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.

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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.

 

 

 

Darlene Panzera Encourages Writers to Follow Their Dreams

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

Ever since she was fourteen and living in New Jersey, Darlene Panzera dreamed of being a published author. Her dream was realized when she won the Debbie Macomber/Avon Books “Make Your Dreams Come True” contest. Since then, she has published several books in the Sweet Contemporary Romance genre.

DarlenePanzeraPinableDarlene encourages other aspiring authors to pursue their dreams too. On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Darlene will lead two sessions:

Fiction First Aid1) Fiction First Aid (WriteCoach Lab) – Stuck in the middle of your novel? Need help with character development or a plot line? Bring questions, challenges, and even your WIP (Work in Progress), and multi-published author Darlene Panzera will help you brainstorm solutions.

Solid Story Structure2) Solid Story Structure (workshop) – The key to writing any great story begins with character. But after you create a three-dimensional cast, complete with specific views, motivation, goals, and personality traits . . . then what? Learning to develop solid story structure will help you keep your characters on track as they change and grow and make decisions that will affect the ultimate success of their story journey. Class includes story-structure templates and discussions on character arc.

Jeri Stockdale’s Interview with Darlene Panzera

Writing buddies Darlene and Jeri first met at last year's Renewal conference.

Writing buddies Darlene and Jeri first met at last year’s Renewal conference.

Jeri Stockdale met Darlene Panzera at the 2014 Renewal conference, and both Jeri and Darlene were excited to meet other attendees who were also from the Kitsap Peninsula. That led to the formation of the Christian writer’s group Penning on the Peninsula. Because of her deep appreciation for Darlene as an author, teacher, and friend, Jeri volunteered to interview Darlene for the NCWA blog.

Jeri:  You are an author, speaker, and workshop presenter, as well as a wife and mother of three. What does a typical day look like for you?

Darlene: I have to smile at this, because I do not think any day of mine is typical. To help me manage my to-do list and my time, I created a printable 5-by-8-inch Daily Checklist that I fill out each day and take with me wherever I go. Already printed on the card are my daily chores and activities, with room to add specific details. I also jot down the amount of writing time available that day and what I plan to work on. Highlighting my top three priorities helps keep me focused.

Jeri:  In what genres have your books been published? How do you want to expand or move forward with your writing in the future?

Darlene: So far my books, novellas, and short stories have all been Sweet Contemporary Romance. But now I am working on a few projects that move into the Inspirational Romance market. Since the two genres are very similar, and I already thread Christian characters, values, and themes into my stories, I’m hoping my fans will cross the bridge along with me. I am also working on a children’s book cartoon series with my daughter, which features our two horses.

Jeri:  Have any authors been role models for you or has someone been an important mentor in your writing career?

Darlene: Many have helped shaped my career, but I owe the most gratitude to Debbie Macomber, who picked my story to publish with hers in her 2012 release, Family Affair. Since then she has taken me to lunch and offered advice, but it is her own Christian spiritual journey on the road to publication that has inspired me most.

Jeri:  What brings you the most joy as an author? What message do you see coming through your stories?

Darlene: I enjoy helping new authors learn to write. I pass along the message I’ve received and that I build into each of my stories—don’t give up. Persevere and fight the good fight. Because you matter. And God willing, your efforts can make a difference.

Jeri:  What secrets will you reveal in your workshop Solid Story Structure?

Darlene: When I first started writing, the concept of plot baffled me. I had no idea how to rescue my characters at the end of their tumultuous journey and make everything work out okay. After years of study, I now know a novel doesn’t come together haphazardly. There is a system one can follow to lay the framework for a fully satisfying story that makes sense from start to finish. Come to the workshop, and I’ll share the secret.

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To learn from Darlene Panzera’s workshop and WriteCoach Lab, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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JeriStockdaleJeri Stockdale is a wife and mother of three. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Western Washington University, she worked for a number of years as a management analyst, where she loved doing research and writing reports and recommendations for management. She is passionate about discipleship, adoption, and homeschooling. A pre-published author, Jeri writes inspirational women’s fiction, historical fiction, and nonfiction articles and animal adventures.

5 Causes of Writer’s Block and How to Cure Them All

by Amy Letinsky

There’s a serious condition plaguing writers: writer’s block.  I’ve discovered five common causes, and  by diagnosing your typical cause, you can choose a treatment and find a cure.

5 causes of writer's block

 

Cause #1: ANXIETY

The pressure gets to you, and you freeze.

Treatments:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute.

2. Pray / Give Jesus your burden

3. Drink Chamomile Tea (instead of anxiety inducing coffee, the writer’s typical choice)

4. Free Write. Put the pen to paper, and let go for a few minutes.

5. Write in a different format for awhile.  The genre might be stressing you out.  Try writing a letter about your topic.

6.  Have a discussion about the topic.  Call a friend to chat about your topic for awhile.

Cause #2: UNFOCUSED

You can’t keep your mind on the task before you.  Your thoughts are a jumble.

Treatments:

1. Get rid of distractions (pets, Facebook, children…just while you’re writing)

2. Make new distractions.  Some people like to work in a busy, loud environment, like a coffee shop.  Others like noise canceling headphones.

3. Try a new location

4. Outline

5. Mind Map/Cluster.  Learn more about this organization method here.

Cause #3: PERFECTIONISM

Negative thoughts take control.  You worry about not writing well enough.

Treatments:

1. Silence the inner critic.

2. Arm yourself with inspiring Bible verses.

3. Stop fearing man. Perfectionism is rooted in our fear of how others are going to perceive us, and the only solution to this is #4.

4. Cultivate the Fear of the Lord.  Edward T. Welch explains this in his amazing book, When People are Big and God is Small.

5. Write Dark.  Literally turn off the lights or the screen.  Don’t let those imperfect words distract you.

Cause #4:  INTIMIDATION

You’re overwhelmed by the enormity of the task at hand.

Treatments:

1. Write a checklist / Break it into smaller tasks

2. Make small, regular goals

3. Start in the middle.  That first sentence is always a doozie.  Start in elsewhere.  Do the first sentence last.

Cause #5: EXHAUSTION

You’re sick of your topic and are falling asleep at the keyboard.

Treatments:

1. Take a nap. Don’t do this all the time, or you’ll never write.

2. Remember your first love (Rev 2:4).  Of course, it’s Jesus. But also, go back to why you started writing, why you chose this project.

3. Sabbath.  When’s the last time you truly sabbathed?  Sabbath from not just writing but from all work. I highly recommend The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.

4.  Read something inspiring. Go to your writing heroes and let them inspire you to greatness.

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Amy Letinsky picAmy Letinsky has been a writing instructor for over six years.  She currently teaches college writing and literature courses online.  Her writing courses focus on the use of research in writing and the nonfiction essay.  Read more from Amy at her blog: amyletinsky.wordpress.com.