Another New Year’s Resolution Post

NCWA - NY Res (1)Yes, I went to my writing group’s first meeting of the new year. Yes, we did talk about New Year’s resolutions.  But this time it was different.  We weren’t concerned about writing them in just the right way to make them achievable.  Instead, we went around the table and when we shared our 2020 writing goal we also shared why that goal was particularly important to us and told each other what the main obstacle was that might prevent it from happening.

Interestingly, the word “time” was brought up at each turn.  So we decided to drill it down.  Why couldn’t we find the time? Yes, we’re all busy, but if our writing project is important to us (and it must be since we’re in a writing group) then what was really happening? What kept us from the often-sacrificial commitment?  Interestingly, it mostly came down to fear.  What if I carve out an extra 30 minutes in the day to write, but I’m still not productive?  What if I make a two-hour appointment with myself each week to work on my book, but it’s never accepted for publication?  What if I make the effort but continue to be interrupted or get writer’s block?  Is the commitment of my valuable time worth it?

Each of us acknowledged our root reason, said it out loud, and got a realistic view from the others.  We were strengthened for our journey and each reminded that God has given us a gift and the desire to share that gift.  What a release!  The next thing we did was commit to being accountable to each other for our specific writing goal at the first meeting of every month, with failure totally allowed but excuses completely not.

I left the gathering recharged, not burdened down.  Now when I put off sitting down at my computer to work on my novel, I’ll remember my fellow writers encouragement that there are never too many books in the world and I’ll remind myself how many low-selling books I happen to love (if confessing the root reason behind my own procrastination to my group helped, confessing it here should help even more!).  I’ll remember the complicated way God brought me to begin my writing journey.  I’ll also remember I made a commitment and have a monthly check-in. I have been strengthened and empowered in my resolve and reminded I am rooted in love and not fear.  

So yes, this is another New Year’s resolution post but, hopefully, one that will help you make it through the “February Forget Your Resolutions” test.   I encourage you to find a group or a person to share your writing goal for 2020 with and be accountable to them.  Tell them why it’s important to you and be brave enough to drill down on what might keep you from attaining it. And if you’re willing, I’d love for you to share your writing goal in the comments section – whether it’s a brand new goal or a holdover from last year or last month.  Let’s encourage one another on our journey.

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Pamburnbrightprofileela J. Dickey is the Coordinator for the Northwest Christian Writers Association Blog.  She is a speaker, writer, personal consultant, and training facilitator. Founder of Burn Bright Coaching, she draws on her background as a personal and career development coach, certified corporate trainer, and ordained minister to equip her clients and audiences to discover and pursue their life’s purpose — personal, professional, and spiritual — to help them Burn Bright.

Back on Track

TrainAs I write this post, I can hear a train whistle echoing in the distance and it seems an appropriate analogy of the resurgence of the Northwest Christian Writers Association Blog.  After lying dormant for a time, it’s getting back on track and making its presence known.

I’m honored to be the new coordinator for the blog and I’m excited to be part of this important resource.

The main goal for the blog is to be a go-to source for the writing world at large and extend the NWCA’s reputation for excellence.

It will be a place to find extended information on events, meetings, and learn more about NCWA members.  It will also contain articles about various writing journeys, tools we can all use to improve our writing, tips on getting our stories published from all the sides involved, and other topics related to our writing.

Where will this information and encouragement come from?   From authors, editors, publishers, and others in the writing profession who have knowledge and experience in their fields and lives.   This includes members of the Northwest Christian Writers Association.  Not only do we want to provide resources for our members in their writing journey, but we also want members to be a resource for others.  You need to do what you do best —  write.  Write about the tools you find most helpful, write about what you do to overcome writer’s block, write about what you’ve learned in your journey of publishing your work, write a review of a great workshop or conference you’ve attended.  There’s so much knowledge you have that can help others, so dig deep and write. The NCWA blog needs you to add your unique voice.

If you want to write, but can’t think of a good topic, I can provide you with a few from which to choose.  How about a bio of another NCWA member or reviewing an on-line video?  There are plenty of ideas.

Why should you personally consider being a guest writer?  There are benefits for you personally, here are just three:

  1. Publication
    Getting your work to the reading public and adding to your writing portfolio is always a good thing.
  2. Name Recognition
    Build your expertise, reputation, and your brand even before you publish your current work in progress.
  3. Get your own website more visitors
    If you have your own website and/or blog, writing for another blog can drive more visitors to your site.

There are certainly more benefits.  I’d love for you to share in the comments section other ones you think are important.

Even if you choose not to write any guest blog posts, you can still partner with us.  You can read the blog on a regular basis, make comments, and reshare posts on your social media.  It helps reach more readers and more contributors.

Drawing on the train analogy once more,  I’m asking you to add your experience and expertise to the long line of cars that are lining up and pulling out of the station towards our destination.

Ready to get started?  Click here for submission guidelines

Have a question?  Feel free to ask them in the comments section.

Want to be assigned a topic?  Send an e-mail with your request to:   blog@nwchristianwriters.org

WELCOME ABOARD! I look forward to working with you and sharing your story.

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Pamburnbrightprofileela J. Dickey is the Coordinator for the Northwest Christian Writers Association Blog.  She is a speaker, writer, personal consultant, and training facilitator. Founder of Burn Bright Coaching, she draws on her background as a personal and career development coach, certified corporate trainer, and ordained minister to equip her clients and audiences to discover and pursue their life’s purpose — personal, professional, and spiritual — to help them Burn Bright.

 

Children’s Author/Illustrator Shares Secrets to Publishing Success

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

ChristaPierceLast year I received an enthusiastic e-mail from our conference’s retiring program coordinator, Clint Kelly, telling me he’d found another great workshop leader to keep in mind for the 2016 Renewal. As the new director of the conference, I was all ears.

He told me that the candidate was Christa Pierce, a recent Seattle Pacific University grad. Clint said she’d found a top agent and received a contract from Harper-Collins for a two-book deal. He added that she’d accomplished it while still a senior at SPU!

The first book she wrote and illustrated for kids four to eight years old is Do You Know That I Love You? “It’s a charmer,” Clint told me. “I sat in on a session she did at the SPU library, and she is as delightful as her book. A great sense of humor and very open about her experiences, including her work now on book #2 for Harper and why, after she completes that obligation, she will seek out a smaller publishing house.”

Christa, who is from Portland, Oregon, calls herself “a lover of tea and acrylic paint—but not together.” Her BA from SPU is in Illustration, with a Creative Writing minor. Her book has been featured on the Today Show, praised by Brooke Shields, and reviewed by The New York Times.

At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Christa will teach two workshops:

Getting Started in Children's Publishing1) Getting Started in Children’s Publishing – Through her personal story of navigating the publishing world, Christa shares her accumulated knowledge of the industry. Included: helpful writing resources, plus how to find an agent, pitch your ideas, work with an editor, survive the editing process, promote your book, and successfully negotiate a contract. Time for Q&A included.

Secrets to Effective Illustrations for Children’s Books2) Secrets to Effective Illustrations for Children’s Books – Christa shares the “crash course” that trained her in illustrating children’s books when, at the beginning of her career, she interviewed with New York publishers. She will cover world-building, telling a second story through illustrations, deadline expectations, working with an author/designer/editor, layout for publication, and the visual elements that Caldecott-award judges look for. In class, view actual sketchbooks, in-process work, and correspondence between an editor and illustrator. Time for Q&A included.

When she’s not drawing, Christa loves to go to storytelling events, speak to students about the relevancy of the arts, meet other artists, and play with her puppy, Sir Lancelot.

To attend Christa’s workshops or to request an appointment with one of this year’s seven editorial reps, sign up for the Renewal today.

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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 coauthor of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Learn Dynamic Dialogue and Business Strategies from Author Darlene Panzera

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

DarlenePanzeraIf you’re passionate about writing and serious about investing the necessary time, money, and effort it takes to improve your skills and get your projects in front of industry professionals, congratulations! You’re the CEO of your own business; it’s up to you to grow that business and keep good records.

In other words, you need a business plan.

Multi-published author Darlene Panzera knows all about business plans for writers, and she will share her knowledge and expertise at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal in the following workshop:

Secure Success with the Right Business PlanSecure Success with the Right Business Plan – As the CEO of your writing career, you need a concise map of what you want to achieve and the steps you’ll need to get there. Learn how to put together a professional business binder that will include an action plan for your writing, a mission statement, business strategy, marketing plans, and detailed pages for tax deductions. Templates are provided so you can walk out the door with your plan in hand.

As the successful author of sweet, fun-loving romances, Darlene will also teach the following workshop:

Bring Your Writing to Life with Dynamic DialogueBring Your Writing to Life with Dynamic Dialogue – No matter what you write—fiction, nonfiction, magazine articles, or even poetry—most likely you will include dialogue in your work. In this class you will learn how to properly construct lines of attention-grabbing, “dynamic” dialogue and how to make those dazzling words work on multiple levels to advance the story, add subtext, reflect point-of-view, flavor the prose with personality, and effectively hook your reader.

“I love writing stories that inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams,” Darlene says.

To meet her and learn from her workshops, sign up for the Renewal today.

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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 coauthor of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Miralee Ferrell Returns to Sign More Authors with Mountain Brook Ink

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

MiraleeFerrellMiralee Ferrell, representing Mountain Brook Ink, came to the 2015 Northwest Writers Renewal looking for new authors to sign. “We were asking the Lord to bring the authors and manuscripts that we could believe in and bless,” she says.

That prayer was answered when she met with NCWA member Janalyn Voigt.

“I could tell that Miralee understood the heart of my western historical romance stories,” says Janalyn. “They’re not cookie-cutter fare, which means they don’t fall into neat categories. I do my best to cut through the mythos and recreate the West as it might really have been. I don’t sugarcoat violence, but neither is it glorified. My books are about people with very real problems not unlike those we face today. I want them to be as realistic as possible.”

After Miralee and Janalyn discussed how some novels glamorize the West, Miralee declared, “I want real!”

Janalyn was won over, and she signed a three-book contract in October 2015. “I’m so glad to be working with someone I trust as a friend and admire as a writer to bring these stories to life.” The books in Janalyn’s Montana Gold series are slated to be released in 2017 and 2018.

Miralee will return to the Renewal in 2016. This year she is teaching two workshops:

Take Fiction to the Next Level1) Take Fiction to the Next Level by Deepening Your Characters – What elements help bring a story to life? What books have been most memorable to you? The ones with a strong plotline, or strong, memorable characters? Both can work, but if you have a strong plot and weak characters, you’ll lose your reader quickly. This class will give you ways to make your main characters more memorable and keep your reader glued to the page. Find out what you can do to help bring your characters to life.

What to Do When the Screen Goes Blank2) What to Do When the Screen Goes Blank: Help for Writer’s Block – The phenomenon of writer’s block has had many a writer burning the midnight oil trying desperately to come up with words that will work. In a world of fast-paced deadlines and unpredictable audiences, it is a writer’s worst nightmare. While the reasons for writer’s block can’t always be pointed to one particular problem, its solutions are usually simple. This class will give you practical, everyday ideas on how to break through when you’re stuck. Don’t let writer’s block stop you from writing that next best seller!

At editorial appointments with conferees, Miralee will look for traditionally published authors who want to present something new or release their out-of-print books in e-book and paperback formats, while realizing a higher royalty rate than they originally received. She’s also interested in authors who want to write in genres that don’t work for their publishers, or debut authors with fresh ideas. A three-book series will get preference over a standalone novel at this point, although Miralee is willing to consider a standalone. The categories she needs the most right now are historical and YA, as well as new titles for her “Finding Love In” line of romances.

She accepts fiction in two general areas. The first is inspirational fiction in almost any genre (except children’s or middle-grade fiction). The second is general-market fiction. Although by definition it doesn’t have a faith thread, it must nevertheless be clean and contain no sexual content or offensive language.

To attend Miralee’s workshops or to request an appointment with her or one of the other six editorial representatives at this year’s conference, register today.

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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 coauthor of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Learn from Stephanie Rische How to Write Memoirs and Pitch Professionally

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

StephanieRischeStephanie Rische isn’t just senior editor of nonfiction books at Tyndale House Publishers. She’s also an author. Her latest book is the memoir I Was Blind (Dating), but Now I See.

Memoir writing can be tricky, especially when it comes to using the names of real people. For instance, Stephanie has four friends named Sarah, so in the book, she renamed three of them out of concern that readers “would need their Social Security numbers to keep them all straight.”

She adds, “I also changed a few details to protect the privacy of my blind dates, although I have done so with a mixed conscience, because in a few instances, these guys should not be at large on the dating field. Please date at your own discretion.”

At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Stephanie will share her editing and memoir-writing expertise with conferees:

Telling the Story of Your Life-Telling the Story of Your Life: Memoir Writing – Have people urged you to write a book about a certain part of your past? Do you wonder if a particular era of your life should be put to paper before you die? In the past decade, memoir writing has soared in popularity, with many critics calling it the most relevant genre of our day. But where do you begin? How do you know what to include and what to leave out? How can you get beyond your feelings of vulnerability? And perhaps most significantly, should you wait until your mother dies before you write it? Drawing from her 13 years of experience editing memoirs at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as writing and publishing her own, Stephanie offers practical tips and tools to help you write a memoir of your own.

Stephanie will also be leading the Renewal’s Friday morning opening session with her address, “How to Make an Irresistible Pitch to Editors & Agents.” All conferees who wish to meet with an editorial representative are required to attend.

Stephanie comes to us highly recommended. Author Nancy Ortberg—a teaching pastor for eight years at Willow Creek Community Church—commends her for having “the courage to let us in to the parts of her world that most of us work hard to keep hidden.”

Popular blogger/author Sophie Hudson—AKA “BooMama”—calls Stephanie’s writing “funny, tender, and insightful.”

If you want to learn the finer points of writing memoirs and pitching proposals from someone with experience and transparency—and if you want to request an appointment with Stephanie or one of the other six editorial reps—register for the Renewal today!

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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 of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Editor Kim Bangs Recommends Pushing Boundaries

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

Kim Bangs tells writers, “Refuse to be overwhelmed or stopped.”

Now a senior acquisitions editor with Bethany House and Chosen Books, divisions of Baker Publishing Group, Kim believes that each of us was born as a creative soul, but life soon regulated the flow of creativity. “If we aren’t watchful,” she says, “the flow can be turned off completely.”

KimBangsPinable copyShe views writers conferences as wonderful venues for reinvigorating our creativity. “I recommend approaching a conference much like you did kindergarten,” she says. “You were a bit fearful, yet excited about the possibilities. You went to play and learn all at the same time. You had choices to make. Is it the monkey bars, swings, the slide, or the merry-go-round? (Totally dating myself here.) You went with wide-eyed wonder, and you lived out every experience with enthusiasm.”

Kim urges writers to approaches conferences in the same way. “Push your boundaries. Do things differently. Participate in classes and workshops—no wallflowers. Meet new people. Offer encouragement. Don’t let an unexpected path or answer deter you.”

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Kim will meet with writers in group appointments. If you would like to show her your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what she would like to see and what she’s not looking at right now.

The following day, March 16, Kim will present two workshops:

The Power of Your Premise1) The Power of Your Premise: One of the most necessary, challenging, difficult, and shortest items on your proposal is the premise statement (or the hook of the book). Kim will discuss why a premise statement is such a critical element and how you can write it so that those who read your proposal (agents, editors and pub boards) “get it” and give your proposal a deeper look.

The Power of Your Proposal2) The Power of Your Proposal: Come join the fun adventure as seen through the eyes of a seasoned acquisitions editor who has reviewed literally thousands of proposals. The wacky, the way out, the wonderful—the “why on earth do acquisition folk make us do all of this?” By workshop’s end, you will have an understanding of the power of a proposal, the knowledge to produce one that stands out from the rest, and a glimpse into the world of acquisitions.

Kim has served in the Christian publishing industry for more than twenty-five years, beginning in the children’s curriculum department at Gospel Light and later as Publishing Director for Regal (the book division of Gospel Light). In 2012 Kim was awarded Editor of the Year by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. In July 2014, after Regal Books was sold to the Baker Publishing Group, Kim joined the Baker team.

She believes that the teaching writers receive in workshops is valuable. But the feedback they get and the conversations they participate in can either move them farther along the writing journey or can stop them in their tracks.

“The perspective is yours,” she says.

To broaden your perspective, sign up today for the 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.