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.

 

Steve Laube: Eclectic Experience in the Marketplace of Books

by Elizabeth Griffin

Steve Laube is well-known by regular attendees at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. A literary agent and president of the Steve Laube Agency, he’s been in the book industry for over 37 years, first as a bookstore manager, then with Bethany House Publishers, and now as an agent. He and his agency have represented more than 1,500 new books. In addition, he is the publisher at Enclave Publishing and serves as president and owner of The Christian Writers Institute and author of The Christian Writers Market Guide and Book Proposal Tips and Tricks.

Of all the roles he plays, Steve loves being an agent most because it involves all the fun of publishing with none of the meetings. Like a parent, he loves working with all of the authors he represents equally and says they are each wonderful in and of themselves. Each project moves along at its own pace, with some taking months to develop a strong proposal and others only days.

Steve will be looking for the following at this year’s Renewal:

  • Fiction – women’s fiction, romance, thriller, suspense, romantic suspense, literary, military, historical (all eras), contemporary, science-fiction, fantasy, supernatural, YA … in other words, every genre published in the industry.
  • Nonfiction – Christian Living, biography, apologetics, theology, Bible study, reference, health, finance, self-help, psychology, grief, suffering, marriage, family, women’s, men’s, philosophy, church life, devotional, inspirational, social issues, politics, parenting, music, and art.

According to Steve, “The subjects are vast and the opportunities endless.”

On a more personal level, Steve has been married for 36 years. He and his wife have three married daughters and one grandson. He lives in Arizona, but enjoys visiting Seattle because his 93-year-old mother lives here. He reads about 100 novels a year for relaxation after work and teaches the Bible in an expositional style each Sunday.

Steve will teach these workshops at the Renewal:

Landmines in Your Book Contract – A look at some of the more egregious things that can be found in your book contract. Contracts are a legally binding agreement. What is signed must be followed. Unfortunately, there are certain clauses that can bite authors if they are unaware of their implications. Using real examples from real contracts, this class will take a close look at clauses being placed in front of authors today. This is a rather advanced topic. Be prepared to wear your lawyer hat!

The Complete Book Process: From Idea to Print – What is the route a book takes while in-house?  How the writer can help or hinder? Discover what happens along the entire process inside a publishing company. From book proposal evaluation to pub board decision making to editorial responsibilities to cover design issues and more, this information is applicable whether one is working with a traditional publisher or is publishing independently.

Writing the Nonfiction Book – There are common elements in nonfiction books that contribute to their success. This class will explore them and help apply the elements to your work. Issues of craft, presentation of ideas, and connecting with the reader will be discussed.

Check out all the workshops being offered this year.To request an appointment with Steve, register soon for the Renewal.

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In addition to writing and editing a monthly lifestyle newspaper for 10 years, Elizabeth Griffin elizabeth_griffin2has published more than 500 articles in newspapers, anthologies, and magazines, along with 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 of redemption. She loves to speak truth into the lives of others and has been a Bible teacher for 16 years. Her recent adventures include directing communications for an international missions group and public relations for Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and blogging at Follow the Dots.