Janalyn Voigt Tells Herself Stories

Janalyn Voigt has always been a storyteller.

She blames her father. At bedtime, his deep voice would rumble against her ear as he read chapters from classics and unfolded stories of exotic places such as Oz and Neverland. After he closed the book each night, her imagination would continue the tales. When he eventually stopped reading bedtime stories to her, she began spinning her own.

Within a few years she became the neighborhood storyteller, surrounded by children gathered on her lawn to hear the tales she invented. No one appeared to think her skill out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until her sixth-grade teacher pointed out her creative ability that she took note. At age twelve, she decided to become a novelist.

JanalynVoigtPinableMany years later and after several wrong turns, she thought her goal would become a reality when she signed a contract with a small press for DawnSinger, the first novel in her Tales of Faeraven trilogy.

“Only it wasn’t that simple,” Janalyn says now. “The contract fell through. Of course I was devastated, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.” Within three months, she signed with a larger publisher for the first two novels in the trilogy, and she also landed an agent.

Janalyn calls herself a study in contrasts—a highly analytical daydreamer who schedules her day to optimize productivity. One result from this interesting combination of personality traits is Janalyn’s expertise with websites, search-engine optimization (SEO), and social media management.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Janalyn will lead a WriteCoach Lab and also co-teach a workshop:

1) BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): WordPress Solutions (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15) – If you have a self-hosted* WordPress website—or you’re thinking about building one—come with your questions and challenges for WordPress expert Janalyn Voigt to help you troubleshoot. She’ll also suggest what to put on your author website and give you specific tips for search-engine optimization (SEO). Bring your own device with you—laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone, etc.—for real-time assistance.

* Self-hosted means you take the initiative to pay a third-party webhost to put your WordPress.org blog on the Web instead of relying on WordPress.com to host the blog for you.

Driving Traffic to Your Website2) Driving Traffic to Your Website (Workshop, Saturday, May 16, with Melissa K. Norris) – Many writers have great blogs, awesome books, and beautiful websites—but no visitors. Janalyn and Melissa will share how they get thousands of visitors to their websites every month and will demonstrate logical steps, not just to build traffic, but also to engage visitors so they return. Learn why you should have an e-mail list and which service is recommended. They’ll discuss blogging as content marketing, how to boost a site in search engines, the role of social media in attracting website visitors, and their best tips on how most effectively to build website traffic. They’ll discuss what worked and what didn’t in their own attempts.

Janalyn’s Internet expertise allows her to maintain separate websites for her Creative Worlds author brand and for mentoring other writers at Live Write Breathe.

Still, Janalyn prefers to think of herself as a storyteller. Writing is so intuitive for her that she rarely encounters writer’s block. But when her inspiration does need to be renewed, prayer helps her the most. “That, and figuring out where following the allegory might take the story,” she says.

To benefit from Janalyn’s teaching and coaching, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana 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 is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Kim Vandel Thrives on Plan B

Kim Vandel knows first-hand that writing isn’t for the faint of heart.

Growing up on a steady diet of Saturday morning Justice League cartoons and Sunday morning Bible stories, she later merged the two into the concept of Guardians—men and women with God-given “superpowers.” She also drew on her work experience in the field of environmental science to breathe life into her fiction’s speculative element.

As she honed her craft, she followed advice from publishing experts, built an online presence, and made great connections with editorial reps. Her efforts in pursuing publication began to pay off.

KimVandelPinableAgents and editors asked to see her manuscript. She won the 2013 Cascade Award in the Unpublished Young Adult category and was finalist in the 2012 and 2013 Mile High Scribes One-Sheet Contests. Her goal seemed within reach.

Then, without warning, she felt the call to indie publish.

“I was dismayed, to say the least,” she says. “Why would God have me pursue traditional publishing for so long if that wasn’t the goal? What was the point of dedicating myself to Plan A, if I was just going to end up settling for Plan B?”

But as she obeyed God and changed direction, she experienced tremendous freedom. The vision she had for her YA (Young Adult) series began to unfold.

Now she understands that Plan B doesn’t always mean Backup or Better than Nothing. Sometimes it means Best. All the time she’d spent in pursuit of traditional publishing hadn’t been a waste. Plan A had prepared her for Plan B.

Kim moved forward with confidence and published a novel she knew would be “a quality product, not a humiliating tribute to my ignorance that I’d end up wishing didn’t exist a few years down the road.” She is confident she can effectively market her novel instead of being angry with Amazon for not selling more than a dozen copies.

Into the Fire released on April 14, and Kim coordinated a carefully crafted social-media campaign for the book’s launch.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Kim—who is also Publicity Coordinator for NCWA—will lead a WriteCoach Lab so that you, too, can learn how to use social media to your advantage.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Social Media Basics (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15) – Wish you knew the basics about the plethora of social media available these days? Expert Kim Vandel can help you find solutions to your challenges concerning

  • Facebook
  • Goodreads
  • Google +
  • Instagram,
  • Tumblr, &
  • Twitter.

She can also answer basic questions about Pinterest and WordPress if you’re unable to attend the BYOD sessions dedicated solely to those platforms. Bring your own laptop, netbook, tablet, or smartphone to gain the most from these sessions. (Kim can help you with Android or PC. For Apple, see BYOD expert Dennis Brooke.)

Whether you’re on Plan A, Plan B, or much farther down the alphabet, you can benefit from Kim’s expertise concerning how to harness social media to build your platform and promote your writing. Sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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DianaSavageDiana 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 is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Personal Loss Led Melissa K. Norris to Being Published

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

A decade ago, Melissa K. Norris suffered a medical emergency and deep personal loss. During recovery, she read Francine Rivers’ novel, The Scarlet Thread. That book changed Melissa’s life.

“I realized how far I’d drifted from God,” she says now. “I had been trying to break into the secular market with my writing. But then and there, I vowed that any books flowing from my hand would be dedicated to Jesus. I wanted to write something that would help turn someone back to God when they lost their way.”

MelissaKNorrisPinableThe manuscript she subsequently wrote landed her an agent. Her debut book, The Made-from-Scratch Life: Simple Ways to Create a Natural Home, will be released February 2016 by Harvest House Publishers.

“Every hardship has taught me something I wouldn’t have learned if life had kept flowing along without any bumps,” she says. “God has used many more incidences to draw me closer to him. The one thing I know for certain is that no matter what horrible thing happens in life, he has the power to transform it into something good. And he does.”

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Melissa will lead a WriteCoach Lab and also co-teach a workshop:

1) BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Deciphering Pinterest (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15) – Would you like to learn how to use Pinterest to promote your writing? Could you benefit from some guidance in converting to a Pinterest business account, creating a branded bio, verifying your website, or taking advantage of Pinterest Goodies? Bring all your questions, along with your own device—laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone, etc.—for on-the-spot answers from Pinterest guru Melissa K. Norris.

Driving Traffic to Your Website2) Driving Traffic to Your Website (Workshop, Saturday, May 16, with Janalyn Voigt) – Many writers have great blogs, awesome books, and beautiful websites—but no visitors. Melissa and Janalyn will share how they get thousands of visitors to their websites every month and will demonstrate logical steps, not just to build traffic, but also to engage visitors so they return. Learn why you should have an e-mail list and which service is recommended. They’ll discuss blogging as content marketing, how to boost a site in search engines, the role of social media in attracting website visitors, and their best tips on how most effectively to build website traffic. They’ll discuss what worked and what didn’t in their own attempts. Attendees will also be able to obtain discounted access to their Mailchimp tutorial.

Melissa is an author, newspaper columnist, radio-show host, blogger, homesteader, and contributor to the New Pioneer magazine, Self-Reliance Illustrated, and Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS (God’s Natural, Organic, Whole Foods, Grown Locally, In Season).

Growing up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder, Melissa now enjoys her own little house in the big woods where she lives with her husband and two children in the Cascade Mountains. Her books and articles are inspired by her family’s small herd of beef cattle, her amateur barrel-racing days, and her forays into quilting and canning—“without always reading the directions first,” she cheerfully admits.

To learn from Melissa’s wisdom about the Internet, pioneering, and watching God turn tragedy into triumph, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana 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 is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Disney and Prayer Gave Alex Marestaing His Break

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

Alex Marestaing was an unknown writer when he learned of a new line of products the Walt Disney Company planned to publish. Although Alex didn’t have an agent at the time, he did believe in the power of prayer, so he wrote Disney a letter and introduced himself.

A few weeks later, Disney hired Alex for the project. That response changed the trajectory of his writing career forever. “I’ll always be thankful to Disney for giving me a shot,” he says. “Having that name on my writing credits really helped me move forward in the industry.”

AlexMarestaingPinable copyAlex has also worked on creative projects for Lego and for media outlets such as Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and the Los Angeles Times.

His latest novel, I’m Nobody, is a suspense-driven YA/Middle-Grade story about an agoraphobic teen who begins receiving strange, poetic notes from someone claiming to be reclusive, long-dead poet Emily Dickinson. It received an honorable mention at the London Book Festival and was nominated as a finalist for the 2014 Epic Awards.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Alex will teach two workshops:

Writing Through the Silence1) Writing Through the Silence (Friday, May 15) – Have you ever felt like tossing your manuscript in the trash and giving up on writing altogether? Let’s face it—the writing business can be tough on the ego and even heartbreaking at times. In a field where rejection e-mails, poor sales, and dashed hopes can be par for the course, it takes a steadfast spirit to keep writing through the pain. This workshop is for writers who are discouraged, lack vision, or simply feel uninspired. Through contemplative activities, lessons from famous authors, and discussion, writers will learn how to write through the “silent” seasons of life when inspiration seems distant.

Finding Success in the and Middle Grade2) Finding Success in the YA and Middle Grade Markets (Saturday, May 16) – In the age of iPhones and the Internet, writers face some tough competition when trying to catch the attention of young-adult and middle-grade audiences. Alex will discuss trends in the youth market and help you better understand why books such as Wonder, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter have captivated new generation readers. You will leave the class with a better understanding of how to use creative points of view, pacing, and unique setting and character elements to draw readers into your tales. We will also discuss enhancing book proposals and projects with 3D elements such as music, video, and web components. Engage this hurting generation with your talent, and shine the light of Christ in a literary landscape that has become very dark in the last decade.

In addition to writing for the youth market, Alex has also written for faith-based publications and has covered soccer, his favorite sport, in Europe and the US for Sports Spectrum magazine and Yanks Abroad.

When Alex isn’t writing or speaking at conferences, he usually hangs out in California with his wife, three kids, and the family dog, Milou.

To learn Alex’s insights, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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DianaSavageDiana 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 is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

New Publisher Miralee Ferrell Specializes in Debut Authors

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Are you a pre-published writer with the dream of seeing your name in print?

Are you a multi-published author with out-of-print books?

Or are you a traditionally published author who wants to write in a genre that doesn’t work for your publisher?

Award-winning author Miralee Ferrell founded Mountain Brook Ink in 2014 to fill a need in the publishing industry. “We are asking the Lord to bring the authors and manuscripts that we can believe in and bless,” she says.

MiraleeFerrellPinableWhile defined as a small press, Mountain Brook Ink is not a self-publishing company. “There is no charge for authors to publish with us, other than taking care of their edit,” Miralee explains. The publisher pays for the proofreading, cover, formatting, uploading, and printing and will help authors with promotion and publicity. Authors can even purchase their print copies at cost.

Traditionally published authors can also work with Mountain Brook Ink to release their out-of-print books in e-book and paperback formats, thus realizing a higher royalty rate than they originally received.

Miralee accepts fiction in two general areas. The first is inspirational fiction in almost any genre (except children’s 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. Learn more from Mountain Brook Ink’s submission guidelines.

As a representative for Mountain Brook Ink, Miralee Ferrell will be available to meet with authors at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Because she is a recent addition to our slate of editors, she is handling her own appointment scheduling, and instead of meeting with conferees in group appointments, she will schedule 20-minute, one-on-one appointments for both days of the conference.

After studying what she’s interested in, you may contact Miralee through her website to set up an appointment to pitch your novel in the genres listed above. Instead of sending a proposal at that point, simply state in the comment section that you’re coming to the conference and would like to make an appointment with her.

If you haven’t yet registered for the Renewal, there’s still time. Sign up today!

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DianaSavageDiana 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 is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Grace Fox Loves to Connect the Dots

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

Are you interested in learning the basics of the writing craft? Do you need an expert to show you the ropes?

If so, we have just the right workshop series for you at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference! Grace Fox, award-winning author of eight books and hundreds of magazine articles, will teach a continuing class, “The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career.”

GraceFoxPinableMany writers experience discouragement when they start out, and Grace knows a great deal about pushing through those times. Whenever she has felt like quitting, God has been faithful to inspire readers to send her encouragement.

On one occasion she prayed, “Lord, if you want me to invest my time, energy, and abilities somewhere else, then please confirm that for me today.” Five hours later, a woman Grace didn’t know called her and said, “I’ve never phoned an author before. Please don’t think I’m a whacko or a groupie. I read your book Moving from Fear to Freedom, and it changed my life. Today I felt compelled to call you and urge you to please keep writing. We need to hear truth.”

Since that day, Grace has never doubted her calling as a writer. “The way I figure,” she says, “God has made it abundantly clear that I’m to write, and he’ll make it clear when it’s time to stop.”

Grace’s passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life to help her audiences live the life God intends for them. Drawing from Scripture, as well as personal experiences while living on Canada’s rugged coastline, in urban USA, and in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, she uses the written page and the public stage to build Christ-based confidence in audiences worldwide. Her quick wit, real-life stories, and biblical insight keep her in constant demand as a speaker.

At the Renewal she will serve on a marketing panel with Carolyn McCready, Jim Rubart, and Dennis Brooke on Friday, May 15. The following day, she will teach three continuing workshops:

The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career            Lay the Foundation

Session 1: Lay the Foundation: Every effective and lasting publishing career begins with a carefully laid foundation. Discover ten components necessary for creating the strongest foundation possible.

Session 2: Build the Platform: Learn how to define your brand, grow name recognition, and build your publishing platform using websites and social media. Discover biblical truths with which to weigh those practical realities, and then determine your personal approach to platform building.

Session 3: Add the Extras: Boost your publishing career by developing speaking presentations around your writing topics. Brainstorm possible themes and learn how to formulate a presentation. Brainstorm other ancillary products that promote your writing, encourage your audience, and earn income.

Grace’s articles have appeared in more than forty different publications, including Focus on the Family, Reader’s Digest, Insights Canada, Power for Living, War Cry, and Today’s Christian Woman. Her eight books include Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation and the corresponding DVD-based Bible study.

She’s a popular international speaker and is national co-director of International Messengers Canada, a ministry that offers creative short-term and career missionary opportunities in Eastern Europe. Her frequent media appearances include 100 Huntley Street, It’s a New Day, and The Harvest Show.

To benefit from Grace’s three-part continuing workshop, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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DianaSavageDiana 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 is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Editor B.J. Taylor’s Writing Is Going to the Dogs

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

Award-winning author B.J. Taylor has loved writing most of her life. In grade school, English was her favorite subject, and spelling bees were her specialty. As a teen, she kept a personal journal and hid it under her mattress.

BJTaylorPinableNow a multi-published author, she’s even written novels in a genre she calls “dog-lit.” She tells people to think of it like chick-lit, except the stories are for dog lovers. This genre is a natural blending of B.J.’s passion for writing and her passion for helping dogs to find forever homes. Her desire is to promote the spirit of keeping one’s canine pets, not only during the good times, but also in challenging circumstances.

“Many times we have to PUT certain things into practice in order to keep our cool under pressure when we rescue a dog or bring home a dog from a shelter,” she says. “They all need the same thing: Patience, Understanding, and Training.”

B.J. also knows a thing or two about patience, understanding, and training as a writer. And she uses those qualities when turning personal experiences into stories that sell. She serves as representative for Guideposts, Angels on Earth, and Mysterious Ways magazines.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, B.J. will meet with writers in group appointments. If you would like to show her your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what she would like to see and what she’s not looking at right now.

At the Renewal, B.J. will also present two workshops:

Writing for Guideposts1) Writing for the Guideposts Contest: Learn how to craft a well-constructed Guideposts story, how to properly submit, whom to submit to, what to include, and when to send it in. Two of the twelve writers chosen to attend the 2014 Guideposts Writers Workshop were in B.J.’s class at a writers conference and learned her tips and tricks. The next contest year is 2016, and there will be thousands of entries. Don’t miss out on the knowledge, experience, and secrets B.J. will share as the winner of her own coveted spot in the 2004 Guideposts Writers Workshop.

2) Making $$$ Selling Personal Experience Short Stories: Want to know the formula for writing inspirational stories that sell? B.J. Taylor’s writing has appeared in many publications. Numerous writers have learned B.J.’s secret formula, submitted to Chicken Soup and Guideposts, and are now published authors too. Would you like to make money in your writing career? Then come to this workshop.

B.J. has been published more than forty times in Chicken Soup for the Soul as well as in Guideposts, Angels on Earth, John Gray’s Mars and Venus in Love, Writer’s Digest, Romantic Homes, Victorian Homes, and many other publications. Her latest book is Charlie Bear: What a Headstrong Rescue Dog Taught Me about Life, Love, and Second Chances. B.J. also compiled her own stories, plus the riveting stories of others, into Sunny Side Up: Inspirational Stories for Tough Times/Women/Dog & Cat Lovers. In addition, B.J. has authored a resource for writers, The Complete Guide to Writers Groups That Work.

Whether you want to find out more about writing inspirational stories, dog-lit, winning the Guideposts contest, or any number of other topics, you can learn a lot from B.J. Sign up today for the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana 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 is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.