Courtney Lasater: Opening Hearts through Devotions for Kids

By Nancy Aguilar

Devotions every day? The struggle is real, according to editor Courtney Lasater.

Perhaps that’s one reason why Courtney is so passionate about sharing the gospel through Keys for Kids, an online daily devotional ministry for children ages 6 to 12.

“Kids today are getting so many messages and being pulled in so many directions,” Courtney says. “I think a lot of them have a deep underlying fear that no matter what they do, they’ll never be enough.”

As editor at Keys for Kids for the past four years, Courtney loves pointing children to the truth of the Bible—that Jesus loves them, he died for them, and he can be trusted because he is more than enough!

The roots of Keys for Kids Ministries date back to 1947, when a radio program called the Children’s Bible Hour began. This popular program featured radio dramas that spread the message of God’s love to kids around the world. In 2014, the ministry’s name was changed to Keys for Kids, which more accurately reflected their mission: to ignite a passion for Christ in kids and their families.

This year, NCWA welcomes Courtney Lasater to our esteemed lineup of editors at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Courtney looks forward to meeting up with conferees in one-on-one appointments to hear their devotion ideas. (For a sample Keys for Kids devotion, check out the current post.)

To those who meet with her, Courtney gives this advice: “Don’t feel like you need to have a finished devotional story ready to hand over. A lot of people I meet with never thought about writing devotions for kids until they arrived and heard what we’re looking for.”

And exactly what is Courtney looking for? Devotions for 6- to 12-year-olds with a strong biblical message; children’s or family activity ideas; nonfiction books or web content for children, teens, and/or parents; and Bible studies for children or teens. Devotions must follow a specific format, as explained in the Keys for Kids guidelines.

What is Courtney not looking for? Picture books, children’s/teen/adult novels, or adult nonfiction books (other than parenting).

The 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal will be Courtney’s first conference with NCWA, as well as her first visit to Washington State. “I think it’s important to get away from our desks for a while and meet with others who can sharpen our minds and share their insights and ideas,” she says. “I always learn something new and am inspired.”

If you have a burning idea for a children’s devotion, be sure to request an appointment with Courtney and share your story! And if you’re curious about writing a children’s devotion and want to learn more—even if you’ve never written one before—Courtney invites you to attend her informative workshop and to “use your gift in a way that can encourage kids in their spiritual journey.”

Writing Devotions for Children – Did you know that about 70 percent of all Christian adults accept Jesus as Savior when they’re 14 years old or younger? Reaching kids for Christ is crucial! Learn more about what editors are looking for when they review devotion submissions. Hear pointers on what not to send editors and how to get noticed as a devotion writer for kids ages 6–12. Handouts in class, or download your copy here. (This workshop is for emerging-writer and intermediate levels.)

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

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Nancy Aguilar has worked as an editor for YWAM Publishing, George Fox University Seminary, the Word for Today, U-Turn for Christ, the Enduring Word, and others. Her writing credits include Clubhouse Magazine, Upper Room, and Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware. She teaches in the women’s Bible study at her church and has also taught for Calvary Chapel Bible College. Nancy leads a lively critique group and is currently coauthoring a getaway guide for writers.

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Alice Crider Asks Questions We All Need to Answer

By Elizabeth Griffin

“I’m planting love, joy, and accomplishment this year. What are you planting?” acquisitions editor Alice Crider wrote in a recent Facebook post.

alice-criderIt’s a potentially life-changing question that this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal may help you answer.

Alice’s accomplishments include studying Communication at Regis University in Colorado, 20 years of work in the publishing industry as an agent and editor, and becoming a certified life coach through Christian Coaching Institute. Equally important and fulfilling achievements have been raising a family she loves to spend time with, organic gardening, hiking, and horseback riding.

Now, the Senior Acquisitions & Development Editor of Books at David C Cook, Alice says she is “excited to be developing books that transform lives.” Her main responsibilities are acquiring women’s nonfiction, Christian living, and spiritual-growth books.

In a blog* that asks the question “Why bother?” when faced with the odds of being published, Alice concluded: If you feel called to write a book, and you don’t do it, you’ll never know what could have been. The world will never know what you have to contribute if you don’t write. So follow your heart . . . Your book may reach the multitudes, or it may bless only a handful of people. Why bother? Because your heart longs to know the difference your words will make in the world.

She then asks another potentially life-changing question: Are you willing to do what it takes to find out what difference you’ll make?

Specific requests for editorial appointments

During editorial appointments at the Renewal, Alice is looking for nonfiction projects that promote discipleship and include transformative content. These include Bible study, devotional, Christian living, marriage, parenting (specifically on parenting Generation Z), grandparenting resources, and small-group resources. She is not looking for fiction, poetry, memoir, YA, children’s books, or coloring books.

Workshops

In addition to her availability at the Renewal as an editor, Alice will also serve on a panel of publishing experts, as well as teach the following workshops:

Finding Your Writers Voice: Most writers are so focused on their message or on writing good sentences that it takes a long time to settle into their unique voice. In this workshop, we’ll explore what voice means and do some exercises to help you discover your own unique expression that will help you stand out as an author and may also help build your platform. Bring paper, pen, and/or your laptop.

Writing Life-Changing Nonfiction: Has your nonfiction manuscript fallen short of the mark required to land a traditional publisher? Have you published or self-published a book that didn’t reach as much of your audience as you intended? In this workshop, we’ll talk about how to reach and engage your audience by tapping into a need they don’t even know they have. We’ll look at the characteristics of best-selling books and how you can use the same techniques. Alice will provide results-based coaching that will help you leap forward in your writing career. Bring your current project and/or new ideas with you.

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

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*(Read Alice Crider’s entire post, along with others she has written, at the Wordserve Water Cooler blog.)

Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to 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 about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Stocking Gift Now Can Mean Career Boost Next May

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

What’s the one thing that some writers say is the most responsible for advancing their literary careers?

A writers conference.

christmas-stockinggraphicYes, at conferences you can meet industry professionals face to face and learn writing techniques directly from published authors. Critique sessions allow you to discuss your works in progress (WIPs) and hash out specific paragraphs or plot puzzles. Spending time with likeminded folks greatly increases your chance of forming strong relationships within the writing community.

Over the past few decades I’ve attended more than three dozen writing seminars and conferences. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve benefited:

  • Thirty years ago at a Portland conference, I met a novelist who invited me to join her critique group. I accepted—and I’m still a member to this day.
  • I first connected with my agent at a February conference on a Washington beach.
  • I met one of my coauthors at a two-day conference held at a Seattle-area church.
  • Other connections have resulted in book contracts, magazine assignments, and clients for my editing business.

While the perks of attending writers conferences are well-established, some people find registration costs to be a significant hurdle.

In case you’re one of those people, here’s an idea. Consider letting friends and family members know you would welcome a monetary gift in your Christmas stocking that you could use on registration fees. If gift-givers aren’t able to help financially, perhaps they’d be interested in offering childcare or another type of service that would enable you to get away for a couple of days.

You can choose from a number of excellent conferences available nationwide. But as director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, of course I think your best option is our own event coming up May 5–6, 2017.

The keynote speaker will be writer, director, and film producer Bill Myers of McGee and Me fame. This winner of seventy national and international awards has written more than 125 published books for children and adults. His book and DVD titles have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. When I met Bill last January while we were both teaching at the same university, I realized the wealth of knowledge he can offer writers at any level of expertise.

At the 2017 Renewal you’ll also learn from literary agents, acquisitions editors, multi-published authors, and other industry professionals. We’ll be using the lovely venue we enjoyed last year: Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, Washington.

Some information is already up on our website, and more will be added soon. Registration will be ready to open in a few weeks. Check the site often for new details.

If upcoming holidays don’t bring you enough financial gifts to cover the entire cost of the conference, here are a couple of other ways to stretch your dollars.

NCWA’s board has authorized two full scholarships to be awarded to applicants. (Details on the website soon.) Also, some full and partial scholarships are available for those who take on certain conference responsibilities.

Whatever financial path you travel to attend the Renewal, prepare to be inspired and equipped—even if Santa ends up having little to do with your getting there.

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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.

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.