Laura Christianson Enjoys Delivering the Beef

 By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Laura Christianson

Have you ever signed up for a free webinar that actually turned out to be an hour-long advertisement-in-disguise for an online course that would set you back thousands of dollars?

Laura Christianson has. “While there’s nothing wrong with promoting a course, product, or service via a webinar,” she says, “most of the webinars I attend are heavy on promotion and light on content.”

As she hangs up in disgust, she wonders, “Where’s the beef?”

Laura’s conviction in delivering the “beef” (or the veggie sandwich, for those not into red meat) provides the motivation for everything she does.

“Whether I’m delivering a keynote presentation to hundreds, teaching a workshop to a small group, or chatting with one individual, my chief delight comes from knowing I’ve helped someone,” she says.

One of her areas of expertise is social-media marketing. Not only does she regularly partner with publishers such as Revell, Bethany House, Franciscan Media, Moody Publishers, and Simon & Schuster to promote their authors, but she also owns Blogging Bistro, a marketing company that specializes in custom website creation, content writing, and online courses. She’s also written three published books and thousands of articles and serves on the board of West Coast Christian Writers, located in San Jose, California.

At the 2016 Renewal, Laura will teach two workshops on social media:

5 Fatal Blogging and Social Media Mistakes to Avoid1) 5 Fatal Blogging and Social Media Mistakes to Avoid – Ready to blog and use social media, but afraid you’ll do it incorrectly? During this workshop, you’ll learn five things not to do, along with how to replace bad habits with solid foundational practices that will help you dominate your niche.

#HeavenlyHashtags2) #HeavenlyHashtags to Build Your Brand – Learn what hashtags are and how to use them correctly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You’ll head home from this workshop with five brilliant ways to use hashtags.

Laura, a long-time member of NCWA, lives in the Seattle area, where she enjoys rollerblading, bicycling, and swimming. She and her husband root for their young-adult sons who are involved in various athletic, culinary, and Xbox endeavors.

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


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 also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Suzanne Petrucci Gives Authors the Chance to Make a Great First—and Lasting—Impression

by Deborah Austin, Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Vendor Coordinator

Why should a writer get a headshot photograph?

Suzanne Petrucci of Glimmer Glass Photography answers that question by asking another one: “How would you dress for a job interview? A job that you really, really wanted? You want to make a great first impression, right? So, good or bad, right or wrong, knowingly or unwittingly, we all make an initial assessment based on visual appearances. It’s sort of like, judging a book by its cover. You want good cover art, right?”

SuzyPetrucciPinableThe Internet, with online profiles and more, has changed the way people gather first impressions. “You want your photo to be more than just okay or pretty good,” says Suzanne, “but you don’t want a glamour shot either.”

She points out that you also want to be remembered. If you use your headshot on your business card or—at the very least—your website, the editor or agent you just met at the conference will be able to put your face with your name. It’s a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Suzanne’s website, Glimmer Glass Photography, features some of her amazing photography work, along with her regular prices. At the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, however, she’s offering the incredible price of only $65 for a sitting.

SuzyBlogSidebarBut that’s not all. She’s also making available to NCWA members a pre-conference special of just $50! That’s 50 percent off of her regular studio pricing.

To get the early bird special, all you have to do is sign up at the May 4 NCWA meeting or drop me an e-mail anytime between now and May 14. This will ensure you an appointment for a sitting at the conference on either May 15 or May 16. Don’t miss this opportunity for Suzanne to help you make a positive and professional first impression.

Suzanne assures us that the images will be professionally edited, so most people will look from five to ten years younger in the final files. That’s enough motivation for me to sign up right now!

“Simply put,” Suzanne concludes, “it’s my dream job to help you get your dream job.” To take advantage of this wonderful opportunity with special pricing, register today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.


2012May_Austin_Author_105-Edit CroppedNCWA member Deborah Austin is a freelance copyeditor. Be sure to stop by her booth at the Renewal and see what she can do for you and your manuscripts.




Why We Created a Shareable Image for Each WriteTech Conference Workshop

A  shareable image was created for each workshop to be presented at our  WriteTech Conference to give our social media campaign serious wallop and an extended reach.

A one-page flier is a great place to start your conference promotion, but it’s only a starting point. There are many reasons to put the extra effort into making individual images.

WriteTech image blog

  • To draw in attendees interested in a specific topic.
  • Give each presenter some well-deserved limelight.
  • Make it easy for presenters to promote through their own social media channels.
    (hey, they’re busy creating awesome content for your conference!)
  • Images draw more shares, likes, retweets, and traffic than text-only posts.
  • Daily posting was always fresh with a new image.
  • Images double as door signs during the conference for continuity.

NCWA no longer buys newspaper ads or mailing lists, so social media is our primary publicity vehicle. Besides, social media is where all the cool people hang out all day, anyway.

Let’s face it.

Instead of #amwriting we’re actually #amFacebooking!

NCWA is blessed to have a talented Publicity Coordinator, Kim Vandel, who used Canva to create the eye-candy for our January 24, 2015 WriteTech Conference.

Canva has a lot of free “elements”  to use in creating, but if you do buy an image or element, they’re only $1 each. Canva is great because they’ve already figured out the size for you. If you want an image for a Twitter post, you pick that template, without worrying about how wide or high it’s supposed to be.

If people aren’t creative, there are pre-made images to customize, and Canva also has plenty of tutorial videos available on their site. Canva makes it pretty easy to look professional.

These are the twelve workshops we’re offering at the WriteTech conference. You can read the full workshop descriptions  on the NCWA website. You can see that the images had great reach by being shared first by NCWA on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and blogs. The reach is increased when you combine the following of each person who posts the images in their individual circles.

Cool Tools

To see these images used on Twitter, find NCWA at @NWCWriters. Dennis cloud technologyDennis Scrivener From Frantic to Fierce- To see this image displayed on Kim’s blog sidebar, go to impression (1) Maria tweet like a proThese images were also pinned to the board called Writing Conferences on Pinterest.

Feel free to follow all the boards from NCWA where we hang out as The Christian Writer’s Coach.
Maria twitter 101 MSWord Uncensored-Marlene McCurley used this image on a blog post and on her Facebook fan page. Since she has an editing business and is the Editors Connection Coordinator for NCWA, she will have some wisdom and experience to share.
sandwich Blog About BookTo see this image hanging around the sidebar of a blog, visit You Want to Indie Publish-!-!

Lynnette Bonner posted this on her Facebook Author Page to show her followers her latest event. As a successful indie publisher, often in Amazon’s top lists, and founder of Indie Cover Design, she already has a following of readers and fellow indie publishers.

#WriteTech2015 workshop "Get Good at Goodreads and Gain a Hoard of Raving ReadersThese visuals were created and given to each presenter to use in their own social media circles. In a smaller version, they could be used on a blog sidebar or in an email signature.

These shareable images were combined with the TweetSheet Kim designed, a Twitter cheat sheet with click-to-tweets, to create a social media package that was easy and enticing to use.

Creating a shareable image for each conference workshop gives your social media campaign greater reach, makes it more attractive, and draws in people by highlighting specific topics or presenters.

And now that you’ve seen all these images, don’t you want to attend WriteTech?

Thought so.  You can register here.


Mindy Headshot smaller

 Mindy Peltier has a passion to conquer the digital world, despite growing up in the years before computers. Born in 1964, she is officially one of the last Baby Boomers. She’s been blogging at “In the Write Moment” since 2007 and has spent years trying to finish a historical Christian fiction novel.

She’s the president of Northwest Christian Writers Association, Director of the WriteTech conference, and is a member of Oregon Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband Scott are blessed with six kids and four grandkids.  @MindyJPeltier


Wowful (not Woeful) Websites

Terri Picone, guest blogger, attended The Christian Writer’s Coach Technology Conference sponsored by NCWA.


I attended the Laura Christianson’s workshop to learn how to improve my website. Laura owns Blogging Bistro which designs websites as well as provides expertise on other social media services. Her qualifications to teach this workshop and enjoy a good cup of coffee speak for themselves. (And her webpage illustrates both very well.)

Laura 4

Early on, Laura suggests we consider our brand. The obvious choice may be our name. This works for many, but always consider how long, simple, easy to spell, and memorable our choice for a brand is—name or not. And it’s wise to check, by doing a Google search, whether it already has other associations with it which we’d rather avoid. Once we know what our brand name is, we need to buy it.

Laura explains the importance of tying together our website and all we do (logo, blog, business cards) to show our brand, down to the font and colors we choose for them. Using continuity on all our branded products reinforces their impression about us. In fact, everything we do online represents who we are and what we stand for. We want to highlight what we want them to know and show our how we are unique so they can relate to us.

When setting up or evaluating our website, Laura suggests thinking about what we hope to accomplish with it. Getting our name out there? Our writing? Books? Speaking topics and availability? The design should accomplish our purpose which seems simple, but without planning, many websites just take up cyberspace and fall short.

TweetWithout planning, many websites take up cyberspace and fall short.

On every page a visitor opens, she should feel oriented and able to locate the most important thing for that page. Each page should carry only one call to action. Pages that are clutter-free with planned white space create a professional-looking website. Laura shares that visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold (the area which is seen without scrolling down) so that area needs to be well planned.

Tweet Website visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold, so plan well.

Other considerations for a webpage include how many pages are needed and which sidebar elements to use. The color scheme should be simple but reflect us, and limiting our websites to only a few basic fonts gives a professional appearance.

To read or not to read? Since a visitor makes a decision in seconds as to whether or not he will read the content, headlines are critical. Make the reader wonder, draw him in. Besides headlines, the overall impression, subheadings, bold words, and scan-able pages also contribute to his decision to read on or close the page. (A scan-able page is one that is quickly scanned by the reader.)

As far as content, the copy needs to be stellar. Sentences should focus on the reader’s needs. Christianson says to talk directly to the reader, keeping in mind he is asking himself, “What’s in it for me?” consciously or unconsciously as he reads.

TweetTalk directly to the reader, because he’s asking, “What’s in it for me?”

I definitely gained some valuable information at Laura Christianson’s workshop. Her site ( has many more free tips and resources plus the contact information for her professional services. If you get a chance to attend one of Laura Christianson’s workshops, you’ll learn a lot and, if you bring coffee, you’ll fit right in.


Terri PiconeTerri Picone writes short stories and is (still) working on a novel. After homeschooling her three kids, she went back to college and got her English: Creative Writing degree in 2006. She’s a member of ACFW, Oregon Christian Writers, and Inland Northwest Christian Writers. The Technology Conference was her first NCWA Conference and she looks forward to others. She is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogs at

Caleb Breakey’s Golden Rule of Technology

Written by Ginger Kauffman, NCWA member and Conference volunteer


My first meeting of NCWA last September was a little overwhelming. The location had changed since the one meeting I’d attended before so I got lost — really lost. I missed some of the preliminaries at the meeting and was unsure of protocol. But when I left I was sure of two things: I would keep coming back, and I would attend the technology conference that was announced.

On January 25, 2014,  I joined 60 other people for the first ever Christian Writer’s Coach Technology Conference. People came from all over the state of Washington to glean from those who are using technology creatively and effectively and to network with others on the journey.

Golden Rule 3

The keynote speaker, Caleb Breakey, author of Called to Stay and Dating Like Airplanes, had a lot to say about gold in his keynote presentation, “The Golden Rule of Technology.”

“Technology isn’t your gold,” he said. “It’s what takes down the walls around your gold. Content is your gold. What has God put on your heart, and who needs it most?”

Caleb encouraged us to invest in our writing. Read good writers, keep writing, go to classes and conferences.Build up your gold account by becoming a better writer

TweetBuild up your gold account by becoming a better writer.

Give away your gold, he told us. “People notice free gold!” When Caleb wanted to reach out to teen writers he created an online community where he could mentor them. Through his website he strove to refine teen writers into “rock stars who were humble enough to listen and fearless enough to speak.” It was one way he was able to give away his gold.

As for those walls around your gold, those problems that stand in the way of getting published, use technology to bring them down. He encouraged writers to have a presence on social media. Not every avenue of social media will be a good fit for a writer. Find what works for you. Look into blogging, Twitter, Pinterest, other venues. Study them, and try them out. Decide for yourself if it’s something you want to incorporate into your writing life. “Stay at it long enough to fail, long enough to understand how it works. You have to fail to succeed.”

You know those rejection letters that can rip at your heart? Caleb’s suggestion is to consider them gold. They give you experience and insight into what you can do differently next time. How’s that for a positive outlook?

TweetConsider rejection letters gold.  They give you experience and insight into what you can do differently.

Three Things words

As a dedicated writer who can spend up to 16 hours a day at his craft, it was clear that Caleb practices what he preaches. He takes online classes every week — free classes he comes across as well as paid classes that will help hone his writing and his online presence. He currently has over 50,000 likes on his Facebook page, and he’s figured out the algorithms on Google so that his writing doesn’t get lost on the last pages of a search.

But it’s not just the things we do that make us writers. It’s that plus the God Things that happen — Him putting us in the right place at the right time, for example. Caleb shared a couple of personal stories how he “happened” to be in just the right place to meet people who took an interest in him and his writing and have played a significant role in his career. As Christian writers, we, too, can expect God Things.

Caleb Breakey words

Thanks to Caleb Breakey for his upbeat keynote address and for each one who led a workshop session. The day offered us great ideas to incorporate into our writing life. Let’s do this again next year!

TweetYour content, what God put on your heart, is gold @CalebBreakey

TweetAs Christian writers we can expect God Things @CalebBreakey


Ginger Kauffman from herGinger Kauffman has spent most of her life talking to people in her head. Now she’s letting her voice be heard on her blog, Three Minutes to Nine. She has written over 1,000 blog posts  about everyday life — telling family stories, encouraging through devotionals and hymns of the church, sharing good books and recipes, and introducing people who amaze her. She and her family live in Stanwood. 

Promote a Writers Conference with a Blog Button

As a kid, I counted the days until Christmas.  As an adult, I count the days until our writers conference, the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

52 more days!

In the very early years of advertising the conference,  the traditional plan was to buy mailing lists, buy newspaper ad(s), and hang up fliers on bulletin boards.  This worked  until people started seeking information through social media.  Most of the writers in our group grew up before computers, but we adjusted to the times.

Conference Brochure 2014

The front page of our brochure highlights keynoter T. Davis Bunn, a Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University, and a prolific writer.  We want to spread the word so other writers can take advantage of this great opportunity.

blog button 2

Board member Kim Vandel created a blog button using the graphics from our brochure.  Blog buttons started out as just that – a small graphic, or button, with the logo of a blog used to brand and advertise a blog.  Usage has expanded beyond blogs, but the name remains.

When you add a text box and a headline to your blog button, it becomes a pinnable graphic for Pinterest.

Branding is a word tossed around a lot in a writer’s world and can be confusing to everybody except non-reading children.  They identify their favorite products and restaurants by logos.

Familiarity. Recognition. You see a smaller portion and identify it with the larger portion.

blog button copy xsmall

The buttons were made  available to Northwest Christian Writers Association members and conference registrants to share in their social media circles.

  • blog sidebar
  • website
  • email signature
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest(Hyperlinked words lead you to social media sites of NCWA.)blog button copyThe buttons are hyperlinked to the website so anybody that’s interested clicks the graphic to find the Renewal website. After they register, prepare their pitch and proposal, match their writing to the needs of the correct editor or agent,  they’ll attend, pitch, get published, become famous, and buy a yacht.

    Just kidding.  You knew that, right?

    Even though it’s a great dream, it won’t happen that fast.  But, the first step is definitely clicking the blog button.

blog button copyblog button copy xsmall

These blog buttons have a URL so they can be uploaded to a blog sidebar.  In WordPress go to WIDGETS > IMAGE.

Click on the blog button above you want to get the URL you need for the next step.

blog button tutorial

Drop it in the field that says IMAGE URL.


Here’s the cool part.

When you put the URL for the Renewal website in the bottom line, the button on your blog sidebar drives traffic to the website.  Ya’ know, so they can register for the conference, get discovered, get rich, and buy that yacht?

Now you have many ways to use these blog buttons to spread the word about the amazing Davis Bunn coming to our Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

And you still have 52 days to do this…

Extravagant Subsistence: Restocking the Writer’s Shelves (and Soul)


Leslie with fishOur freezer is nearly empty. We’ve eaten all of last year’s fish and meat, which constitutes a near emergency. Tomorrow I’ll close my computer, ignore my writing deadlines and head back out by bush plane and boat to an island in the Gulf of Alaska where I’ve worked in commercial fishing with my family for 35 years.

We were so busy with the commercial season this summer we didn’t have time to put up our own fish for the winter, the wild salmon that will feed us luscious Omega-3 saturated flesh weekly through a long season of dark.

We also harvest berries, venison, halibut and sometimes caribou. Putting up our own food stores, which goes by the shorthand term “subsistence,” is a normal and necessary part of most people’s lives in rural Alaska.

“Subsistence” is defined as “The action or fact of maintaining or supporting oneself at a minimum level.” In Alaska, however, where a subsistence lifestyle is as common as wool socks, it’s evolved into almost the opposite concept. We don’t hunt and fish and grow and harvest simply to live—we engage in subsistence to live well.

We have access to cellophane-wrapped factory-farmed meat like everyone else—but it is expensive, saturated with antibiotics and hormones, and has been shipped a very long way to get here. We prefer to harvest wild-grown meat from our own piece of the land and sea. It’s one of the reasons we live here.

This last week I began another kind of subsistence:

I started re-reading Gilead, Marilynne Robinson’s wise and extraordinary novel. Her profound musings on the worth of life, as spoken through John Ames, an elderly pastor, remind me how empty my writer’s pantry has become.

The authors who have sustained me through the decades—Frederick Beuchner, Annie Dillard, Richard Wilbur, Eugene Peterson, Walter Brueggeman, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Emily Dickinson—have become strangers of late supplanted by blogs, social media, and research for other writing projects. These are all quick, short reads full of good information, but I’ve been achingly hungry without knowing it.

I realize that my writing life is little different than my food life. I’m often so busy on the commercial end of the work—the marketing, creating the next book proposal, the social media—that I forget to do the real subsistence work. While I’m as tempted as anyone else to spend my time feeding on strategies to garner audiences and master social media, ultimately, I’ll starve on such a diet.

“Fifty-seven Ways to Grow Your Platform,” while helpful, will do little to awaken mystery, stir my imagination, provoke paradox, unearth wisdom, deepen my humanness, all of which is why I began to write in the first place. I realize if I maintain a steady diet of techniques, I’ll soon be setting an impoverished table for not only myself, but also for my readers, who come themselves needing sustenance.

Subsistence work is not easy. Rather than grabbing cellophane packages of meat and fish from the meat counter, I have to go out into boats, I have to use knives and muscles, I have to cut off heads, pull out guts, spill real blood.

It’s a physical engagement with the material world. Reading the best writers is not unlike this. It takes more effort to read longer works. Blood will be spilled there as well as we wrestle with the deepest, hardest and most profound stories of dying and living. But this is how we will subsist and be sustained as writers for a very long time.

When I sit down to my first meal of grilled salmon this winter, I will remember where it came from, how it felt in my hands. I will be so well-fed, I will want to write about it, and will set the table for others to join me in the feast. I hope my work will feed others as well as I have been fed myself. With some labor, and yes, some blood, it can happen.

What kind of reading are you returning to for “extravagant subsistence”? How can we make more time for this kind of reading (and for sustaining physical labor)?


Leslie Leyland Fields is the author of 8 books, including The Spirit of Food, Surviving the Island of Grace, and her forthcoming book, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. She lives in Kodiak, Alaska and is a national speaker and a contributing editor for Christianity Today magazine.

Click here to visit Leslie’s website.

A Note to Young Writers: Honor Your Obscurity


Leslie's picRecently, I spent time with two younger women, both of whom had just released their first book. Sarah and Andrea are both fine writers whom I expect will continue to write and publish books. In the short time I had with each of them, I dumped all my writing and marketing advice, talking about websites, blogging, Facebook, twitter. But I forgot to say the most important thing of all: honor your obscurity.

We know if we’re to be published in any form, we need a sizeable audience. And that most of the time, we have to find that audience before the first book contract lands on our desk. Once it does, and the book is out, we’re tasked to keep racking up bigger numbers.

But how do we catch the eye and ear of a world that so often chooses the flippant, the crude, the gaudy spectacle over the good, the authentic, and the true?  We may pray as Jabez did:

woman-praying-parodic“O, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” (I Chronicles 4:10).

The artists’ version would go something like, “O, that you would bless me and enlarge my platform, increase my followers, expand my twitter peeps and keep me from publishing harm so I will be famous, free from the pain of falling out-of-print.”

I know these desires. An hour ago I was on a nationally syndicated radio show, and now, against my better will, I’m glued to numbers, trying to measure “impact.” A stranger writes to me immediately after the broadcast and asks how to become a writer and speaker. Another writes to ask how to build a fan base for her blog.

If you want others to read and listen to you, you must listen to others.

Do for others what you want them to do for you. That will not make you famous; but will make you better informed and more humble.

Fame is not what you think.

Admittedly, I am not the best source. My moments of “fame” are modest and sporadic. Fame is often over in a moment and brings more responsibility than freedom. It can pollute or paralyze your writing. I have a friend whose first book shot to the New York Times bestseller list. His agent, readers, and global fan base now hold their collective breath for his next book. “How do I write under this weight?” he asks, with so many others to heed and please.

Honor your obscurity.

This is another way of echoing Bill Roorhbach’s charge to “honor your apprenticeship.”  Value this time of laboring toward your best work with few listeners. This quiet is your wilderness, your blessing. Here you will sharpen your art. Lean closer to the sounds around you, for the fragile people who haunt the forests you watch, for the small voice that whispers names you didn’t know.

man reading

Enjoy the purity of your efforts.

Make art, worlds, and essays out of the sheer love of words, theatre, longing, and hope. Enjoy it now before a publisher fills your notebook with a thousand necessary tasks, few of which have much to do with why you began writing in the first place.

What do you imagine fame will bring?

For me (and for many writers I know) I hope mostly to be able to keep on writing, to keep using “that talent which is death in me to hide,” as John Milton writes. If you’re doing this now, pouring life into the truest sentences you can make, you’re already famous.


Leslie Leyland Fields is the author of 8 books, including The Spirit of Food, Surviving the Island of Grace, and her forthcoming book, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers. She lives in Kodiak, Alaska and is a national speaker and a contributing editor for Christianity Today magazine.

Click here to visit Leslie’s website.

Are You Drinking from the Social Media Fire Hose?

To be social media savvy these days a writer needs all the skill of a one-man band. You link, update, tweet, post, and pin while simultaneously connecting, networking, interacting and engaging.

You search your soul and what’s trending for relevant topics, then tally hits, visits, views, friends, followers, likes, pluses, comments, and shares. Life blurs by in a constant stream of minutia as the dishes pile up and the lawn grows shaggy. Your physical and virtual inboxes groan under the weight of mail. The chair beneath you groans under another kind of weight. People you vaguely recognize as your family walk around in the background. You feel like the poster child for the information age.

Or maybe you’re confused about where to start. The water seems mighty chilly in the social media pool. Or should we say pools? It’s hard to know where to dip your toe, and you have an uneasy suspicion you’re supposed to be everywhere at once. Other writers seem to have it figured out, but thinking about developing a social media platform makes you want to get back into bed and pull the covers over your head.

Information paralysis can keep you running inside a virtual hamster wheel or stop you in your tracks. You might press into the overwhelming workload it creates or simply give up. Either way, creating a social media management plan can help you focus.

Attempting to be everywhere on social media is as ineffective as trying to drink from a fire hose. Instead, determine how and where to focus your energies by taking the following steps:

  1. Know your brand. Presenting yourself as an author begins and ends with branding. Branding is who you are and what you promise and present to your readers.
  2. Know your goals. Having an idea of what you want out of involvement in social media means less time networking in ways that don’t further your goals.
  3. Identify where your target audience hangs out. Social sites draw different crowds. Research to understand where your specific readers gather online.
  4. Know your limitations. Decide how much time you can set aside for social networking, and then determine the social sites in which to invest. Don’t overextend yourself. It’s better to be fully present at one social site than to flit from site to site like a bee gathering nectar.    

Remember that being social media savvy doesn’t have to equal being overwhelmed and overworked. You can and should control how much time you spend on social media.


Janalyn and Melissa will be conducting two workshops at NCWA’s Renewal Conference: “How to Wow an Agent (Author’s View)” and “Success Through Social Media.” Click conference button on right-hand sidebar for details.


Janalyn, Melissa pixJanalyn Voigt has spoken for the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association and Salvation Army. Tales of Faeraven, Janalyn’s fantasy series, will release with Harbourlight Books. Publication credits: Focus on the Family, Scripture Press, Pentecostal Evangel; Agency: Wordserve Literary; Affiliations: ACFW, NCWA member since 2008. Click here for her personal website.

Melissa K. Norris has spoken for Concrete Assembly of God Ladies Night and the Upper Skagit Women’s Retreat. She writes a monthly column, Pioneering Today, for the Concrete Herald. Publication credits: Concrete Herald, Northwest Christian Writers’ Association; Newsletter Agency: Wordserve Literary. Affiliations: ACFW, NCWA member since 2010. Click here for her personal website.

What? I Need a Professional Author Headshot?


Mindy PeltierI’d rather gut a fish or clean a bathroom than have my picture taken.

There’s something about having everything I don’t like about myself frozen in time that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’m usually on the “trigger” side of the camera, not the “cheese” side.

If you’re like me, when advised to get a professional headshot to prove you’re serious about becoming a professional writer, you want to run and hide.

Besides, it takes money and time – two things most writers don’t have.  Most have a day job and a family, and write in the car, in doctor’s offices, and late at night while falling asleep on their keyboards.  And, they don’t get paid well for their writing.

Why is a professional headshot an important part of the writing equation?

  • It helps brand our image on social media. It’s suggested to use this on a business card, Facebook author pages, website, blogs, and one-sheets.
  • “A great headshot is the key to presenting exactly the right image to the world, whatever you want that image to be,” says Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency. In other words, that picture of you at last summer’s picnic with your hubby cropped out isn’t going to kick it. It’s a great candid picture, but it’s not a professional shot.
  • Editors, agents, and publishers receive so many business cards, they can easily forget you unless your professional headshot is on your card.

Like a kid, I dragged my feet on setting an appointment with a photographer. Then I heard some great news. Northwest Christian Writers Renewal is hosting Taylor Rubart Photography at their conference May 17-18 in Redmond to take author headshots.  I’ll already be at the conference,  I’ll  be dressed up,  have my hair combed, and  be in my “I’m a Real Writer” mood.  No more excuses.

Taylor RubartTaylor Rubart started seeing the world through a viewfinder when he received a two megapixel digital camera in the fifth grade.  Photography has remained a passion, although he’s upgraded to a Canon 60D.  He’s pursuing a major in Communications and a minor in Spanish at Western Washington University in Bellingham while building up his photography business.

Taylor’s vision for author headshots gives the extra push needed to make the appointment.  He’ll meet the writer, learn their genre, and where they’ll be using their photos.  The appropriate mood will be set with lighting and backdrops. If you write murder mystery, for example, you don’t want a bright smile.  Romance writers need to smile and have lightness in clothing and background.

He advises not to wear all black, all white or busy patterns.  He encourages to “wear something that makes you stand out, but makes people look at your face, not at what you’re wearing.”  For further tips on preparing for a quality photoshoot, check out Taylor’s website.

Taylor will take approximately 20-30 shots to ensure quality.  Each author will receive four fully edited headshots for $60. This is about a 50% savings from a studio shooting, where one author headshot could cost around $100. When I learned Taylor will edit the rosacea and the 6 ½ inch scar on my neck, that sealed the deal.  I don’t need to look like a model, just a little more like the real me.

Until Taylor lives his dream of being a destination wedding photographer, he’s excited about helping writers fulfill their dreams by shooting professional author headshots. (Click on link to see his examples.)  Taylor says, “I don’t just take pictures, I capture memories.”

No more excuses. He fits my budget, I don’t have to drive anywhere, and he promises to help me freeze myself in time with a professional photo I like.

How about you?  Are you ready to prove you’re serious about being a professional writer? No more excuses.

Walk-ins are welcome, but to assure a time slot, appointments can be made by contacting Taylor at

You can see more examples of his photography at Taylor Rubart Photography on  Facebook.


Mindy Peltier has blogged over a thousand posts about her life as a Christian homeschooling mom, grandma, thyroid-cancer patient, and writer at In the Write Moment. She serves on the board of directors for the Northwest Christian Writers Association and is a member of the Oregon Christian Writers. As you can see, she is still using a candid photo for her social media presence. Mindy has been a member of NCWA since 2008. You will find her online at: