Sarah Joy Freese and Her Ninja Editing Skills

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

SarahJoyFreeseBefore becoming an agent with WordServe Literary, Sarah Joy Freese served as senior editor with Anaiah Press. One author was so happy with Sarah Joy’s assistance, in the book’s acknowledgements, she praised her editor’s “ninja editing skills.”

Another author called it a privilege to work with Sarah Joy and said that when she followed her editor’s advice, “I was able to mold a story into a work that I fell in love with all over again.” During the process, however, the author felt overwhelmed by the task of revision.

Sarah Joy encouraged her. “Don’t try to fix everything at once,” she said. “Go through each issue and focus on that issue.”

It worked. “Just to see each one of those edits get done stoked the kindling of the I-can-do-this feeling,” the woman reported.

In her capacity now as literary agent, Sarah Joy continues to offer the same kind of topnotch guidance and representation. She loves reading through queries, attending writing conferences to meet new excellent writers, and working with her authors on various proposals to make their manuscripts even stronger.

At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Sarah Joy will offer insights concerning the editor/author relationship in her workshop:

How Agents Select AuthorsHow Agents Select Authors – Have you ever wondered exactly what an agent looks for when she considers your writing? Despite the changing tides of publishing, securing an agent is still an important part in the traditional publishing process. This session will discuss exactly what an agent is looking for in both fiction and nonfiction and will offer you tips for how best to capture the eye of an agent. Even if your book is not ready to see the light of day, much less an agent’s “desk” (read: email inbox), the more connections you have with an agent, the more he or she will remember you when the time comes for your work to be sent out.

Sarah Joy advises authors to be willing to be flexible during every part of the publishing experience. “Be patient when you are waiting,” she says, “work hard when you receive your edits, and work hard on social networking. Become an author an editor wants to work with.”

She received her bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also has an MA (emphasis in creative writing) and an MLIS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Sarah Joy is married and enjoys life with her husband, sons, and two birds, Brewster and Beamer. When she’s not working, she enjoys crocheting, watching NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy, and playing Euchre.

To hear Sarah Joy’s expertise and/or to request an appointment with her or with one of our six other editorial reps at this year’s conference, 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.

Porters Bring Bold Vision to Conference

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

PortersPreparing to pitch your proposal for the first time at a conference can be daunting. And if you knew that an editor at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal was a frequent guest on radio and TV programs and contributed to national magazines—accomplishments that describe Karen Porter of Bold Vision Books—you might be especially nervous. But the title of one of Karen’s books, I’ll Bring the Chocolate, just might take the edge off your nervousness. After all, can someone who loves chocolate be all that intimidating?

One event planner reports that Karen “is a people person, plain and simple. After you meet her, you will quickly discover that her joy is not only genuine, it is absolutely contagious!”

Meanwhile Karen’s husband, George Porter, co-owner of Bold Vision and a science teacher for more than 23 years, brings the scientific world to life in his writing, Bible teaching, and presentations to help his audiences embrace the God who made us all.

Together they make an unbeatable husband-and-wife publishing combination.

At this year’s conference, Karen will present two workshops:

How to Tell It Funny1) How to Tell It Funny – Discover how to add wit, humor, and winsomeness to your writing and speaking. No one can make you funny, but you can learn to lighten up, and this workshop will help you discover the methods that will add a new dimension to your communication.

Marketing for Writers and Speakers2) Marketing for Writers and Speakers – Marketing techniques and methods have changed drastically with the emergence of the Internet. The information and advice you’ve read might already be out of date. Marketing expert Karen Porter will help you define your personal style and brand. From tag lines and mission statements to web presence in blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, you will learn how to market your message, your speaking ministry, and your book. Karen will help you build a toolbox of practical, useful, doable methods. You will leave this session with a personal plan.

Maximize Your Book TableGeorge will present a workshop on how to Maximize Your Book Table. Did you know you can have a back-of-the-room book table even if you don’t have a book yet? In this workshop, George will show you how to pick out and buy products. He’ll give you display hints, bundling ideas, info on credit cards, and much more, all based on his experience in managing an extensive book table with good organization and time-saving tricks of the trade.

Both George and Karen serve as acquisitions editors for Bold Vision Books. Here are proposals they’ll be looking for at the Renewal:

  • Well-crafted nonfiction manuscripts with a timeless message told in a fresh, new way, using story techniques and strong Scripture backing
  • YA fiction (no fantasy) for young teens
  • For their Nuts ‘N’ Bolts line: ideas for craft books for the arts and business; “how to” materials, such as teaching, writing, speaking, painting, acting, business principles, productivity, or time management

Karen serves on the Board of Directors and national teaching staff of CLASSEMINARS, Inc., providing training of Christian leaders and speakers. She also serves as president of the board of AWSA (Advanced Writers Speakers Association) and on the Board of Directors of First Place 4 Health, as well as being an advisory director for Fruitful Word Ministries. Her seventh book is Speak Like Jesus: How the Speaking Techniques Jesus Used Can Change Your Presentations.

George is a graduate of Texas A&M University and has done graduate work in physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, and cell biology at Baylor College of Medicine. He served as a combat medic and paratrooper in Vietnam and as a bacteriologist in the Surgical Research Unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in projects involving the treatment of burn patients. As a teacher in both public and private schools, George served as curriculum team leader and on campus site-based committees. He judged Science Olympiads, implemented pilot curriculum on drug awareness in cooperation with Baylor College of Medicine, and coached tennis teams.

To hear the Porters speak or to request appointments with them or with one of the other five editorial representatives at the conference this year, 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.

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.

How a Bad Movie Inspired Ben Wolf

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

When Ben Wolf was in seventh grade, he watched the 1995 action adventure film Congo on television. The movie was so bad, it inspired him to become a writer. He wrote a parody, set it in Australia instead of Africa, and featured murderous kangaroos instead of gorillas.

BenWolf3Since then he’s written six novels, including Blood for Blood, the story of a vampire who gets saved. That novel won the 2015 Oregon Christian Writers’ Cascade Award for best speculative fiction book.

In addition to writing novels and working as a professional editor, Ben founded Splickety Publishing Group to meet the needs of people who appreciate great fiction but don’t have a lot of time to read. “You can enjoy our stories, always 1,000 words or less, and get your flash fiction fix without the time commitment of a novel,” he says.

His publishing group, where he serves as editor-in-chief, produces three quarterly periodicals:

Splickety Prime features quality flash fiction in multiple genres including (but not limited to) action/adventure, suspense, mystery, thriller, contemporary, women’s, young adult, and historical fiction.

Havok features speculative flash fiction that includes (but isn’t limited to) science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, paranormal, supernatural, horror, techno-thriller, superhero, and more.

Splickety Love features romance flash fiction, including (but not limited to) the genres of romance, romantic suspense, historical romance, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, inspirational romance, women’s fiction, and more.

Ben will be available to meet with writers at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal and listen to their story pitches. He will also teach three workshops:

Flash Fiction1) Writing Flash Fiction that Sells – As an expert on flash fiction, Ben will show you how to excel at plot, structure, conflict, character development, and more while condensing your story down to strict word requirements. Learn what it takes to write compelling flash fiction, why you should write it, and how doing so can help your career. You’ll leave with ideas for several different approaches to writing a great flash-fiction piece.

Make it Weird2) Make It Weird: Speculative and Alternate Genre Fiction – Perhaps you’ve heard the term “Speculative Fiction” before, but, like many people, you’re not sure what it means. Join award-winning spec fic author and editor Ben Wolf as he discusses the ins and outs of speculative and alternate genre fiction, including dissecting what makes a speculative fiction story great.

How to Write Believable Fight Scenes3) How to Write Believable Fight Scenes – Are you a fiction author, a screenwriter, or involved in a creative capacity in visual media? As a former professional stage combat instructor, Ben can teach you how to block out your fight scenes with another person for maximum believability. Discover how to write actual stage combat for screenplays and what you can and can’t do in fiction 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.

We’ve learned that Ben’s decision to write was inspired by a bad movie. But what was his motivation to work as a freelance editor?

“I’ve been frustrated by improper grammar, misspellings, and punctuation errors since I learned the proper way to use the English language,” he explains. “That bitter resentment toward those who dare to impugn the honor of our glorious language has since combined with a significant amount of study on the craft of writing, and now I get paid to make sure my clients wield their words effectively.”

During editorial appointments at the Renewal, Ben will be looking for flash-fiction stories— concise, poignant fiction between 300 and 1,000 words—that fit one of the magazines’ scheduled upcoming themes. Each magazine will also feature one Nano-fiction story of 100 words or fewer in its Nano Corner.

“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,” he says. At the conference, when he hears pitches for suitable stories, he will encourage authors to submit those stories for consideration.

Here’s what Splickety is not interested in seeing: previously published flash fiction; scenes or excerpts or synopses from novels; excessive violence, profanity, or erotica in any form; and no thinly-veiled stories that preach from a soapbox of any sort—political, religious, or other. Additional submission guidelines are available on Splickety’s website.

To attend Ben’s workshops or to schedule an appointment with him or one of our six other editorial reps 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.

Learn from Stephanie Rische How to Write Memoirs and Pitch Professionally

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

StephanieRischeStephanie Rische isn’t just senior editor of nonfiction books at Tyndale House Publishers. She’s also an author. Her latest book is the memoir I Was Blind (Dating), but Now I See.

Memoir writing can be tricky, especially when it comes to using the names of real people. For instance, Stephanie has four friends named Sarah, so in the book, she renamed three of them out of concern that readers “would need their Social Security numbers to keep them all straight.”

She adds, “I also changed a few details to protect the privacy of my blind dates, although I have done so with a mixed conscience, because in a few instances, these guys should not be at large on the dating field. Please date at your own discretion.”

At the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Stephanie will share her editing and memoir-writing expertise with conferees:

Telling the Story of Your Life-Telling the Story of Your Life: Memoir Writing – Have people urged you to write a book about a certain part of your past? Do you wonder if a particular era of your life should be put to paper before you die? In the past decade, memoir writing has soared in popularity, with many critics calling it the most relevant genre of our day. But where do you begin? How do you know what to include and what to leave out? How can you get beyond your feelings of vulnerability? And perhaps most significantly, should you wait until your mother dies before you write it? Drawing from her 13 years of experience editing memoirs at Tyndale House Publishers, as well as writing and publishing her own, Stephanie offers practical tips and tools to help you write a memoir of your own.

Stephanie will also be leading the Renewal’s Friday morning opening session with her address, “How to Make an Irresistible Pitch to Editors & Agents.” All conferees who wish to meet with an editorial representative are required to attend.

Stephanie comes to us highly recommended. Author Nancy Ortberg—a teaching pastor for eight years at Willow Creek Community Church—commends her for having “the courage to let us in to the parts of her world that most of us work hard to keep hidden.”

Popular blogger/author Sophie Hudson—AKA “BooMama”—calls Stephanie’s writing “funny, tender, and insightful.”

If you want to learn the finer points of writing memoirs and pitching proposals from someone with experience and transparency—and if you want to request an appointment with Stephanie or one of the other six editorial reps—register 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.

Llamas Jumpstarted Mindy Peltier’s Writing Career

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

When Mindy Peltier was sixteen, she got a job as reporter for the local newspaper. Her first assignment was to interview a farming couple whose livestock included two llamas.

“Two llamas and two friendly neighbors? How hard can this be?” she thought, even though she’d never actually written a journalism article before. She conducted the interview to the best of her ability and even risked getting spit upon when she snapped photos of the cantankerous creatures.

A few days after her editor published the story, a big-city daily picked up the article and reprinted it. That was when Mindy realized her writing career was off to a great start, thanks to a pair of exotic animals.

MindyPeltier2PinableA quarter of a century later, she had what many writers long for—the perfect writing alcove in her dream home. She was mother of six children and happily married to Scott. She wanted to stay put for the rest of her life.

Then Scott’s employers announced they were moving him and his family to Seattle. “I cried for a week,” Mindy recalls. After she got settled in her new home, she discovered that only four blocks away was where the Northwest Christian Writers Association met for monthly meetings.

“It was a powerful lesson that when the Lord says ‘no,’ it often means, ‘I have something better for you’,” she says.

In addition to being passionate about writing, Mindy also wants to conquer the digital world and encourage writers to overcome their fears of technology and social media. She teaches at area conferences about blogging and also directed NCWA’s WriteTech Conference in January.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Mindy will co-lead three interactive sessions of a WriteCoach Lab especially designed for those who have questions about basic technology:

BYOD-Tech EssentialsBYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Tech Essentials (Friday, May 15, with Dennis Brooke) – 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.

Mindy has served as NCWA’s secretary and resource coordinator and is now the president. She’s done a great job in all of these roles. She also assisted the former conference director, Judy Bodmer, in putting on the Renewal.

Now that Judy has stepped down due to health reasons and I’m the new director, I’ve discovered what an incredible assistant conference director Mindy is. She brings all the knowledge she gained when helping Judy, and she adds new ideas and creativity each time we talk. She spends many hours a week creating solutions so that everyone who attends the conference will have the most fun, productive, and memorable time possible.

Sometimes a teacher’s skill is reason enough to attend a class or workshop. At other times the main draw is the instructor’s care and concern for students.

With Mindy, you get both—in big doses.

So, to get your technology questions answered—or simply to interact with someone who cares deeply about helping writers succeed—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 Kim Bangs Recommends Pushing Boundaries

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

Kim Bangs tells writers, “Refuse to be overwhelmed or stopped.”

Now a senior acquisitions editor with Bethany House and Chosen Books, divisions of Baker Publishing Group, Kim believes that each of us was born as a creative soul, but life soon regulated the flow of creativity. “If we aren’t watchful,” she says, “the flow can be turned off completely.”

KimBangsPinable copyShe views writers conferences as wonderful venues for reinvigorating our creativity. “I recommend approaching a conference much like you did kindergarten,” she says. “You were a bit fearful, yet excited about the possibilities. You went to play and learn all at the same time. You had choices to make. Is it the monkey bars, swings, the slide, or the merry-go-round? (Totally dating myself here.) You went with wide-eyed wonder, and you lived out every experience with enthusiasm.”

Kim urges writers to approaches conferences in the same way. “Push your boundaries. Do things differently. Participate in classes and workshops—no wallflowers. Meet new people. Offer encouragement. Don’t let an unexpected path or answer deter you.”

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Kim will meet with writers in group appointments. If you would like to show her your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what she would like to see and what she’s not looking at right now.

The following day, March 16, Kim will present two workshops:

The Power of Your Premise1) The Power of Your Premise: One of the most necessary, challenging, difficult, and shortest items on your proposal is the premise statement (or the hook of the book). Kim will discuss why a premise statement is such a critical element and how you can write it so that those who read your proposal (agents, editors and pub boards) “get it” and give your proposal a deeper look.

The Power of Your Proposal2) The Power of Your Proposal: Come join the fun adventure as seen through the eyes of a seasoned acquisitions editor who has reviewed literally thousands of proposals. The wacky, the way out, the wonderful—the “why on earth do acquisition folk make us do all of this?” By workshop’s end, you will have an understanding of the power of a proposal, the knowledge to produce one that stands out from the rest, and a glimpse into the world of acquisitions.

Kim has served in the Christian publishing industry for more than twenty-five years, beginning in the children’s curriculum department at Gospel Light and later as Publishing Director for Regal (the book division of Gospel Light). In 2012 Kim was awarded Editor of the Year by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. In July 2014, after Regal Books was sold to the Baker Publishing Group, Kim joined the Baker team.

She believes that the teaching writers receive in workshops is valuable. But the feedback they get and the conversations they participate in can either move them farther along the writing journey or can stop them in their tracks.

“The perspective is yours,” she says.

To broaden your perspective, sign up today for the 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.