Renewal, Referrals, and Rewards: Put in a Good Word

Written by Kim Vandel, Public Relations Coordinator for NCWA


Don’t you love it when people say nice things about you? Well, NCWA feels the same way. We love it when people invite their friends to a monthly meeting or to one of our special events, so we’ve come up with a way to thank the folks who are saying good things about us.

PrintThis year we’re rewarding people who recommend the 2014 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal. If you refer a first time attendee to our conference, both you and your friend will receive a free digital copy of Lynnette Bonner’s The Unrelenting Tide. Both you and your friend may also be eligible for our grand prize drawing. (Details below.)


The grand prize will include:


Davis Bunn 4

  • Ten-page critique by our keynote speaker Davis Bunn


  • Starbucks gift card Cover_TheUnrelentingTide_200
  • Print copy of The Unrelenting Tide by Lynnette Bonner
  • Chocolate
  • Coupon for $50 off the registration fee for the 2015 Writers Renewal

And that’s just for starters! We’ll add even more goodies to the grand prize before the conference.

Of course, in the interest of keeping things fun and fair, we have to include a few rules:

  • If you refer someone, he or she must register for the 2014 Writers Renewal in order for it to count as a referral.
  • You will receive one entry in the drawing for each first time attendee you refer.
  • If you refer someone but can’t attend the conference yourself, you’re still eligible to receive a digital copy of The Unrelenting Tide.
  • To be eligible for the grand prize drawing, you must be registered for the 2014 Writers Renewal, and you must be present at the time of the drawing in order to win.
  • To receive their free digital copy of The Unrelenting Tide, participants must submit the required information by April 10, 2014.
  • Free digital copies of The Unrelenting Tide will be distributed to eligible participants after the conference.

How do you get in on this awesome giveaway? Just send the following information to Kim Vandel at

  • Your full name
  • An email address where we can contact you
  • The full name of the person you referred to the Writers Renewal (or full name of the person who referred you)

A huge thank you goes out to Davis Bunn, Judy Bodmer, Lynnette Bonner, and Dennis Brooke for their very generous donations.

The 2014 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference takes place April 11-12 at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington. Early bird prices expire March 4th, so what are you waiting for? Start talking!
Tweet Have something good to say? It could make you a winner.

Tweet Learn how to win a 10-page critique by bestselling author.@DavisBunn


Kim Vandel photoKim Vandel wanted to be Princess Leia when she grew up, but she’s decided that being a writer is even better than leading a rebellion against the Empire. Her current project is a YA urban fantasy set in Washington state. It features plenty of coffee but no vampires. You can find her books reviews and more at

Editors Read Book Proposals, Not Manuscripts

Anita Aurit shares her  2013 NCWA Renewal conference experience.


If you think that a book proposal is simply an elongated elevator pitch, I urge you to run, not walk, to your laptop and order W. Terry Whalin’s CD from the recent Northwest Christian Writer’s Renewal, “Editors Read Book Proposals, Not Manuscripts” (click here to order conference CDs).


Terry Whalin 2

The theme of the workshop could be stated as, “The writer as active marketing partner.” This is not good news for some authors as they bemoan the fact that they can barely carve out time to write. Adding marketing to their “to do list” overwhelms them.  I would suggest that we turn that thinking around. If we’re not vested enough in our work to find ways to promote it, how can we expect any publisher to expend time, money and effort in promoting it? Who better to craft the original marketing plan for our piece than the creator of the product?

TweetWho better to craft the original marketing plan than the creator of the product?

The workshop prompted new thinking about the proposal process. Rather than viewing proposals as venues to highlight our brilliant storytelling, we learned that proposals are an invitation into the publisher’s office, pitching not only a brilliant story but a brilliant way to move people to buy that story.

TweetAn excellent book proposal is an invitation into the publisher’s officer.

Terry provided many specific tips that can keep our proposals out of the reject pile and on an editor’s desk. He stirred our thinking and challenged us to form ideas to create specific marketing plans for our own work, including sustaining a marketing momentum. His workshop stressed the importance of high profile endorsements and how to make it easier to get them.  Ideas for special sales and sales outside the bookstores which can give an author a leg up were presented. The importance of a “must have” title was a key component. Each step presented came in a clear and logical fashion, along with links and referrals for more assistance after the conference.

Also included in the seminar were insights into the questions editors ask when they receive a new manuscript, the main reasons book ideas are rejected and a checklist for authors to use to ensure their proposal is polished, shiny and glittery enough to attract the attention of book editors.

This seminar helped me understand the complete process for creating an outstanding book proposal and that gave me great confidence.  I will never face a proposal with the same amount of fear and trepidation again. Twenty-first century writers have an amazing opportunity to take an active part in the creation of their careers by promoting and marketing their own material. I can’t think of a more enthusiastic marketing representative for my work than myself, can you?

~Anita Aurit pic~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anita Aurit has published in a myriad of venues including devotionals (in magazine and book compilations), travel articles, short humor, blogs, websites, scripts and even an article in a sports publication (a woman’s guide to the fantasy football draft).

Her writing passion is fiction and she is currently working on a series of novels about women in the shadows of the pages of Scripture.  A frequent speaker and teacher for women’s groups and events, Anita has also founded and managed a number of businesses including an internet pet radio station where she created, produced and hosted her own show called “The Scoop” (logo was a litter box and scooper). Anita is married to an internet software engineer and both are self-professed geeks.

 ​When she’s not at her computer or a podium, Anita loves spending time with her family (two and four legged), reading, crafting, cross-country skiing and kayaking in her home in Northern Idaho. Click here to visit Anita’s website.

“The Christian Writer’s Coach: How to Get the Most out of a Writers Conference” Book Review

Lesley Ann McDaniel, published author and member of NCWA, reviewed the book written by NCWA members.


CWC Buy Now

The title of the book says it all. It really does offer a full spectrum of encouragement and practical advice needed for a writer, whether newbie or seasoned, to get the most from a conference. This collection of articles by various members of the Northwest Christian Writers Association is an invaluable guide.

As a prelude, we’re treated to five mini-bios of people who are successful in Christian publishing, peppered with bits of practical conference-relevant tips. I had the privilege of interviewing my agent, Les Stobbe, for this book, and of writing his bio. Since he attends up to ten writers’ conferences a year, it was fun to get the perspective from the other side of the pitching process. I appreciate his reminder that “Preparing to be a writer is a marathon, not a sprint.”

The rest of the book is divided into three sections for easy reference: before, during, and after a conference. It’s a quick, enjoyable read, and easy to navigate.

My favorite take-aways are the reminders from bestselling author James L. Rubart and editor Marcus Yoars to put other people first; numerous cues from Melissa K. Norris, Robin Jones Gunn, Lydia E. Harris and others to let God lead you through prayer; and Marty Nystrom’s sage advice to trust God for the timing of each writing project.

I also learned some great tips from Janalyn Voigt on preparing a conference binder, something I had never thought to do before. Lynnette Bonner and Erica Vetsch offer practical instruction for creating a book proposal and a one-sheet, both essential tools for the writer who hopes to pitch a project to an editor or agent.

And speaking of pitching, Melissa K. Norris, Amy Letinsky, and Michelle Hollomon each offer helpful how-tos on that topic.

This book is rich with so much more. I recommend it for everyone who is planning to attend a writers’ conference, whether Christian or secular, but also for writers who can’t attend a conference but intend to submit their work to agents and publishers.

Enjoy your writers’ conference, and in the words of Lydia E. Harris, don’t forget to “Go have fun!”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to write a positive review, and have expressed my honest opinions.



LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, and theatre. While earning a degree in acting, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God’s guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of Women’s and Young Adult fiction. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and of a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area.


Her books “Lights, Cowboy, Action”, “Big Sky Bachelor”, “Rocky Mountain Romance”, and “Saving Grace” are available at her website or on Amazon

Are writer conferences a worthwhile investment?

Someone asked, “Are writers conferences worthwhile for a beginning novelist? If so, how can I get the most out of a conference?”

I think a writing conference is one of the best investments a newer writer can make. (The best other ideas? A class that forces you to write, reading great writers, and participating in an active critique group.) A writers conference allows you to meet other writers and find out how they do things. It’s a great chance to network with authors, meet editors, get introduced to agents, and discover what’s going on in the industry.

Consider a writing conference an introduction to publishing — something that’s hard to get anywhere else. Talking with several published authors might be one of the most effective ways of learning the process of moving from pre-published to published. You’ll find workshops on specialty topics that you would be hard-pressed to find a book on, as well as people who have walked the path ahead of you. Besides, a conference is usually a fun time, hanging out with other people who love words.

There are good conferences all over the country, and spread throughout the year. Some organizations sponsor conferences (Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers have two of the best writing conferences in the country), many universities have writing conferences (check your local colleges), and there are plenty of independent conferences at hotels, retreat centers, and on campuses. Simply googling “writing conferences” will get you enough information to get started. I think every new writer will benefit from a conference.

Some thoughts on getting the most out of a conference…

  • SCHEDULE: Plan out a schedule before you get there. Make selections about the workshops and classes you want to attend, and if it turns out not to be great, feel free to change to another class.
  • GOALS: Set some basic goals for what you want to accomplish at the conference — who you want to meet, what you want to learn. Make sure your expectations are realistic before attending. If your goal is “to sign with an agent and land my first book deal,” you might be setting the bar a bit high. (You can’t really expect an agent to sign you up after a ten-minute appointment.) Instead, think about taking steps forward — learning things, meeting people, improving your craft.
  • APPOINTMENTS: Make appointments with editors and agents, but feel free to simply ask them to review your work and make suggestions for improving.

If you’re bringing a proposal to pitch, spend time polishing it. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make your words sing. The majority of stuff editors will see at a writing conference isn’t really done — it’s started, and the author assumes editors will be able to recognize true genius amidst the half-completed words on the page. You can stand out by having a well-done proposal and sample chapters. And by all means, when you’re at a conference go talk to people. Even if you’re the shy, creative type, make a point of introducing yourself to people at meals, talking over coffee, being part of the discussions in the classes. Finding like-minded writers is one of the best aspects of a writing conference.


This post appeared January 9, 2013 on Chip’s Blog. Re-posted by kind permission.

Chipheadshot1Chip MacGregor created MacGregor Literary and has secured more than 1,000 book deals for authors with all of the major publishers in both CBA and ABA. Chip has written more than two dozen titles, including two books that hit #1 on the bestseller lists in their category. During his tenure as a publisher at Time Warner, he helped the company grow into one of the world’s biggest providers of Christian books to the general market.

Going to the NCWA Renewal Conference??

confbutton1Going to the NCWA Writers Renewal Conference? Click on the picture for more conference info.

Let’s review some helpful posts from the archives:




Top Ten Reasons to Attend a Writers Conference! By Edie Melson

“Personally, I’ve been attending large conferences for years. And as my experience level has increased so have the benefits from attending. Here are my top ten reasons to attend a writer’s conference this year…”

Why You Need to Come to the NW Christian Writers Renewal by Mick Silva

“I first got myself invited to the NCWA conference several years ago by calling up Clint Kelly and begging  him to let me come. It’s never all that difficult for acquisitions editors to get invited to writers conferences, so I figured I’d get a yes. He seemed agreeable, so I brought a recycled class to teach and figured I’d let people show up when I got there. I was pretty proud of myself, and new to the whole editing and publishing game, and I didn’t realize this was a different kind of conference…”



Prepare for a Writers’ Conference by Edie Melson.

“Networking is the easiest to prepare for. If you’re just going to meet other writers and professionals the main thing you need is a good business card. Please take note, I said, good, NOT expensive…”


Four Keys to Your Conference Preparation By W. Terry Whalin

“I love writers’ conferences. It’s a grand idea haven to talk shop and learn from other writers. If you want to succeed in the writing business, I’ve got four keys to enhance your conference experience…”


Preparing Your Conference Notebook by Gina Conroy

“There’s nothing worse than waiting in line for your editor or agent appoint wondering about the unknown…nothing worse except walking into that meeting unprepared and the editor or agent asks to see your One Sheet or your first chapter, and you fumble through your papers to find it or worse, don’t have anything to offer…”


Pat the Conferee by Sandra Bishop

“If Pat’s a guy, the first thing he does when he walks into a writer’s conference is notice that he’s outnumbered and locate the most out-of-the-way men’s room, knowing that all the others may already be sporting signs indicating he’s temporarily not welcome…”


What to Expect From Your Agent Appointment by Blythe Daniel

“One of the great tools that you have as a writer is the setting of a writer’s conference to hone your publishing skills and show an editor or agent your writing style with your well-developed ideas for your next (or first) book…”

Speaking, When You’re NOT a Speaker

This video interview with Rebecca Stuhlmiller was filmed at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference in May of 2010.Rebecca talks about why writers need to learn to become speakers and offers advice on learning the craft. Don’t miss this interview with someone who does not come by speaking naturally, but has stepped out in faith to fulfill His calling.

Rebecca Stuhlmiller is a speaker, church leader and World Relief volunteer whose mission, based on Colossians 1:28, is to help people realize their full potential in Jesus Christ. She’s been a member of NCWA since 2009, and is currently in the Certificate of Lay Ministry program at Whitworth University.Visit her website at  


Dennis Brooke writes about Almost True Stories of Life at He’s been a member of NCWA for three years and currently serves as Vice-President and Webmaster. Visit his website at