Help with Quoting Scripture in Your Writing—and More

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

Christian writers often quote the Bible in their manuscripts, but many are unaware of the proper way to handle such quotations.

“As you research or write, keep track of which versions of Scripture you quote,” recommends Redemption Press senior editor Inger Logelin. “That way, you—or the editor—won’t have to do a ‘treasure hunt’ at the end of the project to identify each one.”RedemptionPress

Redemption Press, one of this year’s sponsors at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, is offering free Quick Looks appointments on both days of the event. The offer is for authors who are considering using the publisher’s services.

During each 15-minute appointment, Inger Logelin will examine the author’s manuscript and offer brief overview comments and editing suggestions, such as these three additional guidelines for handling Scripture in written materials:

  • Note each Scripture version used on the copyright page.
  • If you use one version throughout your article or book, it is not necessary to add the version in the text. But if you use more than one version, note the version abbreviation in the reference. For example: “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness” (Psalm 86:11 NIV).
  • Set lengthier sections of Scripture in block quotations, which do not normally begin or end with quotation marks.

By signing up for an appointment at the Redemption Press booth, you can have your questions answered before turning in your manuscript. Discover potential editing issues, learn what constitutes “fair use” of quoted material, find out what formatting mistakes not to make, and avoid reoccurring grammar or spelling errors. Conferees can also enter a drawing for two free mentoring sessions that will be given away at the conference.

The Quick Looks opportunity made available by Redemption Press is just one of the exciting features you’ll discover at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal on May 13 and 14. If you haven’t already registered to attend, don’t wait. Sign up now!

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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.

Craigslist Helped Steve Hutson Become an Agent

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Several years ago, Steven Hutson was minding his own business as the founder and owner of a manuscript critique-and-editing service for aspiring authors. Client subject matter seemed to cover every topic from Bible study to yoga to credit repair. Life was good.

Then he added to his responsibilities by answering the call to manage a writers conference near Los Angeles. He enjoyed increasing his connections in the publishing industry.

One day Steve placed an ad on Craigslist to promote the editing service. As he had hoped, the response was fantastic. But one inquiry shocked him.

SteveHutsonPinable“A film producer asked us to adapt his screenplays into novels and then pitch the books to publishers,” Steve says. “We hesitated. That’s what an agent did! Certainly there were others more qualified.”

But then Steve decided, Why not? He realized he already knew most of the people who were needed to undertake the project. His success gave Steve and his team confidence to set up shop as a literary agency in early 2011.

Today, WordWise Media has four agents and serves forty-five authors. Client books have been placed with a variety of publishers, and several of their authors have also won prestigious awards for their works.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Steve will meet with writers in group appointments. If you would like to pitch your proposal to him, please follow guidelines concerning what he would like to see and what he’s not looking at right now.

On Saturday, May 16, Steve will also present the workshop:

20 Reasons You’re Not Getting Published – Are you tired of getting rejected by agents and publishers? Identify the most common mistakes and learn how to avoid them. Hint: It might have nothing to do with the quality of your manuscript.

Steve is one of those rare individuals actually born in Los Angeles instead of moving there from someplace else. He’s been a storyteller since he learned to talk and is convinced that the Wimpy Kid books were based on his childhood.

Although the writing bug bit him early and never let go, Steve didn’t immediately become a published writer with a career in the publishing field. Along the way he took business courses in college and also found gainful employment as a clerk typist, vitamin buyer, waiter, forklift operator, lifeguard, bookkeeper, grocery manager, printer’s apprentice, and meat cutter.

In other words, he understands authors who must maintain day jobs while striving to find time to write and get published.

To meet with Steve and attend his workshop on how you can improve your chances of publication, 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.

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.

Editor Jamie West Helps Christian Fiction Writers Achieve Their Dreams

Each year, NCWA member Kirk Kraft posts interviews with the agents and editors that will be speaking at the Northwest Christian Writer’s Renewal.

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Jamie West, editor with Pelican Book Group,  lives in the Midwest with her husband of 35 years, three dogs, and three cats.  She enjoys reading, traveling, archaeology, and quilting. A worship leader at church, she does children’s sermons every month, and sings with the Praise Team.Six years ago, she was led of God to answer an ad for a job at a secular publishing company. When they sold their inspirational Christian division, she went with the new company, which became Pelican Ventures Book Group. 

What’s been the most satisfying part of your editing career?

Helping Christian fiction writers achieve their dreams and mine. I get a kick out of editing. I actually enjoy the process. I like going through a manuscript line-by-line, reading an author’s work and “hearing” their characters speak, getting to know them for myself.  The fact that the manuscripts glorify the word of God, sometimes just a little, sometimes a lot, is just icing on the cake.  These writers are my people, we understand God exists, that we are called for a purpose, and that in our world, what happens in the manuscripts is not only possible, but that God permeates it all. 

I love it when writers push an edge – we have some fantastic writers and they cover suspense, mystery, science-fiction, fantasy, thrillers, day-to-day life, broken homes, being alone, young adult – the whole human experience. Our authors transport me, as a reader, to other worlds, and I love it.  Authors give me so much, a job I love, and characters who resonate long after the last word is read.

What are the primary reasons manuscripts fail to grab & hold your interest?

Flat characters. Solid characterization can carry an otherwise ordinary plot and make it something special and unique.  You can have the most imaginative plot in the universe, but if your reader cannot connect with the protagonist, or another character, the book will be one of those “over-the-couch” books – you know, tossed over the couch halfway through reading and lost to the dust bunnies until it’s time to vacuum.

What one piece of advice would you offer an aspiring writer?

Write.  And when you’re done, write more.  And when you are done, write some more.  Keep writing, because as you write, you will learn.  And submit your work, too.  We had a writer…she would write, and I would reject.  But she kept writing, and each time she wrote a new manuscript, she’d improve, because of course, she kept practicing writing.  And finally, she submitted a manuscript (I think it was her fifth one), and it was great.  I edited it, and she learned from those edits.  She went back to the rejected manuscripts, cleaned them up with what she’d learned, and re-submitted.  We published them, too.  She’s one of our bestsellers now. 

What do you consider the biggest publishing myth?

That once a relatively unknown person writes their first book, they’ll make millions of dollars.  That rarely happens. 

Could you describe a typical today in your editing life?

Oh…yes. It’s rather ordinary, really.  I usually start with breakfast, let the dogs out, let the cats out, talk to my husband of 35 years, grab some iced tea (in summer) or hot tea (in winter). My Dad made this beautiful wooden tea tray for me so I use it daily.  I then go to my computer to check email, blogs, and social media. Some is work related, some is family/friend related, but I check it all, and then respond as needed, including phone calls. Then I let the dogs in and perhaps a cat or two, also.  I usually start with 2nd edits on books in the queue to be published. Once I finish those, I start reading the new manuscripts in my inbox. 

At 11 AM, I break to talk to my boss, CEO, Nicola Martinez, and for our daily prayer session.  Yes, we pray over our authors and the company every day, unless we have other obligations such as doctor’s appointments or errands that must be done. We also discuss manuscripts, Christian theology, what’s in our Production queue, developing book covers/trailers, and other issues.

After lunch with my husband, I check the emails, blogs, and social media again, and then I start reading again. Afternoons, in between reading, I usually do whatever chores need doing around the house, or help my husband do stuff outside if we have planned tasks (we built a house a few years ago, and are still doing landscaping and adding little touches here and there, cabinets, new garden beds, and such).  And with all this, I’m constantly letting one of the three dogs or one of the three cats in and out.

I make dinner most nights, unless I con my husband into it, and then he settles down to watch TV or work on his computer, and I head back to my computer.  But first, the two younger cats need their cuddle time, so I generally just read a new manuscript while they wind around my neck, stretch across my lap, or swat me for not petting them long enough. Eventually, they get bored with my inattention, and leave.  Then I go back to the manuscript.

About an hour before bedtime, I hit all the email, blogs and social media again, to make sure I’ve not missed anything. That’s a perfect editing day.  Naturally, other things happen, and quite often, at least 1-2 days a week, nothing goes as planned, and I have to deal with other things.  I’d say I spend a solid 6-8 hours a day working, about 3-4 days a week.  The other days are taken up with other things, including church on Sundays.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished an adorable Young Adult novel for our new Watershed line.  I’m also midway through a historical romance right now.  We’ve contracted the first one, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be contracting the second, too.

Jamie West Pelican Book Group

In West’s Renewal workshop, she’ll explore how to develop the romantic relationship, write good dialogue, build strong characters, and infuse the spiritual essence of God into an Inspirational romance.  Workshop attendees need to bring a hard copy/paper print-out of the first five pages of their manuscript and a set of four highlighters in blue, pink, yellow, and green.

When you register for the conference, you may sign up for a group  editorial appointment with West on Friday.

White Rose                     HarbourlightWatershed

Pelican publishes under three imprints. Click on each icon to browse by Imprint to research books they’ve published. White Rose Publishing is Romance, Harbourlight Books is all fiction genres, Watershed is Young Adult.  To find Pelican’s specific manuscript needs, read here.

To prepare your pitch for West read “Do You Have Perfect Pitch?” and ‘The Wild Pitch.”

TweetEditor Jamie West loves it when writers push an edge @NWCWriters


TweetWriting Christian romance? Editor Jamie West of Pelican seeking manuscripts @NWCWriters

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Kirk KraftKirk Kraft has been gripped by the “Writing Monster” for many years. A husband and father of four, he’s instilled a love of reading in all his children while chasing his dream of publishing. His favorite genre for both writing and reading is epic fantasy. He has been a member of NCWA since 2008.

“Before You Hit ‘Send’ On Your Manuscript” by Gina Conroy

NCWA blog welcomes Gina Conroy!

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GConroy-Headshot-soft-crop-2012-300x272Nothing is more exciting and unnerving than finishing edits and getting ready to send in a manuscript to an agent or editor. Even if you and your critique partners have gone over your pages several times, doubts still nag.

Did I catch every misspelled word and homonym?

When I made my last edits did I inadvertently cut out or add another word?

Is my writing the best it can be?

Whether you’re a contracted author or an unpublished hopeful, there’s always some lingering anxiety when turning in a manuscript. Over the years I’ve learned a few things to help answer the above questions and make my manuscript the best it can be before I hit send.

Check for Repetitive/Weasel Words

No matter how many times I think I’m being creative in my word usage the same words seem to show up in every chapter, multiple times. Aside from starting my own Repetitive Word List with alternate synonyms I can choose from at a glance, I’ve been using Notetab light for years, thanks to a tip from author DiAnn Mills. While I’m sure this free download can be used for many different things, I use it to calculate my repetitive/weasel words. In a matter of seconds it calculates how many times (and what percentage) I use every word in my WIP. Then I identify my overused words and do a search and replace with the weasel words in all CAPS, so I can identify that word later in my read through and find an alternate. This search not only identifies my weasel words, but helps me identify passive writing so I make it active.

Listen to your Manuscript

No matter how many times I read my manuscript, there always seems to be one more mistake I missed. That’s why I listen to my manuscript before I turn it in. Even when I think my story is polished, my ear picks up several mistakes when I listen and read along. Microsoft reader has a free download where you can import your WIP and have it read back to you. There are other programs available like Natural reader, and you can even convert your manuscript into a pdf file and listen to it that way. These are all free and work fine if you don’t mind the robotic voice, otherwise you can upgrade for a more humanlike reader.

Do One Last Read Through

After listening to my manuscript and making the corrections, there’s always a chance my fingers added or deleted something unintentionally, so I go over it one last time. I can really be OCD about checking and rechecking, but no matter how many times I read or listen to my WIP or have my crit partners look it over, I always find one more mistake.

Double Check Your Attachment

Though many authors will agree you can edit your manuscript indefinitely and never truly be satisfied, there comes a time when you have to hit that send button. Still there’s one more ritual I go through even after I attach the document. I open up the attachment at least once to make sure I attached the right one. Just the other day I attached the wrong document because I had several earlier versions of the manuscript in my folder. Imagine my embarrassment to realize too late that I sent the wrong document. Thankfully that didn’t happen because I double checked my attachment.

Every author has their own pre-send ritual, but no matter what you do, you have to hit send on your manuscript sooner or later. Better find what works for you and be thorough and confident you’ve just turned in your best story possible, than have the doubts linger.

How do you get your manuscript in the best shape possible before you hit send?

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This post first appeared July 9, 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!