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.

Doc Hensley Explains the Art of Pitching

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

Dr. Dennis E. Hensley has probably lost count of the number of conferences he’s spoken at over the years. He’s taught workshops, served on panels, presented manuscript makeovers, met personally with conferees, and often served as the keynote speaker. Through it all—and while pitching some of his own 60 published books—he’s learned from his publishing colleagues what impresses editors and agents the most during their appointments with conferees.

DocExplainsPitchingAs director of the Professional Writing department at Taylor University (Upland, IN), Dr. Hensley shares this knowledge with his students, along with readers of his column in Christian Communicator magazine. Now he’s letting Renewal conferees in on the secrets to effective proposal pitches.

The following article is an excerpt from the book Finding Success with Your Dream Writing Projects (by Dennis E. Hensley with Diana Savage), which will be released this August by Bold Vision Books.

MASTERING THE 15-MINUTE BOOK PITCH

Pop artist Andy Warhol once said that every person, sooner or later, enjoys 15 minutes of fame. In the arena of pitching book proposals, it comes down to 15 minutes of fame or 15 minutes of shame. When you attend a writers conference and schedule an appointment with a literary agent or book editor, you have 15 minutes—sometimes less—to convince that person your book is worth considering for publication and that you are someone this individual will want to do business with.

That’s not much time, so let’s talk about how to make those minutes count.

  1. Look professional. Although writers conferences are usually casual in attire, trying to convince someone to invest more than $35,000 to launch your book is big business. You need to look like someone who would appear impressive on talk shows, when giving speeches, and when meeting folks at autograph parties. First impressions are lasting ones.
  2. Have an actual book idea. Some would-be writers come up with a great title and even some clever research, but trained editors can see what would make a good article and what would actually sustain a full book. A published book usually is somewhere around two-hundred pages, with about four hundred words per page, which is 80,000 words. Thus, if you don’t have an idea that can be content heavy for 320 double-spaced manuscript pages, don’t waste the editor’s time.
  3. Know the competition. Anticipate that the agent or editor will ask you what else is on the market similar to your topic. It’s good that other books exist on your topic, because they show that other publishers have seen market value for it. Your job will be to explain how your book is different. Perhaps you have newer research, better photos or other graphics, a broader range of topics, exclusive interviews, distinctive sidebars or reading lists or quizzes. Emphasize how your book is unique and better than the competition. One special insider tip is this: Prove that your book will still be interesting a year from now when it finally gets into print and how it will contain enduring elements that will make it stay in print several years thereafter.
  4. Speak as though this person is a committee. Although you are addressing just one person, he or she will have to champion your book before a publication board. It will be made up of people from sales, publicity, layout and design, marketing, accounting, legal, and editorial departments. As such, explain how you will help to market the book via speaking engagements, blogging, social networking, library appearances, webinars, professional organizations, public readings, writers workshops, reviews, and autograph parties. Don’t give anyone on the board a reason to reject you.
  5. Sell yourself with wild abandon. No one likes a braggart, but when it comes to selling a book, you need to prove that you know what you’re talking about. You can do this by providing a résumé that stresses your education, your list of previous publications, any honors or awards you’ve received, and your professional credentials. Stress the research you conducted in preparing this book manuscript. Additionally, if you can produce a list of endorsements from people with name recognition, this will certainly work in your favor.
  6. Hand over a solid book proposal. Despite the fact that you will have a well-organized, extremely focused conversation with this agent or editor, you still will need to have a high-quality book proposal to leave with this person if he or she decides your book idea warrants publication consideration. Your cover letter will explain why you feel this publisher is right for your book; highlights of your career after age twenty; a terse description of your book (“The Help is about African-American maids who find ways to shame their oppressive suburban white employers during the 1960s”); mention of your best endorsements; and a word about your target readership. You’ll need to have from one to three fully completed chapters, a one-page biography (write about yourself in the third person), a table of contents that you may wish to expand into an outline, a one- or two-page synopsis of the entire book (yes, do tell the ending), and information about your personal platform.
  7. Anticipate blunt objections or questions. Editors may ask if the manuscript is “clean,” meaning void of mechanical writing errors. Say (truthfully) that you’ve had other eyes go over the entire book (professional editors or maybe members of your writers critique group). Editors may ask “Who cares?” about your topic. Have statistics ready, audience surveys, sales records of similar books. The editor may ask, “But who are you?” so have credentials and experience to show you are the perfect person to write and promote this book.

Contrary to common belief, editors come to writers conferences because they want to discover talented writers, and they want to find publishable books. How else can they stay in business? However, their greatest joy is to discover someone who is polished, professional, and savvy about writing and marketing books. This could mean a long-term working relationship. So, when the clock starts ticking, use every second to show that you came prepared to do business.

© 2016 by Dennis E. Hensley, all rights reserved

Learn more valuable tips from Doc Hensley at the 2016 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up 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.

Cult Escapee Athena Dean Holtz Now Helps Other Wounded People

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Not everyone caught in the clutches of a cult is able to get free.

Athena Dean Holtz has.

Twice.

First she was drawn into the Church of Scientology. After she escaped that deception and came to Christ in 1986, she was lured into a toxic, legalistic Christian cult. Among other abuses the leaders committed, they fraudulently coerced her into turning over a custom publishing company she had cofounded.

That took place five years ago. Eventually she was able to walk away from the traumatic situation, get counseling, and go public with her story. The cult leaders lashed back viciously and created entire websites dedicated to humiliating and discrediting Athena and those close to her.

AthenaDeanHoltzPinable“I’ve learned a lot from that experience,” she says. “God has taught me a great deal about why I was vulnerable in the first place. He has also given me great insights into deceivers and the people they have deceived.”

After spending twenty-five years in the book-publishing industry in the Pacific Northwest, Athena served as a broadcast missionary under Commission to Every Nation with her program for women, “Always Faithful Radio,” on AM 630 KSLR in San Antonio, Texas.

Early in 2014, she returned to publishing in this area and cofounded Redemption Press. “The amazing part of that story,” she says, “is God brought me full circle, back to the same offices I used to occupy.”

As a speaker, author, blogger, publisher, and now a pastor’s wife, Athena helps people who have been wounded by the church and other traumatic life experiences.

On Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Athena will lead three sessions of an interactive WriteCoach Lab:

Build Your Platform Through SpeakingBuild Your Platform & Promote Your Work Through Speaking – Let Athena Dean Holtz help you map out your own individualized plan for using public speaking to build your author platform and promote your book. Includes hands-on exercises to get you started on your journey.

Athena is passionate about encouraging people to learn to trust God, even in the wake of spiritual abuse, trauma, or loss. “My prayer is that they will experience God’s faithfulness and restoration in the midst of the difficulties of life and suffering,” she says.

Her involvement at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal is borne out of that passion. “I pray that people who’ve been wounded will learn to comfort others with the comfort God gives them,” she says.

As a Renewal sponsor, Redemption Press is holding a drawing at its vendor booth. The winner will receive a professional bundle of publishing services valued at $2,200.

To enter the drawing, as well as have the opportunity to be coached by Athena in one of her three WriteCoach Lab sessions, 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.

Grace Fox Loves to Connect the Dots

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

Are you interested in learning the basics of the writing craft? Do you need an expert to show you the ropes?

If so, we have just the right workshop series for you at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference! Grace Fox, award-winning author of eight books and hundreds of magazine articles, will teach a continuing class, “The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career.”

GraceFoxPinableMany writers experience discouragement when they start out, and Grace knows a great deal about pushing through those times. Whenever she has felt like quitting, God has been faithful to inspire readers to send her encouragement.

On one occasion she prayed, “Lord, if you want me to invest my time, energy, and abilities somewhere else, then please confirm that for me today.” Five hours later, a woman Grace didn’t know called her and said, “I’ve never phoned an author before. Please don’t think I’m a whacko or a groupie. I read your book Moving from Fear to Freedom, and it changed my life. Today I felt compelled to call you and urge you to please keep writing. We need to hear truth.”

Since that day, Grace has never doubted her calling as a writer. “The way I figure,” she says, “God has made it abundantly clear that I’m to write, and he’ll make it clear when it’s time to stop.”

Grace’s passion is to connect the dots between faith and real life to help her audiences live the life God intends for them. Drawing from Scripture, as well as personal experiences while living on Canada’s rugged coastline, in urban USA, and in Nepal’s Himalayan mountains, she uses the written page and the public stage to build Christ-based confidence in audiences worldwide. Her quick wit, real-life stories, and biblical insight keep her in constant demand as a speaker.Market Like the Pros Panel

At the Renewal she will serve on a marketing panel with Carolyn McCready, Jim Rubart, and Dennis Brooke on Friday, May 15.

 

The following day, Saturday, May 16, she will teach three continuing workshops:

The Newer Writer’s Blueprint for Building a Publishing Career           

Session 1: Lay the Foundation: Every effective and lasting publishing career begins with a carefully laid foundation. Discover ten components necessary for creating the strongest foundation possible.Lay the Foundation

Session 2: Build the Platform: Learn how to define your brand, grow name recognition, and build your publishing platform using websites and social media. Discover biblical truths with which to weigh those practical realities, and then determine your personal approach to platform building.

Add the ExtrasSession 3: Add the Extras: Boost your publishing career by developing speaking presentations around your writing topics. Brainstorm possible themes and learn how to formulate a presentation. Brainstorm other ancillary products that promote your writing, encourage your audience, and earn income.

Grace’s articles have appeared in more than forty different publications, including Focus on the Family, Reader’s Digest, Insights Canada, Power for Living, War Cry, and Today’s Christian Woman. Her eight books include Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation and the corresponding DVD-based Bible study.

She’s a popular international speaker and is national co-director of International Messengers Canada, a ministry that offers creative short-term and career missionary opportunities in Eastern Europe. Her frequent media appearances include 100 Huntley Street, It’s a New Day, and The Harvest Show.

To benefit from Grace’s three-part continuing workshop, 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 Carolyn McCready’s Love for Books Inspired Her Career

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

Carolyn McCready lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she cheers on the Ducks and loves film, music, cooking, and travel. She’s also an avid reader.CarolynMcCreadyPinable

With her schooling in education and English, she originally intended to be a teacher, but a summer bookstore job changed her plans. She remained at the bookstore for ten years, working as store manager and the book and Bible buyer. Her expertise led to her become the Vice President of Editorial at Harvest House Publishers.

Carolyn is now an executive editor with Trade Books for Zondervan Publishers, a division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing. She has worked with such authors as Lysa TerKeurst, Stormie Omartian, Kyle Idleman, Rachel Macy Stafford, and Shauna Niequist.

Market Like the Pros PanelOn Friday, May 15, at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Carolyn will meet with writers in group appointments. If you want 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.

She will also serve on a marketing panel with Grace Fox, Jim Rubart, and Dennis Brooke.

The following day, May 16, Carolyn will co-teach the workshop, “What Editors Are Really Looking For,” with fellow editor Terry Glaspey. What Editors Are REALLY Looking For JPG

Kirk Kraft’s Interview with Carolyn McCready

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

Kirk: Could you tell us a little about the progression of your publishing career and your current role?

Carolyn: My degree is in education and English, and I expected to be a teacher. Along the way, though, life took one of those turns that can change everything. I took a summer job at a Christian bookstore, working for a wonderful store owner. I planned to be there for the summer and find a full-time teaching job the next year, but I learned that my love of books and the joy of connecting people with the perfect books for them made this a great job for me. I worked there for ten years and became the store manager and book and Bible buyer. During that time I developed relationships with most of the major publishers and worked for Zondervan as a dealer advisor.

I was offered the job of editorial director at Harvest House Publishers, as they were looking for someone who understood the retail marketplace and was familiar with the full breadth of books available. I was also, of course, an avid reader and loved the prospect of working with writers and seeing their ideas become wonderful books. I eventually became the VP of Editorial and was with Harvest House for fifteen years. It is a wonderful, focused, family-owned Christian publisher, and I learned so much during that time concerning what publishing is all about and what it takes to make a book. It does take a village

After that I took the job of Executive Editor with Zondervan and am thoroughly enjoying my role of acquiring nonfiction trade books. I still live in Eugene, Oregon, but I travel regularly to Grand Rapids to work with my colleagues at Zondervan and around the country to meet with authors.

Kirk: How do you know a story is a winner when you read it?

Carolyn: I love reading fiction although I don’t acquire much in that arena. But with fiction, it is usually a combo of a great voice, engaging characters, and a story that makes me want to turn the page. I’m looking for something fresh, as so much of the fiction we see—and even publish—feels the same. It’s like watching the pilot of a new television show or the beginning of new movie—sometimes it just hits, and you feel it. It grabs your attention, and you want to spend time in that world. It can even be in a very typical genre but still stand out. You know it when you read it.

Kirk: What is the biggest mistake you see writers make in their submissions today?

Carolyn: I think the biggest mistake might be not understanding what editors need to help their publishing team decide to publish a new book. We need to see that you have a great idea, a significant—or at least growing—platform, and strong writing skills. The platform issue is very important, but it doesn’t have to mean that you are the pastor of a large church or a speaker for major women’s conferences. You do have to show that you are working hard to gain a following and that you have made progress in that arena. Speaking, blogging, writing for magazines and newspapers, leading workshops on your topic—all can be really important to a publisher. Then give us a marketable topic (and the reasons that it is—do your research!), and finally, and very importantly, hone your writing so it’s as strong as it can be.

Kirk: What would you say are the biggest myths in publishing?

Carolyn: That you must have a large platform to get published. It certainly helps—and you will hear that from every publisher—but there are certainly exceptions. Sometimes it’s all about a great story and good storytelling. Look at Heaven Is for Real!

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Thanks again to Kirk for letting us share his interview with Carolyn.

To request an appointment to meet with Carolyn McCready, 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.

Authors: Are You Overlooking Your Hidden Profit Opportunities?

NCWA blog welcomes Tony Marino! Tony will be our main speaker for the February meeting. See end of post for links.

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tony marino picEver heard of  “Back-End Selling?”  You may think of it as follow through, or maybe VALUE added. Both are good terms. Let’s take a quick look and see just how you can profit from this idea.

For our purpose today, let’s just key in on the benefits of “Back-End Selling.”  “Back-End Selling” is simply the SELLING you do AFTER the first sale. Your profits come primarily from repeat business rather than from the initial (first order) sale of your product or service.

Your greatest COST (accumulated expenses) is in the FIRST sale. This is certainly true in most cases. How long did you have to work before that first sale? Did it take you ten minutes or ten years? All the time this customer was NOT buying from you there was still the overhead to shell out.

Obviously, some high-ticket items can absorb the cost and still be profitable. You only need the one sale from a customer. However, we could probably agree that most items that we sell or buy are of a more moderate dollar value. Meaning the profit return comes from the repeat customer.

Have you ever known a razor company to give away the razor? Why? The profit is in the blades! It’s happening today on the Internet. Computers are getting cheaper and cheaper. Even free when you sign up for a service. Sometimes a company will giveaway or “loan” a machine to a customer because the profit is in the supplies. This is known as “back-end” selling.

You have the challenge to find your “back-end!”  How can you make more sales to the same customer? Sell more of the same product? Service? Can you offer an add-on? Related items? It can even be something entirely different. Put another way, just keep selling “something” to the same customer. Your best source of new or continuing revenue.

Many firms stop with the one (1st) sale and never realize the added profits they are leaving behind. YOU would never let this happen. On the other hand, maybe it would just be a good exercise for all of us, to ASK yourself, am I selling everything I possibly can to ALL of my current customers? Hits hard, doesn’t it?

Think about it! You have been successful in making that first sale. Why? Our basic assumption is that you have earned their confidence. Trust. You have lived up to your promises. Your product or service has met or exceeded their expectation. It’s only natural to believe that you will live up to this same level of competence in the future.

Search for your “USP” (Unique Selling Proposition). What is it that makes YOUR firm stand out from the pack? Are you REALLY any different? Do you offer something special that only YOU can provide? This is what separates the great businesses from the also ran. You have to be unique. Different! A visionary. Added VALUE is every customer’s expectation today.

Your next challenge is to find as many “back-end” products/services as you can. There is no better customer than one who has already done business with you. YOUR greatest business asset is your customer; without him/her there is no business.

Secret Online Up-Sell Technique:

If you are operating an online business, you may want to simply add (embed) an “up-sell” product right inside your “Thank You” page.

Let’s face it, your new customer has just made a purchase from you and you can rest assured that they do in fact understand the value of this freshly purchased product and/or service. Furthermore, trust in you by your new client has been realized. Capitalize! “Why not get it while it’s hot?”

Over time, check the added increase to your bottom-line. Chances are, you will undeniably discover a significant positive difference.

Key Point:

Treat your customer like “Gold!” Look for new products to compliment your initial sale. Separate yourself from the plain and ordinary. Be a crucial source of information. Make suggestions. Offer unlimited assistance. Work hard at keeping every customer happy. After all, they are your most valuable business asset. PERIOD!

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Click here for details regarding Tony’s February appearance at the NCWA meeting.

Tony Marino is a husband and father and is the founder of  Christian Discipleship Ministries International, Christian  Times Online, and Trinity Web Works. He is the founder and Executive Producer of the Alive In Christ Radio Network. 

 He has represented acclaimed authors Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield, James Robison, Dr. James Dobson, Ted Nicholas, Jerry Jenkins, Luis Palau, Beth Moore, and Joyce Meyer.

 Tony proudly and honorably served in the U.S. Navy and is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from Colorado Technical University and an inductee into the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society for Business, Management, and Administration. He has actively and passionately served the body of Christ for over 15 years as a worldwide evangelist, teacher, discipler, author, Christian music artist, international business and marketing consultant, and as an international Christian radio program host and Executive Producer. www.trinitywebworks.com