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.

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7 Facts You Might Not Know about Angela Hunt

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

You might know a few facts about author Angela Hunt.

You might know she is a Christy-Award winner and has sold over four million books worldwide.

Maybe you purchased the much-loved book The Tale of Three Trees for your children.

Maybe you stayed up too late reading one of her 130 books.

7 Facts About Angela Hunt

Tweet7 Facts You Might Not Know About Angela Hunt

 

But here are seven facts you might not be aware of:

  1. Angela has appeared with her dog on Live with Regis and Kelly. A few years ago, Angela and her husband were invited to bring one of their mastiffs, proclaimed the “second-largest canine in America,” on an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for a TV appearance. The trip was complete with VIP air travel and a tour of New York City in a stretch limo. (At the airport afterward, the dog gave out pawtographs.)

Angela's dog

  1. Angela spends one day a month photographing dogs and cats at her local animal shelter. In 2012 she began taking photos of rescue animals to help find them homes, discovered she loved making her “models” look their best, and the following year launched Angela Hunt Photography, a family-centered boutique photography studio. She used to be at the shelter once a week, but now she’s also using her skills at a hospital where she takes pictures of folks with terminal babies as a way to help families through the grieving process.
  1. In fifth grade Angela learned how to flirt when she read Gone with the Wind. She says books have always shaped her life.

TweetBooks taught author Angela Hunt everything she needed to know . . . even how to flirt.

  1. For most of the past decade, Dr. Hunt has been doing postgraduate studies. She completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree in 2006, her doctorate in 2008, and was accepted into a Th.D. program in 2009.
  1. Angela’s novel The Note was made into a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie that first aired in December 2007. Since then it has received the Hallmark Channel’s third-highest all-time rating.
  1. About the only thing that doesn’t interest Angela is the subject of sports. In addition to having a fascination for animals, she’s also interested in medicine, psychology, unexplained phenomena, and “nearly everything else.”
  1. Angela appreciates her readers so much that she’s available to chat with them during free 15-minute conference calls via phone or Skype. To take advantage of this opportunity, all you have to do is belong to a reading group or book club and contact her with your requested date and time. Then invite beginning writers, readers, and fiction fans to your group, put on a pot of coffee, and settle in for a time of unscripted, honest conversation.

Writing Lesson from the FrontWhat could be better than a personal conference call? Seeing Angela in person at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, May 15–16, 2015. As keynote speaker, she will inspire you to use your God-given writing gifts, and she will share valuable tips and strategies from her popular how-to series, Writing Lessons from the Front.

Angela Hunt

Angela Hunt writes for readers who expect the unexpected.

Readers of the series rave about how Angela’s advice has helped them get published. Three of the titles in her nine-part series are Evoking Emotion, The Fiction Writer’s Book of Checklists, and Track Down the Weasel Words. One reviewer sums up a fourth book, The Plot Skeleton, as “a wealth of practicality that lends itself towards instant application.” Another credits the method for the sale of her first novel. Calling Angela “a writing genius,” still another writer finds that the book Point of View helps writers understand the secret power behind POV and how it can aid with suspense, characterization, and voice.

Now, at an information-packed two-day conference, you can soak up inspirational and practical teaching from one of today’s most accomplished Christian fiction writers.

As soon as registration opens, you’ll want to sign up 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 also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference near Seattle. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Writing and the Red Sea

NCWA welcomes Grace Fox! Grace will be teaching a workshop at NCWA’s Renewal Conference. See end of post for details.

As a writer, I believe God has given me the assignment of communicating truth through the written word. Some days I feel confident of my call. Ideas flow, and fingers fly across the keyboard. An editor accepts an article. A royalty check arrives. And a reader emails, “Your book changed my life. Please keep writing.”

Other days…well, other days the computer screen stares at me in silence. My fingers hover over the keyboard awaiting a divine download. I pour a cup of coffee. A rejection hits my inbox. More coffee. I check my Amazon stats, and I entertain thoughts about getting a real job.

Sometimes I feel as though accomplishing this assignment borders on the brink of impossibility, and I think of Moses. How did he feel when he stood on the shore of the Red Sea with more than three million people depending on him for their well-being? His was a God-given assignment, too, but as waves wet his feet perhaps he questioned his ability to fulfill it.

I stand on the shore of my own Red Sea wondering how to best tackle a task fraught with challenges including…

How can I ensure my work passes the slush pile and lands on the editor’s desk?

How can I overcome the pain of rejection or disappointment?

What must I do to secure an agent?

What’s the best publishing option for my book?

What marketing and publicity strategies are most effective for my book?

How can I build my platform?

Writing for publication, especially considering the industry’s constant, rapid changes, is not an easy task. It’s vital that we, as writers, focus not on the Red Sea before us but on the One who’s able to part the waters and show us the way through them. Several weeks ago I discovered these verses, and I’ve found them encouraging in this context:

“When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled!…Your road led through the sea, your pathways through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there! You led your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds” (Psalm 77:16-20).

God gave Moses a seemingly impossible task and then made the way to accomplish it. He’ll do the same for us as we seek to communicate messages of hope and healing to a hurting world. Let’s be faithful to do what He’s called us to do with excellence and enthusiasm, and let’s trust Him to make a way through the publishing industry’s Red Sea so that our messages can reach those who need them most.

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At NCWA’s Renewal Conference, Grace will be teaching: “Build a Successful Writing Ministry/Career: Break into Publishing” (continuing two-part workshop for the newer writer). Click here for details.

Grace Fox is the published author of hundreds of magazine articles and five books including Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation (Harvest House). In partnership with Stonecroft Ministries (www.stonecroftcanada.org), she recently produced a 7-part teaching DVD and Bible study to accompany that book. Grace is also an international speaker and national co-director of International Messengers Canada (www.im-canada.ca), a non-profit organization that specializes in creative career and short-term ministry opportunities in Eastern Europe. Visit Grace’s sites for more information. www.gracefox.com, www.fb.com/gracefox.author

www.fb.com/peacefulmomentstobeginyourday

The Gospel According to Fairy Tales

NCWA welcomes Jeffrey Overstreet! Jeffrey will be teaching two workshops at the NCWA Renewal Conference. See end of post for links.

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On a rocky promontory, two young hobbits cling to life, caught in the fiery cataclysm of an erupting volcano. In the smoke and the blaze, Frodo begins to despair. But his faithful companion, Samwise, looks up to behold the unexpected — rescue, arriving on the wings of eagles.
I read the climactic scene in J.R.R. Tokien’s The Lord of the Rings when I was only 8 years old, and it remains as vivid in my memory as anything I experienced in my early years. Back then, the world seemed a scary, even volcanic, place. But in this fairy tale, hope took on a shape so powerful that it enhanced my understanding of the gospel.

It happened again in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Young Charles Wallace fell under the influence of a malevolent villain, a bodiless brain called “IT,” and was imprisoned by pure reason … quite literally. But his sister Meg came to his rescue with a love so irrational and selfless that it confounded the enemy and broke IT’s power.

The Lord of the Rings, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia… all of these fantasy stories remain strangely reassuring. While they take place in imaginary worlds, and illustrate impossible events, fairy tales have given me more real hope than any other form of art.

Growing up, I watched my peers “put away childish things,” so I became reluctant to admit my continuing love for fairy tales. I was even more embarrassed to reveal that I spent my evenings designing my own mythology. Was I sinking into useless escapism? Elves, wizards, dragons — they’re for kids, right?

L’Engle, Tolkien, and Lewis — and their inspiration, George MacDonald, 19th-century author of The Princess and the Goblin — understood that the world of make-believe lets us give shapes to our worst fears and deepest longings. The creative inventions of fairy tales allow us to experience the fulfillment of promises that are yet to be fulfilled — even the redemption of the world from the consequences of sin

From Rumpelstiltskin to Where the Wild Things Are, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, fairy tales train us to perceive the sacred in the common, the extraordinary in the ordinary. A common servant girl might be a princess. A shiny apple might contain a poisonous influence. A beast might be saved from beastliness. It’s not hard to find echoes of Scripture’s own stories here. We are all heirs to a great kingdom, children who seized forbidden fruit and fell under a curse, prisoners in need of salvation from beyond.

I have recently completed a four-book epic fantasy called The Auralia Thread (Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast), and I am already hard at work on the beginning of a new saga. At this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal gathering, I will share some of the life-changing things I’ve learned from a life of reading about — and writing about — wild, bizarre, mysterious, even terrifying things.

In one lecture, I’ll talk about fairy tales — old stories and new stories, famous and obscure, religious and “pagan.” I’ll share how I’ve seen them continue to reveal the glory of God in the ordinary things in this world, and I’ll talk about the challenges of writing fantasy as a Christian.

In the second, I’ll dig even deeper, and talk about the redemptive power of play. Where does play begin? What it is for? Why do so many adults outgrow make-believe? And what do they lose when they do?

I hope to see you there.

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Jeffrey’s workshop titles for the NCWA Renewal Conference are: “A Box of 64 Crayons: How Storytellers Can Play Without Ceasing” and “Beast and the Beauty: What Fairy Tales and Jesus’ Parables Have in Common.” Click here for details.

[An extended version of this post was originally published in Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine.]

About the Author:

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell.org, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

Prepare for a Writers Conference

NCWA welcomes Edie Melson from The Write Conversation concludes her three part series about conferences.

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Last Monday I posted a tongue in cheek Top Ten List of Reason’s to Attend a Writers Conference. Then Wednesday I gave you a rundown of how to Choose a Writers Conference. Today I’m going to get a little bit serious and share some of the things you may want to prepare before you go.
Networking
Networking is the easiest to prepare for. If you’re just going to meet other writers and professionals the main thing you need is a good business card. Please take note, I said, good, NOT expensive.
These are the things a good writers business card includes:
  • Your picture – I know, I hate to have my picture taken and I always hate how it looks. But, in this business you need to be remembered and recognized and your picture is the best and easiest way to do that. If someone has a card with your picture on it, they’ll remember who you are months longer than if it’s just got your name. Also, it’s harder to throw away a card with a picture on it than a card with just text on it.
  • The name you use when you write – if you use a psuedonym, be sure it’s on the card. Here’s an example (I just made up the names – they’re not representative of a real person): Susie Stone, writing as Catherine Milo.
  • Your email address – this is going to be the main way others will contact you.
  • Your website or blog address – never pass up the opportunity to encourage new visitors to your sites. Also, many people will follow up on what you’ve told them and this will be a way for them to get to know you better.
  • Cell phone number – this isn’t absolutely necessary, but it helps if your email goes down and someone has a hot lead for you.
Please take note of what is NOT included on a business card now. You do not need your physical address on the card. Actually, it’s a liability. It can be dangerous to give out your home address, so if you feel you must include an address, invest in a PO Box.
It is possible to make your own business cards, using Avery brand sheets that go through your ink jet printer. The trick to successfully printing your own cards is to keep them simple! Another inexpensive way to go is by using VistaPrint. This online company is very reputable and I personally know a lot of writers who get their cards through them.
Bring some writing samples:
These are good to have simply because you’ll probably find yourself in a group, or at a table, where everyone is sharing something they’ve written. It might not happen, but chances are, if you don’t have anything to show, you’ll be disappointed.
Pitching
This is when you attend a conference because you have something you want to sell to a publisher or if you want to get an agent. The things below that you’ll need are specifically for those wishing to sell a fiction or non-fiction book.
It’s important to keep in mind that everything you prepare for the conference to pitch a project is incremental in nature.
  • Your tag line or hook should make the editor or agent ask to hear more about your project (this is the time for the elevator pitch).
  • The elevator pitch should lead them to ask for your one sheet.
  • Your one sheet or pitch sheet should lead them to ask you to send them a proposal when you get home.
  • Your proposal should lead them to ask you to send them your entire manuscript.
  • Your entire manuscript should lead them to offer you a contract.
These are the generic steps in publishing. God can step in at any time in the process and something completely different can, and often does, happen. But, until that happens, I try to take it one step at a time.
Now Let’s look at what’s involved in each one of these components.
  • tag line or hook – this is one sentence, preferably 15 words or less. It should NOT be a synopsis of your book, but rather it’s to intrigue the editor/agent and make them want to know more.
  • elevator pitch – this should be short, around 45 seconds. It will sound a lot like back cover copy or what is on your one sheet. Again, it’s to make the editor/agent ask to see more.
  • one sheet or pitch sheet – this gives the blurb about your book, information about yourself (bio) and general info, like genre and audience for your project. If it’s fiction, it states that the project is finished. If it’s non-fiction it gives a completion date if the project is unfinished
You won’t need a full proposal or manuscript for the conference. If an editor or agent is interested they’ll ask you to email or snail mail them one when you get home.
Again, as with networking, you’ll need to bring some samples of your writing.

This is just a general overview of what is needed. If you have specific questions, feel free to post your question in the comments section.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

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Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference will take place on May 18th & 19th at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. Click here for details.

This post first appeared March 13, 2011 on The Write Conversation. Used by kind permission.

Edie Melson has years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer and the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference which will take place on May 20 – May 24, 2012.

Visit her website for writers, www.thewriteconversation.com and look for her best-selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, as well as her devotional, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.

Choose a Writers Conference

NCWA welcomes Edie Melson from The Write Conversation in the second of a three part series about conferences.

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I don’t know about you, but my inbox is stuffed to overflowing with announcements regarding upcoming writing events. There are national conferences, regional conferences, local workshops and online courses. How is a writer to choose which ones will be most helpful and appropriate?
Monday I posted a tongue-in-cheek top ten of why to attend a conference. Today we’ll get serious and I’ll give some good guidelines to help with your decision.
The first thing you should consider is your experience level. You need to look at where you are with your writing, that will be the biggest factor in your decision. As you look at the categories realize that your experience may overlap.
Beginner
  • Never submitted anything for publication
  • Hasn’t told many people he writes
  • Has submitted a couple of things, but nothing published
Advanced Beginner
  • Has several rejection letters and a couple of acceptances
  • Is a member of a local or online writing group
  • Regularly reads articles or books about writing
Intermediate
  • Has attended a writers event (either a workshop, conference or online class)
  • Has an idea of where he wants to go with his writing
  • Has been paid for his writing
Advanced
  • Spends time each day working at the craft of writing and has an income derived from writing
  • Has definite goals and aspirations for his writing
Once you know which group you fall into, it’s easier to evaluate each individual event. There are 2 reasons to attend a writers event.
  1. To learn more about the craft of writing
  2. To network with professionals within the writing world
Here’s a general breakdown of what is usually offered at each kind of event.
These events vary slightly, so the following information is generalized. You should read all brochures and websites carefully to know what to expect.
Large, National Writing Conference
Expect lots of classes for a wide variety of writers – from beginner to advanced.
Continuing Classes – these are classes that last for more than one class period and concentrate on one subject. Even though they are continuing, they rarely provide advanced information on a given subject.
Workshops – these are classes that give an introduction to a concept (like dialogue, plot or setting).
Breakouts or Panels – these are groups of professionals giving instruction on a given subject. The information here is usually very basic.
Appointments with Faculty – most large conferences include a private appointment with a member of the faculty. This is where you would pitch a book or article idea to an editor. It can also be valuable to let a seasoned author look at your writing and give one-on-one feedback.
Regional or Local Writing Conference
These tend to have more classes for the beginner and advanced beginner writer, although there are exceptions. Depending on the length of time, the conference will follow the same basic setup as a national conference.
Workshop or Seminar
Many of these are very specific in what they offer. They aren’t for a large number of writers and generally target the intermediate or advanced writer.
Online Classes
Again, they are very specific in what they offer and vary widely in who they cater to.
It’s never a good idea to write in a vacuum. I have always tried to attend one large conference a year to expose myself to the writing industry, both for networking and education. I also try to attend at least one focused workshop or seminar each year I and I try to keep my eyes open for online writing courses and take at least two a year.
Let me know what conferences and events you’ve attended and how they’ve helped your writing journey.

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Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference will take place on May 18th & 19th at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. Click here for details.

This post first appeared March 10, 2011 on The Write Conversation. Used by kind permission.

Edie Melson has years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer and the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference which will take place on May 20 – May 24, 2012.

Visit her website for writers, www.thewriteconversation.com and look for her best-selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, as well as her devotional, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.

Top Ten Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference!

 

NCWA welcomes Edie Melson from The Write Conversation

 

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This time of year writing conferences are gearing up, the faculty has been chosen and the websites are humming, ready to take your reservations. So why attend a writer’s conference? Is there anything to be gained? I believe the answer is a resounding, YES.

Top Ten Reasons pm(James L. Rubart teaching at the 2013 Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference)

Personally, I’ve been attending large conferences for years. And as my experience level has increased so have the benefits from attending. Here are my top ten reasons to attend a writers conference this year.

TweetEdie Melsom’s top ten reasons to attend a writers conference this year.

 

10. Relationships. Writing is all about relationships – your relationship with the reader, with the editor and with other writers.

9. Loneliness. Writing is a lonely business. We need time to socialize with others who get this crazy passion we have with words.

8. Confirmation. We all face doubts as to whether or not we really are a writer. A conference is the best place to confirm that calling and receive support from our peers.

7. Misery loves company. If you have spent any time at all as a writer, you know all about rejection. It helps to hear other people talk about their experiences and realize we all face the same thing.

6. The classes. Where else can you spend hours at a stretch learning about all the different aspects of writing?

5. Late night brainstorming sessions. Many of us keep odd hours as writers, where else can you find others ready to share a cup of coffee and discuss an idea at 2am?

4. Meet your neighbor. Okay, I admit, this one’s personal for me. But I had to go to a writer’s conference to meet my writing buddy Vonda Skelton – who lives less than 3 minutes away!

3. Hang out with the stars. We all have writers we admire and a conference where they are on staff is the perfect place to get to know them.

2. Sharpen that pitch. If you want to pitch an idea, a conference is the perfect place to try it out on other professionals before you send it to the editor.

1. Network, Network, Network. Like I said, writing is all about relationships and its human nature for an editor to prefer someone he’s met to someone he doesn’t know.

What conferences have you enjoyed the most?

(Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference will take place on April 11-12, 2014 at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. Click here for details.)

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

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This post first appeared March 7, 2011 on The Write Conversation. Used by kind permission.

Edie Melson has years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer and the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Visit her website for writers, www.thewriteconversation.com and look for her best-selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, as well as her devotional, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.