Ben Wolf: A Renegade in the Flash-Fiction Marketplace

By Elizabeth Griffin

Ben Wolf could be classified as primary evidence in the argument against giving children Ritalin.

Are you offended by that statement? Read the section titled “Who is Ben Wolf?” on his website, and I think you will agree. Tested for ADD as a child but never diagnosed with it, Ben was one of those kids who teachers try to—but never quite can—contain.

Thank goodness for that. And kudos to Ben’s parents for not squelching his enormous imagination and creativity. As a result, by seventh grade Ben was writing complete works of fiction. Since then he has added editorial expertise and publishing prowess to his skill set.

Ben’s novels run the gamut from vampire tales to the Wild West to sci-fi to children’s books. All involve action and adventure.

In addition, this award-winning author heads up Splickety Publishing Group (SPG), through which he caters to readers with short attention spans and/or very busy lives. Splickety publishes three flash fiction imprints: Havok Magazine (speculative), Spark (romance, formerly known as Splickety Love), and Splickety Magazine (young adult).

When not writing, Ben runs a professional editing and proofreading business. In his spare time, he is a jiujitsu and kickboxing practitioner, and he also loves to sword fight, play video games, and volleyball. And he has a family. The man has lots of energy!

A wonderful addition to last year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Ben returns this year in search of flash-fiction-story writers who have concise, poignant fiction between 300 and 1,000 words that fits one of SPG’s scheduled upcoming themes.

“We want stories that hit fast and strike hard––stories that, no matter the genre, can cut through the day’s troubles and grip readers with short attention spans,” Ben says.

Ben is not looking for previously published flash fiction; scenes or excerpts or synopses from novels; excessive violence, profanity, or erotica in any form; and thinly veiled stories that preach from a soapbox of any sort—political, religious, or other. Additional submission guidelines are available on Splickety’s website.

Ben will also teach the following workshops:

10 Steps to Better Time- and Stress-Management for Authors

How do you juggle a marriage, kids, a day job, volunteering at church, working with your critique group, and still have time to pursue a writing career? How do you manage the stress of so many things demanding your time and attention? Did you know it’s possible to use that stress to your advantage, rather than having it weigh you down? Take this class and learn practical steps to time and stress management that will enhance your writing productivity. (Emerging-writer level)

Acting Out: Fighting Basics for Authors

Back by popular demand this year! Are you a fiction author, a screenwriter, or involved in a creative capacity in visual media? As an ongoing student of martial arts and a former stage combat instructor, Ben will teach you specific fighting techniques that you can immediately apply to writing more accurate, believable fight scenes. As a bonus for folks tired of sitting all day, this interactive class will get you out of your seat and into some fun-but-safe action. (Intermediate level)

Self-Editing Your Manuscript for Success

Sagging middle? Wordy prose? Tighten your editing belts and trim the fat from your manuscript with proven self-editing techniques. In this class you’ll learn how to identify excess, sloppy writing in your manuscript and how to cut it out on both micro- and macro-editing levels. (Advanced level)

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To attend Ben’s workshops or to schedule an appointment with him or one of our five other editorial reps at this year’s Renewal, register today!

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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.

Linda S. Glaz: Passionate about Writing and Writers

By Elizabeth Griffin

With a fiction tagline as creative as we all wish ours could be—Suspense sealed with a kiss—is it any wonder that Linda S. Glaz is a multi-published author of historic romance and romantic suspense novels?

linda-s-glazThe happily married mother of three—and grandmother of three—says, “Suspense wakes me up, slaps me across the face, and acts like ten cups of coffee. I love it.”

Linda particularly likes to write about creepy characters that readers love to hate.

“There are scary people out there, and it’s wonderful to write about them in the warmth and safety of home. Besides, creepy people have some crazy stories to tell. So why not let them? Add in a bit of romance and what’s better?” she says.

With life experience in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict, teaching women’s self-defense, and refereeing and teaching soccer for 25 years, Linda draws on her varied background while writing and editing. Adding an enthusiasm for musical theatre to her penchant for adventure rounds out her ability to create intriguing characters and plot lines that keep fans coming back for more.

As a literary agent for Hartline Literary Agency, Linda welcomes suspenseful fiction from attendees at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, but she also says, “Don’t stop there. I go gaga over historical [fiction], contemporary and historic romance, and even an occasional nondescript genre. While I shy away from sci-fi and most types of spec fiction, I have even been known to take one or two of those.”

What’s she really looking for?

“I’m not looking for good books,” Linda says. “I’m looking for great, exceptional novels that force me to stay plunked in my chair—reading, reading, and reading without a break. And while you’re at it, be sure you’ve developed a strong social media platform. Don’t you just hate that word? So do I, but alas, it’s necessary in today’s competitive industry.”

Though she admits she doesn’t “connect with a lot of nonfiction,” Linda says she’s “always happy to have a peek.”

With those parameters in mind, do not bring her hard copies or proposals for children’s books—or anything that has graphic sexuality or profanity.

Always the encourager, Linda says, “I’m not choosy as long as it’s…well-written. The most important thing being whether or not I have a place I can take it to. Just because I say no doesn’t mean it isn’t a great work!”

In addition to seeing writers at the Renewal, Linda will also serve on a publishing experts panel and teach a two-part workshop:

Ready…Set…Begin!: In this 2-part class, emerging authors will discover how to look like professionals in a crazy upside-down industry. What’s a WIP? Does it matter how I format? Why? What do agents and editors expect? What makes them go crazy and reject a submission? Learn essential hints and tips; understand terminology, writing basics, and what all writers need to know! (Emerging-writer level for both classes)

Don’t miss meeting this dynamic literary agent! 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.

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

Don Milam’s Nontraditional Path to Becoming an Editor

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Don Milam didn’t take a boring route on his way to becoming Acquisitions Consultant with Whitaker House Publishers.DonMilam

After he graduated from Prairie Bible College in Alberta, Canada, Don and his bride joined the staff of Philadelphia Teen Challenge, working in the inner city with drug addicts. After two years, they exchanged the streets of Philadelphia for the streets of Maputo, Mozambique (East Africa), where they opened a drug rehabilitation center at the request of the Portuguese Department of Health. In 1975, Communists took control of the country. Don was arrested and spent ten months in prison.

Following his release, he pastored for ten years in Pennsylvania. For eighteen years he was head of Author Development at Destiny Image Publishers, and then he joined Whitaker House.

Scott Spiewak of Fresh Impact Public Relations Group says, “Don is an expert in the field of publishing and has a knack for finding great authors.”

Don will be looking for great authors at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal this May 13–14. He will also teach two workshops:

10 Ways to Become a Better Writer1) 10 Ways to Become a Better Writer – If you want to be a complete writer, you need a strategy. Out of his experience as author and acquisitions editor, Don Milam will share an abundance of tips that you can use to devise your own personalized strategy for becoming a successful writer.

Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience2) Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience – Writing doesn’t begin with the words someone types on a computer. That output is simply a visible manifestation of a mixture of ideas, thoughts, revelations, imaginations, intuitions, and feelings, combined with a person’s experiences. Too often a book suffers a premature birth because the author didn’t experience the truth or fully engage the thought before sending off the manuscript. Let Don guide you into learning to think in a way that will help ensure the permanence of your writing.

As an author himself (The Lost Passions of Jesus and The Ancient Language of Eden), Don has a heart for conferees who want to discuss their book projects with him. He is interested in seeing nonfiction proposals on Christian living and growth, spirituality, marriage, parenting, counseling, relationships, and leadership.

To hear Don speak or to request an appointment with him or with one of the other six editorial representatives at this year’s Renewal, 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 the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Former Spy Dennis Brooke Ferrets Out Technology

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

A number of years ago, Dennis Brooke served as an Air Force missile officer. For four years he pulled duty sixty feet under the Montana prairie. He also spent a day in the skies as a spy.

“What was it like to be doing that job,” he asks, “when we thought the Cold War would last for decades to come or turn into a hot war any day?” It wasn’t until he stood on the Berlin Wall when it was coming down—just a few yards from Checkpoint Charlie—that he realized more fully why our military personnel serve their country.

Dennis has turned that experience into a topic for writing and speaking. Some of his other experiences-turned-topics include “Wooing Your Wife,” “Project Management,” and “Web 2.0.” His eclectic repertoire is revealed in the wide variety of publications he’s written for. “Until someone proves me wrong,” he says, “I’ll claim to be the only person to have been published in both Combat Crew and Focus on the Family magazines.”

DennisBrookePinablejpgWhile on the NCWA board, Dennis brought our organization into the digital age through a new database program for managing our membership and website, along with a cloud-based storage system that board members and key volunteers can access for necessary documents.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Dennis will co-lead three interactive sessions of a WriteCoach Lab especially designed for those who have questions about basic technology and also moderate a marketing panel of experts:

BYOD-Tech Essentials1) BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Tech Essentials (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15, with Mindy Peltier) – Ever wonder how to make those graphic “thingies” you’re supposed to include in blog posts? Stumped trying to build an email list? Wish you knew how to use hashtags, make captions, or manage friends/followers? Nervous about uploading photos to “the cloud”? Recently changed from PC to Apple—or vice versa—and feel lost? At this BYOD Tech Essentials Lab, no question is too basic for experts Mindy Peltier and Dennis Brooke. And if they don’t know the answer, they’ll demonstrate how to search the Internet for solutions. Bring your own laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone, etc., to gain the most from these sessions.

Market Like the Pros Panel2) “Market Like the Pros” Panel (Workshop, Friday, May 15) – Dennis Brooke will moderate a panel composed of publishing experts Carolyn McCready, Grace Fox, and James L. Rubart. You’ll learn secrets for getting your labors of love the attention they deserve. The panel will address marketing for both traditional and indie writers. Bring your questions and be ready for concrete ideas and inspiration.

Want to hear the rest of Dennis’s spy adventure? One time as an Air Force officer, he went on an Army Intelligence RC-12 spy mission. “We flew up and down the East German border all day,” he recalls. “It was very boring until we came in to land, and one of the landing-gear indicator lights that show “gear is down and locked” failed to illuminate. Fortunately, it was just a burned-out bulb, and my one day as a spy didn’t end in a crash landing.”

These days, Dennis is much more interested in the publishing contract he recently signed for his novel The Last Apostle. The book will be released January 2016.

To get your questions answered concerning technology and marketing—and perhaps even spy missions—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.