Alice Crider Asks Questions We All Need to Answer

By Elizabeth Griffin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specific requests for editorial appointments

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

Workshops

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terry Glaspey Challenges Christian Creatives to Unite the Arts and Faith

By Elizabeth Griffin

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

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

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

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

At the 2017 Renewal

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

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

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

These are Terry’s workshops:

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Myers: A Life of Saying Yes to God

By Elizabeth Griffin

Without ever meeting me, Bill Myers caused one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Here’s how it happened:

bill-myersAs a fifth-grade teacher at Maple Valley Christian School, I always searched for good books to read out loud to my class. Bill Myers’ newly published series My Life As … spoke to the angst of nerdy kids everywhere while sliding the truth about life and God and the gospel in with lots of laughter so it was painlessly absorbed. The books were an ideal choice for my class.

Then one day, near the end of My Life as a Smashed Burrito with Extra Hot Sauce, I was reading about the protagonist Wally falling into a perilous river and his counselor rescuing him. At one point the analogy with Christ on the cross was so strong that I burst into tears.

Tears. Not misty tears. Ugly sobbing tears.

Fifth grade boys are merciless. And though they loved me, they laughed out loud when I blubbered. Even as I tried to explain the connection between Wally’s rescue and the cross, they laughed out loud. It was humiliating. Thanks a lot, Bill!

(I still recommend the series. Just read it ahead of time and get your crying out before tackling it in front of a class of kids.)

From dentistry to film and writing

Something that those amazed by Bill’s enormous success may find irksome is the fact that he actually wanted to be a dentist, not a writer. He rarely read as a kid and got Cs and Ds in his one writing class in college.

That just doesn’t seem fair, does it? But one day while studying at the University of Washington, Bill told God he was willing to do anything for Him.

“[God and I] had quite a few arguments, but because I made that promise, I changed my major to film directing and a few weeks later found myself in Rome, Italy, studying a subject I knew nothing about in a language I couldn’t speak. Talk about feeling foolish,” Bill says.

The writing came later. While Bill was directing a play in Los Angeles, a producer asked him to write a television show. “I discovered the power of writing through television and movie scripts, then books,” Bill says.

Besides his studies in film directing in Rome, Bill holds a degree in Theater Arts from the University of Washington and an honorary doctorate from the Theological Institute of Nimes, France, where he taught. He has sold more than 8 million books and DVDs, won more than 70 national and international awards, earned 24 Gold and Platinum ITA awards, published 125 books, and has several motion picture projects in development right now with his production company, Amaris Media International.

If you have kids, you can thank Bill for McGee and Me, Adventures in Odyssey, and several fabulous book series. If you like to read intriguing fiction, you can thank Bill for his adult novels.

Bill has been interviewed for Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, The 700 Club, and TBN, as well as hundreds of broadcast, online, and print organizations.

It’s amazing what God will do when we simply say yes to Him.

Speaking at the conference

At the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Bill will present two keynote messages: “Buckle In: What Happens When You Say Yes,” and “Steps in the Artist’s Call.” He will also serve on a panel of publishing experts and teach the following workshop for writers who are at any level of experience or expertise:

Screenwriting – Learn the basic three-act structure most filmmakers insist upon, as well as character development, plot development, dialogue, comedy, formatting. Time permitting, how to market your material will also be covered.

A hearty recommendation

NCWA member Julie McDonald Zander was impressed with Bill’s content and presentation style when she heard him speak at an Oregon Christian Writers summer coaching conference. Following it, she purchased a few of his books.

“I love the simplicity of the message woven so seamlessly inside the story he unfolds. Sometimes, even years later, I’ve had an image from his novel in my mind, a scene he described in what appeared to be the fires of hell, where people remain in bondage to their fleshly desires,” Julie says. “I wouldn’t pick up a book to read about hell, but I read this quirky novel—speculative fiction, I think—and the image settled in my mind.”

Finding out that Bill is the keynote for NCWA’s Renewal this year, Julie responded, “I may just have to attend.”

You’ll want to attend too. Bill Myers is just too good not to.

Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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

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.

 

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.

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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.

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.

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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 is coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym. Their latest coauthored book, Finding Success with Your Dream Writing Projects, will be released in August by Bold Vision Books.

Michael Duncan Explains Path to Indie Publishing

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

MichaelDuncanWhenever he preaches, NCWA board member and area pastor Michael Duncan receives immediate feedback. “I can watch the effect of my words in the eyes of those who are listening—and in the yawns of those who are not,” he says.

But he can’t see the faces of those who’ve purchased his books. “We writers want to know that our work is well received—wanted, even needed,” he points out. “It’s hard to continually remain motivated to do something when there are very few quantifiable indicators that the work is valued.”

As with many Christian authors, Michael tries to console himself with the idea that it’s not about the numbers. We truly do write to honor and obey God. But how can any of us know that our work is reaching anyone?

There is one singular gauge: sales. “Every book sale, to me, is like having another person come into the worship center—filling up the sanctuary with hungry hearts,” Michael says.

In his quest to continue honoring God through his writing and to fill up the “sanctuary” with hungry readers, Michael has authored or coauthored multiple fiction and nonfiction books through both traditional and independent venues. At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, he will teach a workshop on the basics of indie publishing:

7 Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author7 Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author – Learn from someone who’s been there what it takes to be a successful indie author; investing in your career; selecting great covers; tips on selling books, building your platform, and growing your readership; as well as how to diversify for added benefit.

At the Renewal, Michael will also serve as worship leader in the general sessions.

To learn the basics of publishing your work independently and/or to request an appointment with one of our seven editorial reps at this year’s conference, 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 the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.