Stocking Gift Now Can Mean Career Boost Next May

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

What’s the one thing that some writers say is the most responsible for advancing their literary careers?

A writers conference.

christmas-stockinggraphicYes, at conferences you can meet industry professionals face to face and learn writing techniques directly from published authors. Critique sessions allow you to discuss your works in progress (WIPs) and hash out specific paragraphs or plot puzzles. Spending time with likeminded folks greatly increases your chance of forming strong relationships within the writing community.

Over the past few decades I’ve attended more than three dozen writing seminars and conferences. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve benefited:

  • Thirty years ago at a Portland conference, I met a novelist who invited me to join her critique group. I accepted—and I’m still a member to this day.
  • I first connected with my agent at a February conference on a Washington beach.
  • I met one of my coauthors at a two-day conference held at a Seattle-area church.
  • Other connections have resulted in book contracts, magazine assignments, and clients for my editing business.

While the perks of attending writers conferences are well-established, some people find registration costs to be a significant hurdle.

In case you’re one of those people, here’s an idea. Consider letting friends and family members know you would welcome a monetary gift in your Christmas stocking that you could use on registration fees. If gift-givers aren’t able to help financially, perhaps they’d be interested in offering childcare or another type of service that would enable you to get away for a couple of days.

You can choose from a number of excellent conferences available nationwide. But as director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, of course I think your best option is our own event coming up May 5–6, 2017.

The keynote speaker will be writer, director, and film producer Bill Myers of McGee and Me fame. This winner of seventy national and international awards has written more than 125 published books for children and adults. His book and DVD titles have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. When I met Bill last January while we were both teaching at the same university, I realized the wealth of knowledge he can offer writers at any level of expertise.

At the 2017 Renewal you’ll also learn from literary agents, acquisitions editors, multi-published authors, and other industry professionals. We’ll be using the lovely venue we enjoyed last year: Westminster Chapel in Bellevue, Washington.

Some information is already up on our website, and more will be added soon. Registration will be ready to open in a few weeks. Check the site often for new details.

If upcoming holidays don’t bring you enough financial gifts to cover the entire cost of the conference, here are a couple of other ways to stretch your dollars.

NCWA’s board has authorized two full scholarships to be awarded to applicants. (Details on the website soon.) Also, some full and partial scholarships are available for those who take on certain conference responsibilities.

Whatever financial path you travel to attend the Renewal, prepare to be inspired and equipped—even if Santa ends up having little to do with your getting there.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Janalyn Voigt Tells Herself Stories

Janalyn Voigt has always been a storyteller.

She blames her father. At bedtime, his deep voice would rumble against her ear as he read chapters from classics and unfolded stories of exotic places such as Oz and Neverland. After he closed the book each night, her imagination would continue the tales. When he eventually stopped reading bedtime stories to her, she began spinning her own.

Within a few years she became the neighborhood storyteller, surrounded by children gathered on her lawn to hear the tales she invented. No one appeared to think her skill out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until her sixth-grade teacher pointed out her creative ability that she took note. At age twelve, she decided to become a novelist.JanalynVoigtPinable2

Many years later and after several wrong turns, she thought her goal would become a reality when she signed a contract with a small press for DawnSinger, the first novel in her Tales of Faeraven trilogy.

“Only it wasn’t that simple,” Janalyn says now. “The contract fell through. Of course I was devastated, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.” Within three months, she signed with a larger publisher for the first two novels in the trilogy, and she also landed an agent.

Janalyn calls herself a study in contrasts—a highly analytical daydreamer who schedules her day to optimize productivity. One result from this interesting combination of personality traits is Janalyn’s expertise with websites, search-engine optimization (SEO), and social media management.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Janalyn will lead a WriteCoach Lab and also co-teach a workshop:

BYOD- WordPress Solutions1) BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): WordPress Solutions (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15) – If you have a self-hosted* WordPress website—or you’re thinking about building one—come with your questions and challenges for WordPress expert Janalyn Voigt to help you troubleshoot. She’ll also suggest what to put on your author website and give you specific tips for search-engine optimization (SEO). Bring your own device with you—laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone, etc.—for real-time assistance.

* Self-hosted means you take the initiative to pay a third-party webhost to put your WordPress.org blog on the Web instead of relying on WordPress.com to host the blog for you.

Driving Traffic to Your Website2) Driving Traffic to Your Website (Workshop, Saturday, May 16, with Melissa K. Norris) – Many writers have great blogs, awesome books, and beautiful websites—but no visitors. Janalyn and Melissa will share how they get thousands of visitors to their websites every month and will demonstrate logical steps, not just to build traffic, but also to engage visitors so they return. Learn why you should have an e-mail list and which service is recommended. They’ll discuss blogging as content marketing, how to boost a site in search engines, the role of social media in attracting website visitors, and their best tips on how most effectively to build website traffic. They’ll discuss what worked and what didn’t in their own attempts.

Janalyn’s Internet expertise allows her to maintain separate websites for her Creative Worlds author brand and for mentoring other writers at Live Write Breathe.

Still, Janalyn prefers to think of herself as a storyteller. Writing is so intuitive for her that she rarely encounters writer’s block. But when her inspiration does need to be renewed, prayer helps her the most. “That, and figuring out where following the allegory might take the story,” she says.

To benefit from Janalyn’s teaching and coaching, 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.

Disney and Prayer Gave Alex Marestaing His Break

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

Alex Marestaing was an unknown writer when he learned of a new line of products the Walt Disney Company planned to publish. Although Alex didn’t have an agent at the time, he did believe in the power of prayer, so he wrote Disney a letter and introduced himself.

A few weeks later, Disney hired Alex for the project. That response changed the trajectory of his writing career forever. “I’ll always be thankful to Disney for giving me a shot,” he says. “Having that name on my writing credits really helped me move forward in the industry.”

AlexMarestaingPinable copyAlex has also worked on creative projects for Lego and for media outlets such as Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins and the Los Angeles Times.

His latest novel, I’m Nobody, is a suspense-driven YA/Middle-Grade story about an agoraphobic teen who begins receiving strange, poetic notes from someone claiming to be reclusive, long-dead poet Emily Dickinson. It received an honorable mention at the London Book Festival and was nominated as a finalist for the 2014 Epic Awards.

At the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Alex will teach two workshops:

Writing Through the Silence1) Writing Through the Silence (Friday, May 15) – Have you ever felt like tossing your manuscript in the trash and giving up on writing altogether? Let’s face it—the writing business can be tough on the ego and even heartbreaking at times. In a field where rejection e-mails, poor sales, and dashed hopes can be par for the course, it takes a steadfast spirit to keep writing through the pain. This workshop is for writers who are discouraged, lack vision, or simply feel uninspired. Through contemplative activities, lessons from famous authors, and discussion, writers will learn how to write through the “silent” seasons of life when inspiration seems distant.

Finding Success in the and Middle Grade2) Finding Success in the YA and Middle Grade Markets (Saturday, May 16) – In the age of iPhones and the Internet, writers face some tough competition when trying to catch the attention of young-adult and middle-grade audiences. Alex will discuss trends in the youth market and help you better understand why books such as Wonder, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter have captivated new generation readers. You will leave the class with a better understanding of how to use creative points of view, pacing, and unique setting and character elements to draw readers into your tales. We will also discuss enhancing book proposals and projects with 3D elements such as music, video, and web components. Engage this hurting generation with your talent, and shine the light of Christ in a literary landscape that has become very dark in the last decade.

In addition to writing for the youth market, Alex has also written for faith-based publications and has covered soccer, his favorite sport, in Europe and the US for Sports Spectrum magazine and Yanks Abroad.

When Alex isn’t writing or speaking at conferences, he usually hangs out in California with his wife, three kids, and the family dog, Milou.

To learn Alex’s insights, 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.