6 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid at a Writers Conference

by guest blogger Katelyn S. Bolds, web writer and social media strategist

1.  Bring snacks

Don’t make the mistake of not planning for meals. Have a little snack stashed in your attaché for a slow moment. Don’t let your stomach growl when pitching your book! Bring a granola bar or trail mix as a speedy way to subdue your hunger. Choosing protein and low-sugar options will help keep your energy levels up and prevent you from crashing in the mid-afternoon slump.6-rookie-mistakes

2.  Make goals

Attending a conference with no goals in mind is a complete waste of money. Even if your goal is “find out what my goal should be,” you should still have some in mind.

Make a list of the editors and agents you want to meet with or touch base with. Do your homework and research them online. Try to find out interests, and see if your story would fit well for them. If an agent only works with fiction, don’t try to get them to make an exception for your manuscript.

3.  Avoid burnout

Know what is the right amount of conference for you. When you start to feel overwhelmed, leave the conference. Go outside, take a nap, call your family. Skipping meals or sleep will not impress anyone, but rather give the impression that you are inexperienced and unprofessional. Everyone needs a break after a long conference, but rest assured you can recover.

Read more here about avoiding conference burnout.

4.  Network and connect

Don’t underestimate the power of connections and friendships made at conferences! Use your time between sessions to speak with those around you. Swap struggles and tips with other writers and make sure to get names and e-mails if you feel the connection has potential. Writer friends are important for support, idea generation, and later networking opportunities. Be kind and see where it might lead!

5.  Pitch perfectly

Know your story backwards and forwards. It’s hard to sell a story short and sweet, but shoot for the style of a back cover. Focus on the main plot and emotional draw. In three to five sentences, explain the mass appeal of your work and why the publisher should be interested. Be polite, but don’t waste time chatting about the weather or the conference. The agent or editor is there to hear your pitch.

6.  Follow up and follow through!

Follow up with everyone you spoke with for more than a few minutes. Send them a thank you e-mail referencing interesting conversation points you discussed and tell them it was nice to meet them. This little touch will remind them who you are and set you apart from the crowd.

Follow through with anyone who asked you to send them something. If an editor asks you to tweak your story before sending them your manuscript, don’t let pride or lack of time stand in your way. Send it to them with haste! You may find that they are willing to work with you in the future, knowing how dedicated you are to impressing them.

Now that you know the rookie mistakes to avoid at writers conferences, be sure to sign up for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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katelynsbolds_headshotKatelyn S. Bolds balances work as web editor, author services extraordinaire, and freelance writer. She is married to coffee; also her husband. At times this DIY life might get a little crazy, but she takes it one day at a time. A little yoga, a lot of organization, and a holistic approach make for a Bold Life. Follow her on Twitter, (@KatelynSBolds), Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Pilgrim Shares Thoughts about the Successful Writing Journey

Dennis Brooke memeBy Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference

What does your writing journey have in common with a 500-mile pilgrimage?

This spring, former NCWA president Dennis Brooke, along with his wife Laurie, set out to walk the entire length of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James), a network of routes across Europe that leads to the town of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Since the Middle Ages, Christians have made the pilgrimage to visit the tomb of St. James the Apostle.

While in León, Spain, just as the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference was about to get underway, Dennis recorded a 3½ minute video to share with us key similarities he notes between being a successful writer and preparing for a Camino de Santiago trek.

Dennis is the author of the speculative novel The Last Apostle. While on pilgrimage, he’s finding plenty of opportunities to research his next novel, Thomas the Brave. You can connect with Dennis and Laurie at www.WorldRovers.com.

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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 is coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym. Their latest coauthored book, Finding Success with Your Dream Writing Projects, will be released in August by Bold Vision Books.

Laura Christianson Enjoys Delivering the Beef

 By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Laura Christianson

Have you ever signed up for a free webinar that actually turned out to be an hour-long advertisement-in-disguise for an online course that would set you back thousands of dollars?

Laura Christianson has. “While there’s nothing wrong with promoting a course, product, or service via a webinar,” she says, “most of the webinars I attend are heavy on promotion and light on content.”

As she hangs up in disgust, she wonders, “Where’s the beef?”

Laura’s conviction in delivering the “beef” (or the veggie sandwich, for those not into red meat) provides the motivation for everything she does.

“Whether I’m delivering a keynote presentation to hundreds, teaching a workshop to a small group, or chatting with one individual, my chief delight comes from knowing I’ve helped someone,” she says.

One of her areas of expertise is social-media marketing. Not only does she regularly partner with publishers such as Revell, Bethany House, Franciscan Media, Moody Publishers, and Simon & Schuster to promote their authors, but she also owns Blogging Bistro, a marketing company that specializes in custom website creation, content writing, and online courses. She’s also written three published books and thousands of articles and serves on the board of West Coast Christian Writers, located in San Jose, California.

At the 2016 Renewal, Laura will teach two workshops on social media:

5 Fatal Blogging and Social Media Mistakes to Avoid1) 5 Fatal Blogging and Social Media Mistakes to Avoid – Ready to blog and use social media, but afraid you’ll do it incorrectly? During this workshop, you’ll learn five things not to do, along with how to replace bad habits with solid foundational practices that will help you dominate your niche.

#HeavenlyHashtags2) #HeavenlyHashtags to Build Your Brand – Learn what hashtags are and how to use them correctly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You’ll head home from this workshop with five brilliant ways to use hashtags.

Laura, a long-time member of NCWA, lives in the Seattle area, where she enjoys rollerblading, bicycling, and swimming. She and her husband root for their young-adult sons who are involved in various athletic, culinary, and Xbox endeavors.

To attend her workshops or to request an appointment with one of the seven editorial representatives at this year’s conference, sign up for the Renewal today.

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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. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

Former Spy Dennis Brooke Ferrets Out Technology

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

A number of years ago, Dennis Brooke served as an Air Force missile officer. For four years he pulled duty sixty feet under the Montana prairie. He also spent a day in the skies as a spy.

“What was it like to be doing that job,” he asks, “when we thought the Cold War would last for decades to come or turn into a hot war any day?” It wasn’t until he stood on the Berlin Wall when it was coming down—just a few yards from Checkpoint Charlie—that he realized more fully why our military personnel serve their country.

Dennis has turned that experience into a topic for writing and speaking. Some of his other experiences-turned-topics include “Wooing Your Wife,” “Project Management,” and “Web 2.0.” His eclectic repertoire is revealed in the wide variety of publications he’s written for. “Until someone proves me wrong,” he says, “I’ll claim to be the only person to have been published in both Combat Crew and Focus on the Family magazines.”

DennisBrookePinablejpgWhile on the NCWA board, Dennis brought our organization into the digital age through a new database program for managing our membership and website, along with a cloud-based storage system that board members and key volunteers can access for necessary documents.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Dennis will co-lead three interactive sessions of a WriteCoach Lab especially designed for those who have questions about basic technology and also moderate a marketing panel of experts:

BYOD-Tech Essentials1) BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Tech Essentials (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15, with Mindy Peltier) – Ever wonder how to make those graphic “thingies” you’re supposed to include in blog posts? Stumped trying to build an email list? Wish you knew how to use hashtags, make captions, or manage friends/followers? Nervous about uploading photos to “the cloud”? Recently changed from PC to Apple—or vice versa—and feel lost? At this BYOD Tech Essentials Lab, no question is too basic for experts Mindy Peltier and Dennis Brooke. And if they don’t know the answer, they’ll demonstrate how to search the Internet for solutions. Bring your own laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone, etc., to gain the most from these sessions.

Market Like the Pros Panel2) “Market Like the Pros” Panel (Workshop, Friday, May 15) – Dennis Brooke will moderate a panel composed of publishing experts Carolyn McCready, Grace Fox, and James L. Rubart. You’ll learn secrets for getting your labors of love the attention they deserve. The panel will address marketing for both traditional and indie writers. Bring your questions and be ready for concrete ideas and inspiration.

Want to hear the rest of Dennis’s spy adventure? One time as an Air Force officer, he went on an Army Intelligence RC-12 spy mission. “We flew up and down the East German border all day,” he recalls. “It was very boring until we came in to land, and one of the landing-gear indicator lights that show “gear is down and locked” failed to illuminate. Fortunately, it was just a burned-out bulb, and my one day as a spy didn’t end in a crash landing.”

These days, Dennis is much more interested in the publishing contract he recently signed for his novel The Last Apostle. The book will be released January 2016.

To get your questions answered concerning technology and marketing—and perhaps even spy missions—sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

Suzanne Petrucci Gives Authors the Chance to Make a Great First—and Lasting—Impression

by Deborah Austin, Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Vendor Coordinator

Why should a writer get a headshot photograph?

Suzanne Petrucci of Glimmer Glass Photography answers that question by asking another one: “How would you dress for a job interview? A job that you really, really wanted? You want to make a great first impression, right? So, good or bad, right or wrong, knowingly or unwittingly, we all make an initial assessment based on visual appearances. It’s sort of like, judging a book by its cover. You want good cover art, right?”

SuzyPetrucciPinableThe Internet, with online profiles and more, has changed the way people gather first impressions. “You want your photo to be more than just okay or pretty good,” says Suzanne, “but you don’t want a glamour shot either.”

She points out that you also want to be remembered. If you use your headshot on your business card or—at the very least—your website, the editor or agent you just met at the conference will be able to put your face with your name. It’s a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Suzanne’s website, Glimmer Glass Photography, features some of her amazing photography work, along with her regular prices. At the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, however, she’s offering the incredible price of only $65 for a sitting.

SuzyBlogSidebarBut that’s not all. She’s also making available to NCWA members a pre-conference special of just $50! That’s 50 percent off of her regular studio pricing.

To get the early bird special, all you have to do is sign up at the May 4 NCWA meeting or drop me an e-mail anytime between now and May 14. This will ensure you an appointment for a sitting at the conference on either May 15 or May 16. Don’t miss this opportunity for Suzanne to help you make a positive and professional first impression.

Suzanne assures us that the images will be professionally edited, so most people will look from five to ten years younger in the final files. That’s enough motivation for me to sign up right now!

“Simply put,” Suzanne concludes, “it’s my dream job to help you get your dream job.” To take advantage of this wonderful opportunity with special pricing, register today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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2012May_Austin_Author_105-Edit CroppedNCWA member Deborah Austin is a freelance copyeditor. Be sure to stop by her booth at the Renewal and see what she can do for you and your manuscripts.

 

 

 

Llamas Jumpstarted Mindy Peltier’s Writing Career

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BYOD-Tech EssentialsBYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Tech Essentials (Friday, May 15, with Dennis Brooke) – Ever wonder how to make those graphic “thingies” you’re supposed to include in blog posts? Stumped trying to build an email list? Wish you knew how to use hashtags, make captions, or manage friends/followers? Nervous about uploading photos to “the cloud”? Recently changed from PC to Apple—or vice versa—and feel lost? At this BYOD Tech Essentials Lab, no question is too basic for experts Mindy Peltier and Dennis Brooke. And if they don’t know the answer, they’ll demonstrate how to search the Internet for solutions. Bring your own laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone, etc., to gain the most from these sessions.

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

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

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

With Mindy, you get both—in big doses.

So, to get your technology questions answered—or simply to interact with someone who cares deeply about helping writers succeed—sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

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.