Steve Barclift – Kregel Publications

by Elizabeth Griffin

Another veteran in the book business joins us this year at the Renewal. Steve Barclift has worked with books and authors for more than 30 years as a children’s book author and editor. He has been the managing editor at Kregel Publications since 1997.

Last year, Kregel was awarded Publisher of the Year by Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), and Steve was awarded Nonfiction Editor of the Year. He has been distinguished with several other awards during his long career, both as an author and editor.

Steve traveled from his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to this year’s Renewal in hopes of finding works that address a popular audience by relating the Bible to everyday life. Prominent on his wish list are works for moms and women; Bible studies or other books that relate truth to life; fiction, particularly historical; and books for young readers. Kregel is also looking for books that will help 20- and 30-something Christians and “seekers” relate to the culture around them.

It may be helpful to take a look at a few books that Steve lists as those that do well for Kregel. Two of these in the self-help category include Hope After Betrayal by Meg Wilson, which deals with a husband’s sexual addiction; and Autism’s Hidden Blessings: Discovering God’s Promises for Autistic Children and Their Families by Kelly Langston.

Fiction should be fresh, have a believable story line, and feature characters who engage life realistically and biblically. Steve lists Susie Finkbeiner’s A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression and her recent bestseller, A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era, as examples of fiction that sells well, in addition to Mercy’s Rain: An Appalachian Novel and Liar’s Winter: An Appalachian Novel, both by Cindy Sproles.

Kregel is also open to historical fiction that features a romantic element. Carolyn Miller’s Regency Series is selling very well. And the publisher will also consider romantic suspense.

For the Kregel Ministry line, Steve is looking for works that facilitate the study and teaching of the Bible. These books should reflect the needs and interests of a broad evangelical audience.

Though not looking for other genres, there is always a possibility that something masterfully written in a compelling and unique style will catch Steve’s eye, so feel free to pitch it.

To sign up for an appointment with Steve, 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.

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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.

Darlene Panzera Encourages Writers to Follow Their Dreams

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

Ever since she was fourteen and living in New Jersey, Darlene Panzera dreamed of being a published author. Her dream was realized when she won the Debbie Macomber/Avon Books “Make Your Dreams Come True” contest. Since then, she has published several books in the Sweet Contemporary Romance genre.

DarlenePanzeraPinableDarlene encourages other aspiring authors to pursue their dreams too. On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Darlene will lead two sessions:

Fiction First Aid1) Fiction First Aid (WriteCoach Lab) – Stuck in the middle of your novel? Need help with character development or a plot line? Bring questions, challenges, and even your WIP (Work in Progress), and multi-published author Darlene Panzera will help you brainstorm solutions.

Solid Story Structure2) Solid Story Structure (workshop) – The key to writing any great story begins with character. But after you create a three-dimensional cast, complete with specific views, motivation, goals, and personality traits . . . then what? Learning to develop solid story structure will help you keep your characters on track as they change and grow and make decisions that will affect the ultimate success of their story journey. Class includes story-structure templates and discussions on character arc.

Jeri Stockdale’s Interview with Darlene Panzera

Writing buddies Darlene and Jeri first met at last year's Renewal conference.

Writing buddies Darlene and Jeri first met at last year’s Renewal conference.

Jeri Stockdale met Darlene Panzera at the 2014 Renewal conference, and both Jeri and Darlene were excited to meet other attendees who were also from the Kitsap Peninsula. That led to the formation of the Christian writer’s group Penning on the Peninsula. Because of her deep appreciation for Darlene as an author, teacher, and friend, Jeri volunteered to interview Darlene for the NCWA blog.

Jeri:  You are an author, speaker, and workshop presenter, as well as a wife and mother of three. What does a typical day look like for you?

Darlene: I have to smile at this, because I do not think any day of mine is typical. To help me manage my to-do list and my time, I created a printable 5-by-8-inch Daily Checklist that I fill out each day and take with me wherever I go. Already printed on the card are my daily chores and activities, with room to add specific details. I also jot down the amount of writing time available that day and what I plan to work on. Highlighting my top three priorities helps keep me focused.

Jeri:  In what genres have your books been published? How do you want to expand or move forward with your writing in the future?

Darlene: So far my books, novellas, and short stories have all been Sweet Contemporary Romance. But now I am working on a few projects that move into the Inspirational Romance market. Since the two genres are very similar, and I already thread Christian characters, values, and themes into my stories, I’m hoping my fans will cross the bridge along with me. I am also working on a children’s book cartoon series with my daughter, which features our two horses.

Jeri:  Have any authors been role models for you or has someone been an important mentor in your writing career?

Darlene: Many have helped shaped my career, but I owe the most gratitude to Debbie Macomber, who picked my story to publish with hers in her 2012 release, Family Affair. Since then she has taken me to lunch and offered advice, but it is her own Christian spiritual journey on the road to publication that has inspired me most.

Jeri:  What brings you the most joy as an author? What message do you see coming through your stories?

Darlene: I enjoy helping new authors learn to write. I pass along the message I’ve received and that I build into each of my stories—don’t give up. Persevere and fight the good fight. Because you matter. And God willing, your efforts can make a difference.

Jeri:  What secrets will you reveal in your workshop Solid Story Structure?

Darlene: When I first started writing, the concept of plot baffled me. I had no idea how to rescue my characters at the end of their tumultuous journey and make everything work out okay. After years of study, I now know a novel doesn’t come together haphazardly. There is a system one can follow to lay the framework for a fully satisfying story that makes sense from start to finish. Come to the workshop, and I’ll share the secret.

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To learn from Darlene Panzera’s workshop and WriteCoach Lab, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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JeriStockdaleJeri Stockdale is a wife and mother of three. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Western Washington University, she worked for a number of years as a management analyst, where she loved doing research and writing reports and recommendations for management. She is passionate about discipleship, adoption, and homeschooling. A pre-published author, Jeri writes inspirational women’s fiction, historical fiction, and nonfiction articles and animal adventures.