Tales From a Foreign Land

Inger Logelin offers her experience for NCWA’s conference reflections.

I’ve discovered a new way to handle the roller coaster ride of a writer’s conference: pretend I’m on a fact-finding, cross-cultural foray into a foreign country. At Friday group editorial appointments at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, I shared what I’m working on and got good direction on where to submit. Like the promise of baby shampoo, no tears involved.

This is a friendly land, I mused, confirmed when Mindy Peltier, handling the front desk, greeted me with a hug. Several other e-mail only relationships turned into warm greetings. I did observe the occasional telltale rigid stare and tense posture of a few who appeared to be running a race only they could win.

Friday evening the Pilgrims, a fifteen-member men’s chorus, provided a theme as they sang, “Sail on, sail, the storms will soon be past, the darkness will not always last, God lives and he commands … sail on!” They could well have been singing, “Write on, write on, the rejections will not always last …”

Dr. Robert Cornuke, biblical archaeology expert and keynote speaker, was an experienced in-country guide on “Living Your Story.” He urged us to get out of our comfort zones and explore saying, “You can’t write on a flat sea about a storm.”

Saturday turned into a scavenger hunt in a land of treasures for me in one session after the other. Mark Cutshall explored the process, satisfaction and pitfalls of writing and co-authoring “as told to” stories. The entertaining and energetic Michelle Budzilowicz from Highlights for Children led us into developing an organic plot, much like reading a topographical map.

Our “tour guide” on book proposals, Judy Bodmer, was more than generous with her learned-it-the-hard way advice. She even shared her own proposals, providing a step-by-step outline for success. In Jim Rubart’s invigorating session on creating an idea with spiritual heft we were challenged to integrate faith naturally, make “what if” our friend, and twist concepts for life-changing writing.

The always-entertaining afternoon panel brought tips, trends and some startling statements. Such as: A writer needs his or her platform in place one year ahead of a book being published. Or: The average sales of a self-published book are 200 copies. If you sell 5,000 copies a royalty house may consider re-publishing it.

Robert Cornuke visually anchored Bible events with his Saturday evening presentation. He spoke of the literary covenant God made with man saying the origins of the alphabet were given on Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, encouraging us in the power of our own words.

After a multi-layered and rich visit to this “foreign country,” I came away humming “Sail On,” sure that God has a literary covenant with me. There are new worlds to conquer, words to write, experiences to live to tell about.

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Inger J. Logelin is a freelance non-fiction writer, editor and speaker and has been a member of NCWA since 2005.

Author of Triumphant Faith (with Susan Mackrill), she works as staff writer for Creative Resources from her home on South Whidbey Island where she lives with her husband of nearly 48 years, two long-haired dachshunds and next door to two out of three grandchildren. She’s having fun exploring aging in her blog: gracetogray.wordpress.com.

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