Technology Skills Help Land WriteTech Keynoter New Job

by Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

Ever since he taught his first web-design class at 16, Thomas Umstattd Jr. has been helping authors conquer the world of technology.

thomas collage 2And he is still proving to the Christian publishing world the value of his technology skills.

The keynote speaker for the January 24, 2015, WriteTech Conference in Kirkland, WA, has just been hired as Sales and Marketing Director for Enclave Publishing. The publishing company, based in Phoenix, Arizona, specializes in science fiction and fantasy for the Christian market.

“Umstattd has been a successful entrepreneur,” company president Steve Laube said in a recent news release. “He founded Author Media in 2008, which became one of the premier web design and technology firms for authors. He is the designer behind MyBookTable, the most popular bookstore plugin for WordPress, and he co-hosts the Novel Marketing Podcast with best-selling author James L. Rubart.”

On his blog Novel Marketing, Thomas says he is excited about his new job because of Enclave’s strong and focused brand, along with the support of passionate fans. However, he is honest about challenges the small company faces, such as a recent name change (from Marcher Lord Press), a limited budget, and never having had a marketing director before.

But Thomas already has a plan of action. He says he will clean up the company’s website, get his WordPress plug-in MyBookTable fully operational, prepare GoodReads giveaways, and set up an e-mail campaign.

Did you notice that all of those tasks require technological skills? Now you can take advantage of Thomas Umstattd’s expertise by signing up for the WriteTech Conference hosted by the Northwest Christian Writers Association (NCWA). This year’s theme is Writing and Technology: Conquering the Digital Divide. And if you register by December 2, you even get an early-bird discount.

TweetLearn from Thomas Umstattd of Author Media and Enclave Publishing at #WriteTech2015

In addition to the keynote speaker, nine other presenters will also give valuable instruction on such topics as blogging, branding, cloud technology, indie publishing, social media, and the word-processing software Scrivener and Microsoft Word, along with voice-recognition software Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Workshop presenters include Lynnette Bonner, Dennis Brooke, Maria Dykstra, Athena Dean Holtz, Marlene McCurley, Gigi Murfitt, Mindy Peltier, Kim Vandel, and James L. Rubart—yes, the same Jim Rubart who co-hosts the Novel Marketing Podcast with Thomas Umstattd Jr. What a great line-up of tech talent!

The good news is that taking advantage of such a wealth of knowledge at this value-packed one-day conference is not just science fiction or fantasy. You may well discover that it’s a writer’s dream come true.


Diana Savage
Diana Savage
, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference near Seattle. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

2 NCWA Conferences: Which Should You Attend?

by Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

In the next few months, you’ll have two exciting conferences to benefit from: The WriteTech Conference on January 24, 2015, and the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal the weekend of May 15–16, 2015.

Why two? Although the goal of each is to help you be a successful writer, the tools you’ll receive at each conference differ slightly.


WriteTech Conference with keynote speaker Thomas Umstattd Jr.

The WriteTech Conference - Dramatic changes in the publishing industry mean that introverted writers can no longer hide behind closed doors and produce reams of material in solitude while leaving the marketing—or even publishing—to others. The job description of “successful author” now includes competence in computer software and social-media platforms.

Aack! What’s a writer to do? The good news is that Thomas Umstattd Jr., the 2015 WriteTech Conference keynoter, is a whiz at helping authors master the world of technology. He and his fellow presenters will assist you with blogging, branding, and understanding cloud technology. You’ll gain a working understanding of voice recognition software (Dragon Naturally Speaking), word-processing software (Microsoft Word and Scrivener), and social media sites (Twitter and Goodreads) and sharpen your skills for indie publishing and producing a professional media kit.

Then look out, world! Your new skills and confidence will enable you to get your message out to its intended audience.

Angela Hunt pm

The Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference - While the 2015 Renewal will also feature some training to help you master technology, the conference will cover a lot more territory. You’ll be able to receive critiques on your material, learn important basic information if you’re a beginning writer, and pitch your current project to an editor or agent if you’re advanced enough to seek a publisher. At all levels you’ll be inspired, enriched, and informed about the writing life.

Perhaps the best part is that for two full days, you’ll be able to network with other writers who have similar goals. You’ll connect with people you already know, and you’ll also meet new friends. If you’re just beginning your journey, you can be a “Timothy” and learn from a Paul-like mentor. If you’re a little farther along in your writing journey, you can serve as a “Paul” to someone else. Maybe you’re in the position to do both. In the Christian writing community, most of us share the same goal: to advance the kingdom of God through our skills, gifts, and talents.

So, which conference should you sign up for? Both! Rest assured that we are squeezing every line in the budget in order to keep costs as low as possible for you, so now’s the time to let family and friends know that high on your holiday wish list are gifts of cash to help you with registration and other expenses.

The WriteTech Conference is only $80—and that includes lunch! (It’s even less for early birds and NCWA members.) We’ll publish registration info for the Renewal conference just as soon as we finish hard-nosed negotiations with hotels and caterers.

Consider these conferences as solid steppingstones in your writing career. We’re confident that when you see your byline in print for the first time or you land your next book contract, you’ll be glad you made these investments.

TweetWriters conferences are solid steppingstones to your writing career.


Diana SavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference near Seattle. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

25 Ways to Procrastinate on Your Writing

Have you ever planned to write diligently, only to get swallowed up by the Procrastination Monster? Maybe you decided to finish an article, chapter, or blog post,  but found yourself in a whirlwind of other important activities.

Procrastination pm

  1. Facebook
  2. Clean the toilet
  3. Text friends
  4. More Facebook
  5. Shop on eBay
  6. More Facebook
  7. Shop for shoes at
  8. More Facebook
  9. Walk the dog or cat. Or if you don’t have one, buy one. Or a turtle or slug
  10. Chat with Twitter friends about the weather. Rain, rain, rain
  11. More Facebook (or Fakebook, as my pastor says)
  12. Clean your belly button. Lots of fuzz these days
  13. Practice selfies. Again and again. And…again
  14. Text your mother to say how much you love her. Add a few ideas for birthday or Christmas gifts
  15. Make a banana split. If you don’t have the ingredients, go to the furthest store in the next city for ingredients. Take a cooler though.
  16. Call a friend and tell her how you don’t have enough time to write and wonder how people crank out books every year.
  17. Make plans to TP the houses of any writers you know who meet the criteria for number 16.
  18. More Facebook
  19. Text a friend from NCWA and ask her to go to coffee
  20. Meet the above friend at the Mother Ship (Starbucks) and complain about how you don’t have time to write.
  21. Play with your new phone or tablet or other device.
  22. Wash your bed skirt. Or if you don’t have one, shop for one – even if you’re a guy and hate bed skirts.
  23. Take pictures with your new device, while texting your writer friends about how you have so little time to write.
  24. Just a wee bit more Facebook. You may miss an hour of that one person you met twenty years ago at a candle party but didn’t like because she ate all the chocolate.
  25. Go online to find a Facebook Anonymous 12-step group for people addicted to Facebook.
Tweet25 Ways to Procrastinate on Your Writing

Cherrie Herrin-Michehl pic


Cherrie Herrin-Michehl is a licensed mental health therapist practicing in Woodinville, WA. Her ebook “Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit” was published June 2014. The book is a collage of humor, faith, and psychology.


Dear Fellow Procrastinating Writers:

As Cherrie illustrates, a sense of humor comes in handy when you struggle with procrastination!

However, more often, I’ve found reasons to feel stressed, frustrated, and guilty about my procrastinating. I’ve even called myself some mean names. Wasteful, foolish, disorganized, chaotic . . . . it hasn’t been pretty.

I’ve prayed about it a lot. I recently heard Holy Spirit whisper this to me:

“You are a faithful person. You want to be faith-full and you are. So, you can stop identifying yourself as a procrastinating person. That is not your true identity. It is a bad habit that you can break out of by remembering who you really are . . . who I say you are . . . and then choosing to live true to your real identity. I say you are faithful and peaceful and grateful.”

That’s how, with God’s help, I’m beginning to realize that I DO have what it takes to stop procrastinating by choosing to change the way I think about myself. I now realize my mistake in judging myself harshly by my performance instead of living out each day in agreement with God’s perspective about who I am.

By God’s grace-enablement, the gift of supernatural capability and endowment from the Holy Spirit to all believers,

I believe I am –

FAITHFUL  - A faithful person desires and is able to be stay true to that which has been committed to them. Ephesians 1:1 (NIV)

PEACEFUL –  A peaceful person is a peacemaker. A peacemaker opposes chaos, disorder, and disunity. A peacemaker brings order, harmony, and peace to their relationships, home, finances, work, environment, and belongings.  Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
James 3:18 (NIV)

GRATEFUL – A grateful person appreciates and takes care of what they have been given, whether it’s tangible or intangible. They acknowledge their blessings and the Blesser and they live with a deeper-than-average awareness of His good Presence with them and in them.  Psalm 100:4 (NIV)   Psalm 107:22 (NIV)

Simply put, the take-away is this:

TweetYou may procrastinate, but that is not who you are.

TweetYou are not your bad habits, your bad choices, your bad experiences, nor your mistakes.

TweetYou are who God says you are. Period.  I Samuel 16:7


Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1

Oh, amen!

Who does God say you are?


JJeanie pmeanie Killion, a blogger & pre-published author, shares from the overflow of her journey with Jesus. She’s found Him faithful through many “dangers, toils, and snares.”  With her writing, Jeanie strives to help others draw close to God’s throne and access the Joy of His Presence, the Peace that passes understanding, and the Hope we have in knowing Him.


You Have No Hero Like Lenin

Written by Dennis Brooke, pre-published author and past President of Northwest Christian Writers Association.


In 1988, during the waning days of The Cold War, I was a young Air Force Captain attending Squadron Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. One of our guest speakers was a Soviet Union Exchange officer who espoused at length the superiority of the way of life in the USSR.

He went on at length how we could not understand his country because we had nobody in our culture like Lenin, the revolutionary who served as the first Chairman of the Soviet Union. He lectured about what an inspiration Lenin was to his people. That Lenin’s framed portrait was in a place of honor in every school classroom and office. How his statue graced the center of any respectable village. Even Lenin’s body had been preserved in a glass sarcophagus in Red Square and on exhibit for nearly three quarters of a century.

Lenin pm2

The Soviet officer said, “You Americans cannot understand the Soviet Union because you have no hero like Lenin.”

At this point another Captain enduring this talk leaned over to me and with one whispered word blew the Soviet’s argument out of the water. He said: “Elvis.” Unfortunately, Americans worship many things: celebrities, status, and in the case of some, Elvis.

But as writers who serve Christ first, do we pursue the status, fame, respect, and trappings that we believe are part of being a successful writer? Or do we pursue our calling as people of faith who seek to bring people closer to God? Some of us will have the opportunity to influence many people through our writing and speaking. For others, it may be an audience of only a few, or even one. But if we influence only one person, remember that one person matters to God. Christ said that the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to pursue that one lost sheep. That one person should also matter to us as we pursue our calling.

So let us write and speak not for our own status, or glory, or false gods like Lenin and even Elvis. Let us pursue it for Christ, the true God.


TweetWhether your audience is one or a thousand, write for the glory of the Lord.



Dennis Brooke

Dennis Brooke is a former USAF officer and the past President of the Northwest Christian Writers Association. He has written for Focus on the Family, Toastmasters, and Combat Crew Magazines. He tells stories at

This talk was the meeting devotional at the June, 2014 NCWA Meeting. 

Inventing Story: Writing for the Market

by Kathleen Freeman, pre-published author and Critique Coordinator of NCWA


Inventing Story                                        (Picture of early bug zapper)

Some wonderful inventions came out of WWI, the facial tissue, the zipper and the tea bag. They found an eager market, and so changed peoples’ lives. Just after that time, other items were invented—soy sausages, which have a smaller market, but have become part of the vegetarian diet around the world, and a blower to push people out of the way as trams arrived. We’ve all experienced the wonders and frustrations of a zipper and the relief of a Kleenex. The simple tea bag has stayed in use for decades.

What happened to the people blowers, safety devices designed to keep folks from being hit by trams? Certainly, Konrad Aidenauer’s invention would have saved many lives. Its problem was market. The tram companies wanted to reduce accidents, but people, those weaving in front of trams in dresses and by bike didn’t want to be blown out of the way, eggs scattering on the ground, bicycles toppling. They wanted warning, a chance to decide for themselves whether to become trolley fodder or move out of the way.

Story is the same.

We can’t have a pushy agenda, and while Aidenauer’s bug zapper, another of his inventions, was a great idea and things like it are now used with gladness, it was ahead of its time.

The market wasn’t ready.

TweetYour story may be an invention before its time and the market isn’t ready.

So, what about us, as writers? Have we invented a cool product, hoping to force it on the market despite its buggy nature or people’s inability to use it without the availability of a good battery ?

There may be a need for your bug zapper in the future. For now, if the market needs a simple thing like a tea bag, or to blow their noses into something soft and non-chafing, so be it. We can have our part in keeping the bits of tea leaves out of mouths, and catching sorrows across the globe. As for that favorite story, be patient, be hopeful, its time may be coming.

TweetWriter, be patient and hopeful, your time may be coming.


Kathleen Freeman 2Kathleen Freeman is passionate about history, the way it allows people to learn from the past, and the connections it helps form. She writes articles for Vista Journal for Holy Living, Clubhouse Magazine, and is a pre-published writer of Historical and other forms of fiction.



You Can’t Just Say “I’m a Writer”


Written by Dennis Brooke, NCWA President

During a workshop at the recent Northwest Christian Writer’s Association Renewal Conference, Kathleen Kerr, an editor at Harvest House had a very funny observation about being a writer. She told about an exercise at another conference where the speaker asked everyone to stand up and announce, “I am a writer!” They were then told to turn to the person next to them and encourage them by saying, You are a writer.”

During this motivational exercise she thought, “This is the only industry where you can just say you’re a writer and be one. Imagine if you stood up and said, ‘I’m a pediatric neurosurgeon’.”

TweetThis is the only industry where you can just say you’re a writer and be one.


Kathleen Kerr 3Kathleen’s point is right on—saying you’re a writer needs to be followed up with developing the craft. You wouldn’t want to roll your kid into brain surgery and find out that their neurosurgeon had just announced they were a neurosurgeon, but had no training to back it up. And frankly, you don’t want to read something written by a writer who hasn’t spent any time developing their craft.

TweetSaying you’re a writer needs to be followed up with developing the craft.

So how do you develop the craft? Over 150 of us were at that conference to sit in on workshops taught by Kathleen and other industry professionals. In between events like this many of us participate in critique groups and spend hours in practice.
Personally, I also like to read or listen to the audio version of books on the craft to get some focused guidance. And I like to ask professionals for their recommendations on books. When I asked our keynote speaker, Davis Bunn, for his recommendations I thought he might give us a couple of good ideas. But he provided three pages of fantastic resources, including an on-line master class.
Davis is a great writer and teacher so I was very interested to get his perspective and am glad to share them with you. Following is his annotated reading list of books on the craft. Are any of these favorites of yours? What would you add to the list? Use the comments function to answer those questions. Everyone who posts an answer by next Friday, April 25 will be entered into a drawing for a Davis Bunn novel and a half pound of Starbucks Coffee.

Dennis Brooke

Dennis Brooke
is a pre-published novelist who currently serves as the President of the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association. He has written for Focus on the Family, Toastmasters, and Combat Crew Magazines. He tells stories at


T. Davis Bunn’s Annotated Reading List

Davis Bunn 5

 Writing The Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas. Writer’s Digest Books

A breakout novel is one that rises out if its category – such as literary fiction, mystery, romance, or thriller – and hits the bestseller charts. Maas explains the elements that all breakout novels share and shows readers how to use these elements to write a novel that has a good chance of succeeding in a crowded marketplace. They’ll learn to: – Create a powerful and sweeping sense of time and place – Develop larger-than-life characters – Sustain a high degree of narrative tension from start to finish – Weave sub-plots into the main action – Explore universal themes that will interest a large audience

Writing the Blockbuster Novel, by Al Zuckerman. Little, Brown        

Practical, very helpful, and certainly readable. He takes a number of bestselling novels and de-constructs them to illustrate the points he’s making about plot construction, pace, characterization etc. All essential elements of novels that will sell. And he’s in a position to know these things because he is the founder and managing director of the highly successful New York literary agency, Writers House…

 Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler. Michael Wiese Production

In 1993, The Writer’s Journey became one of the most popular books on writing of the last 50 years, shaking up Hollywood, and becoming a best seller among writers everywhere. This new edition will reawaken established writers and inspire a new generation with fresh insights on creating great stories. An indispensable guide to the inner workings of stories, to the ancient and deep-seated patterns of emotion that speak to us through the symbolic language of myth. It applies the classic principles of Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero’s Journey” to modern storytelling. Christopher Vogler, one of Hollywood’s most renowned story consultants and teachers, expands his vision to show how storytelling evolved from sacred rituals and how its inexhaustible powers can be adapted to the needs of modern storytellers. “The Writer’s Journey” is now the most widely used book in the movie, TV, publishing, and computer gaming industries. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions for Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Anchor Books

Best Anne Lamott gives witty and wise advice on the process of writing, while offering an entertaining and inspiring take on the difficult parts of the writing life. She encourages writers to take a more non-judgmental attitude towards their own writing, particularly during the first-draft stage. Covering everything from plot to professional jealousy, Lamott’s down-to-earth approach is both comforting and encouraging.

Stein on Writing, & How To Grow A Novel by Sol Stein. Saint Martin’s Press

“The best reading experiences”, says Sol Stein, “defy interruption”. With Stein’s assistance, you can grab your reader on page one and not let go until “The End”. Stein–author of nine novels (including the best-selling The Magician) and editor to James Baldwin, W H Auden, and Lionel Trilling–offers “usable solutions” for any writing problem you might encounter. He is authoritative, commanding, and neither cheerleader nor naysayer. Instead, he rails against mediocrity and demands that you expunge it from your work. Perhaps the concept of scrutinising every modifier, every metaphor, every character trait sounds like drudgery. But with Stein’s lively guidance, it is a pleasure. Stein recommends that you brew conflict in your prose by giving your characters different “scripts”. He challenges you, in an exercise concerning voice, to write the sentence you want the world to remember you by. He uses an excerpt from E L Doctorow to demonstrate poorly written monologue and a series of Taster’s Choice commercials as an example of dialogue that works. Stein’s bottom line is that good writing must be suspenseful. Your job, says Stein, “is to give readers stress, strain, and pressure. The fact is that readers who hate those things in life love them in fiction”. 

Bestseller: Secrets of Successful Writing by Celia Brayfield. Fourth Estate

Elizabeth Buchan, The Times: “In this ambitious and fascinating book, Brayfield tackles the Zen of fiction bestsellerdom. Her premise is that stories define a puzzling world and help to defuse our more primitive fears, the most significant continuing to haunt and nourish our imaginations. This is based on a study of how myth works through cultures. From there she constructs her methods of story shaping, research, narrative techniques and, of course, style…….From the GCSE student upwards, writers and readers will enjoy this bold an illuminating tilt at unravelling the mysteries of the popular novel. Even, perhaps, the literary novelist.”
The Independent on Sunday: “Admirably thought-provoking and even profound. Books cited include Gone With the Wind, Damage, The Joy Luck Club, Scott Turow, J G Ballard, The Great Gatsby and James Bond. Best of all, she demystified writing but highlights the sheer craft.”

Story: Substance, Structure, Style by Robert McKee. Metheuen Press (trade paperback)

McKee’s work is genuinely inspiring, particularly in the audio version, which he reads himself. It’s to the point. And – although intended primarily for screen writers – it’s invaluable for anyone who thinks they have a story in them.

Perhaps we should let Bob McKee speak for himself: “When talented writers write badly it’s generally for one of two reasons: either they’re blinded by an idea that they feel compelled to prove, or they’re driven by an emotion they need to express. When talented people write well, it’s generally for this reason: they’re moved by a desire to touch an audience.”

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Scribner

Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King’s On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists. The memoir is terrific stuff, a vivid description of how a writer grew out of a misbehaving kid. It’s a ripping yarn that casts a sharp light on his fiction. King gives us lots of revelations about his life and work. The kidnapper character in Misery, the mind-possessing monsters in The Tommyknockers, and the haunting of the blocked writer in The Shining symbolized his cocaine and booze addiction (overcome thanks to his wife’s intervention, which he describes). “There’s one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing.”   King also evokes his college days and his recovery from the van crash that nearly killed him, but the focus is always on what it all means to the craft. He gives you a whole writer’s “tool kit”: a reading list, writing assignments, a corrected story, and nuts-and-bolts advice on dollars and cents, plot and character, the basic building block of the paragraph, and literary models. He shows what you can learn from H.P. Lovecraft’s arcane vocabulary, Hemingway’s leanness, Grisham’s authenticity, Richard Dooling’s artful obscenity, Jonathan Kellerman’s sentence fragments.

(Dennis Brooke’s note: The Audio Version of the book is read by Stephen King himself.)

Ken Follet’s on-line Masterclass: The Art Of Suspense

Found at:

QuestionsAre any of these books on the craft favorites of yours? What would you add to the list? Use the comments function to answer those questions. Everyone who posts an answer by next Friday, April 25 will be entered into a drawing for a Davis Bunn novel and a half pound of Starbucks Coffee.


Davis Bunn The Turning

You can find Davis Bunn’s books in the NCWA on-line bookstore. Many of the books on the craft he mentioned are also in the bookstore. A portion of sales from the NCWA bookstore helps to fund our organizations activities.

TweetLeave a blog comment to enter a drawing for a Davis Bunn novel and Starbucks coffee.

Our Most Embarrassing Moments at a Writers Conference

Writers conferences are a great source of instruction, encouragement, and blessing to the writer, but they can also cause stress.  Writers know attending a conference can be crucial to their success.  They’re told that the agents and editors are the gatekeepers to publication and they usually have less than three minutes to get through the gate.

Shaking voices, trembling hands, and sweat-stained armpits prove writers are aware how  each encounter could fulfill or flounder publication dreams.

embarrassing moments

In the final countdown to the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal April 11-12, 2014,  with Davis Bunn, the proverbial butterflies have begun their migration to registrants.  To relieve pressure with laughter, NCWA members decided to share our worst conference experiences.




Ocieanna Fleiss
– An editor from a prominent Christian publisher told me to not be afraid to write a @#$% first draft. LOL! At my first writers conference EVER! I about lost it and the very sweet, conservative older lady sitting next to me almost fell off her chair.




Roberta Kehle -  I used to  pick up our speakers at the airport, but often got lost going to the hotel, usually when they needed to go to the bathroom and were in misery.  Another time I was trying to get a Starbucks for an agent and had a minor parking lot mishap. They quit asking my pick-up help. Wonder why? Hmm, this might scare off attendees.


sonjaSonja Anderson – My most embarrassing moment related to a writing conference came after the conference. I had the opportunity to submit a manuscript to an agent and an editor from the annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in Seattle. After I wrote a query letter to the female editor from a fancy New York publishing house, I thought I’d save time and cut and paste the letter for the male agent from Chicago.

Big mistake! Imagine my great grief and embarrassment when I looked at the letter more carefully (after hitting “send,” of course, to the male agent ), and saw that I never removed the line about hoping that the rest of her PREGNANCY went well!
Needless to say, I never heard back from that agent. Sigh.


LynnetteLynnette Bonner – At an NCWA conference several years ago, I sat in on a pitch session with a big-name agent. She liked what she heard and requested that I send her a proposal after the conference. Later that same day she was chatting with Jim Rubart.

I needed to talk to Jim about something so I approached and was standing off to one side as they chatted. Jim turned to me and in his gregarious way said, “Hey! How’s your day gone? Did anyone request your stuff?”

And I replied that yeah, “Actually she requested that I send her a proposal.”

To which the agent jolted back and gasped, “I didn’t request a proposal from YOU!”

Jim did a double-take between the two of us as I said, “Well, actually you did.” She then apologized profusely and admitted she remembered me. Needless to say, I never sent her a proposal.


Mindy HeadshotMindy Peltier - After hearing how volunteering at a conference can impact your ability to get published, I arranged to meet two editors at the airport. They were from the two Christian publishers I dreamed of writing for some day.  I’d rehearsed a line I thought was clever and would prove my passion and need for writers conferences.

Feeling brave as I deftly merged into I-5 rush hour traffic,  I said, “Writers conferences have become counterproductive for me. I’m writing less…

One editor didn’t realize the airspace was meant to be a dramatic pause before my brilliant punch line.

He began defending conferences and instructed me on my need to attend and appreciate them.  I didn’t want to interrupt.  I merged into the carpool lane. The editor in the back seat added to the defense.

Shocked, I was convinced the misunderstanding had crash-dummied my  publication dreams.  I figured my name would be passed around the editors’ circle, along with the guy who tried to pitch his book at the urinal.  I couldn’t even finish my sentence.

The punch line he missed was “… because the more conferences I go to, the worse my writing becomes.

I was trying to cleverly reveal how conferences were impacting my writing life.  I was learning about writing, but on a larger scale, I was understanding how much more I needed to learn about writing and the publishing industry.

I’ve relived that agonizing moment over and over since then, and even in my dreams, I crash before the punch line.

Every year I attend and volunteer at several  writers conferences, and I’ve even taught at a few. But, they’re still counterproductive for me, because the more writers conferences I attend, the worse my writing becomes.

If an embarrassing moment at a writers conference occurs, don’t worry, it won’t affect your publication dreams.  All of the above writers were published after their  blunders.

Brush it off and move on, but only after you send the story to us.  We’d love to use in a blog post next year.


TweetEmbarrassing conference moments didn’t hinder chance of publication.

TweetNCWA writers expose most embarrassing conference moments.