Genesis Parker, Conference Worship Leader

by Elizabeth Griffin

Worship at the 2018 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal will be led by Genesis Parker, the worship director at Living Hope Christian Fellowship.

One look at a photo of Genesis and you can tell she is filled with the joy of the Lord. We are going to have an awesome time of worship with her leading the way!

Genesis uses these words, among others, to describe who God created and called her to be: creative, writer, spirit-filled, musician-ray, heartist.

A worshiper and songwriter, Genesis has a passion to see people experience the presence of God through music in a way that is sincere, honest, and full of joy. She carries a powerful prophetic voice, and her worship is a unique combination of passion, faith, freedom, and confidence. Her desire is to see people’s lives transformed through the power of God’s presence, both inside and outside the walls of the church.

Genesis is a Northwest girl, born and raised. She grew up in a ministry family with a home full of music and has been involved with worship ministry in various capacities for over fifteen years. In addition to serving as worship leader at her church in Renton, she leads worship at various services, conferences, events, retreats, and camps.

Genesis is currently working on an album to be released in 2019 and hopes to travel and minister internationally in the coming years. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband, Jesse, who is also a pastor and writer.

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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.

Adria Goetz: Bringing a Millennial Perspective

by Elizabeth Griffin

Anyone who can develop and sell a book titled The Compendium of Magical Beasts: An Anatomical Study of Cryptozoology’s Most Elusive Beings has got to be incredibly imaginative, intelligent, and a bit quirky. Meet Adria Goetz from Martin Literary Management.

“The project idea—a coffee table book about the anatomy of magical creatures—was my brainchild, and I hand-picked the author and illustrator,” Adria says of the highlight thus far in her burgeoning career as a literary agent. “The author, Melissa Brinks, is a college friend of mine, and I knew her cheeky, quirky writing style would be perfect for it. And the illustrator, Lily Jones, is an incredibly talented Seattle-based artist. The whole experience has been delightful.”

This millennial brings a breath of fresh air to our Renewal with her long wish list that is as eclectic as her style seems to be. From picture books to YA to adult nonfiction, she’s willing to take a look at anything as long as it’s original and engaging.

“I love connecting with writers and editors at conferences, but I also love attending conferences because I always walk away feeling inspired and savvier because I always, always learn something new,” Adria says. “I like it when writers approach me with a question, rather than a pitch. You can pitch pretty much any agent online, but you can’t always get advice from an agent or pick their brain, which is the beauty of a conference!”

Adria lives in an old Victorian home in Tacoma with her high-school-sweetheart-who-became-her-husband in a wedding in the middle of the woods. They own two silver-furred kittens named Maple and Mulberry, and are about to begin the process of becoming licensed foster parents. She loves to paddle about in her bright yellow kayak that looks like a giant floating banana, enjoys eating and smelling anything lavender-flavored, and her favorite book of the Bible is Ecclesiastes. She admits to stress baking, and if there was any biblical moment she could have witnessed, it would be when Jesus cooked breakfast for his friends on the beach.

Adria will teach the following workshops at this year’s Renewal:

Building Your Social-Media Platform – This presentation outlines the basics of how to build an engaged social media following that will catch the eye of agents and editors. It also offers time-and-sanity saving tips that will help you maintain a sustainable and successful social media presence. Workshop attendees will come away with a tangible to-do list.

Current Picture-Book Trends – A workshop that highlights and examines current trends in the general trade picture book market, and where those trends might be heading. Hear straight from an agent’s perspective what is selling, what isn’t, some dos and don’ts, which trends are over-saturated, and how to tap into trends in your own unique way. This presentation includes many quotes from editors and other industry professionals, and shows real deals that have taken place in the last six months.

Millennials Becoming Parents: The Future of Christian Picture Books – As Christian Millennials begin their families and become parents, their priorities will shape the fiction they want to buy for their children, which will in turn shape the landscape of Christian picture books. Workshop attendees will time travel to the near future and discuss the trends of Christian picture books. This workshop is a cheat sheet to help writers write the books that agents want to represent, editors want to acquire, and most importantly: the books children want to read. This presentation includes many quotes from editors and other industry professionals, and shows real deals that have taken place in the last six months.

To learn more about Adria and see her extensive wish list, check out her website. To attend her workshops or request an appointment with her, register for the 2018 Renewal.

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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.

An Interview with Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency

by Elizabeth Griffin

EG: In your career of working with books and authors, what has been the highlight—e.g., working with specific authors or on specific projects?

DF: Truthfully, I enjoy all aspects of working with writers; the fledgling and the accomplished. I particularly enjoy brainstorming fiction plot developments and nonfiction chapter outlines and book titles. Hanging out with such creative minds always infuses me with high energy. It is a total rush to hold a book in your hands you have played a role in getting to market that contributes to honest and worthy conversations.

EG: Why do you come to conferences like our Northwest Christian Writers Renewal— what do you like about them? What is the best way to approach you at an event?

DF: I enjoy meeting and speaking with the conferees. The various ways a writers mind entertains a thought amazes me. Even on similar topics, they come at them with such unique perspectives.

The best way to approach me is first as a fellow word lover, then, as one who might have a helping word. I tend to shy away from the one who believes they heard from God I am to represent their writing. If God has told you that, keep it to yourself, and let God tell me. Then we will both be delighted at the prospect of working together.

EG: How do you interact with authors whom you represent? Can you explain briefly the process you go through of preparing and selling their book to a publisher?

DF: My clients and I go back and forth polishing their proposals in an attempt to answer ahead of time any questions a publisher might have in regarding the merits of their title. In the midst of that process, I will prepare a list of publishers looking for a book of its genre, and prepare a query letter which I will tweak to each publisher’s unique list. When it is ready to go, I will place it on five to six desks simultaneously, and we will wait three months max to hear back from them. At the 1½-month period, I will make a phone call or frame a nudge e-mail. Though it is rare, a submission can end up going astray or into a spam folder. If we have received any helpful rejection letters, or an offer to make a change and come back to them, my client will rewrite, and we will then begin a second round of submissions, hopefully resulting in a sale. The one exception is for “requested by a publisher titles.” I will follow up on those in two weeks with a phone call.  In the waiting, we will work on various ways to further develop my clients platform and career. I will send them opportunities I learn of for them to contribute to anthologies, or write and submit an article on an area of their expertise.

EG: Anything about your personal life you care to share that helps us get to know you and feel more comfortable?

DF: I am an encourager and caregiver on personality assessments. I stick with my clients through many ups and downs, longer than many other agents might. I no longer question if this is a negative in this line of work. I believe I am where God has placed me. Though this business is challenging in this present economy and political environment, I am grateful to work in the CBA and ABA publishing markets.

Diana Flegal has been an agent with Hartline Literary Agency for eleven years. She represents mainstream and inspirational titles, fiction and nonfiction, but nothing that conflicts with the Christian worldview. She is currently looking for nonfiction authors who have a substantial platform, as well as outstanding contemporary women’s fiction, issue fiction, and formula romance. When she is not reading submissions or stealing away with a recreational read, she is hiking in the mountains or kayaking the many lakes of her home state, North Carolina.

Please bring the following to your appointment:

  • A one-sheet that includes a tagline, back of the book blurb, and short bio
  • A synopsis if fiction, or a chapter outline if nonfiction
  • A list of the social media you are currently using and the number of followers for each one
  • Your marketing strategy (what you plan to do to help promote and market your book)
  • The first chapter of your manuscript
  • A notebook and pen/pencil

Diana will teach two workshops at the Renewal this year:

First Lines and Great Beginnings – This is a fun and interactive class where first line and opening page examples will be shared in a safe and friendly environment. Fellow conferees will be asked to honestly express if they would read on. Suggestions will be offered to improve the chances a reader would read on.

The Agent Author Relationship – Do I need an agent? If so, when do I need one? What does an agent do? And…what should I do that an agent won’t? Understanding the relationship between the author and agent is paramount to a successful career. In this class, you will learn what to expect and what is expected of you as an author. A Q&A time will end the workshop and a writer’s resource list will be offered.

To request an appointment with Diana and also attend her workshops, be sure to register soon for the Renewal.

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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.

Steve Laube: Eclectic Experience in the Marketplace of Books

by Elizabeth Griffin

Steve Laube is well-known by regular attendees at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. A literary agent and president of the Steve Laube Agency, he’s been in the book industry for over 37 years, first as a bookstore manager, then with Bethany House Publishers, and now as an agent. He and his agency have represented more than 1,500 new books. In addition, he is the publisher at Enclave Publishing and serves as president and owner of The Christian Writers Institute and author of The Christian Writers Market Guide and Book Proposal Tips and Tricks.

Of all the roles he plays, Steve loves being an agent most because it involves all the fun of publishing with none of the meetings. Like a parent, he loves working with all of the authors he represents equally and says they are each wonderful in and of themselves. Each project moves along at its own pace, with some taking months to develop a strong proposal and others only days.

Steve will be looking for the following at this year’s Renewal:

  • Fiction – women’s fiction, romance, thriller, suspense, romantic suspense, literary, military, historical (all eras), contemporary, science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural, YA … in other words, every genre published in the industry.
  • Nonfiction – Christian Living, biography, apologetics, theology, Bible study, reference, health, finance, self-help, psychology, grief, suffering, marriage, family, women’s, men’s, philosophy, church life, devotional, inspirational, social issues, politics, parenting, music, and art.

According to Steve, “The subjects are vast and the opportunities endless.”

On a more personal level, Steve has been married for 36 years. He and his wife have three married daughters and one grandson. He lives in Arizona, but enjoys visiting Seattle because his 93-year-old mother lives here. He reads about 100 novels a year for relaxation after work and teaches the Bible in an expositional style each Sunday.

Steve will teach these workshops at the Renewal:

Landmines in Your Book Contract – A look at some of the more egregious things that can be found in your book contract. Contracts are a legally binding agreement. What is signed must be followed. Unfortunately, there are certain clauses that can bite authors if they are unaware of their implications. Using real examples from real contracts, this class will take a close look at clauses being placed in front of authors today. This is a rather advanced topic. Be prepared to wear your lawyer hat!

The Complete Book Process: From Idea to Print – What is the route a book takes while in-house?  How the writer can help or hinder? Discover what happens along the entire process inside a publishing company. From book proposal evaluation to pub board decision making to editorial responsibilities to cover design issues and more, this information is applicable whether one is working with a traditional publisher or is publishing independently.

Writing the Nonfiction Book – There are common elements in nonfiction books that contribute to their success. This class will explore them and help apply the elements to your work. Issues of craft, presentation of ideas, and connecting with the reader will be discussed.

Check out all the workshops being offered this year.To request an appointment with Steve, register soon for the Renewal.

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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.

Nick Harrison: A Friendly Face Returns to the Renewal

by Elizabeth Griffin

Nick Harrison is a familiar face at the annual Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, and we are thrilled to have him return again this year. His friendly demeanor makes him approachable and invites questions that he is highly capable of answering after many years in the book business.

Nick started out as a bookseller and then moved on to a successful 15-year stint as an editor at Harvest House. When he retired from there, he chose to begin working as an agent for WordServe Literary. Nick says, “I love this industry and hope to stay in it as long as I can.”

WordServe Literary was formed by Greg Johnson. Nick has found Greg to be a helpful mentor in his transition from editor to agent.

“The great thing about being an agent is that if I love a certain proposal and it finds rejection at one publisher, I can keep championing it to other publishers. As an editor, if I loved a proposal and it turned out not to be a good fit and had to be rejected, that was the end of my relationship with that proposal,” Nick says.

As an agent, Nick expected to represent several fiction authors, but so far he only represents one and has another under serious consideration. He also represents an author of children’s books. He has found himself taking on projects he never thought would exist, and he likes the surprises he’s encountered so far on this journey.

In addition to representing authors, Nick has authored 10 books of his own. Several of these are devotionals and prayer books that can be seen on his website and Amazon.com.

Nick’s next release is called One-Minute Prayers for Those with Cancer. It’s the book he wishes didn’t have a market.

Nick loves what he does and especially enjoys meeting new writers and helping guide them in their writing career. Be sure to say hello to him at the Renewal. He is looking for adult fiction in all genres except speculative fiction. For nonfiction, he will look at self-help, spiritual growth, social issues, women’s books, men’s books, and personal experience books if the lessons from the experience are applicable to a large segment of the population. He is not looking for children’s books, prophecy, poetry, or gift books.

Nick will teach these workshops at the Renewal:

Common Mistakes Writers Make and How to Correct Them by Nick Harrison – In addition to having been an editor at Harvest House Publishers, Nick is also a writer. He understands the frustrations every writer faces. To the beginner, he can offer to show his pile of rejection slips.  To the advanced, he can offer to show his pile of rejection slips. Becoming a published writer takes time, talent, and persistence. The mistakes Nick will talk about are indeed common—and he says he has made them all.

What to Do When You Don’t Have a Platform by Nick Harrison – Writers hate the word platform, but increasingly it can make the difference between a book sale to a publisher…or rejection. While slowly building your platform, there are some things you can do to compensate for not having a platform. We’ll look at some of those ideas. (For fiction and nonfiction authors.)

Check out the rest of the workshops being offered at this year’s Renewal. To request an appointment with Nick, register soon.

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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.

Focus on Blythe Daniel

by Elizabeth Griffin

Bring your elevator pitch to Blythe Daniel at this year’s Renewal.

Approachable and energetic, Blythe takes a personal interest in the authors she represents. She is returning to this year’s Renewal to meet with you if you write about Christian Life, Spiritual Growth, Current Events, Inspirational/Narrative Nonfiction, Business/Leadership, Church Leadership, Marriage, Parenting, Apologetics, Social Issues, Women’s Issues, Cooking and Gift books concepts. She will consider devotionals with a unique theme and concept, and Children’s picture books and early readers with Christian concepts.

Blythe is always on the lookout for up-and-coming voices of ministry leaders, business leaders, pastors, journalists, counselors, and others who have an established organization or ministry, or are part of one. It’s important that you have an online presence and a strong platform. She wants to see what you have done, not just what you plan to do!

Blythe focuses on the placement of books with publishers, online marketing, and publicity for authors. She helps writers build the right book proposal, conducts publicity campaigns, and has placed clients in a number of major national media outlets.

Come prepared with an “elevator pitch.” In 30 seconds to two minutes tell about your idea, including what your book is about, who it’s written for, and how you are connected with your audience. Tell Blythe about your blog, podcasts, YouTube videos, publications you contribute to regularly, your speaking schedule, and your network with other writers and published authors.

Don’t have all of these? Don’t worry. If you write well and have a concept that’s unique and in her wheelhouse, the Blythe Daniel Agency is willing to take you on. Once there, you can be confident that Blythe has a proven track record of 20 years in the industry, including seven years at Thomas Nelson and working with New York Times bestselling authors John and Stasi Eldredge.

In addition to meeting with Blythe, plan to attend her workshops at the Renewal. She will be teaching:

And Exactly How Do I Sell My Book? – E-mail subscriber lists, podcasting, launch teams and what else? These are the current and proven tactics that sell books, whether you are traditionally or independently published. This workshop will explore what these items are and how to implement them in your marketing plans.

What Makes Your Book Eye-Catching to Publishers – Stellar writing, a unique and compelling idea, and your reach to the intended audience. These are the things that make your book attractive to publishers. They want you to write toward a theme that no one else is saying. How do you do this? Blythe will give examples and share how to take a topic and create an angle that will differentiate your book. Also covered will be how to write to your audience so that you are saying something that only you can offer.

Check out all the workshops being offered this year. To request an appointment with Blythe, register soon for the Renewal.

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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.

Jennifer Slattery: A Way with Words

By Elizabeth Griffin

From the moment she could speak, Jennifer Slattery loved words. In fact, her mother used to beg her to be silent—just for five minutes. But Jennifer couldn’t do it. Even when disciplined by teachers for talking in class or embarrassed in Bible studies for dominating the discussion, her natural propensity for self-expression would not be dampened.

As an adult, Jennifer’s wellspring of words has become a source of healing to many women. She began Wholly Loved Ministries to teach women the truth about who they are as daughters of the King. Through stories and humor she shows women how to tune out the lies promoted on social media and modern culture, and to tune into the truth of God’s Word and their identity in Christ.

In addition to speaking fluently, Jennifer also has a freely flowing pen, and she has published five Romance novels with New Hope Publishers. She is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com, Internet Cafe Devotions, and Christians Read. As managing editor of Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she loves working with writers to help them strengthen their manuscripts and grow in their gifting.

“If you have a passion to write, God lit that spark within you, and he knows exactly what lies ahead,” Jennifer says. “In fact, he’s fully committed to perfecting all that concerns you. If we belong to Christ, we’re chosen and called to greatness. God has entrusted us with the most precious, most powerful words known to man—the gospel. At this moment, God is equipping, molding, stretching, and guiding us so he can use us to create ripples of love, peace, joy, and hope. The question is, are we complying?”

At the May 5–6 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Jennifer will entertain proposals for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction. Because we’re so close to the conference, she will schedule her own appointments. You may e-mail her to request a 15-minute slot, or you can use the sign-up form at the Editor/Agent Appointment Desk.

In looking for women’s fiction, Jennifer is especially interested in manuscripts that can cross over into the general market. Though the publisher will continue to release novels with strong Christian elements, for this imprint they’re looking for stories that don’t necessarily use Scripture or refer to God but that reveal truth in more of a parable fashion, such as showing the consequences of sinful behavior. She is not interested in seeing nonfiction, children’s, YA, or overtly religious women’s fiction.

Another way you can take advantage of Jennifer’s insights in writing and promotion is by attending her workshops:

Creating Characters That Grab Your Reader – Some characters entertain us; others grab hold of us and don’t let go. A well-crafted character grabs the reader at their deepest heart level, causing them to see themselves in the character’s struggles and victories. In this discussion on abstract and concrete goals, inner lies, black moments, and character arcs, writers will learn how to take their readers from merely enjoying their stories to living them. (Emerging-writer level)

Developing and Expanding Your Reach: Ways to Build Your Author Platform – This class touches on numerous ways authors can begin to build their platform from article writing to guest blogging, speaking, and more. It discusses how a writer can go from having zero publishing credits to getting asked to write for publication. It also addresses the importance of presenting one’s best work, developing a strong critique partnership team, tweaking old articles and posts to make them fresh, and using self-publishing and compilations to gain readerships. (All levels)

At the conference, let Jennifer’s God-given gift for self-expression inspire you to develop your own way with words.

Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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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.

Tricia Goyer: Real-Life Wonder Woman

We all know at least one Wonder Woman.

Or we’ve heard of one.

Because whenever a woman manages to parent more than a couple of children, earn an income, actively minister in her church and community, and juggle a host of activities and relationships, word spreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Tricia Goyer, you can multiply all of the above many times, and word has definitely spread.

To say that she is a busy mom of ten is an understatement. Her list of accomplishments and ongoing ministry is astonishing.

In summary—and I know I’m missing at least a few things—Tricia is

  • a wife;
  • homeschooling mother of ten, seven of whom are adopted;
  • grandmother of two;
  • national speaker;
  • multi-award winning author of more than 60 published novels and nonfiction books;
  • writer of more than 500 published articles;
  • active blogger on several websites;
  • mentor of teen moms in her community;
  • founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries;
  • sought-after speaker at conferences throughout the world,
  • a regular short-term missionary.

Jesus’ parable of the talents, told in Matthew 25:14–30 (esv), comes to mind when I think about Tricia. The Lord has definitely given her many abilities and gifts, and she has been faithful to use them. As she has done that, the promise “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance,” has proven true.

When recently asked how she finds time to write, Tricia responded:

Writing for me comes down to two things: (1) the choice, and (2) deadlines. I have deadlines with publishers that I have to meet, and I have to make hard choices to meet them. I often wake up early to write—like four a.m. I take my computer with me when we have appointments, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy, and I write in the waiting rooms. And I hire a babysitter for eight to ten hours a week to watch my kids so I can write.

Of course that means ignoring the laundry, ignoring the messy house, and ignoring all the things I want to watch on television. Sometimes I’m tired when I sit down to write, but once I get going the ideas excite me, and it becomes easier. The hard part is just getting started. I’ve learned over the years to just start.

That’s a good lesson for all of us: just start. Be faithful with what God has given you. Then praise him for the results.

I expect there are quite a few lessons we could learn from Tricia, and we’re blessed to have her lead two workshops at our Renewal this May:

Painless Social Media for Authors — Want to grow your followers and increase your impact as an author? Social media can be painless when you discover its true purpose and you create systems that work for you. (Intermediate and advanced levels)

Using Your Life Themes to Write Powerful Fiction – Compelling novels are filled with emotion. Not melodrama, but pain and triumph mined from the deep places of your heart. Discover the deep wells, and your story will take on new life and will touch the deep places of readers’ hearts too. (All levels)

Don’t miss meeting a real-life Wonder Woman! Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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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.

Amy Letinsky: Critical Thinker, Crazy about Metaphor

By Elizabeth Griffin

Those who attend Northwest Christian Writers Association meetings regularly know that longtime member Amy Letinsky is a critical thinker, crazy about metaphor, and an avid reader and writer.

A college professor for the past fifteen years, Amy will share her expertise with us at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal:

A Writing Workshop: At last! The chance to write at a writers conference! With fresh inspiration received from the conference’s keynote addresses and other workshop leaders, come prepared to flourish your pen or fire up your laptop and take part in guided writing exercises led by a college writing instructor.  (All levels)

How to Read Well to Write Well: Train your Brain for Great Writing: Are Christian writers equipped to pull meaning from a text, or are we becoming lazy-brained? Can we keep up with the intellectual depth that C.S. Lewis championed? Learning to read critically is vital for analyzing writing models, not only for our own understanding, but also to enable us to give our critique partners better feedback. In this class, you’ll learn to recognize classic logic fallacies so you can shine the light of God’s truth on them. Included: hands-on evaluation of different texts and web sources. (All levels)

Q&A with Amy Letinsky

I connected with Amy recently, and she agreed to answer the following questions so we can learn more about her:

Q: What roles have you played in NCWA?

A: Several years ago I let then-president Dennis Brooke talk me into taking on the secretary role at NCWA, and it was a great learning experience. Then I coordinated public relations. And I’ve had several opportunities to teach Write Start and Christian Writer’s Coach segments and lead round tables at the monthly meetings. I’ve also led round tables at the conference a few times.

Q: Who are your favorite writers—the ones you believe we all must read and the ones who have influenced you most?

A: Yikes, that’s like asking me who is my favorite child.

John Milton’s Paradise Lost has been, next to the Bible, the most influential book on my life. Milton’s brilliance in all his writing has greatly contributed to my worldview, challenged me to be a deeper thinker, and encouraged me to boldly involve Christ in every aspect of my writing. Yes, he wrote in the  seventeenth century, but his writing is still very relevant, beautiful, and worthwhile for every reader to approach.

John Bunyan is another favorite for the Christian reader. I’ve had the privilege of teaching Pilgrims Progress a few times, and it’s always been an extremely enriching experience. It’s far less intimidating than Paradise Lost, but it was written in the same time period. Bunyan is the opposite of Milton in many ways. Whereas Milton was highly educated and upper class, Bunyan was very poor, with limited education. Both men fought in the same war for puritan ideals, and both went to prison for their beliefs. Bunyan inspires me for what Jesus can do with so little, and Milton inspires me with what Jesus can do with so much. Bunyan’s suffering comes across in his work like no other writer I’ve encountered.

I think Marilynne Robinson is woefully under-read by Christians. She’s won the Pulitzer Prize and regularly teaches at the most prestigious writing program in the country (the Iowa Writers Workshop). She writes about spiritual issues and is a devout Christian. Many consider her to be our greatest living American writer (I concur). Gilead is her masterpiece. Her prose reads like poetry.

Q: What intrigues you most about metaphor?

A: I’m a metaphor buff. I collect them, study them, and wish that I could be better at writing them. Metaphor, to me, is the core of language itself. Every word we speak is metaphoric, in that it stands in for something else. When I say the word “baby,” the word itself isn’t a baby; the word refers to or stands in for the crying, diaper-wetting, adorable little mess of cute. Some words carry more metaphorical weight than others. They become powerful symbols. Words like “freedom” and “rights” carry meanings that, interpreted differently, can start wars or end them.

As Christians, we serve a God who uses many beautiful metaphors to describe himself and his kingdom. Jesus employed metaphors in his parables. He is the Good Shepherd, and we are his sheep. He is the Gate. He is the Rock. The greatest teacher chose metaphor as a primary way of communicating truth to his followers. To me, that’s the greatest reason of all to pay attention to metaphor.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

A: I teach in a lot of different capacities: Sunday school, Girl Scouts; I teach writing to professionals and at NCWA meetings and at Champlain College in the Continuing Professional Studies department.

I enjoy teaching all of these levels, but my passion is teaching grownups to read and write. For me, it’s a high calling to train people to think critically and express themselves effectively. I can think of very few life skills that can make such a big difference in people’s lives. Reading is so much more than sounding out the words on a page. When reading at a high level of critical depth, you avoid falling victim to fake news and scammers, you can discern truth vs lies, you can make connections between ideas to see the big picture, and you can find answers to difficult questions.

When I speak to professional writers, the audience already recognizes the importance of writing. But in my college courses I spend much of my time convincing students that writing is important, that good writing is within their grasp, and that it’s worthwhile to invest time and energy into becoming better at it. So much of their lives involve writing, and yet they don’t realize that their inter-office emails and reports count as writing. I also enjoy teaching students the ethics of writing, and the obligation they have to share information and persuade in an honest way for their particular audience: to speak truth in love.

Q: What are the most important things a writer can do to improve his or her craft?

A: “Keep writing.” That’s the advice that Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, gave me when he came to speak at the college where I was teaching at the time. At first, I felt like he was kind of brushing me off. But I’ve come to realize that it’s the best advice for becoming a better writer.

Marilynne Robinson, whom I’ve mentioned above, had very different advice for me. She said, “Feel the difference between what you’ve experienced and what you’re writing and fill in that difference.” I’m still untangling what that means.

As far as practical advice, I advocate reading a lot. To be a good writer is to be a good reader and vise versa. Read good stuff. Read stuff that challenges you, has won awards, and that may not fit with your worldview. Remember: Garbage in, garbage out; Quality in, quality out.

Okay, I’m a writing instructor, so here’s another tip: Write in your books. Mark them up as much as possible. Use a pencil or pen, and argue in the margins. Begin your essay at the end of the paragraph, continuing the line of thought. Circle key points. Fully engage with the text to learn it and apply it in your writing.

Q: How do you balance your career with being a wife and mother?

A: Not well. As my kids are getting older, I’m getting better at it, but it probably has to do more with them getting older than me figuring it out.

I have a strong sense of calling to my career as an instructor and my role as a stay-at-home mom. These two things love to compete with each other. But I have a supportive husband who helps watch the kids, so I can work. My husband is a physician, so he understands the time and mental commitment required for in-depth study. I think he also enjoys how fired up I get about my teaching and writing.

Really, it’s God’s grace that I’ve managed to keep working, stay married, and take care of the kids. I’m not exactly sure how I’ve managed it, but God keeps making it possible. He’s perfectly timed my huge writing projects to when I can get more help with the kids. And God gave me kids that generally sleep well, which is a huge help.

Register today to attend Amy’s workshops at this year’s Renewal.

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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.

Linda S. Glaz: Passionate about Writing and Writers

With a fiction tagline as creative as we all wish ours could be—Suspense sealed with a kiss—is it any wonder that Linda S. Glaz is a multi-published author of historical romance and romantic suspense novels?

linda-s-glazThe happily married mother of three—and grandmother of three—says, “Suspense wakes me up, slaps me across the face, and acts like ten cups of coffee. I love it.”

Linda particularly likes to write about creepy characters that readers love to hate.

“There are scary people out there, and it’s wonderful to write about them in the warmth and safety of home. Besides, creepy people have some crazy stories to tell. So why not let them? Add in a bit of romance and what’s better?” she says.

With life experience in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict, teaching women’s self-defense, and refereeing and teaching soccer for 25 years, Linda draws on her varied background while writing and editing. Adding an enthusiasm for musical theatre to her penchant for adventure rounds out her ability to create intriguing characters and plot lines that keep fans coming back for more.

As a literary agent for Hartline Literary Agency, Linda welcomes suspenseful fiction from attendees at this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, but she also says, “Don’t stop there. I go gaga over historical [fiction], contemporary and historic romance, and even an occasional nondescript genre. While I shy away from sci-fi and most types of spec fiction, I have even been known to take one or two of those.”

What’s she really looking for?

“I’m not looking for good books,” Linda says. “I’m looking for great, exceptional novels that force me to stay plunked in my chair—reading, reading, and reading without a break. And while you’re at it, be sure you’ve developed a strong social media platform. Don’t you just hate that word? So do I, but alas, it’s necessary in today’s competitive industry.”

Though she admits she doesn’t “connect with a lot of nonfiction,” Linda says she’s “always happy to have a peek.”

With those parameters in mind, do not bring her hard copies or proposals for children’s books—or anything that has graphic sexuality or profanity.

Always the encourager, Linda says, “I’m not choosy as long as it’s…well-written. The most important thing being whether or not I have a place I can take it to. Just because I say no doesn’t mean it isn’t a great work!”

In addition to seeing writers at the Renewal, Linda will also serve on a publishing experts panel and teach a two-part workshop:

Ready…Set…Begin!: In this 2-part class, emerging authors will discover how to look like professionals in a crazy upside-down industry. What’s a WIP? Does it matter how I format? Why? What do agents and editors expect? What makes them go crazy and reject a submission? Learn essential hints and tips; understand terminology, writing basics, and what all writers need to know! (Emerging-writer level for both classes)

Don’t miss meeting this dynamic literary agent! Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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elizabeth_griffin2Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 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.