Children’s Author/Illustrator Shares Secrets to Publishing Success

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

ChristaPierceLast year I received an enthusiastic e-mail from our conference’s retiring program coordinator, Clint Kelly, telling me he’d found another great workshop leader to keep in mind for the 2016 Renewal. As the new director of the conference, I was all ears.

He told me that the candidate was Christa Pierce, a recent Seattle Pacific University grad. Clint said she’d found a top agent and received a contract from Harper-Collins for a two-book deal. He added that she’d accomplished it while still a senior at SPU!

The first book she wrote and illustrated for kids four to eight years old is Do You Know That I Love You? “It’s a charmer,” Clint told me. “I sat in on a session she did at the SPU library, and she is as delightful as her book. A great sense of humor and very open about her experiences, including her work now on book #2 for Harper and why, after she completes that obligation, she will seek out a smaller publishing house.”

Christa, who is from Portland, Oregon, calls herself “a lover of tea and acrylic paint—but not together.” Her BA from SPU is in Illustration, with a Creative Writing minor. Her book has been featured on the Today Show, praised by Brooke Shields, and reviewed by The New York Times.

At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Christa will teach two workshops:

Getting Started in Children's Publishing1) Getting Started in Children’s Publishing – Through her personal story of navigating the publishing world, Christa shares her accumulated knowledge of the industry. Included: helpful writing resources, plus how to find an agent, pitch your ideas, work with an editor, survive the editing process, promote your book, and successfully negotiate a contract. Time for Q&A included.

Secrets to Effective Illustrations for Children’s Books2) Secrets to Effective Illustrations for Children’s Books – Christa shares the “crash course” that trained her in illustrating children’s books when, at the beginning of her career, she interviewed with New York publishers. She will cover world-building, telling a second story through illustrations, deadline expectations, working with an author/designer/editor, layout for publication, and the visual elements that Caldecott-award judges look for. In class, view actual sketchbooks, in-process work, and correspondence between an editor and illustrator. Time for Q&A included.

When she’s not drawing, Christa loves to go to storytelling events, speak to students about the relevancy of the arts, meet other artists, and play with her puppy, Sir Lancelot.

To attend Christa’s workshops or to request an appointment with one of this year’s seven editorial reps, sign up for the Renewal today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Learn Dynamic Dialogue and Business Strategies from Author Darlene Panzera

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

DarlenePanzeraIf you’re passionate about writing and serious about investing the necessary time, money, and effort it takes to improve your skills and get your projects in front of industry professionals, congratulations! You’re the CEO of your own business; it’s up to you to grow that business and keep good records.

In other words, you need a business plan.

Multi-published author Darlene Panzera knows all about business plans for writers, and she will share her knowledge and expertise at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal in the following workshop:

Secure Success with the Right Business PlanSecure Success with the Right Business Plan – As the CEO of your writing career, you need a concise map of what you want to achieve and the steps you’ll need to get there. Learn how to put together a professional business binder that will include an action plan for your writing, a mission statement, business strategy, marketing plans, and detailed pages for tax deductions. Templates are provided so you can walk out the door with your plan in hand.

As the successful author of sweet, fun-loving romances, Darlene will also teach the following workshop:

Bring Your Writing to Life with Dynamic DialogueBring Your Writing to Life with Dynamic Dialogue – No matter what you write—fiction, nonfiction, magazine articles, or even poetry—most likely you will include dialogue in your work. In this class you will learn how to properly construct lines of attention-grabbing, “dynamic” dialogue and how to make those dazzling words work on multiple levels to advance the story, add subtext, reflect point-of-view, flavor the prose with personality, and effectively hook your reader.

“I love writing stories that inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams,” Darlene says.

To meet her and learn from her workshops, sign up for the Renewal today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Sarah Joy Freese and Her Ninja Editing Skills

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

SarahJoyFreeseBefore becoming an agent with WordServe Literary, Sarah Joy Freese served as senior editor with Anaiah Press. One author was so happy with Sarah Joy’s assistance, in the book’s acknowledgements, she praised her editor’s “ninja editing skills.”

Another author called it a privilege to work with Sarah Joy and said that when she followed her editor’s advice, “I was able to mold a story into a work that I fell in love with all over again.” During the process, however, the author felt overwhelmed by the task of revision.

Sarah Joy encouraged her. “Don’t try to fix everything at once,” she said. “Go through each issue and focus on that issue.”

It worked. “Just to see each one of those edits get done stoked the kindling of the I-can-do-this feeling,” the woman reported.

In her capacity now as literary agent, Sarah Joy continues to offer the same kind of topnotch guidance and representation. She loves reading through queries, attending writing conferences to meet new excellent writers, and working with her authors on various proposals to make their manuscripts even stronger.

At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Sarah Joy will offer insights concerning the editor/author relationship in her workshop:

How Agents Select AuthorsHow Agents Select Authors – Have you ever wondered exactly what an agent looks for when she considers your writing? Despite the changing tides of publishing, securing an agent is still an important part in the traditional publishing process. This session will discuss exactly what an agent is looking for in both fiction and nonfiction and will offer you tips for how best to capture the eye of an agent. Even if your book is not ready to see the light of day, much less an agent’s “desk” (read: email inbox), the more connections you have with an agent, the more he or she will remember you when the time comes for your work to be sent out.

Sarah Joy advises authors to be willing to be flexible during every part of the publishing experience. “Be patient when you are waiting,” she says, “work hard when you receive your edits, and work hard on social networking. Become an author an editor wants to work with.”

She received her bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also has an MA (emphasis in creative writing) and an MLIS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Sarah Joy is married and enjoys life with her husband, sons, and two birds, Brewster and Beamer. When she’s not working, she enjoys crocheting, watching NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy, and playing Euchre.

To hear Sarah Joy’s expertise and/or to request an appointment with her or with one of our six other editorial reps at this year’s conference, sign up for the Renewal today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Miralee Ferrell Returns to Sign More Authors with Mountain Brook Ink

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

MiraleeFerrellMiralee Ferrell, representing Mountain Brook Ink, came to the 2015 Northwest Writers Renewal looking for new authors to sign. “We were asking the Lord to bring the authors and manuscripts that we could believe in and bless,” she says.

That prayer was answered when she met with NCWA member Janalyn Voigt.

“I could tell that Miralee understood the heart of my western historical romance stories,” says Janalyn. “They’re not cookie-cutter fare, which means they don’t fall into neat categories. I do my best to cut through the mythos and recreate the West as it might really have been. I don’t sugarcoat violence, but neither is it glorified. My books are about people with very real problems not unlike those we face today. I want them to be as realistic as possible.”

After Miralee and Janalyn discussed how some novels glamorize the West, Miralee declared, “I want real!”

Janalyn was won over, and she signed a three-book contract in October 2015. “I’m so glad to be working with someone I trust as a friend and admire as a writer to bring these stories to life.” The books in Janalyn’s Montana Gold series are slated to be released in 2017 and 2018.

Miralee will return to the Renewal in 2016. This year she is teaching two workshops:

Take Fiction to the Next Level1) Take Fiction to the Next Level by Deepening Your Characters – What elements help bring a story to life? What books have been most memorable to you? The ones with a strong plotline, or strong, memorable characters? Both can work, but if you have a strong plot and weak characters, you’ll lose your reader quickly. This class will give you ways to make your main characters more memorable and keep your reader glued to the page. Find out what you can do to help bring your characters to life.

What to Do When the Screen Goes Blank2) What to Do When the Screen Goes Blank: Help for Writer’s Block – The phenomenon of writer’s block has had many a writer burning the midnight oil trying desperately to come up with words that will work. In a world of fast-paced deadlines and unpredictable audiences, it is a writer’s worst nightmare. While the reasons for writer’s block can’t always be pointed to one particular problem, its solutions are usually simple. This class will give you practical, everyday ideas on how to break through when you’re stuck. Don’t let writer’s block stop you from writing that next best seller!

At editorial appointments with conferees, Miralee will look for traditionally published authors who want to present something new or release their out-of-print books in e-book and paperback formats, while realizing a higher royalty rate than they originally received. She’s also interested in authors who want to write in genres that don’t work for their publishers, or debut authors with fresh ideas. A three-book series will get preference over a standalone novel at this point, although Miralee is willing to consider a standalone. The categories she needs the most right now are historical and YA, as well as new titles for her “Finding Love In” line of romances.

She accepts fiction in two general areas. The first is inspirational fiction in almost any genre (except children’s or middle-grade fiction). The second is general-market fiction. Although by definition it doesn’t have a faith thread, it must nevertheless be clean and contain no sexual content or offensive language.

To attend Miralee’s workshops or to request an appointment with her or one of the other six editorial representatives at this year’s conference, register today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Porters Bring Bold Vision to Conference

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

PortersPreparing to pitch your proposal for the first time at a conference can be daunting. And if you knew that an editor at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal was a frequent guest on radio and TV programs and contributed to national magazines—accomplishments that describe Karen Porter of Bold Vision Books—you might be especially nervous. But the title of one of Karen’s books, I’ll Bring the Chocolate, just might take the edge off your nervousness. After all, can someone who loves chocolate be all that intimidating?

One event planner reports that Karen “is a people person, plain and simple. After you meet her, you will quickly discover that her joy is not only genuine, it is absolutely contagious!”

Meanwhile Karen’s husband, George Porter, co-owner of Bold Vision and a science teacher for more than 23 years, brings the scientific world to life in his writing, Bible teaching, and presentations to help his audiences embrace the God who made us all.

Together they make an unbeatable husband-and-wife publishing combination.

At this year’s conference, Karen will present two workshops:

How to Tell It Funny1) How to Tell It Funny – Discover how to add wit, humor, and winsomeness to your writing and speaking. No one can make you funny, but you can learn to lighten up, and this workshop will help you discover the methods that will add a new dimension to your communication.

Marketing for Writers and Speakers2) Marketing for Writers and Speakers – Marketing techniques and methods have changed drastically with the emergence of the Internet. The information and advice you’ve read might already be out of date. Marketing expert Karen Porter will help you define your personal style and brand. From tag lines and mission statements to web presence in blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, you will learn how to market your message, your speaking ministry, and your book. Karen will help you build a toolbox of practical, useful, doable methods. You will leave this session with a personal plan.

Maximize Your Book TableGeorge will present a workshop on how to Maximize Your Book Table. Did you know you can have a back-of-the-room book table even if you don’t have a book yet? In this workshop, George will show you how to pick out and buy products. He’ll give you display hints, bundling ideas, info on credit cards, and much more, all based on his experience in managing an extensive book table with good organization and time-saving tricks of the trade.

Both George and Karen serve as acquisitions editors for Bold Vision Books. Here are proposals they’ll be looking for at the Renewal:

  • Well-crafted nonfiction manuscripts with a timeless message told in a fresh, new way, using story techniques and strong Scripture backing
  • YA fiction (no fantasy) for young teens
  • For their Nuts ‘N’ Bolts line: ideas for craft books for the arts and business; “how to” materials, such as teaching, writing, speaking, painting, acting, business principles, productivity, or time management

Karen serves on the Board of Directors and national teaching staff of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., providing training of Christian leaders and speakers. She also serves as president of the board of AWSA (Advanced Writers Speakers Association) and on the Board of Directors of First Place 4 Health, as well as being an advisory director for Fruitful Word Ministries. Her seventh book is Speak Like Jesus: How the Speaking Techniques Jesus Used Can Change Your Presentations.

George is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has done graduate work in physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, and cell biology at Baylor College of Medicine. He served as a combat medic and paratrooper in Vietnam and as a bacteriologist in the Surgical Research Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in projects involving the treatment of burn patients. As a teacher in both public and private schools, George served as curriculum team leader and on campus site-based committees. He judged Science Olympiads, implemented pilot curriculum on drug awareness in cooperation with Baylor College of Medicine, and coached tennis teams.

To hear the Porters speak or to request appointments with them or with one of the other five editorial representatives at the conference this year, register today.

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Don Milam’s Nontraditional Path to Becoming an Editor

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Don Milam didn’t take a boring route on his way to becoming Acquisitions Consultant with Whitaker House Publishers.DonMilam

After he graduated from Prairie Bible College in Alberta, Canada, Don and his bride joined the staff of Philadelphia Teen Challenge, working in the inner city with drug addicts. After two years, they exchanged the streets of Philadelphia for the streets of Maputo, Mozambique (East Africa), where they opened a drug rehabilitation center at the request of the Portuguese Department of Health. In 1975, Communists took control of the country. Don was arrested and spent ten months in prison.

Following his release, he pastored for ten years in Pennsylvania. For eighteen years he was head of Author Development at Destiny Image Publishers, and then he joined Whitaker House.

Scott Spiewak of Fresh Impact Public Relations Group says, “Don is an expert in the field of publishing and has a knack for finding great authors.”

Don will be looking for great authors at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal this May 13–14. He will also teach two workshops:

10 Ways to Become a Better Writer1) 10 Ways to Become a Better Writer – If you want to be a complete writer, you need a strategy. Out of his experience as author and acquisitions editor, Don Milam will share an abundance of tips that you can use to devise your own personalized strategy for becoming a successful writer.

Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience2) Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience – Writing doesn’t begin with the words someone types on a computer. That output is simply a visible manifestation of a mixture of ideas, thoughts, revelations, imaginations, intuitions, and feelings, combined with a person’s experiences. Too often a book suffers a premature birth because the author didn’t experience the truth or fully engage the thought before sending off the manuscript. Let Don guide you into learning to think in a way that will help ensure the permanence of your writing.

As an author himself (The Lost Passions of Jesus and The Ancient Language of Eden), Don has a heart for conferees who want to discuss their book projects with him. He is interested in seeing nonfiction proposals on Christian living and growth, spirituality, marriage, parenting, counseling, relationships, and leadership.

To hear Don speak or to request an appointment with him or with one of the other six editorial representatives at this year’s Renewal, register today!

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

How a Bad Movie Inspired Ben Wolf

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

When Ben Wolf was in seventh grade, he watched the 1995 action adventure film Congo on television. The movie was so bad, it inspired him to become a writer. He wrote a parody, set it in Australia instead of Africa, and featured murderous kangaroos instead of gorillas.

BenWolf3Since then he’s written six novels, including Blood for Blood, the story of a vampire who gets saved. That novel won the 2015 Oregon Christian Writers’ Cascade Award for best speculative fiction book.

In addition to writing novels and working as a professional editor, Ben founded Splickety Publishing Group to meet the needs of people who appreciate great fiction but don’t have a lot of time to read. “You can enjoy our stories, always 1,000 words or less, and get your flash fiction fix without the time commitment of a novel,” he says.

His publishing group, where he serves as editor-in-chief, produces three quarterly periodicals:

Splickety Prime features quality flash fiction in multiple genres including (but not limited to) action/adventure, suspense, mystery, thriller, contemporary, women’s, young adult, and historical fiction.

Havok features speculative flash fiction that includes (but isn’t limited to) science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, paranormal, supernatural, horror, techno-thriller, superhero, and more.

Splickety Love features romance flash fiction, including (but not limited to) the genres of romance, romantic suspense, historical romance, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, inspirational romance, women’s fiction, and more.

Ben will be available to meet with writers at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal and listen to their story pitches. He will also teach three workshops:

Flash Fiction1) Writing Flash Fiction that Sells – As an expert on flash fiction, Ben will show you how to excel at plot, structure, conflict, character development, and more while condensing your story down to strict word requirements. Learn what it takes to write compelling flash fiction, why you should write it, and how doing so can help your career. You’ll leave with ideas for several different approaches to writing a great flash-fiction piece.

Make it Weird2) Make It Weird: Speculative and Alternate Genre Fiction – Perhaps you’ve heard the term “Speculative Fiction” before, but, like many people, you’re not sure what it means. Join award-winning spec fic author and editor Ben Wolf as he discusses the ins and outs of speculative and alternate genre fiction, including dissecting what makes a speculative fiction story great.

How to Write Believable Fight Scenes3) How to Write Believable Fight Scenes – Are you a fiction author, a screenwriter, or involved in a creative capacity in visual media? As a former professional stage combat instructor, Ben can teach you how to block out your fight scenes with another person for maximum believability. Discover how to write actual stage combat for screenplays and what you can and can’t do in fiction fight scenes. As a bonus for folks tired of sitting all day, this interactive class will get you out of your seat and into some fun-but-safe action.

We’ve learned that Ben’s decision to write was inspired by a bad movie. But what was his motivation to work as a freelance editor?

“I’ve been frustrated by improper grammar, misspellings, and punctuation errors since I learned the proper way to use the English language,” he explains. “That bitter resentment toward those who dare to impugn the honor of our glorious language has since combined with a significant amount of study on the craft of writing, and now I get paid to make sure my clients wield their words effectively.”

During editorial appointments at the Renewal, Ben will be looking for flash-fiction stories— concise, poignant fiction between 300 and 1,000 words—that fit one of the magazines’ scheduled upcoming themes. Each magazine will also feature one Nano-fiction story of 100 words or fewer in its Nano Corner.

“We want stories that hit fast and strike hard––stories that, no matter the genre, can cut through the day’s troubles and grip readers with short attention spans,” he says. At the conference, when he hears pitches for suitable stories, he will encourage authors to submit those stories for consideration.

Here’s what Splickety is not interested in seeing: previously published flash fiction; scenes or excerpts or synopses from novels; excessive violence, profanity, or erotica in any form; and no thinly-veiled stories that preach from a soapbox of any sort—political, religious, or other. Additional submission guidelines are available on Splickety’s website.

To attend Ben’s workshops or to schedule an appointment with him or one of our six other editorial reps at this year’s Renewal, register today!

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.