself is rather small – 50-60 in attendance this year – but the quality is there. Three workshops were taught simultaneously during each session – nine sessions for a total of 27 workshops – and four keynote speakers. Those included Tiffany Colter, freelance writer and writing career coach; Les Stobbe, agent; Lynette Eason, bestselling and award-winning suspense author; and Write Integrity Press's own Tracy Ruckman.

The size of this conference is a GREAT place for beginners to start. Larger conferences can get overwhelming, both in number of people and in workshop options. This conference is manageable and, surprisingly, laid-back enough that everyone should feel comfortable and relaxed. Evenings were free to hang out with other writers, meet with critique groups, or catch-up on work you missed during the day.

The Staff

Conference staff provided exceptional and useful workshops. Some examples include:  Lynette Eason’s Basics of Fiction; Lin Johnson’s How to Get Published; Cynthia L. Simmon’s Using Fiction Techniques for Nonfiction; Steve Miller’s Choosing the Right Publishing Option; Nancy Lohr’s The Business Side of Children’s Publishing. Most, if not all, of the workshops provided handouts and gave ample opportunities for learning and for networking.

The Opportunities

Many conferences, including this one, offer one-on-one opportunities for writers to meet with agents, publishers, editors, and other professionals that can help your career. These 15-minute appointments are usually included in your conference fee, and give you the chance to pitch your project, ask questions, and talk about your work with these professionals face-to-face. Take advantage of that time. Prepare for the conference. Create a one-sheet or a general proposal to take with you to conference, and then take them with you to the appointments. Be passionate about your project, but pitch it succinctly. The writers who will be remembered long after conference are the ones who came prepared, left professional material, and were passionate about their projects.

The Extras

Diana Baker led some incredible worship times at this conference. She played the piano beautifully, and her song choices were encouraging, inspiring, and totally focused to point our eyes and our thoughts right to Jesus.

And that’s our purpose as writers, too, isn’t it? To point people to Jesus?

Contest Update

TODAY, August 31, is the LAST day to enter the “Where in the World is Magnificent Hope?” contest for your chance to win a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet, a $100 gift card, and a whole bunch of books!

Stay tuned – on Monday, we’ll announce the winner of that contest, and announce some more fun news concerning Magnificent Hope! And even though the contest is over, Hope Tour 2012 continues at least through September - Magnificent Hope is already schedule for some more fun events! And she may even come up with some sort of Christmas contest, too!

Follow Magnificent Hope's Journey on the Hope Tour:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Week 10: Where in the World is Magnificent Hope?

Magnificent Hope and I got busy publishing a couple more books, so the blog has been rather quiet. Today, we gear up again with a guest post from author Traci Hilton, and another installment of "Where in the World is Magnificent Hope?" The contest ends August 31st, so be sure and get your entries in now for your chance to win a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet, a $100 gift card, and a bunch of books!

When you live two thousand miles away from grandparents, it can be hard to make the kind of memories I shared about in Life Lessons from Mom. You can’t just pick a random afternoon to take a ramble with Grandma and hear stories about her childhood. Six month to a year’s worth of bonding have to be organized and scrunched into seven to nine days at a time.

We had the happy good fortune of having those nine days with the Grandparents in our town this summer, and so planning the life-long memory and lesson-building activities fell on me.

I wanted to balance time spent in the comfort of our little home, playing in our yard, eating around the family table, with going to big, exciting places. I live near Portland, Oregon and have to admit that big, exciting, places are hard to come by around here.

But we did our best. We bundled everyone off to our favorite beach along the Columbia River for a picnic. I’d say this little hideaway is my favorite place … on Earth. Yes, quite likely my favorite place on Earth. Silky sands, warm water (compared to the Pacific Ocean anyway!), wide beaches, quiet and secluded beauty. And since it is August it is even sunny and warm. With shovels in hand and the family dog in tow we spent an afternoon I can only call heavenly.

Whenever we go to the river I bombard the kids with stories from my childhood of camping along the river, riding in boats that bump bump over the wakes made my other boats, and the ship wreck we used to scramble over as kids. Since we don’t have a ski boat, (and the river I tell them stories about isn’t as clean as it used to be) we can’t camp on that island like I used to do. But they get a little taste of what it was like, and so far, they love it.

I said there were not many big and exciting places around these parts. No Disneyland or Six Flags type of fun anyway. But my area does have one very big and exciting feature. A place my family loves to visit. We don’t go that often because it’s about an hour and a half away. The Grandparent’s had driven over the Rocky Mountains to get to us, what was another little drive?

So with Magnificent Hope tucked into the pocket on the back of the passenger seat of the mini-van so that she wouldn’t get crumpled*, our family: (Dad, Mom, Grandma, Grandpa, and two little girls) drove off to the big, exciting, landmark. It’s a great place for a picnic, a hike, and a nerve wracking drive. It boasts fir trees, trillium, Indian paintbrush, Elk, death defying bridges, and a gift shop.

Can you guess where we took our family and Magnificent Hope to make memories? Check out the picture to see if you can recognize it!

(*Poor Magnificent Hope! I accidentally left her in the van. Also, pictures from our most recent trip managed to travel back to Kansas with the grandparents, so Maggie has found herself photoshopped into a picture at the same big, exciting, location, but last year and with my girls and their Great Grandma.)

So, readers, can you guess where Magnificent Hope is this week? 

Answer the question correctly to be entered to win a Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet.

Here's how to play:

Each week, we’ll post a photo of Magnificent Hope near a landmark. If you know “Where in the World is Magnificent Hope?” send us an e-mail with the subject line CONTEST WEEK 1, CONTEST WEEK 2, CONTEST WEEK 3, etc. The person with the MOST correct entries and bonus entries at the end of the contest will win their choice of either a Kindle Fire or a Nook Tablet, a $100 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (depending on which reader your choose), and a copy of all our WIP and PNP books published any time during this year!

Bonus entries may be earned three ways:
  1.  By “liking” all three Facebook pages – Write IntegrityPix-N-Pens, and Magnificent Hope – just be sure to let us know you liked us in your first contest entry, and we’ll add the bonus points.
  2. Bonus entries will also be given for anyone submitting by e-mail one or more photos taken with Magnificent Hope AND at least one of our books anywhere on her journey. One photo per location, please. (For example, if you bump into Magnificent Hope at a Jennifer Fromke event in North Carolina and take ten photos with her at that same event, only one photo will count. But if you bump into Magnificent Hope at Jennifer’s event, and then again at an event with Dianne E. Butts, you can take photos both places and get two bonus entries!) Send your photos in .jpeg format, attached to an email, and we may use them in blog posts or perhaps even a book.
  3. Telling your family and friends about Magnificent Hope, Hope Tour 2012, and our books and authors – through Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, interviews with our authors or Magnificent Hope, or other ways. One share per week gets you an extra entry, so send us your links by e-mail so we can tally your points.

(If you have trouble using the links, the e-mail address to send entries to is: magnificenthope [at] yahoo [dot] com.)

For those of you coming on board in the middle of the contest, you can go back and enter the previous weeks whenever you wish. Just find the "Where in the World is Magnificent Hope?" contest links in the list below and submit your best guess for each week. 

Follow Magnificent Hope's Journey on the Hope Tour:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Celebrate with Dianne E. Butts!

We're so excited to announce the official "early" release date of Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ by Renee Gray-Wilburn and Dianne E. Butts.

To celebrate, I asked each of the authors to share what means the most to them about this book.

Dianne says, "Its goal to reach individuals for Jesus Christ—including not only the grandchildren but possibly their parents. My purpose for writing anything is to bring people to an understanding of Jesus, which then leads them to salvation in Him.

Another meaningful aspect to me is that I got to write the “Grandparents in the Bible” sidebars, so I got to teach God’s Word, and I love that!

My goal is to be 'gathering manna and giving it out.'

When the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after leaving slavery in Egypt, they had no food to support them. So every day God gave them bread from heaven to sustain them which they called manna. They gathered it every day (except the day before the Sabbath when they gathered two days worth for the Sabbath also).

 When Jesus came, He said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51. See also 6:35, 48).

 My desire is to be gathering daily manna, taking in the sustenance of God’s Word, and then sharing it with others to bring them to eternal life sustained by Jesus, and to whet their appetite to hunger for more of Him."

About Dianne: Dianne E. Butts is a freelance writer, author, and screenwriter. Her latest book, Deliver Me, for those in an unplanned pregnancy or with one in their past, is a Christian Small Publishers Association “Book of the Year”award winner and inspired her first short film: She has over 300 articles published in Christian magazines and web sites, and has contributed to nineteen books. She writes frequently for,, and Her first book, Dear America, is now available on Kindle. She enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband, Hal, and gardening with her cat, PC. They live in Colorado.

Read Renee Gray-Wilburn's comments on the Pix-N-Pens blog.

Grandparenting Through Obstacles is Available Now:

Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

By request at your favorite bookstore.

We're celebrating! Answer one of the following questions in the comments section below for a chance to win a print copy of Grandparenting Through Obstacles. We'll draw a winner on Friday, August 17th.

What is (or will be) YOUR most challenging aspect of grandparenting? Or, if you're not yet a grandparent, what was the biggest challenge your own grandparents faced when you were growing up?