Bill Myers: A Life of Saying Yes to God

By Elizabeth Griffin

Without ever meeting me, Bill Myers caused one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Here’s how it happened:

bill-myersAs a fifth-grade teacher at Maple Valley Christian School, I always searched for good books to read out loud to my class. Bill Myers’ newly published series My Life As … spoke to the angst of nerdy kids everywhere while sliding the truth about life and God and the gospel in with lots of laughter so it was painlessly absorbed. The books were an ideal choice for my class.

Then one day, near the end of My Life as a Smashed Burrito with Extra Hot Sauce, I was reading about the protagonist Wally falling into a perilous river and his counselor rescuing him. At one point the analogy with Christ on the cross was so strong that I burst into tears.

Tears. Not misty tears. Ugly sobbing tears.

Fifth grade boys are merciless. And though they loved me, they laughed out loud when I blubbered. Even as I tried to explain the connection between Wally’s rescue and the cross, they laughed out loud. It was humiliating. Thanks a lot, Bill!

(I still recommend the series. Just read it ahead of time and get your crying out before tackling it in front of a class of kids.)

From dentistry to film and writing

Something that those amazed by Bill’s enormous success may find irksome is the fact that he actually wanted to be a dentist, not a writer. He rarely read as a kid and got Cs and Ds in his one writing class in college.

That just doesn’t seem fair, does it? But one day while studying at the University of Washington, Bill told God he was willing to do anything for Him.

“[God and I] had quite a few arguments, but because I made that promise, I changed my major to film directing and a few weeks later found myself in Rome, Italy, studying a subject I knew nothing about in a language I couldn’t speak. Talk about feeling foolish,” Bill says.

The writing came later. While Bill was directing a play in Los Angeles, a producer asked him to write a television show. “I discovered the power of writing through television and movie scripts, then books,” Bill says.

Besides his studies in film directing in Rome, Bill holds a degree in Theater Arts from the University of Washington and an honorary doctorate from the Theological Institute of Nimes, France, where he taught. He has sold more than 8 million books and DVDs, won more than 70 national and international awards, earned 24 Gold and Platinum ITA awards, published 125 books, and has several motion picture projects in development right now with his production company, Amaris Media International.

If you have kids, you can thank Bill for McGee and Me, Adventures in Odyssey, and several fabulous book series. If you like to read intriguing fiction, you can thank Bill for his adult novels.

Bill has been interviewed for Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, The 700 Club, and TBN, as well as hundreds of broadcast, online, and print organizations.

It’s amazing what God will do when we simply say yes to Him.

Speaking at the conference

At the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Bill will present two keynote messages: “Buckle In: What Happens When You Say Yes,” and “Steps in the Artist’s Call.” He will also serve on a panel of publishing experts and teach the following workshop for writers who are at any level of experience or expertise:

Screenwriting – Learn the basic three-act structure most filmmakers insist upon, as well as character development, plot development, dialogue, comedy, formatting. Time permitting, how to market your material will also be covered.

A hearty recommendation

NCWA member Julie McDonald Zander was impressed with Bill’s content and presentation style when she heard him speak at an Oregon Christian Writers summer coaching conference. Following it, she purchased a few of his books.

“I love the simplicity of the message woven so seamlessly inside the story he unfolds. Sometimes, even years later, I’ve had an image from his novel in my mind, a scene he described in what appeared to be the fires of hell, where people remain in bondage to their fleshly desires,” Julie says. “I wouldn’t pick up a book to read about hell, but I read this quirky novel—speculative fiction, I think—and the image settled in my mind.”

Finding out that Bill is the keynote for NCWA’s Renewal this year, Julie responded, “I may just have to attend.”

You’ll want to attend too. Bill Myers is just too good not to.

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.

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.

 

Don Milam’s Nontraditional Path to Becoming an Editor

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Don Milam didn’t take a boring route on his way to becoming Acquisitions Consultant with Whitaker House Publishers.DonMilam

After he graduated from Prairie Bible College in Alberta, Canada, Don and his bride joined the staff of Philadelphia Teen Challenge, working in the inner city with drug addicts. After two years, they exchanged the streets of Philadelphia for the streets of Maputo, Mozambique (East Africa), where they opened a drug rehabilitation center at the request of the Portuguese Department of Health. In 1975, Communists took control of the country. Don was arrested and spent ten months in prison.

Following his release, he pastored for ten years in Pennsylvania. For eighteen years he was head of Author Development at Destiny Image Publishers, and then he joined Whitaker House.

Scott Spiewak of Fresh Impact Public Relations Group says, “Don is an expert in the field of publishing and has a knack for finding great authors.”

Don will be looking for great authors at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal this May 13–14. He will also teach two workshops:

10 Ways to Become a Better Writer1) 10 Ways to Become a Better Writer – If you want to be a complete writer, you need a strategy. Out of his experience as author and acquisitions editor, Don Milam will share an abundance of tips that you can use to devise your own personalized strategy for becoming a successful writer.

Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience2) Successful Writing Results from Creative Thought + Dynamic Experience – Writing doesn’t begin with the words someone types on a computer. That output is simply a visible manifestation of a mixture of ideas, thoughts, revelations, imaginations, intuitions, and feelings, combined with a person’s experiences. Too often a book suffers a premature birth because the author didn’t experience the truth or fully engage the thought before sending off the manuscript. Let Don guide you into learning to think in a way that will help ensure the permanence of your writing.

As an author himself (The Lost Passions of Jesus and The Ancient Language of Eden), Don has a heart for conferees who want to discuss their book projects with him. He is interested in seeing nonfiction proposals on Christian living and growth, spirituality, marriage, parenting, counseling, relationships, and leadership.

To hear Don speak or to request an appointment with him or with one of the other six editorial representatives at this year’s Renewal, register today!

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Diana SavageDianaSavage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she also directs the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. She is the author of 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times and the coauthor—with Dr. Dennis E. Hensley—of the inspirational suspense novel Pseudonym.

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.

Editor Terry Glaspey Speaks His Mind about Artists

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Terry Glaspey can talk for hours about the arts.

“Christian art shouldn’t be propaganda for the Christian cause,” he says. He believes that artistic people, while blessed with the privilege of rearranging God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways, must remain mindful about truth-telling, even uncomfortable truths.TerryGlaspeyPinableTerry is the director of acquisitions at Harvest House Publishers. Not only does he love good books, but he is also the author of more than a dozen titles himself, including Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis (a Gold Medallion finalist), Bible Basics for Everyone, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, and 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. His latest book, The Prayers of Jane Austen, is being released now.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Terry will meet with writers in group appointments. If you want to show him your work, please follow the guidelines concerning what he would like to see and what he’s not looking at right now.

The following day, May 16, Terry will teach one workshop himself and co-teach another with fellow editor Carolyn McCready:

Great Writers1)   What the Great Writers Can Teach Us about Writing: Here’s how to become a better communicator by learning the lessons of authors such as C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, and others.

What Editors Are REALLY Looking For JPG2)   What Editors Are Really Looking For (with Carolyn McCready [insert URL] of Zondervan): You will get to contrast the different approaches of two different publishers! Between them, Carolyn and Terry have reviewed it all.

Kirk Kraft’s Interview with Terry Glaspey

Three years ago NCWA member Kirk Kraft interviewed Terry on his blog right before the 2012 Renewal conference. Kirk has graciously allowed us to reprint a portion of that informative interview here.

Kirk: As an acquisitions editor, what do you look for in manuscripts?

Terry: I am looking for two key things: quality and marketability. Both are important. In terms of quality, I am always looking for good writing, fresh new perspectives, theological orthodoxy, creativity, energy, and style. Personally, I can enjoy reading about any topic if it has these qualities.

But—and this is the second thing I have to look for—the book needs to be marketable. We can’t ignore that publishing is a business and that publishers need to sell books. So, any book that is going to receive serious consideration needs a topic with a wide level of interest among readers, and it usually needs to have an author with a strong platform who can steer people toward it. The day has long vanished when an author can count on publishers to do extensive promotion on their books, unless he or she is already a bestselling name. Sad, but true.

In these economic times the marketing budgets have shrunk. It is critical for authors to use every means at their disposal to get the word out. And the topic needs to be one that is of general interest—not overly specialized.

Kirk: What’s been the most rewarding experience in your editing career?

Terry: I love interacting with authors who work hard to improve their books. The best writers are those willing to go through numerous drafts in order to deliver something that is polished and powerful. I have had the honor of working with some exceptional writers—people whose talent far outstrips my own—but have been able to help them make a good book even better. Few things are more satisfying than that!

Kirk: How do you think faith and the arts interact?

Terry: Do you have a couple of hours to talk about this? J This is one of my favorite topics. We are created in the image of God, and one of the obvious characteristics of God is that He is a creator. We have the privilege and enjoyment of also being what Tolkien referred to as “sub-creators,” those who rearrange God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways. And I believe that God speaks to us very powerfully in beauty. I am often moved more deeply by a song or a painting or a film than I am by most sermons. To be an artist—with words or paints or film or clay or a quilt or whatever—is a high and important calling. But Christian art should not be propaganda for the Christian cause. It should be about truth. Art is all about truth-telling, including uncomfortable truths, and we all need to be challenged and inspired in ways that the arts best accomplish.

Kirk: You’re an avid C.S. Lewis fan and have written books and spoken often about him. When did you fall in love with his writing?

Terry: I discovered Lewis while in college. At first, his biggest impact upon me was through his intellectual arguments for the reasonableness of faith. And while I still enjoy that aspect of Lewis, there is also an aspect of his writing that is more mythic and intuitive that moves me at an even deeper level. He was unquestionably one of the greatest creative communicators in the history of the church. I never tire of his work. When I reread his books, I’m always discovering new insights that I missed before.

Kirk: What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from Lewis that you can encourage writers with today?

Terry: I think that one of his talents was in finding fresh metaphors for traditional ideas. It is far too easy for Christians to use phrases and words and ideas that have become clichés. This makes for lazy writing, and these clichés have little power to actually move anyone. We might nod in agreement, but they usually fail to move us. We need to find fresh ways to speak, fresh metaphors and word pictures that surprise and sneak past the defenses of our readers. It is often in surprising our reader with a “new way of saying it” that we create an openness in the heart and mind which allows the truth to slip past all the defenses and make the reader vulnerable to hearing the Word afresh. Lewis, in both fiction and nonfiction, was so good at doing just that. That should be the goal of every Christian writer—take the timeless, and make it new.
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Thanks again to Kirk for letting us share his interview with Terry.

To request an appointment to meet with Terry Glaspey, 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.

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.

Undercover Director Checks Out Conference Hotel

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

When I agreed to become conference director, I never dreamed the assignment would turn me into an undercover hotel guest. But that’s exactly what happened in January.

While taking part in the NCWA* WriteTech Conference in Kirkland, WA, I checked into the Redmond Residence Inn. This renovated facility is only about five minutes from where our May writers conference will be held at Overlake Christian Church. Our out-of-town speakers will stay there, and we’ve also secured a special rate for conferees.

But was the Residence Inn a hotel we could be proud of? The list of features was impressive:

  • Enhanced studio rooms, each with a queen bed and fold-out sofa (for sleeping up to 4 people)
  • Kitchenettes in every room, with appliances and well-stocked cabinets
  • Complimentary on-site parking for registered guests
  • High-speed Internet
  • Flat-screen television
  • Ergonomic desk and office chair
  • Fitness center
  • Outdoor swimming pool
  • Dinette table and chairs
  • Complimentary hot buffet breakfast in main-floor dining room
  • Morning copy of USA Today
  • Grocery shopping service
  • Redmond Town Center shopping mall nearby

ResidencePorticoDirections: Even without GPS and while encountering a detour, I found the Redmond Residence Inn easily using directions I’d printed off the Internet.

Parking: It helped to know that the hotel’s portico and entrance were in back of the building. I left my vehicle under the portico for a few minutes while I checked in. Once I had my room key-card, I swiped it through a box in front of the parking lot. The gate opened, and I parked for free.

ResidenceBedRoom amenities: The clerk directed me to the elevator, and I took my luggage up to my third-floor room. The studio had a queen bed, large flat-screen TV, foldout sofa bed that could accommodate two more guests, an easy chair, a desk with a lamp, and a small dinette table with two chairs.

During my stay I used the stairs almost exclusively. The stairwell was close to my room and provided great exercise. If I’d had more time, I would have checked out the hotel’s fitness center too.

ResidenceKitchenKitchen: The kitchen was equipped with a sink, stainless-steel dishwasher, refrigerator with freezer, 2-burner glass-top electric range, coffeemaker, and microwave. The cabinets were stocked with dishes, glasses, stemware, stainless-steel pots and pans, a colander, measuring cup, toaster, nested mixing bowls with lids, and a couple of microwave-safe cooking dishes.

SnackBasketIn-room food: Knowing ahead of time about a microwave being in each room, I brought my own supper to heat up. That saved me time and money—plus, I didn’t have to dine out alone. For an evening snack, I took advantage of the package of microwave popcorn left in a basket for guests. To accompany the popcorn, I wanted a cup of decaffeinated tea, but the only tea bags in the basket were caffeinated. LobbyBeverageCartHowever, in the main-floor lobby, I found a well-equipped beverage station with hot water, regular and decaf coffee, ice water, and a dozen varieties of tea bags.

Shopping: Sundown comes early in January, so, after I unpacked a few things and while it was still light, I stopped at the hotel’s desk and asked if the Redmond Town Center shopping mall was close enough to walk to. “Oh, my yes!” they said, handing me a brochure and explaining how to get to my destination. At the mall’s security office, I inquired about getting 150 of the brochures to include in our conference registration packets. It just so happened that they had received their order of brand new brochures that very day. The woman at the desk handed me a stack on the spot.

The most difficult part of dishing up my bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal was deciding which toppings I wanted.

The most difficult part of dishing up my bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal was deciding which toppings I wanted.

Hot-buffet breakfast: The next morning, the tremendous variety of selections at the complimentary breakfast buffet blew me away. The service begins at 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and at 7:00 a.m. on weekends.

Although the conference will feature a continental breakfast on Friday and Saturday, hotel guests who need heartier fare will find everything they need—and then some—at this buffet.

I appreciated the fresh fruits and veggies.

I appreciated the fresh fruits and veggies.

Choices seemed endless: hot and cold cereals, bagels, muffins, donuts, breads for toast, and waffles—all with numerous topping selections. In warming containers were red-skinned potato wedges, sausage patties, french toast, and scrambled eggs.

High-protein, low-carb, low-fat, or whatever your preference, you can probably find exactly what fits your dietary needs.

High-protein, low-carb, low-fat, or whatever your preference, you can probably find exactly what fits your dietary needs.

Ice kept fresh fruits and vegetables chilled, yogurts were at another station, and hot and cold drinks were readily available as well.

Networking areas: The main floor lobby features a lounge area with upholstered seating arranged in groupings conducive to conversation. Not far away is the breakfast area with tables and chairs that are perfect for setting up laptops at other times of the day and schmoozing with fellow writers.

OutdoorPatioNot to be missed is the outdoor patio area with even more seating options, some of which encircle a cozy fire pit.

Challenges: At first I had a problem finding an Internet connection. The dialog window said I was connected, but when I tried to check e-mail using Mozilla’s Firefox browser, I got an “Untrusted Connection” error message I couldn’t bypass. The same thing happened when I tried to log in at social-media sites. I finally opened Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to connect to e-mail. That brought up the Residence Inn’s welcome page requiring me to choose either the regular (free) connection or opt for a premium ($4.95/day) connection. After that I accessed the sites I wanted and switched back to Firefox with no further problem.ComputerOnDesk

The novelist in me wonders if being in Microsoft’s home town had anything to do with the glitch.

Reserving your spot:

The Residence Inn will hold a block of studio rooms for us until April 16, 2015, at the special price of only $99** per night. Want to save even more money? Why not bring a few writing friends and share a studio room (sleeps up to 4) or a 2-bedroom suite (sleeps up to 6)?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll mention that the general manager gave me the complementary overnight stay so I could check out the hotel. My experience was such a pleasant one that I’m confident the Residence Inn will serve our conferees well.

If you haven’t registered yet for the Renewal, there’s still time to get in on the early-bird conference rate good until April 6. Sign up today!

* NCWA: Northwest Christian Writers Association

** Hotel room rates are subject to applicable state and local taxes (currently 12.5%) in effect at the time of check-out.

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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.