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!

Help with Quoting Scripture in Your Writing—and More

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

Christian writers often quote the Bible in their manuscripts, but many are unaware of the proper way to handle such quotations.

“As you research or write, keep track of which versions of Scripture you quote,” recommends Redemption Press senior editor Inger Logelin. “That way, you—or the editor—won’t have to do a ‘treasure hunt’ at the end of the project to identify each one.”RedemptionPress

Redemption Press, one of this year’s sponsors at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, is offering free Quick Looks appointments on both days of the event. The offer is for authors who are considering using the publisher’s services.

During each 15-minute appointment, Inger Logelin will examine the author’s manuscript and offer brief overview comments and editing suggestions, such as these three additional guidelines for handling Scripture in written materials:

  • Note each Scripture version used on the copyright page.
  • If you use one version throughout your article or book, it is not necessary to add the version in the text. But if you use more than one version, note the version abbreviation in the reference. For example: “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness” (Psalm 86:11 NIV).
  • Set lengthier sections of Scripture in block quotations, which do not normally begin or end with quotation marks.

By signing up for an appointment at the Redemption Press booth, you can have your questions answered before turning in your manuscript. Discover potential editing issues, learn what constitutes “fair use” of quoted material, find out what formatting mistakes not to make, and avoid reoccurring grammar or spelling errors. Conferees can also enter a drawing for two free mentoring sessions that will be given away at the conference.

The Quick Looks opportunity made available by Redemption Press is just one of the exciting features you’ll discover at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal on May 13 and 14. If you haven’t already registered to attend, don’t wait. Sign up now!

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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 the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Lynnette Bonner Conquers the Indie Publishing Jungle

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Because of Lynnette Bonner’s unique upbringing, one might almost think she was destined to forge a new path as an independent author.

She began life in Malawi, Africa, where her parents were missionaries. She learned to speak Chichewa (Chee-chay-wuh) fluently, climbed acacia trees, sampled fire-braised termites, and ran through tall, crisp grasses playing “cows” with her young African friends.

From fourth grade on, she resided at a Kijabe, Kenya, boarding school during each curricular term. When she came to the US to attend college, she met a young man who had grown up “in the sticks of Idaho. That’s just about as close as you can get to African ambiance and still be on US soil,” she says. That man is now her husband, Pastor Marty Bonner.

LynnetteBonnerPinableAfter Lynnette finished her first novel in 2000 and submitted it to many publishers and agents, a small e-book publisher finally offered her a contract and released her book. Then the company promptly went out of business. By that time she was homeschooling her two oldest kids, had a toddler, and then gave birth to her fourth child.

“I told the Lord the book was in his hands,” she says, admitting she was pretty sure he already knew that. She also determined that if God had given her the story just to help her through those tough, stressful years, she’d try to be content.

“But I kept asking him to direct my steps where the book was concerned. I specifically remember praying that if the Lord wanted this book to be published, he would need to ‘drop a publisher in my lap’ because I didn’t have time to shop it around again.”

Several years later, a small press—the first she’d submitted to in seven years—eagerly picked up the book, and Lynnette was on her way.

Eventually she realized that she could be even more effective if she became an “indie” author—a writer who publishes independently instead of with traditional publishers. That decision encompassed much more than mere self-publishing. It involved every step of the process: writing, editing, proofreading, layout, cover design, marketing, and even legal concerns, such as acquiring each book’s ISBN number.

Perhaps adapting to a new culture when she came to the US as a young adult helped Lynnette acquire the skills she’d need years later for negotiating the jungles of independent publishing.

She has been successful in her endeavors. To date, Lynnette has indie-published ten books. At the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, she will share the secrets she has learned.

An Overview of Indie Publishing-1) An Overview of Indie Publishing: Nothing Less than the Best (Friday, May 15) – What exactly is indie publishing? How is it accomplished, who is best suited to go that route, and what’s the best way to go about it? Let’s talk about print and e-book formatting that shines, and much, much more.

Making Your eBooks Work for You2) Making Your E-books Work for You (Saturday, May 16) – Learn about the many passive marketing techniques you can incorporate into your e-books to make them work harder for you. We’ll talk about the first things all successful indie authors need to have in place, along with other verified marketing techniques proven to work for the instructor and many of her indie author friends. If you have an e-book you want to take to the next level, this is the class for you.

Lynnette’s latest book, Song of the Surf, will be awarded to every qualified person who enters this year’s Grand Prize Contest. Don’t miss your opportunity to win a free ten-page manuscript critique by our keynote speaker, Angela Hunt, along with an e-book copy of Lynnette’s newest Christian romance.

To learn timely insights about indie publishing, 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.

 

 

 

Grace Fox Loves to Connect the Dots

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

Are you interested in learning the basics of the writing craft? Do you need an expert to show you the ropes?

If so, we have just the right workshop series for you at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference! Grace Fox, award-winning author of eight books and hundreds of magazine articles, will teach a continuing class, “The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career.”

GraceFoxPinableMany writers experience discouragement when they start out, and Grace knows a great deal about pushing through those times. Whenever she has felt like quitting, God has been faithful to inspire readers to send her encouragement.

On one occasion she prayed, “Lord, if you want me to invest my time, energy, and abilities somewhere else, then please confirm that for me today.” Five hours later, a woman Grace didn’t know called her and said, “I’ve never phoned an author before. Please don’t think I’m a whacko or a groupie. I read your book Moving from Fear to Freedom, and it changed my life. Today I felt compelled to call you and urge you to please keep writing. We need to hear truth.”

Since that day, Grace has never doubted her calling as a writer. “The way I figure,” she says, “God has made it abundantly clear that I’m to write, and he’ll make it clear when it’s time to stop.”

Grace’s passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life to help her audiences live the life God intends for them. Drawing from Scripture, as well as personal experiences while living on Canada’s rugged coastline, in urban USA, and in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, she uses the written page and the public stage to build Christ-based confidence in audiences worldwide. Her quick wit, real-life stories, and biblical insight keep her in constant demand as a speaker.Market Like the Pros Panel

At the Renewal she will serve on a marketing panel with Carolyn McCready, Jim Rubart, and Dennis Brooke on Friday, May 15.

 

The following day, Saturday, May 16, she will teach three continuing workshops:

The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career           

Session 1: Lay the Foundation: Every effective and lasting publishing career begins with a carefully laid foundation. Discover ten components necessary for creating the strongest foundation possible.Lay the Foundation

Session 2: Build the Platform: Learn how to define your brand, grow name recognition, and build your publishing platform using websites and social media. Discover biblical truths with which to weigh those practical realities, and then determine your personal approach to platform building.

Add the ExtrasSession 3: Add the Extras: Boost your publishing career by developing speaking presentations around your writing topics. Brainstorm possible themes and learn how to formulate a presentation. Brainstorm other ancillary products that promote your writing, encourage your audience, and earn income.

Grace’s articles have appeared in more than forty different publications, including Focus on the Family, Reader’s Digest, Insights Canada, Power for Living, War Cry, and Today’s Christian Woman. Her eight books include Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation and the corresponding DVD-based Bible study.

She’s a popular international speaker and is national co-director of International Messengers Canada, a ministry that offers creative short-term and career missionary opportunities in Eastern Europe. Her frequent media appearances include 100 Huntley Street, It’s a New Day, and The Harvest Show.

To benefit from Grace’s three-part continuing workshop, 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.

Writing Business: Simplified Home Office Deduction Option by Gary Hensley

On the first Monday of each month, Gary offers advice regarding the business side of writing.

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Photo: Gary Hensley spoke to members of the American Christian Fiction Writer Association–Indiana State Chapter in Ft. Wayne, IN on May 4, 2013.

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Beginning in tax year 2013 (returns filed in 2014), you may use a simplified option when figuring the deduction for business use of your home.

Highlights of the Simplified Option

  1. Standard deduction of $5 per square foot of home used for business (maximum 300 square feet).
  2. Allowable home-related itemized deductions claimed in full on Schedule A (such as mortgage interest and real estate taxes).
  3. No home depreciation deduction or later recapture of depreciation for the years the simplified option is used.

The simplified option does not change the criteria for who may claim a home office deduction.  It merely simplifies the calculation and recordkeeping requirements of the allowable deduction.

You may choose to use the simplified method or the regular method for any taxable year.  Once you have chosen a method for a taxable year, you cannot later change to the other method for that same year.

For a comparison of the regular method and the simplified method, you may refer to this IRS document and also to IRS Revenue Procedure 2013-13.

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Gary A. Hensley is a 35-year veteran in accounting, auditing, and federal taxation including employment as a Revenue Agent with the IRS (2005-2011). He has been a workshop instructor on the business side of writing. Publications include: Writer’s Digest, Christian Communicator, and Writers Journal. Gary writes at: www.taxsolutionsforwriters.com.