Jennifer Slattery: A Way with Words

By Elizabeth Griffin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign up now for the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

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Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

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Tricia Goyer: Real-Life Wonder Woman

By Elizabeth Griffin

We all know at least one Wonder Woman. Or we’ve heard of one. Because whenever a woman manages to parent more than a couple of children well, earn an income, actively minister in her church and community, and juggle a host of activities and relationships, word spreads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a writer and editor for a monthly lifestyle newspaper elizabeth_griffin2for the past decade. She has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, in addition to the books Fragile X, Fragile Hope: Finding Joy in Parenting a Child with Special Needs and Margot’s Story. Elizabeth’s favorite subject matter is true stories about inspirational people. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 15 years. Her current passions are writing for an international network of church planters and her blog Follow the Dots.

Craigslist Helped Steve Hutson Become an Agent

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Several years ago, Steven Hutson was minding his own business as the founder and owner of a manuscript critique-and-editing service for aspiring authors. Client subject matter seemed to cover every topic from Bible study to yoga to credit repair. Life was good.

Then he added to his responsibilities by answering the call to manage a writers conference near Los Angeles. He enjoyed increasing his connections in the publishing industry.

One day Steve placed an ad on Craigslist to promote the editing service. As he had hoped, the response was fantastic. But one inquiry shocked him.

SteveHutsonPinable“A film producer asked us to adapt his screenplays into novels and then pitch the books to publishers,” Steve says. “We hesitated. That’s what an agent did! Certainly there were others more qualified.”

But then Steve decided, Why not? He realized he already knew most of the people who were needed to undertake the project. His success gave Steve and his team confidence to set up shop as a literary agency in early 2011.

Today, WordWise Media has four agents and serves forty-five authors. Client books have been placed with a variety of publishers, and several of their authors have also won prestigious awards for their works.

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

On Saturday, May 16, Steve will also present the workshop:

20 Reasons You’re Not Getting Published – Are you tired of getting rejected by agents and publishers? Identify the most common mistakes and learn how to avoid them. Hint: It might have nothing to do with the quality of your manuscript.

Steve is one of those rare individuals actually born in Los Angeles instead of moving there from someplace else. He’s been a storyteller since he learned to talk and is convinced that the Wimpy Kid books were based on his childhood.

Although the writing bug bit him early and never let go, Steve didn’t immediately become a published writer with a career in the publishing field. Along the way he took business courses in college and also found gainful employment as a clerk typist, vitamin buyer, waiter, forklift operator, lifeguard, bookkeeper, grocery manager, printer’s apprentice, and meat cutter.

In other words, he understands authors who must maintain day jobs while striving to find time to write and get published.

To meet with Steve and attend his workshop on how you can improve your chances of publication, 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 Jamie West Helps Christian Fiction Writers Achieve Their Dreams

Each year, NCWA member Kirk Kraft posts interviews with the agents and editors that will be speaking at the Northwest Christian Writer’s Renewal.

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Jamie West, editor with Pelican Book Group,  lives in the Midwest with her husband of 35 years, three dogs, and three cats.  She enjoys reading, traveling, archaeology, and quilting. A worship leader at church, she does children’s sermons every month, and sings with the Praise Team.Six years ago, she was led of God to answer an ad for a job at a secular publishing company. When they sold their inspirational Christian division, she went with the new company, which became Pelican Ventures Book Group. 

What’s been the most satisfying part of your editing career?

Helping Christian fiction writers achieve their dreams and mine. I get a kick out of editing. I actually enjoy the process. I like going through a manuscript line-by-line, reading an author’s work and “hearing” their characters speak, getting to know them for myself.  The fact that the manuscripts glorify the word of God, sometimes just a little, sometimes a lot, is just icing on the cake.  These writers are my people, we understand God exists, that we are called for a purpose, and that in our world, what happens in the manuscripts is not only possible, but that God permeates it all. 

I love it when writers push an edge – we have some fantastic writers and they cover suspense, mystery, science-fiction, fantasy, thrillers, day-to-day life, broken homes, being alone, young adult – the whole human experience. Our authors transport me, as a reader, to other worlds, and I love it.  Authors give me so much, a job I love, and characters who resonate long after the last word is read.

What are the primary reasons manuscripts fail to grab & hold your interest?

Flat characters. Solid characterization can carry an otherwise ordinary plot and make it something special and unique.  You can have the most imaginative plot in the universe, but if your reader cannot connect with the protagonist, or another character, the book will be one of those “over-the-couch” books – you know, tossed over the couch halfway through reading and lost to the dust bunnies until it’s time to vacuum.

What one piece of advice would you offer an aspiring writer?

Write.  And when you’re done, write more.  And when you are done, write some more.  Keep writing, because as you write, you will learn.  And submit your work, too.  We had a writer…she would write, and I would reject.  But she kept writing, and each time she wrote a new manuscript, she’d improve, because of course, she kept practicing writing.  And finally, she submitted a manuscript (I think it was her fifth one), and it was great.  I edited it, and she learned from those edits.  She went back to the rejected manuscripts, cleaned them up with what she’d learned, and re-submitted.  We published them, too.  She’s one of our bestsellers now. 

What do you consider the biggest publishing myth?

That once a relatively unknown person writes their first book, they’ll make millions of dollars.  That rarely happens. 

Could you describe a typical today in your editing life?

Oh…yes. It’s rather ordinary, really.  I usually start with breakfast, let the dogs out, let the cats out, talk to my husband of 35 years, grab some iced tea (in summer) or hot tea (in winter). My Dad made this beautiful wooden tea tray for me so I use it daily.  I then go to my computer to check email, blogs, and social media. Some is work related, some is family/friend related, but I check it all, and then respond as needed, including phone calls. Then I let the dogs in and perhaps a cat or two, also.  I usually start with 2nd edits on books in the queue to be published. Once I finish those, I start reading the new manuscripts in my inbox. 

At 11 AM, I break to talk to my boss, CEO, Nicola Martinez, and for our daily prayer session.  Yes, we pray over our authors and the company every day, unless we have other obligations such as doctor’s appointments or errands that must be done. We also discuss manuscripts, Christian theology, what’s in our Production queue, developing book covers/trailers, and other issues.

After lunch with my husband, I check the emails, blogs, and social media again, and then I start reading again. Afternoons, in between reading, I usually do whatever chores need doing around the house, or help my husband do stuff outside if we have planned tasks (we built a house a few years ago, and are still doing landscaping and adding little touches here and there, cabinets, new garden beds, and such).  And with all this, I’m constantly letting one of the three dogs or one of the three cats in and out.

I make dinner most nights, unless I con my husband into it, and then he settles down to watch TV or work on his computer, and I head back to my computer.  But first, the two younger cats need their cuddle time, so I generally just read a new manuscript while they wind around my neck, stretch across my lap, or swat me for not petting them long enough. Eventually, they get bored with my inattention, and leave.  Then I go back to the manuscript.

About an hour before bedtime, I hit all the email, blogs and social media again, to make sure I’ve not missed anything. That’s a perfect editing day.  Naturally, other things happen, and quite often, at least 1-2 days a week, nothing goes as planned, and I have to deal with other things.  I’d say I spend a solid 6-8 hours a day working, about 3-4 days a week.  The other days are taken up with other things, including church on Sundays.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished an adorable Young Adult novel for our new Watershed line.  I’m also midway through a historical romance right now.  We’ve contracted the first one, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be contracting the second, too.

Jamie West Pelican Book Group

In West’s Renewal workshop, she’ll explore how to develop the romantic relationship, write good dialogue, build strong characters, and infuse the spiritual essence of God into an Inspirational romance.  Workshop attendees need to bring a hard copy/paper print-out of the first five pages of their manuscript and a set of four highlighters in blue, pink, yellow, and green.

When you register for the conference, you may sign up for a group  editorial appointment with West on Friday.

White Rose                     HarbourlightWatershed

Pelican publishes under three imprints. Click on each icon to browse by Imprint to research books they’ve published. White Rose Publishing is Romance, Harbourlight Books is all fiction genres, Watershed is Young Adult.  To find Pelican’s specific manuscript needs, read here.

To prepare your pitch for West read “Do You Have Perfect Pitch?” and ‘The Wild Pitch.”

TweetEditor Jamie West loves it when writers push an edge @NWCWriters


TweetWriting Christian romance? Editor Jamie West of Pelican seeking manuscripts @NWCWriters

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Kirk KraftKirk Kraft has been gripped by the “Writing Monster” for many years. A husband and father of four, he’s instilled a love of reading in all his children while chasing his dream of publishing. His favorite genre for both writing and reading is epic fantasy. He has been a member of NCWA since 2008.