An Interview with Rachel Hauck, Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Renewal

by Elizabeth Griffin

EG: Tell us about yourself, Rachel. Anything you want to share is great.

RH: I am a working author, which means I live on deadline. I write a book only to rewrite the book. By the time that’s done, I’m a month away from the hard-start of the next book. Yet somehow it seems the books take forever to release! But I love my job and despite the fact I feel like an eternal college student on the quarter system, I wouldn’t want to do anything else. My husband tolerates the writer’s life well and when I’m not writing, I lead worship at our church. I also watch a lot of sports.

EG: What inspires you to write? Tell me about where and when you write, what you like to write about, etc.

RH: Good writing inspires me to write. When I’m stuck, I pick up Susan May Warren, JoJo Moyes, Kristen Hannah, or Beatriz Williams. I read books with emotion and heart. Of course, nothing beats a good prayer meeting to stir the heart creatively.

I write in my office—a lovely space built and designed by a former Pixar artist. As much as we all want to feel inspired and bubbling with creativity every day, most of us don’t. I don’t. So I head up to my office and work. No matter what. I have a goal for each day and work until I achieve it. Of course, life gets in the way and I have to make adjustments, but I do all I can to stay on track.

Most of my stories are romantic, dual time stories. I love blending the story of characters from the past with characters in the present.

EG: How did you get started writing professionally? Tell us about your journey.

RH: I always wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. I used to tell people I wanted to write children’s books. Then I realized the skill required to produce a good children’s book! Ha! On my first wedding anniversary the Lord prompted me to quit my job. My husband came to me a few days later and said he felt like I should quit my job. He had no idea what I was thinking or feeling. For the first time since I was 14, I wasn’t working or in school. Christian fiction was booming in those days so I read a lot. Eventually I started an epic WW II novel that was well rejected. But my “career” had started. I ended up back at work, putting a pause on writing. But in 2004 I quit for the last time to write full time. I’ve been published ever since. Praise God.

These are the workshops that Rachel will be teaching, in addition to her two plenary-session presentations:

Scene Tension Equation – Tension is what keeps the readers turning the page. Whether writing suspense or romance, the scene tension equation will help you make sure every scene is focused and on point.

The Story Equation,  2-part workshop – Are you overwhelmed after learning so many new techniques and ideas?  Are you struggling to know how to implement them into your novel and your publishing strategy?  How do you take everything you’ve learned and create a brilliant novel? New York Times and award-winning author Rachel Hauck uses the Story Equation method to give you a tool belt of how-to tools, perfect if you’re a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between. You’ll learn how to build and weave your external plot with the characters’ internal journey to create an exciting, well-paced story.  For beginning to advanced writers.

Come to this year’s Renewal to hear more about Rachel’s work and be inspired to continue the pursuit of your own writing journey!

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In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with 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 of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.

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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.

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.