Genesis Parker, Conference Worship Leader

by Elizabeth Griffin

Worship at the 2018 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal will be led by Genesis Parker, the worship director at Living Hope Christian Fellowship.

One look at a photo of Genesis and you can tell she is filled with the joy of the Lord. We are going to have an awesome time of worship with her leading the way!

Genesis uses these words, among others, to describe who God created and called her to be: creative, writer, spirit-filled, musician-ray, heartist.

A worshiper and songwriter, Genesis has a passion to see people experience the presence of God through music in a way that is sincere, honest, and full of joy. She carries a powerful prophetic voice, and her worship is a unique combination of passion, faith, freedom, and confidence. Her desire is to see people’s lives transformed through the power of God’s presence, both inside and outside the walls of the church.

Genesis is a Northwest girl, born and raised. She grew up in a ministry family with a home full of music and has been involved with worship ministry in various capacities for over fifteen years. In addition to serving as worship leader at her church in Renton, she leads worship at various services, conferences, events, retreats, and camps.

Genesis is currently working on an album to be released in 2019 and hopes to travel and minister internationally in the coming years. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband, Jesse, who is also a pastor and writer.

______________________________________________________

In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with 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 of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.

Advertisements

Lisa Mitts: Worship Leader and Activist with Heart

by Elizabeth Griffin

The gifts Lisa Mitts brings to this year’s conference as worship leader have come at great personal cost. She is a survivor of trauma.

When she was 24, a stalker assaulted her at knifepoint in her own home. Lisa is convinced that her life would have ended had it not been for a miraculous intervention. She heard a voice telling her what to say to the man. The words that tumbled out of her mouth caused the attacker to leave while she was still alive.

“I had been raised in a Jewish family, and at the time, I did not know God personally,” Lisa says. “But to this day I can still remember His voice speaking. Two years later I recognized the same voice when He pursued me to know Him as Yeshua, Jesus, the lover of my soul, who protected and delivered me—first physically, then spiritually.”

She admits that for many years, even after becoming a believer, she couldn’t speak about the attack because she still needed deep healing and freedom from shame, anxiety, and the fear of death.

Lisa’s salvation experience took place two days after her husband, David, gave his life to Christ at a 1988 business convention in Miami, Florida. The couple now supports each other in ministries of healing as David practices holistic medicine and Lisa works with victims of human trafficking. Together they established the Seattle chapter of The Defender Foundation, as well as founding Destiny House Restoration Center, a rehabilitation facility for rescued victims.

Lisa Mitts and Dr. Stacy Cecchet, a psychologist, professor, and consultant to the Seattle Police Department and the Washington State Congress, have developed the breakthrough program, H.E.A.R.T.S (Healing, Education, And Restoration Treatment for Survivors), used at Destiny House and other centers.

David and Lisa are also the founders and senior pastors of One New Man Ministry in Renton, Washington, where, as Jewish believers, they instruct their congregation on Christianity’s Hebraic roots. David has written three books on the subject.

The depth of compassion and understanding that Lisa has for traumatized people, along with her own personal healing, add to the richness of her worship of the King of Kings.

She began her musical journey at age six when she started taking piano lessons, and she applied herself to the study of music. At the University of Florida, she chose music as her major. But after just a year, she realized she didn’t want to be a classical pianist and went on to earn a degree in journalism and communications and broadcast production. For a brief time she worked at the NBC affiliate in San Francisco.

Today Lisa has returned to her musical roots and is a worship leader, singer, songwriter, and recording artist. Her passion against human trafficking is expressed in her song “Where Has Love Gone?” In September 2015, its music video was awarded Best Music Video at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles. She is currently working on her fifth CD project with the hope that it will reach hundreds of thousands of listeners to bring healing, encouragement, and a more intimate relationship with God.

In addition to leading worship at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Lisa will also teach a workshop:

The Heart and Technique of Writing Song Lyrics – Discover the art of writing powerful song lyrics, especially for the genre of contemporary Christian music (CCM). In addition to the basic structure of a good song, also covered will be the importance of combining passion, emotion, and personal testimony with the foundations of God’s Word and message for all His children. All class participants will have the opportunity to write their first song or improve their lyric-writing skills and share with the class. No prior musical or songwriting experience is necessary (all levels).

Register today to attend Lisa’s workshop and be blessed by her leadership in worship and compassion at this year’s Renewal.

______________________________________________________

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.

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!

_______________________________________________

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.

Amy Letinsky: Critical Thinker, Crazy about Metaphor

By Elizabeth Griffin

Those who attend Northwest Christian Writers Association meetings regularly know that longtime member Amy Letinsky is a critical thinker, crazy about metaphor, and an avid reader and writer.

A college professor for the past fifteen years, Amy will share her expertise with us at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal:

A Writing Workshop: At last! The chance to write at a writers conference! With fresh inspiration received from the conference’s keynote addresses and other workshop leaders, come prepared to flourish your pen or fire up your laptop and take part in guided writing exercises led by a college writing instructor.  (All levels)

How to Read Well to Write Well: Train your Brain for Great Writing: Are Christian writers equipped to pull meaning from a text, or are we becoming lazy-brained? Can we keep up with the intellectual depth that C.S. Lewis championed? Learning to read critically is vital for analyzing writing models, not only for our own understanding, but also to enable us to give our critique partners better feedback. In this class, you’ll learn to recognize classic logic fallacies so you can shine the light of God’s truth on them. Included: hands-on evaluation of different texts and web sources. (All levels)

Q&A with Amy Letinsky

I connected with Amy recently, and she agreed to answer the following questions so we can learn more about her:

Q: What roles have you played in NCWA?

A: Several years ago I let then-president Dennis Brooke talk me into taking on the secretary role at NCWA, and it was a great learning experience. Then I coordinated public relations. And I’ve had several opportunities to teach Write Start and Christian Writer’s Coach segments and lead round tables at the monthly meetings. I’ve also led round tables at the conference a few times.

Q: Who are your favorite writers—the ones you believe we all must read and the ones who have influenced you most?

A: Yikes, that’s like asking me who is my favorite child.

John Milton’s Paradise Lost has been, next to the Bible, the most influential book on my life. Milton’s brilliance in all his writing has greatly contributed to my worldview, challenged me to be a deeper thinker, and encouraged me to boldly involve Christ in every aspect of my writing. Yes, he wrote in the  seventeenth century, but his writing is still very relevant, beautiful, and worthwhile for every reader to approach.

John Bunyan is another favorite for the Christian reader. I’ve had the privilege of teaching Pilgrims Progress a few times, and it’s always been an extremely enriching experience. It’s far less intimidating than Paradise Lost, but it was written in the same time period. Bunyan is the opposite of Milton in many ways. Whereas Milton was highly educated and upper class, Bunyan was very poor, with limited education. Both men fought in the same war for puritan ideals, and both went to prison for their beliefs. Bunyan inspires me for what Jesus can do with so little, and Milton inspires me with what Jesus can do with so much. Bunyan’s suffering comes across in his work like no other writer I’ve encountered.

I think Marilynne Robinson is woefully under-read by Christians. She’s won the Pulitzer Prize and regularly teaches at the most prestigious writing program in the country (the Iowa Writers Workshop). She writes about spiritual issues and is a devout Christian. Many consider her to be our greatest living American writer (I concur). Gilead is her masterpiece. Her prose reads like poetry.

Q: What intrigues you most about metaphor?

A: I’m a metaphor buff. I collect them, study them, and wish that I could be better at writing them. Metaphor, to me, is the core of language itself. Every word we speak is metaphoric, in that it stands in for something else. When I say the word “baby,” the word itself isn’t a baby; the word refers to or stands in for the crying, diaper-wetting, adorable little mess of cute. Some words carry more metaphorical weight than others. They become powerful symbols. Words like “freedom” and “rights” carry meanings that, interpreted differently, can start wars or end them.

As Christians, we serve a God who uses many beautiful metaphors to describe himself and his kingdom. Jesus employed metaphors in his parables. He is the Good Shepherd, and we are his sheep. He is the Gate. He is the Rock. The greatest teacher chose metaphor as a primary way of communicating truth to his followers. To me, that’s the greatest reason of all to pay attention to metaphor.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

A: I teach in a lot of different capacities: Sunday school, Girl Scouts; I teach writing to professionals and at NCWA meetings and at Champlain College in the Continuing Professional Studies department.

I enjoy teaching all of these levels, but my passion is teaching grownups to read and write. For me, it’s a high calling to train people to think critically and express themselves effectively. I can think of very few life skills that can make such a big difference in people’s lives. Reading is so much more than sounding out the words on a page. When reading at a high level of critical depth, you avoid falling victim to fake news and scammers, you can discern truth vs lies, you can make connections between ideas to see the big picture, and you can find answers to difficult questions.

When I speak to professional writers, the audience already recognizes the importance of writing. But in my college courses I spend much of my time convincing students that writing is important, that good writing is within their grasp, and that it’s worthwhile to invest time and energy into becoming better at it. So much of their lives involve writing, and yet they don’t realize that their inter-office emails and reports count as writing. I also enjoy teaching students the ethics of writing, and the obligation they have to share information and persuade in an honest way for their particular audience: to speak truth in love.

Q: What are the most important things a writer can do to improve his or her craft?

A: “Keep writing.” That’s the advice that Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, gave me when he came to speak at the college where I was teaching at the time. At first, I felt like he was kind of brushing me off. But I’ve come to realize that it’s the best advice for becoming a better writer.

Marilynne Robinson, whom I’ve mentioned above, had very different advice for me. She said, “Feel the difference between what you’ve experienced and what you’re writing and fill in that difference.” I’m still untangling what that means.

As far as practical advice, I advocate reading a lot. To be a good writer is to be a good reader and vise versa. Read good stuff. Read stuff that challenges you, has won awards, and that may not fit with your worldview. Remember: Garbage in, garbage out; Quality in, quality out.

Okay, I’m a writing instructor, so here’s another tip: Write in your books. Mark them up as much as possible. Use a pencil or pen, and argue in the margins. Begin your essay at the end of the paragraph, continuing the line of thought. Circle key points. Fully engage with the text to learn it and apply it in your writing.

Q: How do you balance your career with being a wife and mother?

A: Not well. As my kids are getting older, I’m getting better at it, but it probably has to do more with them getting older than me figuring it out.

I have a strong sense of calling to my career as an instructor and my role as a stay-at-home mom. These two things love to compete with each other. But I have a supportive husband who helps watch the kids, so I can work. My husband is a physician, so he understands the time and mental commitment required for in-depth study. I think he also enjoys how fired up I get about my teaching and writing.

Really, it’s God’s grace that I’ve managed to keep working, stay married, and take care of the kids. I’m not exactly sure how I’ve managed it, but God keeps making it possible. He’s perfectly timed my huge writing projects to when I can get more help with the kids. And God gave me kids that generally sleep well, which is a huge help.

Register today to attend Amy’s workshops at this year’s Renewal.

______________________________________________________

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.

Stocking Gift Now Can Mean Career Boost Next May

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

What’s the one thing that some writers say is the most responsible for advancing their literary careers?

A writers conference.

christmas-stockinggraphicYes, at conferences you can meet industry professionals face to face and learn writing techniques directly from published authors. Critique sessions allow you to discuss your works in progress (WIPs) and hash out specific paragraphs or plot puzzles. Spending time with likeminded folks greatly increases your chance of forming strong relationships within the writing community.

Over the past few decades I’ve attended more than three dozen writing seminars and conferences. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve benefited:

  • Thirty years ago at a Portland conference, I met a novelist who invited me to join her critique group. I accepted—and I’m still a member to this day.
  • I first connected with my agent at a February conference on a Washington beach.
  • I met one of my coauthors at a two-day conference held at a Seattle-area church.
  • Other connections have resulted in book contracts, magazine assignments, and clients for my editing business.

While the perks of attending writers conferences are well-established, some people find registration costs to be a significant hurdle.

In case you’re one of those people, here’s an idea. Consider letting friends and family members know you would welcome a monetary gift in your Christmas stocking that you could use on registration fees. If gift-givers aren’t able to help financially, perhaps they’d be interested in offering childcare or another type of service that would enable you to get away for a couple of days.

You can choose from a number of excellent conferences available nationwide. But as director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, of course I think your best option is our own event coming up May 5–6, 2017.

The keynote speaker will be writer, director, and film producer Bill Myers of McGee and Me fame. This winner of seventy national and international awards has written more than 125 published books for children and adults. His book and DVD titles have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. When I met Bill last January while we were both teaching at the same university, I realized the wealth of knowledge he can offer writers at any level of expertise.

At the 2017 Renewal you’ll also learn from literary agents, acquisitions editors, multi-published authors, and other industry professionals. We’ll be using the lovely venue we enjoyed last year: Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, Washington.

Some information is already up on our website, and more will be added soon. Registration will be ready to open in a few weeks. Check the site often for new details.

If upcoming holidays don’t bring you enough financial gifts to cover the entire cost of the conference, here are a couple of other ways to stretch your dollars.

NCWA’s board has authorized two full scholarships to be awarded to applicants. (Details on the website soon.) Also, some full and partial scholarships are available for those who take on certain conference responsibilities.

Whatever financial path you travel to attend the Renewal, prepare to be inspired and equipped—even if Santa ends up having little to do with your getting there.

__________________________________________________________

Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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 coauthor of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Pilgrim Shares Thoughts about the Successful Writing Journey

Dennis Brooke memeBy Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

What does your writing journey have in common with a 500-mile pilgrimage?

This spring, former NCWA president Dennis Brooke, along with his wife Laurie, set out to walk the entire length of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James), a network of routes across Europe that leads to the town of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Since the Middle Ages, Christians have made the pilgrimage to visit the tomb of St. James the Apostle.

While in León, Spain, just as the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference was about to get underway, Dennis recorded a 3½ minute video to share with us key similarities he notes between being a successful writer and preparing for a Camino de Santiago trek.

Dennis is the author of the speculative novel The Last Apostle. While on pilgrimage, he’s finding plenty of opportunities to research his next novel, Thomas the Brave. You can connect with Dennis and Laurie at www.WorldRovers.com.

__________________________________________________________

Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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 is coauthor of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym and Finding Success with Your Dream Writing Projects.

Porters Bring Bold Vision to Conference

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

PortersPreparing to pitch your proposal for the first time at a conference can be daunting. And if you knew that an editor at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal was a frequent guest on radio and TV programs and contributed to national magazines—accomplishments that describe Karen Porter of Bold Vision Books—you might be especially nervous. But the title of one of Karen’s books, I’ll Bring the Chocolate, just might take the edge off your nervousness. After all, can someone who loves chocolate be all that intimidating?

One event planner reports that Karen “is a people person, plain and simple. After you meet her, you will quickly discover that her joy is not only genuine, it is absolutely contagious!”

Meanwhile Karen’s husband, George Porter, co-owner of Bold Vision and a science teacher for more than 23 years, brings the scientific world to life in his writing, Bible teaching, and presentations to help his audiences embrace the God who made us all.

Together they make an unbeatable husband-and-wife publishing combination.

At this year’s conference, Karen will present two workshops:

How to Tell It Funny1) How to Tell It Funny – Discover how to add wit, humor, and winsomeness to your writing and speaking. No one can make you funny, but you can learn to lighten up, and this workshop will help you discover the methods that will add a new dimension to your communication.

Marketing for Writers and Speakers2) Marketing for Writers and Speakers – Marketing techniques and methods have changed drastically with the emergence of the Internet. The information and advice you’ve read might already be out of date. Marketing expert Karen Porter will help you define your personal style and brand. From tag lines and mission statements to web presence in blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, you will learn how to market your message, your speaking ministry, and your book. Karen will help you build a toolbox of practical, useful, doable methods. You will leave this session with a personal plan.

Maximize Your Book TableGeorge will present a workshop on how to Maximize Your Book Table. Did you know you can have a back-of-the-room book table even if you don’t have a book yet? In this workshop, George will show you how to pick out and buy products. He’ll give you display hints, bundling ideas, info on credit cards, and much more, all based on his experience in managing an extensive book table with good organization and time-saving tricks of the trade.

Both George and Karen serve as acquisitions editors for Bold Vision Books. Here are proposals they’ll be looking for at the Renewal:

  • Well-crafted nonfiction manuscripts with a timeless message told in a fresh, new way, using story techniques and strong Scripture backing
  • YA fiction (no fantasy) for young teens
  • For their Nuts ‘N’ Bolts line: ideas for craft books for the arts and business; “how to” materials, such as teaching, writing, speaking, painting, acting, business principles, productivity, or time management

Karen serves on the Board of Directors and national teaching staff of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., providing training of Christian leaders and speakers. She also serves as president of the board of AWSA (Advanced Writers Speakers Association) and on the Board of Directors of First Place 4 Health, as well as being an advisory director for Fruitful Word Ministries. Her seventh book is Speak Like Jesus: How the Speaking Techniques Jesus Used Can Change Your Presentations.

George is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has done graduate work in physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, and cell biology at Baylor College of Medicine. He served as a combat medic and paratrooper in Vietnam and as a bacteriologist in the Surgical Research Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in projects involving the treatment of burn patients. As a teacher in both public and private schools, George served as curriculum team leader and on campus site-based committees. He judged Science Olympiads, implemented pilot curriculum on drug awareness in cooperation with Baylor College of Medicine, and coached tennis teams.

To hear the Porters speak or to request appointments with them or with one of the other five editorial representatives at the conference this year, register today.

__________________________________________________________

Diana SavageDianaSavage, 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 coauthor of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.