Misplaced Hopes and Realized Dreams: What the Renewal Conference has Meant to Me

by Sonja Anderson

NCWA Anderson SonjaThe first writing conference I ever went to was a Renewal Conference for the NCWA, back in the day when it was held at Seattle Pacific University. I had applied for, and received, a scholarship, which was the only way I felt comfortable about attending—I felt like too much a pretender to tell my husband I was going to spend money on a writing conference, of all things.

I had a draft of a novel, a bundle of nerves, and a lot of misplaced hope. Misplaced, because I thought the novel was ready, and because I thought that this was my one chance to get it published. Both were decidedly untrue.

Most people do come to a conference hoping for a connection that leads to a contract. My experience, after many conferences, both at NCWA and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and most recently at Connecting Writers with Hollywood, is that sometimes—sometimes—that dream is realized, and a lot of other good stuff can happen even when the dream of a contract isn’t realized.

My first children’s novel, Sophie’s Quest, was published without the benefit of meeting someone at a conference, but maybe going to conferences helped anyway. I was reminded, at the Renewal conference, of the Christian Writers Market Guide. I purchased a copy from the book table, contacted all of the relevant publishers, and ultimately got a “yes” from a publisher in England!

When Keys for Kids editor, Courtney Lasseter, led a workshop on writing devotionals for children at a conference a few years ago, I stopped by her room where she was giving appointments. When someone didn’t show up for their appointment, I was able to talk to her for a few minutes. I didn’t have a story, but I liked her, and we had a fun chat about what she was looking for. After a rejected attempt, this relationship has led to six published—and paid—stories for the magazine, and now she writes to me when she needs a new story.

Best of all, God used the 2019 Renewal conference to introduce me to a new publisher for Sophie’s Quest and the entire Adventures of Sophie Topfeather series, the same month my British publisher quit the business and gave me my rights back. What a blessing!

Looking back, my hopes at that first conference weren’t exactly misplaced. The conference was the right place to be. I had to bring my work up to industry standard and to stay in the game long enough for God to bring the right information, the right people, and the right opportunities to me, each at the right time. The Renewal Conference has been a faithful companion on the journey, helping me all along the way.

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Keys for Kids Elephant Cover (1)Anderson, SonjaSonja Anderson writes children’s literature from Burien, WA and lives with her husband and two daughters. She works full time in a local elementary school library where she feels like a spy, learning about all the newly-published books and seeing what books kids love.

Find out more at www.sonjaandersonbooks.com.

 

Sonja Anderson: Book-Loving Librarian, Educator, and Children’s Author

by Eric Gollings

The first time I went to a book launch, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My family arrived at the Burien Public Library a little late and found a crowd packed into the expansive meeting room.

I stood at the door listening and craning to see the author over the throng. Behind me, the sun shone through tall windows on rows of shelves with countless books. I thought, “What a perfect place for a book launch.”

That book launch debuted Sonja Anderson’s novel, Sophie’s Quest.

The first thing you notice about the book is the beautiful cover art depicting an owl wearing a purse and hat, soaring over a sunny harbor. As you read, you find that it deals with deep questions of faith, culture, and the differences that often divide us. It does this all in a way that is accessible and engaging for young readers. For an aspiring novelist, the story of how this book and its sequel came into being is as uplifting as the adventure itself.

Sonja Anderson loves books. She is a multi-published author, an educator, and a librarian—the perfect vocations for a book lover.

Her love of reading and teaching has taken her many places. In Chicago, she studied history at North Park College. At Harvard University in Boston she earned a Master of Education degree. In Tokyo she taught kindergarten and second grade at an international school.

Since coming to Washington State she has taught every grade as a substitute teacher in Seattle Public Schools, and for twelve years she served as the Christian Formation Coordinator for the North Pacific Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. She is currently the library tech at her local elementary school where she helps children find books that will ignite their own passion for lifelong reading. Sonja Anderson is also an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators and of the Northwest Christian Writers Association.

At this year’s Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, Sonja will share her insights in two break-out sessions for emerging writers.

Authors and Children’s Book Illustration: How the Publisher, Illustrator, and Author Work Together (or Not) to Create a Great Book – Learn common misunderstandings many writers have about the way children’s books are illustrated. This includes both picture books and the cover art for novels. Gain an understanding about the quality of the art that should be submitted with your story—or if it should even be submitted—and learn what to expect when working with a publisher. (Emerging-writer level)

Sleuthing for Success: How Nancy Drew Would Get Her Children’s Story Published – Learn the pros and cons of indie publishing vs. royalty publishing for children’s works. Discover how thinking creatively, flexibly, and realistically about the best ways to reach kids can help you find the right agent/editor/publisher for your children’s story. Learn how prayer and a generous attitude toward other writers can help make connections, build relationships, and provide encouragement during not-so-successful days of writing and marketing. Included: tips on using print resources and conducting successful Internet searches for potential markets. (Emerging-writer level)

Don’t miss hearing Sonja Anderson at the 2017 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. Sign up now!

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Eric Gollings, a humanitarian professional with an MBA, is fluent in Spanish, Chinese, and English and has spent years living and serving in Latin America and Asia. For the last eight years, he has worked for World Vision. His writing and speaking interests include history, theology, humanitarian affairs, and speculative fiction. Eric enjoys creating clear and compelling communication, whether through blog posts, stories, professional e-mails, or speaking engagements.