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.

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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 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.

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Cult Escapee Athena Dean Holtz Now Helps Other Wounded People

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Not everyone caught in the clutches of a cult is able to get free.

Athena Dean Holtz has.

Twice.

First she was drawn into the Church of Scientology. After she escaped that deception and came to Christ in 1986, she was lured into a toxic, legalistic Christian cult. Among other abuses the leaders committed, they fraudulently coerced her into turning over a custom publishing company she had cofounded.

That took place five years ago. Eventually she was able to walk away from the traumatic situation, get counseling, and go public with her story. The cult leaders lashed back viciously and created entire websites dedicated to humiliating and discrediting Athena and those close to her.

AthenaDeanHoltzPinable“I’ve learned a lot from that experience,” she says. “God has taught me a great deal about why I was vulnerable in the first place. He has also given me great insights into deceivers and the people they have deceived.”

After spending twenty-five years in the book-publishing industry in the Pacific Northwest, Athena served as a broadcast missionary under Commission to Every Nation with her program for women, “Always Faithful Radio,” on AM 630 KSLR in San Antonio, Texas.

Early in 2014, she returned to publishing in this area and cofounded Redemption Press. “The amazing part of that story,” she says, “is God brought me full circle, back to the same offices I used to occupy.”

As a speaker, author, blogger, publisher, and now a pastor’s wife, Athena helps people who have been wounded by the church and other traumatic life experiences.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Athena will lead three sessions of an interactive WriteCoach Lab:

Build Your Platform Through SpeakingBuild Your Platform & Promote Your Work Through Speaking – Let Athena Dean Holtz help you map out your own individualized plan for using public speaking to build your author platform and promote your book. Includes hands-on exercises to get you started on your journey.

Athena is passionate about encouraging people to learn to trust God, even in the wake of spiritual abuse, trauma, or loss. “My prayer is that they will experience God’s faithfulness and restoration in the midst of the difficulties of life and suffering,” she says.

Her involvement at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal is borne out of that passion. “I pray that people who’ve been wounded will learn to comfort others with the comfort God gives them,” she says.

As a Renewal sponsor, Redemption Press is holding a drawing at its vendor booth. The winner will receive a professional bundle of publishing services valued at $2,200.

To enter the drawing, as well as have the opportunity to be coached by Athena in one of her three WriteCoach Lab sessions, 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.

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Wowful (not Woeful) Websites

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

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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 bloggingbistro.com 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 (bloggingbistro.com) 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.

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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 www.terripicone.com

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Author Kathleen Freeman shares her wisdom and encouragement.

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My husband often accuses me of being a matchmaker, a Yenta out of place and time.

It’s true. Despite a bedroom that argues against it, I love to organize. In the right mood, I can sort a silverware drawer with the best of them—toss take-out restaurant chopsticks from two years ago and make all the spoon bowls stack in the most eye-pleasing manner.

My passion, however, is people. Despite the Valentine’s Day sound of that, it isn’t couples I most like to match. I’m an idea connector, and that ardor extends to finding talents. I LOVE to put people in situations where they can grow and learn, do their best, use the gifts God has given them to make the world a better place. I find it irresistible to help loose chains and free people to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, strength and love their neighbor as themselves.

This is why I write.

In a matchmaking mood, which, to be honest, arrives just about every day, I enjoy seeking out writers and bringing them into the fold, whether it be an organization or critique group. From there, I might have the opportunity to help boost them to the next level of connection, confident that they and an editor or agent will form a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship—a matchless match.

Perfect Match

 

The Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, the annual writers conference, is April 11-12, 2014.  If you’re a writer, you should go. If you’re thinking about becoming a writer, you should go. Connection opportunities are vast at any conference and will be super strong at the upcoming one. Right? Of course right.

1. Writer or not, this conference is matchless, one of the best in the country for renewal, for connecting with God, for inspiration. Writers have a way with words.

2. Hundreds of other writers will be there, from beginning beginners to best-selling authors. Writers are a quirky bunch, especially those of us who write fiction. You are not alone in your desire to create, in the way you discuss made up people as if they are real, or even argue with them… out loud. Writers love to help other writers—maybe it’s the comfort we feel in numbers, which is odd, since most of us are introverts. Ask anything about writing. Someone will know the answer.

3.  Davis BunnDavis Bunn is speaking and teaching. Mr. Bunn is a celebrated and prolific writer of adventure, Oxford teacher and world traveler. Think Indiana Jones without the whip. He is also one of the best teachers I’m encountered in my long writing journey. His class would have shaved years off the learning process. If only.

4. Many editors and agents will attend. They are looking for work with that special ring, whether it be in fiction, children’s books, science articles, or a non-fiction article that moves the most hardened of criminals to tears.

“Bring me a ring for I’m longing to be the envy of all I see.”

Cue potential matches:

 Sally ApokedakSally Apokedak, with the Les Stobbe Agency, is one of the kindest agents I’ve met. She loves a good book, especially quirky-fun children’s books and YA. I hear she has a passion for science, which makes her even cooler in my… book. The agency head, Les Stobbe is agent to some fantastic people. He is committed to helping first time authors and is seeking adult fiction and non-fiction.

Katherine DeVries Katherine DeVries, with David C. Cook, is a publisher in search of encouraging articles, inspiring poems, African American Real Life writers and editors, and curriculum writers. Time to dust off your Sunday School lesson ideas.

 William JensenWilliam Jensen, William K. Jensen Literary Agency, is looking for fiction and non-fiction.

 Rachel KentRachel Kent, of the highly esteemed Books and Such Agency, is looking for adult fiction and non-fiction, young adult (YA) fiction and non-fiction, and twenty to thirty-something fiction and non-fiction. Books and Such loves good ideas and great writing. Non-fiction is especially interesting to them at this time.

 Kathleen KerrKathleen Kerr, Harvest House (a top ten Christian publisher), is looking for nonfiction dealing with Christian living, self-help, and apologetics.

JamieWestM. Jamie West, Pelican Book GroupWhite Rose, Harbourlight—is looking for fiction. The White Rose imprint is romance, and the Harbourlight imprint takes a variety of genres. They love to keep it real.

For more information, see the complete list of needs for the agents and editors that will be at the Renewal here.

There are great fits out there, and less than optimal fits, even if your name is Frank Peretti, Karen Kingsbury, or T. Davis Bunn. Playing with matches, a writer can get burned, so do your research. Talk to people. Catch no catch, unless it’s a matchless match. Please remember to have long conversations with the greatest of connectors, the first and best matchmaker.

Thy will be done, our Father.

TweetFind the Perfect Match for your writing at a writers conference.

 

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.Kathleen Freeman 2

Kathleen Freeman serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Christian Writers Association as the Critique Coordinator. She’s also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and she’s been writing and critiquing for enough years to be told she’s been around the block a few times. Her work appears in Raising Small Souls, the NCWA Newsletter, Vista Journal for Holy Living, and Clubhouse Magazine. She was the 2012 winner of the Genesis contest in the YA category, 2013 semi-finalist in the Mystery category, and the 2013 3rd place  winner of the Category 5 contest, Contemporary category. You can find her at www.findinghopeinhardtimes.com.

What? I Need a Professional Author Headshot?

NCWA’s Mindy Peltier introduces photographer Taylor Rubart.

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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 in social media. It’s suggested to use this on a business card, Facebook author pages, website, blogs, and one-sheets.
  • “A great headshot is 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 forgot 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 photo shoot, 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 taylor@taylorrubartphotography.com.

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

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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:

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