Why Did You Do It?

 

A message from Jill Esau, President of the Northwest Christian Writers Association

 

A person I respect told me, thirty years ago, “We behave as we behave because we believe what we believe.”

Most of us get up in the morning and get to work. Why? Isn’t it because we believe we have a  responsibility to perform our best for our employer so we can earn income to provide for our family?  Most of us invest in and maintain relationships in social and civic groups. Why? Isn’t it because we believe it is necessary to contribute to our community and we receive satisfaction and fulfillment in these activities?  Many also worship collectively and regularly. Why? Isn’t it because we believe there is a source of almighty power and control greatly beyond ourselves? And, isn’t that nearly universal belief revealed at such a time as this?

If you are reading this message you are likely a writer or an aspiring writer, and now is your time. The recent global pandemic has produced a frightened, hurting world desperate for hope and direction. You believe you have some insight and hope to offer. You have an internal urge to assemble words of truth and comfort. You know principles and illustrations that could resonate with folks seeking a salve for their brokenness. You believe what the Bible says, so write it out through personal stories.

How/Where to start? Why not ask your reader questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you believe about God?
  • What do you fear?
  • What do peace and comfort look like to you?
  • May I tell you why I have peace in this time?

your time is nowThe cover-to-cover theme of the Bible is God’s control in times of plenty and dire distress. The message of the Gospel is Jesus Christ offering His life as a sacrifice for all people who call upon His name for salvation. Do you believe these concepts as truth? Then as a writer, you must feel compelled to share that truth in written form. Be bold. View your time as worship to God. Don’t allow negative doubts to convince you it’s a waste of time. You are stuck at home for a little while longer. What are you waiting for? Sit down and write out your messages. The world is waiting for you to hit SEND. 

Your Companion in The Harvest,

Jill Esau, President, NCWA

 

Misplaced Hopes and Realized Dreams: What the Renewal Conference has Meant to Me

by Sonja Anderson

NCWA Anderson SonjaThe first writing conference I ever went to was a Renewal Conference for the NCWA, back in the day when it was held at Seattle Pacific University. I had applied for, and received, a scholarship, which was the only way I felt comfortable about attending—I felt like too much a pretender to tell my husband I was going to spend money on a writing conference, of all things.

I had a draft of a novel, a bundle of nerves, and a lot of misplaced hope. Misplaced, because I thought the novel was ready, and because I thought that this was my one chance to get it published. Both were decidedly untrue.

Most people do come to a conference hoping for a connection that leads to a contract. My experience, after many conferences, both at NCWA and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and most recently at Connecting Writers with Hollywood, is that sometimes—sometimes—that dream is realized, and a lot of other good stuff can happen even when the dream of a contract isn’t realized.

My first children’s novel, Sophie’s Quest, was published without the benefit of meeting someone at a conference, but maybe going to conferences helped anyway. I was reminded, at the Renewal conference, of the Christian Writers Market Guide. I purchased a copy from the book table, contacted all of the relevant publishers, and ultimately got a “yes” from a publisher in England!

When Keys for Kids editor, Courtney Lasseter, led a workshop on writing devotionals for children at a conference a few years ago, I stopped by her room where she was giving appointments. When someone didn’t show up for their appointment, I was able to talk to her for a few minutes. I didn’t have a story, but I liked her, and we had a fun chat about what she was looking for. After a rejected attempt, this relationship has led to six published—and paid—stories for the magazine, and now she writes to me when she needs a new story.

Best of all, God used the 2019 Renewal conference to introduce me to a new publisher for Sophie’s Quest and the entire Adventures of Sophie Topfeather series, the same month my British publisher quit the business and gave me my rights back. What a blessing!

Looking back, my hopes at that first conference weren’t exactly misplaced. The conference was the right place to be. I had to bring my work up to industry standard and to stay in the game long enough for God to bring the right information, the right people, and the right opportunities to me, each at the right time. The Renewal Conference has been a faithful companion on the journey, helping me all along the way.

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Keys for Kids Elephant Cover (1)Anderson, SonjaSonja Anderson writes children’s literature from Burien, WA and lives with her husband and two daughters. She works full time in a local elementary school library where she feels like a spy, learning about all the newly-published books and seeing what books kids love.

Find out more at www.sonjaandersonbooks.com.

 

Another New Year’s Resolution Post

NCWA - NY Res (1)Yes, I went to my writing group’s first meeting of the new year. Yes, we did talk about New Year’s resolutions.  But this time it was different.  We weren’t concerned about writing them in just the right way to make them achievable.  Instead, we went around the table and when we shared our 2020 writing goal we also shared why that goal was particularly important to us and told each other what the main obstacle was that might prevent it from happening.

Interestingly, the word “time” was brought up at each turn.  So we decided to drill it down.  Why couldn’t we find the time? Yes, we’re all busy, but if our writing project is important to us (and it must be since we’re in a writing group) then what was really happening? What kept us from the often-sacrificial commitment?  Interestingly, it mostly came down to fear.  What if I carve out an extra 30 minutes in the day to write, but I’m still not productive?  What if I make a two-hour appointment with myself each week to work on my book, but it’s never accepted for publication?  What if I make the effort but continue to be interrupted or get writer’s block?  Is the commitment of my valuable time worth it?

Each of us acknowledged our root reason, said it out loud, and got a realistic view from the others.  We were strengthened for our journey and each reminded that God has given us a gift and the desire to share that gift.  What a release!  The next thing we did was commit to being accountable to each other for our specific writing goal at the first meeting of every month, with failure totally allowed but excuses completely not.

I left the gathering recharged, not burdened down.  Now when I put off sitting down at my computer to work on my novel, I’ll remember my fellow writers encouragement that there are never too many books in the world and I’ll remind myself how many low-selling books I happen to love (if confessing the root reason behind my own procrastination to my group helped, confessing it here should help even more!).  I’ll remember the complicated way God brought me to begin my writing journey.  I’ll also remember I made a commitment and have a monthly check-in. I have been strengthened and empowered in my resolve and reminded I am rooted in love and not fear.  

So yes, this is another New Year’s resolution post but, hopefully, one that will help you make it through the “February Forget Your Resolutions” test.   I encourage you to find a group or a person to share your writing goal for 2020 with and be accountable to them.  Tell them why it’s important to you and be brave enough to drill down on what might keep you from attaining it. And if you’re willing, I’d love for you to share your writing goal in the comments section – whether it’s a brand new goal or a holdover from last year or last month.  Let’s encourage one another on our journey.

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Pamburnbrightprofileela J. Dickey is the Coordinator for the Northwest Christian Writers Association Blog.  She is a speaker, writer, personal consultant, and training facilitator. Founder of Burn Bright Coaching, she draws on her background as a personal and career development coach, certified corporate trainer, and ordained minister to equip her clients and audiences to discover and pursue their life’s purpose — personal, professional, and spiritual — to help them Burn Bright.

Back on Track

TrainAs I write this post, I can hear a train whistle echoing in the distance and it seems an appropriate analogy of the resurgence of the Northwest Christian Writers Association Blog.  After lying dormant for a time, it’s getting back on track and making its presence known.

I’m honored to be the new coordinator for the blog and I’m excited to be part of this important resource.

The main goal for the blog is to be a go-to source for the writing world at large and extend the NWCA’s reputation for excellence.

It will be a place to find extended information on events, meetings, and learn more about NCWA members.  It will also contain articles about various writing journeys, tools we can all use to improve our writing, tips on getting our stories published from all the sides involved, and other topics related to our writing.

Where will this information and encouragement come from?   From authors, editors, publishers, and others in the writing profession who have knowledge and experience in their fields and lives.   This includes members of the Northwest Christian Writers Association.  Not only do we want to provide resources for our members in their writing journey, but we also want members to be a resource for others.  You need to do what you do best —  write.  Write about the tools you find most helpful, write about what you do to overcome writer’s block, write about what you’ve learned in your journey of publishing your work, write a review of a great workshop or conference you’ve attended.  There’s so much knowledge you have that can help others, so dig deep and write. The NCWA blog needs you to add your unique voice.

If you want to write, but can’t think of a good topic, I can provide you with a few from which to choose.  How about a bio of another NCWA member or reviewing an on-line video?  There are plenty of ideas.

Why should you personally consider being a guest writer?  There are benefits for you personally, here are just three:

  1. Publication
    Getting your work to the reading public and adding to your writing portfolio is always a good thing.
  2. Name Recognition
    Build your expertise, reputation, and your brand even before you publish your current work in progress.
  3. Get your own website more visitors
    If you have your own website and/or blog, writing for another blog can drive more visitors to your site.

There are certainly more benefits.  I’d love for you to share in the comments section other ones you think are important.

Even if you choose not to write any guest blog posts, you can still partner with us.  You can read the blog on a regular basis, make comments, and reshare posts on your social media.  It helps reach more readers and more contributors.

Drawing on the train analogy once more,  I’m asking you to add your experience and expertise to the long line of cars that are lining up and pulling out of the station towards our destination.

Ready to get started?  Click here for submission guidelines

Have a question?  Feel free to ask them in the comments section.

Want to be assigned a topic?  Send an e-mail with your request to:   blog@nwchristianwriters.org

WELCOME ABOARD! I look forward to working with you and sharing your story.

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Pamburnbrightprofileela J. Dickey is the Coordinator for the Northwest Christian Writers Association Blog.  She is a speaker, writer, personal consultant, and training facilitator. Founder of Burn Bright Coaching, she draws on her background as a personal and career development coach, certified corporate trainer, and ordained minister to equip her clients and audiences to discover and pursue their life’s purpose — personal, professional, and spiritual — to help them Burn Bright.

 

Refresh Your View of Thanksgiving

Do you remember the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving?

Is it still taught to children in elementary school classrooms across the country?

Maybe it’s tucked so deep beneath the Halloween decorations and the Christmas preparation that the details are dim and no longer inspiring. Can you even find a picture of pilgrims kneeling on dirt, praying to God with Native Americans standing in the background? I have panic attacks thinking about how much of our heritage I’ve set aside or forgotten to keep alive for my family.

 

At least we can bring out those cleverly painted wooden plaques we buy at Home Goods and Target with italicized words like THANKFUL, and BLESSED, or WELCOME HOME! to remind us to reflect on virtues we often neglect in the normal course of a year.

This year as we mention names we remember around the Thanksgiving table, let’s attach a specific memory to those names. We can keep people from fading into dusty scrapbooks and storage bins in our family histories.

For example:

 

 

“I’m thankful for our friend, Clint Kelly, who recently achieved his eternal reward. Clint loved well and well-loved. He served NCWA faithfully and tirelessly for thirty years. He leaves us a legacy to carry forward through the next generation.”

“I’m thankful for the Godly heritage of our country’s founders, who wisely and prayerfully drafted documents delineating freedoms and rights for citizens not found nor protected in other societies. The words THANKFUL and BLESSED merely scratch the surface on this topic.”

“I’m thankful for each member of NCWA, who moves the ball of The Greatest Story Ever Told, down the field another few yards each year. For the leaders who have served for decades, and for those who are bravely suiting up for the first time this year, set on the offensive line, creating new game plans, to help the whole team win.”

Whether you celebrate with paper turkeys on your door or pilgrim candles on your table, you’re an important piece of our unique national day of Thanksgiving.

How will you use your time, your words, and your influence to encourage others to remember what it means to be truly thankful?

Write it all down. It might make a great book!

 

 

If you’re a writer or a reader in the Seattle area, please join us for the December monthly meeting.

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Jill Esau is the President of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and oversees the annual writers conference the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. The conference this year is May 15-16, 2020, featuring Mary DeMuth. Esau is the author of Start and Grow Your Faith-Based Nonprofit.

 

 

Genesis Parker, Conference Worship Leader

by Elizabeth Griffin

Worship at the 2018 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal will be led by Genesis Parker, the worship director at Living Hope Christian Fellowship.

One look at a photo of Genesis and you can tell she is filled with the joy of the Lord. We are going to have an awesome time of worship with her leading the way!

Genesis uses these words, among others, to describe who God created and called her to be: creative, writer, spirit-filled, musician-ray, heartist.

A worshiper and songwriter, Genesis has a passion to see people experience the presence of God through music in a way that is sincere, honest, and full of joy. She carries a powerful prophetic voice, and her worship is a unique combination of passion, faith, freedom, and confidence. Her desire is to see people’s lives transformed through the power of God’s presence, both inside and outside the walls of the church.

Genesis is a Northwest girl, born and raised. She grew up in a ministry family with a home full of music and has been involved with worship ministry in various capacities for over fifteen years. In addition to serving as worship leader at her church in Renton, she leads worship at various services, conferences, events, retreats, and camps.

Genesis is currently working on an album to be released in 2019 and hopes to travel and minister internationally in the coming years. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband, Jesse, who is also a pastor and writer.

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In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.

Adria Goetz: Bringing a Millennial Perspective

by Elizabeth Griffin

Anyone who can develop and sell a book titled The Compendium of Magical Beasts: An Anatomical Study of Cryptozoology’s Most Elusive Beings has got to be incredibly imaginative, intelligent, and a bit quirky. Meet Adria Goetz from Martin Literary Management.

“The project idea—a coffee table book about the anatomy of magical creatures—was my brainchild, and I hand-picked the author and illustrator,” Adria says of the highlight thus far in her burgeoning career as a literary agent. “The author, Melissa Brinks, is a college friend of mine, and I knew her cheeky, quirky writing style would be perfect for it. And the illustrator, Lily Jones, is an incredibly talented Seattle-based artist. The whole experience has been delightful.”

This millennial brings a breath of fresh air to our Renewal with her long wish list that is as eclectic as her style seems to be. From picture books to YA to adult nonfiction, she’s willing to take a look at anything as long as it’s original and engaging.

“I love connecting with writers and editors at conferences, but I also love attending conferences because I always walk away feeling inspired and savvier because I always, always learn something new,” Adria says. “I like it when writers approach me with a question, rather than a pitch. You can pitch pretty much any agent online, but you can’t always get advice from an agent or pick their brain, which is the beauty of a conference!”

Adria lives in an old Victorian home in Tacoma with her high-school-sweetheart-who-became-her-husband in a wedding in the middle of the woods. They own two silver-furred kittens named Maple and Mulberry, and are about to begin the process of becoming licensed foster parents. She loves to paddle about in her bright yellow kayak that looks like a giant floating banana, enjoys eating and smelling anything lavender-flavored, and her favorite book of the Bible is Ecclesiastes. She admits to stress baking, and if there was any biblical moment she could have witnessed, it would be when Jesus cooked breakfast for his friends on the beach.

Adria will teach the following workshops at this year’s Renewal:

Building Your Social-Media Platform – This presentation outlines the basics of how to build an engaged social media following that will catch the eye of agents and editors. It also offers time-and-sanity saving tips that will help you maintain a sustainable and successful social media presence. Workshop attendees will come away with a tangible to-do list.

Current Picture-Book Trends – A workshop that highlights and examines current trends in the general trade picture book market, and where those trends might be heading. Hear straight from an agent’s perspective what is selling, what isn’t, some dos and don’ts, which trends are over-saturated, and how to tap into trends in your own unique way. This presentation includes many quotes from editors and other industry professionals, and shows real deals that have taken place in the last six months.

Millennials Becoming Parents: The Future of Christian Picture Books – As Christian Millennials begin their families and become parents, their priorities will shape the fiction they want to buy for their children, which will in turn shape the landscape of Christian picture books. Workshop attendees will time travel to the near future and discuss the trends of Christian picture books. This workshop is a cheat sheet to help writers write the books that agents want to represent, editors want to acquire, and most importantly: the books children want to read. This presentation includes many quotes from editors and other industry professionals, and shows real deals that have taken place in the last six months.

To learn more about Adria and see her extensive wish list, check out her website. To attend her workshops or request an appointment with her, register for the 2018 Renewal.

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In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.