Sonja Anderson: Book-Loving Librarian, Educator, and Children’s Author

by Eric Gollings

The first time I went to a book launch, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My family arrived at the Burien Public Library a little late and found a crowd packed into the expansive meeting room.

I stood at the door listening and craning to see the author over the throng. Behind me, the sun shone through tall windows on rows of shelves with countless books. I thought, “What a perfect place for a book launch.”

That book launch debuted Sonja Anderson’s novel, Sophie’s Quest.

The first thing you notice about the book is the beautiful cover art depicting an owl wearing a purse and hat, soaring over a sunny harbor. As you read, you find that it deals with deep questions of faith, culture, and the differences that often divide us. It does this all in a way that is accessible and engaging for young readers. For an aspiring novelist, the story of how this book and its sequel came into being is as uplifting as the adventure itself.

Sonja Anderson loves books. She is a multi-published author, an educator, and a librarian—the perfect vocations for a book lover.

Her love of reading and teaching has taken her many places. In Chicago, she studied history at North Park College. At Harvard University in Boston she earned a Master of Education degree. In Tokyo she taught kindergarten and second grade at an international school.

Since coming to Washington State she has taught every grade as a substitute teacher in Seattle Public Schools, and for twelve years she served as the Christian Formation Coordinator for the North Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. She is currently the library tech at her local elementary school where she helps children find books that will ignite their own passion for lifelong reading. Sonja Anderson is also an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators and of the Northwest Christian Writers Association.

At this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Sonja will share her insights in two break-out sessions for emerging writers.

Authors and Children’s Book Illustration: How the Publisher, Illustrator, and Author Work Together (or Not) to Create a Great Book – Learn common misunderstandings many writers have about the way children’s books are illustrated. This includes both picture books and the cover art for novels. Gain an understanding about the quality of the art that should be submitted with your story—or if it should even be submitted—and learn what to expect when working with a publisher. (Emerging-writer level)

Sleuthing for Success: How Nancy Drew Would Get Her Children’s Story Published – Learn the pros and cons of indie publishing vs. royalty publishing for children’s works. Discover how thinking creatively, flexibly, and realistically about the best ways to reach kids can help you find the right agent/editor/publisher for your children’s story. Learn how prayer and a generous attitude toward other writers can help make connections, build relationships, and provide encouragement during not-so-successful days of writing and marketing. Included: tips on using print resources and conducting successful Internet searches for potential markets. (Emerging-writer level)

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

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Eric Gollings, a humanitarian professional with an MBA, is fluent in Spanish, Chinese, and English and has spent years living and serving in Latin America and Asia. For the last eight years, he has worked for World Vision. His writing and speaking interests include history, theology, humanitarian affairs, and speculative fiction. Eric enjoys creating clear and compelling communication, whether through blog posts, stories, professional e-mails, or speaking engagements.

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Kim Vandel Thrives on Plan B

Kim Vandel knows first-hand that writing isn’t for the faint of heart.

Growing up on a steady diet of Saturday morning Justice League cartoons and Sunday morning Bible stories, she later merged the two into the concept of Guardians—men and women with God-given “superpowers.” She also drew on her work experience in the field of environmental science to breathe life into her fiction’s speculative element.

As she honed her craft, she followed advice from publishing experts, built an online presence, and made great connections with editorial reps. Her efforts in pursuing publication began to pay off.

KimVandelPinableAgents and editors asked to see her manuscript. She won the 2013 Cascade Award in the Unpublished Young Adult category and was finalist in the 2012 and 2013 Mile High Scribes One-Sheet Contests. Her goal seemed within reach.

Then, without warning, she felt the call to indie publish.

“I was dismayed, to say the least,” she says. “Why would God have me pursue traditional publishing for so long if that wasn’t the goal? What was the point of dedicating myself to Plan A, if I was just going to end up settling for Plan B?”

But as she obeyed God and changed direction, she experienced tremendous freedom. The vision she had for her YA (Young Adult) series began to unfold.

Now she understands that Plan B doesn’t always mean Backup or Better than Nothing. Sometimes it means Best. All the time she’d spent in pursuit of traditional publishing hadn’t been a waste. Plan A had prepared her for Plan B.

Kim moved forward with confidence and published a novel she knew would be “a quality product, not a humiliating tribute to my ignorance that I’d end up wishing didn’t exist a few years down the road.” She is confident she can effectively market her novel instead of being angry with Amazon for not selling more than a dozen copies.

Into the Fire released on April 14, and Kim coordinated a carefully crafted social-media campaign for the book’s launch.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Kim—who is also Publicity Coordinator for NCWA—will lead a WriteCoach Lab so that you, too, can learn how to use social media to your advantage.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Social Media Basics (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15) – Wish you knew the basics about the plethora of social media available these days? Expert Kim Vandel can help you find solutions to your challenges concerning

  • Facebook
  • Goodreads
  • Google +
  • Instagram,
  • Tumblr, &
  • Twitter.

She can also answer basic questions about Pinterest and WordPress if you’re unable to attend the BYOD sessions dedicated solely to those platforms. Bring your own laptop, netbook, tablet, or smartphone to gain the most from these sessions. (Kim can help you with Android or PC. For Apple, see BYOD expert Dennis Brooke.)

Whether you’re on Plan A, Plan B, or much farther down the alphabet, you can benefit from Kim’s expertise concerning how to harness social media to build your platform and promote your writing. 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.

How Do You Define Book Launch Success? By Gina Conroy

NCWA blog welcomes back Gina Conroy!

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GConroy-Headshot-soft-crop-2012-300x272I had the official book launch of Cherry Blossom Capers. Just like many women dream about and plan their wedding, many authors do the same for their book launch. I’m no exception. I’ve been waiting for this day and planning for years!

Even before the book sold I knew what I would do for my launch. A Mystery party! I first heard about the idea from author Christy Barritt and thought it was fabulous, so I stored it in the back of my mind. When my book sold and as the days to my launch approached, I started planning and writing the script which featured characters in my book.

A lot goes into planning a mystery party, so I won’t go into that here, but what I want to explore is what is the definition of book launch success? Is it the number of books sold? (If so than mine was a COMPLETE failure since I think I gave away more books to my book launch party helpers than people actually bought.) Is it the number of names and emails I got on my newsletter list? (I did okay there since most everyone signed up thanks to that extra entry for the basket drawing.) Or maybe it’s the number of people that attended? (There again I fell short of my goal!)

I went into my book launch with the lofty goal of 100 people or 100 books, and I did everything in my power to make that happen. I blitzed the media and my FREE event was posted on every local calendar in town as well as being featured on the local midday news talk show. My daughter even heard my event on the radio, but bottom line, the numbers weren’t there. Does that make my launch a failure? I don’t think so and here’s why.

While I spent more on my party and promotion than I actually sold in books, I had fun! Everyone who attended had a blast and left with a positive memory. Hopefully so positive that they’ll tell their friends about the party…and the book.

Even though my party is over, my name and book are still out there. Who knows where the fruit of my promotion efforts will get me? Radio shows and local stations still have my information, and I might get another media interview. You just never know.

Just because the party is over doesn‘t mean it’s over! I’m already planning another mystery party with my church which features my book, and I plan on offering this mystery party to other organizations, book clubs, and churches. So while my initial book launch wasn’t profitable, I look at it as the seed to the bigger picture.

The-Suspects-300x225THE SUSPECTS

I’m sure there are many other ways my book launch party was a success, but I’m still recovering and processing it all. The bottom line is I don’t regret anything I did or the money I spent. Sure I would have liked to have sold 100 books or had 100 people attend, but for me, that doesn’t define book launch success. At least not this time!

How do you define book launch success? And what have YOU done to make your launch successful?

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This post appeared January 13, 2012 on Writer…Interrupted. Re-posted by kind permission.

Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she’s leaning on the Lord to show her the way.  She is the founder of Writer…Interrupted  where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God’s timing is perfect, even if she doesn’t agree with it! She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. Digging Up Death is her first full length mystery. On her blog Defying Gravity she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter or on the ballroom dance floor!