Jennifer Slattery: A Way with Words

By Elizabeth Griffin

From the moment she could speak, Jennifer Slattery loved words. In fact, her mother used to beg her to be silent—just for five minutes. But Jennifer couldn’t do it. Even when disciplined by teachers for talking in class or embarrassed in Bible studies for dominating the discussion, her natural propensity for self-expression would not be dampened.

As an adult, Jennifer’s wellspring of words has become a source of healing to many women. She began Wholly Loved Ministries to teach women the truth about who they are as daughters of the King. Through stories and humor she shows women how to tune out the lies promoted on social media and modern culture, and to tune into the truth of God’s Word and their identity in Christ.

In addition to speaking fluently, Jennifer also has a freely flowing pen, and she has published five Romance novels with New Hope Publishers. She is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, Internet Cafe Devotions, and Christians Read. As managing editor of Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she loves working with writers to help them strengthen their manuscripts and grow in their gifting.

“If you have a passion to write, God lit that spark within you, and he knows exactly what lies ahead,” Jennifer says. “In fact, he’s fully committed to perfecting all that concerns you. If we belong to Christ, we’re chosen and called to greatness. God has entrusted us with the most precious, most powerful words known to man—the gospel. At this moment, God is equipping, molding, stretching, and guiding us so he can use us to create ripples of love, peace, joy, and hope. The question is, are we complying?”

At the May 5–6 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Jennifer will entertain proposals for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction. Because we’re so close to the conference, she will schedule her own appointments. You may e-mail her to request a 15-minute slot, or you can use the sign-up form at the Editor/Agent Appointment Desk.

In looking for women’s fiction, Jennifer is especially interested in manuscripts that can cross over into the general market. Though the publisher will continue to release novels with strong Christian elements, for this imprint they’re looking for stories that don’t necessarily use Scripture or refer to God but that reveal truth in more of a parable fashion, such as showing the consequences of sinful behavior. She is not interested in seeing nonfiction, children’s, YA, or overtly religious women’s fiction.

Another way you can take advantage of Jennifer’s insights in writing and promotion is by attending her workshops:

Creating Characters That Grab Your Reader – Some characters entertain us; others grab hold of us and don’t let go. A well-crafted character grabs the reader at their deepest heart level, causing them to see themselves in the character’s struggles and victories. In this discussion on abstract and concrete goals, inner lies, black moments, and character arcs, writers will learn how to take their readers from merely enjoying their stories to living them. (Emerging-writer level)

Developing and Expanding Your Reach: Ways to Build Your Author Platform – This class touches on numerous ways authors can begin to build their platform from article writing to guest blogging, speaking, and more. It discusses how a writer can go from having zero publishing credits to getting asked to write for publication. It also addresses the importance of presenting one’s best work, developing a strong critique partnership team, tweaking old articles and posts to make them fresh, and using self-publishing and compilations to gain readerships. (All levels)

At the conference, let Jennifer’s God-given gift for self-expression inspire you to develop your own way with words.

Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Sonja Anderson: Book-Loving Librarian, Educator, and Children’s Author

by Eric Gollings

The first time I went to a book launch, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My family arrived at the Burien Public Library a little late and found a crowd packed into the expansive meeting room.

I stood at the door listening and craning to see the author over the throng. Behind me, the sun shone through tall windows on rows of shelves with countless books. I thought, “What a perfect place for a book launch.”

That book launch debuted Sonja Anderson’s novel, Sophie’s Quest.

The first thing you notice about the book is the beautiful cover art depicting an owl wearing a purse and hat, soaring over a sunny harbor. As you read, you find that it deals with deep questions of faith, culture, and the differences that often divide us. It does this all in a way that is accessible and engaging for young readers. For an aspiring novelist, the story of how this book and its sequel came into being is as uplifting as the adventure itself.

Sonja Anderson loves books. She is a multi-published author, an educator, and a librarian—the perfect vocations for a book lover.

Her love of reading and teaching has taken her many places. In Chicago, she studied history at North Park College. At Harvard University in Boston she earned a Master of Education degree. In Tokyo she taught kindergarten and second grade at an international school.

Since coming to Washington State she has taught every grade as a substitute teacher in Seattle Public Schools, and for twelve years she served as the Christian Formation Coordinator for the North Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. She is currently the library tech at her local elementary school where she helps children find books that will ignite their own passion for lifelong reading. Sonja Anderson is also an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators and of the Northwest Christian Writers Association.

At this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Sonja will share her insights in two break-out sessions for emerging writers.

Authors and Children’s Book Illustration: How the Publisher, Illustrator, and Author Work Together (or Not) to Create a Great Book – Learn common misunderstandings many writers have about the way children’s books are illustrated. This includes both picture books and the cover art for novels. Gain an understanding about the quality of the art that should be submitted with your story—or if it should even be submitted—and learn what to expect when working with a publisher. (Emerging-writer level)

Sleuthing for Success: How Nancy Drew Would Get Her Children’s Story Published – Learn the pros and cons of indie publishing vs. royalty publishing for children’s works. Discover how thinking creatively, flexibly, and realistically about the best ways to reach kids can help you find the right agent/editor/publisher for your children’s story. Learn how prayer and a generous attitude toward other writers can help make connections, build relationships, and provide encouragement during not-so-successful days of writing and marketing. Included: tips on using print resources and conducting successful Internet searches for potential markets. (Emerging-writer level)

Don’t miss hearing Sonja Anderson at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up now!

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Eric Gollings, a humanitarian professional with an MBA, is fluent in Spanish, Chinese, and English and has spent years living and serving in Latin America and Asia. For the last eight years, he has worked for World Vision. His writing and speaking interests include history, theology, humanitarian affairs, and speculative fiction. Eric enjoys creating clear and compelling communication, whether through blog posts, stories, professional e-mails, or speaking engagements.

Courtney Lasater: Opening Hearts through Devotions for Kids

By Nancy Aguilar

Devotions every day? The struggle is real, according to editor Courtney Lasater.

Perhaps that’s one reason why Courtney is so passionate about sharing the gospel through Keys for Kids, an online daily devotional ministry for children ages 6 to 12.

“Kids today are getting so many messages and being pulled in so many directions,” Courtney says. “I think a lot of them have a deep underlying fear that no matter what they do, they’ll never be enough.”

As editor at Keys for Kids for the past four years, Courtney loves pointing children to the truth of the Bible—that Jesus loves them, he died for them, and he can be trusted because he is more than enough!

The roots of Keys for Kids Ministries date back to 1947, when a radio program called the Children’s Bible Hour began. This popular program featured radio dramas that spread the message of God’s love to kids around the world. In 2014, the ministry’s name was changed to Keys for Kids, which more accurately reflected their mission: to ignite a passion for Christ in kids and their families.

This year, NCWA welcomes Courtney Lasater to our esteemed lineup of editors at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Courtney looks forward to meeting up with conferees in one-on-one appointments to hear their devotion ideas. (For a sample Keys for Kids devotion, check out the current post.)

To those who meet with her, Courtney gives this advice: “Don’t feel like you need to have a finished devotional story ready to hand over. A lot of people I meet with never thought about writing devotions for kids until they arrived and heard what we’re looking for.”

And exactly what is Courtney looking for? Devotions for 6- to 12-year-olds with a strong biblical message; children’s or family activity ideas; nonfiction books or web content for children, teens, and/or parents; and Bible studies for children or teens. Devotions must follow a specific format, as explained in the Keys for Kids guidelines.

What is Courtney not looking for? Picture books, children’s/teen/adult novels, or adult nonfiction books (other than parenting).

The 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal will be Courtney’s first conference with NCWA, as well as her first visit to Washington State. “I think it’s important to get away from our desks for a while and meet with others who can sharpen our minds and share their insights and ideas,” she says. “I always learn something new and am inspired.”

If you have a burning idea for a children’s devotion, be sure to request an appointment with Courtney and share your story! And if you’re curious about writing a children’s devotion and want to learn more—even if you’ve never written one before—Courtney invites you to attend her informative workshop and to “use your gift in a way that can encourage kids in their spiritual journey.”

Writing Devotions for Children – Did you know that about 70 percent of all Christian adults accept Jesus as Savior when they’re 14 years old or younger? Reaching kids for Christ is crucial! Learn more about what editors are looking for when they review devotion submissions. Hear pointers on what not to send editors and how to get noticed as a devotion writer for kids ages 6–12. Handouts in class, or download your copy here. (This workshop is for emerging-writer and intermediate levels.)

Don’t miss hearing Courtney Lasater at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up now!

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Nancy Aguilar has worked as an editor for YWAM Publishing, George Fox University Seminary, the Word for Today, U-Turn for Christ, the Enduring Word, and others. Her writing credits include Clubhouse Magazine, Upper Room, and Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware. She teaches in the women’s Bible study at her church and has also taught for Calvary Chapel Bible College. Nancy leads a lively critique group and is currently coauthoring a getaway guide for writers.

Ben Wolf: A Renegade in the Flash-Fiction Marketplace

By Elizabeth Griffin

Ben Wolf could be classified as primary evidence in the argument against giving children Ritalin.

Are you offended by that statement? Read the section titled “Who is Ben Wolf?” on his website, and I think you will agree. Tested for ADD as a child but never diagnosed with it, Ben was one of those kids who teachers try to—but never quite can—contain.

Thank goodness for that. And kudos to Ben’s parents for not squelching his enormous imagination and creativity. As a result, by seventh grade Ben was writing complete works of fiction. Since then he has added editorial expertise and publishing prowess to his skill set.

Ben’s novels run the gamut from vampire tales to the Wild West to sci-fi to children’s books. All involve action and adventure.

In addition, this award-winning author heads up Splickety Publishing Group (SPG), through which he caters to readers with short attention spans and/or very busy lives. Splickety publishes three flash fiction imprints: Havok Magazine (speculative), Spark (romance, formerly known as Splickety Love), and Splickety Magazine (young adult).

When not writing, Ben runs a professional editing and proofreading business. In his spare time, he is a jiujitsu and kickboxing practitioner, and he also loves to sword fight, play video games, and volleyball. And he has a family. The man has lots of energy!

A wonderful addition to last year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Ben returns this year in search of flash-fiction-story writers who have concise, poignant fiction between 300 and 1,000 words that fits one of SPG’s scheduled upcoming themes.

“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,” Ben says.

Ben is not looking for previously published flash fiction; scenes or excerpts or synopses from novels; excessive violence, profanity, or erotica in any form; and thinly veiled stories that preach from a soapbox of any sort—political, religious, or other. Additional submission guidelines are available on Splickety’s website.

Ben will also teach the following workshops:

10 Steps to Better Time- and Stress-Management for Authors

How do you juggle a marriage, kids, a day job, volunteering at church, working with your critique group, and still have time to pursue a writing career? How do you manage the stress of so many things demanding your time and attention? Did you know it’s possible to use that stress to your advantage, rather than having it weigh you down? Take this class and learn practical steps to time and stress management that will enhance your writing productivity. (Emerging-writer level)

Acting Out: Fighting Basics for Authors

Back by popular demand this year! Are you a fiction author, a screenwriter, or involved in a creative capacity in visual media? As an ongoing student of martial arts and a former stage combat instructor, Ben will teach you specific fighting techniques that you can immediately apply to writing more accurate, believable 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. (Intermediate level)

Self-Editing Your Manuscript for Success

Sagging middle? Wordy prose? Tighten your editing belts and trim the fat from your manuscript with proven self-editing techniques. In this class you’ll learn how to identify excess, sloppy writing in your manuscript and how to cut it out on both micro- and macro-editing levels. (Advanced level)

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

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Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Linda S. Glaz: Passionate about Writing and Writers

By Elizabeth Griffin

With a fiction tagline as creative as we all wish ours could be—Suspense sealed with a kiss—is it any wonder that Linda S. Glaz is a multi-published author of historic romance and romantic suspense novels?

linda-s-glazThe happily married mother of three—and grandmother of three—says, “Suspense wakes me up, slaps me across the face, and acts like ten cups of coffee. I love it.”

Linda particularly likes to write about creepy characters that readers love to hate.

“There are scary people out there, and it’s wonderful to write about them in the warmth and safety of home. Besides, creepy people have some crazy stories to tell. So why not let them? Add in a bit of romance and what’s better?” she says.

With life experience in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict, teaching women’s self-defense, and refereeing and teaching soccer for 25 years, Linda draws on her varied background while writing and editing. Adding an enthusiasm for musical theatre to her penchant for adventure rounds out her ability to create intriguing characters and plot lines that keep fans coming back for more.

As a literary agent for Hartline Literary Agency, Linda welcomes suspenseful fiction from attendees at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, but she also says, “Don’t stop there. I go gaga over historical [fiction], contemporary and historic romance, and even an occasional nondescript genre. While I shy away from sci-fi and most types of spec fiction, I have even been known to take one or two of those.”

What’s she really looking for?

“I’m not looking for good books,” Linda says. “I’m looking for great, exceptional novels that force me to stay plunked in my chair—reading, reading, and reading without a break. And while you’re at it, be sure you’ve developed a strong social media platform. Don’t you just hate that word? So do I, but alas, it’s necessary in today’s competitive industry.”

Though she admits she doesn’t “connect with a lot of nonfiction,” Linda says she’s “always happy to have a peek.”

With those parameters in mind, do not bring her hard copies or proposals for children’s books—or anything that has graphic sexuality or profanity.

Always the encourager, Linda says, “I’m not choosy as long as it’s…well-written. The most important thing being whether or not I have a place I can take it to. Just because I say no doesn’t mean it isn’t a great work!”

In addition to seeing writers at the Renewal, Linda will also serve on a publishing experts panel and teach a two-part workshop:

Ready…Set…Begin!: In this 2-part class, emerging authors will discover how to look like professionals in a crazy upside-down industry. What’s a WIP? Does it matter how I format? Why? What do agents and editors expect? What makes them go crazy and reject a submission? Learn essential hints and tips; understand terminology, writing basics, and what all writers need to know! (Emerging-writer level for both classes)

Don’t miss meeting this dynamic literary agent! Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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elizabeth_griffin2Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Alice Crider Asks Questions We All Need to Answer

By Elizabeth Griffin

“I’m planting love, joy, and accomplishment this year. What are you planting?” acquisitions editor Alice Crider wrote in a recent Facebook post.

alice-criderIt’s a potentially life-changing question that this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal may help you answer.

Alice’s accomplishments include studying Communication at Regis University in Colorado, 20 years of work in the publishing industry as an agent and editor, and becoming a certified life coach through Christian Coaching Institute. Equally important and fulfilling achievements have been raising a family she loves to spend time with, organic gardening, hiking, and horseback riding.

Now, the Senior Acquisitions & Development Editor of Books at David C Cook, Alice says she is “excited to be developing books that transform lives.” Her main responsibilities are acquiring women’s nonfiction, Christian living, and spiritual-growth books.

In a blog* that asks the question “Why bother?” when faced with the odds of being published, Alice concluded: If you feel called to write a book, and you don’t do it, you’ll never know what could have been. The world will never know what you have to contribute if you don’t write. So follow your heart . . . Your book may reach the multitudes, or it may bless only a handful of people. Why bother? Because your heart longs to know the difference your words will make in the world.

She then asks another potentially life-changing question: Are you willing to do what it takes to find out what difference you’ll make?

Specific requests for editorial appointments

During editorial appointments at the Renewal, Alice is looking for nonfiction projects that promote discipleship and include transformative content. These include Bible study, devotional, Christian living, marriage, parenting (specifically on parenting Generation Z), grandparenting resources, and small-group resources. She is not looking for fiction, poetry, memoir, YA, children’s books, or coloring books.

Workshops

In addition to her availability at the Renewal as an editor, Alice will also serve on a panel of publishing experts, as well as teach the following workshops:

Finding Your Writers Voice: Most writers are so focused on their message or on writing good sentences that it takes a long time to settle into their unique voice. In this workshop, we’ll explore what voice means and do some exercises to help you discover your own unique expression that will help you stand out as an author and may also help build your platform. Bring paper, pen, and/or your laptop.

Writing Life-Changing Nonfiction: Has your nonfiction manuscript fallen short of the mark required to land a traditional publisher? Have you published or self-published a book that didn’t reach as much of your audience as you intended? In this workshop, we’ll talk about how to reach and engage your audience by tapping into a need they don’t even know they have. We’ll look at the characteristics of best-selling books and how you can use the same techniques. Alice will provide results-based coaching that will help you leap forward in your writing career. Bring your current project and/or new ideas with you.

Don’t miss hearing Alice Crider at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up now!

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*(Read Alice Crider’s entire post, along with others she has written, at the Wordserve Water Cooler blog.)

Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Terry Glaspey Challenges Christian Creatives to Unite the Arts and Faith

By Elizabeth Griffin

If you have attended one of Terry Glaspey’s workshops during previous Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conferences, you know what I mean when I say that he is a brilliant creative and a brilliant theologian. He’s the guy you wish would mentor you—in writing, in creativity, in your spiritual walk.terry-glaspey

That may be because he’s spent a lot of time studying writers such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jane Austen, along with painters like Van Gogh and musicians such as Duke Ellington.

Many of us have read, seen, and listened to these artistic icons, but Terry knows them so well he’s actually written books about them. He has culled the brilliant creatives of history and brought them to our attention through books such as 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: Fascinating Stories Behind Great Art (winner of Christianity Today’s 2017 Book award for Culture & the Arts), Music, Literature, and Film; Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis; and The Prayers of Jane Austen. Through these, he challenges our presuppositions about “Christian” art and invites us to unite the spiritual with the creative in revolutionary ways.

“We are created in the image of God, and one of the obvious characteristics of God is that He is a creator. We have the privilege and enjoyment of also being what Tolkien referred to as ‘sub-creators,’ those who rearrange God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways,” says Terry.* “I am often moved more deeply by a song or a painting or a film than I am by most sermons. To be an artist—with words or paints or film or clay or a quilt or whatever—is a high and important calling. But Christian art should not be propaganda for the Christian cause. It should be about truth. Art is all about truth-telling, including uncomfortable truths, and we all need to be challenged and inspired in ways that the arts best accomplish.”

At the 2017 Renewal

In his role as acquisitions editor for Harvest House Publishers, Terry is available for editorial appointments at this year’s Renewal. He is looking for two things: quality and marketability. Quality is demonstrated by good writing, fresh new perspectives, theological orthodoxy, creativity, energy, and style. Marketability requires topics with a wide level of interest among readers and an author with a strong platform.

Acclaimed as a great communicator whose talks and lectures are energetic, humorous, and rich in content, Terry is skilled at taking complex ideas and making them interesting, accessible, and relevant to a wide audience. I found his teaching style to be understated, yet profound. He’s the type of person who inspires us to slow down and listen. With a master’s degree in history and an undergraduate degree emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies, he brings a unique perspective to the arts world.

Terry will teach two workshops this year at the Renewal. If you are waffling about attending them, consider this: Terry is teaching Christian Heritage in the Arts at Oxford and Cambridge this summer at the C.S. Lewis Summer Conference. You can spend $2,500, plus airfare, to hear Terry teach at Oxford, or hear him at the 2017 Renewal for the cost of your admission.

These are Terry’s workshops:

A Cloud of Creative Witnesses: In this multi-media presentation (visual, music clips, film clips), we’ll explore various ways that Christians down through the ages have used the arts to inspire, challenge and nourish our lives by looking at the variety of approaches they have taken. Be inspired by the likes of Bach, C.S. Lewis, U2, Handel, Rembrandt, Dorothy Sayers and other great writers, painters, and musicians. Feed your own creativity, find a new challenge, and celebrate the wonder of our Christian tradition in the arts. (All levels)

Telling It Slant: Finding Fresh New Ways to Tell the Old, Old Story: The secret of the very best writing lies in finding a way to make it fresh and intriguing. Too much Christian writing is boring and predictable. In this workshop we will look at practical ways to stretch yourself, find a new approach, and become more effective at reaching readers, even those outside the faith. We’ll look closely at the work of some truly great writers to see how they create such unforgettable writing, and take up the challenge to become better writers ourselves. (All levels)

In addition to teaching these workshops and taking 15-minute editorial appointments, Terry will also serve on a panel of publishing experts. Don’t miss this opportunity! Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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* Thanks to Kirk Kraft for allowing the use of quotes from his 2012 interview with Terry Glaspey.

elizabeth_griffin2Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.