6 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at a Writers Conference

by guest blogger Katelyn S. Bolds, web writer and social media strategist

1.  Bring snacks

Don’t make the mistake of not planning for meals. Have a little snack stashed in your attaché for a slow moment. Don’t let your stomach growl when pitching your book! Bring a granola bar or trail mix as a speedy way to subdue your hunger. Choosing protein and low-sugar options will help keep your energy levels up and prevent you from crashing in the mid-afternoon slump.6-rookie-mistakes

2.  Make goals

Attending a conference with no goals in mind is a complete waste of money. Even if your goal is “find out what my goal should be,” you should still have some in mind.

Make a list of the editors and agents you want to meet with or touch base with. Do your homework and research them online. Try to find out interests, and see if your story would fit well for them. If an agent only works with fiction, don’t try to get them to make an exception for your manuscript.

3.  Avoid burnout

Know what is the right amount of conference for you. When you start to feel overwhelmed, leave the conference. Go outside, take a nap, call your family. Skipping meals or sleep will not impress anyone, but rather give the impression that you are inexperienced and unprofessional. Everyone needs a break after a long conference, but rest assured you can recover.

Read more here about avoiding conference burnout.

4.  Network and connect

Don’t underestimate the power of connections and friendships made at conferences! Use your time between sessions to speak with those around you. Swap struggles and tips with other writers and make sure to get names and e-mails if you feel the connection has potential. Writer friends are important for support, idea generation, and later networking opportunities. Be kind and see where it might lead!

5.  Pitch perfectly

Know your story backwards and forwards. It’s hard to sell a story short and sweet, but shoot for the style of a back cover. Focus on the main plot and emotional draw. In three to five sentences, explain the mass appeal of your work and why the publisher should be interested. Be polite, but don’t waste time chatting about the weather or the conference. The agent or editor is there to hear your pitch.

6.  Follow up and follow through!

Follow up with everyone you spoke with for more than a few minutes. Send them a thank you e-mail referencing interesting conversation points you discussed and tell them it was nice to meet them. This little touch will remind them who you are and set you apart from the crowd.

Follow through with anyone who asked you to send them something. If an editor asks you to tweak your story before sending them your manuscript, don’t let pride or lack of time stand in your way. Send it to them with haste! You may find that they are willing to work with you in the future, knowing how dedicated you are to impressing them.

Now that you know the rookie mistakes to avoid at writers conferences, be sure to sign up for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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katelynsbolds_headshotKatelyn S. Bolds balances work as web editor, author services extraordinaire, and freelance writer. She is married to coffee; also her husband. At times this DIY life might get a little crazy, but she takes it one day at a time. A little yoga, a lot of organization, and a holistic approach make for a Bold Life. Follow her on Twitter, (@KatelynSBolds), Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Conference Sponsor Assists Writers Who Avoid Financial Planning

By Debbie Austin, Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Vendor Coordinator

I have to admit. I know very little about financial planning. And frankly, thinking about beginning the whole process makes me want to do anything—anything—else. When choosing between getting my physical house and my financial house in order, even cleaning the toilet takes on a certain allure. I’d much rather write a children’s picture book than write a plan for making sure I can eat in retirement.

WenLiangLuckily for me (and maybe a few of you?), one of our vendor sponsors at the upcoming Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference, is Wen-Liang Huang. Wen has been a financial advisor at Waddell & Reed in Bellevue for more than two years and in the industry for over five years. He describes his job as “providing investment and financial planning services that put your financial needs, goals and objectives first.” It turns out that financial planning is not one-size-fits-all. Wen says, “My goal is to develop a financial plan tailored specifically to your needs.”

Having experienced a recent, drastic change in my financial situation, I felt overwhelmed at first. But following Wen’s step-by-step suggestions proved to be helpful. The key is to start with the basics. Using the tools Wen provides to track fixed expenses, discretionary expenses, and income—while planning for emergency needs and managing debt—I’m figuring out my current financial picture. After that I can think about planning for retirement.

Others may be more interested in achieving specific financial goals, such as educational expenses or transferring wealth to loved ones in the future. It reassures me to know that Wen has had extensive training. (Just take a look at all the letters after his name!) One of these prestigious designations, Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), is described as “the highest standard of knowledge and trust in financial planning.”

When you visit our vendor booths this year, consider talking more with Wen about the financial advising services he provides, and while you’re there, sign up to win a $25 Starbucks gift card.

In addition to learning about their services, another reason to visit all of our vendors at the conference is the chance to win a prize in our fun Vendor Scavenger Hunt drawing. If you haven’t registered yet for the Renewal, sign up today!

Kim Vandel Thrives on Plan B

Kim Vandel knows first-hand that writing isn’t for the faint of heart.

Growing up on a steady diet of Saturday morning Justice League cartoons and Sunday morning Bible stories, she later merged the two into the concept of Guardians—men and women with God-given “superpowers.” She also drew on her work experience in the field of environmental science to breathe life into her fiction’s speculative element.

As she honed her craft, she followed advice from publishing experts, built an online presence, and made great connections with editorial reps. Her efforts in pursuing publication began to pay off.

KimVandelPinableAgents and editors asked to see her manuscript. She won the 2013 Cascade Award in the Unpublished Young Adult category and was finalist in the 2012 and 2013 Mile High Scribes One-Sheet Contests. Her goal seemed within reach.

Then, without warning, she felt the call to indie publish.

“I was dismayed, to say the least,” she says. “Why would God have me pursue traditional publishing for so long if that wasn’t the goal? What was the point of dedicating myself to Plan A, if I was just going to end up settling for Plan B?”

But as she obeyed God and changed direction, she experienced tremendous freedom. The vision she had for her YA (Young Adult) series began to unfold.

Now she understands that Plan B doesn’t always mean Backup or Better than Nothing. Sometimes it means Best. All the time she’d spent in pursuit of traditional publishing hadn’t been a waste. Plan A had prepared her for Plan B.

Kim moved forward with confidence and published a novel she knew would be “a quality product, not a humiliating tribute to my ignorance that I’d end up wishing didn’t exist a few years down the road.” She is confident she can effectively market her novel instead of being angry with Amazon for not selling more than a dozen copies.

Into the Fire released on April 14, and Kim coordinated a carefully crafted social-media campaign for the book’s launch.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Kim—who is also Publicity Coordinator for NCWA—will lead a WriteCoach Lab so that you, too, can learn how to use social media to your advantage.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Social Media Basics (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15) – Wish you knew the basics about the plethora of social media available these days? Expert Kim Vandel can help you find solutions to your challenges concerning

  • Facebook
  • Goodreads
  • Google +
  • Instagram,
  • Tumblr, &
  • Twitter.

She can also answer basic questions about Pinterest and WordPress if you’re unable to attend the BYOD sessions dedicated solely to those platforms. Bring your own laptop, netbook, tablet, or smartphone to gain the most from these sessions. (Kim can help you with Android or PC. For Apple, see BYOD expert Dennis Brooke.)

Whether you’re on Plan A, Plan B, or much farther down the alphabet, you can benefit from Kim’s expertise concerning how to harness social media to build your platform and promote your writing. 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.

2 NCWA Conferences: Which Should You Attend?

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

In the next few months, you’ll have two exciting conferences to benefit from: The WriteTech Conference on January 24, 2015, and the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal the weekend of May 15–16, 2015.

Why two? Although the goal of each is to help you be a successful writer, the tools you’ll receive at each conference differ slightly.

 

WriteTech Conference with keynote speaker Thomas Umstattd Jr.

The WriteTech Conference – Dramatic changes in the publishing industry mean that introverted writers can no longer hide behind closed doors and produce reams of material in solitude while leaving the marketing—or even publishing—to others. The job description of “successful author” now includes competence in computer software and social-media platforms.

Aack! What’s a writer to do? The good news is that Thomas Umstattd Jr., the 2015 WriteTech Conference keynoter, is a whiz at helping authors master the world of technology. He and his fellow presenters will assist you with blogging, branding, and understanding cloud technology. You’ll gain a working understanding of voice recognition software (Dragon Naturally Speaking), word-processing software (Microsoft Word and Scrivener), and social media sites (Twitter and Goodreads) and sharpen your skills for indie publishing and producing a professional media kit.

Then look out, world! Your new skills and confidence will enable you to get your message out to its intended audience.

Angela Hunt pm

The Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference – While the 2015 Renewal will also feature some training to help you master technology, the conference will cover a lot more territory. You’ll be able to receive critiques on your material, learn important basic information if you’re a beginning writer, and pitch your current project to an editor or agent if you’re advanced enough to seek a publisher. At all levels you’ll be inspired, enriched, and informed about the writing life.

Perhaps the best part is that for two full days, you’ll be able to network with other writers who have similar goals. You’ll connect with people you already know, and you’ll also meet new friends. If you’re just beginning your journey, you can be a “Timothy” and learn from a Paul-like mentor. If you’re a little farther along in your writing journey, you can serve as a “Paul” to someone else. Maybe you’re in the position to do both. In the Christian writing community, most of us share the same goal: to advance the kingdom of God through our skills, gifts, and talents.

So, which conference should you sign up for? Both! Rest assured that we are squeezing every line in the budget in order to keep costs as low as possible for you, so now’s the time to let family and friends know that high on your holiday wish list are gifts of cash to help you with registration and other expenses.

The WriteTech Conference is only $80—and that includes lunch! (It’s even less for early birds and NCWA members.) We’ll publish registration info for the Renewal conference just as soon as we finish hard-nosed negotiations with hotels and caterers.

Consider these conferences as solid steppingstones in your writing career. We’re confident that when you see your byline in print for the first time or you land your next book contract, you’ll be glad you made these investments.

TweetWriters conferences are solid steppingstones to your writing career.

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Diana SavageDiana 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 near Seattle. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

25 Ways to Procrastinate on Your Writing

Have you ever planned to write diligently, only to get swallowed up by the Procrastination Monster? Maybe you decided to finish an article, chapter, or blog post,  but found yourself in a whirlwind of other important activities.

Procrastination pm

  1. Facebook
  2. Clean the toilet
  3. Text friends
  4. More Facebook
  5. Shop on eBay
  6. More Facebook
  7. Shop for shoes at Macys.com
  8. More Facebook
  9. Walk the dog or cat. Or if you don’t have one, buy one. Or a turtle or slug
  10. Chat with Twitter friends about the weather. Rain, rain, rain
  11. More Facebook (or Fakebook, as my pastor says)
  12. Clean your belly button. Lots of fuzz these days
  13. Practice selfies. Again and again. And…again
  14. Text your mother to say how much you love her. Add a few ideas for birthday or Christmas gifts
  15. Make a banana split. If you don’t have the ingredients, go to the furthest store in the next city for ingredients. Take a cooler though.
  16. Call a friend and tell her how you don’t have enough time to write and wonder how people crank out books every year.
  17. Make plans to TP the houses of any writers you know who meet the criteria for number 16.
  18. More Facebook
  19. Text a friend from NCWA and ask her to go to coffee
  20. Meet the above friend at the Mother Ship (Starbucks) and complain about how you don’t have time to write.
  21. Play with your new phone or tablet or other device.
  22. Wash your bed skirt. Or if you don’t have one, shop for one – even if you’re a guy and hate bed skirts.
  23. Take pictures with your new device, while texting your writer friends about how you have so little time to write.
  24. Just a wee bit more Facebook. You may miss an hour of that one person you met twenty years ago at a candle party but didn’t like because she ate all the chocolate.
  25. Go online to find a Facebook Anonymous 12-step group for people addicted to Facebook.
Tweet25 Ways to Procrastinate on Your Writing

Cherrie Herrin-Michehl pic

 

Cherrie Herrin-Michehl is a licensed mental health therapist practicing in Woodinville, WA. Her ebook “Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit” was published June 2014. The book is a collage of humor, faith, and psychology.

 

Dear Fellow Procrastinating Writers:

As Cherrie illustrates, a sense of humor comes in handy when you struggle with procrastination!

However, more often, I’ve found reasons to feel stressed, frustrated, and guilty about my procrastinating. I’ve even called myself some mean names. Wasteful, foolish, disorganized, chaotic . . . . it hasn’t been pretty.

I’ve prayed about it a lot. I recently heard Holy Spirit whisper this to me:

“You are a faithful person. You want to be faith-full and you are. So, you can stop identifying yourself as a procrastinating person. That is not your true identity. It is a bad habit that you can break out of by remembering who you really are . . . who I say you are . . . and then choosing to live true to your real identity. I say you are faithful and peaceful and grateful.”

That’s how, with God’s help, I’m beginning to realize that I DO have what it takes to stop procrastinating by choosing to change the way I think about myself. I now realize my mistake in judging myself harshly by my performance instead of living out each day in agreement with God’s perspective about who I am.

By God’s grace-enablement, the gift of supernatural capability and endowment from the Holy Spirit to all believers,

I believe I am –

FAITHFUL  – A faithful person desires and is able to be stay true to that which has been committed to them. Ephesians 1:1 (NIV)

PEACEFUL –  A peaceful person is a peacemaker. A peacemaker opposes chaos, disorder, and disunity. A peacemaker brings order, harmony, and peace to their relationships, home, finances, work, environment, and belongings.  Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
James 3:18 (NIV)

GRATEFUL – A grateful person appreciates and takes care of what they have been given, whether it’s tangible or intangible. They acknowledge their blessings and the Blesser and they live with a deeper-than-average awareness of His good Presence with them and in them.  Psalm 100:4 (NIV)   Psalm 107:22 (NIV)

Simply put, the take-away is this:

TweetYou may procrastinate, but that is not who you are.

TweetYou are not your bad habits, your bad choices, your bad experiences, nor your mistakes.

TweetYou are who God says you are. Period.  I Samuel 16:7

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1

Oh, amen!

Who does God say you are?

 

JJeanie pmeanie Killion, a blogger & pre-published author, shares from the overflow of her journey with Jesus. She’s found Him faithful through many “dangers, toils, and snares.”  With her writing, Jeanie strives to help others draw close to God’s throne and access the Joy of His Presence, the Peace that passes understanding, and the Hope we have in knowing Him.

 

You Have No Hero Like Lenin

Written by Dennis Brooke, pre-published author and past President of Northwest Christian Writers Association.

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In 1988, during the waning days of The Cold War, I was a young Air Force Captain attending Squadron Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. One of our guest speakers was a Soviet Union Exchange officer who espoused at length the superiority of the way of life in the USSR.

He went on at length how we could not understand his country because we had nobody in our culture like Lenin, the revolutionary who served as the first Chairman of the Soviet Union. He lectured about what an inspiration Lenin was to his people. That Lenin’s framed portrait was in a place of honor in every school classroom and office. How his statue graced the center of any respectable village. Even Lenin’s body had been preserved in a glass sarcophagus in Red Square and on exhibit for nearly three quarters of a century.

Lenin pm2

The Soviet officer said, “You Americans cannot understand the Soviet Union because you have no hero like Lenin.”

At this point another Captain enduring this talk leaned over to me and with one whispered word blew the Soviet’s argument out of the water. He said: “Elvis.” Unfortunately, Americans worship many things: celebrities, status, and in the case of some, Elvis.

But as writers who serve Christ first, do we pursue the status, fame, respect, and trappings that we believe are part of being a successful writer? Or do we pursue our calling as people of faith who seek to bring people closer to God? Some of us will have the opportunity to influence many people through our writing and speaking. For others, it may be an audience of only a few, or even one. But if we influence only one person, remember that one person matters to God. Christ said that the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to pursue that one lost sheep. That one person should also matter to us as we pursue our calling.

So let us write and speak not for our own status, or glory, or false gods like Lenin and even Elvis. Let us pursue it for Christ, the true God.

 

TweetWhether your audience is one or a thousand, write for the glory of the Lord.

 

 

Dennis Brooke

Dennis Brooke is a former USAF officer and the past President of the Northwest Christian Writers Association. He has written for Focus on the Family, Toastmasters, and Combat Crew Magazines. He tells stories at www.DennisBrooke.com

This talk was the meeting devotional at the June, 2014 NCWA Meeting. 

Inventing Story: Writing for the Market

by Kathleen Freeman, pre-published author and Critique Coordinator of NCWA

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Inventing Story                                        (Picture of early bug zapper)

Some wonderful inventions came out of WWI, the facial tissue, the zipper and the tea bag. They found an eager market, and so changed peoples’ lives. Just after that time, other items were invented—soy sausages, which have a smaller market, but have become part of the vegetarian diet around the world, and a blower to push people out of the way as trams arrived. We’ve all experienced the wonders and frustrations of a zipper and the relief of a Kleenex. The simple tea bag has stayed in use for decades.

What happened to the people blowers, safety devices designed to keep folks from being hit by trams? Certainly, Konrad Aidenauer’s invention would have saved many lives. Its problem was market. The tram companies wanted to reduce accidents, but people, those weaving in front of trams in dresses and by bike didn’t want to be blown out of the way, eggs scattering on the ground, bicycles toppling. They wanted warning, a chance to decide for themselves whether to become trolley fodder or move out of the way.

Story is the same.

We can’t have a pushy agenda, and while Aidenauer’s bug zapper, another of his inventions, was a great idea and things like it are now used with gladness, it was ahead of its time.

The market wasn’t ready.

TweetYour story may be an invention before its time and the market isn’t ready.

So, what about us, as writers? Have we invented a cool product, hoping to force it on the market despite its buggy nature or people’s inability to use it without the availability of a good battery ?

There may be a need for your bug zapper in the future. For now, if the market needs a simple thing like a tea bag, or to blow their noses into something soft and non-chafing, so be it. We can have our part in keeping the bits of tea leaves out of mouths, and catching sorrows across the globe. As for that favorite story, be patient, be hopeful, its time may be coming.

TweetWriter, be patient and hopeful, your time may be coming.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kathleen Freeman 2Kathleen Freeman is passionate about history, the way it allows people to learn from the past, and the connections it helps form. She writes articles for Vista Journal for Holy Living, Clubhouse Magazine, and is a pre-published writer of Historical and other forms of fiction.